Archive for the ‘Movies’ Category

Adapting poetry to television or film is a formidable challenge; unlike prose or drama, poetry relies more heavily on form and syntax than description and plot. “The Song of Lunch,” however, deftly transforms those literary challenges into an engaging short film from the BBC.

“The Song of Lunch,” a 50-minute film based on the poem of the same name by Christopher Reid, stars Alan Rickman and Emma Thompson. Rickman is the unnamed narrator and anti-hero, a middle-age publishing house copy editor and failed poet. He is meeting the similarly unnamed Thompson, his ex of 15 years, for a reunion lunch at the Italian restaurant they frequented as a couple.

Upon arriving he finds that the place, Zanzotti’s, has not been so stuck in time as he. The restaurant, once dark, smoky, noisy, richly and almost stereotypically Italian, seems to be under new management — or mismanagement, he dryly notes. Fringed, checkered tablecloths have been replaced with clean white linens; the waiters, once old and swarthy “like a pirate crew,” are now young, chipper; the menu prominently features overly fancy pizzas, some kind of anathema to him. Unpleased, he nevertheless orders a bottle of Chianti and hunkers down to brood and wait for her arrival.

She, of course, likes the new restaurant and says as much, rattling his enhanced memories of their shared past. Here, at the beginning, time moves slowly, painfully so, giving him time to narrate (the film being fairly light on dialogue) as well as mirroring his hyperaware state of mind. He narrates his thoughts on her hair, the wrinkles crowding her knuckle and her friendly interaction with the waiter, whom she asks for menu advice.

“She doesn’t need it,” his voiceover notes, “but it’s her style to entrust herself in unimportant matters, pose questions that are easy to answer, and, indeed, it makes the waiter smile when, tapping the menu decisively, she requests the pumpkin ravioli because he has recommended it, with sea bass to follow.”

The ongoing narration would be maddening if not for the quality of the underlying poem, the expert delivery by Rickman and, as so often it is in real life, copious amounts of alcohol. She stops at one glass, but he continues on unabated, even ordering a second bottle (and grappa to follow). In these instances the ongoing narration, ostensibly provided by him, provides a humorous aspect to his otherwise disheartening alcoholic intake. “He has killed a bottle, almost singlehanded. When he seizes the new one and nods it in her direction, her flattened hand places an interdiction on the half-full glass that would be half-empty to him.”

On several occasions the need for narration colludes surprisingly well with the awkwardness of the film’s visual cues. Caught yet again gaping rather lecherously at her, he wanly explains, “It’s the old male gaze,” adding through voiceover, “Through alcoholic haze.”

She, for one, is unappreciative of his tipsy humor.

“Typical. You can’t even pay attention for the few minutes we have. I’ve come all this way, dropped my family at not the most convenient moment, hopped on the shuttle, taken the taxi ride from hell, convinced at every traffic light I’d be late, and here I am, all tuned up for our little reunion only to find your physical guzzling tippling self recognizable present but your mind appears to have flitted off on holiday. You’re out to lunch at your own lunch.”

For him, the meeting is no real blast from the past. He is old, and a failure, toiling away at the publisher’s and basking in the pallor of his own literary illness. In his book of poetry, she tells him, the metaphor fell apart because he thought he was writing about her when in fact he himself was the hidden muse. The vanity is astounding, not merely in part because he refuses to acknowledge it.

“The Song of Lunch” is gauche, awkward, claustrophobic and wonderful. His feelings of entrapment mesh expertly with the close-ups, composing the vast majority of the film, the extended zoom transforming into disquieting portraiture. Both Thompson and Rickman, who carries the majority of the dramatic load, shine as former intimates searching for some part of their storied past in a present that, for him at least, is unpalatably worse. For one short, midday meal, he comes face to face with both his ex and, worse, himself.


