Al Pacino as Manglehorn – 2015 Sarasota Film Festival: Day Eight

When you’re alone, who cares for starlit skies
When you’re alone, the magic moonlight dies
At break of dawn, there is no sunrise
When your lover has gone

Those lyrics come from the jazz standard, When Your Lover Has Gone, written by Einar Aaron Swan in 1931. From Billie Holliday to Frank Sinatra, and from Ray Charles to Louis ‘Satchmo’ Armstrong, this song has attracted many well-known as well as unknown singers. You can generally expect to hear this song, in a smokey club, with a solo singer, with a big or small group of musicians laying down the tracks.

It is a song with a universal theme. Hearts are broken in all cultures and in all languages. And that very theme is the subject of the film Manglehorn. I caught this film on Day Eight of the 2015 Sarasota Film Festival.

Al Pacino is the lead. He plays Angelo Manglehorn, a forlorn locksmith, in a small town near Austin, Texas. He lives alone, or rather with a long-haired white cat called Fannie, and his memories. Truly, for him, even as his alarm clock goes off every morning at seven AM, there is no sunrise for Manglehorn.

Simply, he’s a man living in the present but one who is a prisoner of his past.

Despite the fact that he has a rather successful son, and a granddaughter that he loves, Manglehorn’s life, is as nondescript as can be. Opening locked cars to rescue a child, opening doors, or safes, along with duplicating keys is his day job – or at least the one that pays the bills – is all the same to him. Nothing in his line of work seems satisfying. He doesn’t turn away business, he’s just rather unenthused about it.

Things go on in the real world and almost all of them seem unremarkable to Manglehorn. Even a minor earthquake which results in a framed picture falling off the wall after a few seconds of the tremors leaves him unfazed. As does a deadly six car pileup on a nearby road.

Manglehorn is self-contained. He ventures into the real world to earn his living, but he’s really chosen to seal himself off from emotions – at least the kind that arrive through interacting with his grown son , played by Chris Messina, or his local bank teller, played by Holly Hunter, or even a now grown man who once played on a baseball team that Manglehorn coached.

Continue reading

Jane Seymour and Bereave at Day Eight at the 2015 Sarasota Film Festival

Garvey (Malcolm McDowell) and Evelyn (Jane Seymour) have been married for 40 years, and today is their anniversary. Only Garvey has a secret that he’s been keeping from Evelyn – and he’s determined to keep it from her – even if it means ending their marriage – today.

So begins the film Bereave which played at the Sarasota Opera House on Day Nine of the 2015 Sarasota Film Festival. For the record, Jane Seymour was feted by the SFF with a special tribute event called A Lunch With Jane Seymour earlier in the day. This was held at the prestigious Sarasota Yacht Club. Then before the film screened there was a Red Carpet entrance for Jane and one of the film’s Directors Evangelos Giovanis, plus they were introduced on stage. George Giovanis, who co-directed was off in Peru shooting a film so he could not attend the SFF.

As for Seymour, isn’t she gorgeous? And who doesn’t recall Jane as Solitaire in the James Bond thriller Live and Let Die which came out in 1973. Or a bit more recently Jane played Dr. Quinn – Medicine Woman which was a well-loved TV series running from 1993 to 1998.

Bereave is about a couple who have experienced and are experiencing bumps in the road which is a natural turn of events in any marriage.

In this film, both of them are forced to try to deal with and understand something which we all must do – which is to face our own mortality. Given that as a premise, the film does have lots of lighter humorous moments.

Most of the humor comes from Keith Carradine who is playing the President of the United States on the CBS TV Series Madam Secretary. Here he plays the younger brother of Garvey. Watch for Christine Kelly, who plays Laura, a beautiful young woman who Garvey meets in the park. She’s pretty enough to get him focused on what he must do rather than what he thinks he should do.

Continue reading

The End of the Tour – Day Six of the 2015 Sarasta Film Festival

“You will become way less concerned with what other people think of you when you realize how seldom they do.” – Infinite Jest

Infinite_jest_cover

That’s a quote from David Foster Wallace’s book Infinite Jest, which was published in 1996. Following was the highest of acclaim for Mr. Wallace. On his book tour for Infinite Jest, Wallace spent a few days with a staff writer for Rolling Stone. His name was David Lipsky. Although Lipsky did conduct this interview, it was never published.

