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Posts Tagged ‘Glenn Close’

Glenn Close, Jonathan Pryce

“THE WIFE” My rating: 

100 minutes | MPAA rating: R

By the time “The Wife” delivers its big reveal, it should come as no surprise.  The film has been telegraphing its intentions all along; only the most inattentive viewer will be taken aback.

Happily, plot is one of the least important elements in Bjorn Runge’s film (adapted by Jane Anderson from Meg Wolitzer’s novel). What we’ve got here are some terrific acting and a portrait of a marriage in which both partners have struck a deal with the devil to ensure their continued success.

We first meet novelist Joe Castleman (Jonathan Pryce) and his wife Joan (Glenn Close) in the dead of night. Joe can’t sleep, knowing he’s a finalist for the Nobel Prize in Literature.  Joan finally submits to septuagenarian sex to calm him down.

When in the early a.m. the phone call from Stockholm comes, the two celebrate by jumping up and down on their marriage bed like a couple of preschoolers.

But there are signs that not all is well in the Castleman household.  Joe, we learn, is an inveterate philanderer.  And while their pregnant daughter Susannah (Alix Wilton Regan) seems well-adjusted, their son David (Max Irons) is a slow-boiling cauldron of resentment and hurt, not the least because he is an aspiring writer and desperately wants the approval of his famous father…approval which Joe won’t give.

The scene quickly shifts to Stockholm and the swirl of Nobel Week.  Joe attempts to take all the attention in stride, while Joan looks on. In fact, all this hubbub  — and Joe’s obvious infatuation with the pretty young photographer (Morgane Polanski) assigned to record his visit for posterity — is rubbing Joan the wrong way.

Her mood isn’t improved by Nathanial (Christian Slater, in one of his best performances), a sort of literary leech who wants to write Joe’s authorized biography.  Equal parts charm and smarm, Nathanial spends an afternoon drinking with Joan and suggesting that perhaps she’s the one who should be getting the Nobel. (more…)

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Sennia Nanua

Sennia Nanua

“THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS”  My rating: B 

111 minutes | MPAA rating: R

The Holy Grail for the makers of cult films is to come up with an original twist on the zombie thriller.

Netflix has a real contender with its new comedy “The Santa Clarita Diet.”  Another, much more serious candidate is “The Girl with All the Gifts,” which provides a big dose of in-the-moment chills and splatter, but even more importantly builds its own satisfying mythology.

Colm McCarthy’s film (the unexpectedly thoughtful script is by Mike Carey, based on his novel) begins in an underground prison somewhere in Britain. Here unfailingly polite 10-year-olds are kept in cells, fed live worms and guarded by armed soldiers who each day cart them off to their classroom strapped into wheelchairs like mini Hannibal Lecters.

We’re introduced to this world through the experiences of Melanie (Sennia Nanua), a bright, thoughtful and eager-to-please child despite her status as  a prisoner.

Each day the kids are taught by Helen (Gemma Arteton), whose curriculum leans heavily on science, though as  a reward for hard work she reads to her captive students from the Greek legends.

Melanie really relates to those fables.  Especial the one about Pandora. And she likes to think of Helen as the mother she never knew.

Not everybody in this prison is so nice to the children. Sergeant Parks (Paddy Considine) loudly refers to them as “freakin’ abortions” and warns his soldiers to never get too close. Meanwhile Dr. Caldwell (Glenn Close) is vivisecting the youngsters one by one.

You see these kids, in the womb when the zombie apocalypse  hit, are half human and half “hungry” (that’s what the flesh-gnawing resurrected are called in this rendition).  They may represent mankind’s only chance for a vaccine to fight the fungoid disease that brought civilization to its knees a decade earlier.

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Sam Waterston, Kristin Stewart

Sam Waterston, Kristin Stewart

“ANESTHESIA” My rating: B-

90 minutes | MPAA rating: R

Like the Oscar-winning “Crash,” Tim Blake Nelson’s “Anesthesia” delivers a handful of well-known performers in a series of interlocking stories built around a theme.

That theme, as close as I can tell, is about the anesthetizing elements of modern urban life, which tends to isolate us and numb us to our feelings and those of our fellow man.

The film begins with a brutal mugging. In the lobby of a Manhattan apartment building a white-haired man (Sam Waterston) is stabbed, robbed and left for dead. From that traumatic introduction the film then flashes back in time to reveal the victim’s recent past as well as the lives of others involved in the incident.

Waterston plays Walter, an NYU philosophy professor who, only as he nears retirement, realizes how little he actually knows. “I used to believe in nothing,” Walter says. “Now I believe in everything.”

One of the things he believes in is offering a helping hand to students like Sophie (Kristen Stewart), a bright young woman who nevertheless is addicted to burning her own flesh with a hot curling iron.  Only then does she really feel anything.

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