Thursday, June 15, 2017

Nosh 68: 'Chasing Trane,' 'Obit' & More

By David Elliott
                                                  
Flix Nosh is a personal movie menu, fresh each Friday.


APPETIZER: Reviews of Chasing Trane and Obit      
Chasing Trane: The John Coltrane Documentary
The horn seems to be listening to an inner monolog unlimited by time, location or audience. And the player is bound to his horn in soulful embrace. It is John Coltrane, on the alto or tenor sax, climbing the peaks of “A Love Supreme,” or cool-crooning “It Never Entered My Mind,” or stream-riffing his joyful, unexpected hit, “My Favorite Things” from The Sound of Music.

John Scheinfeld’s Chasing Trane starts off with cosmic graphics of stellar nebulae. And a giddy voice compares Coltrane to Beethoven and Shakespeare. Not even in the field of jazz enthusiasm, where hyperbole wails, should a great artist be lauded with that jive. But the documentary backs up most of its rhetoric. We see a tongue-tied kid up from Southern poverty and a broken home, learning his “chops” from Dizzy Gillespie and Miles Davis, getting fired from Davis’s great ’50s quartet for heroin-addicted fizzles, climbing back with help from Thelonious Monk, killing his habit “cold turkey,” finding a new parity (and purity) with Miles, then starting his own group that pushed the edge beyond bop into the realm of Trane (some of the later experiments sound oral-compulsive, and reminded me of Aldous Huxley’s remark that Jackon Pollock’s drip paintings were like carpeting that “could go on forever”).

I don’t think Scheinfeld quite finds the secretive depths of Charlotte Zwerin’s great documentary Thelonious Monk: Straight No Chaser. But, with a lot of good clips and graphics, and testimonies of love from Wayne Shorter, Wynton Marsalis, McCoy Tyner and other veterans (and family members, ever-giddy Cornel West, ex-Prez Bill Clinton and a delightful Japanese fanatic), we hear some of the loveliest, most urgently sincere music ever put on film. The muse here is growth. Coltrane went from zealot to mess-up, then from pioneer to prophet, finding grace notes of a lyrical faith in his message of sound. He became a superb musician and a deeply admirable man. The combination is rare in jazz, or any art.

Obit
Only in Obit can you find a posthumous nod to Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev right near a savvy tribute to Robert T. James, inventor of the Slinky. This is the second fine documentary spawned in recent years by the New York Times. In 2010 came Bill Cunningham New York, a delightful tribute to the paper’s beloved, bicycling photographer of street fashion and couture shows (Bill’s obit ran last year, on June 25). Vanessa Gould’s film about the writers and editors of the obituary section is more house-bound, much less street. But it expands beyond insider talk in Times offices by using the paper’s astonishing photo library, and life-reviving films of the famous or now largely forgotten dead.

In olden times up to 30 people worked in the paper’s “morgue.” The vast data collection (much of it envelopes for paper clippings) is now served only by Jeff Roth, keeper of the pre-digital memory of the “paper of record.”  Sardonically perusing his  crammed empire of filing cabinets, Roth is upset on finding that the clips packet on Gertrude Berg, the early TV and radio actress, was mis-filed (Gertrude would have chuckled). We hear from writers talking about deadlines (one had four hours to sum up Michael Jackson), or fretting about finding sources, or missing the clatter and zing of typewriters (an editor keeps her old Royal on hand). Some muse, with a mix of pride and pathos, that they are small cogs of closure for larger lives. No longer must their writings be starchy or pious, but decorum still applies and PC is a tireless buzz-fly.

I wish the film followed from start to finish the full obit path of a modern, highly resonant person (George Carlin? Bill Buckley? Chuck Berry?). An entirely worthy revival is Elinor Smith, a once-famous teen “aviatrix.” The Times prepared an obituary “advance” on the girlish sky-climber in 1931. It came into good use when Smith died at 98 in 2010. Her obit took flight.     

SALAD (A List)
Twelve Ace Jazz Movies, in order of arrival: Satchmo the Great (Murrow/Friendly, 1956), Jazz on a Summer’s Day (Bert Stern, 1959), All Night Long (Basil Dearden, 1962), Round Midnight (Bertrand Tavernier, 1986), Kansas City (Robert Altman, 1986), Thelonious Monk: Straight No Chaser (Charlotte Zwerin, 1988), Let’s Get Lost (Bruce Weber, 1989), Mo’ Better Blues (Spike Lee, 1990), A Great Day in Harlem (Jean Bach, 1994), Buena Vista Social Club (Wim Wenders, 1999), Sweet and Lowdown (Woody Allen, 1999) and Miles Ahead (Don Cheadle, 2015).          

WINE (Vin Orsonaire de Chateau Welles)
No one else topped off a fading marriage like Orson Welles, directing his almost-ex Rita Hayworth in 1946 for The Lady From Shanghai: “Some scenes (outside Acapulco) were filmed near a crocodile-infested river; in a scene where Rita dives into the ocean from Morro Rock, the rock had to be scraped of poisonous barnacles, and a Mexican swimming champ armed with a spear had to continually swim near Rita to warn off deadly barracudas in the water. Rita could not take the heat (and) at least once actually collapsed.” Despite the ordeal, she and Orson remained on remarkably cordial terms after divorcing. (Quote from Frank Brady’s Citizen Welles).

ENTRÉE (Starlight Rising)
Robert Altman’s free-flying methods sometimes threw players off stride, even comedy wizard Lily Tomlin in Nashville. She recalled the “scene in the café when Keith (Carradine) is singing, you did not know where the camera was.” Later she “saw how they shot it and they were moving past the other women and pushing it on me, and my eyes were in shadow and I thought, I’ve failed this. I’ve failed this really great moment.” She went home in tears, but her Linnea was superb work. (From the Elliott Gould/The Long Goodbye chapter of my book Starlight Rising: Acting Up in Movies, available from Amazon, Nook and Kindle.)

DESSERT (An Image)
A great movie image is more than a still, it’s a distillation.



Guido (Marcello Mastroianni) mulls his creative dilemma in (Embassy Pictures, 1963; director Federico Fellini, cinematographer Gianni di Venanzo.)

For previous Noshes, scroll below.



Sunday, June 11, 2017

Nosh 67: 'A Quiet Passion' & More

By David Elliott
                                                  
Flix Nosh is a personal movie menu, fresh each Friday.


