Entries in Christina Hendricks (3)

Saturday
Apr282018

"EGG" // TRIBECA 2018 REVIEW

BY MATEO MORENO

Words, as they can, can be sharper than knives. That’s certainly the case in EGG, the new film written by Risa Mickenberg and directed by Marianna Palka. The premise revolves around two couples who are joining together in a loft style apartment to welcome a child into the world. Once they all arrive, verbal daggers and veiled judgments surround them, mostly in real time. You alternately howl with laughter or tense up, and the ensemble cast crackles with venom, reminding you of a modern Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf.

 

Tina and Wayne (Alysia Reiner and Gbenga Akinnagbe) are a married couple in New York who at first seem like a loving couple that simply accepts Tina’s success and understands Wayne’s aimlessness. The live in a huge “artist loft” and have invited Tina’s lifelong friend Karen (Christina Hendricks) and her husband Don (David Alan Basche). Karen is eight months pregnant and very excited for motherhood. Tina is very excited to tell her everything that’s wrong with having a baby. All four of them could not be any different. And…. they’re off.

 

One of the great that works in EGG is how the razor-sharp zingers don’t just come from the tongue of Tina, they come right back at her from Karen. No one here is a victim and everyone has their say. As they go back and forth, you wonder if this would play even better as an intimate Off-Broadway play, as much of the staging feels “theatre-esque.” Most of the dynamics of the characters work, and Alysia Reiner and Christina Hendricks are especially great. Gbenga Akinnagbe has some solid moments as well, but sadly you hate David Alan Basche immediately and you don’t stop. He’s the only character that felt like so much of a shit that you don’t understand why his wife would be married to him. He’s awful, and I suppose it’s a credit to Basche that he plays it right up. Anna Camp has a bit of a thankless role in a part that isn’t fully needed but nonetheless works. With firecracker dialogue by Mickenberg and assured directing by Palka, EGG grabs your throat and doesn’t let go.

 
 
VERDICT: SEE IT
 
WRITTEN BY Risa Mickenberg DIRECTED BY Marianna Palka STARRING Christina Hendricks, Anna Camp, Alysia Reiner, David Alan Basche, Gbenga Akinnagbe. Playing as part of the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival. https://www.tribecafilm.com/filmguide/egg-2018

 

Friday
Aug082014

IN THE POCKET // A FILM REVIEW OF "GOD'S POCKET"

BY W DEREK JORDEN

 

Where does God put his hands when they are cold? Where does God put his cigarettes and lighter when he’s going out for the night? Where does God put the change he got back from the 6-pack he bought? Where does God put the number of the chick he just hit on? God puts all these things, of course, in GOD'S POCKET. In the film, John Slattery's directorial debut (best known for his Emmy-nominated role of Roger Sterling, Jr., on the hit show Mad Men) tells a story about an incident in a suburban Philadelphia neighborhood. It is based on a novel of the same title by Pete Dexter (who also wrote Paris Trout starring Dennis Hopper) which was first published over 30 years ago. The fictional story was inspired by an actual notorious event that occurred when the novelist (at the time working on a local column) got severely beaten for poking around, investigating, researching a drug-deal-turned-murder near the rough three-block neighborhood in South Philly actually called Devil’s Pocket.

Philip Seymour Hoffman, in one of his last starring roles, plays a middle-aged beleaguered fella, Mickey Scarpato, who is a transplant in this neighborhood, and is getting along pretty good by ‘hood standards. But luck, of which there is very little to go around in God’s Pocket, turns south on Mickey and his whole world goes with it. Trying to bury more than just the body of his wife’s good-for-nothing son, he runs into one hiccup after another, and this drama turns darkly humorous, culminating with the,  big-boned Hoffman sprinting down the street in chase of his truck full of stolen meat, the only thing he really has left. And that’s funny.
 

The all-star cast makes these very dark and dangerous moments so believable and honest that one can't help but laugh at the unlikely absurdities that take place as Mickey and his neighbors trudge through this bleak existence. John Turturro’s “Bird” reflects the general morality that Mickey lives with as they often do the wrong things for the right reasons. And if dark wasn’t enough, let’s throw a dash of dry in there with Richard Jenkins as a columnist for the local paper. Not only is his delivery and character the epitome of dryness, but his Shellburn is dried up on the inside and out. Well, that is except for one thing: his drive and lust for Mickey’s wife, Jeanie, played by Christina Hendricks.

God’s Pocket is a well done narrative, richly detailed with accurate true-to-life characters, finely crafted with relationships, happenings and rhythms that all serve the end product. Quiet movies like these and stellar performances by their stars make you sad for the town they happened in and even sadder the main star isn’t around to tell more like it.

 

DEREK'S GRADE: A

 

Written by: Peter Dexter, Alex Metcalf Directed by John Slattery Starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, Christina Hendricks, Richard Jenkins, John Turturro

Rated R

 

FINAL THOUGHTS: Phil fan or not, this is a great flick. A little bit of a downer, sure. But enough funny moments throughout that you nearly forget the sadness that surrounds.

