Archive | March, 2013

Frankie & Alice & Halle & More Movie Bucket List

11 Mar
Per 2012's Cloud Atlas, 2010's Frankie and Alice (above) and a few others, Halle Berry doesn't necessarily have the best eye for material that translates into mainstream success, but she's not afraid to challenge herself with risky projects; plus, she has an amazing talent for flooding her characters with emotion, which paid off magnificently when her gutsy, no holds barred, performance in Monster's Ball

Per 2012’s Cloud Atlas, 2010’s Frankie and Alice (above), and a few others, Halle Berry doesn’t necessarily have the best eye for material that translates into mainstream commercial success, but she’s not afraid to challenge herself with risky projects; plus, she has an amazing talent for flooding her characters with emotion, which paid off magnificently when her gutsy, no holds barred, performance in Monster’s Ball elevated second rate material to Oscar worthy greatness. Frankie and Alice was similarly primed for awards consideration,  but, alas, to no avail. More than two years after its brief Oscar qualifying run, Frankie and Alice has still not been released on DVD/Blu Ray, and that’s shameful.

Well, as usual, Halle Berry looked smashing at the most recent Academy Awards.  Ostensibly, she was at the ceremony to participate in the salute to the James Bond franchise, per he role as “Jinx” in 2002’s Die Another Day. Of course, Berry also has a new movie,  The Call, to promote.  Berry’s latest looks like a routine “woman in jep” thriller.  Well, I’m sure she’ll be happy if it’s a hit. [Update: Budgeted at a relatively modest 13 million, The Call opened in the no. 2 slot on the charts and went on to earn approximately 52 million, per Box Office Mojo.] Last year (2012), Berry earned good notices in the heavily hyped Cloud Atlas, in which she and other high profile–and Oscar winning–thesps such as Tom Hanks, Jim Broadbent, and Susan Sarandon, played multiple roles in a sweeping series of tales spanning all manners of time and space. For example, Berry played six characters, ranging from a  19th century “Native Woman,” to a pair of characters living hundreds of years in the future with a pit stop in the 1970s for good measure.

I didn’t see Cloud Atlas when it was released last fall. I was intrigued by the cast and the fact that it was a collaboration between the Wachowskis (Andy and Lana of  The Matrix) and Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run). I was also excited by all the super makeup effects. Still, I hesitated for one reason or another, not the least of which was the time consideration. Unfortunately, the movie clocked in at roughly three hours (171 minutes), and while long movies are not necessarily a turn-off to me, I do find that I have less time to see a movie these days than I used to have, so I put it on the back burner until I could catch it at my local $1.00 theater, but then it just didn’t seem as urgent once other movies started opening closer to the holidays. Well,  I guess Cloud Atlas belongs on my bucket list. I want to see Berry, and I want to see the work of makeup artists whose work was denied Oscar consideration.

Do you know what other Halle Berry movie holds a special place on my Movie Bucket List? Frankie and Alice.  What’s that you say? Never heard of it? Maybe? Not sure?  Let’s rewind. Back in the fall of 2010, the buzz was so strong for Natalie Portman’s intense performance in  the creepy Black Swan that many Oscar prognosticators were ready to declare her the sure-fire Best Actress winner long before a single ballot had been marked. Then, word began building that Portman’s frontrunner status could very well be upset by the impending release of Berry’s Frankie and Alice, showcasing the actress in the flashy role of a woman with Multiple Personality Disorder.  The twist being that one of Berry’s multiples is an old-timey Southern white woman who’s also a racist, ironic given that the famously bi-racial Berry has long identified as black. Interesting. Plus, of course, going back to the fall of 2010, many of us have been waiting for Berry to star in a worthy follow-up to her Oscar winning–and groundbreaking–turn in 2001’s Monster’s Ball.  To be candid, of course, there was always the possibility that the excitement around Berry’s flick, while reported in the mainstream media, was an exaggeration generated by a publicist-for-hire.  It would not be the first time a movie arrived with more manufactured than actual interest.

Still, as the 2010/11 awards derby loomed closer and closer, Berry started making the rounds of morning talk shows and more details about Frankie and Alice emerged: the character was described as an exotic dancer. Furthermore, Berry actually served as one of the film’s producers, and the project was based on a true story. As I recall, Berry explained that she had actually been in contact with the character’s real-life inspiration.  I was actually briefly incapacitated for a spell that December, watching a lot of lightweight movies on basic cable (The Wedding PlannerFool’s Gold, Raising Helen, etc.), and there were plenty of Frankie and Alice promos during commercial breaks.  I was primed and ready to go–and then, as earlier speculated, Berry scored a Golden Globe nod for Best Actress in a Motion Picture Drama along with Portman, natch, Nicole Kidman (Rabbit Hole), Jennifer Lawrence (Winter’s Bone), and Michelle Williams (Blue Valentine) [1]; however, despite all the early hoopla, Berry failed to place in the race for the SAG award, nor did she earn a spot on the final Oscar roll call.  Worse, yes, worse, than Berry not being nominated for a second Oscar, is that in spite of my best efforts, I somehow missed Frankie and Alice when it finally opened in Dallas. Or did I? Well, that’s how it seemed at the time. Many movies that are positioned for Oscar consideration often open in New York and LA for qualifying runs in November and December but don’t make it into national release until January and February of the following year in order to capitalize on the glitz and glamour of awards season and much anticipated nominations–Maggie Smith’s well reviewed performance in Dustin Hoffman’s directorial debut, Quartet, is one such example.  Even though a Best Actress Oscar nomination for Smith failed to materialize, the movie’s  national release was timed with that eventuality (Oscar nods) in mind.  At any rate, I looked and looked for Frankie and Alice in online and newspaper movie directories, but I never saw it listed.

