Today I put the spotlight on the always watchable and convincing Julianne Moore. If you ever want someone to really get into a complex character and express deep emotion, Moore is your woman. Such moving and frequently revealing performances have made Julianne Moore an actress I can never tire of watching. She never seems to go for the easy option, instead delving into characters that are multi-faceted and show off her considerable abilities in daring ways. So which of her many roles is your favourite?
Crazy, Stupid, Love
Glenn Ficarra and John Requa
- Steve Carell as Cal Weaver
- Ryan Gosling as Jacob Palmer
- Julianne Moore as Emily Weaver
- Emma Stone as Hannah
- Kevin Bacon as David Lindhagen
- Marisa Tomei as Kate
- Jonah Bobo as Robbie Weaver
- Analeigh Tipton as Jessica
A very disarming romantic comedy, that brings in touching drama effectively, Crazy, Stupid, Love guarantees laughs and sympathy with a big heart and fabulous cast. This is for my money, one of the better romantic comedies in years.
Middle-aged Cal Weaver’s life looks like it’s going swimmingly; he’s long time been married to high school sweetheart, has two children and a good job. But this is about to take a sever nosedive as Emily reveals that she has cheated on him and now wants a divorce. Dejected and shocked, he drowns his sorrows at the bar. While there, resident Lothario Jacob Palmer takes sympathy on depressed Cal and offers to help him turn his life around. Cal accepts and smooth-talking Jacob soon has him growing more confident with a makeover and tips regarding the dating scene. Cal finds that after getting awkwardly to grips with dating, he can be quite a guy and a real charmer with the ladies. Yet while gaining confidence and his mojo back, Cal can’t help but feel that something is missing and that he may have to confront the feelings he still has for Emily. Meanwhile, Jacob finds himself falling for law student Hannah, who initially rebuffed him but wants some excitement in her life after feeling that her steady but dull boyfriend is not what she was looking for. Because he has always been the player, Jacob doesn’t know how to approach the possibility of love. Also feeling the pangs of love is Cal’s son Robbie, who has a hopeless crush on his pretty 17-year-old babysitter Jessica( who it transpires has feelings for Cal herself). Much hilarity and unexpected results abound as a result of love.
Directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa really know what they’re doing with this kind of project and ensure that the laughs flow just as much as the drama of it all. By far the largest and best thing Crazy, Stupid, Love has in its artillery is a snappy script. There is a devilish and side-splitting back and forth there;particularly in regards to the Cal and Jacob parts of the movie( the makeover of Cal is a very hysterical part), as well as a good few cynical jabs at pop culture’s idea of romance. What set apart from many other film of the crowd, was that it let the characters be flawed yet likable. With too many comedies, it becomes a case of us always having to like the characters all the time. Crazy, Stupid, Love does things differently by equally making time for the humorous aspects of the players and blending with the touching insights we get to them, expressing their insecurities and desires. The movie never ceases to be hysterically funny and irreverent, but the added parts of drama give it a lot more impact and made it a better movie that what I expected it to be. And rather than be overly predictable, there are some extremely well-timed surprises along the way, bolstered by a genuine heart and sympathy. Love and relationships are depicted as funny, complex and unexplainable, but always there no matter what. A gentle and amiable score perfectly matches the events on screen in a very accomplished way that doesn’t overstate things. The only niggle I found was that the film was a tad too long, but honestly that was the only thing in a very funny and satisfying movie.