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“Easy A” is a clumsy but likable tribute to John Hughes’ ’80s teen flicks like “The Breakfast Club,” “Sixteen Candles,” and “Ferris Buehler’s Day Off.” Likable because it deftly updates Hughes’ themes for contemporary times; clumsy because it’s bold-faced enough to actually admit that’s what it’s doing.

Emma Stone stars as Olive Penderghast, a witty (and virginal) high school student in sunny California. One day, she embellishes her otherwise dull weekend at home by telling her best friend about sleeping with a boy at a local community college. Olive enjoys the brief attention Rhiannon (Alyson Michalka), herself known for vague but persistent rumors of amorous encounters, pays her. Unfortunately, the fabrication is overheard by Marianne, the school Jesus freak, competently portrayed by Amanda Bynes. Soon Olive’s supposed reputation has spread throughout the student body, and the formerly unknown entity becomes infamous for “doing it.”

Olive’s popped cherry would have been a flavor-of-the-week at her school, but then her friend Brandon propositioned her — not for sex but rather to pretend to have sex. Brandon, convincingly played by Dan Byrd, is gay, and for some reason is tormented even at a California school where Rhiannon’s parents frequently eat dinner topless while guests twist their forks uncomfortably. Olive reluctantly agrees to fake a fling, and the next night they attend a raucous party, lock a bedroom door and proceed to jump on the bed, fake moan and muss each other’s hair as half the school listens at the keyhole. Brandon emerges with “proof” of his heterosexuality, to cheers and fist bumps; Olive performs the walk of shame, seemingly surprised at the double standard.

The story — and Olive’s reputation — quickly go downhill from there. A succession of losers slip Olive gift cards for the right to claim they got to second base or home plate; Olive doesn’t seem happy about this quasi-prostitution (complaining to one suitor about his payment of a 20 percent off coupon to Bed, Bath and Beyond, Olive asks, “Is that how much our imaginary tryst meant to you? I fake rocked your world.”), but she goes along with it as her infamy snowballs out of control.

The high school of “Easy A” is populated by teenagers who talk about sex but never seem to have it. Facebook is heard of but not seen. Olive’s villains, Marianne and her band of nitwit religious nuts, are laughably chipper and exuberant — and, as a scene depicting an actual picketing of Olive with signs reading “Jezebel” and “Slut” proves, they have a lot of time on their hands.

Written by Bert V. Royal and directed by Will Gluck, “Easy A” benefits from some quality performances and strikes plenty of humorous notes. Olive’s supportive but hands-off parents, expertly played by Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson, drop plenty of witty repartee with their daughter. Byrd’s performance of the closeted Brandon is as compelling as any character gets. And Stone shines while dropping comical yet alluring nostalgia bombs, including, “I always thought pretending to lose my virginity would have been a little more special. Judy Bloom should have prepared me for that.”

Unfortunately, there’s entirely too much else going on in this cluttered, overly short homage. Aside from those aforementioned truly excellent performances, the remainder of the cast are merely competent stock characters, including the crusading Christian girl, the jealous ex-best friend, the cougaresque guidance counselor and the gratuitously shirtless-slash-obvious knight in shining armor (Penn Badgley), who pops up from time to time as a beacon who forms his opinion of Olive based on his experience with her rather than unsubstantiated gossip. Olive’s webcam narrative, a framing device for the film, is tritely sprinkled throughout, leaving no reflection or analysis unsaid, including Olive’s penchant for Hughesian love stories.

Worse, the film is bogged down with a number of poorly thought-out and ultimately inconsequential side plots. The popular English teacher (Thomas Hayden Church) whose guidance counselor wife (Lisa Kudrow) cheats on him with a student receives no real closure. The vitriolic Marianne essentially fades away. Olive’s foray into religious guidance provides little more than an obvious confessional gag and a brief but entertaining cameo from Fred Armisen.

Tragically, “Easy A” buys into a similar moral as the Puritanical novel loosely tied in through grainy black-and-white footage, “The Scarlet Letter.” The school shuns Olive for her supposed promiscuity, and at no point does anyone stop to argue that perhaps it’s her own business and certainly not a problem requiring a loud protest by the parking lot. Whether in the seventeenth century or the twenty-first, the gender binary remains pronounced, a double standard remains in place and sex remains a dirty act for women and a studly one for men.

