Tag Archives: Diane Keaton

Book Club

Four smart and accomplished ladies have a friendly book club to “stimulate their minds.” But this month, frisky businesswoman Vivian (Jane Fonda) is suggesting Fifty Shades of Grey, which promises to stimulate something else. Sharon (Candice Bergen), a judge and voice of reason doubts it even qualifies as a book, but she is overruled and pretty soon they, along with Diane (Diane Keaton), recently widowed, and Carol (Mary Steenburgen), the only one who is happily married (or married at all, I suppose) are actually reading this month’s selection, which is apparently a pretty rare thing (sorry, Wild).

Fifty Shades of Grey offends me on many levels. Likely not on a prurient one. I can’t be sure though, since I’ve never read it. It offends me because it started out as porn fan fiction about Twilight, which is a book that already offends me for infantilizing MV5BMTU2MjYzMjY2MV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNTYyNjM0NTM@._V1_SX1777_CR0,0,1777,743_AL_literature. But fan fiction should likely stay in the darkest corners of the internet, where it belongs. Instead, easily titillated people with low standards encouraged the author to change the names and publish it as a “book,” which I avoided on principle. Ditto when the movie(s) came out, and you know there aren’t many I miss reviewing, even the stinkers.

When I first heard about this one, I loved it immediately for the terrific ensemble cast, but I was really disappointed about the subject of their book club.  I think older women, and indeed all women, should be free to explore and own their sexuality, but it’s insulting and belittling that it’s come to this. Luckily, the toxic erotica is only the jumping off point, followed by a pretty harmless rom-com. Not a great one, but thanks to fabulous leading ladies, it can’t go completely wrong can it?

And it’s sort of nice to see these ladies getting to live, getting to flirt and travel and nurture friendships, getting to be things others than mothers and grandmothers, which are wonderful things of course but not the only thing. Aging is a sin in Hollywood, and women over 40 are largely viewed by the camera’s lens as sexless. Producers routinely cast young actresses in “old” roles (ie, a 28 year old Angelina Jolie playing 27 year old Colin Farrell’s mother). The year Meryl Streep turned 40 she was offered THREE different roles for a witch. In The First Wives Club, Goldie Hawn’s character explains “There are only three ages for women in Hollywood; ‘Babe’, ‘District Attorney’, and ‘Driving Ms. Daisy.'” In real life, women continue to be interesting, complex human beings at every age, and the stories we tell should reflect that. Book Club is not the answer we really need; it feels more like an extended sitcom episode. But I won’t deny that Bergen, Keaton, Steenburgen, and Fonda are thrilling to watch; they remain magnetic as ever. If I have to put up with a “lethargic pussy” joke I will, but I will continue to hope for better next time. Like maybe a little less glaring whiteness, for starters.

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Darling Companion

Beth is feeling a bit like a neglected wife; her husband Joseph is a workaholic surgeon and her kids are grown. So it’s kind of perfect timing when she finds an injured dog by the side of the road. Nursed back to health, the aptly named ‘Freeway’ becomes her loyal and constant companion. When Freeway’s vet marries Beth’s daughter, the whole family comes together for the happy occasion – until Joseph manages to lose the dog and suddenly the family is down one very important member.

Beth (Diane Keaton) refuses to leave until she’s searched every corner of the back woods where Freeway was last seen. Her sister-in-law (Dianne Wiest) chooses to stay by her side, as does her new beau (Richard Jenkins), and her son (Mark Duplass). Finally feeling the guilt of his inadequacy, Joseph (Kevin Kline) stays back too, and the search party is more like search couples therapy.

It’s co-written and directed by the fabulous Lawrence Kasdan so I wonder how on earth that name paired with this cast could have sailed past me. What was I doing in 2012 that I couldn’t make room for a little Diane Keaton in my life? And the thing is, who better to relate to her character than myself, a woman who would most assuredly go full Billy Madison should any of my dogs ever go missing.

