Posts Tagged ‘Kathy Bates’

The Women of Ballygar

The Miracle Club

Director: Thaddeus O’Sullivan

Cast: Oscar winner Maggie Smith (California Suite, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie), Oscar winner Kathy Bates (Misery), Oscar nominee Laura Linney (The Savages, Kinsey) , Stephen Rea, Mark O’Halloran, Mark McKenna, Oscar winner Brenda Fricker (My Left Foot), Agnes O’Casey

Running Time: 1 hour and 30 minutes

Film Rating: 7 out of 10

Irish film and TV director Thaddeus O’Sullivan assembles an all-star female cast for his film The Miracle Club which had its world premiere at the less glitzy predominantly independent Tribeca Film Festival in New York early in 2023.

The Miracle Club focuses on three women from Ballygar in Dublin, Ireland in 1967 who after entering a talent show by coincidence manage to win a trip to Lourdes in France, the holy place where it is rumoured that the Virgin Mary performed miracles on the sick and vulnerable making it an attractive Catholic pilgrimage site.

The ladies in question are Lily Fox wonderfully played by double Oscar winner and veteran Hollywood and British star Maggie Smith (Gosforth Park, California Suite, A Room with a View); Chrissie Ahern expertly played by American actress and Oscar nominee Laura Linney who returns to Ireland after a long exile in Boston in America and the fast witted but wicked Eileen Dunne superbly played complete with an Irish accent by Oscar winner Kathy Bates (Misery).

As the women of Ballygar leave their men at home to fend for themselves, their holy pilgrimage to Lourdes start revealing some dark secrets about their past particularly the relationship between Chrissie and Lily’s dead son Declan, providing some brilliant scenes between Laura Linney and Maggie Smith and also between Chrissie and Eileen. The lighter moments are provided by a younger woman Dolly Hennessey played by Agnes O’Casey who brings her mute little son with her in the hopes that he will be able to talk once touched by the divine waters at Lourdes.

The Miracle Club is a light comedy drama with brilliant performances by the three main leading actresses and the funnier moments are provided by some of the male actors including Oscar nominated star Stephen Rea (The Crying Game) as Eileen’s forlorn husband Frank and Dolly’s young husband George played by Mark McKenna who has to deal with a young daughter while he hopes his wife and young son return safely from France.

As secrets are revealed and past grudges are dealt with in true Irish fashion, The Miracle Club is a rewarding and interesting film about three women who find forgiveness, independence and the strength to continue in the light of pressing health issues, chauvinism and family demands.

While not as comedic as one expected, The Miracle Club delivers a concise and entertaining film about female community, divine intervention and redemption.

Director Thaddeus O’Sullivan’s lovely Irish drama The Miracle Club gets a film rating of 7 out of 10 and is set in Dublin and Lourdes in France. Recommended viewing for those that enjoy a relaxing comedy drama.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

On The Basis of Sex

Director: Mimi Leder

Cast: Felicity Jones, Armie Hammer, Justin Theroux, Kathy Bates, Sam Waterston, Jack Reynor, Cailee Spaeny, Chris Mulkey

Oscar nominee Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything) takes on the role of gender activist lawyer Ruth Bader Ginsburg in director Mimi Leder’s informative if slightly over talkative legal biography On The Basis of Sex.

Armie Hammer (The Social Network, Call Me By Your Name) stars as her supportive lawyer husband Martin Ginsburg.

Also in the cast are Justin Theroux (The Girl on the Train) as Mel Wulf a fellow human rights lawyer and Oscar winner Kathy Bates (Misery) as Dorothy Kenyon a lawyer that unsuccessfully tried to challenge the state and federal laws which discriminate against people on the basis of their gender.

Pay it Forward and Deep Impact director Mimi Leder does a reasonably good job of handling the legal subject matter although the material does not dazzle onscreen and this film will really only appeal to those interested in the legal precedent that Ruth Bader Ginsburg won and how she successfully reversed gender discrimination.

Felicity Jones does a brilliant job of portraying Ruth Bader Ginsburg, yet unfortunately On The Basis of Sex which was released amidst all the Oscar nominated films for 2019 does not shine as a particularly memorable film. On the Basis of Sex is a fascinating if slightly too talkative portrayal of a female lawyer who challenged the American legal established and reversed most federal and state laws which were based on pure gender discrimination, unfairly favouring men over women.

Jack Reynor (Detroit, A Royal Night Out, Macbeth) and Sam Waterston (Miss Sloane, The Killing Fields) play chauvinist lawyers Jim Bozarth and Erwin Griswold who are attempting to rebuke Ginsburg legal argument.

On The Basis of Sex gets a film rating of 7 out of 10 and given the acting talent in this film, this legal biographical drama could have been brilliant but falls short of the mark.

Yet, the film remains a fascinating portrait of a female lawyer who fought the establishment in the early 1970’s and irrevocably altered the legal precedent in America just as the climate of social change was sweeping through this influential democratic country.

