Tag Archives: Woody Allen

Sunday, June 24, 2018


Falcon Movies TOP TEN MOVIES ABOUT OR WITH A MALL June 11, 2018 Bette Midler, Woody Allen On today’s Slow Monday Top Ten , I’m going to type endlessly about movies that use a mall as a major part of the story. The Mall (in capitals) is an American tradition, which has been slowly, slowly declining since the early 90s. It had its hey-day in the 80s, which was the era of excess, where The Mall (in caps) fit in perfectly. You could find whatever you wanted in the mall, from Orange Julius to cheap jewelry that looked suspiciously second-hand. That mass-market accessibility is maybe the most appealing thing about a mall, and many mall themes can be seen in popular movies like Dawn of the Dead or Mallrats, both of which take the setting of the mall and imbue it with unique characteristics. In the case of Dawn, the mall is shelter from the apocalypse, but also the last bastion of a once great civilization, one obsessed with shopping and wandering aimlessly for no good reason. The word Mallrats is unique and clever, imbuing a human being with the trashy, superficial characteristics of The Mall (in caps), and that superficiality makes a funny comedy about young people. What about the rest of these? Are these good movies with a mall? 10. Paul Blart: Mall Cop (2009) – If this movie was maybe released in the 80s or 90s, it’d probably be more memorable. As it is, the movie feels dated, but maybe that’s what they were going for with all the stupid references and silly dialogue. Fortunately, this type of comedy fits Kevin James best, as he’s able to do some physical humor and a lot of situational humor. 9. Chopping Mall (1986) – I reviewed this movie for the 2017 31 Days of Halloween Movie Review-A-Thon and it’s pretty much crap (click here for that review). It’s a Roger Corman quickie, so it’s guaranteed to have a lot of outrageous stuff in it. Unfortunately, the movie feels late to the party, with some material already covered by other movies, like Dawn of the Dead. Still, it’s at least entertaining to watch teenagers run away from “robots” made from vacuum clearners. 8. Scenes From a Mall (1991) – Woody Allen’s sappy romance has one good scene I like. Allen and his wife, played by Bette Midler, visit a mall and the scene makes you think they’re visiting a swanky, high-class jewelry store. The clerk brings out an item on a pillow (of all things) and the couple looks adoringly at it. Midler seems really happy, but we learn that it’s simply just a picture of the family put into this cheesy silver frame. It’s pretty funny and plays on our expectations of a couple’s important visit to the mall. Other than scenes like that which have some actual comedy ingenuity, the movie feels choppy and badly paced, and the story goes nowhere. Roger Ebert gave it one star. 7. Bad Santa (2003) – Continuing the tradition of trashy mall movies, Bad Santa fits Billy Bob Thornton almost too well. His character is disgusting, rude and hilarious. He poses as a Santa to rob the mall, which doesn’t sound like a very good plan in my opinion. The trailer has all the good scenes and makes the movie seem a little better than it is. It’s not bad for a holiday change-of-pace, just really trashy. I’m not watching Billy Bob beat up a midget at any other time of the year but at Christmas. 6. Mannequin (1987) – This is a dumb movie but it has a great hook for a story. A guy falls in love with a mannequin that comes to life as a real live girl. It’s certainly unique, but it’s consumerist subtext is a product of its time, the fabulous 80s. The movie is mainly about finding the hidden female mannequin in a world of nondescript female mannequins, and I think there’s a lot of symbolism in there somewhere. The movie made 43 million on a budget of 8, and was wildly successful. The movie is supposed to be the modern retelling of the Pigmalion, an opera about a beautiful statue that comes to life. I feel an analysis might be in there somewhere. 5. Mallrats (1995) – Kevin Smith’s Mallrats or Clerks is genre defining. It puts the human trope right there in the title. What is a “mallrat”? What does that word even mean? The movie doesn’t try to answer those questions, instead relying on the “characters” to flesh out their trashy upbringing from shopping too much. They argue, fight, have sex, and beat up the Easter Bunny. It’s a comedy. I think Clerks is better, frankly. 4. Blues Brothers (1980) – Blues Brothers really has very little to do with malls or stores, but it sure trashes them like no tomorrow. The famous chase scene crashes through a mall and it’s one of the best parts of the movie. Elwood drives his crappy 1974 Dodge all over the road like my Grandma and tries to get away from the police, because the joke is that he’s got like 56 outstanding warrants. They smash into a toy store, run over all the mannequins and go hog wild, while the music sounds like its playing for the Marx Brothers. There’s a cameo from Steven Williams as a cop motivated to catch Elwood and Jake. 3. Police Story (1985) – This movie or Rush Hour is Jackie Chan’s best movie. Rush Hour is pretty much a buddy flick, but Police Story is all Jackie. Much like Blues Brothers, the best scene is set in a mall, but in Police Story, it’s a highly choreographed fight scene. It’s about ten minutes long and all the fluff that packs Blues Brothers is nowhere to be seen in this one, instead the scene starts with a high stakes chase where the Bad Guys ™ try to catch the Beautiful Woman ™, who witnessed their crime. Chan plays the hero, of course. No surprise, he beats them all up. The script injects little bits of exposition between each Jackie fight and that works well. Chan even kicks the slimy lawyer. Awesome. 2. Night of the Comet (1984) – This movie takes the mall hangout premise from Dawn of the Dead and puts an 80s twist on it. Two girls turn the melodrama up to 11 and the movie goes montage crazy, realizing what Dawn of the Dead did with its overindulgent craving for consumerism and shopping. So it’s the same Dawn of the Dead shopping scene just done a little differently. The girls put down their uzi and try on shoes. Hilarious. “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” plays over their shopping trip and they dance through Macy’s, then the dialogue drips with more irony as they discuss style. The scene pushes forward with a shootout. Dawn of the Dead – This is the mother of all mall apocalypse consumerist metaphor movies. Every other movie that has a mall and has a metaphorical message is compared to Romero’s classic. I’ve always wondered why the blood and the gore is done in such a colorful way, from the bright red blood to the four color arena of the mall. What does that mean? Romero argued that the color of the blood complemented the comic book feel of the movie. The movie’s iconic setting plays a huge role in the legacy of the film and the film’s critique of consumerism is why it is still remembered today.
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Thursday, April 12, 2018