With its pop culture references and talented cast, “Easy A” strives to add up to more than the sum of its parts; however, at the end of the day, two plus two still equals four. Fortunately, four is pretty good by itself.

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“Single White Female” begins in a bathroom. Two twin girls, not older than eight, sit on a wide sink spread with Mommy’s makeup. They’re dressed in matching white dresses, wearing matching pearl earrings. They smile silently at each other as they apply red lipstick, suppressing giggles so they won’t get caught. It’s a private moment between the sisters, but one they share with us. When they look at the camera, level-eyed and covered in makeup, we become the third member of this hush-hush operation. A trio now, it’s our duty to keep our sisters’ secret. We’ve become the silent accessory, the third twin.

It’s this triangulation that will govern the rest of the movie. “Single White Female” is a story about a friendship between two women, and what happens to that friendship when obsession and murder get introduced. Through it all, we bear witness to a series of doublings and replications and are relegated to the role of third sister. We’re the odd woman out, unable to help or hinder but aware of the terror mounting onscreen. In this way, the movie works. The thrill comes from seeing both sides of the coin and yet not knowing whether to call heads or tails. Watching ‘Female’ is an exercise in restraint: as with most scary movies, you want to scream “Look out! Don’t go in there!” and yet with this one, that impulse feels especially futile. We’re the third twin, remember? That look the sisters gave us in the beginning has sealed our fate. We’ve been sworn to secrecy.

(A quick disclaimer might be necessary at this point in my review: “Single White Female” came out in 1992. If you’ve never heard of Barbet Schroeder, that’s okay, neither have I — although Wikipedia informs me he’s the director. I also have no idea who John Lutz is, but apparently he wrote the novel on which ‘Female’ is based. All I know is that I stayed up late watching this movie on Netflix, and I’m very happy I did.)

“Single White Female” stars Bridget Fonda (as in Henry, Peter and Jane) as Allie, a new New Yorker working the business end of the fashion industry. We meet her settling into a huge rent-controlled apartment and reeling from a breakup. We’re meant to see her as a modern bohemian, chatting with the gay guy upstairs and sporting a bright red pixie haircut. There’s a decidedly European air to Allie that comes across when she carries an armful of produce in a straw grocery bag and wears oversized Oxford shirts belted at the waist. We like her instantly. She’s our heroine.

Jenifer Jason Leigh (“Margot at the Wedding”) plays Hedy, the shy girl Allie enlists as her new roommate. Hedy’s duty is to remain silent and out of sight, for, due to some legal mumbo-jumbo, Allie can’t list Hedy on the lease for fear of losing the apartment. Hedy, clearly impressed by Allie’s beauty and fabulous lifestyle, quickly agrees to this sneaky arrangement. It’s fascinating to watch their budding friendship, a process the movie handles quite believably. Allie, still a mess from dumping her boyfriend, finds in Hedy a loyal girlfriend — her first in the big city. Hedy, so mousy and insecure, loves the attention shown to her by Allie and is more than happy to act as an emotional crutch during her new friend’s time of need.


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They’ve already blown up the moon, and now NASA wants to crash a spaceship into the sun. That’s right: the sun.

By 2018 (they hope, but no one really believes the budget will let that happen), NASA wants to send a probe through the sun’s corona. Scientifically, it’s not as silly as it sounds. The solar probe “will measure electrons, protons and helium ions in the solar wind, produce amazing wide-field 3-D images of the Sun’s corona, detect the electromagnetic shock-wave concussions and fields in the solar atmosphere, sample and detect the elements in the atmosphere and attempt to work out the heliosphere’s origins,” Fast Company reported.

