FILM: I’ll See You in My Dreams
CAST: Blythe Danner, Sam Elliott, Martin Starr.
DIRECTION: Brett Haley
Carol (Blythe Danner) has been a widow for 20 years and long retired from teaching, but her bedside alarm still bleats at 6am each day.
The Southern California woman has her routine — coffee and a morning newspaper, lunch near her backyard pool, the occasional game of golf and evening bridge games with three female friends, and her sweet dog. When she has to put her ailing, 14-year-old pet golden retriever, Hazel, down, she finds herself at loose ends.
In I’ll See You in My Dreams, she befriends Lloyd (Martin Starr) her pool cleaner, tries and is horrified by speed dating and meets a single man, Bill (Sam Elliott), who seems too good to be true. He’s handsome, charming, is a take-charge guy without being disagreeable and owns a beautiful boat named “So What” after the Miles Davis composition.
Bill also has an interesting take on people who retire with all their money and then don’t know what to do with themselves.
That chapter of life, along with the subjects of death, dating and how time speeds up, are among the ones batted around in the screenplay by director Brett Haley and Marc Basch.
“No matter what you do, it’s all going to just run together by the time you’re 50. Time just goes by quicker,” Carol tells Lloyd, who studied poetry in college and returned home to be with his widowed mother who’s been having some health problems.
Oddly enough, medical woes are not a regular topic of discussion for Carol and her pals played by June Squibb, Rhea Perlman and Mary Kay Place (for the record, Danner is 73 years old, Squibb is 85 and the other two, 67). They get one of those mature ladies-gone-slightly-wild scenes that seems designed to inject some automatic laughs and while it’s funny, it feels a little forced and false, especially for the most conservative of the quartet.
However, women of a certain age are an endangered species on the big screen and while Carol’s East Coast daughter (Malin Akerman) shows up, she doesn’t become the focus.
I’ll See You in My Dreams, which takes its title from a Keegan DeWitt song, is a showcase for Danner, who even delivers a sultry version of a classic at a bar’s karaoke night. She brings a quiet dignity, widow’s mournfulness, banked romantic fires and a streak forged from independence, stubbornness and vulnerability to the role.
Carol’s relationship with Starr’s character (the now grown-up actor from Freaks and Geeks was in Adventureland and Lifeguard) stays sweet and heartfelt. Her female friends, alas, are sketched in broad terms.
As you might expect from a story set partially at a retirement community, death calls in a surprising, sudden way but so, too, does a renewed vigour for life. And that is a reminder that requires no senior citizen discount to savour. -Pittsburgh Post-Gazette/TNS
Promising premise, but fails to deliver
FILM: The Veil
CAST: Jessica Alba, Lily Rabe, Aleksa Palladino, Reid Scott, Thomas Jane
DIRECTION: Phil Joanou
No one still knows how or why cult mastermind Jim Jacobs and four dozen of his followers took their own lives in 1985 in the US. The mass suicide leaves five-year-old Sarah as the group’s sole survivor. Almost 25 years later, documentarian Maggie Price (Jessica Alba) is keen to find out the truth, and she seeks the help of Sarah (Lily Rabe) in finding lost recordings that might solve the mystery. Sarah is reluctantly ready to revisit the former compound for the first time since the tragedy as Maggie’s film crew tags along. What none of them yet realises is that even though Jacobs and his cult are dead, their curse most certainly continues.
In search of answers, Price and her crew stumble upon a pile of old film recordings that reveal Jacobs’ plans, but their poking awakens an evil force. There’s far more to that fateful day than police reports show, and Price is about to find out the hard way.
Thomas Jane is the only performer who walks away from this nightmare unscathed, taking the form of a linen-wearing, existentialist preacher-type who claims to have cracked the afterlife’s code. His long-winded but enthralling monologues are loaded with soothing notes, as he proclaims to have discovered a path to rebirth.
Scares come at a minimum, and the ones that do offer a jolt simply aren’t earned. Joanou loves to slow-pan onto something inanimate before having it jump alive, which becomes a nail-biting bit of frustration as we sniff scares like fresh-baked cookies from the room over. — RN
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