Alas, this is the least successful of Kasdan’s films and it’s not just for the lack of light sabers. I get what he’s trying to do: there’s a fraying marriage, a freshly minted marriage, and new romances for both the young and not so young. It all revolves around this missing dog, but it’s a lot to handle for a film with such a sweet and simple premise and the tone is sometimes a little too “family movie” for my taste or perhaps anyone’s. But dogs have such an uncomplicated relationship with us, in comparison. They like to cuddle and to be fed. They are never not 110% bowled over to see you come, whether you’ve been away 5 minutes or 5 days. Kasdan was inspired to write the script after he adopted a dog himself, and promptly lost him.

This is Kasdan’s first indie film and the cast, featuring three Oscar winners and two more nominees, were so moved by the story they agreed to work for scale. Even if it wasn’t his most successful, Kasdan lists it as his most gratifying, and I suppose in a long and lustrous career, that’s worth something too.

The Other Sister

I have 3 sisters, all younger, not that I usually admit that. We look nothing alike (one makeup artist once had the audacity to question our mother’s fidelity) and we act even less alike – personalities, politics, habits and hairstyles. We are DIFFERENT.  With a mere 5.5 years between the oldest and youngest, I still feel oddly protective of 0f606ab50a1c97cfb33ffa49c80c7804them and it’s mind-boggling to think that they’re not in fact little girls anymore, but women, and 2 of them mothers with babies of their own. Not dollies, babies. And not even babies: one nephew is already a dinosaur expert, another an enthusiastic soloist, and a third a stunt bike rider. They’re all 5 and under and as handsome as they are smart (which is inherited from the aunt, right?).

I’ll be on my way to see them this weekend since it’s Thanksgiving and all, the holiday where we honour the tradition of my mother being an almost adequate and fantastically bland cook, the upside being we all manage not to overeat.

I have 3 sisters (and 3 sisters-in-law) but I do not have an Other Sister. The Other Sister (as in the movie, and the character) is Carla, the sister who has a mental disability. Played by Juliette Lewis, Carla was sent away as a child when her disability proved too big a 7eaaec97eb82cb540938d3880e982006disability for her family to handle. Now a young woman, she’s moved back home and is trying to assert her independence. Her mother, played by Diane Keaton, has never really known how to parent her. Her sisters (Poppy Montgomery, Sarah Paulson) didn’t grow up with her. It’s making friends with someone with his own challenges (Daniel, Giovanni Ribisi) that inspires Carla to aspire to a larger life.

All of the sisters in The Other Sister are celebrating Thanksgiving in the film, an especially auspicious holiday because it’s the date Daniel and Carla choose to consummate their love. Turkey makes any anniversary more special, as you can imagine. And pie is always good post-sex. Post-nearly-everything. I’m not sure if any of my sisters are marking similar occasions, and I bet I won’t even ask. Instead I’ll say thanks for all the blessings in my life, even the teeny tiny ones like my pink headphones that let me watch sappy movies at work. Happy Thanksgiving to you too.

 

Finding Dory

As soon as you hear the voices of Ellen DeGeneres (as Dory) and Albert Brooks (as Nemo’s neurotic dad, Marlin), you realize how much you’ve missed these two. It’s been 13 long years since the original was in theatres but only a single year has elapsed in the ocean where they make their home.
all-trailers-lead-to-finding-dory-check-out-brand-new-footage-in-this-japanese-internat-941918Writer\co-director Andrew Stanton had no desire to revisit Nemo’s world until he rewatched it in 3D and realized how many unanswered questions peppered Dory’s storyline. So good news, folks: those burning questions that have been keeping you awake the last dozen years finally get their time in sea – Why does Dory speak whale? How did she learn to read? And does her disability make for a lonely life?

Dory convinces Nemo and Marlin to embark on yet another oceanwide journey, this time to find her absent family. Eugene Levy and Diane Keaton voice her parents in various flashbacks (Dory was a SUPER cute young guppie!), but with a spotty memory and so much time gone by, is it even possible to find them? How to put this delicately…just what is the life expectancy of even a vegetarian, non-smoking, yoga-adhering blue tang?

