Mothers and Daughters (2016): Mellow-Drama (Review)

Selma Blair in Mothers and Daughters

In many ways Mothers and Daughters should have been a  runaway chick flick hit.  It had a bevy of very talented and beautiful actresses in the lead roles and all have chops for days.  A cast that featured two Oscar winners and one Oscar nominee should have been near perfect.  However the film is more mellow-drama than flat out drama and felt little more than a television “movie of the week.”

The performances were well above adequate, but the storylines were, perhaps, too many to focus on properly.  Thematically too, the film could have been problematic. Daughters and mothers do have very prickly relationships, quite possibly the film hit too close to home for the females in the audience.

Another problem could have been a lack of eye candy for the ladies. Christopher Backus (who has been rocking it as Rick in Showtimes’ Roadies and is the real-life spouse of Mira Sorvino) was not onscreen for long at all. The same fate befell Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. regular Luke Mitchell. (Not only does Mitchell  have even less screen time than Backus, his character turns out to be  bit of a rotter.)

Mothers and Daughters is an anthology film, which means several storylines, or vignettes are meant to be linked by a common thread.  The movie starts with Rigby (Selma Blair) photographing singer Nelson Quinn.

She is a professional photographer who specializes in musicians.   Rigby writes a letter to her mother about her youth and discovery of passion for picture taking. (Natalie Burn plays the young Rigby’s mother.)

Mira Sorvino’s character Georgina is seen next with her boyfriend  Sebastian. Sharon Stone plays a fashion magnate whose daughter has more in common with Georgina than with her own mother.

Courteney Cox  and Christina Ricci have relationship that feels like the female version of Jack Nicholson’s upbringing. 

Susan Sarandon plays opposite her real-life daughter Eva Amurri Martino in a “blink and you’ll miss it” cameo. Although Ms. Sarandon rocks her few seconds on camera. 

Directed by Paul Duddridge and Nigel Levy (Duddridge provided concept that Paige Cameron based the screenplay on.) the film tries to cram too much drama into a 90 minute time frame.  But for all the different storylines the overall feeling of the film’s tone is tepid versus tragic.

Blair (A personal favorite since “discovering her” in “Hellboy.”)  has an interesting arc and plays a character we can get behind.  Actually all the characters are “likable” per se but none of them get enough screen time for the audience to really connect with them.

Mothers and Daughters is, in essence, a drawing room drama. One heavy with dialogue and, except for the Cox/Ricci storyline, pretty normal.

A woman has the child she gave up for adoption get in contact with her.  Another gets pregnant and must decide if she wants an abortion or not.  Yet another learns something about her mother that shakes her to the core.

Despite having performers who are brilliant at their craft, each vignette spends too little time on the respective storylines. We never really get a chance to warm to any of the characters.

It is Rigby that we really connect with but that may well be down to her particular storyline and Blair’s portrayal of a woman who lost touch with her mother.

This is not a bad film, far from it, it is just not a great one.  At 90 minutes it is not overly long nor is it boring.  The pace is a little up and down, mostly down, but overall it still entertains.

There are moments where the viewer may need to grab for the tissue box, but not many.

Anthology films, when done properly, like “Love Actually” for instance, are good value for money.  However, this film just does not quite deliver, even with such a capable cast.

On the bright side, Sharon Stone looks brilliant and proves that she can still act, despite the travesty of her role in Agent X.  Blair is endearing, as is Sorvino.

Mothers and Daughters is a solid 3 star film.  Not bad, nowhere near it, but nothing to prompt repeated viewings either. The film is streaming on Netflix right now. Head on over and check it out. Until then take a look at the trailer below.

The Last of Robin Hood: DVD Review

Still from The Last of Robin Hood
The Last of Robin Hood is out now on DVD and can be rented from Redbox, as well as other providers of both DVDs and streaming capability. This was a film I was desperate to see at the cinema. However, because of poor reception at screenings elsewhere, or due to the studio’s complete lack of faith in the project or their lack of understanding of how to market the film, it had a very limited release. After realizing that I’d missed the screener, if there was one in Las Vegas, it was out of the cinemas.

