8 September 2017.
RULES DON’T APPLY **1/2
Warren Beatty is back with a genteel, retro, romantic tale based around the late life of Howard Hughes. He not only directs this colorful melodrama but also plays the role of Hughes with gusto, humor and tenderness. Though I am not so sure about the correlation between Beatty’s and Hughes’s ages…
It’s a two-pronged story – about Hughes’s strange descent into eccentricity, along with his bizarre relationships with his employees, as well as the numerous starlets that he kept hanging around him for various reasons – and the fictionalized romance of one of those girls with one of his chauffeurs and later assistant.
This sweet, almost naive story about an important figure in both Hollywood lore and American aviation history has the mixed flavor of an homage to a unique character and a mood piece about innocence, ambition and the Hollywood lifestyle of that era.
Its simplistic style reminiscent of the 50s and 60s is spot on, yet feels far removed from the political sophistication of Beatty’s earlier works such as his brilliant 1981 “Reds” or his later “Bulworth”.
This one is not easy to categorize – is it a mellow romantic comedy, a study of an exceptional eccentric or a deconstruction of the film industry? Whatever it is, it is entertaining, especially with the veteran actors which Beatty has placed into various cameos, such as Martin Sheen, Candice Bergen, Paul Sorvino, Ed Harris or even his wife Annette Bening in the role of the ingenue’s mother. The young lovers, played by Lily Collins and Alden Ehrenreich have just the right touch of freshness and innocence to keep one interested.
THE PRINCE OF NOTHINGWOOD ***1/2 (vo French, English, Afghani)
This documentary about a bigger-than-life entertainer from Afghanistan is an absolute delight!
And it’s all due to the charm and chutzpah of its subject, Salim Shaheen, who has made some 110 films in his country through all the years of invasions, war, and continuous conflict there.
To watch and listen to this chubby, exuberant actor, singer, director and producer, one would think all is well in his part of the world. And so it is, for he has a huge fan base amongst his countrymen who love his character and his B-style movies which he keeps churning out for the masses in the style of Bollywood.
French/Swedish director Sonia Kronlund has given him free reign in this meticulously wrought study of his filmmaking, his travels around the country, his friendships and even his family life. It is certainly an eye-opener concerning the ironies, contradictions of lifestyles and restricted male/female relations in that country. As a westerner, she observes and follows him everywhere and seems to have his complete trust and admiration, as well as that of his strange and exotic cast and crew.
This is both a highly amusing and revelatory look at the life and “art” of one huge character in Afghanistan. Quite brilliant, and not to be missed.
(Showing at the Grutli cinemas.)
Superb **** Very Good *** Good ** Mediocre * Miserable – no stars
Neptune Ravar Ingwersen reviews film extensively for publications in Switzerland. She views 4 to 8 films a week and her aim is to sort the wheat from the chaff for readers.