Directed By: Woody Allen, 2013
JOHN: I didn’t like Blue Jasmine, and I realize everyone else has. The acting is fine. Direction, excellent, even the flash back structure that contrasts past and present seems to work.
Except there is a difference between a play and a movie—I am reacting to frequent comparisons of this to Streetcar Named Desire. With a play there are some out of town previews, revisions, attention to live audience response. A movie or novel is not known to the audience. That is until afterwards when the author or director finds out the work strikes a chord with them.
The emphasis on Streetcar may be Blanche, but it is her affect on Stanley and Stella that is the heart of the play. Jasmine focuses on the Cate Blanchett (Blanche like) character but that’s about it, and she is someone who just makes me feel uncomfortable. Continue reading
Glengarry Glen Ross, James Foley, director, 2002
"And the third place prize in our contest is, you're fired!"
SPANKY: I loved the Reservoir Dogs previews on this old VHS (John, are we down to this; not a movie, not even a DVD, but a VHS cassette, for gods sake! What’s next? Reviewing old-time radio programs?) And this film/play is actors being actors in a competition for their lives: both in terms of the characters’ jobs and the perfumers vying with each other for the audience’s attention. Continue reading
Posted in cult films, film, film classics, John Lehman, Jokes & Fun, movie review, movies
Tagged Al Pacino, Alan Arkin, Alec Baldwin, Ed Harris, Jack Lemmon, Kevin Spacey
It’s Complicated, Nancy Meyers director, 2010
"Where is Lemon when you need her?"
The GOOD: Alec Baldwin. He steals the show. This isn’t the quick-cut 30 Rock exec, but a real screen presence who is funny, tragic and real.
The BAD: The film is a mixed bag of thoughtful and stupid scenes. When a great plot idea does a pratfall, it’s worse than a less ambitious film that doesn’t trip.
What BUGS ME: And the blame can be put on Meryl Streep and Steve Martin. I’m sure the casting director saw Balldwin as a secondary character and the Sophie’s Choice Meryl and peoples’ choice, Steve Martin, the two who would hold the stage. It just doesn’t play out that way.
JOHN: Had Streep (unfortunately more Mama Mia than Sophie’s Choice) really been the central character the story might have successfully focused on her decision to move on (and the dutiful—if not subdued—Steve Martin, the sensible choice to do this with). Instead, everyone in the home audience was yelling, “Are you nuts?” Or was the purpose of the movie to appease a heavily divorced or children of divorced parents audiences? Too bad if that was the case. Some genuine issues are raised in the film: the person we want our spouse to be, what we learn, how there is often something left unresolved, what our children experience through this that will affect their own choices. For this I give the film a higher rating than I ordinarily would. I hope we have more films that make us think. Less that fall back on Hollywood-star schlock instead of providing answers.
GO, GO, GO (3 GOs out of four)
SPANKY: One reviewer commented, “If a Pottery Barn catalog had a midlife crisis, it would look and feel something like It’s Complicated.” Nancy Meyer’s direction is at best lumbering, but the characters have some complexity and the conversations between them (and challenges of divorce) are sometimes nuanced. I liked the moment when family members around the dinner table (including both the mom and dad) realize they are all together again, and there is a tender moment when Baldwin lovingly puts his hand over the heart of the sleeping child of his second wife’s illegitimate son. And the kid from the office, John Krasinski, is good as an outsider, like us, who perhaps is privy more than he wants to be. But, the phrase “it’s complicated” tends to become more of an excuse rather than a revelation. Like lavishly set tables and meticulously chosen throw pillows, the story looks nice but doesn’t feel lived in. Now if Alec Baldwin could only play the banjo.
BARK, BARK (2 BARKS out of four)
Posted in film, John Lehman, Jokes & Fun, movie review, movies, Spanky and John Go to the Movies
Tagged 30 Rock, Alec Baldwin, Blanchard Ryan, It's Complicated, John Krasinski, Meryl Streep, Nancy Meyers, Robert Adamson, Steve Martin