Archive for the ‘Bill Holderman’ Category

The Perfect Italian Circle

Book Club: The Next Chapter

Director: Bill Holderman

Cast: Jane Fonda, Diane Keaton, Candice Bergen, Mary Steenburgen, Craig T. Nelson, Andy Garcia, Don Johnson, Giancarlo Giannini, Hugh Quarshie, Giovanni Esposito, Vincent Riotta.

Running Time: 1 hour and 47 minutes

Film Rating: 6.5 out of 10

One thing admirable about America is that they don’t believe in ageism. In actual fact director Bill Holderman’s hilarious if slightly quirky sequel to 2018’s Book Club, entitled Book Club: The Next Chapter is testament to that.

This sequel reunites the four elderly best friends from the first film, Diane, Viv, Sharon and Carol played respectively by Oscar winners Diane Keaton (Annie Hall), Jane Fonda (Coming Home, Klute) and Oscar nominee Candice Bergen (Starting Over) and Oscar winner Mary Steenburgen (Melvin and Howard).

As the four best friends emerge out of lockdown in the early 2020’s they decide that it is a fitting time to travel to Italy before Viv weds her gorgeous boyfriend Arthur played by Don Johnson (Django Unchained).

Book Club: The Next Chapter takes the four friends from the familiar ground of New York City to the beautiful sites of Italy starting off in Rome in which they think that their holiday is going well. That is until their luggage gets stolen as they board a train to Venice.

It is in the deceptive beauty of Venice that things go awry as Sharon chats up an interesting man at the local bar Ousmane played by Hugh Quarshie and Carol reunites with an old Italian flame at his restaurant in Venice, Chef Gianni played by Vincent Riotta. While Diane has to reassure Viv about having pre wedding jitters. The scene with acting legends Diane Keaton and Jane Fonda is worth seeing but ironically out of the four main stars, it the raspy voiced and slightly cynical Sharon wonderfully played by Candice Bergen who steals the show and is the best in the film.

After the Venetian adventures, the four ladies set off for Florence and Tuscany for Viv to fulfil her destiny only to be stopped short by some gorgeous looking buff Italian cops. Fortunately an unlikely knight in shining armour, the Italian Police Chief played by Oscar nominee Giancarlo Giannini (Seven Beauties) rescues them and safely transfers them to Tuscany, whereby the men in their lives are there to meet them.

Book Club: The Next Chapter is a very light hearted romantic comedy specifically aimed at the older generation featuring a host of A list stars who seem effortlessly at ease in front of the camera. Let’s face it Jane Fonda has been acting since she appeared as Roger Vadim’s Barbarella in 1968.

While the film’s script needed some work, the Italian scenery certainly makes up for any faults and is gorgeous to look at. Book Club: The Next Chapter is an enjoyable romantic comedy set in Italy and just proves that it’s never too late to find love. Book Club: The Next Chapter gets a film rating of 6.5 out of 10 and is as whimsical as a gelato, but just as enjoyable.

Fifty Shades of Gorgeous

Book Club

Director: Bill Holderman

Cast: Jane Fonda, Diane Keaton, Candice Bergen, Mary Steenburgen, Andy Garcia, Craig T. Nelson, Don Johnson, Richard Dreyfuss, Alicia Silverstone

Screenwriter Bill Holderman who assisted Michael Arndt in the cinematic adaptation of Bill Bryson’s novel A Walk in the Woods, shows his adept hand at directing in the star studded Book Club featuring some legendary Hollywood stars including Oscar winners Jane Fonda (Coming Home, Klute) and Diane Keaton (Annie Hall) along with Candice Bergen (Gandhi, Rules Don’t Apply) and Oscar winner Mary Steenburgen (Melvin and Howard).

The four female leads play lifelong friends who form a Book Club based on their mutual love for Erica Jong’s scandalous seminal feminist novel Fear of Flying published in 1973 which controversially delved into female sexuality. Over forty years later, the four friends played by these wonderful and still radiant stars, reunite and discuss the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy.

In an ironic twist of casting, Don Johnson, father of Dakota Johnson who stars in the Fifty Shades Trilogy is featured as Jane Fonda’s character Vivian’s love interest Arthur, as he attempts to repeatedly woo the wealthy Californian hotelier.

Certainly, Book Cub is aimed at a particular demographic and age group, but what is so refreshing to see is that all these actresses appearing together onscreen in another female driven narrative comedy which is an older, yet quite different version of the all-female cast of the recent Oceans 8 film.

Set mainly in California and Arizona, Book Club is surprisingly enjoyable (even if you are not a wealthy American woman over the age of 70) but it is important that these films continue to be made as it allows older actresses to dazzle viewers onscreen.

And speaking of dazzling, Jane Fonda at 80 years old looks absolutely gorgeous and truly holds her own in this sparkling film as does Diane Keaton as she creates perfect onscreen chemistry in the scenes with her macho pilot Mitchell played by Andy Garcia (The Godfather Part III, Kill the Messenger).

As the Book Club ladies, over bottles of Chardonnay, reassess their love lives in the light of literary stimulation courtesy of Fifty Shades of Grey, Book Club remains a charming, whimsical film about finding or reigniting love in the evening of one’s life.

All the leading ladies look more like Fifty Shades of Gorgeous and certainly Book Club is highly recommended as a 21st century re-examination of female sexuality framed by a contemporary social movement which is increasingly dominating pop culture – the MeToo Movement, making this film all the more relevant.

Book Club receives a film rating of 7 out of 10 and audiences should see it to witness the fabulous Jane Fonda shine onscreen again like she did in Paolo Sorrentino’s superb 2015 film Youth.


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December 2023
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