[http://www.fandango.com/movie-trailer/frankieandalice-trailer/139403]

[^ Reporters and critics for the likes of Entertainment Weekly, Hollywood Reporter, and Variety hailed Halle Berry’s performance in Frankie and Alice as “spellbinding” and “virtuoso,” so how is it that the film has not been seen since its brief Oscar qualifying run in 2010?]

Later, I resigned myself to catching Frankie and Alice on DVD, so I started searching for it on Amazon. Nothing. Nothing? Over the next few months, I checked and checked again. Nada. That was when I decided to do some more investigating. I went to Box Office Mojo, and I was surprised by what I found: apparently, Frankie and Alice was in theatres–a theatre–for exactly one week in December of 2010, earning a paltry $10, 670. Nope, I had not missed it. I had never really been given the chance to see it.  My guess is that had Berry earned an Oscar nod, the movie would have gone into wider release in early 2011; since the nod never materialized, the plans were scrapped which is both unfortunate and short-sighted. After all, the movie had already been made, so why not make a concerted effort to recoup with or without a nod?

Worse, to this day, well over two years since Berry earned her Globe nod, Frankie and Alice is still not available on Amazon–or any other legitimate retailer.  How is this possible? Granted, aside from Berry’s lauded performance, the film as a whole did not earn enthusiastic notices, but that’s almost beside the point.  I  spend a lot of time at my neighborhood movie rental outfit (often browsing…I don’t always have to buy, or even rent, a flick), and I’m constantly amazed by a lot of what I see: movie after movie that seems like one bad idea after another. I’m always surprised that many of these movies ever got the greenlight to go into production in the first place, let alone have a second life on home video. You know you’ve had the same thought as well. How is it that junk movies that most people have never heard of, let alone seen, rate higher on the interest-meter than a once heavily hyped film starring an Oscar winning actress? On the other hand, there are plenty of movies that did only fair-to-middling, or worse, business in theatres only to find their audiences at last once they become available on home video. Two somewhat recent examples would include Fight Club and Office Space.   Why not Frankie and Alice?

Of course, I’m admittedly biased in this case too, and not just because I like Berry.  I understand that playing a woman with multiple personalities, or “dissociative identity disorder,” runs the risk of being barely more than a gimmicky stunt as evidenced by way too many sub-par TV movies (Sally Field’s landmark Sybil notwithstanding), but I’ve also studied and written about the subject myself, and find it fascinating if done well. That’s the key: it has to be done well, yet even a reviewer in The Huffington Post at least admitted that while the movie’s script, cobbled together as it was by no less than seven writers, was pretty much a mess, the final effect was  at certainy good enough to earn Berry her Golden Globe nomination–and that’s not nothing.

I’m not necessarily surprised that Frankie and Alice did not fare too well in its limited theatrical engagement, but I am surprised that “Freestyle,” which signed-on to release the film in the U.S. gave up on the film so quickly. That’s the part that is most discouraging. Berry’s fans are being deprived of seeing the actress in a role apparently custom-tailored to her particular talents; moreover, Frankie and Alice would appear to be more than a one woman show as the cast also includes the ever reliable Stellan Skarsgård along with the great–multiple award winning–actress Phylicia Rashad and popular Grey’s Anatomy scene stealer  Chandra Wilson.  Again, this is not nothing.  I want to point the finger at someone, but I do not know whom that would be, and I wouldn’t know where to begin. What would I play? The race card?  (Still?) The sexism card? (Really?) The ageist card? (Berry is over 40, always a risky age for an actress in Hollywood). All of the above? Maybe it’s just the typical Hollywood stupidity card. By the way, am I the only one that’s troubled by this?

Even though Frankie and Alice is not yet officially available on DVD, I have found a few offers for bootleg copies on the Internet, and that’s tricky. If the film were available through legitimate means, a bootleg would not even be a consideration for me.  I think artists should be paid for their work, of course, and I understand how pirated copies and the like have a ripple effect throughout the business–hey, I pay attention to the noisy ads that pop up in theatres and on DVDs–so I tend not to consider any of that as an option; however, this seems like a special circumstance. On the other hand, from what I’ve read, these bootleg editions are of a miserably poor quality, so that’s another consideration.  For now, Berry’s rumored tour de force remains on my Movie Bucket List…if it’s possible for a movie that’s technically unavailable to actually be on such a list. Btw: If it has ever been shown on television, I am unaware. I have a small glimmer of hope that The Call will be a success and reignite interest in Frankie and Alice.
If you have seen this movie or might know of its whereabouts, please contact me.

