Posts Tagged ‘Patricia Clarkson’

Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis in the middle of a flash mob in Friends with BenefitsOne of the first things people say about this film is, “Didn’t this movie come out already? No Strings Attached, right?” Yes, Ashton Kutcher and Natalie Portman released a film with the same premise earlier this year. But all the things it lacked are found in Friends with Benefits. (more…)

This week’s releases provide last minute holiday choices for every film lover: a teenage girl’s life parallels a classic controversy more than a John Hughes masterpiece; a young owl must fight to save his family and the species; a woman attempts to clear her name, but only causes more confusion; a ragtag group of scientists and officials attempt to stop the world from destroying itself; an adolescent boy dreams of America and is willing to do whatever it takes to get there; and an ex-con falls back on old habits when he attempts to re-enter society. (more…)

Emma Stone in Easy AAudiences have been waiting for an apt, contemporary teen comedy that achieves the perfect balance of fantastical and relatable; entertaining, but meaningful. As we quickly discovered, American Pie was not destined to be that movie and Juno was slightly too constructed. But I think they may have finally hit the nail on the head with Easy A.

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Emma Stone in Easy AOlive (Emma Stone) is a clean cut high school girl that uses the rumour mill to advance her social and financial standing, paralleling her life with The Scarlet Letter’s Hester Prynne. Fun and apt, this movie is enjoyable from the opening to closing credits. With various homages to the great John Hughes, this is a contemporary teen comedy that delivers on every front. The script is brilliant and Will Gluck’s direction is skilful. Stone is impressive and only made more so by a stellar supporting cast.

The negative attitude towards people and the belief in uncontrolled luck centre stage in this film are not a far-fetch from Woody Allen’s own views on life.

Boris Yellnikoff (Larry David) is a crotchety hater of humankind that lives in selective isolation after a failed suicide attempt followed by a divorce from a picture-perfect wife and career as a physicist at Columbia. One night he reluctantly takes in Melody (Evan Rachel Wood), a naïve, impressionable teenage runaway from the South. Absorbing and learning from Boris’ insults directed at her and the world, Melody develops a crush on Boris and he finds himself viewing Melody in a less harsh light as well. The two get married and are relatively happy until Melody’s mother Marietta (Patricia Clarkson) appears on their doorstep, seeking her daughter and an escape from her cheating husband (Ed Begley Jr.). She faints upon learning Melody is married to an old, eccentric curmudgeon. Marietta unexpectedly develops into a sexually-free, boundary-pushing photographer that settles into a ménage à trois. However, still not content with her daughter’s choice, she schemes to unite Melody with a handsome actor (Henry Cavill) that claims to have fallen in love with Melody at first sight. Melody’s father eventually comes to New York too seeking to reunite his family but instead finds they are better off without him and he discovers he’s better off living without an oppressive lie. In the end, romantic partners uncouple and realign, learning there are no rules and you simply have to follow whatever works.

A typical component of Allen’s films is dialogue directed at the audience, rather than characters within the story world. In this case, Boris has several monologues spoken to the audience, directly at the camera. His genius is displayed through the fact that no one except Boris is capable of realizing there is an audience watching.

Whatever Works is character driven and explores the eccentricities of relationships and living a life that makes you happy. While Boris’ pessimism can be nagging, it’s nearly distressing when Melody begins to emit his negativity (what she understands of it anyway) like a poisoned sponge.

David’s character is similar to his Curb Your Enthusiasm counterpart, but more hateful as he doesn’t even crave love or sex. Even with the similarity, David was an ideal choice for this part, which was to originally be played by Zero Mostel before his passing. Wood’s portrayal of a dumb, inexperienced pageant queen lost in the big city and struggling to hold onto the first security she finds is impeccable. Watching, you just want to protect her from being gobbled up by the world or worn down by Boris. The supporting cast is also wonderful, with Clarkson’s entertaining transition from uptight Southern belle to free-wheeling artist and Cavil’s only real responsibility being be British and charming.

This is another amusing romp down unconventional lane with Allen and it’s as enjoyable as ever.


There’s usually some concern about the seriousness of a May-December romance but should that be the concern of May and December?

David Kepesh (Ben Kingsley) is a seasoned art critic. After emancipating himself from an unhappy marriage, he began a life of meaningless sexual conquest, most of whom are students from the college at which he teaches. For years he is content with this lifestyle, but all that changes when he meets Consuela Castillo (Penélope Cruz). She is beautiful, smart and in need of wooing before she’ll end up between his sheets. But with unbridled passion and eventual love comes fear and it can be difficult to overcome – especially for a man who’s so unconsciously guarded.

David’s anxieties are illustrated in life-like vignettes that are not shown to be false until after they’ve inflicted their impact. He’s a man trapped in adolescence but as his situations become more adult, he struggles with the need to grow up. David endures many loses but it is through this pain that a better man emerges.

Kingsley is perfection in this role; it is easy to see why these women flock to his bedroom as he exudes charm and sophistication. Cruz is naturally beautiful, despite a couple of unflattering haircuts, and her relationship with Kingsley is sweet and plausible. Dennis Hopper has a supporting role as David’s adulterous friend but his appeal is a little less comprehensible.

The DVD bonus feature, “The Poetry of Elegy,” is a series of interviews with the cast and director Isabel Coixet cut with scenes from the movie.