As the BBC wryly notes, “Researchers say that the Sun is one of the few places people have not yet sent a spacecraft.” Presumably someone cut out the addendum “in this solar system,” seeing as we have yet to, say, explore the nearest star several light-years away.

Never fear, though; for tips on crashing spaceships into the sun, NASA need look no further than the 2007 Cillian Murphy sci-fi film “Sunshine,” in which some scientists — oh yes — crash a Manhattan-sized bomb into the sun. Why? Some technobabble about the sun petering out in the near future, Earth becoming a ball of ice (a fate not too bad considering August’s temperature highs) and only a giant bomb can restart it. One massive bomb already failed, for unknown reasons, to reignite the star’s fission processes, so earth gathers the remainder of its fissile materials and flings it and a handful of scientists at the sun again.

So what can NASA learn from “Sunshine?” [WARNING: SPOILERS]

1. Make sure the scientists involved are mostly young and attractive.

Cillian Murphy, Rose Byrne, Chris Evans, Michelle Yeoh, Troy Garity; if a massive nuclear blast wouldn’t make the sun hotter, these young studs could certainly help.

2. You need a gigantic heat shield because, well, the sun is hot. But never tilt it.

In the movie, the heat shield is a giant convex dish that keeps the enormous bomb and stick-like living area safe from the sun’s increasingly destructive rays. Anything that goes beyond the shadow of the shield burns off immediately. Unfortunately, critical parts of the ship are damaged or destroyed when their navigator changes course without tilting the shield.

3. You need a psychologist for when the hot young scientists screw up.

The guy who didn’t tilt the shield? Put on suicide watch. Of course, perhaps more importantly, make sure the psychologist doesn’t tan himself crazy. Speaking of, why would you even have a room where you can lower the sun shield? What’s the point? You know what?

4. No tanning salons.

Like this one.

5. The sun does not have a “surface.”

“Sunshine” ends with the ship/bomb crashing into the surface of the sun while Cillian Murphy reaches out to touch it. If you majored in physics in college, or have a rough understanding of the difference between gas and solid states, abandon ye knowledge here. The sun — essentially a giant ball of burning gas — does not have a surface, at least not the obvious-barrier-surface rocky planets such as Earth enjoy. The characters explain that its mass is so enormous time and space themselves fluctuate, blah blah blah, it’s more dramatic, but a real probe isn’t going to crash into any surface, so be aware.

6. The sun does not have a hole in it.

That’s where they were going to fling the bomb, and if you are staring incredulously at the screen slack-jawed, welcome to the scientifically literate community.

7. Do not explore any abandoned or alien ephemera floating around past Mercury’s orbit.

In “Sunshine” the crew discovers the previous ship drifting around near the sun. Naturally, they go explore it. What they find on board is the insane captain, who manages to sneak onto the new ship and nearly destroy it. Don’t want some insane guy damaging your $180 million probe.

8. Let more than one person know how the device works.

It’s sensible that everyone on the ship has different roles: physicist, navigator, captain, doctor, chef, etc. But really, when the entire Earth is at stake, maybe you should teach more than one person how to operate the bomb. Every time Cillian Murphy comes close to dying, so too does his unique knowledge of how to detonate the bomb. It took a few years to get to the sun, maybe he should have taken the time to teach someone else how to do it just in case.

9. There’s no way you could build a bomb big enough.

Although the point of NASA’s mission is less cool than blowing up the sun, this is still an important point to make. The sun contains 99.8 percent of the solar system’s mass. So, you know, a bomb made of all the earth’s materials would be like shooting a needle into a herd of charging rhinoceros.

10. No carrots; it slows up the narrative.

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The trailer for “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” begins with the Warner Bros. insignia floating in a stormy sky. The camera flies low over a dark lake until we reach Lord Voldemort in conference with his Death Eaters. Harry arrives and He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named comments on the irony of the situation: “The boy who lived… come to die!”

