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Entries in Sarah Gadon (5)

Wednesday
May012019

Tribeca: Hong Chau in "Driveways" and "American Woman"

Murtada Elfadl reporting from the Tribeca Film Festival

Almost 18 months after the release, we are starting to see the results of Hong Chau’s breakout role in Downsizing. At the Tribeca Film Festival this year, Chau is top-billed in two movies Semi Chellas’ American Woman and Andrew Ahn’s Driveways. The two give this adept performer a chance to showcase her talent and prove she’s ready for leading lady status.

Despite the top billing Chau is not the lead in Driveways. She plays Kathy, mother to shy 8 year old Cody (newcomer Lucas Jaye) whose unlikely friendship with the curmudgeonly widower next door Del (Brian Dennehy) is the primary narrative of the film. Del becomes their neighbor when they travel to a new town to clean and sell Kathy’s late sister’s house. Their stay is longer than they planned and Del becomes an integral part of their lives...

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Aug042016

Review: Indignation

Manuel here with a review of Indignation, now in theaters.

Indignation is the type of film that, even if you didn’t know was adapted from a novel (by Philip Roth), you’d describe as “literary.” Part of this has to do with its dialogue which is both highly literate and thematically robust. And the other part comes from the strategically and efficaciously deployed voice overs that all but announce themselves as being cut whole cloth from a novel with a highly sophisticated narrator whose attempts at self-knowledge would be comical if they weren’t so earnestly intense.

The very first pages of Roth’s novel introduces us to Jewish student, Marcus (a wonderful Logan Lerman) as he’s rankled by his father’s sudden mistrust of him ahead of his heading to college. His father is clearly afraid for his boy—he’s seen too many of his relatives head to Korea never to come back. His pestering (and in the film, Danny Burstein gets at Marcus’s father worry as tinged by his own anticipated grief) leads him to constantly keep tabs on him, asking him where he’s been, how he can be trusted, and more pointedly: how does he know Marcus won’t go to places where he’ll get killed...

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Thursday
May152014

I Forgot About "Belle" But The Story Shouldn't Be Forgotten!

A Brief Housekeeping Prologue: Behold the troubles of rapid festival-blogging and ill fated attempts to "save some for later" and plan ahead. What you're about to read are my first impressions of Belle, a costume drama which opened in theaters on May 2nd when I intended a fine tuned version of this review to go up. I first wrote this back in September at TIFF and when I learned the film was not yet "locked" as to its final cut and would open in May, I saved it, fully intending to revisit the film, in case further editing sharpened its compelling premise or performances. While searching for Godzilla showtimes just now (priorities) I've realized  that it's been in theaters for two weeks and I never published this or saw the film again! (In most professional blogger ways I vastly prefer Squarespace, where the site has been housed since January 2011, to Blogspot but scheduling posts for weeks ahead in the future -- a super handy function - is a trickier and less user-friendly feature here.)

I never did revisit the film so if you've seen it I'd love to hear your opinion of the final product... 

Beautiful British actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw is the star of Belle, a costume drama about the life of Dido Elizabeth Belle Lindsay directed by Amma Assante. Dido's life story is fascinating and ripe for cinematic exploration. She was the illegitimate biracial child of a British Naval Officer (Matthew Goode, giving Goodeian gorgeous righteousness in a cameo) who claimed her as his own despite the scandal he knew it would cause.

He demanded that she be brought up in England at his home much to the surprise and resistance of his stuffy family (Tom Wilkinson, Penelope Wilton and Emily Watson giving extremely Wilkinsonian, Wiltonesque and Watsonlike turns). Belle's life predicament stems from her skin color but is more than skin deep... it's existential. One obvious but psychologically upsetting scene has her confronting her beautiful dark skin in the mirror and momentarily attempting to rub it away. Though Dido is blessed with wealth and privilege she never fully belongs to the high society circles she travels in, and is not even allowed to dine with her family. Her 'coming out' into society, expected of women her age for courting purposes, is only considered by the family when they realize that her same-aged sister-cousin (Sarah Gadon not giving a very Gadonish performance) needs a companion. Meanwhile the debate over slavery reaches a fever pitch thanks to a gruesome court case her grandpa (that'd be Wilkinson) is judging about drowned Africans. 

