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Posts Tagged ‘sally potter’

Kristin Scott Thomas, Patricia Clarkson, Bruno Ganz

“THE PARTY” My rating: B

71 minutes | MPAA rating: R

With a running of time just over an hour, Sally Potter’s “The Party” plays like a classic one-act play, filled with slamming door exits, fiercely funny wordplay and wonderfully brittle, self-delusional characters.

Potter,  the British creator of films like “Orlando” and “The Tango Lesson,” specializes in gender issues and anti-establishment politics.  “The Party” embraces all that while remaining bitterly hilarious.

In the film’s first shot a frantic looking woman (Kristin Scott Thomas) yanks open her front door, stares momentarily at the visitor on her stoop (the camera takes the vantage point of the guest) and points a pistol at us.

We then flash back 70 minutes.  That same woman, Janet, is busily futzing around the kitchen, preparing to entertain some old friends. Her husband Bill (Timothy Spall) sits in the living room, wine glass in hand, deejaying old blues and experimental jazz LPs. He has the look of a  shell-shocked combat vet.

One by one the visitors arrive and we gradually learn what the celebration is about.  After years of struggle as a party faithful, Janet has been named head of the country’s Ministry of Health. She is constantly interrupted by congratulatory phone calls, including several heavy-breathing text messages from an unidentified lover.

The deliciously catty April (Patricia Clarkson) is allegedly Janet’s best bud. As an American she takes a withering outsider’s view of Brit politics…but then she’s withering on just about every subject. Asked to evaluate if Janet’s new job has transformed her in any way, April observes that her friend now is “slightly ministerial in a post-modernist, post-feminist sort of way.”

She’s even harder on her boyfriend, a blissed-out, New Age-y German life coach named Gottfried (Bruno Ganz) who so adores her that he puts up with a constant stream of abuse. April announces that she intends to dump Gottfried that very night: “Tickle an aroma therapist and you find a fascist.”

 

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Elle Fanning, Alice Englert

Elle Fanning, Alice Englert

“GINGER & ROSA”  My rating: B- (Opening April 5 at the Glenwood at Red Bridge)

90 minutes | MPAA rating: PG-13

When confronted by someone of fierce political and social commitment – particularly if their bent is way to the left – I always wonder  if  they’re really that dedicated to the cause or whether the cause fills some desperate void in their life.

You don’t have to wonder for too long in Sally Potter’s “Ginger & Rosa,” a film about an impressionable and innocent London teen who converts her anger and anxiety over personal betrayals into a righteous anti-nuke crusade.

The girls of the title are among the first of Britain’s post-war baby boomers. It’s 1962 and Ginger (Elle Fanning) and Rosa (Alice Englert, daughter of director Jane Campion) are coming of age beneath the threat of nuclear annihilation.

On one level they’re just regular kids who listen to rock ‘n’ roll, giggle conspiratorially, dream about boys and shrink their new blue jeans by wearing them into the bathtub.

On another level, though, the two young friends are nascent radical activists, terrified of dying in a radioactive mushroom cloud and determined to do something about it.

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