This weeke, Cineast offers previews of the new films Grandma, Some Kind of Beautiful and She’s Funny That Way.
She’s Funny That Way
Peter Bogdanovich’s She’s Funny That Way is an urbane comedy set in Manhattan amongst the white, artsy, shrink-visiting set—in short, it looks a lot like a Woody Allen film. It even has the traditional ’20s jazz on the soundtrack. Well, since Woody’s been undergoing a late career transformation that has been leading him to set his recent films outside of his beloved hometown, I guess somebody has to take this fertile ground over from the master, even if nobody will ever really match Allen’s genius for it. It is rather odd that it would fall to Peter Bogdanovich to take up the task, since he has been making films for almost as long as Allen has and up until now had never really explored this particular territory. Maybe he’s just been keeping his powder dry, waiting for Allen to surrender the field. Anyway, now Bogdanovich has got Owen Wilson (himself lately a stand-in for Woody in Midnight in Paris), Imogen Poots, Jennifer Aniston, and Cybill Shepherd (a Bogdanovich regular) in a very familiar upper-Manhattan milieu. Oddly enough, unlike in Woody Allen’s films, the genteel characters keep punching each other. Maybe that’s what Bogdanovich brings to the table.
Some Kind of Beautiful
In romantic comedy Some Kind of Beautiful, Pierce Brosnan (born 1953) plays Richard, a professor, who sleeps with Kate (Jessica Alba, born 1981), and Kate gets pregnant. They do the right thing and move in together, but, naturally, Kate strays—as any right-minded audience member would want her to. Kate’s sister Olivia (Salma Hayek, born 1966) is summoned to provide some kind of support, and soon Richard is drawn into a new, somewhat more age-appropriate relationship with older sister. It is perhaps a tribute to the filmmaker’s taste that they don’t try to make Pierce Brosnan look like anything other than the old-timer he is.
Lily Tomlin is having a bit of a late-career bloom, rightfully moving from her usual supporting roles to getting lead roles in some worthy projects. In Grandma, she plays Elle Reid, the grandma of the title, a feisty lesbian who speaks her mind and does as she pleases—and who has alienated most of her friends and family as a result. When her granddaughter Sage (Jennifer Garner) comes to Elle asking for money—she’s pregnant and wants an abortion—grandma and granddaughter embark on a road trip to try to get the necessary funds from all manner of embittered old associates of Elle’s. In the process, grandma tries to teach young Sage to show a little backbone against a world that prefers young women to be sweet and pliable.