APPETIZER: Review of A Quiet Passion
Uneasy lies the crown of thorns on a lonesome spinster’s head, and seeing the crown of Emily Dickinson’s strange, reclusive life pass from Julie Harris (The Belle of Amherst) to Cynthia Nixon in A Quiet Passion is a moving transfer. Harris remains great, but there is a chance – as delicate as the almost molecular tension of one thought glancing off another in a Dickinson poem – that Nixon’s Emily is a tad touch greater.

Praise also for director and writer Terence Davies, and photographer Florian Hoffmeister. Perhaps it required the very British Davies (The Long Day Closes) to so totally inhabit the Dickinson home in Amherst, Mass. (exteriors are the real home, interiors were shot in Flanders). Davies is best known for nostalgic but not sappy explorations of his mid-20th century youth in Liverpool, stylized as urgent reveries of memory, of old songs and movies.

His feeling for 19th century New England feels native, rooted in the slowness of clock-tick time, the cherished intimacy of live music, the engulfing, neck-tight clothing, the gentle elisions from window sunlight to flickering candles to glowing lamps. All beautifully filmed. Late at night Emily finds her glory time, writing verse by lamplight while others sleep.

Those others are crucial. Maybe not since Long Day’s Journey Into Night (1962) have we had a film family this nuclear, concentrated and self-defined. The Dickinsons speak with militant elocution and witty asperity, like Jane Austen dipped in Yankee molasses and vinegar. Their gossiping, pre-media world treats smart opinion as entertainment, but when the scarcely published Emily scorns the popular Longfellow, she is not “funning.”

Sex is so corseted that we can hear its secret buttons popping, in talks that crackle with innuendo. Church religion hovers over people like a cosmic raven – one hazy wing is salvation, the darker, pressing one is death. Intimate with God in her cheeky way, plain Emily (she calls herself “a kangaroo”) enjoys affronting her strict, pious father (Keith Carradine’s eyes, framed by muttonchops, burn). And yet their love is real, at heart profound.

Mostly this is a film of women, almost amber-sealed in a patriarchal world. Vividly present are Emily’s sweetly melancholy mother (Joanna Bacon) and her loyal, sensible sister, Vinnie (superb Jennifer Ehle). Nixon loses some scenes to Catherine Bailey as a visiting, impudent charmer (“I’m irresistible, everyone says so”), a ball of sass like Anne Baxter’s Lucy in The Magnificent Ambersons. Emily’s feminist barbs, wry but bare-knuckled, thrill the more prudent Vinnie. The era’s epic crisis, the Civil War, briefly breaks the family spell. Davies folds it into battle flags and poignant, tinted photos of the dead. This is the second great movie about a poet within months, following Jim Jarmusch's Paterson.

That the film is never museum-bound by daguerreotype decorum and hushed candlelight is largely due to Nixon (Emma Bell is quite fine as young Emily). Wit and wonder, curiosity and longing are in Nixon’s face, aging as family losses multiply and her worsening isolation reveals neurotic envy. Illness (Bright’s disease) is depicted with stunning immediacy. Surely flights of feminine angels sang her to her rest. And her poems still spark, like fireflies, in countless minds.        

SALAD (A List)
Twelve Excellent Performances as Famous Writers:
Bryan Cranston as Dalton Trumbo in Trumbo, Michael Gambon as Fyodor Dostoevsky in The Gambler, Ben Gazzara as Serking (Charles Bukowski) in Tales of Ordinary Madness, Julie Harris as Emily Dickinson in The Belle of Amherst, John Hurt as Quentin Crisp in The Naked Civil Servant, Nicole Kidman as Virginia Woolf in The Hours, Jude Law as Thomas Wolfe in Genius, Jennifer Jason Leigh as Dorothy Parker in Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle, Helen Mirren as Rand in The Passion of Ayn Rand, Robert Morley as Wilde in Oscar Wilde, Christopher Plummer as Leo Tolstoy in The Last Station, Mary Steenburgen as Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings in Cross Creek, and Ben Whishaw as John Keats in Bright Star.                            

WINE (Vin Orsonaire de Chateau Welles)
Talent-blazing Orson Welles almost caused an RKO soundstage conflagration, while filming the furnace burn of the Rosebud sled for Citizen Kane: “When Orson had nearly exhausted his supply of sleds, the doors swung open and in flew the fire fighters, summoned because an inadequate flue had caused a fire on the roof. When one of the men asked (actor) Paul Stewart who Orson was, and Stewart told him, the fireman replied, ‘It figures!’ – a sarcastic reference to the (1938) Martian radio hoax.” (From Barbara Leaming’s Orson Welles). 

ENTRÉE (Starlight Rising)
“The New (Kafka) Normality of Orson Welles’s The Trial echoes Piranesi’s famous prison etchings, with their ‘staircases that lead nowhere, vaults that support nothing but their own weight and enclose vast spaces that are never truly rooms, but only anterooms, lumber rooms, vestibules, outhouses’ (Aldous Huxley). In a ruined chamber, two mute thugs evoke countless Mafia, KGB and Gestapo brutes.” (From the Anthony Perkins/The Trial chapter of my book Starlight Rising: Acting Up in Movies, available from Amazon, Nook and Kindle).

DFSSERT (An Image)
A great movie image is more than a still, it’s a distillation.



Charles Serking (Ben Gazzara) spots his sexy siren (Ornella Muti) in Tales of Ordinary Madness (Italy-U.S., 1981; director Marco Ferreri, cinematographer Tonino Delli Colli).

For previous Noshes, scroll below.



Friday, June 2, 2017

Nosh 66: 'Norman,' 'Chuck' & More

By David Elliott
                                                  
Flix Nosh is a personal movie menu, fresh each Friday.



APPETIZER: Reviews of Norman and Chuck

Norman
The young Richard Gere often seemed smug in his chiseled beauty, as if admiring a gilded poster of himself. But the dream hunk had a slightly comical, humanizing “flaw”: his rabbit-tooth smile. He has grown into that smile, into its dental hints of playful character. The beauty has rusted, the talent has ripened, the bunny smile endures. In maturity Gere has done excellent work in Dr. T and the Women, Chicago, The Hoax, Arbitrage and Time Out of Mind

Now Norman – his best? Norman Oppenheimer lives to schmooze and wheedle and juice deals. “You’re like a drowning man waving at an ocean liner,” says a top-connection New Yorker, whom Norman uses to worm into the high ranks of hustle. “But I’m a good swimmer,” answers Norman in his nice, nudging way. He is always walking, talking, cell-phoning, offering his card (“Oppenheimer Strategies”). He’s no crook, but big-deal people sense something dubious and are puzzled by his glom-on presence. With small elements of Richard Dreyfuss’s Duddy Kravitz, Robert De Niro’s Rupert Pupkin and Woody Allen’s Zelig, Gere geared up for this most with his gabby con artist Clifford Irving in The Hoax.

