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Entries in Olympia Dukakis (5)

Friday
Aug302019

Over & Overs: Moonstruck (1987)

In our new Team series, members of The Film Experience wax rhapsodic on movies they can't help watching frequently and can't turn away from if they stumble upon them. Here's Deborah Lipp...

 

I ain't no freaking monument to justice!

As with many of my favorite movies, I find Moonstruck endlessly quotable. I open with a quote in the hopes I can restrain myself from doing nothing but quoting in the course of this write-up.

We are here to ruin ourselves and to break our hearts and love the wrong people and die!

Oops.

Moonstruck is infinitely watchable because it works on so many levels... 

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Nov132018

Doc Corner: Movie Stars - Fonda, Kael and Dukakis

by Glenn Dunks

DOC NYC is still going in New York, running until this Thursday the 15th. We’re looking at just a very small selection of films screening at the festival including these today based around three iconic names in American cinema: film critic Pauline Kael, and Oscar-winning actors Jane Fonda and Olympia Dukakis.

WHAT SHE SAID: THE ART OF PAULINE KAEL
I noted on social media as I sat down to watch my screener of Rob Garver’s biography that there were certainly worse ways to spend one’s Sunday evening than surrounded by the words of the late, great Pauline Kael and an abundance of film clips. Sometimes a film can give you exactly what you ask for and that’s exactly what I received from What She Said: The Art of Pauline Kael about the much loved (and loathed) film critic...

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Thursday
Jul142016

Review: The Infiltrator

Manuel here with a review of The Infiltrator which opened yesterday nationwide.

Fact: Steven Soderbergh’s Traffic is one of the most influential films of the 21st century. That’s not a qualitative assessment but an increasingly common thought that’s rankled in my brain. Can you believe Soderbergh actually struggled to get his film financed because Hollywood execs didn’t think audiences would want to watch an entire film about the drug trade?

Fast-forward to summer 2016 when USA is premiering Queen of the South, Netflix will bring us season 2 of Narcos, two competing El Chapo TV series are in development, and Bryan Cranston’s The Infiltrator joins an ever-growing list of films about the war on drugs that range from the sublime (Sicario) to the pedestrian (Blow) with everything in between (Savages, anyone?).

In Brad Furman’s The Infiltrator, the Breaking Bad actor plays U.S. Customs Service special agent Robert Mazur who, as is par for the course in certain genres, decides to take on one last job to go undercover as “Bob Musella.”...

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Friday
Aug222014

Look Who's Talking (1989) and the Perils of Revisiting Childhood Faves

Hello everyone, Manuel here jumping aboard my personal DeLorean and taking a trip to 1989 to catch up with what’s still Amy Heckerling’s biggest box office success, the comedy Look Who's Talking.

There's a certain joy and sadness in revisiting films you remember enjoying as a kid. Some, because of their continued playback on cable or at your own home theater, seem to age with you so that their flaws become endearing while their wonders become treasures you hoard as if they were intended just for you. In this, films can be like old friends. Catching up with one you haven’t seen in over a decade can be a terrifying prospect. Have they aged well? Do you still share the same sense of humor? Will there be awkward silences where there were laughs before?

Much like its stock male lead, Look Who’s Talking is a flawed, sloppy, lovable creature. It may feature the scariest CGI baby that side of Ally McBeal, but at its heart it’s a funny rom-com that handles its “women having it all!” plot with aplomb. Heckerling’s quippy film follows Mollie (Kristie Alley) whose married lover (George Segal) knocks her up, refuses to divorce his wife for her (doing so instead for his younger interior decorator), leaving her to raise young Mikey by herself. John Travolta plays James, a roguish cab driver who after helping Mollie deliver her son, begins babysitting for her and well… you can probably guess where the film eventually lands. Certain things have aged better than others. The performances still shine. Proving why they were stars before they were Kathy Griffin punchlines, Travolta and Kristie show that a great rom-com needs great chemistry at its center to succeed. Indeed, Travolta’s on-screen charisma remains undeniable whenever he’s dancing while Alley’s comedic timing shows why she was a sitcom superstar. And that doesn’t even cover the presence of always welcome Olympia Dukakis who proves she can do raucously funny no-nonsense mom in her sleep. My favorite exchange from the film is Mollie asking her mom why she married her father:

-He looked good in a uniform.

-Yes, but didn’t they all look good in uniform?

-No... I didn’t care for the sailors and their bell-bottoms!”

It’s all in the delivery, but there’s a spark in Heckerling’s script that is undeniable. The same cannot be said for the central conceit of the film. Hearing Bruce Willis’s voice as Mikey’s inner monologue is as bizarre as it sounds and adds very little to the film as a whole; maybe this explains the diminishing returns of the film's two sequels which relied more heavily on its voice actors (Roseanne Barr, Diane Keaton and Danny DeVito) and thus on its rickety gimmick?

Mikey, voiced by Bruce Willis

If Look Who’s Talking is indeed an old friend, it’s one I’ll be unlikely to catch up with any time soon. She's just as nice as I remember her, if not as funny but her schtick gets old very soon (am I the only one impervious to cute kids in films unless they're named Richie and are (s)mothered by Julianne Moore?). Now I’m scared to see other old friends from that time (I’m looking at you Willow!) for fear I'll be just as disappointed.

What childhood staple have you revisited recently? Are there films better left as untouched warm memories of sitting around with friends in party hats while celebrating one's sixth birthday?