Catching the Talent

Boychoir

boychoir

Director: Francois Girard

Cast: Dustin Hoffman, Eddie Izzard, Debra Winger, Kathy Bates, Josh Lucas, Kevin McHale, Garrett Wareing

Oscar winner Dustin Hoffman (Rain Man, Midnight Cowboy) teams up with Oscar winner Kathy Bates (Misery, Titanic, Midnight in Paris) along with the rarely seen actress Debra Winger (Shadowlands, The Sheltering Sky) in a heart warming tale of an 11 year old boy Stet, superbly played by Garrett Wareing who after the death of his young mother and abandonment of his cold hearted father Gerard, played by Josh Lucas (A Beautiful Mind, The Lincoln Lawyer) is sent to an exceptionally Boychoir school to study singing, an American version of the Drakensberg Boys Choir set in Connecticut on the East Coast.

Hoffman plays the hard edged choir master Carvelle who recognizes the shimmering talent in Stet and soon after a series of missteps, casts him as the solo lead in a Choir Concert by Handel that the travelling Boychoir is performing in in New York city. French Canadian director Francois Girard’s  (Silk, The Red Violin) nuanced film Boychoir which premiered at the 36th Durban International Film Festival DIFF is an absolute treat of a film and will be highly appreciated by audiences that enjoy beautiful music and singing of an elusive scale.

Boychoir is a scaled down version of Dead Poets Society, a brilliant portrait of one man, Carvelle who is desperate to catch the singing talent that these boys have before they reach puberty and of a boy, Stet, who struggles to survive in a hostile yet ultimately rewarding environment who eventually wins back the affection of his estranged father.

Boychoir also stars Eddie Izzard (Valkyrie, Ocean’s Thirteen) and Kevin McHale from the hit TV series Glee and is a highly recommended film sure to warm any viewer’s perceptions of a child prodigy struggling against endless adversity.

 

Recapturing the Magic

Midnight in Paris

Owen Wilson has never been a brilliant actor. Mainly a comic actor and often cast in similar roles in a long series of American comedies from You, Me and Dupree to The Wedding Crashers. Under the right direction and script, Wilson is the type of actor that would shine. This is proven in Woody Allen’s simply delightful nostalgic film Midnight in Paris, which won him the 2012 Oscar for best original screenplay.

Wilson, like Jason Biggs and similar actors including Larry David plays a version of Woody Allen, a young idealistic  and neurotic playwright/author who is on holiday in Paris in the 21st century with his fiancée a wealthy American played by the effervescent Rachel McAdams. Wilson plays starry-eyed Gil who wants to recapture the Paris of the twenties, the enchanting city of lights as the epicentre of literary and artistic culture and bohemian ideas as it was decades ago. The Paris of Henry Miller, Pablo Picasso, Ernest Hemingway and Gertrude Stein. The Paris immortalized by F. Scott Fitzgerald in such novels as Tender is the Night.

Partly to avoid his annoying future in-laws, the hapless Gil strolls the streets of the French capital and by some magical twist at the stroke of midnight is transported back to the late 1920’s where his literary figures come to life. With real interaction with the artists and writers of the 1920’s and also of the earlier more elegant Belle Epoque, Gil is inspired to forgo all the promised commercialism of an America career and remain in gorgeous Paris,  a move that so many of his literary heroes did more than 80 years ago.

Midnight in Paris is a homage to Paris as an inspirational city not just for a whole generation of American literary greats, but Spanish artists such as Dali and Picasso but also filmmakers such as Luis Bruneul. Woody Allen deftly integrates a French and American ensemble cast including Oscar winner Marion Cotillard as Picasso’s muse, Adrien Brody as Dali, Allison Pill as Zelda Fitzgerald, Michael Sheen, Kathy Bates as Gertrude Stein and even Carla Bruni.

Moving away from his Manhattan obsessions, Woody Allen is clearly enchanted with such European cities as Paris, Barcelona and London completes his European set of films with Midnight in Paris, an equally brilliant companion to Vicky Christina Barcelona and Matchpoint, with each film not just capturing the essence of these cities but also the ambiance and social characteristics of its famed residents, whilst throwing an American hero or heroine into an essentially foreign continental culture.

 

Through the White Picket Fence

Revolutionary Road

revolutionary_road

Last year there was ample hype about the Sam Mendes film, Revolutionary Road starring Kate Winslet and Leonardo di Caprio. Whilst the Oscar buzz only got a best supporting actor nod for Michael Shannon, the film itself about the brittle deterioration of a marriage in 1950s suburban Connecticut was seamless and superbly acted. Kate Winslet reprised a similar role as she did in Todd Field’s brilliant 2006 film, Little Children as a anxious housewife trapped in the monotony of a soulless marriage.

The Random act of Infidelity

The Random act of Infidelity

Whilst both films are worthy of attention, more notably Little Children, the novel, Revolutionary Road is an absolute must-read. Deftly crafted with superb subtle characters whilst referring to major themes of discontent, disillusion and the nature of insanity.

~

The novel, Revolutionary Road, written by Richard Yates and is an ironic, sometimes humourous and especially scathing look at the hollowness of the Great American Dream especially piognant in its depiction of a society bound by the virtues of marriage, fidelity, corporate ambition and the myth of the white picket fence. Highly recommended novel, even better than the film adaptation.

 

Revolutionary Road will resonate now, nearly  fifty years on, as when it was first praised in 1962. The prose is wonderfully crafted with such detail and poignancy that clearly aims to undercut the sophisticated era it was meant to evoke.

Both the novel and the film version of Revolutionary Road are highly recommended but its always best to read the novel first before seeing the cinematic version.

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