REVIEW: Hysteria

16 10 2012

In high school, I was incredibly involved in the close analysis of theatre. In college, I’ve switched over almost exclusively to film.  But since I write a blog reviewing movies, I think you probably know which medium I favor.

So you may be surprised to hear me recommend that you read a play rather than watch a movie, but the invention of the vibrator has been done better by a playwright.  While “Hysteria” is fine and dandy – OK, that was being way too nice, it was actually vapid and unremarkable in every way – the topic has been handled with far more thought by Sarah Ruhl in “In The Next Room (The Vibrator Play).”  Ruhl’s play was nominated for a Tony Award; I think Tanya Wexler’s film will be lucky to compete for a spot in my year-end most forgettable list.

Ruhl understood that there’s a very strong parallel between what happened in the Victorian era with women’s health and sexuality and what is happening now.  When such a relevance is inherent in the material, you can’t ignore that!  But Wexler does, and her film suffers from being cursory and surface-level to the point of fault.

If you’ve read “In the Next Room” and then watch “Hysteria” (which admittedly few probably have), you will undoubtedly be disappointed in Wexler’s blunder.  But even if you haven’t read the Ruhl play, I still think you’ll be disappointed … just in a different way.

You’ll find the film has no urgency.  You’ll find the romance between Hugh Dancy’s Dr. Granville and Maggie Gyllenhaal’s loony Charlotte Dalrymple is unconvinced and undeveloped.  You’ll find that, whether you watch from intellect or for humor, there are better ways to be stimulated.  Pun fully intended.  C / 

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LAMB Alert: “My Best Friend’s Wedding” Casting

29 06 2010

As you may recall in my post announcing my victory in the “LAMB Casting” contest for “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?,” I had the option of choosing the next movie to be recast.  I have chosen. I decided to take “LAMB Casting” in an entirely different direction that I hope will be fun and enjoyable for all.  The movies that have been recast in the past have been very serious, Oscar-type movies like “Doubt” and “The Color Purple.”  My choice is in an entirely different genre: romantic comedy. “My Best Friend’s Wedding,” released in 1997, remains one of my favorite romantic comedies because it is charming, funny, and does not adhere to the formula.  It features Julia Roberts, who was achieving superstardom at the time, and Cameron Diaz, just beginning her own rise.  Dermot Mulroney, the romantic interest, used the movie as a catapault out of indies and into mainstream.  And then there’s Rupert Everett who is just an absolute laugh riot. I want to encourage every LAMB to participate in the event because it’s just too much fun to miss out on.  So as a kick-off of sorts to the challenge, Andrew from “Encore Entertainment,” did a little write-up of each of the roles to be recast.  Read it and submit your cast.

Julianne Potter, our heroine originally played by Roberts: assertive and outspoken, but still insecure it shall be tough to one up Julia
Michael O’Neal, our leading male but not the hero originally played by Dermot Mulroney: good looking and bland (as far as I could tell) really Mulroney was a bit of a bore, let’s see what you can do to improve
Kimberly Wallace, the ingenue originally played by Cameron Diaz: ostensibly naive but not an idiot, personable but just  a little annoying Diaz was golden here, but there are some good options out there
George Downes, the best friend originally played by Rupert Everett: smart, suave and a lot of fun this will be the tough one I think…

Let the games BEGIN!  I’ll say a little prayer for you.