Posts Tagged ‘Michael Cera’

An Independent Woman

Gloria Bell

Director: Sebastian Lelio

Cast: Julianne Moore, John Turturro, Brad Garrett, Michael Cera, Rita Wilson, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Caren Pistorius, Barbara Sukowa, Sean Astin, Holland Taylor

Foreign Language film Oscar winner for A Fantastic Woman, Chilean director Sebastian Lelio recreates an English language version of his Chilean film Gloria called Gloria Bell set in contemporary Los Angeles and starring Oscar winner Julianne Moore (Still Alice).

Moore plays a fifty something divorced woman Gloria Bell who has a mundane insurance job during the day in a downtown L. A. company but who trawls the disco nightclubs in the evening sipping martini’s and dancing with strange men.

Whilst Julianne Moore is brilliant as Gloria Bell a woman who is prone to people pleasing which includes her rather awkward interactions with her grown up children Peter played by Juno star Michael Cera and Anne played by South African born immigrant Caren Pistorius (The Light Between Oceans, Mortal Engines).

Gloria even tries to placate her anxious co-worker Melinda who is on verge of losing her job in a particularly noteworthy scene on an office balcony overlooking downtown L. A. Melinda is played by famed German actress Barbara Sukowa (Atomic Blonde, Hannah Arendt, Lola).

When it comes to men, Gloria despite her disco dancing antics does not have as much luck as she meets the divorcee with serious baggage issues Arnold wonderfully played against type by John Turturro (Fading Gigolo, Barton Fink, Jungle Fever).

Gloria desperately tries to navigate this new relationship with the weird Arnold as he battles to cut ties with his ex-wife and children and is desperately jealous when Gloria introduces him to her ex-husband Dustin played by Brad Garrett and his new wife Fiona played by Jeanne Tripplehorn (Basic Instinct, The Firm, Mickey Blue Eyes). The only two women Gloria can rely on in times of crisis are her best friend Vicky played by Rita Wilson and her wealthy mother Hillary, a superb cameo by comedic star Holland Taylor.

Director Lelio lets many scenes linger too long for a film which lacks a fast moving storyline yet Gloria Bell is held together by a fabulous performance by Julianne Moore as she inhabits all the garish interior scenes of L. A. nightclubs and Vegas casinos.

Gloria Bell is an interesting portrait of a woman’s journey of self-discovery as she truly becomes an independent woman after she realizes that she cannot rely on her children or the men in her life.

Whilst I have not seen the original 2013 Chilean film Gloria which Sebastian Lelio also directed, audiences might find this Americanized version Gloria Bell slightly bland and very slow moving despite the superb performances and catchy musical score.

Gloria Bell gets a film rating of 6.5 out of 10 and is saved by Julianne Moore’s terrific performance but unfortunately becomes a slow moving story of a woman finding her own independence.

My impression was that Gloria Bell simply did not translate well into a contemporary American version despite the auteur efforts of director Sebastian Lelio.

The Whims of Powerful Men

Molly’s Game

Director: Aaron Sorkin

Cast: Jessica Chastain, Idris Elba, Kevin Costner, Michael Cera, Jeremy Strong, Graham Greene, Chris O’Dowd, Justin Kirk, J. C. MacKenzie

The Social Network, Moneyball and Steve Jobs screenwriter Aaron Sorkin makes his directorial debut in Molly’s Game featuring a powerfully hard core performance by Oscar nominee Jessica Chastain (The Help, Zero Dark Thirty) who is basically in every frame of the 2 hour and 20 minute expose of the decadent world of illicit high stakes poker.

Chastain plays Molly Bloom a savvy and smart young woman who in a bid to escape the clutches of her persuasive and pushy father Larry Bloom, a stand out performance by Oscar winner Kevin Costner (Dances with Wolves), leaves Colorado and heads to Los Angeles where she starts working for a slimeball misogynist Dean Keith played by Jeremy Strong who asks her to set up and run a regular Tuesday night poker game with a $10 000 buy in.

Soon the shrewd and street smart Bloom takes the poker game away from Keith and sets up her own High Class games at a luxurious suite at a Beverley Hills hotel aided by the dubious Player X played by Canadian actor Michael Cera (Superbad, Juno).

Sorkin tells and retells Molly’s rise and fall from power through a series of carefully crafted narrative flashbacks in between scenes with Molly Bloom and her New York defense attorney wonderfully played by Idris Elba (The Mountain Between Us, Star Trek Beyond).

With Sorkin’s trademark flair for snappy dialogue and producing a distinct visual style of his own, Molly’s Game is a fascinating portrait of a young woman who gets dangerously and illegally caught up in the world of high stakes poker where she eventually becomes subjected to the whims of vain and powerful men, most of whom are gambling addicts and would think nothing of sitting at a poker table until dawn betting their fortunes away just to prove who is a winning player.

Within this highly competitive masculine world, Molly Bloom gets indicted for organizing poker games with among others the Russian mafia in New York as well as Hollywood film stars, producers, rock stars and East Coast Trust fund babies.

Jessica Chastain is stunning in Molly’s Game and keeps the pace of this lengthy film, portraying a decadent Madame who presides over a glamorous boudoir for men to gamble, drink and flirt with gorgeous supermodels or as her book publisher says, she was the keeper of a very expensive and indulgent man cave.

At the heart of the story, which could have been edited in sections, is Molly’s complex relationship with her father who she was always goading from her rebellious teenage years to her earlier childhood attempts at becoming an Olympic ski jumper in Salt Lake City.

If audiences enjoyed The Social Network and Steve Jobs, then they will love Molly’s Game, a decadent tale of one woman who bet her good name and reputation on the house.

Molly’s Game gets a film rating of 7.5 out of 10 and is worth seeing for a remarkable performance by Jessica Chastain who really proves her talent as the heroine in this gritty, seductive tale about greed and power.

 

 

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