Tag Archives: Kathleen Robertson

XX/XY (2002, Austin Chick)

XX/XY would be easier to talk about if it were a little bit better or a little bit worse. Director Chick’s structure for the film–a lengthy flashback opening the film, a flash forward with its own three act structure–seems like an enthusiastic mistake and conversation fodder.

Only its not. It’s a calculation on Chick’s part. Whereas the flashback has a wonderful, lyrical style to it, the content’s lame. Mark Ruffalo’s disaffected young commercial animator meets college girls Maya Stange and Kathleen Robertson. He’s supposed to be dating Stange but they’re at Sarah Lawrence and experimental. None of the characters are likable in a sympathetic sense (except maybe Robertson), but Ruffalo has a great time with the part. And Chick’s direction is fantastic. Great editing from William A. Anderson and Pete Beaudreau, great music from The Insects.

Then comes the flash forward to the present day; while the flashback had questionable, cliched dialogue, the stuff in the present simply doesn’t connect. Ruffalo’s performance is all off. The film goes from Chick not knowing how to tell a story about an unsympathetic protagonist to not knowing what to do with him once he’s “grown up.”

But then it turns out XX/XY isn’t a familiar (if sensational) melodrama, it’s got a surprise. And if Chick had just done it straightforward, the film would’ve been something special.

As is, it’s still pretty darn good.

Petra Wright’s amazing performance alone makes XX/XY worth seeing. Nice support from Robertson doesn’t hurt.

3/4★★★

CREDITS

Written and directed by Austin Chick; director of photography, Uta Briesewitz; edited by William A. Anderson and Pete Beaudreau; music by The Insects; production designer, Judy Becker; produced by Isen Robbins, Aimee Schoof and Mitchell Robbins; released by IFC Films.

Starring Mark Ruffalo (Coles), Kathleen Robertson (Thea), Maya Stange (Sam), Petra Wright (Claire), Kel O’Neill (Sid), Joshua Spafford (Jonathan), Zach Shaffer (Nick), Joey Kern (Tommy), Evan Neumann (Guy Who Asks for His $ Back), John A. MacKay (Mitchell) and David Thornton (Miles).


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Hollywoodland (2006, Allen Coulter)

Hollywoodland is not a narrative mess. It’d be a far more interesting (and far less boring) two hours if it were. Instead, Paul Bernbaum’s plotting is intentional and considered. Neither Bernbaum nor director Allen Coulter seem to understand the problems with having two protagonists, not having anything to do with each other, juxtaposed for a couple hours, however.

It starts really strong, with Adrien Brody fantastic as the glib private detective. He has a solid sidekick and love interest in Caroline Dhavernas and Coulter does do a great job giving Hollywoodland the right feel. The lack of a definite time period–Hollywoodland takes place in 1959, but the flashbacks seem to go back ten years–really hurts it. I guess that aside will be the segue into the flashbacks. The first few, which chronicle Ben Affleck’s career woes and romance with Diane Lane, aren’t bad. Then it becomes clear Diane Lane isn’t actually going to be in the film very much and her mediocre acting quickly descends into shrillness as she tries again for an Oscar. She’s not the worst (Bob Hoskins is far, far worse), but she becomes rather tiresome.

Affleck, on the other hand, deserves his own two hour film, not just this one’s poorly framed flashbacks. He’s great–better, as time goes on, than Brody. Because the movie eventually falls apart, as Brody’s story turns into the standard failed father, disillusioned detective bit. The end’s just awful.

Michael Berenbaum’s cinematography is wonderful, giving the film both rich color but also sharpness. The score’s good. It’s a well-produced film, not question, the script is just bad. The beginning–the script’s–is great, particularly in the dialogue and the way people interact. These qualities disappear quickly (it’s almost like the opening got worked on and nothing else got revised).

Jeffrey DeMunn’s good, Lois Smith’s good, even Robin Tunney’s good. Molly Parker is criminally wasted.

The big problem with Hollywoodland–conceptually–is in its approach. It’s a mystery about the death of George Reeves, but then goes and reveals his death is actually nowhere near as interesting as his life.

Luckily, it’s long enough and starts to go bad around ninety-five minutes, maybe sooner, so I wasn’t disappointed by the ending… just glad it was finally over.

1/4

CREDITS

Directed by Allen Coulter; written by Paul Bernbaum; director of photography, Jonathan Freeman; edited by Michael Berenbaum; music by Marcelo Zarvos; production designer, Leslie McDonald; produced by Glenn Williamson; released by Focus Features.

Starring Adrien Brody (Louis Simo), Diane Lane (Toni Mannix), Ben Affleck (George Reeves), Bob Hoskins (Eddie Mannix), Robin Tunney (Leonore Lemmon), Kathleen Robertson (Carol Van Ronkel), Lois Smith (Helen Bessolo), Phillip MacKenzie (Bill Bliss), Larry Cedar (Chester Sinclair), Caroline Dhavernas (Kit Holliday), Jeffrey DeMunn (Art Weissman), Joe Spano (Howard Strickling), Kevin Hare (Robert Condon) and Molly Parker (Laurie Simo).


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