Film and celluloid is going the way of vinyl. The shift from tactile mediums to ones and zeroes has happened so quickly that for a while it had looked like these records and film strips that we had used to record our artistic history for the entire 20th century would suddenly become obsolete and erased …
In the end, our bodies betray us. Most aren’t fortunate enough to go out on their own terms, but some are dealt a crueler fate than others. While most films treat Alzheimer’s disease with overwrought melodrama and naïveté, Still Alice stares unflinchingly into the abyss. Bolstered by a haunting performance from Julianne Moore and the focused storytelling of filmmakers Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland, this film has the raw power to simultaneously crush and rejuvenate your spirit. Painful, required viewing for life’s brutal training ground.
Based on a popular novel by Lisa Genova, Still Alice is a weepy portrait of a linguistic professor, Dr. Alice Howland, battling early onset alzheimers shortly after turning 50 years old. Boasting a cast that includes Alec Baldwin, Kirsten Stewart, Kate Bosworth and the always electric Julianne Moore, above all else this is a film that leans on strong performances. This is not a film about script, ideas or even direction, it is about the intimacy of faces and the passion of performers.
If all the world’s stage, then surely some players crave the spotlight more than others. And if ever there was a player, it was Errol Flynn. The Last of Robin Hood tells the twisted story of three people who will do almost anything for fame. That each must settle for infamy is one of the juicy, yet unexplored ironies in a movie that doesn’t know which story it wants to tell. By taking an evenhanded and humanistic approach to such salacious subject matter, the filmmakers have effectively squashed any possibility for tawdry fun. Instead, we get a bone-dry historical drama that skimps on the history and bypasses the drama entirely.
The Last of Robin Hood depicts the last romance of Errol Flynn’s life from the not-so-tender age of 48 until his death. Who was the lucky girl? Beverly Aadland. One person’s definition of luck is most people’s definition of statutory rape—something that Flynn had some trouble with before—as Miss Aadland was under 18 at the time. This is the crux of the conundrum behind this story and what would regularly confound a filmmaker in bringing it to the screen—even Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita screenplay was rejected and reworked by Stanley Kubrick. Fortunately for the audience, Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland are no regular filmmakers (see Grief, The Fluffer, Quinceanera). They have written and directed a film about three protagonists (Beverly Aadland, her mother Florence, and Errol Flynn) with a vague outward antagonist—society, perhaps? And somehow, through the grace of such strong characters and writing, it works.