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Posts Tagged ‘Michelle Pfieffer’

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Three bored friends, widowed Alexandra (Cher), newly divorced uptight musician Jane (Susan Sarandon) and single mother of five Sukie (Michelle Pfeiffer) all wish that they could meet an interesting man to shake up their lives in the New England town of Eastwick. Enter the devilishly charming Darryl Van Horne (Jack Nicholson) who not only shakes up their lives, but causes scandal, gossip throughout the neighbourhood, especially upsetting the devoutly religious Felicia, who is the wife of Sukie’s boss.

Darryl seduces all three women and they all stay at his mansion with him, living a life of decadence but when they realise that the town of Eastwick is gossiping about them and calling them all names, they decide that something needs to be done. And then the trouble really starts…

I remember watching this film when it first came out in 1987, and although I had forgotten some of the details, I do recall thinking that it was a lot of fun and visually spectacular, but all kind of fell apart at the end. And this was more or less my feelings on this occasion too, although to say it fell apart is perhaps a bit harsh. The first two thirds of the film are wonderful – the four main members of the cast are superb, especially Jack Nicholson and Cher, and the colour and lavish production are a treat for the eyes. The last third of the film is possibly a bit overblown – I won’t give away what happens in case of spoilers; it may be a fairly old movie by now, but still people will be watching it for the first time – and visual effects seem to take over from the story itself, but it’s still good fun.

Susan Sarandon seems to thoroughly enjoy her role, and the transformation of Jane from a repressed and nervous woman into a sexually adventurous and sensual lady. Michelle Pfeiffer too plays her part as sweet Sukie very well, but it’s Cher as the bohemian, straight talking Alexandra who stood out for me amongst the three female leads. But Jack Nicholson – a man who was probably born for such a part – steals his scenes. Although he is rude and provocative, he does indeed have a lot of charisma and you can see why these women would be attracted to him.

If you like fantasy with your comedy and this one has slipped under your radar, I recommend it – it’s entertaining and amusing, with a great cast.

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Year of release: 1987

Director: George Miller

Writers: John Updike (novel), Michel Cristofer

Main cast: Cher, Michelle Pfeiffer, Susan Sarandon, Jack Nicholson, Richard Jenkins, Veronica Cartwright, Carel Struycken

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This 1999 movie was Hollywood’s take on one of Shakespeare’s most popular plays.  It boasts an impressive cast – Michelle Pfieffer, Rupert Everett, Anna Friel, Dominic West, Christian Bale, Calista Flockhart and Stanley Tucci among them.

Until fairly recently, I did not enjoy reading Shakespeare’s work – it seemed very ‘dry’ when written on a page (to me, at least).  However, when his words are acted out on stage or screen, it all falls in to place, and it’s much easier to appreciate the wit and intelligence of Shakespeare.  (In fact, watching this made me want to read the play.)

In this case, I would suggest that some knowledge of the storyline of the play is helpful before watching (it does cover three interlinked stories), but it is certainly not necessary to have studied or read the play in any detail.

Briefly, Egeus (played by Bernard Hill) wants his daughter Hermia (Anna Friel) to marry Demetrius (Christian Bale).  However, Hermia is in love with Lysander (Dominic West).  When she is given the choice of marrying Demetrius, being sentenced to death, or living as a Nun for the rest of of her life, Hermia and Lysander decide to run away together.  Hermia’s friend Helena (Calista Flockhart, in a fantastic turn) is in love with Demetrius, but he loves Hermia.

Meanwhile, King of the Fairies Oberon (Rupert Everett) is estranged from his Fairy Queen Titania (Michelle Pfieffer); she has taken over the care of a changeling boy, after the death of the boy’s mother, who was one of Titania’s worshippers.  Oberon wants the boy to work for him.  He summons his mischievous but loyal fairy servant Puck to sprinkle a magic flower on Titania’s eyes while she sleeps – the spell it casts causes the sleeping person to fall in love with the first living thing they see upon waking.  Oberon believes that Titania will fall in love with a creature of the forest (where the fairies all live) and while she is distracted, he can take the boy.

