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Posts Tagged ‘Chloe Sevigny’

Charlie Plummer

“LEAN ON PETE” My rating: B+

121 minutes | MPAA rating: R

“Lean on Pete” will leave audiences emotionally wrecked.

This despite the miscasting of a couple of key roles.

At first glance the latest from Brit writer/director Andrew Haig (“45 Years,” “Weekend”)  may look like a-boy-and-his-horse story.  But no.  The equine Pete of the title is less a character than a symbol of everything that the movie’s young human protagonist lacks.

When we meet Charley (Charlie Plummer, last seen as John Paul Getty II in “All the Money in the World”) he’s living in borderline poverty with his loving but generally hapless father Ray (Travis Fimmel). Early on they discuss Ray’s latest squeeze over a breakfast of Fruit Loops (which are kept in the fridge to frustrate the roaches).

Charley: “I like her better than Marlene.”

Ray: “Marlene was smart for a stripper.”

Virtually by accident Charley falls in with Del (Steve Buscemi), who might best be described as a used car salesman of the horse set.  Del has a small stable of nags he runs at nickel-and-dime tracks around the Pacific Northwest. He puts Charley to work grooming the exercising the animals, and the kid soon picks up that Del isn’t above scamming or cheating to make a buck, leading occasionally to quick dead-of-night getaways.

Still, the kid loves working with the  horses, especially the aging Lean On Pete, who becomes  his personal favorite.

“You can’t think of them as pets,” warns Bonnie (Chloe Savigny), the young woman who is Del’s in-house jockey. “They’re here to race and nothing else.”

Indeed, Del is no sentimentalist when it comes time to cull the herd.  Thus when Charley, already reeling from a tragedy at home, learns that Lean on Pete is “going to Mexico” — Delspeak for being sold to the glue factory — the kid puts the horse in a trailer, revs up Del’s junker pickup truck, and heads out for parts unknown. (more…)

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Kate Beckinsale, Tom Bennett

Kate Beckinsale, Tom Bennett

“LOVE & FRIENDSHIP”  My rating: B

92 minutes | MPAA rating: PG

Cinematic evil has a new name…thanks to the unexpected alliance of Jane Austen and Whit Stillman.

Well, maybe not so unexpected. Stillman’s comedies of manners (“Metropolitan,” “Damsels in Distress”) have always shared Austen’s concerns with social status and  romantic self-fulfillment while casting a satirical eye on human foible.

It’s just that this time Stillman has gone to the source and, for my money, come up with the best film of his career.

“Love & Friendship” is based on Austen’s unfinished novel Lady Susan, which was not published until 100 years after her death. It is largely unknown even to fans of her masterpieces, Pride & Prejudice and Sense & Sensibility, largely because it is unbelieveably dark, with a “heroine” who would be repulsive if she didn’t so effectively couch her sociopathy in Georgian good manners.

One of Austen’s big topics — the necessity of single ladies finding suitable mates — is once again explored, but this time without a shred of romance. All is calculation, subterfuge and scheming.

The recently widowed Lady Susan Vernon (a sensational Kate Beckinsale) is cast adrift without a man or the money to continue her highfalutin’ lifestyle. About all she has going for her is reputation for desirability and borderline scandalous behavior — that and the ability to charm her way past weaker minds (which in her reckoning means the rest of mankind).

As “Love & Friendship” begins (and the title is supremely ironic), Lady Susan pays a visit to her sister-in-law, Catherine (Emma Greenwell) and her kindly, impossibly thick husband (Justin Edwards). There’s never a question of thanking her moneyed in-laws for putting her up. Lady Susan operates on the principle that as a special person this simply is her due.

Any discussion of her paying her way, she observes, “would be offensive to us both.”

Her agenda — shared only with her friend and co-conspirator, the American Alicia Johnson (Chloe Sevigny) — is to find suitable mates both for herself and for her mousey daughter Frederica (Morfydd Clark), who is about to be thrown out of her ritzy boarding school.

 

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