W. DEREK JORDEN is an actor currently living and working in New York City. He and his wife live on a Spaceship on the top of a building, which makes for some interesting dinner parties.

Friday
Sep162011

HIGHWAY TO HELL // A review of the film Drive

BY MATEO MORENO

There’s a heartbeat to every movie, an inner working that demands to be heard.  A great script screams it, a great director dictates it, and a great cast wills it into being.  Unfortunately, all three are not always on the same page, and the movie will suffer for it, feeling uneven and unpolished.  Sometimes a movie will want to pay tribute to an era or a style and if done right, it won’t look like a carbon copy but an original piece paying homage to a past work like an honor.  The new film Drive doesn’t only have everything in place with the exact working order; it does so in such a way that you’ll absolutely feel transported to another place just by watching it.  And that’s just the beginning of this review.

Ryan Gosling plays “Driver,” which isn’t his name, only his occupation.  Yet since we never learn his name, this also substitutes nicely.  He drives for the movies, as in he’s the stunt man who gets thrown hundreds of feet into the air and walks away ready for the next take.  He’s an extremely quiet, detached man.  Doesn’t relate to the human race well, only to his friend and manager, Shannon (Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston turning in a wonderfully layered performance), but when a young woman named Irene (Cary Mulligan) keeps appearing in his life, he takes notice and decides to actually make a human interaction.  All of this, however, is only his life on the surface.  The real money comes from heists and thefts.  He’s the getaway driver, as we learn in the very first intense scene, and as long as you don’t take more than five minutes, he’ll do anything for you.  Suffice to say, as the picture moves along, things get very complicated with literally everything in Driver’s life, but to give any of that away would be a disservice to your experience in seeing the film.  The less you know about the full on plot, the better.

Drive is probably the most unique American action film I’ve seen in some time, mostly because it’s not made like the typical “full throttle” action film we tend to spend our well earned money on here.  Instead, Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn (who also made the excellent Pusher films and the equally excellent Bronson, plus won Best Director for this film at this year’s Cannes Film Festival) treats the film in a slow, independent European style, showcasing the choices and feelings each character goes through, mostly without the use of much dialogue at all.  In fact, Driver speaks less in the entire film than most lead action stars speak in the first 30 minutes of their films.  And although the movie is set in modern day, the look, feel, and music (hell, even the “type” on the opening credits) scream the 1980’s.  Without relying on the typical action sequences, car chases, or over the top action moments, the film instead becomes a psychological study of a withdrawn man and the people surrounding him.  Gosling is fantastic in the role, mixing the character’s “Dexter Morgan” vibe with a caring and strong-willed character.  He’s a man with a good deal of darkness and doesn’t care much about money, but he does care about people keeping their word.  Even in his silences, Gosling brings such a full on menace to the role, yet keeps you on his side throughout the process.  He’s very much an anti-hero, as he isn’t exactly a good guy at all.

The showy supporting cast turns in great moments as well.  Carey Mulligan has a quiet sweetness to her that seems entirely genuine.  Albert Brooks and Ron Perlman steal scenes left and right as a pair of shady business partners who seem to be getting into the racing business.  Oscar Isaac (the one good thing in SuckerPunch) and Christina Hendricks (Mad Men) both bring fire to their small supporting turns, and Cranston brings a scared yet mysterious man to light in unique and impressive ways.  Also to be mentioned is a true shining star in this process, Newton Thomas Siegel, who is the film’s cinematographer.  He’s so gifted in the way he presents shots and angels that you fall in love with every single one of them.  The pacing is great, the action scenes (which, as a warning, are beyond extremely violent) are amazing, and the slow and steady approach definitely wins the race here.  Plus, the stylish 1980’s vibed music by Cliff Martinez (Contagion) is so good you’ll immediately want the soundtrack so you can play it alongside all of your actual 80’s music.

There are a lot of action films that turn into a forgettable option, but Drive turns all of your expectations and preconceived notions on action films and spins them, rolls them, and spits it right back to you.  I turned to my buddy after seeing the film and wondered out loud how the film will do at the box office being that it’s so unique in its style and hook.  To be sure, Drive is a stylish, sleek, sexy, ultra-violent foreign film that happens to be bow tied into a star studded Hollywood affair.  Let’s hope the box office is great because we need more original thrillers like this one being created on American turf.

Screenplay by Hossein Amini Based on the novel by James Sallis Directed by Nicholas Winding Refn Starring Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston, Albert Brooks, Ron Perlman, Oscar Isaacs, Christina Hendricks Rated R (for adult language, adult situations, Nudity, Graphic Violence) Now playing nationwide

Mateo’s Grade: A

Bottom Line: It’s just great.  Gosling fully earns his place as the new leading man who can actually act, and the director fully fleshes out a slick and intriguing new film that’s just as much of an accomplishment of a film as it is a challenge to all others.