After seeing Demetrius and Helena arguing, Oberon also orders Puck to sprinkle the magic flower on Demetrius’s eyes so that he will see and fall in love with Helena.  Puck however has never seen Demetrius and when he stumbles across Lysander asleep in the forst (he and Hermia have stopped there for the night before continuing with their escape), he sprinkles the magic flower on Lysander instead.  Helena then comes across Lysander and wakes him, and Lysander falls in love with her immediately.  When Puck’s mistake is discovered, he also sprinkles the magic flower on Demetrius’s eyes, and Demetrius too sees and falls in love with Helena.  The two young men argue over who should be with Helena, while Hermia accuses Helena of stealing Lysander’s love.

While all this is going on, a group of workers in the village are practicing a play to put on at the wedding of the Duke Theseus and his bride to be, Hippolyta.  During their rehearsals in the forest, Puck sees Bottom (Kevin Kline) and casts a spell giving Bottom an ass’s head, which naturally terrifies the fellow performers.  They run away, and Bottom falls asleep.  And then he is the first thing that Fairy Queen Titania sees when she awakes…

The plot sounds complicated, but it all plays out beautifully.  The action is moved from Ancient Athens to Italy at the turn of the 19th century.  The reason for this is not made clear (and the script retains its references to Athens), but it doesn’t matter – Italy looks lovely – the film was shot on location, large in Tuscany.  The fairy forest is enchanting, and even the cast are beautiful – in fact the whole film looks as though it has had its own sprinkling of fairy dust!

The cast are all terrific.  Stanley Tucci – always under-rated – excels as Puck, and really seems to be having fun with the character.  Kevin Kline also makes the most of his part and gives a great performance.  Puck and Bottom are probably the two funniest characters in the script, and I thought Tucci and Kline did great justice to the roles.

The script is actually very very funny – I laughed out loud on a number of occasions – and very romantic and sweet too.  The interlinked stories tie up together well and the ending is perfect – well, there must be a reason that Shakespeare is so revered centuries after his death.

Overall, this is a very amusing, and beautiful looking film.  Even if you’re not a fan of Shakespeare, I’d recommend giving this film a watch.

Year of release: 1999

Director: Michael Hoffman

Writers: William Shakespeare (play), Michael Hoffman

Main cast: Michelle Pfieffer, Rupert Everett, Kevin Kline, Stanley Tucci, Anna Friel, Dominic West, Christian Bale, Calista Flockhart

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Click here for my review of the play (Penguin Shakespeare edition).

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Jeff Bridges (my all time favourite actor) is pretty much the seal of quality on any film as far as I’m concerned, and in this movie, he stars alongside his real life brother Beau Bridges; a terrific actor in his own right.  The two men have great chemistry together, playing the Baker brothers – maybe because of their real life relationship.

The Fabulous Baker Boys have been playing piano together professionally for 15 years.  Frank (Beau) is the older, responsible brother, for whom it is a business, a job, his way of providing for his wife and children.  Jack however, is the wayward younger brother, who is bad with responsibility and cares less about the business side of their partnership than their music.  On his nights off, he sometimes plays piano for the sheer joy of it at a little known bar in his neighbourhood, and it is clear that he gets far more pleasure out of this, than he does out of playing as his ‘job’.  For Jack, it is the love of the music that counts.

Nonetheless, bills have to be paid, and when their double act starts to feel a bit ‘tired’ they decide to hire a female singer to join in their act.  Enter Michelle Pfieffer, who is terrific as Suzie Diamond, a gorgeous and talented singer, and the first woman to ever really get under Jack’s skin.  Her entrance into their lives and careers changes the dynamic of the act and the brothers’ relationship.

The characters were brought to life by the three main leads – and the attraction between Jack and Suzie meant that some of their scenes were practically sizzling with heat!  Jack’s dissatisfaction with his life, and Frank’s dissatisfaction with his brother is almost palpable.

I thoroughly enjoyed this film, which had a very sensual feel to it, and a great soundtrack.  I will admit however to being slightly disappointed at the ending, but that is just a small grumble.

Year of release: 1989

Director: Steve Kloves

Writer: Steve Kloves

Main cast: Jeff Bridges, Beau Bridges, Michelle Pfieffer

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