Richard and CP24 anchor Nneka Elliot talk about the weekend’s big releases, Charlize Theron and Emily Blunt in “The Huntsman: Winter’s War,” the Tom Hanks dramedy “A Hologram for The King” and Sally Field in “Hello, My Name is Doris.”
Richard and “Canada AM” host Marci Ien talk about the weekend’s big releases, the pomp and circumstance of “The Huntsman: Winter’s War,” the Tom Hanks dramedy “A Hologram for The King,” Sally Field in “Hello, My Name is Doris” and the sexy sax sounds of “The Devil’s Horn.”
The title character of “Hello, My Name is Doris” is an unmarried woman of a certain age left alone when her elderly mother dies. It sounds depressing but a wonderful performance from Sally Field brings both comedy and heartache to the film.
Doris lives in Staten Island in the home she grew up in and shared with her mother until she passed away. A job as an accountant in “the city” keeps her busy, but she is lonely, surrounded by mounds of stuff she and her mother hoarded over the years, loved only by her pet cat and best friend Roz (Tyne Daly).
When Doris meets John Fremont (Max Greenfield), a new hire at her company, she is immediately smitten despite the several decades difference in their ages. She moons over him, awkward and afraid, but with the words of a self help guru echoing in her ears—“Don’t ask Why me, ask Why not me?”—she courts him, i.e. stalks him on the internet. When she goes to a concert by one of his favourite artists they hit it off… but only as friends. The quirky Doris is a hit with John’s hipster pals but it turns out John has a girlfriend (Beth Behrs), dive bombing Doris’s hope of getting closer to her work crush.
“Hello, My Name is Doris” is a slight movie, but much funnier than you might imagine given the subject matter. It’s a showcase for Sally Field’s loosest performance in years. Whether she is frozen, lost in the reverie, or dancing to electropop for the first time, she delivers a fine comedic performance. Simmering under the comedy, however, is subtly rendered heartbreak. She’s a woman who feels life passed her by while taking care of her mother and a cloud of sadness and disappointment hangs over her.
Will Doris’s life plan set her on a path to disappointment and rejection or will this be an update of “Harold and Maude”? No spoilers here but suffice to say what “Hello, My Name is Doris” lacks in twists and turns it makes up for with inventive, likeable performances, particularly from Field and co-star Daly.
Early on in the film John says, “I like you Doris.” I predict by the end of the film you will too.
Seen as a pair “Lincoln” and “War Horse” appear to usher in a new phase in Steven Spielberg’s career. No longer the Young Turk who made “Jaws,” or the blockbuster king of “Indiana Jones” or the family friendly maker of “ET,” he now is entering his golden age, or at least his homage to the golden age of Hollywood and the movies of his old-school heroes.
Despite a running time of two-and-a-half hours, “Lincoln” focuses on a short period of time in the president’s career. Spielberg and “Angel’s in America” writer Tony Kushner have zeroed in on the months surrounding the backroom politics that allowed passage of the 13th Amendment—“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”—through the House of Representatives. Several stories run parallel, but the thrust of the narrative focuses on the passage of this historic document.
The first glimpse of Daniel Day-Lewis as Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States, feels like watching a Yankee five-dollar bill come to life. Day-Lewis takes a familiar character, seen on money, enshrined in marble at the National Mall in Washington, portrayed on stage and screen*, and brings him to vivid life.
It’s a remarkable performance that blends familiar historical details with personality to create real flesh and blood character, complete with all the iconic traits history has endowed on him, and quirkier qualities—his habit of telling long anecdotes, his occasional prickliness. It falls in line with history’s attempts to bestow sainthood on Honest Abe, but doesn’t ignore the president’s human side.
Day-Lewis’s work brings the myth of the man to life in a film filled with remarkable acting. Despite the worst wig in cinema history Tommy Lee Jones as Thaddeus Stevens, the radical Republican who wanted to give voting rights to freed slaves, makes the speeches in legislature sparkle with life and righteous indignation.
Sally Field sheds light on the misunderstood Mary Todd Lincoln–“All anyone will remember of me is that i was crazy and ruined your happiness,” she says—and James Spader provides a much-needed light touch as a proto lobbyist.
The glimpse of backroom politics, 19th century style, is fascinating, although restless viewers may find some of the colourful dialogue daunting. Many of the speeches sounds like Conrad Black on a bafflegab bender, so bring a dictionary if words like pulchritude throw you for a loop.
The final vote is somewhat drawn out for dramatic effect, but considering it is one of the most important ballots in American history–make that human history–it deserves the space to breathe dramatically.
Spielberg’s treatment of the story is respectful, but nuanced. He doesn’t shy away from showing Abe and Mary arguing, for instance, but the well-crafted film feels old-fashioned, like a throwback to another era when epic filmmaking didn’t necessarily mean showing planets exploding but showcasing epic ideas.
*Most famously by Canadian-born Raymond Massey, who played him multiple times on stage and on film. In fact, he was so attached to the character a colleague joked that Massey wouldn’t be satisfied with his Lincoln impression until someone assassinated him
The two-time Oscar winner has been on sets her entire adult life, from her iconic work on television shows like Gidget and The Flying Nun when she was a teen to recent roles in hits like The Amazing Spider-Man but even with that wealth of experience she says the set of Lincoln was “the most breathtaking place to exist.”
“I have never had an experience like that and I never will again,” she says. “It was a safe, respected space. I didn’t have to hide my process; hide it in the corner because someone’ s going to think I’m weird. It is the way it should always be because it frees the actors to be what they have prepared themselves to be, what they have learned to be and Steven and Daniel created this. I will never have it again. I am so grateful to have had that time.”
The Steven and Daniel she mentions are, of course, Spielberg and Day-Lewis, her a-list director and co-star. She credits them with creating the unique set environment that helped her stay in the character as the 16th President of the United States’s wife, Mary Todd.
“When Mr. Lincoln and Mary shot their scenes in the White House I never saw the crew,” she says. “I felt them around, sort of, but not really. I hardly saw anything, except the room, and Mr. Lincoln. Every once and a while I would have a sense that someone was popping into my ear and whisper something and it would be Steven. I didn’t know where he came from and I wasn’t sure where he went. Nothing was ever invasive or startling.”
She describes Lincoln’s wife, “as one of the most complicated, under examined, misunderstood, incredibly important female characters in American history.”
“Who wouldn’t want to play Mary Todd?” she adds.
Working with such a high caliber of talent allowed her to “simply do [my] work and let the pieces fall where they may.” She gushes when talking about Tony Kushner’s “extraordinary” script, the “guidance and stewardship” of Spielberg but saves her highest praise for co-star Daniel Day-Lewis.
“He’s so unbelievably brilliant and a towering example of unmitigated excellence,” she says. “Uncompromising excellence. But that is how actors work. Daniel does what we all do, he does it better, that’s all.”