tic comedy” today typically involves grown men who act like teenage boys failing to communicate with the women they chase, it’s almost alien to see Choose Me’s adults be both vulnerable and human, able to extend their hearts to somebody, if only for the night, without immediately becoming forever scarred when things maybe don’t end up going happily every after. A similar sense of blithe maturity powers Rudolph’s 1988 The Moderns. Set in Paris during the 1920s jazz age, it follow the misadventures of artist/ forger Nick (Keith Carradine), an American expatriate who bumps into the likes of Ernest Hemingway (Kevin J. O’Connor), Gertrude Stein (Elsa Raven), and Alice B. Toklas (Ali Giron) while chasing the wife (Linda Fiorentino) of an industrialist (John Lone). Paris in the ’20s is one of those overly romanticized clichés, where the Lost Generation drank and loved and made madcap fun alongside the surrealists, but Rudolph treats his characters with the same irreverent tenderness as Choose Me and Trouble in Mind’s lovelorn, wayward souls. It’s a decision that makes the era feel lived-in and approachable, not the relic of some imagined past. Bringing the past to devastatingly familiar life is what makes Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle one of Rudolph’s two finest outings to date. Ostensibly a Dorothy Parker biopic, Mrs. Parker takes place primarily in a 1920s Manhattan when the Algonquin
Round Table of critics, actors, editors and the like would gather to eat, drink and drink some more. Rudolph follows this self-absorbed circle through the rollercoaster professional and romantic life of Parker, played with a severe openness by Jennifer Jason Leigh, who was born to play Parker the way Gary Oldman was born to play Sid Vicious. Mrs. Parker is uncomfortably raw at times, so harsh are the turns that Parker’s life takes, but Rudolph affords such faith in Leigh’s performance that watching a woman’s descent into alcoholic depression becomes both comedic and tragic. Love is both, at least when Rudolph is at the top of his game, switching from life’s greatest pleasures to greatest pains at any moment. And he transports that two-sided coin to the present in what remains his finest statement on the fickle ways that love and sex run hot and cold, 1997’s Afterglow. The still luminous Julie Christie and the born-haggard Nick Nolte play an older married couple who live in Montréal. Phyllis is a former B-movie actress, Lucky is a general handyman and inveterate rake who sometimes services more than a housewife’s kitchen sink. It’s a perfectly understandable arrangement between two adults that gets all kinds of fouled up when Lucky starts some work, and maybe a little more, for Marianne (Lara Flynn Boyle), the stay-at-home wife of an uptight yuppie (Jonny Lee Miller), with whom Phyllis begins an affair. This schematic love rectangle would feel more coincidentally preposterous if Rudolph’s sense of romantic foibles weren’t so polished, refined and touching. Afterglow spends a good deal of time with its May-December affairs, but it’s the connection between Lucky and Trouble in Phyllis that anchors the movie—a portrait of two people Mind will be available on who may have endured more valleys than peaks, but who DVD December also put the time into not forgetting what has held them 14 from Shout! together for all those years. Factory. cowbell
Published on Nov 30, 2010
Published on Nov 30, 2010
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