Tuesday night trailer: Halle Berry goes full dissociative in “Frankie and Alice”

Members of the headshrinking community can’t even agree whether dissociative identity disorder, aka multiple personality, even exists, but it sure makes for award-winning drama. It got Joanne Woodward, with a little help from shrink Lee J. Cobb, an Oscar in Nunnally Johnson’s 1958 “The Three Faces of Eve.” It helped Sally Field, costarring with Ms. Woodward as Dr. Cornelia Wilbur, shed her “Flying Nun”/”Gidget” past with a nice shiny Emmy for 1976’s “Sybil.”

Now Halle Berry, or at least her producers, are apparently hoping for a bit more of that award-winning subject matter. This time there’s a racial twist and Stellan Skarsgard is probably just the right guy to step into the weighty shoes of the Woodward/Cobb role. Phylicia Rashad costars as Berry’s mom who, if “Frankie and Alice” runs true to form, will come in for most of the blame.

I might sound like I’m making snarky light of this as obvious Oscar bait. In a way I am, but I’m also entirely open to the possibility that, like “The Three Faces of Eve” and “Sybil” before it, “Frankie and Alice” will turn out to be a provocative, terrifically compelling drama with a first rate, if inevitably showy, lead performance. There are worse sub-sub-genres and the issue of ethnic identity and subtle self-hate is certainly not going away any time soon.

One interesting side note. Looking at the IMDb listing for this film, part of the original story credit — presumably the factual basis of the film — goes to the late Southern California-based psychologist Oscar Janiger. Janiger is best known noted for us his experimental use of LSD as a therapeutic tool during the late fifties and early sixties, with his most famous clients being Cary Grant and, a little less surprisingly, Jack Nicholson.

H/t /Film.

  

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Two moods for a holiday eve

It’s almost 9:30 p.m on the West coast and, with one of the nation’s two biggest family-oriented holidays happening tomorrow, a lot of folks on both coasts and in between are probably nervous about food preparations, psychotic relatives, their own psychoses, etc. Some may even be, as the contemporary argot would have it, ready to “lose their shit.” On that note, via Anne Thompson and Pajiba, we have a salute to the modern master of complete loss of emotional control, Mr. Nicolas Cage, from editor Harry Hanrahan. (It goes without saying this is highly NSFW — Cage is the only man in the world whose allowed to lose his shit at the office.)

Feeling a bit unnerved by all that? Me too. So, here’s the human antidote(s) to Nicholas Cage. Michael Caine salutes Cary Grant. How much cooler, calmer, and collected does it get?

Ahh. I feel much better now.

  

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Previews of coming TCM Fest attractions

I’m busy today preparing to hit the TCM Classic Film Festival, which opens tonight in Hollywood, California with a gala screening of a digital restoration of the 1983 restoration of the 1954 “A Star is Born.” Also screening tonight is the 1931 Frank Capra obscurity, “Dirigible,” an underrated Howard Hawks science-fiction comedy starring Cary Grant, Ginger Rogers, and a newcomer named Marilyn Monroe, “Monkey Business” as well as an outdoor screening of 1949’s silly but fun (if memory serves) “Neptune’s Daughter.” That one features swimmer turned musical comedy star Esther Williams alongside a very, very pre-Khan Ricardo Montalban and comedian Red Skelton. The cool part of this is that Ms. Williams, and a real-live water ballet, are included with the price of admission. (I should add that single entries for the fest are very much on the pricey side, starting at $20.00. Students get in for half-price, so I suggest enrolling quickly.)

That’s just tonight. Below are trailers for a some shows I’m personally looking forward to catching. We’ll start with the closing night screening of probably the most significant film of the festival, the new and finally fully restored version of the original science fiction extravaganza, Fritz Lang’s “Metropolis.” (I’m slightly bummed to see this, like “A Star is Born” will be screened digitally. Assuming that celluloid prints of the new version exist, which may or may not be the case, that’s really how it should be shown.)

More after the flip.

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A movie news midnight ramble.

It’s a bit late for a Friday night news dump –and most all of  you will be reading this on Saturday morning — but here’s the news…

* Chris Evans has been offered the part of Captain America, but will he accept?

* Christopher Nolan’s multi-star Philip Dick-esque new movie is generating interesting, of course.