Kennedy Center Honors: Our top 50 recommendations who need to be chosen include Dick Van Dyke, Liza Minnelli, Jessica Lange, Bette Midler

Mister D: Ok, I admit that I’m prejudiced, but this list could be whittled down in seconds for me. My standards are high, well in some things, and some of these people don’t really belong on this list. Gold Derby Kennedy Center Honors: Our top 50 recommendations who need to be chosen include Dick Van Dyke, Liza Minnelli, Jessica Lange, Bette Midler Chris Beachum April 11, 2018 6:00AM The next recipients for the Kennedy Center Honors will be announced in the late summer, often around Labor Day. The all-star event is held each year in the nation’s capital during the first weekend in December and then airs on CBS as a two-hour special after Christmas. Each year, the selection committee chooses five entertainment veterans from a variety of fields – film, television, popular music, theatre, and the fine arts (dance, opera, classical music). Selected artists are almost always over 50 and generally are 60 and beyond. The first recipients in 1978 were singer Marian Anderson, actor and dancer Fred Astaire, choreographer George Balanchine, composer Richard Rodgers and conductor Arthur Rubinstein. The most recent honorees in 2017 for the 40th anniversary program were dancer Carmen de Lavallade, singer Gloria Estefan, singer LL Cool J, producer and writer Norman Lear and singer Lionel Richie. But there are a number of notable performers missing from the honors roll. Our photo gallery features 50 entertainers who deserve to be selected soon. For our purposes a person must be at least 60 years old to be in our gallery. We are not going to include the retired Doris Day and Gene Hackman as well as the reclusive Woody Allen since attendance at the event is mandatory. Tour through our photos and sound off in the forums about who you think should be selected soon. 1. Dick Van Dyke Van Dyke is just an Oscar away from EGOT status. He is a five-time Emmy Award winner for “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” “Van Dyke and Company,” and “The Wrong Way Kid.” He won a Tony Award for “Bye Bye Birdie” (1961) and a Grammy Award for “Mary Poppins” (1964). Van Dyke is a member of the Television Academy Hall of Fame and received the Screen Actors Guild life achievement award in 2013. 2. Liza Minnelli Minnelli is very close to EGOT, having never won a Grammy Award before. She won a Tony Award for “Flora the Red Menace” (1965), an Oscar for “Cabaret” (1973), and an Emmy for “Liza with a Z” (1973). The daughter of legendary entertainer Judy Garland, other films have included “The Sterile Cuckoo” (1969, her first Oscar nomination), “New York, New York” (1977), and “Arthur” (1981). 3. Denzel Washington Washington is the only African-American with two Academy Awards for acting (“Glory,” 1989; “Training Day,” 2001). His other Oscar nominations were for “Cry Freedom” (1987), “Malcolm X” (1992), “The Hurricane” (1999), “Flight” (2012), “Fences” (2016, producing and acting), and “Roman J. Israel, Esq.” (2017). He also won a Tony Award for the same role in “Fences” (2010). 4. Gladys Knight The “Empress of Soul” started her career in 1952 on Ted Mack’s “Original Amateur Hour” TV show. Her group Gladys Knight and the Pips joined Motown in 1966 and became one of the top recording artists of the 1960s and 1970s with such hits as “I Heard It Through the Grapevine,” “If I Were Your Woman,” “Neither One of Us,” and “Midnight Train to Georgia.” The six-time Grammy winner was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996. 5. Mick Jagger Whether he gets selected by himself (like Paul McCartney) or with his group The Rolling Stones (like The Who and Led Zeppelin), this honor is long overdue. The lead singer was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame along with his band in 1989. He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2003. Their lengthy list of hit singles has included “Satisfaction,” “Get Off My Cloud,” “Ruby Tuesday,” “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” “Brown Sugar,” “Wild Horses,” “Angie,” and “Start Me Up.” 6. Jessica Lange Lange is just one notch away from EGOT. She is a two-time Academy Award winner (“Tootsie,” 1982; “Blue Sky,” 1994) among her six nominations. She is a three-time Emmy champ (“Grey Gardens,” 2009; “American Horror Story,” 2012; and “American Horror Story: Coven,” 2014). Lange won a Tony Award in 2016 for “Long Day’s Journey Into Night.” Other films in her career have included “Frances,” “Sweet Dreams,” “Crimes of the Heart,” “Cape Fear,” and “Big Fish.” 7. Alan Alda Alda has established himself as a triple threat on television, on stage, and in films. He won five Emmy Awards for the legendary comedy series “M*A*S*H” spread out over acting, directing, and writing (the only person to prevail in only three fields). He also took home a sixth Emmy for his role on “The West Wing” and was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame in 1994. He’s been nominated at the Oscars (“The Aviator,”), Grammys (“Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself,” 2008), and three times at the Tony Awards (“The Apple Tree,” 1967; “Jake’s Women,” 1992; “Glengarry Glen Ross,” 2005). 