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Entries in Tamara Jenkins (4)

Saturday
Oct062018

"Private Life", First Visit

Chris Feil wraps up his look at the films of Tamara Jenkins with her newest film, now on Netflix...

If The Savages was like Slums of Beverly Hills all grown up and disillusioned, Private Life is like Jenkins’ first two films in conversation, and it’s maybe her wisest. Here Kathryn Hahn and Paul Giamatti play an intelligencia couple Rachel and Richard exhaustively exploring every avenue to conceive, with newcomer Kayli Carter as their young adoring niece Sadie naively slipping herself into their struggle. With this newest film, Jenkins casts her widest net of characters, all the more rewarding with the vulnerabilities of youth and middle age are in dialogue.

Jenkins chapters the film while still structuring it like messy memory, resembling a life so anxious it can only be delineated by doctor’s visits and holidays. At the point we meet them, Rachel and Richard exist in a flurry of procedures and hormonal upheaval to the point that it defines them. But despite pursuing all of their myriad expensive and physically taxing options to bring a child into their home, Private Life is really about coping with the waning amount of options life provides as we age.

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Friday
Oct052018

"The Savages", Also Revisited

Chris Feil continues his look at the films of Tamara Jenkins...

The Savages came nearly a decade after Tamara Jenkins arrived in 1998 with Slums of Beverly Hills, and the wait found the writer/director’s onscreen family dynamics develop to something tougher. Turns out time brings a whole host of concerns both harder to reconcile and compromise with, both in fiction and real life. Though it deals with timeless issues like family and aging, The Savages is also quite of its time, though in subtle ways it has maybe taken over another decade to see. What’s always been clear is that the film is miraculous.

Laura Linney and Philip Seymour Hoffman star as adult siblings and unfulfilled creatives Wendy and Jon Savage, forced to care for their estranged and formerly abusive father as he succumbs to dementia. Jenkins again is fascinated with our unfortunate bodies and social pretenses, this time with the film’s humor taking a more refined, unflinching swing at our very human shortcomings.

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Thursday
Oct042018

"Slums of Beverly Hills" Revisited

Chris Feil is looking back at the films of Tamara Jenkins...

Tamara Jenkins doesn’t get nearly the love she deserves as one of the most rich voices in contemporary American comedy. Though maybe we could blame that on her short filmography that nevertheless remains pristinely unimpeachable. Or maybe it’s because she leaves us wanting for painful lengths of time between films, and makes it worth the wait. Her newest, Private Life, arrives Friday on Netflix after more than a decade since she gave us The Savages. And before that there was another decade gap following her 1998 debut Slums of Beverly Hills.

The film is most notorious for being the breakthrough role for Natasha Lyonne as the film’s hilarious teenage heroine Vivian. She belongs to another of Jenkins’ dysfunctional but affectionate family units, carted around 1970s California with her shifty father Murray and two dumbass brothers. Hers is a summer of firsts - her first bra, her first period, her first lay and first orgasm (separate, of course) - but Jenkins and Lyonne make it not-so-typical compared to less sharp coming-of-age tales. Opposite Alan Arkin as the father and Marisa Tomei as her fuckup aunt, Lyonne is a natural, exhaling comic brilliance by simply existing in Vivian’s restless malaise.

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Saturday
Apr212018

Jason Reitman & Diablo Cody, Round Three!

by Murtada

By now you’ve all heard about the post-screening Tribeca Film Festival panel that went around the world. The moderator at a Scarface 35th anniversary screening, asked Michelle Pfeiffer about her weight during filming.

As the father of a daughter, I'm concerned about body image. The preparation for this film — what did you weigh? 

The horror! The audience met the question with groans, and Pfeiffer handled it superbly, focusing on her work for the film.

I was at another Tribeca event happening at the same time. One that was markedly devoid of sexist questions and uncomfortable moments. In fact it was the opposite of that...

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