Friday, September 18, 2009

A Single, Serious, Solitary Man

This year we have Tom Ford's A Single Man, the Coen's A Serious Man, and Michael Douglas in Solitary Man. Confused yet? A Single Man has the very attractive cast, A Serious Man has the unknown cast, and Solitary Man...well that has Michael Douglas. If things go well for all three come awards season there's going to be a hell of a lot of confusion on those voting ballots. And just imagine the confusion when they announce the winners - I can just see the embarrassing blunders.

Anyway, considering all the chatter, I figured I would add more confusion and share some interviews and reviews.

Director Tom Ford discusses A Single Man with Indiewire’s Peter Gnegt (via AD):

“No matter how much you love something, there are those moments where you think, ‘shit, maybe I’m just way out on a limb and other people aren’t going to feel this way’,” Tom Ford said yesterday regarding his film “A Single Man.” “But then after the screening in Venice, we had a standing ovation for ten minutes. And it was amazing. It was very emotional, and it was just like a great release of ‘yes, it spoke to other people.’”

Ford optioned the novel from Don Bachardy, the deceased Isherwood’s longtime lover. Barchardy was somewhat hesitant given that “A Single Man” was Isherwood’s favorite book, and something very personal to himself as well (the character of Jim is largely based on him). And even though Ford chose to take significant (and necessary) creative liberties with the original work, Barchardy is quite pleased with the final product.

“I know what I want to say in fashion,” Ford said, “and I have said it over the years but I had to really stop and think: Why does anybody want to see a Tom Ford movie? Who needs another movie? What do I have to say? So finding something that had a message that I felt was important was really the most imperative thing. I read a lot of scripts. I had optioned a couple books I was working on adapting. And still nothing felt quite right. Until one day I was driving to my office and I realized I was thinking about this character George in ‘A Single Man’ - which I had read in my early twenties when I was living in Los Angeles.”
Tom Ford and star Colin Firth also answered questions at the Single Man press conference in Toronto a few days ago.

I realized that I haven't discussed the Coen's A Serious Man nearly as much as I've wanted - Richard Corliss from Time ends his review with this (also via AD):
As Fate keeps stomping him, he embraces Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle. What he tells his class about the theory — "Even if you can't figure it out, you're still responsible for it on the midterm" — applies, in spades, to his crumbling life. And yet for most of the movie he hangs in there, behaving honorably, seeking the wisdom of his ancestors, trying to observe the Jewish concept of Hashem. "Receive with simplicity everything that happens to you," says Elie Wiesel's Rashi. To absorb God's body blows, this disquieting, haunting movie says, is to be fully alive. To do otherwise could kill you.
Can't say I'm a huge Coen Bros. fan, and of the films they've crafted, I tend to like the ones nobody remembers or cares for. So, I'm naturally wary of the heaps of praise it's gotten so far.

And finally, John Foote from In Contention talks about Michael Douglas who he feels is the only good thing about Solitary Man:
He’s back this year with “Solitary Man” (*), and I am happy to report he is terrific in the film, playing the sort of role he is very good at, and that no doubt challenges him as an actor, because Douglas makes it very clear these days that he needs something very special to get him out of his house. However Douglas is the ONLY good thing in the film.

There is nothing particularly strong about the film visually, so it is left to Douglas to entertain us, and he manages to do that. It’s one of those films like “Street Smart,” a weak film with a brilliant Morgan Freeman performance. And the supporting cast has so little to do, one wonders why they even bothered to make the film? Only Danny DeVito seems to have a character that can really relate to Douglas, and that is stretching it.

Here we have a brilliant, daring performance from Douglas in a film that is a genuine chore to sit through. As much as I like him, I am not sure I could get through this one again. Pity.

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