The magic of Finding Nemo is safely recaptured in Finding Dory; the story makes room for both old friends and new. Hank, the cranky octopus (or technically a septapus, if you bother to count) is a definite break-out star, voiced by Ed O’Neill. He helps Dory navigate hank-octopus-finding-dorythe exhibits of an aquarium where she believes her parents live. Ty Burrell, who plays Ed’s son-in-law on Modern Family, voices a beluga whale with dubious echolocation abilities but a willingness to play “guide whale” for his visually impaired friend. In fact, the nice thing about this new world presented in Finding Dory is that the marine rescue centre in question rehabs sick fish – everyone’s got some sort of disability but they’ve got plenty of ability too, even Dory. Or especially Dory. My favourite new character is a bird named Becky, who, okay, maybe has some mental health issues, maybe is a little intellectually challenged, maybe isn’t as finely feathered as some, but MY GOD. The minute she was introduced I had a mini meltdown, wracked with laughter.

Finding Dory can’t surprise you in quite the same way the first one did, but it makes up for 107c86e0-155e-0134-fd5e-0e31b36aeb7f.pngit in laughs and heart. Last week on our podcast, Matt hoped that the sequel would make him cry as the first one did. The verdict’s not in on his tear ducts, but mine were a leaky mess.

A memory-challenged fish sets out to find her blue family and along the way remembers that she already has an orange one.  I’ve seen a lot of sequels lately that stink like 13 year old fish, but Finding Dory is a sweet and satisfying cuddle party with old friends, serving up something fresh that everyone will enjoy.

Love the Coopers

Last week, Jay and Sean got to see The Night Before, Seth Rogen’s tale of Christmas debauchery. That I wound up seeing the latest holiday offering from the producer of The Family Stone instead wasn’t- as you might think- because I drew the short straw at the Assholes Christmas love the coopersparty. My family is just REALLY into Christmas.

For me, it’s not Christmas until I’ve tried every Starbucks Christmas drink on the menu at least once, wept to the end of It’s a Wonderful Life, helped my colleague understand her granddaughter’s Christmas list, and shared the Swiss Chalet festive meal with my parents. Because my visit home last week happened to coincide with our first snowfall, it seemed the perfect time to scratch the Festive Meal (chicken leg, cramberry sauce, stuffing, and french fries) off the list.  After supper, which was well worth the wait, tradition dictates that it’s time for a Christmas movie.

love the coopers 3The Coopers have clearly not had their festive meal yet because their Christmas is getting off to a Bah Humbuggy start. We meet Elanor (Olivia Wilde) in an airport bar on Christmas Eve where she is stalling and trying to gather up enough nerve to face her family’s Christmas. Her brother Hank (Ed Helms) can’t bring himself to tell his family that he has been out of work for a month. Sam and Charlotte (John Goodman and Diane Keaton), their parents, are getting a divorce but are putting off breaking the news until after Christmas. Charlotte’s sister Emma (Marisa Tomei) has just been arrested by a closeted gay cop (Anthony Mackie) for shoplifting. Meanwhile, Charlotte and Emma’s father (Alan Arkin)’s world has come crashing down when he learns that his favourite waitress (Amanda Seyfried) is moving away.

I didn’t enjoy this movie as much as I’d like to tell my parents that I did but didn’t hate it as muchlove the coopers 2 as I’d like to tell the internet that I did either. Featuring one Avenger, two former Dunder Mifflin employees, and three Oscar winners, it does its best to appeal to a modern audience. Sam frequently and unintentionally misquotes Joy to the World and Silent Night to make them sound dirty. Elanor meets and clashes with a Republican soldier (Jake Lacy) at a bar. There’s even a toddler with the adorable catchphrase “You’re such a dick!”. Coopers is still a holiday sap like me though with all the predictable family reconcilations and unlikely displays of Christmas spirit.

love the coopers 4That we’ve seen it all before is not the only reason Love the Coopers feels insincere. The unusually talented cast phones it in, probably because they know they can afford to. Almost all of them have appeared in their share of good movies over the last couple of years and seem to be counting on the strength in numbers that come with a cast of so many recognizable faces. Wilde is a notable exception. Whether she is the only one on set who actually likes this script or is somehow better at hiding it than her more experienced co-stars, she plays her scenes with Lacy as if she’s sure these are the ones they’ll remember her for. I wouldn’t nominate her for any awards but her confidence does make her dynamic with the Republican soldier the most endearing in the film.