Thanks for your consideration…

[1] Ultimately, Portman duked it out at the Oscars against the like of Kidman, Lawrence, and Williams along with Annette Bening (The Kids Are All Right), who won the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Motion Picture Musical or Comedy.

The buzz begins in Entertainment Weekly:

http://insidemovies.ew.com/2010/10/25/halle-berrys-frankie-alice-enters-the-oscar-race/

Another “teaser” from EW:  http://insidemovies.ew.com/2010/11/15/halle-berry-oscar-best-actress-frankie-alice/

Frankie and Alice at Box Office Mojo: http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=frankiealice.htm

Huffington Post review by Marshall Fine:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/marshall-fine/huffpost-review-ifrankie_b_816186.html

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Oscar 2012/13: Fashion Gallery

3 Mar

Once upon a time, movie stars wore their own clothes to awards ceremonies such as the Oscars.  And why not? They make lots of money and should, therefore, be able to afford a nice frock, a dressy-dress, to wear for an important occasion. Joanne Woodward, much to the consternation of legendary movie queen Joan Crawford, actually made the emerald green dress she wore to the 1957/58 Oscar show when she won Best Actress for The Three Faces of Eve (1957).  Good for her.  The trend now, and for about two decades, is for actresses to “borrow” gowns from designers. I guess most of the participants consider it a pretty good gig as the actresses don’t have to shell out any money, and the designers get tons of free publicity when their names are bandied about all over the place when actresses answer the same question over and over on the runway: “Who are you wearing?”  These red carpet interviews, hours and hours worth, have devolved into nothing more than infomercials for  designers–and jewelers who provide millions of dollars worth of  “loaner” diamonds. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I love looking at the fashions, and my friends and I can spend hours talking about them, but I rarely partake of the full red-carpet extravaganza. I really think the whole thing of wealthy women, perhaps not all equally wealthy,  wearing borrowed clothes–that they have to give back the gowns if I understand the procedure correctly–in exchange for bragging about it on live television, is unbecoming.  That noted, I’ll give props to Reese Witherspoon who actually bought the  dress, a vintage Dior,  she wore the night she won Best Actress for 2005’s Walk the Line. As I recall, Witherspoon had previously been led to believe that the dress she wore to that season’s Golden Globe award was exclusive to her only to find out that another actress had already been photographed in the same garment on a prior event.

I don’t know if ALL actresses wear borrowed gowns to awards shows, or whether ALL the men wear borrowed items, but I know many of them do. I also know you will not find a designer’s name anywhere on this blog entry as I throw the spotlight on some of my favorites from this year’s ceremonies–in no particular order except for A+ Jane Fonda. These designers have already had enough free publicity. (On the other hand, I get super-stoked every year when I see the latest batch of reasonably affordable prom dresses that have been “inspired by,” if not ripped-off from, the ceremony’s fashion stand-outs. I prefer the term “interpretation.”) Oh, and I also don’t see the point in criticizing some of the more unfortunate fashion choices. I just want to keep the focus on the women I found glamorous and inspirational.  Though Art Deco metallic looks were definitely the rage,  to me, nobody “popped” quite like Jane Fonda who dazzled in a bold yellow colored gown.

^ Jane Fonda

^ Jane Fonda

^ Good Morning America's Robin Roberts

^ Good Morning America’s Robin Roberts

^ Best Actress nominee Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty)

^ Best Actress nominee Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty)

^ Octavia Spencer

^ Octavia Spencer

^ Halle Berry

^ Halle Berry

^ Best Actress nominee Naomi Watts (The Impossible)

^ Best Actress nominee Naomi Watts (The Impossible)

First Lady, Michelle Obama

First Lady Michelle Obama

^ Salma Hayek

^ Salma Hayek

^ Best Actress nominee Quvenzhané Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild)

^ Best Actress nominee Quvenzhané Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild)

^ Charlize Theron

^ Charlize Theron

^ Best Supporting Actress nominee Helen Hunt (The Sessions)

^ Best Supporting Actress nominee Helen Hunt (The Sessions)

^ Stacy Kiebler

^ Stacy Kiebler

^ Alicia Vikander

^ Alicia Vikander

Kiebler was at the Oscars neither as a nominee nor a presenter. Instead, she was on hand as the date of actor/producer George Clooney, one of the recipients of Argo‘s Best Picture award; meanwhile , even though Alicia Vikander is not necessarily a household name, she had the distinction of appearing in two of the year’s Oscar nominated films: Best Costume winner Anna Karenina  and Best Foreign Language Film nominee A Royal Affair (from Denmark).

Fashion question mark Nicole Kidman. I like the dress more than I dislike it, but the bottom of it looks-overworked. Plus, I'm not a fan of the hair.

Fashion question mark Nicole Kidman. I like the dress more than I dislike it, but the bottom of it looks-overworked. Plus, I’m not a fan of the hair. Kidman has definitely looked better than this at the Oscars.

What about you? Who are our picks for the evening’s best dressed?

Thanks for your consideration….