Still Alice reviews

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Re: Still Alice reviews

Postby Big Magilla » Wed Mar 11, 2015 5:59 pm

From the Hollywood Reporter:

Richard Glatzer, 'Still Alice' Writer and Director, Dies at 63
by Mike Barnes

3/11/2015 2:50pm PDT

Richard Glatzer, who courageously battled the debilitating effects of ALS as he wrote and directed the Julianne Moore film Still Alice with his husband, Wash Westmoreland, has died. He was 63.

Glatzer died Tuesday in Los Angeles, Ekta Farrar of the publicity firm of Block Korenbrot confirmed. His death came less than three weeks after Moore won the best actress Oscar on Feb. 22 for her performance as a woman with Alzheimer’s who comes unraveled.

Glatzer was taken by ambulance to an L.A. hospital two days before the ceremony with severe respiratory problems, and he and Westmoreland planned to watch the Oscar telecast from the hospital.

“Not so glamorous, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. And Richard will be alive to see it,” Westmoreland wrote on his Facebook page.

Glatzer and Westmoreland adapted Still Alice from a novel by Lisa Genova. Shortly before they took on the project in 2011, Glatzer was diagnosed with ALS, and his condition rapidly deteriorated. Still, he never missed a day of filming.

At the end, Glatzer was able to “speak” only by tapping the big toe of his right foot on a specially designed iPad.

“My medical condition made reading the book quite difficult for me,” he told NPR in a recent interview. “It just cut too close to the bone. But once I’d finished it, I felt determined to make Still Alice into a movie. It really resonated with me.”

“From my point of view, the one thing the movie does is really look at the role of a caregiver,” Westmoreland said in a January interview with the WGA West. “That is certainly my own life now. I am primarily a caregiver.

“If we’ve shined any light on that, I would be very pleased and proud. I’ll say, also, that when you’re looking after someone who is ill day in and day out, looking after every need they have, it can be very, very tough, and making the film and now watching the film, I myself am inspired to do better, to serve better, to love better, to be more emotionally present — no matter how tough the days can be. It might sound silly that I draw inspiration from my own film, but I do.”

Glatzer and Westmoreland met in 1995 and married in 2013.

They made their first splash as filmmakers with Quinceanera (2006), a film about a pregnant 14-year-old Latina girl (Emily Rios) growing up in L.A.’s Echo Park neighborhood (the pair had moved into the area a few years earlier). The drama took the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival.

They also teamed on The Last of Robin Hood (2013), the drama that starred Kevin Kline as aging Hollywood swashbuckler Errol Flynn, and The Fluffer (2001), which was set in the porn industry.

Born Jan. 28, 1952, in Queens, N.Y., Glatzer attended the University of Michigan, received a Ph.D. in English from the University of Virginia (where he formed a friendship with legendary director Frank Capra) and taught screenwriting in NYC at the School of Visual Arts and The New School.

He came to L.A. to produce the daytime TV show Divorce Court, and using that experience, wrote and directed Grief (1993), which featured Illeana Douglas in a story about a sleazy daytime show.

Glatzer also produced the Tyra Banks reality show America’s Next Top Model.

In addition to to Westmoreland, Glatzer is survived by his sister Joan and her husband David, his loving nieces and nephews and his daughter Ruby.

Moore lovingly talked about the Still Alice filmmakers in her Oscar acceptance speech:

“… And finally, to our filmmakers, Wash Westmoreland and Richard Glatzer, who had hoped to be here tonight but they can’t because of Richard’s health. When Richard was diagnosed with ALS, Wash asked him what he wanted to do. Did he want to travel? Did he want to see the world? And he said that he wanted to make movies, and that’s what he did.”

Twitter: @mikebarnes4

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Re: Still Alice reviews

Postby Sonic Youth » Wed Mar 11, 2015 5:21 pm

Very sad, but how wonderful to end on a personal and professional triumph. And how wonderful to see it all the way to Oscar night.

http://variety.com/2015/film/news/still ... 201450930/

Still Alice’ Co-Director Richard Glatzer Dies

Indie auteur Richard Glatzer, who directed films including “Still Alice” with his husband Wash Westmoreland, died Wednesday in Los Angeles of complications from ALS. He was 62.

