Daily Archives: September 13, 2012

Love, Marilyn – United States – Liz Garbus

For those of you who have seen and loved My Week With Marilyn starring Academy Award nominated Michelle Williams, this film is for you. For those who haven’t – what is wrong with you? Well if you have any romance in you these two movies are really worth your time. The first is a dramatized version of Colin Clark’s journal of a week spent with Marilyn Monroe and Laurence Olivier on a film set in the UK. That film gives great insight into this tragic figure and her short but brilliant career as the archetypal Hollywood Star and sex symbol. Love, Marilyn is a documentary based on archival footage of her, interviews with all the significant people in her life and a collection of her letters, journals and other writing that has recently been discovered and published. The director had a series of contemporary actors offer their time to read and perform Monroe’s written words including all of the following: Ben Foster, Paul Giamatti, Marisa Tomei, Evan Rachel Wood, Elizabeth Banks, Uma Thurman, Jeremy Piven, Viola Davis, Adrien Brody, Lindsay Lohan, Ellen Burstyn, Glenn Close, Jennifer Ehle, Jennifer Ehle, F. Murray Abraham, Jack Huston, David Strathairn, Janet McTeer, Oliver  Plat , Lili Taylor, Stephen Lang.

It is very effective and evokes some very emotional reactions. One of the major narrators is Amy Green who was her contemporary and closest friend. Amy and her husband Milton often had Marilyn stay with them and they became confessors of a sort for her. We were lucky enough to have Amy Green at the showing to do a Q and A after the film and although she is now elderly and quite frail, she was funny and insightful about Marilyn making it a real treat for us in the audience. For those who may not see what so many others do in Marilyn a few facts. She was born to a single mother, her father leaving as soon as he found out about the pregnancy. Her mother suffered a mental breakdown and Marilyn (then named Norma Jeane Mortenson) was raised in a series of foster homes and orphanages. She survived all that to emerge with a goal of being an actress and she worked tremendously hard at it to great success. Throughout, however, she suffered from insecurity, loneliness and a feeling that she was not worthy of being loved or of loving. This comes out in the journals and letters very movingly. The persona she built and presented to the world was very much a mask but one that she built very carefully and deliberately and put on with purpose. Lee Strasberg recalled a time when he was working with her and she asked to go the powder room. He commented that he should have had a good book with him because her trips to the powder room could take “as long as an elephant’s pregnancy”. Nonetheless about 20 minutes later, when she had not returned, he went and knocked on the ladies room door and she told him to come in. He found her staring at her image in the mirror and when he asked her what she was looking at, she pointed at the mirror and responded, “I’m looking at her.”

The film is full of anecdotes like this that provide insight into an amazing woman who because of her early and tragic death has become an icon that many of her contemporaries like Liz Taylor never achieved. I highly recommend this movie to all.

Love, Marilyn

Antiviral – Canada – Brandon Cronenberg

Yes you are reading that right. This is a film by David’s little boy Brandon (well he is 32 but…) and it shows. I am going to go a bit cranky with this. I had heard about it being shown at Cannes along with Dad’s newest film Cosmopolis. So I was curious. People have been very polite about this movie I think so as not to offend David and it is clear that Dad pulled lots of strings to get Brandon some attention like getting into Cannes, hiring Malcolm McDowell to do a cameo role and so forth. The film harkens back to the early Cronenberg films like Shivers and Scanners but to my mind it is more like an amateurish version of those early films. This is a bad movie and I am particularly upset that it left such a bad taste in my mouth after seeing Great Expectations that morning.

The premise of the film is that celebrity worship has gone to the point where people are actually marketing the viral infections of celebrities and injecting them into fans so they can experience their favourite stars’ illnesses. Of course it all goes horribly wrong. At the Q and A after the film the sycophantic host asked the first question: “Like, How did you ever come up with the idea for this movie?” and Brandon in sharp contrast to the wit and intelligence of Mike Newell (see Great Expectations) responded; ” Like I got the idea at film school when I was like really sick see? And like I was thinking I have this flu from some other person like? Like I am sharing it with someone or something. And then I thought well what if like we actually gave people diseases of their favourite stars? Wouldn’t that be like the ultimate fan worship?” So this trivial thought was turned into a two hour ordeal.

I am paraphrasing this dialogue a bit but I should note that the average age of the 1500 at Great Expectations was maybe 50 and the average age at Antiviral was more like 30. In line waiting to get in I was just in front of four or five young film makers who were talking about their like script and like how they really wanted to get this guy to come to their party that night so they could like impress their producer right? It was driving me like mad right? When I got into the theatre however I was sitting beside a elderly gentleman, yes older even than me, and we chatted about the festival and the films we had seen and as the room went dark and the movie started, he fell fast asleep. Believe me, he had the right response to this loser film.


Great Expectations – United Kingdom – Mike Newell

I went into this one with some trepidation. Great Expectations is a huge novel with many characters and a long and winding story but the cast which included Helena Bonham Carter, Ralph Fiennes, and Robbie Coltrane got me hooked. So off to the Elgin with 1500 other movie fans to see what turned out to be the best movie of the week so far. It will take something pretty special to beat this one out. The set design and cinematography evoke Dickens’ London perfectly and the three big name stars are perfect in their roles. Clearly Carter revels in the odd and quirky and she plays Miss. Haversham very convincingly although I am always seeing a bit of the Red Queen or Bellatrix Lestrange behind those eyes. Ralph Fiennes is brilliant as Magwitch and Coltrane is clearly having fun as Jaggers the lawyer. If you saw War Horse then you will know Jeremy Irvine who plays Pip. He does very well with an excellent supporting cast.

Mike Newell was there for a Q and A after the film and I think it was one of the best Q and A’s I have ever seen. He was funny, thoughtful, and gave us great insight into how he was able to collapse this huge novel into two hours. Obviously he cut out some major parts but in the end kept the essence of the story. Newell is an eclectic director with a long track record including Four Weddings and a Funeral, High Fidelity (Exec Producer), Pushing Tin, one Harry Potter film and Prince of Persia. So all over the map but mostly with tongue in cheek. I am guessing this movie has a real chance at some important Oscar nominations. Definitely worth your time to attend.

Great Expectations