Although_Of_Course

However, Mr. Lipsky published a book called Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself in 2010. This book told about these five days or so at the end of Wallace’s book tour. This movie, The End of the Tour, is an adaption of that book. The film is directed by James Ponsoldt, and the screenplay was written by David Margulies.

I saw this film on Day Six of the 2015 Sarasota Film Festival.

Essentially, this film is a two-hander meaning two actors dominate the screen. Unlike an interview that you might see or have seen on TV with Charlie Rose, Mike Wallace, Oprah, or Barbara Walters – where the interview is on a single set – this film is out and about. Wallace and Lipsky were on a book tour so there was travel involved. Meaning there was a rather large supporting cast – but really, the supporting players were not of consequence.

David Lipsky is portrayed by Jesse Eisenberg. I’ve not a lot of experience with Eisenberg in the movies but two films come to mind – To Rome With Love (from Woody Allen) and The Social Network. I guess I’ll always recall early on in The Social Network when Rooney Mara called Eisenberg (as Mark Zuckerberg) an asshole.

While Eisenberg can excel in characters that are frustrating, annoying, or awkward, apparently he has reigned in most of those traits to appear as David Lipsky. Lipsky is smart, competitive, in awe of Wallace, and a person who will forever hope he can attain the same acclaim as did David Foster Wallace. Yet, Eisenberg as Lipsky, breathes life into a character we may be predisposed to dislike. Of course this is an inherent and unavoidable situation in the world of celebrities and those who use celebrities.

David Lipsky

David Lipsky

Continue reading

Love & Mercy – Day Five at the Sarasota Film Festival

Love and Mercy

Love & Mercy screened on Day Five of the Sarasota Film Festival. The film is under tight wraps. According to SFF Creative & Program Director Mike Dunaway, the Festival was only permitted one screening of the film rather than the usual two showings. There was a further restriction and that was the film could NOT be screened at the Sarasota Opera House. It had to play at one of the Regal theaters. Likely because the movie theater is a smaller venue.

Finally, Dunaway, rather than just telling the audience to keep their cell phones on ‘silent mode’, he specifically requested that all cell phones be completely turned off. The reasoning was that the owners of the film were specifically concerned about film piracy.

I know this for a fact, because the gentleman I sat next to told me that he had been hired by the film company to ensure that piracy did not occur. Dunaway closed his introduction by saying that there were film security people in the audience. Which I had never heard before at any of the previous film festivals that I have attended.

So what was Love & Mercy about?

In the simplest of descriptions, it is a music-bio film about Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys. But this is not a straight linear bio.

In fact the film begins in late 1965 when the Beach Boys were preparing for a tour. Brian Wilson (Paul Dano plays the younger Wilson) begged off on joining his fellow Beach Boys on tour, stating that he wanted to stay behind and work on their next album. The record label was demanding the product, and Brian was never comfortable performing on stage.

Mike Love and Brian’s brother Carl Wilson begged him to join them, but in the end, he stayed behind to work on the album. He said he heard things in his head. and they had to come out.

The album that he worked on while his band mates were on tour, playing in Shibuya, Japan on January 7th, 1966, would eventually become Pet Sounds. When Love and the rest of the band returned home, and the band set down to rehearse before recording, Brian found that the band hated the new style songs. Love claimed that this album would never sell as it was so far from their very successful ‘formula’ music.

Continue reading

Mad Men: Season 7: Part II – Episode 2 – New Business

title

While there could be much to comment upon concerning Mad Men and the levels of the societal issues as filtered through Matthew Weiner’s eyes….or Tom Smuts, who I think wrote this episode, I would prefer to simply talk about the story elements in this the second of The Final Seven Episodes of Mad Men.

Whether you want to talk about Megan’s family, and its short comings, or Don’s former family, after you consider those and I mean from our perspectives as watchers and not members, we are still going to return to Don Draper aka once Mad Men’s super nova – now only a dying comet

What ever you like about Don Draper, or can say how well Matthew Weiner has taken us back to those long gone days of the 60’s and 70’s, or how much you dislike Don and his cavalier attitudes, and his disdain for what we might call decency (I mean he really is a liar as Megan put it so deftly before walking off with Don’s divorce settlement in her hand – a cool million) it seems that there’s no way to avoid Don’s reality.

