I’m finally catching up with films that got away from me during the last
few weeks. Here’s my take on two out now, beginning with the latest from Woody Allen:
A RAINY DAY IN NEW YORK. The film comes trailing significant baggage. Allen sued Amazon for refusing to release the film in 2019 because of the controversy around sexual molestation allegations against him in the wake of the #MeToo movement. Several cast members including Timothee Chalamet, Selena Gomez, and Rebecca Hall have donated their salaries to relevant charities, and the film has already been seen in Europe, South America, and Asia. It comes to us, wrung out and a little worse for wear artistically and culturally.
Timothee Chalamet and Elle Fanning two of today’s youngest, most
talented, and bankable stars, headline the cast as a pair of uppercrust
college kids who plan a romantic weekend in NYC which is then upended by
unforeseen adventures, romantic entanglements, and family revelations.
Chalamet plays Gatsby Welles, his girlfriend is Ashleigh Enright and
they are both as privileged as their names sound. He’s brilliant with a
penchant for playing piano and the odds, and hates the pretensions of
his mother’s (Cherry Jones nails this pivotal part) moneyed milieu.
Ashleigh, formerly “Miss Amiability” from Scottsdale, is now a perky
film wonk who’s just snagged an interview for the college paper with a
famous and very moody filmmaker played by Liev Schreiber. Jude Law
plays his screenwriter and “keeper,” and Diego Luna plays their frequent
leading man and lothario. Ashleigh becomes either muse or prey to all
the leading men as the day turns into a rainy romp through old New York
with stops at The Carlyle’s Bemelmans Bar, The Met, the Delacorte Clock
in Central Park, with Chalamet singing in the rain and playing cocktail
jazz piano for a possibly new romantic interest played by Selena Gomez
– who’s cruelly....
Now playing in select theaters including Landmark Theatres: Kendall Square/Boston (October 9) and Embassy/Boston (October 16).
The Trail of The Chicago 7
Whereas writer/director Aaron Sorkin’s THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7
is as up to date and relevant as an historical event can be. The film
focuses on the circus of a trial that took place after the riots in
Chicago at the 1968 Democratic National Convention. Hippies, Yippies,
activists and Black Panthers were accused of inciting violence against
the police whom Chicago boss Mayor Daley had standing by to keep the
demonstrations against the Viet Nam war from getting out of hand.
There’s a lot to keep us entertained and riveted to what’s on trial
here: societal upheaval in the form of civil disobedience against
entrenched injustice against a backdrop of political and cultural
polarization. Sound familiar? Though the film is sometimes stiffly
directed, riding roughshod over tone and pace, and occasionally losing
its narrative thread, it is a linguistic tour de force propelled by
Sorkin’s gift of gab and a dazzling cast: Sacha Baron Cohen (who
butchers the Massachusetts accent) as the brilliant, wild-haired Abbie
Hoffman; Jeremy Strong as Jerry “Never trust anyone over 30” Rubin;
their courtroom scenes conjure something like the Marx brothers anarchic
absurdism. Eddie Redmayne (who nails an American accent) is perfect as conflicted activist and Jane Fonda’s...
Despite its flaws, I recommend THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7. Now playing at select theaters including Landmark Theatres: Kendall Square/Boston, coming to Embassy/Boston, streaming on Netflix 10/16.