Overall, Love the Coopers earned some big laughs from the Silvercity crowd last week while working in some genuinely sad and tender moments but way too many jokes don’t connect (Mostly from trying too hard. Did I mention that Steve Martin is the narrator?) and mostly feels trite (mostly from not trying hard enough).

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I Missed Him Again?!?!: Annie Hall and Why Jeff Goldblum is my Polkaroo

According to IMDB and the closing credits of Annie Hall, Jeff Goldblum appears in the film’s LA party scene and I always forget to watch out for him. Watching the credits about twenty minutes later, I always throw up my hands in frustration thinking “I missed him again?!?!”

Annie Hall

Annie Hall has a lot of moments like that. It’s another movie that I make a point of revisiting about once a year and, unlike Citizen Kane, I rarely look forward to it. I seem to keep remembering Woody Allen’s examination of a relationship that’s run its course as more depressing than it actually is. I remember Alvy’s anxieties, Annie’s depression, and how sad it is to watch these two inevitably grow apart. Sure, this is 1977 Woody Allen (long before his movies started becoming no fun at all) so there are lots of laughs throughout to make it all go down easier but surely I must see all those coming by now.

Annie Hall 2

What I keep forgetting, besides that I’m supposed to be on Goldblum watch, is how many funny moments Allen works in. Some are funny because they’re true, others because they’re outrageous, but nearly every scene hsa something to laugh about. So many of them still catch me off guard after all these years. This time it was “You’re what my Grammy would call a real Jew” that really got me. I even somehow forgot all about Christopher Walken’s scene. There really are a lot of gifts for the audience in this movie and, watching it  today, I realize what a positive note it ends on. I’m already looking forward to next year.

Annie Hall 3

You won’t get away from me next time, Jeff Goldblum!

Mother-Daughter Movies

TMPIt’s time for Thursday movie picks! This week we’re covering movies featuring mother-daughter relationships, which means I for one have been through about 6 boxes of tissues while deciding which are my absolute favourites. Thanks once again to spectacular blogger Wandering Through the Shelves for hosting this weekly meeting of the minds.

Matt

While I’m relieved not to be watching live-action fairy tales or YA movies anymore, this was harder than I thought. About a month ago, I had no trouble making a list of classic father-son dynamics but to mother-daughter relationships- that call for not one but two great roles for women- are a little harder to find in Hollywood.

Mamma Mia! At first, my strategy was to name as many Meryl Streep and Diane Keaton moviesmm7_L as I could. This only got me a third of the way there when I remembered Mamma Mia!, the only American movie on my list. Judge me all you want but I love this musical. Yes, the cast was clearly chosen for their comic timing and definitely not their singing voices but their energy with the help of lots of Abba music make this a party I wish I was at. When searching for the father she never knew, a 20 year-old soon-to-be bride comes to realize how little she appreciated the mother who brought her up all by herself.

Jay: Consider yourself judged, Matt.

The Piano Teacher The dynamic between mother and daughter can be as messed up as any piano-teacherand who better to explore just how bad it can get than Austrian director Michel Hanake. Never afraid to make his audience squirm, Hanake (Funny Games) cast Annie Giradot as a mom that makes Carrie’s look permissive. Isabelle Huppert plays a forty-something pianist who shares not only an apartment but a bed with her controlling, perfectionist, and manipulative mother. All this withholding and repression leads to some pretty bizarre behaviour when the daughter meets a young man that she can’t help but be attracted to. Watching it can be an uncomfortable experience but it’s never dull and is sure to inspire lively discussions- even debates.

Volver Penelope Cruz got her first Oscar nomination for Pedro Almodovar’s 2006 Spanish volver-cruz-cobocomedy-drama. Carmen Maura plays mother to both Cruz and Lola Duenas, seemingly back from the dead to seek the forgiveness of her estranged daughter. There’s some serious stuff here but Volver is also surprisingly funny. It’s a hard film to categorize but an easy one to love.