forbidden love! Gugu & Sam Reid look great together

Belle isn't particularly accomplished as cinema goes, marred as it is by modern anachronisms in dialogue and behavior, and the unmistakable sense that it'd be miles better as a more fleshed out television miniseries. The acting, too, is highly uneven. Gugu has a few wonderful moments but spends too much (i.e. most) of the running time in wide-eyed confused victim mode. But the largest problem is that much of Belle makes no damn sense. Consider, if you will, that though the film begins with Belle as a child, we skip ahead to her adult yearsone or two scenes later but every single cast member (including Belle herself) reacts to the discomfort and unfairness of her peculiar situation like they've never considered any of the implications before; Every awkward interaction or racist affront is a virginal shock! Were they all cryogenically frozen until Belle was old enough to be dowried off to the highest bidder and the actress was old enough to carry both a romantic drama and a civil rights epic?

That said it's an easy film to watch, emotionally accessible and earnest of heart, which is just what I needed that morning at the festival and sometimes being the right movie at the right time on the right day can endear you to weary eyes... especially if you hand them some eye drops*. A- Story / C- Execution

*That's code for tears, which I did shed.

Wednesday
Apr162014

Yes No Maybe So: "Maps to the Stars"

Yesterday two new trailers appeared for David Cronenberg's Maps to the StarsI'm not embedding them specifically because I can't find sharp images (the main one floating around seems like a bad stolen print of a trailer - very underlit) and the international one (NSFW) has too many auto-play ads and works less well as a coherent snapshot of the movie.

I'm hoping Maps skirts the usual trends of public reaction to Cronenberg films. It often follows this pattern:

1. Healthy amount of media coverage and excitement before their films premiere (remember all the A Dangerous Method hoopla?)
2. A curiously muted release (sometimes only limited) with a tiny bit of coverage focused on whichever big star is doing whichever genuinely weird thing they're asked to do in the movie. Think Robert Pattinson getting an enema in the limo in Cosmopolis
3. Almost no follow up conversation online or lines at the box office despite the movies always being genuinely strong conversation pieces...

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Sep122013

Thoughts I Had... While Staring at this Image from "Maps to the Stars"

David Cronenberg's Maps to the Stars (2014) just released this image featuring Sarah Gadon and Julianne Moore. 

my thoughts presented to you in order they appeared...

  • I welcome a good scalp massage but I'm not sure I'd want one in the context of a David Cronenberg movie. Too many orifices!
  • My visine drops repulse me this morning. Drip this movie on my eyeballs RIGHT NOW
  • Is Sarah Gadon the new _________ ?
  • This is Sarah Gadon's fourth movie directed by someone named Cronenberg.
  • Do Father & Son Cronenberg have some sort of sick threeway relationship going on with her straight out of a Cronenberg movie? Do they tie her up with rubber hoses and talk dirty about her mutant vagina?
  • Sarah Gadon does the most amazing blank face acting. She's beautiful, sure, but the beauty is blonde generic. And yet... her face is unsettling in its robotic disinterest (Cosmopolis), society frivolity (Belle), pregnant concern (Enemy) or weird ball-and-chainery (A Dangerous Method)
  • I have guilt for skipping Brandon Cronenberg's Antiviral
  • Will Julianne Moore remember what it means to be an auteur vessel after all these disappointing or at least non-challenging movies of late? It's been a long time since the Haynes days
  • I have touched Julianne Moore twice (handshake 2002 / hug 2010) but she was not naked on a table
  • If you touch Julianne Moore's ginger locks, all your wounds are healed. True fact. Sarah Gadon will live to be 100.
  • Sarah Gadon plays a character named "Clarice". Julianne Moore surely winced every time she spoke the name.
  • I keep forgetting what this movie is about but I like to be surprised so don't tell me!