8. Bette Midler Midler was a big hit right out of the gates when she won Best New Artist at the Grammy Awards in 1974. It was the first of three Grammys along with three Emmys for her variety specials and a Tony Award in 2017 for “Hello, Dolly.” That just puts her an Oscar away from EGOT, and she has competed at those awards twice as a leading actress for “The Rose” and “For the Boys.” 9. Harrison Ford Ford is the biggest box office star in American history but still hasn’t had much of an awards career but did receive an Oscar nomination for “Witness” (1985). He was awarded the American Film Institute life achievement in 2000 and the Cecil B. DeMille Award at the Golden Globes in 2002. His film career has included “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” “Working Girl,” “Regarding Henry,” “Patriot Games,” “The Fugitive,” “Air Force One,” and “42.” 10. Reba McEntire McEntire is a Country Music Hall of Fame member who has been one of the most popular singers and performers in the 1980s and beyond. She has had the most CMA Award nominations (49) and ACM Awards nominations (45) of any female artist. She has won two Grammy Awards for “Whoever’s in New England” (1987) and “Does He Love You?” (1994) among her 12 career nominations. McEntire has had a successful TV show with “Reba” (2001-2007) and was widely acclaimed for her Broadway debut in “Annie Get Your Gun” (2001). 11. Tommy Tune Tune has been one of the top choreographers and dancers in Broadway history. He is a nine-time Tony Award winner for his performances in “Seesaw” and “My One and Only,” for his direction of “Nine,” “Grand Hotel” and “The Will Rogers Follies” and choreography of “A Day in Hollywood/A Night in the Ukraine,” “My One and Only,” “Grand Hotel” and “The Will Rogers Follies.” 12. Betty White White is one of the favorite comedic performers in TV history and was inducted into the TV Academy Hall of Fame in 1995. She has won five prime-time Emmy Awards for “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” “The Golden Girls,” “The John Larroquette Show” and “Saturday Night Live” plus a Daytime Emmy for “Just Men.” 13. Burt Bacharach Bacharach has composed hundreds of songs in his lengthy career, many of them popular hits. He is a three-time Oscar winner for his original song and score in “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” and original song in “Arthur.” He is a two-time Grammy champ for “Cassidy” and “I Still Have That Other Girl” plus an Emmy winner for his 1971 variety special. 14. Diane Keaton Keaton is an Oscar-winning actress (“Annie Hall,” 1977) who has been primarily working in films since the early 1970s. Her career has included “The Godfather,” “Reds,” “Marvin’s Room,” “Baby Boom,” “Father of the Bride,” “The First Wives Club” and “Something’s Gotta Give.” She was the 2017 recipient of the American Film Institute life achievement award. 15. Arturo Sandoval The Cuban-born Sandoval is one of the greatest trumpet players in music history. He defected to America in 1990 while performing with previous KCH recipient Dizzy Gillespie. He is a 10-time Grammy winner, Emmy winner and recipient of the 2013 Presidential Medal of Freedom. 16. Cynthia Gregory Gregory is one of the most famous American prima ballerinas of recent decades. She first became well known in San Francisco as a teenager before joining the American Ballet Theatre in 1965. She has had roles in “Giselle,”” “Sleeping Beauty,” “Coppelia,” “Don Quixote,” “The Eternal Idol” and “At Midnight.” 17. Bob Newhart Newhart has proven to be one of the most beloved comedians in American history since the early 1960s. In fact he won at the 1961 Grammy Awards as Best New Artist and for Album of the Year. He was inducted into the TV Academy Hall of Fame in 1993 for his roles on “The Bob Newhart Show” and “Newhart.” He won his only Emmy Award in 2013 for a guest role on “The Big Bang Theory.” He was the 2002 recipient of the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor at the Kennedy Center. 18. Whoopi Goldberg Goldberg is one of the few people who have achieved EGOT in her entertainment career. She won an Oscar for “Ghost,” a Grammy for her comedy album “Direct From Broadway,” a Tony Award for producing “Thoroughly Modern Millie” and a Daytime Emmy for hosting “The View.” Other film roles have included “The Color Purple,” “Sister Act” and “The Lion King.” She was the 2001 recipient of the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor at the Kennedy Center.

