It’s opening day today. And, you know I’m not talking baseball. I’m talking about that other American past-time…the movies. I had the privilege of screening several new releases at the Hamptons International Film Festival, also known as HIFF. The weekend was an absolute blast, and I can’t wait for next year. I know. I’m getting ahead of myself. So, let’s get down to business.
My husband Mark and I embarked on our weekend adventure, with fellow cinephiles and close friends, Dayna and Steve, ready to devour one film after the other. While the boys played a punishing 36 holes of golf on Friday, Dayna and I set out to see our first flick, Between Us. We sat down full of artful anticipation, and hopeful the air conditioning would kick-in at any moment. That theatre was a sauna. The Director, Dan Mirvish, outfitted in his straw-fedora, bounded to the front of the theatre and introduced the film. He was so excited. I was so excited for him. The cast stars Julia Stiles, Melissa George, Taye Diggs and David Harbour. Put it all together, and I thought we had a winner.
Not the case. Oy. I hate to do this. But, I have to. The movie was painful. Painful to sit through, painful to watch, and just plain painful. At one point, I leaned over to the woman at my left and asked, “Do you like this?”
She sighed, and said, “No.”
I whispered back, “If I wanted to spend more money to examine all the ways marriage sucks, I would have spent an extra day in therapy this week.”
The movie explores the state of two marriages at varying stages in their “marriage-cycle.” When one couple is happy the other one is miserably volatile, and when that couple seems to work things out, the once happy couple is teetering on destruction. It is a “talky” film that promised a darkly comedic portrayal of marriage. Well, there was no comedy in any of those relationships. I can definitely tell you that much.
When the lights finally came back on, Dayna and I high-tailed it out of there. No Q&A for us. So, what are two girls to do with time on their hands? You got it. Shop.
The best part of Between Us…shopping at Nili Lotan. So, we went right next door to Nili Lotan and took a look around. Dayna bought a shirt and I made friends with the manager of both the Tribeca and East Hampton stores, Melanie Dardik. I found out she’s a Venezuelan Jew, she loves New York, and her Uncle was one of the Knesset members to hand down Eichmann’s death sentence in 1961. What can I say? People tell me stuff.
Later that evening, we hit the screening of Martin McDonagh’s Seven Psychopaths. This film is great. The acting is amazing, which shouldn’t be surprising considering the all-star cast. We’re talking Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell, Christopher Walken, Tom Waits and Woody Harrelson. As the title implies, a fair amount of psychotic behavior is displayed throughout the film in plenty of bloody gory detail. Yet, it’s a feel-good film. And, I walked away with a big smile.
Colin Farrell plays Martin, the screenwriter with writer’s block who ends up crashing at his friend’s place after his girlfriend kicks him out. His friend, Billy, is played brilliantly by Sam Rockwell. Billy is a sometime actor, co-operating a dog-kidnapping business with his partner Hans, fantastically played by Christopher Walken. Only, this time, they stole the wrong canine, because now they have a local crime boss on their heels. Oh, and in the middle of all this, Billy is trying to help Martin write his screenplay, Seven Psychopaths, by putting out a newspaper ad calling all psychopaths to contact Martin with their story. Fabulous.
Seven Psychopaths takes an almost parody-like approach to the “killing-spree” film and the screenwriting process itself. All in all, a bloody fun romp.
Saturday was our movie-marathon day. I wasn’t sure if Mark, Dayna and Steve could keep up with me, but I couldn’t wait to see them try.
Our first film of the day was a special screening of the Terrence Malick classic, Days of Heaven (1978), starring Richard Gere, the recipient of the 2012 Golden Starfish Award for Lifetime Achievement in Acting. This movie is majestic and poignant and soulfully beautiful, with powerful Biblical overtones. Days of Heaven received an Academy Award for cinematography, and is currently preserved in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress. This is a powerful film of love and loss that everyone should see at least once.
We immediately headed down the street to our next movie, SMASHED. It was just Mark and I, and we were both beyond excited for this film. (Dayna and Steve left us for lunch, but we powered on.) I thought it looked awesome, and Mark, being a huge Breaking Bad fan, was psyched to see Aaron Paul’s (he plays Charlie) performance. And, he did not disappoint. He’s unbelievable in this film.
Before I go any further, I’m going to simply say…See this movie! It’s fan-freakin-tastic. If I were to pick the indie Oscar film of the year, it’s Smashed. This movie is so incredible and left such an indelible mark on my heart and mind that I’m still absorbing it a week later. This movie was made for around $500K in roughly 19 days, and it couldn’t be any better.
The Director, James Ponsoldt, gives us an honest look into a marriage, where both people are functioning alcoholics and completely co-dependent. His approach to addiction is so true-to-life and comedic that you can’t help but relate to the characters and their struggles. It’s what he has to say about who we choose to surround ourselves with that affected me the most. Just because you love someone doesn’t mean they’re good for you, or healthy for you to be around. And, sometimes, relationships have to die so you can live.
But, it’s Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s performance, as Kate, that held me captive. After throwing up in front of her first grade students, she’s persuaded to attend an AA meeting by one of her work colleagues, Dave (Nick Offerman from TV’s Park’s and Recreations). Winstead’s gritty portrayal of a functioning alcoholic is mesmerizing. If she doesn’t get nominated for an Oscar then there is just something wrong with the Academy.
We’re totally with Kate on her journey to sobriety, bumps and all. She forges a relationship with fellow AA member, Jenny (Oscar winner Octavia Spencer from The Help), who eventually becomes her sponsor. Octavia Spencer provides another level of perfection to an already seamlessly perfect movie.
Along with her strengthening sobriety, Kate’s friendship with Jenny is another thorn in her already tenuous marriage to Charlie, played by Aaron Paul.
When the movie was over, the audience applauded. I haven’t been to a film where the audience applauded at the end, in well, I don’t know how long.
Mark and I stayed for the Q&A session with James Ponsoldt and Mary Elizabeth Winstead. They were so nice and friendly and amazing. Of course, I gushed over the film and Mary’s performance, which I informed her deserved an Oscar nod, at the very least. (I hope she doesn’t mind that I’m calling her Mary.)
Smashed is honest, humorous, and all heart. See Smashed, and drink responsibly.
Our last film of the festival, was Oscar winner (Hotel Rwanda) Terry George’s Whole Lotta Sole, starring Brendan Frasier. Unfortunately, after Smashed, we all went to The Blue Parrot, and, well, got smashed. They have these jalapeno infused margaritas that I just couldn’t resist.
I made it through the first 20 minutes of the film and passed out. The movie started after 9pm and I was tired. What can I say? It looked cute. And, Terry George and Brendan Frasier seemed really nice. Oh well. Next year, I’ll plan it all out better, like getting my drink on after all the movies on my list and not before.
Anyway. I think you’re armed with the necessary information to go forth and purchase the right tickets. So, this weekend, while others are going ga-ga over Argo, you know where you’ll be, right? Getting Smashed and seeing Seven Psychopaths. Happy movie-going!
Contributor Sharon Lippmann, writes about her "so called suburban life" as a proud resident of Scarsdale, NY. She is a writer, blogger, mom, wife, daughter, sister, friend and one sassy chick. She loves exploring the interesting, strange, perplexing, vexing, ridiculous and funny that life offers up frequently. Enjoying more of what she has to say about nothing, and, well, everything at mydailypill.com.