A winning cast is the proverbial cherry on top. Steve Carell is inspired casting as the hapless Cal, who doesn’t know what to do with his life after discovering the infidelity of his wife. The required awkwardness, every man quality and emotion is glimpsed, but Carell succeeds the most at displaying his sense of humour once Cal gets a new lease of life. Some of his facial expressions are just so funny and equally touching, often in quick succession and it is hard not to want to reach through the screen and tell this guy that things will work out for him. Ryan Gosling plays remarkably well off the straight-laced and sympathetic Carell with his matinee idol image of a stud put to great use. Yet while his good looks and charisma are all there, he also gets the opportunity to reveal a bit more than just the standard role of the playboy wing man. Both men take up a lot of the story and have a blast doing so. The rapport between them is one of those winning combinations that benefits the other and ensures that the laughs and good nature of Crazy, Stupid, Love come percolating through. The distinctively emotional and expressive delivery of Julianne Moore is very well suited to the part of conflicted Emily. We witness how she begins to rue her decision to ask for divorce, despite being involved with someone else. As usual, Moore is terrific. Emma Stone is a vibrant flash of energy and has some sparkling chemistry with Ryan Gosling, alongside humour to burn. Laughs are also guaranteed courtesy of Marisa Tomei, playing the schoolteacher who sleeps with Cal and then becomes neurotic over him not bothering with her because of his new lifestyle. Her scenes are a real hoot and though the part is small, it’s well-played and memorable. Kevin Bacon has probably the least developed part of the man Emily cheated on Cal with, but has fun with it anyway in the way that he knows how. Jonah Bobo, despite his young years, comes off incredibly confident and mature when playing the young boy mooning over his babysitter crush, while also dispensing advice about love to grown ups. The lovely Analeigh Tipton sweetly portrays the longings of a girl near womanhood and the confusion of it all, very perceptively and honestly.
In fact, it must be stated that Crazy, Stupid, Love features such great chemistry from each cast member, it’s positively infectious.
A simply wonderful and warm slice of romantic comedy-drama, Crazy, Stupid, Love is the kind of the film that will leave you with a massive grin on your face.
A Single Man
- Colin Firth as George Falconer
- Julianne Moore as Charley
- Nicholas Hoult as Kenny
- Matthew Goode as Jim
An emotionally rich and soulful debut from fashion supremo Tom Ford, A Single Man is a film not to be missed, as it delves into themes of grief, contemplation and love.
It is 1962; George Falconer is a gay British professor living in California, who lost his partner Jim to a car accident eight months ago. His grief is very strong and he just attempts to get through the days, which is becoming more and more difficult as life without Jim is completely unbearable in George’s eyes. A Single Man unravels across a sole day in which George is faced with a decision that could be final. George is so haunted by the memories he shared with this soul mate that on the day in which the film takes place, he is contemplating suicide to end his suffering. Throughout the day, he comes into contact with many people who populate his life and could potentially sway his decision of committing suicide. There is his boozy friend Charley, who he once had a relationship with but she is now somewhat lonely and craving any sort of attention and love. We also have Kenny, one of George’s students who pines for his professor’s attentions after hearing him give a rousing lecture which is different from his usual style of teaching. Through these respective meetings, George starts to see things differently for possibly the very first time since losing Jim. But will any of these encounters or events truly persuade George that he should go on with life, instead of ending it all?
Tom Ford, in what was his debut as a director, suffuses A Single Man with both beauty(gorgeous black and white flashbacks of happier time with Jim ) and wealth of emotion(George’s morning routine of putting his clothes on in an armour like fashion, while he narrates his struggle of presenting himself). Ford is a visionary to be sure, but his greatest talent lies in his exploration of the central character’s journey and seating us right at the heart of it, giving us the full clout of it all. Also worthy of note is the way that sexuality is resented in A Single Man. The setting is the 60’s when homosexuality was still a taboo and while there are coded references to this knowledge, the character of George is presented in a very matter of fact way. His romance with Jim is shown with the respect and love of any other relationship in movies, which is how it should be. Kudos to Tom Ford for displaying he relationship like this and not sensationalizing it. The premise of A Single Man sounds like a real downer and yes it does have an air of sorrow throughout, but it also feels very alive and vibrant as George considers opening up to possibilities and beauty in the world, just as he does battle with thoughts of ending it all. The stupendous cinematography clearly enriches this, capturing the grey parts of George’s world that quite literally become golden when he opens his eyes to life’s possibilities the last time in his life. Colour is key is this film and it just adds another layer of sophistication and beauty to this moving story that refuses to let go of you once it has pulled you in. The visuals have to be some of the best that I’ve seen in a movie for a while, because of powerfully they accentuate the narrative and drive the events along with scrupulous depth. A powerful music score evinces the emotions at play with degrees of shaded nuance to them. The score is sublimely conducted and matches events with nary a wasted note present.
