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Still Alice

Still Alice film posterSynopsis

Based on a novel by neuroscientist Lisa Genova starring Julianne Moore as Alice, a professor of linguistics who, after becoming forgetful of words and on one occasion of her whereabouts, is told she will suffer Alzheimer’s disease.  Still Alice follows the emotional impact on herself and her family.  Her husband is played by Alec Baldwin.  Her daughter Lydia (Kirsten Stewart) learns there is a likelihood of her being a future sufferer.  Alice becomes increasingly helpless as the disease takes hold.

Review

Back in the ’80s and ’90s there were films about social issues such as domestic violence and depression and these were dealt with in an often bland fashion.   Given our supposed advances since then in cultural sensitivity Still Alice manages to look like Hollywood looking after it’s own.  It’s fortunate that Alice is affluent and surrounded by caring academic liberals who are all smart, and of course, beautiful.  The prospects for those of lower status, or the poor, would be so much grimmer thus unfit for mainstream viewing.  Given these limitations, the film just about manages to convey the menace to domesticity in the way of thrillers.  You get the early scenes of domestic bliss (usually the family has just moved into a new home) and then the threat arises.  It’s a neat way of melodramatizing for a two hour production.  The cold panic in loss of memory and control are reasonably shown, and the film largely avoids the trap of facile sentimentality that you might get in a film about cancer, but only just.There is poetic acknowledgement of the role of memory in identity and of course the loss of this is the horror.  There is a quote from the poet Elizabeth Bishop in the speech Alice gives about possible responses to its onset.  Alice arranges for her suicide when the disease takes over.  Leaving the shower gel in the fridge is a startling sign of the disease.  Still Alice avoids the physical effects (except for incontinence because of not being able to find the bathroom), so is this an evasion of a responsibility to deal with reality?  Emotional coping is what the family has to offer but of course we can’t know the subjective reality of Alzheimer’s.  There is need to go further in this subject.

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Posted by on March 30, 2015 in At the cinema, Film Reviews

 

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Blue Jasmine

Blue Jasmine film posterSynopsis

Woody Allen’s latest.   Jasmine (Cate Blanchette) who is a wealthy socialite married to Hal (Alec Baldwin).  He is unfaithful and in revenge she exposes his financial shenanigans to the FBI.  All their fortune disappears, Jasmine’s son leaves her.  She goes to San Francisco to live with her sister Ginger (Sally Hawkins) who is working class.  Blue Jasmine tracks her psychic disintegration as she alienates Ginger’s boyfriend Chilli (Bobby Cannavale).  Jasmine works for a dentist and later meets a rich boyfriend Dwight (Peter Sarsgaard).  She drinks too much and talks to herself.  Will her life improve…?

Review

Unanimous critical opinion has praised this film.  I’ve been immune to Woody Allen throughout his career and on the showing of this film I still am.  All that middle class name dropping of artists and philosophers, all those intensive arguments that plod where most of us hardly miss a step.  All those self conscious witticisms and all that earnest psychobabble.  The volubility of his couples sound like the embarrassments you would overhear from a middle class soiree.  As Jasmine, Cate Blanchette plays the role that Vivien Leigh played so well.  Blanche Dubois as the alcoholic wreck who looks at the psychological and social disintegration of her life in self pitying slow motion.  It’s obvious that Allen has been reading his Tenessee Williams exam notes because Blanchette goes through Leigh’s act so well, to the point of party piece parody.  Ginger’s boyfriend plays the Marlon Brando character, Kawalski, all slick and bruiser physicality.  Might as well call this film Cat on a Menageries Hot Tin Roof.  Jasmine is a posh blonde rich bitch who doesn’t care about Ginger until she’s out of luck when her cuckolding husband loses all their money in financial disgrace.  She tries to keep up patrician appearances and pretensions in Ginger’s working class San Francisco home.  Sally Hawkins is a British actress who does either posh debutantes or feisty working women and she’s the only character in this film that I’ve got any time for.  Unusually for Woody Allen there is neither leaden humour nor would be cerebral discussion, rather there are abrasive quarrels that get physically rough.  It’s as if Woody Allen has just discovered domestic violence.  Jasmine talks to herself but her soliloquies are not Woody Allen’s Philosophy for Dummies monologue but those of a mind falling apart.  Her high class elegance is accentuated by the chunky plebeian relatives who refuse to pander to her desperate attempts to cling on to gentility.  Far from being his best in years, Blue Jasmine is a joke free imitation of Tennessee Williams.

 
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Posted by on October 11, 2013 in Film Reviews

 

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