At a question-and-answer session after the Fox screening of Enough Said for Academy members, I asked Director/Writer Nicole Holofcener if James Gandolfini had seen the film. She replied that regretfully he didn't, saying that while his representatives has seen and liked an almost-finished version, he had decided to wait until it was done. Unfortunately as we all know, he died in Rome on June 11 of a heart attack. I told her of my meeting with him to discuss his playing Ernest Hemingway in my biofilm about the author. James told me that he had his own Hemingway project at HBO, which later became the rather sad drama of Hemingway (played by Clive Owen) and his third wife, Martha Gelhorn (Nicole Kidman). My film, based upon the fourth wife Mary's biography, is a much more accurate and interesting portrayal. (Mary told me that Gelhorn's marriage to Ernest had been brief and she ended up hating him with a vengeance.) Julia Louis-Dreyfus also attended the screening and said she was beat from the prior late night win at the Emmys. Enough Said has received rave reviews and I thought it was a small, delightful romantic comedy with an honesty which was refreshing in these perilous times. Julia plays a divorced, single mother working as a masseuse who dreads her daughter's impending departure for college. She meets Gandolfini, a sweet, funny and like-minded man also facing an empty nest. As their romance blossoms, Julia befriends a poet, Catherine Keener, she met at the same party, she met her new love. Keener, becomes a massage client and rags on about her ex-husband. Julia finds herself doubting her own relationship with James, especially when she learns that he is the selfsame ex of the poet. It humorously explores the mess we humans make. Just wonderful, so see it before it leaves theatres. I am hoping the brilliant young director will respond to my entreaty about doing my long-in-gestation Bell, Book & Candle.
This has been a rather good summer and early Fall for movies. It began with a lovely romantic picture starring Pierce Brosnan filmed in Italy; the picture, Love Is All You Need, came and went with very little notice...but I enjoyed it and wrote abut it here on Huffington.. Then my reader will recall that I ecstatically reviewed Woody Allen's new film, Blue Jasmine, predicting early on that Cate Blanchett would be a strong contender for the Best Actress Oscar. Then I saw and was devastated by the upcoming Twelve Years a Slave...another strong contender for Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Director, etc. The Oscar screeners have started coming, and the first was a warm and charming film from Jeff Nichols called "Mud" which starred a rogue Matthew McConaughey. I understand he has another award-winning performance upcoming in Dallas Buyer's Club soon. I saw and enjoyed Ron Howard's Rush about two competing Formula One race car drivers, and I HATED a movie called Prisoners which stars Hugh Jackman, It is an ugly, evil film with depressing moral context and I recommend you skip it. Instead, go to see the new Sandra Bullock-George Clooney sci fi adventure, Gravity, and you will be amazed at her performance in space. If you haven't yet seen Lee Daniel's The Butler, it is worthwhile just for Forest Whitaker's performance. I like Oprah but her role here is not going to win her a Best Supporting Oscar (but then again, I should never say never when it comes to Academy selections.) A smart and well-made small film, Derek Cianfrance's The Place Beyond the Pines intrigued me. I found The Lone Ranger to be excruciatingly bad and still have not pierced the idea of Johnny Depp's Tonto headpiece.
Last night I was thrilled by Tom Hank's performance in a film called Captain Phillips and think it could be Hanks' year for an Oscar nomination, his first in 13 years. Oh, yes, there was a kung fu movie which was so good that I saw it twice....The Grand Master was directed by the great Wong Kar Wai.. ..and it was a graceful, gorgeous film which combined a classic love story and magnificently-choreographed action sequences....stunning, and it seems to have almost disappeared after a week or two...but you can still find it around and it is well worth the 2 hours19 minutes you will spend.
I almost never walk out of a movie, but I left an hour in of The Family, shaking my head at the wasted talents of Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer; Tommy Lee Jones was the best one in the film. I was moved by a little film, Fruitvale Station, and hoped against hope more people would see it. I am going to see a film, Haute Cuisine, this week.; this is my world of kitchens and food, so I know I will enjoy the almost true tale of a woman chef from the provinces who becomes the personal chef of the French President. My friends at the major studios tell me that there is a real reevaluation ongoing of what constitutes a smart production schedule, with more of those 'middle movies," $35 million to $50 million, on the horizon. God, I hope so....that's my personal production schedule too. (But I've just gotten in a script of Jackie Collins' amazing sexual revenge novel, The Love Killers," and that will cost a little more.)
A recent article in the Wall Street Journal claimed that "the movies have lost their former eminence....a pre-eminence which began in the 1920s and lasted for almost half a century." I don't think so. Sure, we have a multitude of other distractions., but nothing -- no TV show -- can ever match sitting in a dark theatre with a large audience and feeling your heart thump with joy as the curtain opens and the sound and picture come up. Nothing! Ever! At least for me.
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