Colin Firth is astonishingly fantastic in a role that fits him like one of the character’s suits. He is a master of restraint and burrows quietly into the devastation and contemplation of George. He is put quite simply, a marvel in the part of stoic sadness and rumination that reveals so much with the tiniest of gestures. Firth has rarely been better than he is here and this for me is a defining role for him that I won’t forget in a hurry. Julianne Moore provides sterling support acting as the drunken party girl, who covers her crushing loneliness with bravado while still carrying a torch for George, despite knowing that nothing will come of it. Nicholas Hoult sensitively stars as the love struck student who wants his professor to open up more and makes the character quite sweet and supportive in the long run. Matthew Goode plays the deceased partner of George’s in vivid flashbacks with a charm and ease that it isn’t hard to grasp why George’s world is falling apart without his shining light.
A deeply moving and sensuous piece of cinema, A Single Man brings out a whole array of thoughts that leaves you feeling so many different things. Anchored by the composed work of Colin Firth, A Single Man is a beautifully rendered and haunting film that grips and moves you in every conceivable way.
Laws of Attraction
- Julianne Moore as Audrey Woods
- Pierce Brosnan as Daniel Rafferty
- Michael Sheen as Thorne Jamison
- Parker Posey as Serena Jamison
- Frances Fisher as Sara
This romantic comedy never quite hits the mark that it is going for in trying to emulate classic battle of the sexes movies, but thanks to good chemistry from the leads, Laws of Attraction is at least an entertaining way to pass the time.
Audrey Woods is a successful divorce lawyer in New York who does things by the book and studiously, which pays off as she has never lost a case. That is threatened however by the recent arrival of the irascible Daniel Rafferty, another divorce lawyer who boasts a similar reputation, but different methods. While Audrey is the analytical and slightly prim one, Daniel gets by on luck and charm. They find themselves continually pitted against the other and this is where a sexual tension builds. Audrey, who has all but given up on the dating scene, has no interest in a relationship after seeing so many just wither away. Daniel on the contrary is extremely attracted to her and wants something genuine out of it, much to Audrey’s chagrin. Yet these feelings may go on the back burner when trashy couple of rock star Thorne and designer wife Serena head to the divorce court. Audrey and Daniel continue to clash in and out of the courtroom, especially when they must visit the couple’s castle in Ireland that both of the squabbling parties wants for themselves. Yet after one specific event during an eventful night for Audrey and Daniel, things between them could very well change, even though each is on the opposing side. The gloves are off as battle commences, yet will the undeniable spark that sizzles between them thaw out or ignite into something else?
Peter Howitt and his direction are passable, but not really setting the world ablaze. Regardless, he displays some talent for humour, despite the slim pickings and silliness of some of the content present. Laws of Attraction isn’t what you would call compelling viewing, and yet there are some good points that can be combed from the mess. It amounts to a pleasing diversion if nothing else, but you are left with the feeling that more could have been injected into the film somehow. The script was amiable and had moments of good banter between the feuding lawyers, but it never had that snap of the romantic comedies of old that it was trying to reference. Undeniably, it has a few laughs in there that occasionally hit the mark very well that I simply can’t deny. But judging the overall experience, there is definitely something curiously uneven about Laws of Attraction that drag it down in my estimations. The chemistry of the leads makes up for some of this, raising the film to a watchable level. There is the glossy style of the film that carries a certain kitsch and archaic quality to it, plus the locations of New York and Ireland are quite stunning. The music provided is pleasing to the ear and more than a little playful. And I did enjoy the retro infused title sequence that is one of the better attempts in the film to have an old-fashioned sense of celluloid. But considering there are good elements in Laws of Attraction, one can’t help but feel there is a void there that needed to be filled.