To read the rest of the review click this [link] to Viral Global News.

Tammy Surprisingly Good Despite Contrived Plot (Review/Trailer)

Tammy Surprisingly Good Despite Contrived Plot (Review/Trailer)

Tammy, starring Melissa McCarthy, Susan Sarandon and Kathy Bates, is surprisingly good, despite its contrived plot. The film is classed as a comedy and it is funny, but it is also quite touching. For this reason alone perhaps a label of “dramedy” would be a better fit.

Tony Scott (21 June 1944 – 19 August 2012) The Hunger (1983) A Debut to Remember

Tony Scott RIP

I first saw The Hunger in 1987 while I was living in Holland. I’d spied it in a local video shop that catered to the Americans stationed at the little Air Base there. I fallen in love with Catherine Deneuve after I’d seen her in the black and white Polanski film RepulsionThat was the only reason I’d picked that video to watch. That it dealt with ‘modern’ vampires and had David Bowie and Susan Sarandon in it as well, was a bonus.

Back then I didn’t know who Tony Scott was. Oh I knew of his brother Ridley. You know the story, started making award winning commercials and then made the leap to feature films. Ridley was the Midas of celluloid. While Ridley was busy setting the film world on fire, Tony was fine tuning his directorial skills on music videos and commercials.

The Hunger did not do well at the box office (although now it is a cult classic) and Tony Scott then made the iconic Tom Cruise vehicle Top Gun and he was then considered an action film auteur and that is how he made his living. I cannot refute that he was very good working in the action genre but I think he was trapped there. I loved The Hunger and that is the film I most associate with him.

The Hunger was adapted from the Whitley Strieber novel and it tells the story of the vampire Miriam (Deneuve) and her ‘partner’ John (Bowie). Miriam had ‘turned’ John and although he has vampire ‘powers’ he is inexplicably growing old. Fast. It turns out that this is the fate of all of Miriam’s lovers, she has an attic full of undead corpses who are anciently old but cannot die, John will soon join them.

John goes to see a doctor, Sarah Roberts (Susan Sarandon) who specializes in premature ageing. John leaves before Sarah can treat him. She is horrified to see how quickly he has aged and she goes to the home that he shares with Miriam. As soon as Miriam meets Sarah it is love at first sight and John is soon relegated to the attic.

Miriam then ‘turns’ Sarah who isn’t happy with this turn of events. Sarah then decides to leave Miriam who doesn’t want her to go.

The Hunger was dark, daring, different and sensual. At that time in film-land vampires were Christopher Lee or Louis Jourdan or even Jack Palance ( as Count Yorga) et al. In those films vampires were interested in controlling you and drinking you dry. Not only is Miriam female (and nothing like the Brides of Dracula) but she loved and she got lonely. Her partners, like the unfortunate John, always had to be replaced. As her lovers aged and the blood could no longer rejuvenate them, she was sad, but pragmatic.

Miriam knew that she must find another lover to turn or she would face eternity alone.

Tony Scott’s reputation was based on his finesse with the action genre. But I will always remember him for The Hunger. His debut film was one that, even though it was slow to catch on, went on to reach iconic cult status in the film world.

I have read that he had inoperable brain cancer. When I read that, his demise made more sense. I am not sure what I would do if I received that sort of news. Scott’s decision was personal and private and I respect that.

Just as I respected him as a film maker.

Rest in peace Tony. Like so few other folks in this world, you brought a lot to the party.

We’ll miss you.

*I”d like to thank John over at WRITTEN IN BLOOD for his brilliant review of True Romance a Tony Scott film that he felt summed the man’s talent up. His article prompted me to think of my Tony Scott film. So thank you John.*

The Hunger (1983)

Irresistible (2006): Poetic Paranoia

Written and directed by Ann Turner and starring Susan Sarandon, Sam Neill and Emily BluntIrresistible is a brilliant little psychological thriller. All the actors play their respective roles with conviction and help move the film along at a cracking pace.

