REVIEW: Landline

18 07 2017

Sundance Film Festival

Gillian Robespierre’s “Landline” prominently features a 1995 speech where Hillary Clinton claims, “However different we may appear, there is far more that unites us than divides us.” Unlike many time capsule items in the film — CD listening stations at music stores, Blockbuster Video, payphones, floppy disks — 5this line doesn’t feel like it’s just been lifted out of a BuzzFeed listicle about “25 Things You’d Only Know If You Were Alive in 1995.” It’s a dictum simple to say yet difficult to practice, as shown by the family in the film.

Robespierre and co-writer Elisabeth Holm craft an indelible portrait of the women in the Jacobs family, each at different life stages yet all struggling to feel the love with important companions. Matriarch Pat (Edie Falco) puts so much effort into maintaining family structure and function that her relationships have frayed with everyone, especially her charming but wishy-washy husband Alan (John Turturro). Adult daughter Dana (Jenny Slate) waffles on a marital commitment to fiancé Ben (Jay Duplass), even going to the extent of acting out an alter ego named “Bedelia” that indulges her pent-up desires. Teenage daughter Ali (Abby Quinn) takes to surrounding herself with drugs and dancing to dull her disinterest with the traditional roadmap laid out ahead of her.

If “Obvious Child” showcased that Robespierre could helm a character study, then “Landline” exhibits her talent with an ensemble piece. There are many complicated relationships to juggle in the film, each of which she handles with specificity and tenacity. (On a personal note, I found the tension between Dana and Ali spot on; as someone with a much younger sibling, Dana’s negotiation between being a quasi-parent and friend resonated tremendously.)

Robespierre is not afraid to have the tough, awkward conversations – and then dwell in the messy resolution, or lack thereof. For all the times I worried in the first 30 minutes that the film would be little more than a nostalgia-dripping scrapbook, she met them with incisive observations about how difficult it can be to connect with the people closest to us. B+

NOTE: A portion of this review ran as a part of my coverage of the 2017 Sundance Film Festival for Movie Mezzanine.

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Random Factoid #571

30 12 2014

2014, for me, was the year of the typo correction.  For whatever reason, I felt emboldened to act as copywriter for the world.  (Just not for my own work, which I often find full of errors upon reexamination.)  Much of my Larry David-esque perceived need to correct other people’s harmless mistakes or typos stems from an empowering NPR segment about a book called “The Great Typo Hunt.”  Yes, I am enough of a nerd to call an NPR story about grammar “empowering.”  Get at me, world!

It began as early as January, when IndieWire ran a story called “The 20 Best Films of 2014 We’ve Already Seen.”  This highlighted festival films from the previous year due for release in the upcoming calendar year, and the original list inexplicably omitted “The Immigrant.”  Foreshadowing (or stemming from) my being a warrior for this film, I commented about this egregious exclusion.

IndieWINNING

The post is now called “The 21 Best Films of 2014 We’ve Already Seen,” but the URL still says “20.”  Point, Marshall.

It continued with the website for “Obvious Child.”  I was trying to find a poster to add to my PowerPoint aggregating all the films I saw in a year (as chronicled in Random Factoid #200) on the website when I noticed a pretty egregious typo.  I emailed the admin listed on the Tumblr, and I wound up getting a personal response from the film’s producer, Elisabeth Holm.  The correction can be seen below.

Obvious Child Email

Then, as I am often prone to do, I was scouring the pre-order section of iTunes to see when I might be able to rent certain titles I missed.  I noticed that “Laggies” was up – and that its star, Keira Knightley, had her name misspelled on the cover.  I sent the studio a quick email and, sure enough, the cover changed!

A24 Laggies

 

And the gentle, metaphorical red pen did not limit itself to spelling errors.  I also tackled factual inaccuracies, such as one that I found in a piece by Scott Feinberg, the lead awards analyst at The Hollywood Reporter.

Feinberg

Now, just so we’re clear, I am far from perfect and actually made plenty a pretty embarrassing error while thinking I was correcting someone else’s error.  See that comment from The Dissolve?  It was in reply to a comment that I deleted, which was calling them out for misspelling “Slave” when it was referencing the video’s misspelling.  Had I watched the video, I would have known that.  Had I really been paying attention, I would have also noticed that they also “misspelled” Brad Pitt’s name.

Salve

I decided not to let the comment live on and shame me, like a coward.  Perhaps in the new year, I will limit myself in my quest to make the world a safer place for proofreading to only correcting errors which I am completely certain are wrong.  Or, rather, I can just shake my head in dismay at every typo I see online (cough, IndieWire – you’re the worst offender) and hope they feel the same shame that I experience when I realize a similar gaffe in my own work.

P.S. – How can I tell AT&T about this bad typo?

Gaurdians