If anything saves Laws of Attraction from being dull and a complete washout, it has to be most of the cast, in particular the romantic leads. Julianne Moore is one of the most versatile actresses out there and here she shows a whole new different side. Vastly sailing above the by the numbers material, she displays some deft skill at comedy by playing career woman Audrey with a neurotic humour and heart. The tough outer steel of the character is a mask that slips to reveal insecurity and a want for love, all of which is embodied with ease by Moore. She really made me laugh in parts of this film with her quick talking antics and smart yet desperate yearning. It’s hats off to the delightful Julianne Moore in another great performance. Pierce Brosnan plays the rakish sparring partner and love interest. Portraying suave and smooth is nothing groundbreaking for him, but as it is his strong suit, he uses it well in the part. The same can’t be said of Michael Sheen and Parker Posey, who are basically thrown into the mix as a plot device and nothing else. I respect and enjoy watching both actors normally, but the sheer lack of any decipherable role is unfortunate for both of them. The film could have at least called for them to do more as the trashy couple going through the acrimonious divorce. Frances Fisher is the best in the supporting cast. As the Botox-loving, cocktail swigging mother of Audrey, she registers the most laughs in her attempts to be young again through any means possible. Whenever she is on screen, Fisher is a comic delight to be enjoyed.
It never ever reaches full potential and more than often feels rushed, though the acting is fine from Brosnan and Moore. I just wanted something more out of Laws of Attraction, which winds up with me seeing it as a mixed movie.
I recalled the other day that my last post on movie nudity got a lot of attention and interesting opinions. So I decided it would be good to delve into the subject of cinematic nudity once. This time around, I’m asking which actors and actresses appear to strip off a lot in their movies? If I had a body like some of the top stars, I’m sure I’d be fine getting naked on screen. But I digress, I will now mention the stars that in my opinion, seem very comfortable in taking it off for the screen.
This guy appears very at ease with his body and is more than willing to be seen on celluloid in the buff.
The beautiful and hugely talented Miss Moore is also comfortable on doing nude scenes with a tastefulness and honesty.
A classy lady and marvellous actress, Helen Mirren has never shied away from going nude, only recently saying she’s retired her body from the screen.
So do you agree with my choices? Or do you think there are other stars who parade on screen in the buff.
2010's, Action, Donald Sutherland, Elizabeth Banks, Francis Lawrence, Jeffrey Wright, Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Julianne Moore, Liam Hemsworth, Natalie Dormer, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Sam Claflin, Science Fiction, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, Woody Harrelson
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1
- Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen
- Josh Hutcherson as Peeta Mellark
- Liam Hemsworth as Gale Hawthorne
- Woody Harrelson as Haymitch Abernathy
- Elizabeth Banks as Effie Trinket
- Julianne Moore as President Alma Coin
- Philip Seymour Hoffman as Plutarch Heavensbee
- Donald Sutherland as President Snow
- Jeffrey Wright as Beetee
- Sam Claflin as Finnick Odair
- Natalie Dormer as Cressida
The third film of the franchise, Mockingjay Part 1 emerges as a more subdued sister than its previous installments. At times it does feel a bit slow and devoid of action, but at the same time it’s interesting to watch this gathering calm before the storm as it explores political upheaval and the growing sense of rebellion.
Katniss has been saved after destroying the Games in the last movie. Scared and wracked with nightmares, she is taken underground to District 13. After her act of defiance, her district was destroyed and acts of protest against the corrupt Capitol have been ever-present. The enigmatic Alma Coin and political propaganda expert Plutarch Heavensbee sees Katniss as the poster girl for a full-scale attack on President Snow and his barbaric forces. The wounded Katniss is very reluctant at first to strike back as she worries about what happened to Peeta. But after seeing the destruction of her district and the sheer cruelty of Snow which includes having a brainwashed Peeta as the spokesman to talk down rebellion, that inner fire inside of her begins to burn and she becomes the face of resistance in this time of political strife and corruption. Yet with Snow using his choke hold of tyranny against the districts, it is going to be dangerous for all involved. But the newly resurfacing of Katniss is returning and she will spearhead this campaign to bring down the corrupt powers that be, aided by good friend Gale and bands of rebels wanting to be free from oppression.