* That word about Tim Burton doing an stop-motion version of “The Addams Family” going back to the characters’ cartoon roots struck me as a perfectly reasonable idea. Charles Addams brilliant cartoons have never really be transferred to the screen in quite the fashion they deserve, so why not take another whack, says me. I any case, the whole story appears to be premature.

adams2* Demi Moore and Nia Vardalos: Twitter heroines.

* Friday’s over now. Is Leo the Lion closer to having a new tamer?

* Speaking of lion tamers, Carl Icahn is at the Lion’s gate. (Sorry.)

* Wow, Jeff Bridges was really a lock for the Oscar. George Clooney did his classy Cary Grant thing again and voted for him. Weirdly enough, much as I just about worship Bridges, I actually think Clooney was better in his nominated role than Bridges in his.

* Christoph Waltz wowed the world as Col. Landa, but what he really wants to do, aside from being America’s new go-to bad guy, is direct, at least once. Good for him for striking while the iron is hot, and it’s very hot for him.

* Woody Allen is having second thoughts, it appears, about casting France’s first lady, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, in his new movie.

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* The ultra-hawkish rightwing’s answer to having more successful political thrillers is apparently the same as their longstanding and unchanging prescription for foreign policy: more mindless brutality, please. On the other hand, I might pay to see Gene Simmons’ head explode in a ball of flame, though I’m not advocating it.

* Which is not to say there aren’t some conservatives who don’t have something to teach us liberals. The subtly and thoughtfully right-leaning cinephile Bill Ryan, via Dennis the C,  takes apart the latest highly irritaining controversy involving the always irritaining Armond White.

* I can’t say I actually know the man really at all, but film distributor turned filmmaker turned back to film distributor Jeff Lipsky and I have a bit of history (discussed in my interview with him from 2007). His thoughts on returning to the biz are some interesting inside baseball and most of them seem to make a fair amount of sense.  His movie love is sincere, even as his tastes are quite different than mine. And it’s interesting and hopeful to see an Indie guy still excited about theatrical filmgoing. But why on earth does he feel the need to single out the aforementioned Armond White for praise? I could go on…

  

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Better late than never, it’s your Friday and weekend movie news dump

Since I took a day off earlier in the week, I’ve got probably enough material for fifteen separate blog posts, but just one will have to do…

* Since about Wednesday (my day off) items about the upcoming Superman film being presided over by Christopher Nolan have been rolling out. First Latino Review broke the news in Spanglish that writer David Goyer, who has been involved with Nolan’s Batman franchise from the start, would be on board. Now IESB (via Bad Guy Wins) reports what it says are rumors that  the director of the Superman film will be Christopher’s writing partner brother, Jonah, making his directorial debut.

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That seems reasonable enough especially given that Nolan’s going to be busy with the third instalment in his Batman franchise. I get a bit more skeptical about the idea that Nolan will be sticking around to direct the long-mulled Justice League movie which would presumably include the new Supes (whoever he may be; sorry Brandon Routh), the current Batman (just as long as no one gets into his eyeline), and Ryan Reynolds’ Green Lantern, but I suppose anything is possible.

* I could spend the next week trying to figure this one, but negative PR campaigns against Best Picture Oscar nominees have become de rigeur in recent years and the shrapnel is flying in more than one direction around “The Hurt Locker.” First there were stories from Pete Hammond and a typically voracious Nikki Finke about anti-“Avatar” e-mail blasts by producer Nicolas Chartier. Today there was a far more substantive front page news story in the Los Angeles Times on some disagreements among military people about the film’s putative claims to authenticity. The most serious allegation — which doesn’t appear to be anywhere close to being proven — charges that the crew drove a Humvee into a Jordanian village in order to film angry locals.

Though I think quite highly of Paul Rieckhoff of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, a frequent guest on Rachel Maddow’s old radio show, I think his criticism is way off-base and was surprised to see him on the anti-“Hurt Locker” side. I don’t think anything in the film indicates that the dangerous-seeking behavior of Jeremy Renner’s character is supposed to be typical, but simply one person’s reaction to an insane situation. Still, it’ s easy to understand why some might kind of forget the movie, though attempting to mirror reality to some degree, makes no claims to being anything other than fiction.

Steve Pond covers the push-back by reporter-turned-screenwriter Mark Boal.

The Hurt Locker

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