He not only seems like a dead man walking. He actually is a dead man walking. He’s lifeless and unenthusiastic. Can you recall the last time he did any work? I noticed the look on his face when he left his former home in Ossining. His expression conveyed a sadness as if he already knows he will never see his kids and/or Betty again.

He had the same look when he left Di in her ‘dump’ of an apartment. The sad look wasn’t really about his rejection – but rather about how empty he is. From Di’s perpective – she probably has battled long but not too hard with her own personal demons – she’s not in denial but rather is in that phase called self punishment = but Don’s interest in her seemed to everyone (except Don) to be just a surface passing fancy. Maybe Don thought he would like to settle down, once and for all, and he perceived Di to be a weaker and needy individual. But really, Don only wanted Di as a substitute for all that he once had and now would continue to miss. Di likely read that instantly – here is a guy (who should have a lot going for him) but doesn’t he seem so terribly desperate?

The introduction of Pima – a hot pants hot-shot of a photographer served some hard to define purpose. She did seduce Stan and came on to Peggy – who would then tell Stan that she wouldn’t hire Pima again. So what was the overall value of the character of Pima? How can this character appear, meaningfully, in another episode. I’ve no idea.

As for Megan – she’s got a nice payday marking the end of her and Don. But Don is not shedding any tears. Clearly he has no wish to see or deal with Megan again – and all that does is to point out his own failings. Megan was, at the very end, simply a disposable commodity for Don. The price was high indeed. Don may tell himself he is finally free, but, to me, he is only free to slip further downhill.

So here’s Don – unenthusiastic about his work – devoid of family, and after paying off his second wife, he is then rejected by his latest paramour. As Peggy Lee said in the previous episode – Is that all there is?

Don is surely heading for oblivion – professionally, personally, and physically. The only mystery that remains is will it be by his own hand or by a calamitous accident.

From my perspective as a viewer – I thought this was a deadly episode. One can’t say that this was either an inspirational episode or one that was enjoyable. Why, because this was a time which gave strong indications that Don is done. One can tell themselves that this series is one of TV’s best dramas ever – I just don’t see how this particular episode, which leaves only four more until the climatic and final episode, was anything more than a staging arena.

Continue reading

Clouds of Sils Maria – Day Three at the Sarasota Film Festival

Day Three of the Sarasota Film Festival took me to the Regal Hollywood 20 on Main Street in Sarasota. I had a press pass ticket to Clouds of Sils Maria. Directed by Olivier Assayas, the film stars Juliette Binoche, Kristen Stewart, and Chloë Grace Moretz. I thought it was a terrific movie.

A simple synopsis would be that this is the story of an actress, a hugely successful actress, who has been asked to revisit both a theatrical production as well as a movie that made her world-famous more than 20 years ago. When she was 18, she played the role of a young woman who dominated a woman who was more than twice her age in a lesbian relationship. Then the young woman dumped the older woman, which led to the older woman taking her own life.

That story was called Maloja Snake. And the above synopsis is an oversimplification of what will be a very complex, detailed, and riveting motion picture.

As the film opens, this older actress, Maria Enders, played by Juliette Binoche, has been called upon to accept a lifetime achievement award on behalf of the Maloja Snake play/movie’s author Wilhelm Melchior, who would not be present to accept the award himself. Onboard a train on the way to Zürich, Enders and her Personal Assistant Valentine, played by Kristen Stewart, receive word that Wilhelm has died. What was to be a celebration, would now become a memorial.

Continue reading

World Premiere of Houses – Day Two at the 2015 Sarasota Film Festival

IMG_0890

Houses played at The Sarasota Opera House on Day Two of the Sarasota Film Festival. Directed and co-written by Jenner Furst, tonight’s screening was a World Premiere. The film had never been shown to a ticket buying public before tonight. In fact the film is so new, that the hastily produced poster only arrived in the film’s publicist, Dayle Hoffman‘s hands today.

Nick Sandow and Tamara Malkin-Stuart on the Red Carpet

Nick Sandow and Tamara Malkin-Stuart on the Red Carpet

The star of the film is veteran actor Nick Sandow, who you will recognize as the same actor who plays Joe Caputo on the hit TV Series – Orange is the New Black. Sandow also co-authored the film script.

Houses Ticket

Houses is a layered film. The subject of the title is actually houses – the kind that we live in, the kind made of stone, cement, plaster, wood, and other construction materials. We live out our lives in houses, and this is also a foundation of the film.

