By Barney Rosenzweig
Poor Things is a fabulous “little” movie. The acting is first rate, the sets are extraordinary, the costuming spectacular, the photography is incredible, and the production design is nothing short of phenomenal.
One might then well ask, why “little?” I suppose because in the grand cosmos of cinema, one would have to say that the concept of the film is small… or, at least, smallish.
Getting right down to the basics, what the movie is, and why it gets stuck with a minimizing adjective, is because of what… at bottom… the film is all about. It is what Mary Shelley might have written in the 21st century, rather than what she conceived in 1816: a Frankenstein for feminists.
Emma Stone is perfection in the lead, and Mark Ruffalo gives what is his best performance in what has been no less than a substantial career. Willem Dafoe does what he has done so well before, but this time with a twinkle and some pathos. Ramy Youssef more than adequately rounds out the four top roles.
I am no longer the cinephile I once was. I have failed to keep up with so many of the new (to me) filmmakers and am embarrassed not to have known the work of director Yorgos Lanthimos before now. This guy knows how to make a movie.
The film is funny. It is sexy. It is poignant, and it is profound. Miss it? Your loss.
… And then there is the Netflix mediocrity, Leave the World Behind. Not really a bad movie… well, yeah, it sorta is… but it does have the lovely Julia Roberts. Except, well, she is not looking so lovely in this. And it is more than just the aging process. Cinematographer Tod Campbell should be sanctioned for his lack of care for this one-time superstar, and Ms. Roberts should think twice before she ever again entertains the idea of using this same team of makeup artists.
The Academy Award winning actress (for Erin Brockovich) has only herself to blame. She not only stars in this potboiler, but she also co-produced. Topping other culprits in this mini fiasco is Sam Esmail’s overlong screenplay.
The family vacation from hell as a story is a tried-and-true good one, but two hours and twenty-one minutes for what should have been a tightly dramatic ninety plus minute movie? What was Esmail thinking? I had a much clearer idea of that process when he was making his breakthrough, and incredibly complex television series, Mr. Robot. What more can I say? The movie made my teeth hurt.
One good thing… maybe two… the sets were mostly solid, the special effects were well above average, some of the animal work was particularly good, but there are major demerits for the sound. The dialogue track was often close to inaudible, and the music and effects tracks were over-the-top loud.
I did not much like what Ethan Hawke did with his leading man role, Mahershala Ali was okay, Kevin Bacon was fine, Alexis Rae Forlenza should maybe look for another kind of career, and I don’t think Charlie Evans should make any long-term plans in the industry either. I know, I know, she is only ten years of age, and he is in his teens. What can I say? It’s a tough business. That said, Myha’la Herrold was interesting, and we all may hear more from her in some future film that will (hopefully) be better than this one.
On a more upbeat note, there is Fargo, now in its fifth season on FX. So far, I have seen four or five of the proposed ten-episode season, but already this year’s edition puts it right up there with the best of this excellent television series. Writer/Director Noah Hawley has found himself with this show. It is solid/off-beat entertainment and totally worthy of the original Coen Brothers’ multi-Oscar nominated motion picture.
Two for three. Not a bad week. Making it even better was an evening spent at the Los Angeles Mark Taper Forum where Alex Edelman’s one man show, Just For Us was nearing the end of its run. This guy is a spectacular talent, and the show may be the best of its kind… EVER!
I missed it on Broadway where it played to sold-out houses and great reviews. Why I tell you about this now… way too many minutes past the 11th hour… is because soon, Just For Us will be an HBO special. Be sure to catch it. The guy is a Jewish Chris Rock… and, believe me, as a major fan of Mr. Rock, this is high praise indeed.
Barney Rosenzweig is an American television producer who has won two Emmys and a Golden Globe for his work. He is best known for producing Cagney & Lacey, a groundbreaking series that featured two female police detectives, written by his second wife, Barbara Corday, and Barbara Avedon. He also produced Daniel Boone, Charlie’s Angels, East of Eden, The Trials of Rosie O’Neill, Christy, and Twice in a Lifetime. He married his third wife, actress Sharon Gless, in 1991. He has three daughters and three granddaughters. He has also co-produced a Broadway musical, All Shook Up, and published a memoir, Cagney & Lacey…and Me. He currently lives on Fisher Island in Florida. We proudly feature #BarneyRosenzweig from #AliveOnSouthBeach on SyndicatedNews. This article appears here with permission from Stewart and Dena Stewart #AliveOnSouthBeach creators and pro-producers.