Sony Pictures Classics released “Still Alice,” for which Julianne Moore won the best actress Oscar for her portrayal of a woman with Alzheimer’s disease, a depiction which was informed by Glatzer’s progressing struggle with the degenerative disease.

Glatzer and Westmoreland also directed 2006’s “Quinceanera,” which won the audience award and the grand jury prize at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival. Set in Echo Park, Calif., the low-budget film about a Mexican-American family preparing for their daughter’s quinceanera celebration also won the John Cassavetes Spirit Award and was released by Sony Pictures Classics.

Born in Queens, he grew up on Long Island and in New Jersey. Glatzer started his career working on reality shows before directing the indie “Grief,” about a writer for a trashy TV show, which won the audience award at San Francisco’s Frameline Festival. Glatzer and Westmoreland’s first film together was “The Fluffer,” about the gay porn industry.
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Re: Still Alice reviews

Postby Sabin » Sat Feb 21, 2015 11:28 am

I had lowered exceptions due to its alleged "Made for TV Movie with an Oscar Performance in it" trappings. And while I'm not sure if Julianne Moore would necessarily win an Emmy up against the truly interesting work that we're seeing on television these days, I have no doubt that were I to watch Still Alice on television my first thought would be "Why didn't that get a theatrical release?"

While the film is not without its problems (casting mostly, IMO). After a truly clunky opening scene the filmmakers do a good job of externalizing the challenges of this disease/downfall without seeming cheap. They remind us that everything in our entire life involve the faculties that are being stripped from Alice without her even knowing, and she can't fight it by finding a cure so she fights it by staying mentally healthy. I really like that scene of her family coming to visit while she is simultaneously cooking and playing word games with herself. These filmmakers may not be the most effective stylists in the world but I found myself thinking the entire time "The potatoes the potatoes the potatoes" which is exactly what they want. Her life becomes an anxious thing of wondering what she's forgotten. The video she records for herself is terribly sad. She's both manipulating and talking down to herself. Occasionally, I'd go so far to say the film is quite good and very effective at conveying a ghastly ennui.

But just as/more often it's just...fine, and distracted Alec Baldwin just isn't the right guy for the role of her oft-absent husband. There's something strong about letting everyone else slip away to the background but it's hard to let that happen when notionally the second lead is so clearly phoning it in. Kristen Stewart, on the other hand, proves once again that if you've never seen a minute of Twilight it's impossible to wonder how anybody could view this actor as anything other that very talented. I wonder what in the film was deleted if anything because there are many underdeveloped relationships, none of which I really want to spend time on, but because this is a talky film running a sleek 90+ minutes it is strange to me that they could be so spare with narrative but long on scenes. That said, I found the ending is beautiful. If you want to do maudlin, do it like this.

It takes a moment for Julianne Moore's Alice to come into focus. We see her through her struggle, through the dignity she tries to hang onto, her defenses, her sense of humor, through her reactions. There is one scene in particular where she goes downstairs to use the bathroom and just blanks on its location. While, the filmmakers have her back in that scene, the moment of the blanking is sublime. But this isn't a case of a lot of actor-y moments. That it's not the work of her career has nothing to do with Moore and more to do with the material. I still need to see Wild (or do I?) and I'd like to see Gone Girl again, but I have no problem with Julianne Moore winning Best Actress for this film and it's so stupid that it's bound to be remembered as "It was her time" or "It was a TV film" than the moments in the film that rise her above recent winners in this category.
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Re: Still Alice reviews

Postby ITALIANO » Sun Jan 25, 2015 2:26 pm

There's not much to say about this one - and for once, not because it's bad. It's actually solid - not an artistic triumph, of course, and never extremely profound, but very sincere, "low key" in the best sense of the term. It's an interesting portrayal of everyday American life shattered by a terrible sickness, and scene by scene one sees it with the pleasant feeling of watching something real, unfiltered (even the family dynamics are quite believable - for example the contrast, not just in characters, between the two daughters). This in itself wouldn't be enough, I know - but after The Theory of Everything and (for different reasons) The Imitation Game, such emotional honestly is refreshing and even affecting (it's quietly moving by the end). And the acting is generally very good - Julianne Moore's especially, a great actress in one of her finest performances. On other Oscar-related boards this movie is often annoyingly dismissed (some even say that it will be one of the worst films with a Best Actress Oscar - haven't they seen The Blind Date?), but no, the movie is good and the actress is sublime.