19. Jerry Lee Lewis ...  Read More

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Saturday, May 20, 2017

How Accurate Is ‘The Wizard Of Lies’? The HBO Madoff Movie Feels True To Life For Actor Sophie Von Haselberg – On HBO Tonight

Bustle How Accurate Is ‘The Wizard Of Lies’? The HBO Madoff Movie Feels True To Life For Actor Sophie Von Haselberg ByALLIE GEMMILL May 20, 2017 2017-04-30_3-30-34 As HBO’s new drama, The Wizard Of Lies, shows, it seems that when the truth and lies of Bernie Madoff‘s legacy merge on-screen, the result will be explosive for everyone involved. How accurate The Wizard of Lies is may never be fully known, as many of the people involved with the crimes are imprisoned or deceased, but actor Sophie Von Haselberg, who plays Nicole De Bello, a member of Madoff’s legal defense team, says a large amount of preparation was involved. “I, of course, tried to research as much as I could, but I think that obviously the leads of the film were in a very different situation. Like, I think that those people’s lives [the Madoffs, presumably] are incredibly exposed, so I imagine there’s a wealth of research to draw on,” she tells Bustle in a phone interview. “There was not very much that I could find, I have to say.” So, Von Haselberg says she blended her own memories of the Madoff case with the film’s version of events to help bring the scandal to life on-screen. “I feel like I knew a pretty decent amount just because I’m a not-born-but-bred-New Yorker,” the 30-year-old says. “I feel like I devoured the New York Times every single day, so I feel like I was pretty aware of the case that was going on. So, I feel like I already had a pretty good sense of it, but then as the years go on, you sort of forget all of the details and how incredibly heartbreaking the real story is.” For Von Haselberg, her real-life experience as an onlooker of the Madoff case informed her approach to the movie’s well-crafted script. “I was totally fresh to [the fictional world of the Madoff’s], because my part in this is so minute,” she told Bustle. “But also just reading the script was something that brought back vivid memories of this time. The photos, the pieces that were coming out about all the victims, and all of these things… I felt like I didn’t have any preconceived notions about the film, but definitely about the case.” This led the actor to using the script as a her primary tool. “I think that script is just so rich and it gives you so much to play with. Even in a small role, it gives you a lot to sort of sink your teeth into. The script was definitely my primary support,” she says. “Just reading the script was something that brought back vivid memories of this time.” As the daughter of famed actor Bette Midler and an actor in Woody Allen‘s Irrational Man and the Wall Street drama Equity, Von Haselberg is no stranger to movie and TV sets. The Wizard Of Lies, though, is her first step into exciting new career territory. Naturally, the topic of important life advice she gleaned from her mother came up. “It’s funny, you know. Recently, when I graduated from grad school, I was very intent on being an actor and on not really making my own work. Not because I didn’t want to, but for some reason I felt like I didn’t have the capacity. You know, the longer I was out of school, the longer my mom [Midler] kept on saying, ‘Sophie, you have to make your own work. Whether that means producing, writing a show, you just have to have a creative engine running inside you all the time,'” Von Haselberg tells Bustle. She highlights how transformative that advice was, continuing, “In the last couple of years, that’s become so important to me. I’ve been producing a lot more and working on my own projects. It’s just an amazing way, I think, of having agency over your own career which, especially as a woman, I think is very important and rare. But it’s becoming increasingly less rare, which is exciting.” As I wrapped up my time with Von Haselberg, she tells me, “I’m excited for anything that will come my way.” If The Wizard Of Lies is any sign of the momentum she’s making, then there’s no doubt more intriguing projects are on the horizon.
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Friday, September 23, 2016

