love the hard way
–2001, Peter Sehr
Adrien Brody, will you marry me?
Proposals aside, once again, Brody proves why he deserved his Oscar (and that kiss from Halle Berry). He gives a beautiful, touching performance here as a charming, rakish, snakeskin-jacket-wearing con artist who falls in love with a girl from the right side of the tracks. Jack Grace is no ordinary sleazeball, though. He keeps first editions of classic novels (he has a penchant for Melville) and works on his own novel within the safety of a secret storage unit, separate from the apartment he shares with his partner-in-crime Charlie (Jon Seda). In other words, he’s exactly the kind of bad boy that would attract intellectual Claire (Charlotte Ayanna), a beautiful, unstable biology major at Columbia. Claire tells him that movies she likes best are the ones that make her cry, and he does his best to oblige her, ultimately sending her on a self-destructive bender that makes him look like a good boy.
Brody carries this film, and the lovely Charlotte Ayanna is unfortunately not given nearly as much to work with. She spends most of her time alternating between trying to change him (we all know how well that works), and having hysterics, and then finally goes on to attempt to prove that she can exist in his world and take the kinds of risks that he gets off on. The romance between the two is not well developed at the beginning either, so although we see plenty in him that makes us believe she loves him, we don’t see what has gone on between them. Brody, however, makes up the slack in the script with every shot of his wonderfully expressive eyes. He is the walking, talking answer to the question, “Why do good girls like bad boys?”
Unfortunately, this film only had a limited engagement at the Starz Film Center, and as far as I know, does not have any wider distribution. This is a shame, particularly after Brody’s Oscar win this year. I hope this will change and that more people will get to see this movie…see one of the most talented actors of his generation in action.
–2003, Polish Brothers
Northfork is a lovely surrealist dream of a picture. The Polish brothers, the writing-directing-acting team behind Twin Falls Idaho, created a town where angels lose their wings, and relocation teams use them as incentive to make people leave. Northfork, Montana, is scheduled to become the bottom of a man-made lake. Everyone is gone except for a preacher (Nick Nolte) whose church has no back wall, three pairs of men carrying trunks with three pairs of wings, a man, his two wives, and their ark, and a foursome looking for the unknown angel.
All this might sound like it makes no sense, and, well, it really doesn’t make much sense, but it’s a movie that you feel. You feel for the preacher trying to save a little boy who may or may not be an angel, for the androgynous Flower Hercules (Daryl Hannah) who wants to find an angel, but will settle for a child. You feel for the man and his son, assigned to relocate people out of Northfork, who can’t decide whether or not to disinter and move their wife and mother. I wish I had the imagination to write things like this.
So yes, go see Northfork. Have patience; it will start to make more sense. And if it doesn’t, take heart. Life doesn’t make much sense, either. But this movie’s a lot prettier than life.