Friday
Jun152012

Oscar Snub? Supporting Actress 1987

Witches of Eastwick 25th anniversary week ends this weekend. I intended to do much more but we'll see what little can be conjured still.

Cherries, Oatmeal, Satan and her weak husband just make her sick!

Film Experience Trivia: Veronica Cartwright was the star of the very first episode of Craig's "Take Three" series right here (well, at the old location) in 2010. He spotlighted her work in three genre pieces (Alien in which she was originally cast as Ripley (!!!) , Invasion of the Body Snatchers and The Witches of Eastwick) concluding that she is the sci-fi-horror scream queen. On Witches:

Cartwright's skill at creating profoundly memorable characters is none more evident than in Witches: you see the very bile rise up in Felicia's face; she vehemently means every word in her religious rants, summoning up as she does some kind of wicked, wrathful acting goddess. With cherry-scented vomit (or even hospital oatmeal) smeared ungainly across her mouth, and spitting hellfire sermons at everyone who'll listen, Cartwright was unafraid to eschew vanity to maintain supporting performance perfection. If the "Alien" lead was stolen away, a Best Supporting Actress nod was more so here. Remote-control fruit-based possession doesn't get any classier than this.

...she exited the film way too soon. 

There were surely people at the time who thought she over reached but when you're the god-fearing counterpart to Jack Nicholson's Devil, you have to go big.

SO, LET'S TALK OSCAR 1987. Here's how the year shook out for Best Supporting Actresses but did you agree with their choices?  

The Oscar List

I saw Moonstruck for the first time in 2 decades last year. My god it holds up. Dukakis, Cher, the screenplay, Nicolas Cage even? All fantastic.

  • Norma Aleandro, Gaby: A True Story
  • Anne Archer, Fatal Attraction
  • Olympia Dukakis, Moonstruck (WINNER)
  • Anne Ramsey, Throw Momma From the Train
  • Ann Sothern, The Whales of August

 

The Globe List
the same list but for the following

  • Ann Sothern, The Whales of August
  • Vanessa Redgrave, Prick Up Your Ears ( also won the prestigious NYFCC Prize)

 

Vanessa, like Shirley Maclaine, is an oft-nominated Oscar caliber performer who also happens to have a surprisingly large list of snubs (despite the oft-nominated part) suggesting that if they don't love her work in a given year, they don't feel welcoming.

Martha Plimpton in a very unsettling scene in "Shy People". Good movie that's hard to find now.The Indie Spirit List

  • Karen Allen, The Glass Menagerie
  • Kathy Baker, Street Smart (also won the NSFC Prize)
  • Anjelica Huston, The Dead (WINNER)
  • Martha Plimpton, Shy People
  • Ann Sothern, The Whales of August

 

I haven't seen Street Smart or The Whales of August but I remember liking the other three performances quite a lot. Sometimes I think I should watch The Dead again as an adult because I'm pretty sure I didn't fully understand it as a teen. I'm always hoping (in vain) that Martha Plimpton's current fame as a dramatic stage star and Emmy nominated comedic lead on Raising Hope will remind people of what a fresh compelling presence she was on the big screen in the 1980s. So talented that one.

The BAFTA List

  • Maria Aitken, A Fish Called Wanda
  • Anne Archer, Fatal Attraction
  • Judi Dench, A Handful of Dust (WINNER, Oscar eligible the following year but wasn't nominated)
  • Olympia Dukakis, Moonstruck

Though I've seen all of these films I'll admit to trouble recalling Aitken and Dench's work in those films. But I haven't seen them in 20 years so...

 

Other Key But Less Kudo'ed Supporting Actresses in 1987

the scene to end all scenes for foot fetishist everywhere. Maggie Han and Joan Chen in THE LAST EMPEROR (1987)

  • Veronica Cartwright, The Witches of Eastwick (Saturn Nominee)
  • Joan Chen, The Last Emperor
  • Paulina Poriskova, Anna
  • Margaret Whitton, The Secret of My Succe$s
  • Dianne Wiest, The Lost Boys and September 
  • Sean Young, No Way Out 

 

Sean Young's current reputation as a Crazy Person is a bit unfortunate considering that in the '80s (when properly utilized) she was just on fire.

In other retrospective news... I'm never eager to call Oscar "racist" the way so many pundits do. The truth is that they can only choose from what's put in front of them in any given year. Roles for actors of color have never been as juicy nor as abundant as those offered white actors in English language fare and when they get plum opportunities they usually win attention. That said, if there's a "racial" issue with Oscar it's one that doesn't get any attention. For whatever reason, Oscar rarely ever nominates Asian actresses for anything even when they achieve international stardom or headline blockbusters of the arthouse or the multiplex (think Gong Li, Maggie Cheung, Zhang Ziyi, Michelle Yeoh) -- both of which are achievements that get European foreign-language actresses nominated on occasion. They don't even notice Asian actress when they're key players in movies that voters can't otherwise get enough of (Joan Chen right here or Ziyi in Crouching Tiger) I'm not saying Chen should have been nominated -- I haven't seen the movie in way too long -- but wouldn't she have been in other circumstances considering that she plays a drug-addled royal in a Best Picture winner?

WHAT WOULD YOUR NOMINEE LIST LOOK LIKE?
Do you like Cartwright in Witches or do you wish she (and Jack) would tone it down? Which performances do you most wish you'd seen from 1987 that won attention?