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Posts Tagged ‘John Turturro’

Jenny Slate, Abby Quinn

“LANDLINE”  My rating: B-

93 minutes | MPAA rating: R

With “Obvious Child,” her 2014 feature writing/directing debut, Gillian Robespierre achieved the near impossible, delivering a bittersweet comedy/drama about a young woman who opts for an abortion.

Her sophomore effort, “Landline,” is equally ambitious, if not quite so successful.

The topic here is infidelity and its repercussions.  There’s some angst tossed around, yes, but this mostly low-keyed comedy keeps its eye on notion that sometimes marital trauma ends up being better for everyone. (Robespierre has said in interviews that both she and co-writer Elizabeth Holm saw their parents’ marriages break up because of adultery…but that in the long run everyone was better off for it.)

Set in the pre-cell phone ’90s,  the film centers on the four members of the Quinn family in New York City.

Father Alan (John Turturro) is a advertising copywriter who really wants to turn out great poetry and prose.  Mother Pat (Edie Falco) has her hands full with their 17-year-old daughter Ali (Abby Quinn), a bad-tempered rebel specializing in ditching classes, smoking dope and experimenting with sex.

Their oldest daughter, Dana (Jenny Slade, star of “Obvious Child”), has already moved out and is living with her fiancé. She seems to be as straight and uptight as Ali is angry and adventurous; when uncomfortable Dana erupts in helium giggles. Concerned that her life’s turning into a long slog, she suggests to fiance Ben (Jay Duplass) that they have sex during a hike in the woods. All they get for the effort is a bad case of poison ivy.

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Marg

Margherita Bay, John Turturro

“MIA MADRE” My rating: B- 

106 minutes | MPAA rating: R

Nanni Moretti’s “Mia Madre” is like Fellini’s “8 1/2” melded with a dying mom movie.

It’s not always a graceful union, but since the film stars Margherita Buy (who makes middle age look impossibly attractive), we go along for the ride.

Margherita (Bay) is in the middle of directing a movie about economic upheaval, ruthless corporations and striking workers.

That would be enough to keep her plate full, but every evening after closing down the set she goes to a  hospital where her mother, Ada (Giulia Lazzarini), a retired teacher, is awaiting the results of tests. It’s not looking good.

Margherita is torn between a demanding, often maddening profession and an abbreviated personal life.  Divorced, she has no lovers and only rarely sees her teenage daughter (Beatrice Mancini).  And while she may be a master of emotional nuance on the big screen, she struggles to connect in real life.

She feels particularly helpless and guilty about Ada.  Thank heaven for her brother (writer/director Moretti), who has taken a leave of absence from his job to care for their mama…although this only makes Margherita feel even guiltier.

Moratti, who specializes in droll comedies (“We Have a Pope,” “Caro Diario”), is in a more sober mood this time around.  A dying parent, after  all, is a sobering topic.

But he nevertheless finds humor in the form of an American actor (John Turturro) who has been cast as a factory owner in Margherita’s movie and brings along a backpack of neuroses, bullshit anecdotes (he claims to have been a protege of Stanley Kubrick, though nobody can find his name in the credits of any Kubrick film), and the inability to remember his lines.

There are some surreal dream sequences (another nod to Fellini) as Margherita’s overtaxed psyche attempts to deal with all the chaos in her world

A lot of the on-set movie scenes are inside baseball, and will be far more amusing to viewers who’ve actually worked in the movies than to the average filmgoer.

The parts of the film dealing with Margherita and her mother,while fairly glum, certainly reflect a common parent/child dynamic.

Bottom line: “Madre Mia” is fine, but nothing to write home about.

| Robert W. Butler

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“PASSIONE” My rating: B- (Opening Oct. 7 at the Tivoli)

88 minutes | No MPAA rating

 “Passione” is American actor John Turturro’s musical travelogue through Naples, the city which nurtured his ancestors and which continues to fascinate him.

In addition to directing this documentary, Turturro serves as our on-screen guide, informing us early that “There are places you go to and once is enough…and then there is Napoli.”

Turturro’s premise is that more than any other Italian city, Naples is  identified by its musical culture, a melting pot brew of operatic, gypsy and North (more…)

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