(de) wrote: I like how there's something awkward about this film's title, which is still not as awkward as the original play's title, "Sexual Perversity in Chicago". That's such a general title that I'm expecting this to be some kind of an extensive epic or something that studies on the depths of depravity within Chicago... although that might simply be because Edward Zwick is directing this. Zwick never made the most broad-scale epics, but it is odd to see him start out with a film of such light subject matter. Hey, plenty of big filmmakers started out with films this fluffy, or at least they did in the '80s, the era from which this film ever so obviously hails. I mean, seriously, it's Rob Lowe and Demi Moore, ladies and gentlemen, so does it get to be any more of a 1980s rom-com? I understand that it's a rom-com-dram, but I don't know if you can take all that seriously the dramatic depths of anything featuring [u]Jim[/u] Belushi, even though it is emotionally heavy to think about his career in comparison to that of his dead brother. Well, at least this film was a fair success, and a fair debut for Edward Zwick, even though this film does prove that Zwick really was never without some fault. I have a lot of admiration for the overwhelming wit that pretty much defines the film which is sharper than your usual rom-com fare, up until that sharpness cuts as too clever for its own good, shaking the believability in certain dialogue pieces, and often getting to be annoying in its busy edge. Of course, about as, if not more questionable of a trait within Tim Kazurinsky's and Denise DeClue's script is melodrama, which is so distancing, not just because it's not as grounded as it perhaps should be to resonate, maybe even cheesy, but because it's a betrayal of the genuineness (Oh, those montages set to cheesy '80s pop kind of made me ill) that makes certain areas of this film so special. There's something refreshing about this clever and, in a lot of ways, mature romantic dramedy, and that makes it all the more aggravating when genuineness lapses, often accompanied with originality, whose conventional elements beget a bland sense of predictability that is admittedly thinned down simply by storytelling's taking so long to reach expected destinations. It's hard something fierce to look at this film's story concept and runtime of almost two hours and not fear dragging, and make no mistakes, the concern is just, for the final product drags its feet time and again, and not even with filler, fleshing out more and more material to the point of repetition, with only so much liveliness to filler. Of course, once aimlessness goes broken by filler, all of that cleverness takes yet another fierce blow by some sort of laziness that, in addition to inspiring a sense of tonal inconsistency, obscures potential that was always to have a certain transparency to it. No matter how worthy the film's subject matter is, or at least appears to be when approached with an edge and maturity that most films of this nature don't even have the decency to incorporate into their basic narrative idea, this is something of a thin, perhaps fluffy story concept that limits potential, further limited by both overambition and laziness to the execution. The film is ultimately underwhelming, more so than it could have been, but it still does enough right to endear, even in concept. I just now got done griping about how this film might have stood a chance of transcending underwhelmingness, if it wasn't for natural shortcomings to a story concept that is still worthy, having a certain genuine uniqueness and maturity to its approach to an age-old tale of struggles in relationships. While potential is limited, it stands firm for a romantic dramedy, done justice partly by Edward Zwick, whose debut directorial performance shows some areas that need work, and other areas - say, melodramatic ones - that would go on to never be mended in Zwick's storytelling style, but also has a style to such aspects as Harry Keramidas' snappy editing to sustain pretty thorough entertainment value and a sense of wit through all of the moments of overt thoughtfulness. Of course, when all of that snap settles and leaves substance to go unfiltered by fluff, where the drama could have easily blanded up, it finds material to draw upon and resonate with, resulting in highlights that, to be honest, are a little more visible in the storytelling efforts outside of those of Zwick. Stronger than Zwick's direction is a script by Tim Kazurinsky and Denise DeClue that is itself flawed, but defines the wit of this film as much as anything, having an extreme cleverness to its dialogue that, while a little unlikely and annoying at times, bites on the whole, while thoroughly amusing at times, until all of the clever, perhaps even gutsy fluff goes punctuated by a defiance of melodrama through an audaciously realistic approach to very real conflicts. There are truly powerful moments in this film, and although the path to those moments are lacking in weight, they're rich with wit, and even well-rounded characterization that paints generally believable and charming, if somewhat