But there are other, more interior kinds of houses. For example, our bodies are houses – and there are rooms within these houses for our friends, our lovers, our passions, hates, successes and failures. Like a turtle carries his house around with him, so too do we carry around our personal interior houses.

Now for those of you with long memories, or those of you who go back to the days of the beat poet Allen Ginsburg, or the On the Road author Jack Kerouac, and Lawrence Ferlinghetti – founder of The City Lights Bookshop, this film will resonate for you.

In fact, it was Ferlinghetti’s book of poems called Far Rockaway of the Heart that was a major inspiration for the film. The film has only just received Ferlinghetti’s sign off to quote his poetry in the film:

Nick Sandow, who plays a theatrical director in the film, named Nick, quotes from Ferlinghetti:

Walking through the house of yourself
You climb to all the rooms of yourself
Full of the other lives and cells that have passed through them

Rooms, rooms, rooms
Piled up haphazard
In the architecture of time

All the people of your life,
in one house, in the night, all lights lit
Like a cruise ship

Some day, as time bends around
You find them all again,
In yourself.

Continue reading

In Conversation with Film Director Oren Moverman – Sarasota Film Festival 2015: Day Two

In Conversation with Oren Moverman

On my schedule for The Sarasota Film Festival’s second day was an afternoon In Discussion with Film Director Oren Moverman who had directed the festival’s opening night feature film – Time Out of Mind. The venue was the John C Court Cabaret Theater which is a part of the Florida Studio Theater located at Coconut and First Street, within a few blocks of the Sarasota Opera House.

Florida_Studio_Theatre,_Court_Cabaret

It is an intimate setting with tables and chairs, rather than theater style seating.

You can see how close I was to the stage from my photos.

Moverman was going to be interviewed by Mike Dunaway, the Festival’s Creative & Programming Director, which would be followed by a short Q & A.

Oren Moverman seems to be on the fast track in the movie business. He was born in 1966 in Tel Aviv, Israel, His father worked for an Israeli bank, and in 1978, the elder Moverman was transferred to work for the bank in New York. They settled in Brooklyn. Oren was 12 years.

Dunaway is in the white shirt and beard. Moverman is clean shaven and wearing dark clothes.

Dunaway is in the white shirt and beard. Moverman is clean shaven and wearing dark clothes.

With some prodding from Mike Dunaway, Moverman told us that the first film he ever saw, beyond that which aired on Israeli TV was The Wizard of Oz. This is the one that captured his imagination, giving him his first clue about what he wanted to be when he grew up.

Moverman went to Brooklyn College and managed to get some non-paying jobs on movie sets – you know like the assistant to the assistant of the Assistant Movie Director. As we all know and have heard repeatedly, some of the most successful people in the movie biz started at the bottom.

Moverman has now directed three feature Films – The Messenger in 2009 was nominated for two Oscars – Woody Harrelson for Best Supporting Actor, and Mr. Moverman along with Alessandro Camon as the co-writers of the Original Screenplay. His second directorial effort was the feature film, Ramparts, also starred Woody Harrelson. And now, Time Out of Mind starring Richard Gere.

Continue reading

Time Out of Mind with Richard Gere Opens the 2015 Sarasota Film Festival

IMG_0882

The 17th Sarasota Film Festival opened on Friday night with Oren Moverman’s film Time Out of Mind. Moverman was on hand – that’s him on the red carpet being interviewed, as well as Ben Vereen who was in the film as a supporting actor.

IMG_0883

I parked on Main street in downtown Sarasota around 5:45 PM. I was looking at about a ten minute walk to the venue – the Sarasota Opera House. The Red Carpet had been called for 5:30.

I milled around for a bit ,taking in the sights, the Red Carpet, the television crews, and the glamorous crowd. I also was feeling the buzz of excitement that was in the air.

But the theater was expected to be sold out, and my Press Pass and Press Comp Ticket would get me in for a balcony seat so I did not tarry outside for too long..

Mark Famiglio, the President of the SSF Board of Directors made an introductory speech, as did spokespersons from SRQ Magazine and SRQBacklot.com and SNN. Then Mike Dunaway, the new creative director for the Festival came out to rev up the crowd, to thank his staff, as well as the army of volunteers who help make the festival work.

IMG_0889

Finally, he introduced Oren Moverman, the film’s director who then introduced Ben Vereen.

Continue reading