What follows is a montage of scenes from the film, visually and musically calibrated to squeeze an emotional response from the audience. We’re given exactly what we need to make us gasp in fear and excitement: Hogwarts under attack, Hermione looking earnest and powerful, Ron looking loyal and bloody, all accompanied by a percussive anthem of horns and choir. Text on screen tells us this is the “finale of the worldwide phenomenon,” the “motion picture event of a generation.” By the time the familiar lightning bolt font zooms forward to proclaim the movie’s title, we’re meant to be in tears. We should be clutching our hands, sweating as we watch the forces of darkness gather their army to fly through the skies of England and destroy our friends. Even though we’ve all read and reread the novels, even though we know exactly how things will go down, our hearts still beat faster when we see our favorite plot points portrayed on the big screen.

As for me, the trailer for “Deathly Hallows” evokes some complicated feelings. I’ve never identified strongly with the HP books. Blasphemy, I know. I was with Rowling through ‘Goblet of Fire,’ but once things started getting darker and scarier I had already moved on. Maybe it was the three year break Rowling took after ‘Goblet,’ maybe it was the general changes made in writing style and tone. Whatever it was that made me lose interest in the series, it resulted in me being unable to ever successfully name every member of Dumbledore’s Army, or keep any of the secondary characters straight, or make it through a conversation about the series without asking someone to remind me just what exactly is a Horcrux.

And there’s shame involved in my admission to not really caring about Harry and the gang. At William and Mary, the sorting hat is a common topic of discussion. As in, “Which house would you be in?” slurred the tipsy bio major to the sober Greg Glazier. My answer? Hufflepuff, of course! I’ve learned enough to understand the importance of this book series to my peers, understand that plenty of kids my age feel as if they’ve truly grown up with Harry. And they have. We have. Harry went off to Hogwarts when he was, what, eleven? And the series ends with Potter as a strapping older teen. His time at high school paralleled our own, with obvious differences in which we find refreshing and exciting mirrorings. Harry fights the bad guys and wins, using the power of friendship and inner strength. He’s resourceful, talented and admirable in ways that appeal to your Typical Young Adult Book Reader. Rowling’s series provides a hero to whom we can relate. He navigates his youth just like us with the added bonus of magical powers and a destiny of cosmic size.

I certainly tried to become a true Potter fan, a “Pothead,” if you will. I reread the first four books during college, thinking I’d apply some tricks I’d learned as a student of English and women’s studies. I tried reading the series as a queer narrative (wizardry as a subaltern sexuality to be hidden beneath normative Muggle culture?), as a feminist manifesto (Dianic witchcraft perpetuated by a series of smart and powerful female professors?), as a document concerned with race and racism (Muggles vs. magic-users, purebloods vs. mudbloods?). These thought processes only lead me down an embarrassing garden path, at the end of which stands honors theses written about “The Lord of the Rings” and World of Warcraft. I tried to ignore the tendency to think critically about the series, instead attempting to enjoy the books and movies on a purely childish scale. Again, unfulfilling.

I guess my main problem with this whole Harry Potter thing is the pressure to identify. The trailer for ‘Deathly Hallows’ tells me how to think and feel about the movie. It tells me this is a defining moment – the defining moment – of my age group. Who am I to question this? I’m just another nameless consumer, wading through the murky waters of media in search of something to hang on to, to clutch tightly and say “This is me. This is us.” The elitist in me hates this more than anything. I hate being something other than an individual, even as I simultaneously wish I could love Harry Potter as much as my friends love Harry Potter.

So at the end of the day, what am I left with? I’ve watched the trailer for “Deathly Hallows” about five times for this post, and each time I find myself getting caught up in the onscreen images and sounds. I’ve always been a sucker for trailers, but until now I’ve never really questioned why. And the answers I’ve found have left me a bit depressed, feeling that I’m not much more than some fem, impressionable young gay boy who’ll fall to pieces again and again watching Hermione (is she a feminist???) wielding that wand and looking fierce in her high-collared autumn coat. Even as I recognize that this trailer and all trailers are exercises in viewer manipulation, I give into the manipulation and become an unquestioning consumer. I root for Harry, I hate Voldermort. I become a fan.

