Posts Tagged ‘Rita Wilson’

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.

Dancing Zorbas

My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2

my_big_fat_greek_wedding_two

Director: Kirk Jones

Cast: Nia Vardalos, John Corbett, John Stamos, Rita Wilson, Michael Constantine, Lainie Kazan, Joey Fatone, Alex Wolff, Elena Kampouris, Andrea Martin

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Canadian Greek actress Nia Vardalos has made a small dent on contemporary cinema with her range of comedies including the hit My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Connie and Carla and My Life in Ruins.

Now after an extended break between the first film made in 2002, Vardalos follows up the smash hit with the belated sequel My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 about an extended Greek family set in Chicago and produced by Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson.

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My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 follows the raucous family of Toula a retrenched travel agent who has to work in her father’s restaurant Dancing Zorba’s and even gets her pouty teenage daughter Paris played by newcomer Elena Kampouris to assist her. Paris is on the brink of finishing high school and must soon choose a suitable college for her tertiary education.

Naturally Toula’s family all want Paris to remain in Chicago and study at North-Western University, while her hilarious grandfather Gus, wonderfully played by Michael Constantine only wants his granddaughter to marry a Greek boy.

The wedding plot which the title refers to does not involve Paris although initially audiences are led to believe that, but rather Toula’s parents Gus and her mother Maria exuberantly played by Lainie Kazan, who after attending the Greek orthodox church one Sunday discover that they were never officially married when Gus forgot to sign his name on the marriage certificate.

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Directed by British director Kirk Jones responsible for such hit comedies as Waking Ned Devine and Everybody’s Fine, My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 is a hilarious and fun filled family film with running jokes about the perils of living with an extended family and also about the importance of rekindling love in one’s own marriage, especially between Toula and her Waspish American husband Ian played by John Corbett (Sex and the City 2, The Burning Plain).

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Look out for a fabulous Andrea Martin (Wag the Dog) as the straight talking Aunt Voula who perceives that Toula’s brother Angelo played by former NSYNC singer Joey Fatone is of a different persuasion.

Nia Vardalos manages to fill the screen with her wide eyed gaze as she continually portrays the overbearing Greek mother Toula trying to help her daughter through the important transition from High School to College, while not making the same mistakes as her own mother Maria. As an inter-generational family comedy, My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 hits the mark, especially with a lively collection of supporting actors including John Stamos, Rita Wilson, Joey Fatone and Alex Wolff, but certainly not as funny as the original film.

Audiences expecting a sequel get a funny and warm comedy without too many surprises or originality. Perhaps the gap between the two films is too long but then again, that Greek family needed some time to grow. Recommended viewing for extremely light entertainment.

 

 

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