Hit Me With Your Best Shot!: “Julia”


There is enough distance between the present and claims of author Lillian Hellman’s embellishment and falsifications for the origin story of Julia to see the story for itself. One wonders if a contemporary viewing audience would even know who the hell Hellman is (for shame), likely surprised that it was based on a portion of her memoir. Though the film does put her on the pedestal of self-important, suffering artist, if not the story’s hero, you can see how the narrative served to puff herself up. The film was released before authenticity lawsuits were brought up, so its original audience perhaps viewed it differently.

No, now we view the film primarily through the lens of its terrifying depiction of rising fascism. It’s not just the current election the makes it seem all the more real, but the rise in nationalism elsewhere in the world today that’s all too familiar to the fifty years leading up to the events in the film.

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In Review!: “Youth”

Opening with a chic and hip cover of Florence and the Machine’s “You Got the Love” and delivering sumptuous primary color visuals, Paolo Sorrentino’s Youth, the follow-up to his Best Foreign Film-winning The Great Beauty, never becomes as fresh and incisive as its potential. Skimming the surface of the surface of giant themes about aging, love, and legacy, even the vibrant visuals become dull as the Sorrentino’s script favors the trite over the profound. Like a two-hour music video for a band you’re not cool enough to listen to, Youth exhausts audience good will with its frustratingly thin ruminations on Big Ideas.


At times one wishes they could just enjoy Youth volume free, as the visuals hold far more subtext and intrigue on the film’s thesis. The aural experience is also loaded to the hilt with music cues that lack that early charm and become obtrusively repetitive. For a film as expressive as this, subtlety goes a long way and Sorrentino never operates in the middle – the audience is alternately served complete graceful serenity or complete braying platitudes.

The director does give ample room for his actors to plumb the depths of his half-shallowness to find what humanity they can grasp in characters equally as psuedo complex. Set in a spa in the Alps, composer Fred Ballinger (Michael Caine) escapes his pain as lifelong friend and past-his-prime filmmaker Mick Boyle (Harvey Keitel) preps a new film. Caine hasn’t had a role so suited to his introspective soulfulness in some time, and his performance is the film’s strongest facet. He illuminates whole timelines of Ballinger’s life with more pathos than the film really knows what to do with – he (like the film) is most insightful when no one’s talking.

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A Peek of The Hollywood Reporter’s Annual Actress Roundtable

Every Oscar season, the major media outlets get the year’s most talked about artists in rooms for delicious conversations on their craft. The one I naturally anticipate the most: The Hollywood Reporter’s Actress Roundtable. This year’s participants are Cate Blanchett (Carol & Truth), Jane Fonda (Youth), Brie Larson (Room), Jennifer Lawrence (Joy), Helen Mirren (Trumbo), Carey Mulligan (Suffragette), Charlotte Rampling (45 Years), and Kate Winslet (Steve Jobs).

You can read the major points online now, along with some brief clips, but the full conversation should be online in the weeks to come (also to be available on Sundance TV beginning January 10). Be sure to also take a look at filmmixtape’s current Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress predictions!

If you haven’t seen the teases on Twitter, Variety’s always charming Actors on Actors series is coming soon as well.

Side note: kudos on the colors ladies! Brie’s sharp vermilion, Carey’s smooth mustard, Jennifer’s cozy sage! I’m starting to hate the phrase, but this is what YAS QWEENs are made of.