Norman’s core family is gone. Surviving relatives avoid him as a dud, a wannabe macher. He seems to live in his big camel-hair coat – we never see his dwelling space. Not to spill the beans here, but the plot spring is Norman’s twisty effort to “play” a visiting Israeli politician (appealing, entirely credible Lior Ashkenazi). This involves a pair of shoes – $1,200 shoes! They must have Astaire taps, because soon, against all odds, Norm is in the big game.

Writer-director Joseph Cedar (a New York-born Israeli) reveals a hip, insider angle of Jewish Manhattan, Israeli-American relations, money in politics, the power hooks of religion and family. Norman’s good but needy rabbi is amusingly played by Steve Buscemi, and as a bigshot Harris Yulin gets off a great line: “Rabbi Blumenthal is not my fucking problem!” Also swell are Michael Sheen and Charlotte Gainsbourg.

Jun Miyako wrote a blithe score (jazz, klezmer). Cinematographer Yaron Scharf pulls off visual marvels, pairing some scenes wittily. Fun but serious, the story has a hungry, often pensive urgency. Gere is subtle, not a Woody Allen knockoff. For all his guff and bluff, Norman is a mensch. The aging hustler (his hair tries for boyish bangs) wants to join the action, maybe even pull off a mitzvah (good deed), and he doesn’t nag our empathy. Go ahead, love the guy. Give the rabbit a carrot.    

Chuck
Definitely not a film about Charles de Gaulle, Chuck concerns boxer turned “entertainer” Chuck Wepner (Liev Schreiber). The “Bleeder from Bayonne” (N.J.) had two big moments in the ’70s. He went almost a full 15 rounds against Muhammad Ali, and when the bloodied Wepner floored him, the champ came back like a furious cyclone. Then Wepner saw himself as the inspiration for Rocky Balboa, Sly Stallone’s iconic movie Palooka. He milked that, charming and then irritating the actor (eventually there was a money settlement). Philippe Falardeau’s movie is a vintage treasury of Jersey slob times: the old tunes, the awful outfits, goombahs, bimbos, disco, coke addiction, broken family life, even a bear Chuck faces in the ring. The KO punch that really hits, harder than Ali, comes from his fed-up wife Phyliss: “You stink, Chuck.”  

Chuck doesn’t stink. Enjoyably unpretentious, it avoids the glazed candy corn of Rocky and the solemn, operatic heft of Raging Bull. Schreiber, beefed-up, plays Wepner as no brain, yet also no dummy. He’s a decently fallible guy making a strange living. Not squeezing pathos, Schreiber is more credible as this hard-hauler than he was as Orson Welles in RKO 481. The cast is a pack of sharp razors: Elisabeth Moss (Phyliss), Naomi Watts (really razored as girlfriend Linda), Ron Perlman (Chuck’s manager), Pooch Hall (Ali) and Michael Rapaport (Chuck’s brother – I’d guess that Rapaport will, within ten years, be playing Donald Trump). There is an overstated scene at a school, and one (not four) bows to Requiem for a Heavyweight would have been enough. The fights (real and faked) are absorbing, and if you don’t root for Chuck you’d better exit early. Go ahead, love the guy. Give the gorilla a banana.

SALAD (A List)
In my opinion, Richard Gere’s Ten Finest Roles so far:
Norman Oppenheimer (Norman, 2017), Dr. T (Dr. T and the Women, 2000), Clifford Irving (The Hoax, 2006), Billy Flynn (Chicago, 2002), Jack Moore (Red Corner, 1997), Robert Miller (Arbitrage, 2012), Edward Lewis (Pretty Woman, 1990), Paul Shepherdson (The Double, 2011), Zack Mayo (An Officer and a Gentleman, 1982), Dixie Dwyer (The Cotton Club, 1984).

WINE (Vin Orsonaire de Chateau Welles)
Like Marlon Brando, 21, dazzling Tennessee Williams with his solo read-through of A Streetcar Named Desire (after fixing Williams’s beach cottage toilet!), Orson Welles at 19 stunned author Archibald MacLeish with an un-prepped reading of the blank-verse play Panic: “MacLeish was skeptical about the young actor (and then) Orson started with (the most) difficult scene: his breakdown, the climax of the play … MacLeish stared in disbelief as Orson read the lines, the actor’s voice revealed in all its ‘infinite delicacy and brutally devastating power.’ (Next) Orson started over on page one, reading in his mellifluous tones for the next hour and a half, speaking not only (his) dialog but the lines of all the other two dozen roles and even the Greek chorus. His few privileged listeners were spellbound.” Alas, Panic had topical appeal and a short run. (Quote from Patrick McGilligan’s great Young Orson: The Years of Luck and Genius on the Path to Citizen Kane.)

ENTRÉE (Starlight Rising)
No movie haunts Wim Wenders’s Paris, Texas (1984) more deeply than one of my childhood favorites, John Ford’s The Searchers: “In 1956 The Searchers claimed me with Winton Hoch’s first shot: a door opening on Monument Valley, the moment that ‘permeates all of Wenders’s films’ (Alexander Graf). Ethan (John Wayne) is, like Travis (Harry Dean Stanton), a terse loner embedded in rage. Travis’s bid for redemption is his son. Ethan must save himself by not killing his niece (Natalie Wood), abducted by Indians. Lean, brooding Stanton was no Wayne, and that icon could never have inhabited Travis, but as searchers they are spiritual siblings.” (From the Harry Dean Stanton/ Paris, Texas chapter of my book Starlight Rising: Acting Up in Movies, available from Amazon, Nook and Kindle.) 

DESSERT (An Image)
A great movie image is more than a still, it’s a distillation.



Richard Gere and Renee Zellweger flash some vintage moxie in Chicago (Miramax, 2002; director Rob Marshall, cinematographer Dion Beebe).

