I try to put my finger on it, but it’s quite a difficult to say what exactly moves me and gets me with the movies of Noah Baumbach. Perhaps the biding nature of his mumble core realism is something that my New York 20-something Lucas really gravitates to and always has…perhaps always will. He being a collaborator on some great Wes Anderson pieces has only served to put him in perfect company, but in this film, for me anyway, it’s emerging star and somewhat (read: seemingly obvious) muse Greta Gerwig who is the icing on the cake; this latest film by Baumbach is Mistress America. In it, we have the identity tale of two separate, young women—one who is nearly 20 and one in her 30s. Respectively, they are Tracy Fishko played by newbie Lola Kirke and Brooke Cardines, played by Gerwig. The film follows them as they are brought together by the fact that their parents are marrying and now they will become stepsisters. What Baumbach really serves us this time though is a look into the uncanny and the wild dream, the reality of life even when everything is a struggle. Much like his last outing While We’re Young, Baumbach’s vision encompasses a broader range than what most indie or larger budget, character-driven films throw our way: hope. And some damn, good laughs along the way! ###-1/2
Anton Corbijn will always be the ‘guy who directed all those Depeche Mode videos back in the day’ to me. His name popping up on the bottom, left-hand side of the screen on MTV meant something foreboding and fascinating. His first film The American and his sophomore effort, A Most Wanted Man, put him squarely on the map for someone to watch as a new cine director, even though he’s been a master at his directing craft for decades now…still, the fickle industry must be proven wrong in order to grant a new director more screen time. In his latest film, Life, Corbijn brings to the screen the story of Dennis Stock, a photographer who is assigned to tag along a Hollywood star, the young and handsome James Dean, as he travels around the country. As they move about between LA, NYC and even the MidWest, Corbijn paints the portrait not only of a hungry freelancer getting his foot in the door, but also of a vulnerable cine star, who is at once the hottest thing, yet not the manliest man. Corbijn’s history as a photographer and concept music video director only aides him in supplying energy to the actors taking part in the drama. Robert Pattinson, as the photographer who captured so many of the Dean photos we know and love, is slick and yet a tad nervous it seems in his role; still though, he manages to keep momentum at a steady pace with Dane DeHaan’s rival energy as James Dean, though frankly I found the guy not the likeliest choice for the looks department. That said, his portrayal of the fallen star is spot on and Corbijn has notched another accomplishment for his filmography. ###
Whenever an actor gets to dive deeper into themselves and still challenge their own conventional role, it shines through in their work. Frankly, the same could be said about most anything in life. One thing that is lovely to see is that comedienne/actress/author Lily Tomlin has never stopped perfecting her craft. From her latest TV gig Grace and Frankie with Jane Fonda to this newest raw, dramedy Grandma, she proves that passing well beyond “That Certain Age” doesn’t mean jack when the work is good. The latest film by Paul Weitz (American Pie, About a Boy, In Good Company) tells the story of Elle Reid, a bitter, often brash woman and Tomlin executes that to the fullest of her acting chops’ allowance. When life presents a tiny present in the form of her granddaughter Sage (Julia Garner), at her door needing money for an abortion, everything changes. We see a feisty, lovely granny who is bitchy, wise and wonderful all at once. When she cuts her grand baby’s boytoy to pieces, you can’t help but laugh your fool bum off, it’s exhilarating. What is wildly entertaining is that the film’s creator is the guy behind the humping an apple pie movie. Weitz has managed to craft a film that speaks for the gay community and empowers them without falsifying reality. What he then does with the film, what Tomlin does as well, is find brilliant ways to touche on so many lightning rod, social issues that the USA is facing today, and frankly you would be hard pressed not to be intrigued and impressed! ###-1/2
It’s getting cold out there folks, so keep warm, safe and loved. See you in a few!