Am I alone in all this? Will anyone else join me in the the Army of the Eh? The Army of the Not Really That Into Harry Potter? Or am I coming across as a rambling, insecure misanthrope with nothing better to do than be sad and angry about pop culture and “kids these days?” I guess I’ll wield my crotchety old-man cane like a wand, sit in the movie theater, cry when Harry gets hurt, and think about all this later.

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Please welcome to the blog contributor Chelsea Caumont. You can find out more about her at the About page.

With so many ways to express our first amendment rights available to us today — blogs and websites, self-published books, videos and music — it’s no surprise that the majority of what’s out there (and by “there” I mean the internet because that’s all that matters) is crap. When you want your voice heard nowadays, you don’t take the time to run your thoughts by a speechwriter; when you have an idea, it’s now or never, and for most people, it’s usually more now than never.

Inhabitants of the Twitterverse, Facebook friends and stalkers, you are guilty of this as well, succumbing to Facebook’s prying inquiry, “What’s on your mind?” or Twitter’s casual “What’s happening?” But I am not here to point fingers; I am just here to point out the fact that this boundless worldwide web that we so stubbornly fill with our prized, personal expressions at the drop of every hat or the click of any finger is probably more true to life than we humans have ever been.

Enter Radiohead. Scratch that. Enter Radiohead fans with flip cameras. From the days of the Lumiere brothers, people have been trying to capture life on film with the same richness of reality that you get from actually living life. Like a sculptor with clay, filmmakers and documentarians have taken raw footage and manipulated it, placed it, cut it, pasted it, swapped it, squeezed it and smashed it, all trying to capture a slice of life like a mosquito in amber. Then, over 100 years later, a bunch of kids with cheap cameras stopped trying.

These homo sapiens may not have reinvented the wheel, but they have surely taken a quick glance at it and scoffed, “Dude, it’s not that hard.” Their class on modern documentary filmmaking would be structured the following way:

Lesson 1. How to buy a flip camera on eBay super cheap

Lesson 2. How to operate a flip camera (weekend intensive)

Lesson 3. How to post video footage on the internet

Lesson 4. How to go viral (with special guest speakers Star Wars Kid, Numa Numa guy, and Chris Crocker)

Our generation may be lazy, but they might also be onto something. Instead of feeding people interpretations, layering on metaphors and themes, and overcomplicating life as we know it, we can simply give people life … as we know it. Recording a Radiohead concert that you attended in Prague during your Eurotrip to self-realization and bringing it home to show your friends may not be “just like being there,” but it is certainly leaps and bounds closer to the experience of standing in a sweaty crowd of screaming (and possibly rolling) fans at a Radiohead concert itself than, say, a documentary about Radiohead.

And this isn’t the first time people have taken the esoteric world of documentary filmmaking into their own hands. “Awesome; I Fuckin’ Shot That!” is a 2006 Beastie Boys concert at Madison Square Garden filmed by 50 random audience members because, according to the film trailer, “only the pure of heart can seize the moment and forge dreams into realities.” If your dream is to see a Beastie Boys concert (as I can imagine it would be), this film is just that. Raw footage with the bare minimum of editing can get you pretty close to the true experience without all the heartstring-tugging, mind-warping and through-provoking that is common among over-seasoned documentaries.

Maybe this shying away from romanticism, impressionism, modernism and the abstract will bring us back to what really matters (and I’m not talking realism). Instead of admiring the presentation of the food on our plate, oohing and aahing at the delicate garnish that, for some reason, we’re not supposed to eat even though it’s food, we take a big bite and savor it, let the juices drip down our chin and don’t pause to wipe our mouths. Consuming raw or undercooked life experiences may increase the risk of personal reflection and individual interpretation. Now, the question is, what will you feed your children?

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Please welcome to the ACG Blog contributor Greg Glazier. You can find out more about him at the About page.