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Re: Still Alice reviews

Postby The Original BJ » Tue Jan 06, 2015 3:48 pm

I'm much more in line with the Mister Tee take on Still Alice. It's a minor movie, definitely, but I would say it's far closer to "modest" than "middling," if that makes sense. Its scope is small, and I don't think the film is any kind of revelation in terms of narrative, certainly not visually. But I found it pretty well executed at a detail level, and the sheer power of watching Moore's character debilitate in such an un-cloying way left me quite moved throughout.

And, of course, for a long-time Julianne Moore fan such as myself, it was such a pleasure to watch her soar the way she does here. I will agree that this is not the peak of Moore's career -- in her collaborations with Todd Haynes, she wed an overly artificial sense of stylization with great depth of feeling to deliver performances that felt utterly singular, even within the context of the actress's career. Moore's Still Alice work is a lot closer to what I'd consider her usual wheelhouse, but I still rate it very impressive work. So many stellar actresses (and they usually tend to be the women) have lost acting awards because their consistently strong work stops feeling revelatory, while lightweight actresses have gotten extra points for stretching the first time they dip their toe into a drama; roles like Cathy Whitaker in movies like Far From Heaven don't come around very often, and I would hate to see Moore denied the Oscar yet again simply because this work wasn't a career topper.

Especially because, as I said before, I think she's very good here, with a ton of knockout scenes. Her early classroom speech, where she forgets the word she's thinking of, is wonderfully played -- she doesn't hit the foreshadowing too hard, but we clearly get the sense this isn't the first time she's had a memory lapse, and it's starting to concern her. The first visit to her doctor is a gift of scene, filmed entirely in close-up, and reminded me just how luminous and intelligent a performer she is, even in moments that don't seem built to be emotional knockouts. The scene in which she introduces the Butterfly File is heartbreaking and beautifully controlled, and then her work in the scene in which it recurs later is surprising for the blackly comic undertones she brings out in this tragic situation. (I actually admired the actress's sense of humor throughout -- her bitchily delivered "I have Alzheimer's!" retort to Baldwin got a laugh out of both me and my friend in the theater.) And, above all, her speech at the Alzheimer's Association is about as emotionally overwhelming a moment as any in a movie this year, absolutely nailed by the actress with great power and restraint -- I was left both deeply moved by the humanity of her work as well as utterly thrilled by the joy of watching such a wonderful actress deliver at such a continually high level of craft.

I really liked the dynamic of the family, too -- the entire cast created a family unit that felt very real, full of both love and typical familial conflict, even before mom's diagnosis. Kristen Stewart, oft-mocked for her apparently lousy work in the Twilight movies (none of which I've ever seen), is very good here, deeply concerned with her mother's decline in health, but still allowing her character a level of self-centeredness that rang completely true for the character of a young, slightly immature actress. She seems unlikely to break through with a nomination this year, but I would view this as a very solid warm-up credit to maybe a potential nomination down the line.

As I said, not any kind of landmark movie, but notable for the very fine performance at its center, and honestly, I think it's a lot more conceptually well-realized than a good number of the potential Best Picture candidates.

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Re: Still Alice reviews

Postby flipp525 » Mon Dec 08, 2014 10:15 am

Mister Tee, thanks for reminding me of that opening scene at Alice's birthday which almost felt like the best acting of Julianne Moore's in the film aside from the Alzheimer's speech. There was something so vibrantly real about her in that moment surrounded by her family. In fact, one thing I forgot to mention before was how real that family seemed to me.