obnoxious leads, brought to life by the most consistently strong aspect. The performances never fail, with Jim Belushi, as the typical charmingly loud buddy, and Elizabeth Perkins, as the typical flawed, yet still know-it-all gal pal, impressing in their sheer charm, while leads Rob Lowe and Demi Moore drive the show, with dynamite chemistry, and engaging individual charm, punctuated by dramatic beats that are truly powerful. Up until those dramatic highlights, Lowe and Moore capture a sense of evolution in lover who grow as individuals and with each other, sometimes to dark areas, and such effortlessly effectiveness from the leads reflects a competence that I wish was more prevalent in this minimalist and sometimes misguided film, but nevertheless joins many an attribute in establishing a sense of inspiration that drives the final product as charming and often moving, if generally improvable. When the night draws to a close, some annoyingly overt cleverness, histrionics, clichs, dragging and tonal unevenness reflect a certain laziness which betrays potential that is thin enough to begin with in a minimalist story concept that is still worthy enough, and done enough justice by snappy, when not thoughtful direction, clever, if not audacious writing, and strong performances - especially by charming and often moving leads Rob Lowe and Demi Moore - to make Edward Zwick's "About Last Night..." a thoroughly flawed, but also often effectively inspired romantic comedy-drama. 2.75/5 - Decent
(it) wrote: "Twentieth Century" is a perfect example of a depression era screwball comedy, directed by the man who would become known as one of the first masters of the genre. Howard Hawks, who went on to direct one of the quintessential comedies of the 40's in "His Girl Friday", made this picture in 1934 after successes including the likes of the original "Scarface" in 1932. It's Hawks' first comedy from the sound era, and his career to follow would display his impressive versatility by working on films of all genres. It was the frantic pacing and absurd humor on display in "Twentieth Century" that cemented it as one of the building blocks for the sound era screwball comedy genre.The story was first adapted into a play by Charles Bruce Milholland, based on his experiences with an eccentric Broadway producer. Although it would never be produced, stage and screenwriters Charles MacArthur and Ben Hecht adapted Milholland's story into an incredibly sharp farce that became a success on both stage and screen. In the starring role is the delightful John Barrymore, the grandfather of Drew.Oscar Jaffe (John Barrymore) is an eccentric and egomaniacal theater director. His latest discovery is a lingerie model, Mildred Plotka (Carole Lombard), whom he repackages as Lily Garland and leads to great success as a stage star. However, when Jaffe goes as far as tapping Garland's telephone to keep a watchful eye, Garland has enough and leaves for Hollywood. She is an instant success story, whereas Jaffe is left behind in the dust. The "Twentieth Century" of the title refers to the train in which the majority of the film takes place. Jaffe, alongside his business manager (Walter Connolly) and agent (Roscoe Karns), board the Twentieth Century Limited to avoid his creditors. Lily Garland, coincidentally, happens to be aboard the exact same train. Oscar uses the opportunity to win back his old star.Also aboard the train is one of the most memorable characters in the film, Matthew J. Clark (Etienne Girardot), who litters everything he can get his hands on with fliers reading "Repent for the time is at hand". Unbeknownced to Jaffe, Clark has escaped from an asylum - which certainly puts a damper on Jaffe's high spirits after receiving a check for about a quarter of a million dollars from Clark.John Barrymore is a delight - vibrant and completely full of life. He's playing a cartoon, a character so exaggerated that it takes a great performer to not succumb into complete buffoonery. Barrymore is a buffoon, alright, but there's a certain sureness about everything he does that leaves you buying every last phony excuse he makes. Although the film becomes a bit tiresome in it's final act, it's still an enormously enjoyable comedy that holds up fairly well 75 years later.
(ag) wrote: This was a very good documentary. Although unevenly paced, it was incredibly informative, interesting and detailed. It is a great reminder that despite her wild and untamed image in photos, film, and various media, Bettie was in fact a very humble, down-to-earth and religious woman, with many deep internal wars going on inside her head just like everyone else. I must admit, I did not expect to hear her narrate the majority of the film herself. My jaw dropped and my eyes flooded. Despite some minor pacing flaws, if you are a fan of Ms. Page's, being able to spend an hour and a half with Bettie is worth the price alone. And I guarantee you she's going to tell you some things about her life that, even as a fan, you will have had no idea about before. Oh, you may think you have heard everything. But oh, no. You haven't even scraped the tip of the iceberg.