For previous Noshes, scroll below


Thursday, May 18, 2017

Nosh 65: 'Fate of the Furious,' 'Risk' & More


By David Elliott
                                                  


Flix Nosh is a personal movie menu, fresh each Friday.
NOTE: The next Nosh will be Friday, June 2.

APPETIZER: Reviews of Fate of the Furious and Risk

The Fate of the Furious
The fate of The Fate of the Furious is more money. I waited until global grosses hit around $1.2 billion before contributing my senior $6.75. The eighth in the series, which began with The Fast and the Furious in 2001, cost $250 million, the sort of franchise loot that assures everything except quality. The latest big, loud rubber-burner is more exciting than slowly letting air out of your tires, but probably less than getting a signature  shammy cloth from Elon Musk (films 9 and 10 are on the assembly line).

Naturally Vin Diesel repeats as Dom, hottest wheel man on our planet. Once sleek, the Yul Brynner of street-cred motorheads, Dom is now a sort of Chunkie Cheese (but buff cheese). The movie opens in blindingly sunny Havana, less a capital than a postcard screaming “Come down, gringos, and bring money!” A challenge race, roaring its effects, goes from implausible to absolute idiocy in seconds. Dom, lightly attired, rolls from his burning car at about 120 m.p.h., lands unscratched on asphalt and wins despite the meltdown. He wins over the Cubans like a bald, beardless Fidel.

Diesel joins his usual crew or (as he insists) family, including squeeze Michelle Rodriguez (rightly missed is the late Paul Walker). Once the scene switches to Berlin, dark as a Hitler migraine, Britain’s Jason Stathem appears, projecting his special brand of steroid void (his facial stubble is mocked as a “whisker biscuit”). Kurt Russell, the jaunty boss of something very global, wisely treats the movie as a goof-along. As his son or stooge, there is Scott Eastwood, Clint’s boy, who might achieve the career of Pat Wayne. Ludacris preens, and Helen Mirren’s weird drop-in probably cost a few million.

Stealing the chrome laurels are Charlize Theron as chilly villainess Cifer, basically a promo float for Theron’s coming summer blast Atomic Blonde, and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as Dom’s sworn enemy (poor Stathem stares up at him like Mini-me). A recent cover story in National Review hailed the Rock (pardon me, Mr. Johnson) as “the celebrity we need now.” It seems that Trump’s vanity effusion has not saturated our zeal for mindless celebrity.

When the plot pulls in a baby, Dom cries a perfect, CGI tear. While New York is trashed by Cifer on a crazed hacking spree, we are supposed to care about Dom’s faltering family values, which is like finding that your deluxe road beast has a motor made of taffy. For all its super-charged moves, the latest Furious isn’t going anywhere. It’s a pit stop.

Risk
Julian Assange, with his unlined face and saintly-sexy white hair, was the poster lad of the subversive elite of cyber hackers in the early Obama years and the doomed Arab Spring. Then a rival wizard emerged: hyper-cool CIA escapee and intel dumper Edward Snowden (whom Assange aided). Assange faced accusations of sexual assault in Sweden, went into official hiding in Britain, then fled into less posh refuge at Ecuador’s embassy in London. By then Snowden was like a fish bunkered in a samovar, in Moscow “sanctuary.” Assange saw his Wikileaks mole kingdom tarnished by suspected complicity with Russia’s invasion of the 2016 U.S. election.

So director Laura Poitras, who made a whispery, furtive movie about Snowden, Citizenfour, is stuck with Risk, an often stir-crazy, opaque documentary on Assange. The film wanders down the years, Poitras heard but not seen, Assange seen but often talking in haiku. What does he think about the sex charges, apart from murmuring about angry feminists? Can he explain what Wikileaks hopes to achieve? Was his on-video meeting with Lady Gaga more than a shared ego massage? Why does he feel betrayed by Poitras? Is her fascination with him flaking? Is there a Putin-Assange Pact? Does he like Ecuadorian cooking?

Such questions float around Risk, unanswered. It should not have been released in this jittery, loose-binder form. Fretting these days about poor, pale Julian seems pointless.

WINE (Vin Orsonaire de Chateau Welles)
Often irascible and spikey when working for other directors, Welles was typically a happy maestro on his own sets. “He always said,” recalled Peter Bogdanovich, “that he liked ‘to give the actors a good time.’ And he did. He always made it a lot of fun. Orson was funny, he was teasing. He was warm, encouraging, spontaneous. He loved anything that you did, was effusive if he liked it, kidded around if he didn’t, never made you feel anything except that you probably were gonna be better than you’d ever been in your life.” Alas, such testimonials are in smaller circulation than a tape of Welles exploding at the hapless makers of a corny commercial, one of his last and least gigs. (Bogdanovich quote from Robert K. Elder’s The Film That Changed My Life).  

ENTRÉE (Starlight Rising)
The tap root of The Producers was Mel Brooks’ earlier zest as a writer “for Sid Caesar’s Your Show of Shows. Albert Goldman described the writers: ‘They’d light their cigars, form a circle around Sid, watch him improvise like a one-man band until they were turned on. Then they’d jump up, start throwing lines, capping each other.’ Imogene Coca was ‘distaff’ zany, ‘the timid woman who, when aroused, can beat a tiger to death with a feather.” (From the Zero Mostel/The Producers chapter of my book Starlight Rising: Acting Up in Movies, yours at Amazon, Nook, or Kindle.):

DESSERT (An Image)
A great movie image is more than a still, it’s a distillation.


Kay Francis and Herbert Marshall play for love in Trouble in Paradise (Paramount, 1932; director Ernst Lubitsch; cinematographer Victor Milner).

For previous Noshes, scroll below.


Thursday, May 11, 2017

Nosh 64: 'Their Finest,' 'Colossal' & More


By David Elliott
                                                


Flix Nosh is a personal movie menu, fresh each Friday.

APPETIZER: Reviews of Their Finest and Colossal

Their Finest
Pleasure in Their Finest (and I certainly had some) relies on a triple nostalgia: for Britain’s heroic Blitz years of 1940 and ’41, for the plucky patriotism of English films at that time, and for the humane coziness that  English movies brought to a pitch of charm and wit, mainly in the Ealing  pictures after the war. Made with high craft by Lone Scherfig, it’s about a  propaganda film patched together for fast release after the Dunkirk rescue. That operation saved the neck of Britain’s almost cooked goose from Hitler’s army, inspiring some great Churchill rhetoric and this movie (and Christopher Nolan’s massive Dunkirk, coming in July). Using an English beach, fake boats, retro effects and a corny script (but isn’t Casablanca fairly corny also?), Scherfig still gives us a fine sense of that amazing, frightening time on the “sceptr’d isle.”

