“Norman”, or more apropos, a Seinfeldesque, Newman!

Here’s my culpability, I didn’t properly vet the movie Newman, I mean “Norman”. Working two fun jobs before my pension kicks in, I am admittedly sleep deprived. Hence, I thought Norman was the Richard Gere film about a homeless man that received great reviews. And who knows? Norman may have been homeless, too, for all we know, as we never saw the guy’s house or personal life beyond his suit, trench coat and cravat. Also in my defense of thinking he was homeless, is a scene in which he raids the synagogue’s refrigerator to scarf down gvelte fish and crackers. Last, he definitely had a Willy Loman poor man vibe, minus the creep.

In addition to my not properly researching the movie (didn’t even Rotten Tomatoes it until just now -it scored an 88 critic, 69 audience), I also committed yet another sin: I left with 20 minutes to go. I know, I know, don’t revoke my reviewer’s license. But the movie was so verbose, too many conversations, and too long to circle the wagons back to the end (which I think I can guess and I promise I will rent this and cross the finish line).

I so wanted to like it more: I mean I like Gere and he was actually doing a great job being semi geeky and annoying. He was the powerless one this time and played it well. I also LOVE Charlotte Gainsbourg and as usual she had some memorable scenes, but there just wasn’t enough of her. And Hank Azaria, again, like him, but he didn’t appear until 3/4 in and by then I was ready to crawl out of my skin or find noise cancellation headphones, akin to being on a long flight with someone who won’t stop babbling.

I have to think that the actors themselves, upon seeing the final product, were like, ‘ay yi yi, too much Joseph!’ (Cedar) the director.
I did really enjoy one of Cedar’s earlier films called “Footnote”, but Norman was just too much talking, not enough personal insight.
Better luck next time.

Not all that it’s bum cracked up to be: Nymphomaniac Vol. 1

In spite of my subject title, I ‘liked’ Nymphomaniac Vol. 1 I in the same way that I enjoyed my Masters Degree in Counseling training.  Meaning, while it was nerdish fun to learn about dysfunction, after 15 years of the weight of helping people, I ran gladly back to the classroom.  As Bradbury eloquently wrote in Fahrenheit 451, at least a book we can close.

Nymphomania is a great cautionary tale, a look what happens when addiction goes too far piece.  How people (in this case Charlotte Gainsbourg’s character) can be neurologically compromised by addiction, so far gone that re-training is all but impossible.

But in my mind, film should be moving, which necessitates a roundness. And in Nymphomania I just felt flat and utter loss, with the great exception of Uma Thurman’s jilted wife scene.  In this scene, we round out the tragic with the absurdity of a wife who drops her husband off at his lover’s (nympho) house and shows her three young son’s the whore’s bed, “daddy’s favorite place”.   To me, adding folly to a depressing situation allows us as an audience a release and therefore a greater appreciation for darker moments.

And I am sure I am not the only naive person who skipped to the viewing of this like, “Sex? I like sex, this’ll be great!”  Which in hindsight is pretty absurd, like skipping to a documentary about eating addictions because you like Hostess Twinkies.  It’s not at all about the sex, and most of the coital scenes in Nympho I are akin to watching cows screwing, dead eyed and simply humping without conscience (which might be a great band name-Humping Without Conscience, send me some royalties, please:)

I’ve heard rumors that the ending of Nymphomaniac II has hints of Von Triers mocking us as the audience.  Any kind of laughter would be a plus.  Perhaps round 2 will be more rubenesque, or is the joke that now I’m addicted.:)