“I Am Love” may not have been the best movie to see with my mother.

Starring Tilda Swinton (“The Chronicles of Narnia,” “Burn After Reading”) as Emma Recchi, a woman converted by love from brittle, helmet-quaffed housewife to naked-in-the-garden luvuh, this Italian import is all about mom gettin’ nasty.

Praise be to director Luca Guadagnino for saving me from what could’ve been a very Freudian 120 minutes. Our boy Luca never lets “I Am Love” stray toward cougar country, choosing instead to approach Emma’s sexuality as a twisted thing of beauty. There’s confusion here, and pain — conveyed through Swinton’s knock-out performance and the film’s truly astounding cinematography — so we never once see Emma as anything other than human. The film follows Emma negotiating sex and love not with the sitcom humor of older lady/younger dude, but with respect and honesty.

“I Am Love” begins with a dinner party held in honor of Emma’s father-in-law, a blueblood Italian textile magnate and aging patriarch. Emma hardly speaks in this scene, and the camera is more concerned with showing us her family’s mansion and the thousand maids who run it. Note the contrast between the servant quarters and the rooms employed by the family and you’ll begin to understand Emma’s life as a Recchi wife. Mother of three adult children and wealthy as a queen, her kingdom is museum-still. The real life of the household lies underground and out of sight in the kitchens, the linen closets, those narrow servant stairways the family never uses. What we have is a woman without a heartbeat who doesn’t appear to know her own deep unhappiness. Sure she’ll crack a smile when appropriate, sure she’ll give her children (all of whom are beautiful, by the way. The film’s cast alone is worth the price of admission! Seriously, everyone in “I Am Love” is model-gorgeous) a maternal peck on the forehead, but as the Black Eyed Peas ask, where is da luv?

Follow up question: where does this lack of love come from? Well, we learn slowly that Emma was transplanted from Russia to Italy by her husband to play the part of his loving wife. Not much backstory is given about this, but it’s enough to understand what the film is getting at: Emma’s true identity has been ripped away and the scars painted over. She has so successfully adapted to the role of Mrs. Recchi for years that she no longer knows who she once was. Emma is truly alone.

Enter Edoardo Gabbriellini, talented chef and best friend of Emma’s oldest son. We’ll pause now to catch our breaths, since Italian actor Antonio Biscaglia is damn good looking. Seriously, Google image search does not do this man justice — you have to see him move (and speak!) to understand how sexy he is in this role. “I Am Love” now enters the familiar territory of the Exotic Affair with a Foreign Man. This is the stuff of “Under the Tuscan Sun,” “Eat Pray Love,” and countless other escapist films for the menopausal set, but the chemistry between Swinton and Biscaglia is so believable that you won’t even care if this is a smidge cliché. The exquisite meals Antonio prepares for Emma, his tiny house up in the hills of Sanremo — it’s all engineered to make us swoon, but the sex is what’ll really get you. Guadagnino’s camera flicks between Emma’s naked breasts to a bee crawling on a thistle to Edoardo’s abs to a mushroom covered in dirt to Emma’s hand clutching the earth. The music builds. So does the passion. Give in to the filmic manipulation and enjoy one of the best (and most believable) onscreen orgasms you’ll ever see.

Also, props to Guadagnino for no airbrushing or hazy camera filters. This is a sex scene, moles and all. Again with the honesty. Love it.

From here the film becomes about what happens when Mom has sex with someone other than Dad. The ending of “I Am Love” is one I’d never give away — it’s too emotional, too brutal, too must-see for any spoilers. If you’re like me and love to give in to films about feelings, this one will leave you reeling. If you’re like me and you too saw “I Am Love” with your mom, you might leave the theater blushing at the thought of having to rehash the events of the movie with yo’ mama. Hopefully you’ll get over it and cherish the experience as one that proves that Women of a Certain Age have feelings too. And these feelings are profound and lovely and complicated — just like the feelings that make our own hearts go pitter-patter.

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