No Churchill (just posters), but here is Jeremy Irons as a war minister, knocking off a chunk of Henry V to rally the filmers. He also saddles them with the need for a gung-ho Yank hero, a volunteer pilot who can’t act. This doubles the stress of the young scripting team, played by Gemma Arterton and Sam Claflin (romance beckons, of course). Helping the American empowers snappish old pro Ambrose (Bill Nighy), who recovers the zip that once gave him dash as a matinee idol. Has Nighy ever given a bad performance? Or one not graced by his sly, deft, mildly dotty finesse? As this vain but touchingly committed ham, he has the sort of scene-lifting fun that Peter O’Toole bestowed on My Favorite Year.

Scherfig made a star of young Carey Mulligan with another look-back story,  An Education. He won’t do the same for Arterton, with her smaller luster, yet she is game, pretty and heartfelt. In the final quarter there is a small plot shock, but Their Finest can, like Britain, take it. Though a comedy in its best tactics, the film has a good strategic edge: we sense the bombs, the blood, the personal losses. And many lines crackle (even the weird “spawning spontaneously in the sawdust”). Dunkirk will find its own way to the famous beaches, no doubt closer to Joe Wright’s Atonement and Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan.

Colossal
There endures a certain resentment of Anne Hathaway. Envy? She does resemble Audrey Hepburn plus Shakespeare’s dream of a perfect rose. Maybe it’s the contrast with her slightly tinny, American voice, or because her talent doesn’t always rise to her beauty. Cast those doubts away for Colossal.

As screw-up Gloria, Hathaway is funny and fetching and often goofy-drunk. Her British lover (Dan Stevens, the long-lamented Matthew Crawley of Downton Abbey) kicks her out of his swank Manhattan digs, so she returns, tail dragging, to her hometown. There the hub of interest is a bar run by Gloria’s childhood pal, Oscar (Jason Sudeikis, who seems to be reaching for an improbable convergence of Russell Crowe and Paul Giamatti).

The director, finely named Nacho Vigalondo, wrote a script that also seems to drink a lot. The “plot” involves Gloria’s startling, hungover insight that she has a behavior-controlling brain link with a huge monster lizard terrorizing Seoul, South Korea (as in old Godzilla days). Down at their past playground, Oscar also gets into trans-Pacific telepathy. Not even the combined gifts of James Joyce and Ray Bradbury could find a tight narrative thread, but that barely matters.

The strangeness, as sitcomical Americana intersects Korean panic mobs (maybe a bit too topical right now, in the age of Kim Jong-Trump), makes Colossal one of those oddities you won’t forget – movies like Eat the Peach, Trees Lounge, Bubba Ho-Tep, The Plot Against Harry, Tremors, Withnail and I, Slow West, Wise Blood, Chan Is Missing, O’Horten and Whiskey Galore. And I’ve never liked Hathaway quite this much before.

SALAD (A List)
Twelve Outstanding British WWII Movies ranked by quality, with director: Fires Were Started (Humphrey Jennings), The Life and Death of Col. Blimp (Michael Powell), The Purple Plain (Robert Parrish), 49th Parallel (a.k.a. The Invaders; Michael Powell), Hope and Glory (John Boorman), Atonement (Joe Wright), In Which We Serve (Noel Coward, David Lean), The Bridge on the River Kwai (David Lean), One of Our Aircraft is Missing (Michael Powell), The Cruel Sea (Charles Frend), The Dam Busters (Michael Anderson) and The Cockleshell Heroes (José Ferrer).  

WINE (Vin Orsonaire de Chateau Welles)
At the grand “Night of 100 Stars” at Radio City Music Hall in 1982, singer Tony Bennett felt the jitters before going on, but “Orson Welles was backstage, and he stood there smoking a big cigar and staring at me. He could tell that I was having a case of the butterflies, and with perfect grace he said to me, ‘I go to every party at Sinatra’s house, and he plays nothing but Tony Bennett records,’ Just at that moment the announcer said, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, Tony Bennett!’ Orson knew exactly what to say to help me get through. No wonder he was a great director.” (From Tony Bennett’s memoir The Good Life).    

ENTRÉE (Starlight Rising)
“Gulley Jimson (in The Horse’s Mouth) has a sexual forwardness rare for Alec (Guinness). He had slyly spoofed the machismo of military men, taking it to a high level in Bridge on the River Kwai and Tunes of Glory. He admired alpha-male friends like Jack Hawkins, Bill Holden and Harry Andrews, and envied Richard Burton’s stellar wallop. Piers Paul Read’s biography suggests a closeted gay or bi impulse but never finds the closet key. Possibly Alec didn’t either (and had a strong marriage).” (From the Alec Guinness/The Horse’s Mouth chapter of my book Starlight Rising: Acting Up in Movies, available from Amazon, Nook and Kindle.)


DESSERT (An Image)
A great movie image is more than a still, it’s a distillation.


Keira Knightley in a peaceful moment of Atonement (Focus Features, 2007; director Joe Wright, cinematographer Seamus McGarvey).

For previous Noshes, scroll below.


Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Nosh 63: 'The Circle,' 'Lost City of Z' & More


By David Elliott

                                                  
Flix Nosh is a personal movie menu, fresh each Friday.


APPETIZER: Reviews of The Circle and The Lost City of Z

The Circle
Thank heaven for Emma Watson! How often we felt that, watching her brainy little Hermione saving Harry and Ron in the Harry Potter series. Watson delivers again, as Mae in The Circle. She is rescued from a dismal temp job, invited to join the Bay Area’s smart, rising elite at The Circle. The ring-shaped, corporate campus is as cool and glassy as Watson’s American accent. The Circle is a Hogwarts School minus magic and medievalism, its British witches and wizards replaced by computers and their giddy human servants.

The movie, directed by James Ponsoldt from a script by him and original writer (novelist) Dave Eggers, has Mae as a recruit who can’t quite swallow the brightly feathered hook of futurism. The visionary fly-caster is boss Eamon Bailey. He and his partner (Patton Oswalt), among the few people over 40 at the vast complex, are angling to destroy “criminal” secrecy by eliminating privacy, by creating ominiscient spy-tech. Thrilled by this  smothering promise of “transparent” democracy, young savants glow like Mormon missionaries programmed by robots. The film has a wry hum of smiling menace from Tom Hanks as  Bailey, his snappy great-guyness twinkled by sinister shadings.

