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Films I Neglected to Review: A Stritch In Time Saves Us All
by Peter Sobczynski

Please enjoy short reviews of a trio of new films currently in limited release--"Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me,," "Shirin in Love" and "Le Weekend."

Although presumably best-known to the masses today for her recurring role as Alec Baldwin's irascible mother on the late, great "30 Rock," Elaine Stritch has had a long and distinguished career stealing scenes on stage and on the screen (in films ranging from "September" to "Romance and Cigarettes" that continues today. The new fly-on-the-wall documentary "Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me" (co-produced by Baldwin) follows the 87-year-old performer as she wraps her final episodes of "30 Rock" and prepares for a string of cabaret appearances while struggling with the increasingly debilitating effects of diabetes (and admonishes Tracy Morgan about the importance of monitoring his blood sugar levels. The film, directed by Chiemi Karasawa, doesn't exactly reinvent the cinematic wheel but watching Stritch in her element is so undeniably entertaining that the talking head testimonials by the likes of Stephen Sondheim, Nathan Lane, Tina Fey and other admirers almost seems superfluous. It may be little more than a feature version of one of those "American Masters" TV documentaries but when the subject at hand is as deserving of that appellation as is the case here, only the most curmudgeonly of individuals would dare complain.

Stop me if you've heard this one before. A smart, pretty and mildly neurotic woman is about to embark on the life that has been planned for her--marriage to a nice but dull guy and working for her domineering mother instead of pursuing the career in human rights work that she loves--when she has an unexpected Meet Cute with a mysterious and handsome man that sets her heart twitterpating like nobody's business. Yes, "Shirin in Love" is not unlike any number of boilerplate romantic comedies to come along in the last half-century or so that you could name but the selling point for this one is that the heroine and her family are a prosperous Iranian-American family living and working in the Beverly Hills area. As it turns out, its ethnic background is pretty much the only thing really interesting about it and once you get past that, which is pretty quickly, you are left with an utterly forgettable programmer in which the nice presence of Nazanin Boniadi in the lead role is unable to overcome the innocuous screenplay and listless execution by writer-director Ramin Niami. For Iranian-American audiences, the film may came as a relief from other movies that depict members of their culture as either slavering monsters or as people so ultra-idealized in the name of avoiding stereotyping that they barely seem human but even they will find themselves wishing that they could have gotten a slightly more original storyline thrown in for good measure.

In the new British comedy-drama "Le Week-end," Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan play a couple whose long relationship has now devolved over the decades into equal parts routine and rancor. Hoping to regain some sort of spark, they embark on a 30th anniversary trip to Paris that starts off disastrously and only grows worse when an unexpected encounter with a old and wildly successful American acquaintance (Jeff Goldblum) forces them to confront their past resentments and face an uncertain future, either together or apart. Despite the contributions of such high-profile participants as director Roger Michell and screenwriter Hanif Kureishi, this is a relatively modest production that is driven almost entirely by the cantankerous charms of Broadbent and Duncan, who quickly establish the groove of a couple that has been together so long that even their nastiest snipes have the comfortable feel of an old pair of shoes that they couldn't possibly bear to part with for anything. Throw in an absolutely hilarious turn by Goldblum that is arguably the best thing that he has done in a while and the end result is a film that is a low-key charmer that will almost inevitably resonate more strongly with older audiences.


link directly to this feature at https://www.efilmcritic.com/feature.php?feature=3665
originally posted: 03/17/14 09:17:41
last updated: 03/17/14 23:21:43
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