The Underlying Meanness Of The First Wives Club

Refinery29 The Underlying Meanness Of The First Wives Club KELSEY MILLER SEPTEMBER 20, 2016, 10:00 AM goldie-diane-bette Remember when we all stopped saying “real women”? I don’t recall which trend piece woke me up to that shift in our cultural lingo, but I do know how fast it clicked. For most of my conscious life, “real women” had been the phrase used to describe women who weren’t models, who seemed relatable rather than aspirational, women who weren’t too hot or too confident but were, you know, normal gals. (And it went without saying that these were probably straight, cis women, too.) “Real women” seemed like a helpful, friendly phrase, but of course the moment someone pointed out that all women are real women, I got it — and instantly tossed that term out the window. Odd how something that once seemed useful and even empowering can reveal itself as exclusionary and offensive when you take a closer look. I thought about the real-women problem a lot while second-glancing The First Wives Club. I saw this film for the first time at the age of 12 with my dad in a local suburban multiplex. We both laughed, but at times he seemed a little squirmy. Walking out of the theater, he sighed in quiet disappointment: “I just wish it wasn’t all about hating men.” At the time, I thought my dumb old dad just didn’t get it. Because, uh, it wasn’t even about men. It was about women — real women — standing up for themselves and each other. It was about unity and self-actualization, and also it was just a really good, funny movie. They sing in the end! As I turned on the film a few weeks ago, I remembered my dad’s man-hating comment, now seeing it differently. He must have felt so threatened, so defensive in the face of such unapologetic feminism, I thought. This movie came out in 1996, back before Roxane Gay and Lemonade, when people still made bra-burning jokes about feminism. This comedic opus of real womanhood must have been a shock to his deeply un-woke system. The opening titles continued as Burt Bacharach’s “Wives and Lovers” plays in the background, an obvious satire: “Hey, little girl/Comb your hair/Fix your makeup/Soon he will open the door/Don’t think because/There’s a ring on your finger/You needn’t try anymore.” Twenty minutes in, I’d all but decided my father was an MRA — when I realized I was squirming myself. An early scene in the film unites all the first wives, Elise, Brenda, and Annie (Diane Keaton), having lunch after the funeral of another first wife, Cynthia. Cynthia committed suicide after being left by her husband for a younger, blonder model, and these three women are in the same boat: fortysomething, newly single, and therefore with little left to live for. (“Bye bye, love. Hello, Pop-Tarts.”) “What’s her name?” asks Elise (Goldie Hawn). “Shelly,” replies Brenda (Bette Midler). “Shelly the barracuda. She’s 12.” Haha! They’re so real and relatable! They’re drunk and angry and victimized (and rich and white). And who is to blame? Men, yes, duh. But mostly other women — the fake kind. There’s Phoebe (Elizabeth Berkley), the young actress with whom Elise’s husband ran off. She’s blonde, big-eyed, and so evidently stupid that she’s almost incapable of basic human interaction. She claps her hands with fingers splayed like a toddler’s and runs back and forth in high-heeled shuffle steps, the live-action version of a Blondie cartoon. Her most memorable line happens when a doorbell rings and she throws her arms in the air, shouting, “Pizza!” Oh, and spoiler: She’s 16. Then there’s Dr. Leslie Rosen (Marcia Gay Harden). At the start of the film, we learn she’s a therapist, treating both Annie and her estranged husband, Aaron (Stephen Collins — more on that doozy later). Perhaps an iffy professional move, but clearly she’s no bimbo; she’s a doctor. Strong, intelligent, professional woman? Ten feminist points! But then — twist — it turns out she’s also sleeping with Aaron behind Annie’s back. And, while we’re at it, behind the state licensing board’s back. If Phoebe is the ditz, then Dr. Rosen is the vamp, and both women, once villainized, pretty much vanish from the film. Finally, we have Shelly (Sarah Jessica Parker). This is the aforementioned barracuda who apparently stole Brenda’s husband, Morty (Dan Hedaya). In terms of the villains, she gets the most character development — meaning she personifies multiple traits of the Evil Husband-Stealing Archetype, rather than just one. She’s not literally 12, but she is very young, thin, mean, and ditzy. She’s a legit gold-digger who slinks around in furs and picks her teeth at the dinner table. Parker, to her credit, gives as much possible dimension to this monster (if there’s an upside here, it’s the reminder that SJP has mean comedic chops). But more than anything, Shelly serves to expose the meanness underlying this whole film. At one point, Brenda runs into Shelly and Morton in a women’s clothing store. Shelly emerges from the dressing room, clad in a black slip dress. “Shelly, look at you,” says Brenda. “My my, the bulimia certainly has paid off.” Shelly replies: “Brenda, why don’t you try these on” — here she spreads her arms wide and lowers her voice to a trollish grunt — “in your size.” I get it. We’re supposed to hate Shelly for making her mean little fat jokes, and we’re supposed to laugh and high-five over Brenda’s bulimia burn. But they’re both shitty jokes because both these characters are composed of shitty female tropes. Just as Shelly’s thinness and beauty make her fake and hateable, Brenda’s chubby frump look makes her real and relatable. The other two main characters are defined by old-school ideas of womanhood as well. Annie is a doormat who crumples under conflict. Elise is vain and insecure, clinging to youth with her French manicure and drinking herself to sleep under a self-portrait. Theoretically, they’re supposed to shed these old personae and become their best selves when united. That’s what all the montages and musical cues would have you believe, certainly. But really, Annie hits the nail on the head when she declares, “We are the three witches!” Before sitting down to rewatch The First Wives Club, I was prepared to cheer it on as an outlier among the comedies of its time. I didn’t want to find fault in a film I rented dozens of times as a child and bonded over with friends in college. I can see the collective internet rolling its eyes and hear its snarky voice in my head saying: Girl, this isn’t Sophie’s Choice. You’re taking it too seriously. Maybe it’s right. Maybe I’m just being a killjoy. But that voice sounds a lot like the one that wants to make excuses when Amy Schumer posts a racist tweet (she’s joking, Jesus), or conveniently forgets about Woody Allen’s personal history when Annie Hall comes on. From the first bad joke onward, it was like watching the film die by a thousand tiny cuts. One might overlook a few, but the dialogue is jammed with more eating-disorder jokes, gay jokes, plastic-surgery sight gags, and stereotypes galore. (The entire Brenda/Morty subplot manages to roll both Jewish and Italian stereotypes into one lousy storyline; it’s almost impressive.) There’s dated, and then there’s dated beyond repair. As if to underscore this fact, there’s Stephen Collins, admitted child molester, in one of the lead roles. Sometimes you can’t just suspend your disbelief. Sometimes you shouldn’t even try. But these one-off moments are little more than icing I could try to scrape off if the cake itself weren’t so lousy. The First Wives Club presents itself as a story of sisterhood, and in the end we’re supposed to watch these women emerge as their own champions. And it almost, almost happens that way! Elise, Brenda, and Annie eventually realize they’ve been too wrapped up in their own vengeance and should instead focus on the greater good. Huzzah! So they’re going to open a crisis center for women. Great! And how are they going to do it? By blackmailing their ex-husbands into paying for it! I mean, shit. I guess a crisis center is better than no crisis center, even if it is bankrolled by three unwilling ex-husbands (one of whom is a statutory rapist and another of whom has committed major financial fraud — but enough about that, oh well!). It’s just kind of a bummer that in the end it’s not really these women but money that saves the day. And it’s not even their money. Yes, my dad was right that there is man-hating in this movie. But the movie itself seems to hate women more than anything. Under the guise of unity, it pits women against each other (in a fight over men, no less). Like the phrase “real women,” it excludes and demeans everyone who doesn’t fit politely into an archetype. And, comedy or not, why shouldn’t I take that seriously? Should I just wince over the icky parts and go along to get along, wait until that killer song-and-dance finale and sing along? Maybe. Maybe it’s okay to have my cake and eat it, too; it is just a movie, after all. But, really, is it so much to ask that we make a better cake? BetteBack November 15, 1996: How Do The ‘First Wives’ Stars Feel About Men? BetteBack October 19, 1996: Networks Bid For First Wives Club TV Series BetteBack Review September 20, 1996: SECOND THOUGHTS ABOUT `FIRST WIVES CLUB’
  • Diane Keaton Turns 70: Celebrate With These 7 Essential Movies | BootLeg Betty

