Independently speaking: Women rule
Two words filmmakers (and novelists) detest when reading descriptions of their works are "quirky" and/or "unique." Oh, well. This week's movie creators will have to bite the bullet: "Please Give," "The Kids Are All Right" and "Beyond Belief" are all written and directed by women and can all be so described.
Exceptional acting talent raises the interest level of writer/director Nicole Holofcener's "Please Give." Catherine Keener, Oliver Platt, Amanda Peet and Rebecca Hall deliver what is as close to a faux reality TV situation one might imagine. Filmed in 16 mm (a film format nearly obsolete with the onset of affordable video), the "look" of the movie adds realism to the streets of New York, the retro furniture featured in the plot and the unpolished appearance of the cast. No gauze filters or special makeup here!
Alex and Kate (Platt and Keener) are waiting for their 91-year-old neighbor to die so they can buy her apartment and expand their living quarters. Rebecca and Mary (Hall and Peet) are granddaughters to the irascible old woman and are sorting out their own issues.
Actually everyone has issues in this movie and once you get through watching the opening credits (a montage of breasts in various stages of mammogram procedures), it's worth it to continue watching just to see what every character is up to and why.
There may or may not be an "aha" moment for you in "Please Give." Its strength lies in the exposure of human nature, blemishes and all, so if you're looking for a less realistic movie escape, rent
"The Kids Are All Right"
Nothing like hiring the A-Team. Annette Bening and Julianne Moore star in "The Kids Are All Right" and their presence alone gave theatrical life to a film that otherwise might have gone straight to DVD. Big screen or small, the message of this movie gets across because of their strong performances and an above-average script by Lisa Cholodenko, who also directed.
Jules and Nic (Moore and Bening) are in a longterm
relationship and have cemented their commitment by having two babies along the way, courtesy of a sperm donor. The babies are now teenagers and curious as to whom their dad/donor might be. The plot thickens.
Without too much sleuthing involved, the identity of Paul (Mark Ruffalo) is unveiled and this now extended family's life starts to unravel.
"The Kids Are All Right" is unique in that seeing a same sex couple dealing with typical matrimonial challenges and believably precocious teens is a rarity on film. (What? No psycho stiletto wielding lesbian murderer? No suicidal plotline?) It's quirky because of a plot twist (that won't be revealed here), that is a bit farfetched, but evidently necessary to raise the point of conflict).
"The Kids Are All Right" is a good rental if for no other reason than see Annette Bening at work.
How does one privately handle the tragic loss of a young husband? How does one handle the same loss given that it was part of one of the worst moments of the 21st century?
Susan Retik and Patricia Quigley became widows on Sept. 11. Both lived in Boston, both had small children and both were pregnant.
Introduced through friends, the women struggled to keep their lives together, all the while wondering how to turn this personal and national tragedy into some kind of positive force.
This documentary by Beth Murphy follows their efforts to raise money for widows, specifically women in Afghanistan. Learning of the thousands of women who were widowed in this faraway country that had been ravaged not by one terrorist attack but by years of war and devastation, they adopted the philosophy that "a mother is a mother and a woman is a woman," and started sending funds for food and necessities.
For those that questioned "why," Susan offered the following, "I want to live my life beyond the hatred of that day."
"Beyond Belief" shows not only the evolution of the children in the United States who were left without a father, but as Susan and Patricia made the journey half way around the word, the struggles of mothers and children who had nothing at all to do with their tragic loss.
Rebecca Redshaw is an author and playwright who worked for 25 years in the film industry in Los Angeles. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Grading this week’s DVDs: the ABC’s
Mon, Mar 19, 2012
Politics, political figures and spies
Tue, Mar 6, 2012
Tue, Feb 14, 2012
And now, reality
Mon, Jan 30, 2012
Looking back on the year that was (Part 1 of 2)
Wed, Dec 7, 2011
Film buffs should revisit ‘Northwest’
Wed, Nov 2, 2011
Conspiracy theories played out on film
Tue, Oct 18, 2011
Mix-ups, marriage and horse management
Mon, Oct 3, 2011
Going ‘Grease,’ locally and on DVD
Tue, Sep 13, 2011
It’s All About the Music
Fri, Sep 9, 2011