But it’s Watson who keeps the concepts circling, by not being too cerebral. Her pretty face and big eyes are rich in quicksilver reactions as Mae corkscrews from belief to doubt and back, though the finish has a teasing ambivalence. There are some mediocre chases and a skeptical rogue genius (John Boyega) who hangs around being obscurely subversive (instead of Deep Throat’s big garage, he has long storage vaults). There is good work by Karen Gillan as Mae’s jealous mentor, Glenne Headley as her mother and, as her stricken dad, Bill Paxton (his sign-out role; he died in February).

The story could have benefited from the more elegant visual allure and sexiness of Gattaca, the 1997 fable about the dangers of biogenetics and scientific elitism. The Circle is, to use an old-tech term, something of a chalk talk. But as Hermione proved early in  Hogwarts classes, Watson is no piece of chalk.      

The Lost City of Z
He never knew Richard Nixon’s rhetorical phrase (State of the Union speech, 1970) “the lift of a driving dream,” but in the early 20th century Britain’s Lt. Col. Percy Fawcett found his way to live it. Bravely (and foolishly?) he led small expeditions into Bolivia’s Amazonian wilds, not to put more imperial pink on the maps, nor for gold or oil, but to find “the ultimate piece of the human puzzle.” A Victorian-bred racist, but no snob, Fawcett felt that steamy terra incognita and its “primitive” natives had truths to offer, wonders to unfold, even the fabled El Dorado which he called Zed (no, not the source of Peter Greene’s Zed in Pulp Fiction). After World War I combat, the aging Fawcett went back for another, fatalistic penetration of the forest primeval.

Director-writer James Gray tells the tale with rugged devotion in The Lost City of Z, helped by a strong if not wildly charismatic performance by Charlie Hunnam (and excellent Sienna Miller as his wife, bound by home and kids but no meek mouse). Robert Pattinson plays his heavily bearded, sometimes skeptical cohort. The film’s budget is stretched by crafty, traditional means, and there is a potent, increasingly nutty integrity in Hunnam’s portrayal. But I never quite felt the lift of the driving dream, neither the old exhilaration (Stewart Granger tracking past countless critters to a mountain domain of tall African warriors who do exotic jump-dancing, in King Solomon’s Mines), nor the old mythic fevers (Klaus Kinski as a feral Spanish lunatic, lost in the Peruvian wilderness of Werner Herzog’s Aguirre, Wrath of God).   

While not dull, the film does tend to slog. Despite very rich, celluloid imagery by Darius Khondji and a strong score by Christopher Spelman, grand vistas and a do-or-die cast, there is a rummaging, archival aura. This dream is caught in the amber of another age’s geographic imagination, already plundered by past movies (remember Spencer Tracy as fearless Henry M. Stanley?). Lost City is a fine old Britisher at his club, beckoning us with “Listen, I have a wonderful story to tell. But first, allow me to light my pipe and describe my notes.”

SALAD (A List)
Fifteen Top Movies of Exotic Adventure (with year and director): The Nibelungen (Fritz Lang, 1924), The Thief of Bagdad (Raoul Walsh, 1924), King Kong (Cooper-Schoedsack, 1933), King Solomon’s Mines (Compton Bennett, 1950), The African Queen (John Huston, 1951), The Wages of Fear (H.-G. Clouzot, 1953), Robinson Crusoe (Luis Bunuel, 1954), The Hidden Fortress (Akira Kurosawa, 1958), Lawrence of Arabia (David Lean, 1962), Deliverance (John Boorman, 1972), Aguirre Wrath of God (Werner Herzog, 1972), The Man Who Would Be King (John Huston, 1975), Romancing the Stone (Robert Zemeckis, 1984), Adventures of Baron Munchausen (Terry Gilliam, 1988), The Motorcycle Diaries (Walter Salles, 2004).  

WINE (Vin Orsonaire de Chateau Welles)
Temporarily back in Hollywood’s favor while making Touch of Evil in 1958 (and playing its fat-slob sheriff), Welles “decided to throw a party for all the little Hollywood grandees … to show that I still remembered my friends, Sam Goldwyn, Jack Warner and those people. And I was late, and I thought ‘I won’t take time to remove this terrible, enormous makeup that took forever to put on. When I came into my house, before I had a chance to explain that I had to get upstairs and take my makeup off, all these people came up (to me) and said, ‘Hi, Orson! Gee, you’re looking great!” (Welles to Peter Bogdanovich, This Is Orson Welles).  

ENTRÉE (Starlight Rising)
When I first visited Rome the fabled Via Veneto seemed a little “off,” with its downhill curvature – it didn’t match my 1961 memory of La Dolce Vita. That’s because “in planting Cinecittá (studio’s) flag on the Veneto, Fellini also brought the Veneto to Cinecittá. To reproduce the street at the studio he gave up his profit share (and future wealth). His radiant replica was so level and straight that it cheated the truth, but it made the street immortal.” (From the Marcello Mastroianni/La Dolce Vita chapter of my book Starlight Rising: Acting Up in Movies, available from Amazon, Nook and Kindle).

DESSERT (An Image)
A great movie image is more than a still, it’s a distillation.


A Watutsi prince (Siriaque) meets Deborah Kerr, Richard Carlson and Stewart Granger in King Solomon’s Mines (MGM, 1950; director Compton Bennett, cinematographer Robert Surtees).

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Thursday, April 27, 2017

Nosh 62: 'The Founder,' 'The Zookeeper's Wife'


By David Elliott
                                            

Flix Nosh is a personal movie menu, fresh each Friday.

APPETIZER: Reviews of The Founder and The Zookeeper’s Wife

The Founder
America works hard, but hustles harder (when “we” elected hustle hog Donald Trump, that truth became history). In 1954 Ray Kroc was road-hustling milkshake mixers to diners and drive-ins, listening to Dale Carnegie inspiration records and, in his flat Midwestern voice, spieling fortune cookies (“increase supply, demand follows!”). Then he got a large order from distant San Bernardino, where the McDonald brothers (large, cheerful Mac and fussy control freak Dick) had opened a burger joint with clean, fast service and cheap, well-made food: 35 cents for a hamburger, fries and milkshake. Families welcomed McDonald’s into their California way of life, but it took a hustling salesman to turn it into an American icon.