    BetteBack Review September 20, 1996: ‘First Wives Club’ stirs up battle of sexes with humor | BootLeg Betty ...  Read More

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    Sunday, July 24, 2016

    BetteBack October 8, 1996: Designer balances star egos with costumes for ‘First Wives’

    Daily Herald Suburban Chicago October 8, 1996 Bette+Midler+Goldie+Hawn++Diane+Keaton The movie: “The First Wives Club” The setup : Brenda (Bette Midler), Elise (Goldie Hawn) and Annie (Diane Keaton) — three Manhattan former college pals all dumped by their husbands — declare war against their exes. The costume designer: Theoni V. Aldredge, who won an Academy Award for “The Great Gatsby,” and whose other film credits include ‘Rich and Famous,” “The Rose” and “Network.” On Broadway, her work includes “A Chorus Line” and “ Dream girls” ; she won Tony Awards for “La Cage aux Folles,” “Barnum” and “Annie.” The challenge: Dressing three big stars, each with her own distinct fashion identity. The solution? To a large extent, it meant respecting their looks as well as their sense of what is flattering. “It happens that their taste is very close to the characters, so it was no problem,” Aldredge said. “We were all lucky with that. Thank God whatever they asked for was not out of line. “But when the chips are down, and you say that their character would require something against their personal taste, they went for it.” For example, Keaton prefers her skirts knee-length, but Annie needed a bit more oomph, so Aldredge wanted to hike them up to just above the knee. Keaton objected until Aldredge pinned a hem and shot a Polaroid as evidence. Then Keaton agreed. It’s no wonder that all three actresses fell in love with their wardrobes. After filming wrapped, Aldredge said she “marched myself to the producers and said, You want to deal with these ladies?’ I think Diane took most of the stuff.” The looks: Hawn’s Elise, playing an aging, sexy movie star, wears youthful clothes on a still-fabulous body. Think leather mini skirts, leather slacks, cropped blazers (much of them made for her) and leggings and bodysuits (Reebok). Aldredge’s take — “Goldie loves sexy clothes … She has a great body. She’s tall, lanky. She works out. She literally doesn’t object to anything because she knows she can carry it.” Since Hawn doesn’t like to “cut up her body,” preferring one continuous line, she leans toward short ja c k e ts and slim trousers, and sweaters that are either tunic length or cropped (as in a Barneys label black and white stripe). Keaton’s Annie, a wealthy housewife, is, well, an uptown version of that other Annie she once played: Annie Hall. “ Since ‘Annie Hall’ (Keaton) developed a look and it suited her and she kind of hung onto it. She’s very angular She has very good bones,” Aldredge said of Keaton ’s affinity for tailored clothes. “I said, however, we were going to make it softer, and she did not object.” Most of her clothes, including leath er blazers and cashmere cardigans, were by Calvin Klein and Giorgio Armani. (Besides his knack for making glamorous dresses for the Academy Awards, there’s another reason why Armani is favored in Hollywood. “ Armani understands proportion. You put an Armani suit on any actress and it just fits,” Aldredge said of her choice for many of Keaton’s jackets and coats, including an of-the moment long, bathrobe-style camel overcoat.) Midler, transforming from a dumpy matron to a saucier type, finds her look in variations of fitted suits with tulip shaped skirts in a range of colors from brown to red. (Personally, Midler prefers strong colors.) As for shape, “Bette is a bit more particular because she is smaller and full-bosomed. She knows her body.” Indeed. The flared skirts, Aldredge explained, balance out the bust line. Most of her Midler’s suits were purchased at Barneys, Saks and other New York department stores and then restyled. Quoted: “ In a contemporary movie, the body pretty much dictates what you wear,” the designer said of creating a movie’s wardrobe, adding later: “Obviously, you want to make them (the stars) happy — they shouldn’t worry about the shoe or the skirt or the jacket. And you play mother a lot.”