As I previously mentioned, Mockingjay Part 1 is the slow build up kind of movie. For times in the film, it works very well in capturing the machinations of political rebellion and the waiting to strike. I did however find parts of it a bit dull and craved a bit more action than what was shown. Yet this doesn’t make it any less effective as a movie, it’s just slightly different from the last two entries. Francis Lawrence crafts this engaging story with a certain topicality in the politics and propaganda used featuring Katniss as the face of resistance. Even though this film is set in the future, many of the issues it deals with are very present in our current climate which adds a further dimension to this series. Mockingjay may be the slow burner, but it has a personal and more intimate feeling to it. It may be risky to have a sci-fi/action movie that only has sporadic moments of action, but I liked the way in which Mockingjay showcases how wars can be waged with the power of words and imagery rather than just violence. An effectively bleak visual style gives voice to the darkness and terror felt by the people under the rule of President Snow. An evocative and building score helps give tension and personal feeling to Katniss as she regains her steel and prepares to fight for the people. The scene of Katniss singing ‘The Hanging Tree’ and it acting as inspiration and a call to arms is an excellent example of this as the melody flows through with urgency.
Jennifer Lawrence rivets the attention from beginning to end as the emotionally tormented heroine Katniss. Embodying rage, pain and steel, she is a strong-willed character who can make a difference in a world of barbarity. With deep clarity, selflessness and toughness, Lawrence is a marvel to watch as the resilient and purposeful warrior due to her mature performance and sheer amount of talent. Josh Hutcherson, although seen quite sporadically this time, is strangely different as the Peeta who has been tortured and brainwashed. Liam Hemsworth contributes the mix of caring emotion and earnestness, while Woody Harrelson continues to be a hoot as mentor Haymitch. I liked seeing Elizabeth Banks as the now dressed down Effie, once the glory of the Capitol and now an ally with freedom. Julianne Moore encompasses the cold, detached persona of President Coin, while the late Philip Seymour Hoffman brings a considerable presence to his part as the propagandist. Hoffman is still missed now and this movie is a reminder of his talent and skill even in a small role. Donald Sutherland is still as menacing and commanding as ever as the despicable President Snow, who is not tolerating rebellion against his tyranny. Jeffrey Wright, Sam Claflin and Natalie Dormer in supporting roles at least make an impact, despite somewhat limited screen time.
Mockingjay Part 1 emerges as a thought-provoker rather than an action blockbuster which may disappoint some, but is still very effective in the way it is gearing up for the next part.
- Julianne Moore as Telly Paretta
- Dominic West as Ash Correll
- Gary Sinise as Dr. Jack Munce
- Alfre Woodard as Detective Anne Pope
- Linus Roache as Mr. Shineer
- Anthony Edwards as Jim Paretta
A potentially intriguing premise descends into confusion and disjointed genre melding in The Forgotten, which despite the talent included comes out as a weak and unmemorable movie. Only for a strong turn from Julianne Moore and a suitably eerie score, The Forgotten remains partly watchable.
Telly Paretta is trying to survive the grief of losing her young son Sam in a plane crash fourteen months earlier. No matter how hard she tries, she is haunted by the pain of loss and sadness at losing her beloved son. Her husband Jim thinks it is time that she moves on, but Telly thinks otherwise and continues to cling to the memories of her little boy who was tragically taken from her all those months ago. Then one day Telly wakes up and the strangest thing has happened. The photographs of her and her son are gone. All the tapes of him are blank. And everyone who Telly comes into contact with, even her husband, tells her that they have never heard of her son and that she is delusional. Her psychiatrist Dr Munce explains that Telly has fabricated these memories of ever having a son. Everything that she has experienced up to this point has been a dream or fantasy, according to everyone surrounding her. Bewildered and shocked, Telly knows that she had a son and wants to prove that she is not slipping into madness, despite everyone around her questioning that her boy ever existed. Telly soon finds something of an ally in Ash Correll, who she says had a daughter who died in the same crash. At first, the miserable alcoholic dismisses her claims and won’t listen, but he comes to see that she is right about the whole thing. Now with Telly and Ash searching for the truth, they find mysterious government agents on their tail. And that’s not all, a strange and unexplained force seems to be after them as well. What will be unearthed in Telly’s quest for answers?
