The Unfashionable Charms of ‘Fading Gigolo’

Fading Gigolo, John Turturro’s fifth directorial effort, is a wonderful film. It also is what my mother used to call “not everyone’s cup of tea.” About part-time florist Fioravante (Turturro) who becomes a Don Juan-for-hire to solve his financial woes, it is unfashionable in some key ways: wry rather than snarky, tender-hearted rather than glib. It takes place in the multicultural neighborhoods of old-school Brooklyn rather than in the hipster playground now earmarked as the New York City borough, and it features men and women, often in compromisingly graphic positions, who are over 40. Perhaps most unfashionably, it co-stars Woody Allen in his first artistic effort since the controversies about his personal life resurfaced, as well as in one of his first appearances in a film that he did not direct and write. The good news is Allen’s performance is as wonderful as the film itself. To read my full Word and Film review, go here.

‘Draft Day’ Stumbles but Has Plenty of Heart

Ivan Reitman has made a football movie starring Kevin Costner, and the result is not bad. On the other hand, it, uh, fumbles the ball plenty.  An excerpt from my Vulture review:

By now it’s old hat to bemoan the ever-increasing age gap between male stars and their romantic leads, but Costner and Garner interact less like lovers and more like a father and his favorite daughter. With her ramrod posture and unwavering, rapt gaze, Garner always seems like the perfect daddy’s girl, anyway. Costner comes more alive in his scenes with Ellen Burstyn, who, though nearly as close to his age, plays his mother.Read More

Of ‘Under the Skin’ and Mother Lodes

It can be said that the first rule of any literary adaptation is that it must work unto itself—that our appreciation of the film can’t be contingent upon our familiarity with the book. But I would offer a converse rule: that, as audiences, we must never judge a literary adaptation by how well it references its antecedent. Nothing makes my heart sink faster than the casual dismissal, “Eh, the novel was better than the movie.”

I’ve been thinking about this because of two recent releases: the terrific Hateship, Loveship, which diverges greatly in tone from the terrific Alice Munro short story upon which it’s based (I review them both here), and Under the Skin.Read More