REVIEW: Le Week-End

13 06 2017

Who says going to the City of Light is always a romantic, picturesque getaway? In Roger Michell’s “Le Week-End,” a British couple celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary finds the city a staging ground for their most practical and petty matters. For Meg and Nick (Lindsay Duncan and Jim Broadbent), this grand city does not necessarily demand grappling with grand problems.

Newell finds the sweet spot between the gentle compassion of Nancy Meyers and the plainspoken working-class mentality of Mike Leigh. Not to mention, his depiction of the city also occupies a halfway ground between the American romanticizing of Paris and the French highlighting of its underbelly. The film provides a window into the dissatisfaction a couple may face when the kids are gone and they have to truly face each other. As you stare down the end, whose hand do you want to hold?

“Le Week-End” might feel a touch more slight were the graying crowd not so underrepresented on screen. Were they as well represented in movies as they are in Washington, then surely I’d be echoing then-Variety critic Justin Chang in his savage takedown of a particularly bad prolonged adolescence indie when he called it “the latest American independent feature to suggest there are few things more intriguing than a young white guy trying to find himself.” But for what it is now, the film works just fine. B-





REVIEW: Hyde Park on Hudson

22 01 2013

Welcome to “Whose Movie Is It Anyway?” – also known as “Hyde Park on Hudson.”  Here, you’ll get to see a multi-million dollar production that shows you what a movie is really like at the stage where it’s still being scribbled out on cocktail napkins!  To call it a first draft of something great would be generous – that is, calling it a first draft would be generous.  It hasn’t even made it to that stage yet!

Roger Michell’s slapdash film changes protagonists throughout the entire movie like Britney Spears changes outfits at a concert.  Go to the bathroom, and you’ll come back and find an entirely different storyline being pursued.  One minute, it’s the story of Laura Linney’s Margaret Suckley, a cousin of FDR portrayed here as his mistress (though that’s based on an extremely loose interpretation of her personal letters).

Then, it’s also a biopic of President Roosevelt, played as a perpetually horny tortoise by Bill Murray.  Chronicling both the personal and the political aspects of his life, it fails to provide anything mildly interesting to observe.  Not to mention, doubts about the accuracy of his affair with Margaret put the entire movie’s validity in question.

Oh, and don’t forget the history lesson that makes up most of the mid-section of “Hyde Park on Hudson.”  The King and Queen of England comes to visit FDR’s private Idaho in New York, but sadly, this companion piece to “The King’s Speech” couldn’t land Colin Firth and Helena Bonham Carter to reprise their roles.  Nor, for that matter, could it capture the same sense of gravity about an impending world war that Tom Hooper’s film conveyed so well for a film that was otherwise rather lightweight.

In essence, there are three movies in “Hyde Park on Hudson,” and you will feel it drag under the weight of that confusion.  Expect to feel like you’ve watched three full-length features … but come out only an hour and a half later from the theater.  And don’t expect some kind of great convergence that makes it all worthwhile.  The climactic scene all boils down to the consumption of hot dogs.  Not kidding.  D1star