Director Joseph Ruben knows how to direct a thriller, but none of that skill is evident here as he tries to straddle the stands of psychological thriller and sci-fi into one. The whole tone of the film suffers and is hellishly disjointed, coming off as a directionless thriller and an X Files reject . This is a shame because the opening sets up what could have been an interesting story, that is wasted and falls short in almost every category there is. The whole basis of a mother searching for her son could have provided a lot of deep emotion here, yet The Forgotten squanders most of the impact. The Forgotten aims to be unpredictable and unexpected, but the script is weak and as the story plods on, it becomes to ludicrous to take seriously. The visuals of moody blue and grey are actually quite well done, but can’t make up for the shortcomings of the film. An ominous and melancholy score, with an underlying electronic edge, adds some much-needed suspense and eeriness to the proceedings.
The saving grace of The Forgotten is the ever-reliable and excellent Julianne Moore. Rising above the multitude of flaws in the story, she invests Telly with emotional clarity and tenacity in her attempts to prove she is right and hopefully discover the truth. Moore is the reason to watch this film as she shines in the part and brings emotive depth and conviction to a hollow film. Unfortunately, none of the other parts are interesting or particularly well-written. Dominic West, Gary Sinise, Alfre Woodard, Linus Roache and Anthony Edwards all have great talent, but the material they are given to work with is abysmal so none of them can make any impact in such sketchy roles.
So except for some striking visuals, melancholy score and Julianne Moore’s performance, The Forgotten should be exactly what the title says.
Body of Evidence
- Madonna as Rebecca Carlson
- Willem Dafoe as Frank Dulaney
- Joe Mantegna as Robert Garrett
- Anne Archer as Joanne Braslow
- Julianne Moore as Sharon Dulaney
- Jürgen Prochnow as Dr Alan Paley
It was meant to be an erotic thriller with an added dash of courtroom drama but from watching the critically derided box office bomb that is Body of Evidence, it becomes abundantly clear that is neither erotic or thrilling. With Madonna in a weak performance and the talents of good actors wasted, Body of Evidence represents what can only be described as a train wreck of a film.
In Portland, Oregon, a wealthy old man by the name of Andrew Marsh has been found dead after suffering a fatal heart attack while restrained to his bed with handcuffs. At the time of death he was watching a home movie and the police believe that the girl in the film, Rebecca Carlson, a beautiful art gallery owner and Andrew’s much younger lover is connected in some way to the death of him. Rebecca is arrested and put on trial, where her adventurous and unusual sex life is brought up as a means for her to kill her elderly lover. Representing her is Frank Dulaney, who tries everything he can to clear Rebecca’s name and counteract everything said by the opposition of Robert Garrett, the ambitious defense attorney on the trial. Garrett believes that Rebecca used her seductive charms and vigorous bedroom activities to murder Andrew, as the man had a debilitating heart condition and was set to leave his young lover $8 million in the event of his death. Yet as the trial goes on, the married Frank becomes increasingly entranced by Rebecca and throws professionalism out the window to pursue a torrid and unusual love affair with his client. Rebecca dominates Frank with her sadomasochistic tendencies in the bedroom and firmly sets herself up as the one in charge in the strange game of pleasure and pain that she plays. But sooner or later, Frank is left questioning whether or not this seductive woman was capable of cold-blooded murder with the use of her more than sensual body and is he really defending as well as sleeping with an avaricious lust murderer?
The whole set up of Body of Evidence just seems so ridiculous and one can’t take it seriously. The film itself tries to be serious in the court room scenes and surprising with attempted red herrings but it just ends up being completely laughable. Director Uli Edel tries to take the material seriously and does give the movie some good visuals such as billowing MTV see through curtains, candles flickering and sinister shadows, but even that can’t save this movie from inevitable disaster. The score manages to give the film some of the eroticism it sorely lacks with twinkling percussion and seductive guitar forming the backbone. Those two points about the visuals and the music are two of the only things that I can think of that can be praised in this weak film. Marketed as an erotic thriller, Body of Evidence falls short in both departments. The sex scenes between Rebecca and Frank are supposed to be eye-opening and titillating, with the femme fatale Rebecca introducing her dark world of pain and pleasure to the wide-eyed Frank, but the scenes( including the use of candle wax, restraints and an unusual encounter in a parking lot) end up feeling boring and not all erotic in the slightest. The writer tries to incorporate thrills into the story and make us guess whether Rebecca is guilty or not, but with the weak script we really don’t end up caring about whether Rebecca committed the crime.