According to The Founder, Ray Kroc (Michael Keaton) has his Moses moment in San Berdoo, then his go-for-it smile becomes a golden arch over the nation (Dick designed the original, emblematic arches). Ray begins selling franchises, while the brothers keep quality control but never (on film) find a good lawyer. Ray pigs out on ambition, a real Super-sized Me, and a smart advisor prompts another epiphany: the real dough is not in wholesome burgers (two pickles each!) but control of the real estate below the outlets. Ray answers the old question “What profit a man if he should sell a billion burgers but lose his soul?” with “Great! Let’s sell another billion!” He suckers the brothers into finally selling out, and their very name is now his to brand on the world, even right near Red Square and the Vatican.

The movie greatly benefits from John Carroll Lynch as jolly Mac and Nick Offerman as original visionary Dick. Laura Dern is poorly used as Kroc’s first wife, homebody Ethel, but Linda Cardellini hustle-bustles as the sexy third wife, Joan, who rose to epic philanthropy. Above all, with a cold eye and fetching smile, Keaton gets his yummiest role since Birdman, sucking up the golden grease of success. If there is a dead rat of betrayal deep down in the fry oil, it doesn’t much bother Ray.

Director John Lee Hancock (The Blind Side) and writer Robert Siegel (The Wrestler) have made a rather airbrushed movie, glowing with zippy nostalgia. The picture got hustled from the spotlight when the releasing company chose to open concurrently another film about a hustler, the inferior Gold. But The Founder, neatly boxed, is the real deal. If not the whole story, it’s a tasty one.

The Zookeeper’s Wife
The preview trailer leads with darling shots of Antonina Zabinski on a bike, followed by her prancing pal, a juvenile giraffe. The Zookeeper’s Wife gives us adorable animals right away, but then the date and place: Warsaw, Poland, summer of 1939. So we know it won’t go well for giraffes. Nor for Polish Jews, soon rammed into a hellish ghetto by the Nazis. It is only blocks away from the zoo run by lovely Antonina (Jessica Chastain) and her brave, stolid husband, Jan (Johan Heldenbergh).

What we’re not prepared for is seeing zoo critters shot for meat or sport by the Germans, the more exotic ones trucked away for “experiments.” Nor for Antonina, a sort of Polish Joan of Ark (Chastain’s accent is Slavic in a Casablanca way), comforting a Jewish girl just raped by soldiers, by offering as therapy pet her own beloved bunny. Nor for the weirdly staged scene of Antonina being virtually groped in public by a Nazi officer (Daniel Bruhl), while two huge buffalo mate behind them. Bruhl goes quickly from zoo lover to S.S. eugenics nut, hoping to revive an ancient breed of bison. He finally admits that “the war has turned” in January, 1945, as the Red Army encircles Warsaw (well, those buffalo were distracting).

The Zabinskis were real, not Disney. They lost most of their animals but savingly hid around 300 Jews, and deserve all the honors that came to them. But when director Niki Caro resorts to stock clichés while blithely equating ghetto Jews and zoo creatures, as if combining Shoah and We Bought a Zoo, we experience the squirm of unintended kitsch (even Mel Brooks steered clear of the Holocaust). As the raped girl, Shira Haas has a haunted face of “old” youth, capturing more of the nightmare than the entire rest of the cast.

SALAD (A List)
Twenty Ace Performances as Hustlers, Spielers, Biz-Dreamers:
Edward Arnold as Barney Glasgow (Come and Get It, 1936), Alec Guinness as Fagin (Oliver Twist, 1948), Orson Welles as Harry Lime (The Third Man, 1948), Vincent Price as James Reavis (The Baron of Arizona, 1950), Broderick Crawford as Augusto (Il Bidone, 1955), Eli Wallach as Sylvia Vaccaro (Baby Doll, 1955), Yul Brynner as Sergei (Anastasia, 1955), Tony Curtis as Sidney Falco (Sweet Smell of Success, 1957), Paul Newman as Ben Quick (The Long Hot Summer, 1958), Andy Griffith as Lonesome Rhodes (A Face in the Crowd, 1958), Burt Lancaster as Elmer (Elmer Gantry, 1960), Zero Mostel as Max Bialystock (The Producers, 1968), Bruce Dern as Jason Staebler (The King of Marvin Gardens, 1972), Richard Dreyfuss as Duddy (The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, 1974), Jeff Bridges as Preston Tucker (Tucker: The Man and His Dream, 1988), John Turturro as Mac Vitelli (Mac, 1992), Richard Gere as Clifford Irving (The Hoax, 2006), Don Cheadle as Petey Greene (Talk to Me, 2007), Matthew McConaughey as Ron Woodruff (Dallas Buyers Club, 2013) and Jennifer Lawrence as Joy (Joy, 2015).

WINE (Vin Orsonaire de Chateau Welles)
Despite considerable progress on it, Citizen Welles chose to abandon Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness as his first RKO project (1940). And yet, it “influenced the subject of Citizen Kane, its setting and its form … swampy and fetid, Kane’s estate might be the malarial outpost over which Kurtz presides (in Conrad’s novel). Leland tells Kane, as if he were Kurtz, to sail away to a desert island and lord it over the monkeys.” (Quote from Peter Conrad’s book Orson Welles: The Stories of His Life).

ENTRÉE (Starlight Rising)
Funny Face stretches its taffy plot across a gossamer frame of fantasy, and strikes modern taste as an ‘old’ musical of the color-vamp era. But for fans in 1957 it was less garish, less studio-rigged, less Broadway “bound” (both senses) than most big shows. They may be riveting, but we see the rivets in heavy efforts like Kiss Me Kate and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, and the panting for Art in the famous Gene Kelly ballet sequences.” (From the Audrey Hepburn/Funny Face chapter in my book Starlight Rising: Acting Up in Movies, yours from Amazon, Nook or Kindle).

DESSERT (An Image)
A great movie image is more than a still, it’s a distillation.



On a barge, Audrey Hepburn is joined by furry friends while making Funny Face (Paramount Pictures 1957; director Stanley Donen, cinematographer Ray June).

For previous Noshes, scroll below.


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Nosh 61: 'Julieta,' 'Personal Shopper' & More



By David Elliott
                                             

Flix Nosh is a personal movie menu, fresh each Friday.


