Saturday, January 30, 2010

Sundance Day 8: Parker Posey, Cyrus and Nowhere Boy

In which all celluloid begins to bleed together, sickness wins out, and Nathaniel loses his mind (from now on, shorter festival trips!). But, just when all hope for sanity is lost as Sundance winds down, Nathaniel dances with Parker Posey at a party! Nathaniel is elated. And no, I don't know why Nathaniel is speaking in the third person either.

Awesome Parker. As friendly as she is talented.
And fun to dance with, too. She was on the competition jury

The Duplass brothers (Mark and Jay), have been steadily rising stars in the indie scene with contributions to films like Humpday, Baghead and The Puffy Chair among many others. Their latest, which they wrote and directed, looks like a breakthrough... at least where mainstream attention is concerned. This is why people cast "name" actors. It wins attention and quite often name actors are names for a reason: talent. There's not a dud performance in the film. John C Reilly plays a sad sack divorcee, Catherine Keener is his ex-wife who worries about him, and Marisa Tomei is the angel he falls for. Because this is a movie, she falls right back. It's all quite funny and just off kilter enough to be surprising. All this despite being the umpteenth billion flick to reinforce that venerable straight male fantasy: yes, any type of guy no matter his appearance, serotonin levels, aspirations, past history or employment status, can and will win incredibly hot chicks. One wonders where homely girls are supposed to go for love?

A few notes on the performances: Catherine Keener is playing warm Catherine Keener [there's two primary modes: smart-bitchy and smart-warm. Both are wonderful... though the most exciting are the performances that veer off into complicating Keenerisms like in Capote and Please Give]; Marisa Tomei continues to be one of the most enduring and endearing actresses of her generation. She's wonderful here as a fun-loving woman who loves too fiercely and impulsively not be blinded by it; Jonah Hill plays her needy manipulative son (he's very funny) and John C Reilly her needy and only slightly manipulative boyfriend. The film is smart enough to see the parallel even if it finds that more amusing than worrisome. B/B+

Finally, I ask you this:
Parker Posey was the queen of '90s indies and Catherine Keener the queen of '00s indies. When exactly is Keener going to be dethroned? It seems like she's still pretty comfy on that throne. Or am I forgetting someone...

Nowhere Boy
Director Sam Taylor Wood, who previously made the great short Love You More (see previous post) and her star Aaron Johnson (soon to be seen in Kick-Ass), pictured right, were much talked about at Sundance. Both of their stars are rising (this is her first feature but she's already a famous artist, this is his first high profile role with a probable blockbuster to follow) and they're also engaged and pregnant... not just with possibility. She's 42 and he's 19 which helps with the 'much talked about' bit.

Nowhere Boy, which has already been up for film prizes in Britain, will make it to the States in 2010 hopefully and it's well worth seeing. It's a biopic on John Lennon. The Young John Lennon as it were. Like Capote, it gains a lot of impact by tightly focusing on one specific time period and arc in its subject's life. Taylor Wood definitely has a gift with visuals and the film is always pleasing to look at. Johnson holds his own in the central role as the cocky but emotionally confused Lennon but the true stars of the picture are Kristin Scott Thomas as "Mimi" (interviewed here a year ago) and Anne-Marie Duff (James McAvoy's wife) as "Julia" who play estranged sisters -- Lennon's aunt and mother respectively -- and the most formative women in the musician's life. Pre Yoko that is. Both actresses are wonderful, refusing any standard biopic reduction into "mother figure" and becoming as compelling and three-dimensional as John Lennon himself, without the aid of the audience's pre-identification or projection. The Beatle's teenage anger at his mother figures gets a little wearying before the movie is over (grow up already!) and it ends rather abruptly but, all in all, it's a fine first film. I can't wait to see what Taylor Wood does next.

Cyrus: B/B+ (leaning B+)
Nowhere Boy: B/B+ (leaning B+)
Dancing with Parker Posey: A/A+ (leaning A+)

Which celebrity would you most like to dance with? Do tell in the comments.

Day 1: Travel Nightmare
Day 2: Late Arrival for Asian Day: Last Train Home, Vegetarian
Day 3: Marathon Day: Waiting for Superman, Splice, Bran Nue Dae, Boy, Please Give
Day 4: I Am Love, Buried
Day 5,6: Holy Rollers, The Runaways, Mother and Child, Catfish
Day 7: Gay Day: The Kids Are All Right and Contracorriente

next: a few more movies and my personal awards for the fest.


Jude said...

I'd care to dance with Lisa Kudrow and Mira Sorvino, all Romy & Michele style.

Mason Mahoney said...

I think Michelle Williams might be poised to bump Keener off that kitschily shabby indie throne. Come to think of it, I wouldn't mind dancing with her. Not at all.

Amy said...

I really liked Nowhere Boy. I think it rose above the usual biopic standards whilst being highly accessible.

In addition to Taylor-Wood, Anne-Marie Duff is pregnant too - baby McAvoy on the way!

1994 said...

Michael Fassbender. Watching him in his dancing scenes in Fish Tank just makes me so....well, you know.

Ben said...

I adore Anne-Marie Duff, ever since her storyline with James McAvoy on Shameless broke my heart and left me in tatters.

gabrieloak said...

I read your review of Contracorriente on another web site. That film sounds intriguing. I hope it gets released in the US.


Ben... i wasn't aware of who she was until just these past couple of months. She's really good in THE LAST STATION too.

Wayne B said...

Both of the movies sound excellent. The only other actress who could rival Keener's "Queen of the Indies" title is Smamantha Morton.

I wouldn't mind dancing with Vanessa Ferlito, she seems like she has great rhythm.

FrenchGirl said...

i would like to dance with Cid Charisse because i 'm a bad dancer and she was very graceful or with the hippopotamus in "fantasia"

Robert said...

I am so jealous. I love Parker Posey!!! Gah! :D

Jim T said...

I want to dance Ryan Gosling to the end of love.

Ben said...

If you can find the first 2 series of Shameless (a dramedy - in the best sense of the word - focusing on a dysfunctional family living on a Manchester council estate) anywhere, it's well worth checking out. Anne-Marie Duff and James McAvoy have such great chemistry together and whilst it helped launch McAvoy, I've always been sad that the show didn't do more for Duff (other than find her a beautiful, talented, great floppy-haired husband of course). Glad to see she's getting plaudits for Nowhere Boy though.

Glenn Dunks said...

Anne-Marie Duff is also excellent in The Magdalene Sisters.

Wait, Jonah Hill is actually funny? That's a first.

Amy said...

I completely agree with Ben's recommendation of the first 2 series of Shameless. Brilliant show, at least whilst McAvoy and Duff were in it.