The film deals with issues of obsession, paranoia, guilt, and abandonment. Shot on what appears to be a rather small budget, the film doesn’t suffer too badly from the lack of monetary backing. Although there is one ‘CG’ moment with wasps in a garden ornament that suffers badly from the ‘limited’ budget.

That one moment small moment of CG imagery gone wrong is not enough to upset the flow of the film.  While watching it, my daughter and I continually changed our minds about what was really happening to the main protagonist. Sarandon gives a brilliant performance as the beleaguered heroine of the film; not surprising as she worked with writer/director Ann Turner on ‘fine-tuning’ the script for six months prior to filming.

The movie begins with Sophie Hartley (Sarandon) playfully interacting with her two daughters, Ellie and Ruby (Joanna Hunt-Prokhovnik,  Lauren Mikkor), as they walk home from school. Sophie suddenly remembers that she left the iron on and they all run home. Entering the house and rushing to the room where the iron is, Sophie is surprised to see the iron off and the cord neatly wrapped around the  handle. Picking the iron up, she wets the end of her finger and touches the surface. Contact with the iron proves that it is still red hot.

It is with this jarring moment that the film really starts. As events move forward, it appears that Sophie is either going crazy or becoming paranoid and at the start of the film it felt that things could even be heading towards a supernatural influence.

Sophie is a highly visible Children’s Illustrator and she has the awards to testify to her talent. She is working on a venture that has been suggested by her editor. A group of well known Illustrator’s have been tasked to illustrate their darkest personal moment. It is this project that is causing Sophie a lot of stress. This combined with her mother’s recent death results in insomnia and the artist’s version of ‘writer’s block.’

It is also her anniversary and husband Craig (Sam Neill) sends a musical trio of  girls to deliver a huge bouquet of flowers to Sophie showing that, before he even enters the film properly,  he is very much in love with his wife. In a prelude of things to come Ellie loses her favourite toy, Ruby loses a game and Sophie’s scrapbook pictures are being moved as well as missing.

While all this is going on, she has to attend a work’s party put on by her husband’s ‘assistant’ Mara (Emily Blunt). While at the party, Mara takes sole possession of Sophie and seems very attracted to her and appears to be forming an unhealthy attachment. She can’t stop touching Sophie and she plies her with drink. At the end of the party Sophie is quite intoxicated and one of Craig’s other co-workers tell Sophie that people think she is an alcoholic.

Understandably upset at this information she gets into a little spat with Craig as they leave the party. Sophie notices that Mara is staring at them from a first floor balcony. As they drive off, Mara continues to stare.

Things start spinning out of control from that point on. Sophie is caught trespassing in Mara’s house and a restraining order is placed on her forbidding any contact with Mara. She is now suffering from exhaustion and unable to sleep, drops off while working and has disturbing and frightening dreams.

I really cannot write anything else about the plot of the film without revealing  a lot of mega-spoilers. This film had me and my daughter second guessing right up until the last frame.  It is a brilliant blend of mystery, thriller and drama. There are moments in the film where you revert to child-hood and want to shout at the characters on-screen while simultaneously cringing at their actions.

I really need to say how well the two ‘child’ actors did in their roles as Ellie and Ruby. Both girls gave a perfectly believable performance. I’m sure that these two will be doing a lot more as they get older. Their contribution to the film helped to build the film’s believability factor a lot.

The devices that Turner uses in the film to create tension, suspense and mystery are not of the usual types  normally found  in films like this. She has taken  ‘everyday’ occurrences and twisted them to create an atmosphere of paranoia and suspicion that drives the film forward and makes us, the audience, suspect everyone and everything.

I don’t know how well this film was received or whether it was even released theatrically, but it is a real corker of a movie.

It’s on Netflixat the moment, so don’t hesitate to watch this film.

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