APPETIZER: Reviews of Julieta and Personal Shopper

Julieta
Pedro Almodóvar, directing his 21st feature, is again riding a feminine carousel. Julieta has Julieta doubled. The very attractive, middle-aging woman of Madrid is played with subtle verve of nerves by Emma Suárez. In her written (and flashbacked) memories her younger self is played by Adriana Ugarte as a sensitive blond bombshell who loves the Greek classics. Ugarte is probably the Spanish master’s best wow since Penélope Cruz. And then there is Julieta’s daughter Antia, played as child and teen by several engaging girls. And the flinty housekeeper acted by Rossy de Palma, Pedro’s Gothic gargoyle of Spanish pride (no man of La Mancha can stand against her).

Once again, los hombres are harem accessories. Pedro, famously gay, displays the buff appeal of Daniel Grao as Xoan, the stud fisherman (hints of Ulysses) who fathered Antia. On the side Xoan pleasures Ava (Inma Cuesta), a strong, sexy sculptress of Greco-macho nudes. Gentlemanly Lorenzo (Dario Grandinetti) comforts the mature, often depressed Julieta. In el mundo de Pedro the males are on hand mainly to pay attention, cast some seed and pick up broken crockery. It’s the females, singly, in pairs, in triads, in generations, who cause and inhabit the Iberian weather of feelings. Soap opera? If so, closer to opera than soap.

Almodóvar compacted three short stories of Alice Munro, now Hispanicized (it was once planned in English for Meryl Streep). In this seamless narrative people still write letters and notes, and emotions find the flamenco cadence of Castilian speech. The axis, of course, is Julieta, who surrenders her teaching dream for motherhood. Her idyll is upended not only by Xoan but willful daughter Antia. No point in spelling this out, though “spoilers” mean little when a director makes each scene pregnant from the last, giving birth to the next. Hurt and guilt become Julieta’s new, Homeric sea, churned less by Catholicism than tides of desire and fidelity, though there is a holy trinity moment of young Julieta with her baby and her aging mother.

Buffs will relish the surrealism of a stag, running alongside a train, and doesn’t a suicidal passenger echo Luis Buñuel’s great actor Fernando Rey? In a Hitchcock overlay, the stars playing Julieta recall the two sides of Kim Novak in Vertigo, with Ugarte looking a lot like Novak’s “Madeleine.” Rich stuff, but less strategic than Almodóver’s fluency of moods and décor-in-depth (emphasis on red, blue and yellow). The crucial role of Antia could have used more development, but Julieta is Julieta. Having dreamed of ancient Greeks, she finds herself in a Spanish life suspended between tragedy and melodrama, consecrated to the compulsions of Pedro. In a word: Viva!

Personal Shopper
Kristen Stewart made a smart jump away from the Twilight Saga movies by playing a personal assistant in Olivier Assayas’s Clouds of Sils Maria (2014). It is less smart to go from the artistic to the arty, as Stewart and Assayas have done with Personal Shopper. The slender, elegant actress plays Maureen, the American scootering round Paris as “personal shopper” of clothing and jewelry for a celebrity fashion totem, a woman of almost Trumpean shallowness. Maureen is told to never wear the garments. Of course she does, covertly. On this flimsy hanger, Assayas suspends two vapid attempts at mystery.

The vaguely psychic Maureen sleuths the ghost of her twin brother, which leads to a spooky old house where (she notes) a phantom “vomits ectoplasm.” And Maureen is stalked by a man, often through creepy texting, which leads to a grisly murder (not hers). The pieces scarcely connect, unless you wish to be pious about auteurist intentions. Even when you thicken the gravy with Stewart half-nude (twice), a Victor Hugo séance, and Marlene Dietrich singing in Angst Deutsch, you’re still stuck with a meatloaf of murk. It took the mise-en-scène prize at Cannes, which means the elegant gravy can’t save the under-cooked meat.  

SALAD (A List)
The Ten Best Almodóver Movies (with stars and year):
Volver (con Penélope Cruz, Carmen Maura, 2006), All About My Mother (con Marisa Paredes, Cecilia Roth, Penélope Cruz, 1999), Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (con Carmen Maura, Antonio Banderas, Rossy de Palma, 1988), Talk to Her (con Javier Cámara, Roserio Flores, 2002), Julieta (con Emma Suárez, Adriana Ugarte, Daniel Grao, 2016), Broken Embraces (con Penélope Cruz, Lluis Homar, Blanca Portillo, 2009), Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! (con Victoria Abril, Antonio Banderas, 1990). Live Flesh (con Javier Bardem, Penélope Cruz, Liberto Rabal, 1997), Law of Desire (con Carmen Maura, Antonio Banderas, 1987) and Kika (con Verónica Forqué, Peter Coyote, Victoria Abril, 1993).

WINE (Vin Orsonaire de Chateau Welles)
Citizen Welles tried to diet his grand bulk in later years, but the gourmand in him was never silent. As when, lunching, he extolled the kiwi: “It’s the greatest fruit in the universe! But it’s ruined by all the French chefs who cut it up into thin slices. You cannot tell what it tastes like unless you eat it in bulk. Then it is marvelous, and it has the highest vitamin content of any fruit in the world.” (Orson Welles to Henry Jaglom, My Lunches With Orson.)

ENTRÉE (Starlight Rising)
While not a flop, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre was not the big  1948 hit its later legend implied: “Women largely ruled the box office and Treasure lacked wide appeal. Males mostly took it as an odd, exotic Western (swell bandits, not enough horses and gunplay). Ballyhoo included theater managers staging ‘treasure hunts’ for tickets, with fake gold bars on display under armed guard. One puff shot showed Bogart talking into the ear of a burro. Fortunately, the film was spared its ‘love song’ by Dick Manning and Buddy Kaye: ‘For you are the treasure of Sierra Madre / And your love is the gold that I tenderly hold’.” (From the Humphrey Bogart / Treasure of the Sierra Madre chapter in my book Starlight Rising: Acting Up in Movies, yours from Amazon, Nook or Kindle).

DESSERT (An Image)
A great movie image is more than a still, it’s a distillation.


Raimunda (Penélope Cruz) faces another colorful crisis in Volver (El Deseo/ Sony Pictures Classics, 2006; director Pedro Almodóver, cinematographer Ester García).

For previous Noshes, scroll below.