Chief among the problems of Body of Evidence is the decision to cast pop superstar Madonna in the lead role. She’s never going to go down as the best actress in history, but at least in past movies such as Desperately Seeking Susan and A League of Their Own she was watchable enough and wasn’t a complete disaster. Here her delivery of lines is stilted and unconvincing as her character is accused of using her sex life to kill her old lover. Everyone knows that Madonna can be sexy( hell if anyone knows that sex sells, it has to be Madonna), but that is all she brings to the part and nothing else. Willem Dafoe is wasted as Rebecca’s lawyer Frank, who enters into an illicit relationship with her. Joe Mantegna and Anne Archer don’t fare much better in their poorly written roles as district attorney and secretary for the deceased. And Julianne Moore is just wasted here as Frank’s wronged wife and it really is a shame to see one of my favourite actresses having to slum it with this weak film. Even an appearance from Jürgen Prochnow as an unreliable witness in the case can’t bring anything that great to this mess of a movie.
Unconvincing and not remotely as thrilling or sexy as it wanted to be, Body of Evidence is a weak film that seemed destined for the critical drubbing it received and with good reason.
An Ideal Husband
- Rupert Everett as Lord Arthur Goring
- Cate Blanchett as Lady Gertrude Chiltern
- Minnie Driver as Miss Mabel Chiltern
- Julianne Moore as Mrs. Laura Cheveley
- Jeremy Northam as Sir Robert Chiltern
- John Wood as Lord Caversham
Based on the play by Oscar Wilde, An Ideal Husband is a witty, delightful and well-acted period comedy surrounding a potential parliamentary scandal and those involved. Cracking dialogue and an excellent satirical look at society’s conventions, it whisks along at a brisk pace and keeps you entertained all the way.
The film is set in 1895 London. Sir Robert Chiltern is a respected rising star in parliament with a beautiful, devoted wife Gertrude and the admiration of his colleagues. His seemingly perfect existence is shaken by the arrival of Mrs. Laura Cheveley; a manipulative women with knowledge of a past misdeed Robert committed that could bring his career into disrepute and threaten his marriage. Worried about the potential parliamentary ramifications and marital distrust, he calls upon his best friend Lord Arthur Goring; a notoriously idle philanderer who incurs his father’s wrath by the fact he is not married and has no interest for it. Goring agrees to help as he knows Laura Cheveley from years before, but finds that his proud bachelorhood may be under threat because of this and the fact that Chiltern’s sister, Mabel is head over heels in love with Arthur.Prepare for hysterical lines and witty insights into political life as Arthur attempts to help his friend whilst preserving his caddish demeanor and single living.
What immediately struck me about An Ideal Husband was the topicality of it, as in this era we have seen many political scandals and parliamentary shocks. This adds a certain modernity to the film despite it being a period piece, it could have taken place today and been just as fun. Yet the period setting helps with the witty satire of political scandal present in the Oscar Wilde play of the same name.Oliver Parker views the various machinations of polite society with a humorous edge, showing the audience the extent of scandal on society back then. The script further adds to the laughs as we witness both Robert and Arthur’s desperate attempts to evade the scheme of the vindictive Mrs. Cheveley and its potential effects on both of their personal lives. The adventurous score brims with mischievous glee as characters exchange barbed lines whilst remaining allegedly polite in high society.
The cast assembled shine with crackling dialogue and interesting characters. Rupert Everett steals the show as the philandering Arthur and breathes life into his character and his outlook on life. Also,watching him trying to retain bachelor status proves highly comic viewing. Jeremy Northam, in the pivotal role of the worrying Robert, portrays the best friend character with a lively and engaging performance. Julianne Moore is delightfully scheming and foxy as Laura, her character clearly knowing how to play people like a fiddle for her own personal gain. As the loving Gertrude, the versatile Cate Blanchett exudes a touching wistfulness as she comes to realise her husband isn’t as perfect as she originally thought in a finely judged performance. Rounding out the lovely ladies is Minnie Driver as the quick-witted and lovestruck Mabel. Her expressive face is ideally utilised to comic effect as we watch her many advances towards Arthur in the hope he will reciprocate her loving emotions. And not forgetting John Wood, who is a caustically witty presence as Arthur’s impatient and disapproving father.