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    Monday, May 9, 2016

    (On Woody Allen and maybe starring in one of his films) “Well, you know, he never calls, he never writes … I dropped a few hints, but I don’t know. I thought he liked me. I thought he enjoyed it.

    (On Woody Allen and maybe starring in one of his films) “Well, you know, he never calls, he never writes … I dropped a few hints, but I don’t know. I thought he liked me. I thought he enjoyed it. [Woody’s agent] Sam Cohn called me and said he thought Scenes From a Mall was the best thing he’d ever seen me do and he was sure it would be a big hit, and he sounded genuine. He had no reason to lie. He thought we were fabulous together. And I thought, “Golly, I hope I get to do it again.”‘ (1991, Movieline) Bette Midler: Bootleg Betty's photo.
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    Sunday, May 1, 2016

    BetteBack July 27, 1995: Will Bette Midler Be In Woody Allen’s First Musical

    Mister D: I think Goldie Hawn was the one who eventually got the part. Santa Ana Orange County Register July 27, 1995 578414_323712327725227_220659651_n Woody Allen’s upcoming untitled fall project, the follow-up to his upcoming “Mighty Aphrodite,” will be his first foray into the musical genre. Sources said the project will be a collaboration with Dick Hyman, a conductor, arranger, composer and performer. The musical will star Tim Roth, Julia Roberts, Judy Davis, Alan Alda, Ed Norton, Bette Midler, Drew Barrymore and Billy Crudup. Songs and music scores have figured importantly in Allen’s works, most notably in “Radio Days” and “Manhattan.” Hyman has worked on a number of Allen’s films, including “Broadway Danny Rose;” “Zelig” and “Stardust Memories.” Allen, a clarinetist, has been performing regularly at New York’s Michael’s Pub. His “Mighty Aphrodite” is expected to be released to theaters in late October.
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    Monday, April 25, 2016

    Irrational Man film review (with Sophie Von Haselberg)