 

Sean

terms_of_endearment_3_maclaine_wingerTerms of Endearment – I saw this movie for the first time yesterday and right away I wondered how I had not seen it before. The opening credits contain so many recognizable names and everyone lives up to expectations. It is not an easy movie to watch because it seems so real. It’s not often a happy movie but it’s so genuine and for that reason above all else I think it will stick with me for a while. I highly recommend it to anyone else who hasn’t seen it.

Spanglish I didn’t even realize until now that this was also written and directed by James L. Brooks (just like Terms of Endearment). Score two for him because this movie is also fantastic. Like Terms of Endearment, it is also not very happy but comparing these movies is a disservice to both. Spanglish stands on its own as a story of true love and sacrifice. Just don’t watch these two movies back to back as you may never recover from all the heartbreak.1112065277

Jay: I can’t believe I let you do this one! I love Spanglish because their cultural isolation really pits the two of them against the world. Even when they occasionally hate each other, they’re still each other’s entire universe, and when other options start to present themselves, this mother is prepared to make the hard choices. You know this movie gets me every time, to see how close the mother gets to love and fulfillment but turns her back on it because she knows it’s best for her daughter.

Freaky Friday (1976) The third slot was a tough one because while I watched several other Freaky-Friday-classic-disney-18104673-900-506mother-daughter movies this week, I felt the other tearjerkers didn’t hit the mark. I went another way. I have to make 100% clear that this is the original Freaky Friday, not the remake. I did not see this movie as a kid, mainly because I confused it with the Friday the 13th series and horror movies terrified me. It’s very dated but it’s fun to see a young Jodie Foster try to act like a regular kid and then do a very accurate impression of herself as adult who happens to be pretending to be a regular kid.

Jay

I’m having a tough time paring down this list. I watched Autumn Sonata (Ingrid fucking Bergman!) which succeeds in being uncomfortable and intense despite subtitles. And I watched Imitation of Life, which pitted parenting styles against each other with equally depressing results. And I watched Because I Said So because frankly, how could I not? As Matt pointed out,acc3e0404646c57502b480dc052c4fe1 Diane Keaton is just screaming to be on this list, and this film with 3 sisters and a meddling mother is a comforting exercise in voyeurism. And Pixar’s Brave – I love the circularity in that relationship, the growth experienced by both women and the understanding that comes with it. And The Kids Are All Right – there’s so much here in terms of a family coming to terms with shifting roles, and it’s striking how much the two mothers complement each other. And Sherrybaby. And Easy A (love Patricia Clarkson in that!). And Anywhere But Here. And Mother and Child. Nothing like a major health crisis to flush out your Netflix queue!

But fuck it. Steel Magnolias, baby. There, I said it. It’s goopy and sentimental but you know 5a64037be0d86f25_steel_jpeg_previewwhat? The relationship at its core, Sally Field and Julia Roberts, feels absolutely genuine. Julia Roberts plays a young woman with diabetes, and Sally Field the constantly-worried mother. Both are headstrong but you can tell that Mom is secretly proud that her daughter is determined not to let her illness stop her from living on her own terms. Sally Field will give anything, including body parts, to keep her daughter going, but when the worst happens, the grief and anger are palpable and real.  For my money, Sally Field talking to her comatose daughter is just about the most heart-wrenching tribute to motherhood you’re apt to find.

And Mermaids. I can’t help it. The family situation reminds me so much of my own – just a mom mermaidsposterand her girls on their own in the world. It’s not always easy, or friendly. When you fight you fight big, but you love big too. And the dancing in the kitchen: yes! I love Cher’s awkward stabs at motherhood – the funny little food and the ill-timed advice – and Christina Ricci’s weird little pumpkin-headed wiggles.

 

Now Voyager is the ultimate in family dysfunction. A hateful and over-bearing mother stifles her daughter NowVoyager-Still6(played by the inesteemable Bette Davis) into a nervous breakdown that turns out to be her weird salvation. Of course, upon return, the now glammed up and self-assured daughter is again reduced to a puddle in the face of her unfeeling mother.