A period comedy with a fine cast and a particularly humorous look at scandal, An Ideal Husband is a joy from start to finish with its bristling nature and witty script. If it’s a satirical period comedy with delightfully funny examinations of scandal that you’ve been searching for, then you may find it with An Ideal Husband.
- Glenn Close as Camille Dixon
- Julianne Moore as Cora Duvall
- Liv Tyler as Emma Duvall
- Chris O’Donnell as Jason Brown
- Charles S. Dutton as Willis Richland
- Patricia Neal as Jewel Mae “Cookie” Orcutt
- Ned Beatty as Lester Boyle
Brimming with engaging characters and laced with an eccentric humour, Cookie’s Fortune continues to show Robert Altman’s deft skill with talented ensemble casts. Focusing on the effects of an old woman’s suicide on the many eccentric people in her life, this yarn boasts off-kilter humour and bittersweet drama in equal measure.
Jewel Mae or Cookie as she is often called is the no-nonsense, ageing resident in the quiet town of Holly Springs, Mississippi. For years she has missed her husband and has pined for his presence in her life. She lives in an old but grand house with loyal handyman and best friend Willis Richland. Also living in the town are Cookie’s nieces, Camille and Cora. The sisters are polar opposites; Camille is a domineering, overly dramatic woman and Cora is naive and easily led by everything her sister says. Also arriving in town is Cora’s daughter Emma, a rebellious teenager who genuinely cares for her aunt and is engaged in an on-off relationship with a comically inept cop called Jason. Cookie decides it is time she joined her late husband and plans her own suicide by shooting herself as Easter approaches. After going through with it, she is found by Camille, who is presiding over the Easter performance of Salome. The already highly strung madam destroys the evidence of a suicide attempt and tries to make it look like the old woman was murdered. The reasons for this are Camille’s opinion that it will shame her family’s name and more prominently her desire to inherit the riches of the woman. After convincing Cora to help her, the police begin to investigate. The blame falls upon the kind Willis, but Emma is not so convinced by it and sets out to unearth the truth. As skeletons begin to rattle and secrets rise to the surface, dark humour is found in Camille’s desperate attempts to avoid being found out. Touching moments also appear as we watch Emma try to save her friend from imprisonment. As usual, Robert Altman keeps the story ticking over with an eccentric ensemble cast, bittersweet revelations and a darkly comic undertone.
Although dealing with crime and accusations of murder, there is an almost breezy lightness and playfulness that pervades the film and keeps the drama and humour excellently intertwined and convincing. It may be said that it is one of Altman’s most accessible films, mainly because it focuses on the ensemble cast but doesn’t feature the cross-cutting between too many characters that his other films do very effectively but can also confuse viewers. The cast is the main reason to watch Cookie’s Fortune. Most of the humour comes from moments in Glenn Close’s theatrical and hysterical performance, such as the side-splitting moment in which she elaborately plans the way the “murderer” would have entered the house. Ably Supporting her is Julianne Moore in full on quirky mode as the subservient and odd Cora. Liv Tyler is impressive as the rebellious outcast Emma, capturing her youthful, spunky spirit and sullen disdain for her hypocritical aunt. Chris O’Donnell is a hoot as Jason, the inept and inexperienced cop who woos Emma. Charles S. Dutton has one of the best roles, exuding subtle emotions as the fiercely loyal handyman Willis, who out of most of the people actually cared for the old Cookie. In the small but pivotal role as the eponymous Cookie, Patricia Neal is superbly cast. It is through her character that every event unravels and the various deceit and lies come to the forefront of the plot. Rounding out the impressively assembled cast is Ned Beatty as the head cop who uses fishing as a philosophy for life and what happens in it. Credit must go to the screenplay for injecting the oddball sense of humour that punctuates into the narrative. The simple but well-chosen bluegrass and jazz soundtrack adds to the Southern atmosphere of this crime comedy drama.
In my opinion, Cookie’s Fortune is a neglected gem in Altman’s canon. If it’s an oddball comedy filled with drama and finely drawn characters that you want to see, Cookie’s Fortune is a certain safe bet.