    IOL 4 stars: Irrational Man film review 21 April 2016 at 16:34pm By: David Rooney 12965275_548443852024637_474644290_n IRRATIONAL MAN. Directed by Woody Allen, with Joaquin Phoenix, Emma Stone, Jamie Blackley, Parker Posey, Betsy Aidem, Ethan Phillips, Sophie von Haselberg, Robert Petkoff and Tom Kemp. REVIEW: David Rooney WOODY Allen is in fine vintage form in Irrational Man, a slinky, jazz-infused existential teaser in which various themes from some of the veteran filmmaker’s most memorable work dovetail into a darkly humorous quasi-thriller explored with a deft lightness of touch. Flavourfully set amid the historic architecture and hermetic atmosphere of a small New England college town, the film places Emma Stone and Joaquin Phoenix in the quintessential Allen character dynamic of a Pygmalion mentor relationship that turns sour. It ranks among the director’s more pleasurable entertainments of recent years. The cold-blooded central plot turn invites immediate comparison to Crimes and Misdemeanours and Match Point. But Irrational Man has elements that recall any number of Allen films, giving it a gentle scent of nostalgia while at the same time remaining vigorous, intellectually engaging and even youthful. That latter aspect is amplified by the appealing vitality of Stone; she was wasted in the strained misfire Magic in the Moonlight but here takes her place among the smart, captivating young women who have provided nectar for Allen and his screen surrogates throughout his career. The big questions of philosophy, morality and the randomness or meaning of existence that have surfaced repeatedly in his work bubble up again in ways more playful than deep, as does the sardonic ambivalence toward academia. But all that shouldn’t suggest some sort of Woody’s-Greatest-Hits retread; the energy and freshness here are quite intoxicating. There’s alluring beauty in the craftsmanship, too, evident in Darius Khondji’s textured cinematography, with its rich colour palette, supple movement and elegant compositions animating the widescreen frame. Likewise, Alisa Lepselter’s fluid editing, and the invigorating use of music – notably the Ramsey Lewis Trio’s cool jazz instrumental of The ‘In’ Crowd featured throughout – drives the transitions with its compulsive toe-tapping beat. Allen takes the literary device of duelling narrators and incorporates their voiceovers into the film’s lissome rhythms. One of them is disillusioned philosophy professor Abe Lucas (Phoenix), who arrives at his new job plagued by doubts about his place in the world, and preceded by near-legendary tales of his passionate affairs, global crusades and bleak depressions. He’s a romantic man of mystery in a staid environment that’s starved for it. Abe’s new place of work is the fictional Braylin College, a Rhode Island campus near Providence that appears to be a stand-in for Brown. Despite his paunch and unhealthy pallor, Abe draws the unsubtle advances of Rita (Parker Posey), a lonely science professor looking to escape from a dreary marriage. While going through the motions of discussing Kant, Kierkegaard and situational ethics, Abe also turns the head of his bright student Jill (Stone), the film’s second narrator. Her instant fixation with the brooding professor (“He’s a real sufferer”) wears thin with her doting, uncomplicated boyfriend Roy (Jamie Blackley). While Abe surrenders to Rita’s insistent seduction tactics, he tries to keep his blossoming friendship with Jill strictly platonic. The development of their mutual attraction is sketched in infectious walking-and-talking scenes, with Stone’s saucer eyes widening further still as Jill gravitates toward the gloomy but charming Abe like a moth to a flame. She steadily becomes as much an equal as an adoring disciple, making the relationship more intriguing as the stakes are raised. The stimulation of new friendship and romance can’t quite budge Abe out of his funk, or ease his feelings of futility concerning his teaching and writing work. “Just what the world needs,” he deadpans. “Another book on Heidegger and Fascism.” He can’t reconcile having set out to be a world-changer, only to end up another passive, sexually dysfunctional intellectual. Abe is a classic Allen figure, stewing in frustration and self-disgust, and Phoenix plays him with a wonderful baggy, lived-in quality that makes us want to climb inside the character’s whiskey-sozzled head, the same way Jill and Rita do. The actor does charismatic complexity and creeping imbalance like nobody else. The turning point for Abe comes as he and Jill eavesdrop on a conversation in a diner, listening to the unhappy turn that a complete stranger’s life has taken. That presents Abe with an illuminating opportunity, which he assesses and acts upon as a lone agent, discovering a methodical sense of purpose as well as a warped rationale for what he’s about to do. The rejuvenating results are instantaneous, as evidenced by Rita’s enthusiastic review of his new sexual prowess. “What happened to the philosopher?” she asks. “Christ, you were like a caveman.” The film then smoothly shifts gears as the fallout from Abe’s “meaningful act” reverberates all over town, becoming the subject of dinner-party chatter, campus gossip and speculation from students and faculty. Despite the risk of exposure, Abe finds it all quite scintillating, fuelling his high even as clever Jill starts putting together the pieces. Allen’s dialogue is witty, his plotting zings along with forward momentum in all the right places, and his observation of elastic moral principles in flux is both mischievous and unsettling, yielding a tasty final-act Hitchcockian twist. The film’s relative breeziness plays in agreeable contrast to its sampling of weighty philosophical views and murky deeds as a daring bid for renewal. The small cast benefits from confining its star power to the leads. Posey plays on her eccentricities as an actor while still keeping them firmly in check, finding both desperation and amusing acerbity in Rita. Blackley is appealing as the vanilla alternative to Abe’s heady magnetism. And sharp impressions are made in small roles by Betsy Aidem and Ethan Phillips as Jill’s academic parents, and Sophie von Haselberg as her wealthy friend. Though it’s an unconventional romance that takes a very uneasy turn, this morality tale wouldn’t work without a convincing infatuation of the heart and mind at its centre. And that element is propelled all the way by the sparky chemistry of Phoenix and Stone. – Reuters/ Hollywood Reporter
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    Saturday, April 2, 2016

    BetteBack July 16, 1995: Bette Midler To Star In Woody Allen Musical

    The Boston Globe (Boston, MA) July 16, 1995 | Matthew Gilbert, Globe Staff 2016-03-15_3-49-46 The bad news: Due to a scheduling conflict, Diane Keaton has dropped out of Woody Allen‘s still untitled fall project. The good news: Judy Davis will replace her. Davis, who also appeared in Allen’s “Alice” and stole his “Husbands and Wives,” will be joined by Alan Alda, Bette Midler, Drew Barrymore, Tim Roth and Julia Roberts. According to reports, the film is going to be a musical, with Allen collaborating with conductor, arranger, composer and performer Dick Hyman. Meanwhile, Allen’s “Mighty Aphrodite” is due in theaters this fall. The Mafia-at-the-racetrack comedy stars Helena Bonham Carter, Michael Rapaport, F. Murray Abraham, Olympia Dukakis, Peter Weller, Jack Warden, David Ogden Stiers and Allen

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    Monday, March 14, 2016

    BetteBack June 22, 1994: Keep The Party Boys…

    Alton Telegraph June 22, 1994

    12093521_222731264746129_1723388405_n No joke: “Keep the party boys. They’re just for show. Looks fade, but humor is forever. I’ll take Woody Allen over Warren Beatty any day.” – Bette Midler
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