Posts Tagged ‘elizabeth moss’

Elisabeth Moss

“HER SMELL” My rating: B-

134 minutes | MPAA rating: R

Elisabeth Moss so desperately throws herself into every role that even in a mediocre movie she’s worth watching.

In “Her Smell,” writer/director Alex Ross Perry’s study of a female rock star in terrifying decline, that means spending 90 minutes watching Moss sneer, spit, snarl and growl her way into near-psychosis.  It’s almost too much.

Moss plays Becky Something, the singer-guitarist-songwriter of an all-female rock trio. The other members are bassist Marielle Hell (Agyness Deyn) and drummer Ali (Gayle Rankin), and we first find them on the stage of a mid-size auditorium wrapping up a guitar-screeching, throat-scraping set.

The setting is the pre-digital ’80s and the music, punkish hair and costuming suggest the early days of Seattle grunge…in fact, the film could very well have been inspired by Courtney Love and her all-woman band Live.

Once backstage Becky refuels  her performance high with booze and drugs and a fuck-you attitude.

She keeps on hand a couple of chanting shamans, latter-day hippies who serve as her spiritual advisers and have the unenviable task of keeping Becky grounded. Clearly they’re not very good at their job.

In this first segment — which like the other scenes plays out in real time — our heroine careens around like a ricocheting bullet.

She’s visited by her ex-husband Danny (Dan Stevens) who brings along their infant daughter so Becky can see the kid before leaving on a European tour. He seems like a decent guy, but Becky has nothing but contempt for him.

The band’s long-suffering manager, Howard (Eric Stoltz), reveals that he’s gone deep into hock underwriting Becky’s misadventures; before the evening is out he will announce that the European tour is off.

Throughout, Perry’s camera (the cinematographer is Sean Price Williams) takes a fly-on-the-wall, damn-near cinema verite approach, observing but not commenting.


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Sam Riley as Sal Paradise/Jack Keroac; Garret Hedlund as Dean Moriarty/Jack Cassady

Sam Riley as Sal Paradise/Jack Keroac; Garrett Hedlund as Dean Moriarty/Neal Cassady

“ON THE ROAD”  My rating: B (Opens March 29 at the Glenwood Arts)

124 minutes | MPAA rating: R

 “That’s not writing. It’s typing.

Such was Truman Capote’s withering critique of Jack Keroac’s “On the Road.”

Having long assumed that Keroac’s stream-of-consciousness beat odyssey was unfilmable, I was pleasantly surprised by Brazilian  director Walter Salles’ intelligent, sensitive and evocative new screen adaptation.

Not that it’s going to please everyone. Like the novel, the film lacks anything like a conventional plot, being a series of episodes experienced over several years and a half-dozen cross-country treks by its protagonist, wannabe writer Sal Paradise.

But Salles, who has given us the Oscar-nominated “Central Station” and “The Motorcycle Diaries” (about the early travels of the young Che Guevera), finds a narrative and visual style that mimics the book’s pleasant ramblings and heartfelt rants. It’s not perfect, but it’s about as good a screen version of this controversial American classic as we’re likely to see.

In large part that’s due to Garrett Hedlund’s superb (I’m tempted to use the word “monumental”) portrayal of Dean Moriarty, the womanizing, overindulging, incredibly charismatic figure based on Keroac’s real-life friend Neal Cassady.


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