I feel like I might have come off as too harsh in my original review of Still Alice; I like your comparison to an HBO movie rather than a Lifetime one (I think I was really just going for " this does not feel like a studio-released film.") I still think it's a rather slight effort overall and I don't think Moore would be talked about as the presumptive winner of this category in a stronger year. The acting really is better than the movie itself. I would really like it if Kristen Stewart were carried along with Moore for a nomination.
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Re: Still Alice reviews

Postby Mister Tee » Fri Dec 05, 2014 9:32 pm

Still Alice is a very tightly focused film: one about Julianne Moore's character being diagnosed with and succumbing to early-onset Alzheimer's. It doesn't explore previously-unexamined aspects related to the disease, as Away from Her did with its nursing-home romance (a plot choice which effectively made Polley's film about Gordon Pinsent's character, not Julie Christie's); it sticks to the facts of Alzheimer's, and the toll it takes, especially on an intelligent, verbally-dextrous woman. I can see why this absence of wider literary resonance makes people describe it as a LIfetime movie...though I think maybe an HBO movie would be a more precise description: the details are better-wrought than in any Lifetime movie I've encountered. It's nothing great, by any means, but I find it more solid than flipp does.

I do think it's possible I'd be less patient with the film if it were centered on/performed by an actress who didn't interest me much. But it's Julianne Moore filling this role, and here I have to disagree with flipp more fully: I think this is Moore's finest work since Far from Heaven, and one of the most memorable things she's done in her career. Right from the start, even in the brief stretch before the symptoms began, she seemed fully alive on the screen. Perhaps because she was aware of all the dark places she'd be going, she let herself show a significant level of happiness/life contentment in that opening birthday celebration; this is a woman who's truly pleased about her life. She doesn't glow (the way Christie did in the early part of Away from Her), but she relates to people with wit and joie de vivre. This makes it all the more heartbreaking when things start to go south -- not least because she's such a bright woman that she knows, quickly and instinctively, how bad this is going to be (and she rages at husband Baldwin when he desperately tries to wish it into something less horrible). I think Moore has one great scene after another in this role (many of them in close-up, which made me feel there was practically no distance between me and her): the initial Q&A with her doctor, the heartbreaking set-up of the Butterfly file (and its reprise), the triumphant speech at the Alzheimer's Society (by the way, a beautifully written oration). She also has many fine scenes with family members, especially Baldwin and Kristen Stewart, the latter of whom is just as good as early word has suggested. And, in the latter sequences, she lets us see just how far down the rabbit-hole she's fallen, as well as, in lucid moments, showing the depth of hurt she feels over what she's experiencing and what it's doing to those around her.

Even with all this, the film is still fairly small, but I found it moving (as, I think, did much of the audience I was with -- I'm a stay-till-the-last-credit guy, and usually I'm alone with the ushers by then; but, today, about a quarter of the crowd was still seated when I got up). I'd also cite the film as possessing negative virtues: though it threatens a few times, it never makes us watch Alice undergo major public humiliation; and, though family members behave some-more/some-less well, no one seems to act from pure selfishness -- they all have their reasons. I should also say that some things about this film possibly resonate for me where they wouldn't for others, because I watched a mate deteriorate through an unusual, genetically-acquired-and-passed-on-disease, and many details around the initial diagnosis and struggle rang loudly familiar.

I will say that the film's limitations make me retract any idea that a best picture nod is in the offing. But I still think Stewart in support, and screenplay in such a lean year for adaptations, remain a possibility. And I have no reason to think Moore is anything but a significant favorite to win best actress.

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Re: Still Alice reviews

Postby flipp525 » Sun Nov 30, 2014 9:40 pm

Just finished watching Still Alice. The movie is not much, and Julianne Moore - sad to say - was not that great. I mean, don't get me wrong. She was wonderful as always - nobly facing the challenges of her disease while portraying the brilliant professor's descent into an abyss - but there was nothing extraordinary about her performance, certainly not what the critics and Oscar pundits seem to be raving about. It felt like a Lifetime TV movie about Alzheimer's and it played it very safe. We don't even see Alice deteriorate that badly. The movie just suddenly...ends. No doubt Moore would've given an excellent performance if the film had let her. As it is, the mediocre script really lets her down.

I have to begrudgingly admit that I was quite impressed with Kristen Stewart, in particular her performances-within-the-performance of Irina in Chekhov's "Three Sisters" and Harper Pitt in "Angels in America." Her haunting monologue from the latter play was beautifully rendered in the film's final scene. I'm not sure if I felt that way because she's usually so uninvested in her roles or if her work here was truly special. I did, however, perk up during the two aforementioned moments (and those were moments from two different plays and not the world of Still Alice itself! Even if they were both clearly meant to comment on the "A" plot of Moore's illness.) Nevertheless, Stewart was a welcome surprise and I would totally support a nomination for her performance. Also, it was nice to see Kate Bosworth after all this time.

