Tag: Robin Swicord


April 22nd, 2017 — 1:09am



Picture a successful suburban lawyer, married with two budding teenage daughters who one day decides not to come home as usual. Instead, he secretly hides in a storage loft of the garage of his house and observes his family as they frantically worry about him, mourn his loss, and then get on with their lives. Days and weeks pass as he secretly lives in the garage foraging in the late night for food in neighborhood garbage cans while keenly observing his family from his perch with a pair of binoculars. Is this an insecure or jealous man, or a man who is living out a not uncommon fantasy to take a break from life, or a mentally disturbed soul? Apparently, all of the above as interpreted by writer/director Robin Swicord who adapted a short story by American author E. L. Doctorow. According to her, she even had the blessing of this now deceased author with whom she consulted about this project before his death in 2015.

The centerpiece of this film is Bryan Cranston, as he inhabits Howard Wakefield and seems to be on screen 99% of the time. We observe him evolving from a sharp well-dressed family man and accomplished lawyer to a full bearded scavenger and voyeur. We also hear his voice in a continued monologue in the background, in addition to flashback scenes and dialogue between the various characters. Cranston is a tour de force with an outstanding very nuanced performance, which deserves to be recognized for award considerations. Diana, the wife and mother, is played by Jennifer Garner, although with minimal dialogue she conveys and radiates her charm and attractiveness which makes her husband’s abandonment all the more difficult to understand. There is also an interesting and touching interplay with two developmentally disabled teenagers being cared for by a psychologist neighbor. They are very well played by Pippa Bennett-Warner and Isaac Leyva.

It seemed to us that the storyline was somewhat repetitious, especially in regard to garbage being treasured as food to be eaten. The question that emerges from the plot is why did Howard Wakefield really do this? And what will his wife say if he emerges from the garage and declares, “I’m home.” Despite Cranston’s great acting with some clever writing and directing by Ms. Swicord, we are still not sure that this movie is worth the full exploration of this question. (2017)

Comment » | 2 Stars, Drama

The Jane Austen Book Club

September 9th, 2010 — 5:10am

The Jane Austen Book Club* * *
The Jane Austen Book Club
– nf – The filmmakers obviously did not feel that you had to be Jane Austen fans or at least familiar with her books to appreciate this movie. However one of us who did not read her books, felt that a great deal was missed in understanding the discussion about her various novels and how they were woven into the story. The other one of us while not recalling the stories didn’t feel left out at all. The plot revolves around five women at different places in their lives who decide to form a book club devoted entirely to Jane Austen novels. A chance meeting by one of the characters ends up including one male in the club. Each of the women is having relationship problems. Sylvia (Amy Brenneman) has just been told by her husband (Jimmy Smitts) that he is leaving her for another women. Prudie (Emily Blunt), a French high school teacher, is disappointed in her husband and finds herself attracted to a student. Sylvia’s daughter (Maggie Grace) who is a lesbian is having trouble with relationships. Jocelyn (Maria Bello) is a single dog breeder who hopes that the lone man in the group Grigg (Hugh Dancy) will be good for her friend Sylvia who is down in the dumps about being abandoned by her husband leaving but finds herself attracted to Grigg who is somewhat younger than she. Then there was Bernadette (Kathy Baker) who is the slightly older woman who has been through five marriages and is still thinking about someday making it six. The warmth and caring among the members of the club is very appealing. As they discuss the various Austen novels and their characters, it appears that their own lives are going through parallel struggles. The cast is a well chosen ensemble. The story is based on a book by Karen Joy Fowler. The screenwriter and director is Robin Swicord who has also written, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Memoirs of a Geisha. The setting is Los Angeles and includes a scene in the Marmalade Café that is one of our favorite restaurants, which added to our enjoyment of the film. 2007

Comment » | 3 Stars, Drama, Romance

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