If Moore wins the Oscar for this, it'll be an overdue/career win, which is too bad because she deserves to be remembered for winning for a magnificent performance. Years from now, people will be like, "She won for that?!" It would feel reminiscent of Jessica Lange's win for Blue Sky. Not a bad performance, just not in the actress's top tier work.
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Re: Still Alice reviews

Postby Big Magilla » Sun Sep 14, 2014 1:28 am

mlrg wrote:As far as I've read, it has already been confirmed that Map of the Stars will not be released this year.


So it seems.

http://variety.com/2014/film/festivals/ ... 201295581/

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Re: Still Alice reviews

Postby mlrg » Fri Sep 12, 2014 3:12 am

Big Magilla wrote:Good. This one seems more Oscar friendly than Maps to the Stars although Moore could conceivably find herself nominated for both, Still Alice in lead and Maps in support. If she's nominated in both it will give her a total of six nominations which Amy Adams could also hit this year making it a more competitive race than we might have otherwise expected.

If Moore is nominated in both categories she will have become the first performer to do so twice.


As far as I've read, it has already been confirmed that Map of the Stars will not be released this year.

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Re: Still Alice reviews

Postby Big Magilla » Thu Sep 11, 2014 9:06 pm

Good. This one seems more Oscar friendly than Maps to the Stars although Moore could conceivably find herself nominated for both, Still Alice in lead and Maps in support. If she's nominated in both it will give her a total of six nominations which Amy Adams could also hit this year making it a more competitive race than we might have otherwise expected.

If Moore is nominated in both categories she will have become the first performer to do so twice.

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Re: Still Alice reviews

Postby Mister Tee » Thu Sep 11, 2014 8:41 pm

And Deadline says it's Sony Classics, with an Oscar season release planned. Clearly energizing the best actress category way beyond what seemed possible a week ago.

http://deadline.com/2014/09/toronto-son ... on-833397/

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Re: Still Alice reviews

Postby Big Magilla » Wed Sep 10, 2014 1:42 am

Mister Tee wrote:Harvey would actually be my last choice. If I hear he's bought the film up, I'd fully expect to hear shortly after that he's tabled the film till 2015, the better to get it out of the way of his planned candidates. Harvey games out the Oscars way in advance; I really doubt he could adjust his strategy this late.

I'd much sooner the film go to Sony Classics or Roadhouse (Focus is basically gone, and Searchlight I presume is committed to Witherspoon at this point).

I thought Roadhouse (or Road House) was a production company, not a distributor. Focus Features quite isn't gone. They had Dallas Buyers Club last year and a number of films in the pipeline but nothing on their current schedule appears Oscar friendly.

Harvey sometimes likes to hedge his bets. If Amy Adams, his presumed pick for Big Eyes, doesn't meet expectations he may want to have someone else at the ready. He did pick up The Last Five Years ahead of its Toronto showing so he may still be in the market for more this year.

Sony Classics doesn't have a lead actress to promote but they do have Foxcatcher and Mr. Turner in other categories. Fox Searchlight has Birdman as well as Wild to promote. Either could surprise, but I'd still expect Harvey to bite first.

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Re: Still Alice reviews

Postby Sabin » Tue Sep 09, 2014 9:35 pm

As long as we're talking about Best Actress possibilities, I'm going to make my first official prediction. If it's released this year, The Los Angeles Film Critics Association is going to give Best Actress to Nina Hoss for Phoenix.
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Re: Still Alice reviews

Postby Mister Tee » Tue Sep 09, 2014 9:26 pm

Harvey would actually be my last choice. If I hear he's bought the film up, I'd fully expect to hear shortly after that he's tabled the film till 2015, the better to get it out of the way of his planned candidates. Harvey games out the Oscars way in advance; I really doubt he could adjust his strategy this late.

I'd much sooner the film go to Sony Classics or Roadhouse (Focus is basically gone, and Searchlight I presume is committed to Witherspoon at this point).


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