CE Films - Part 7 - 1998-1999



22 Jan 1998 (Sundance Film Festival)
Film | Dir. & wr. Boaz Yakin
Role: Sender Horowitz (businessman).

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Chiclit: "A good effort by Harvey Weinstein to get Oscars, but it didn't work. It seems to me that it was perhaps a great idea for a film in concept (Weinstein probably hoped it would be the next 'English Patient', Renee Zellweger, etc.), but it fell short for me. Chris was as good as he could be in that film, I think he did as much as was humanely possible with what he was given, and I enjoyed his performance – he is the most charismatic and compelling thing about the movie, and definitely sparks with Zellweger."

Alex: "This is a story of a young woman, married to a Jewish scholar, and encountering both the limitations of her status in their closed society in New York and the traps on the road to her breakthrough. It's clearly a niche film, good as such, perhaps not just a melodrama with ambitions, but unluckily incapable of anything more. It tells its story, but is prevented from reaching out, feels very technical – an experience here and now, but it won't necessarily stir your mind."

C: "I found it difficult to identify with Zellweger's character – Sonia just seemed mentally ill at the first part of the movie (and I know that it was meant to be a feminist movie, so that wasn't the intention, but since I had no info about how or why she married, moved to NY, what the relationship with the husband had been prior to the birth of her child, I had no way to determine if she had been this way all her life and never wanted to get married, or was suffering from post-partum depression).

"I also felt that exploring a little more about why Chris's character could be morally ambiguous, and the devout family didn't seem to know or notice, would have been helpful – how did that happen? He is (again with the duality, the less than moral brother-in-law/family leader) contrasting with Sonia's religious husband. Did Sender care for Zellweger's character more than we knew? I felt Chris was trying to express his admiration for her without admitting too much."

A: "Sender acknowledged Sonia more than anybody else, saw her flair and potential, but at the same time treated her as his property. And in this lies one more duality, where reality twists the initially positive things like cultural tradition into a petri dish for selfishness and abuse. You cannot simply label Sender as a villain, a black sheep, though. It is possible to see him as a trigger for progressive development in their society. These levels, surrounding Sender, are the most original, a bit shady sometimes, but much more preferable than other characters' predictable strata."

C: "In the end, Chris's character is the catalyst for change in the movie, for propelling the story forward at a point where I, at the same time as respecting her worth and talent, was becoming very weary of the Zellweger’s character's craziness. Chris strikes sparks with Renee Zellweger that the other actors don't, and it ends up being a compelling realistic performance. There are facial hair and accent issues to overcome in this movie, but all in all well worth it."

Conclusion: Peculiar film with a not widely explored subject.

DVD Notes:
2004 "DFW" (Dutch). Dutch subtitles. Extras: R. Zellweger bio, filmography, mini photo gallery.

8 Sept 1998 (Venice Film Festival)
Film | Dir. Shekhar Kapur | Wr. Michael Hirst
Role: Duke of Norfolk.

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Chiclit: "Chris as the Duke of Norfolk, with an upper-class northern accent. The film is excellent overall and it's a pleasure to watch Chris working with the likes of Cate Blanchett and Geoffrey Rush, as he can bring the full power of his acting to surface without worrying about tipping the balance of the scene and overpowering his co-stars, or the scenery. He plays a character quite jealous and watchful of the Queen, and you can almost see the emotion rising off him and seeping out his pores. There is no ambiguity about this character – he wishes the Queen, his rival, dead and ultimately underestimates her."

Alex: "Norfolk was cast against the type, and very successfully – he easily stands out among other characters, not least because of the deliberately chosen type of performance. The film itself is often ousted as bending the historical truth, but I don't think it should prevent anyone from enjoying it – it's both beautifully shot and entertaining."

Conclusion: Good period drama.

DVD Notes:
2007 "Universal Pictures" Multi Region (The Golden Edition). English or French soundtrack, English SDH subtitles + 9 other languages. Extras: Commentary by director Sh. Kapur; 'The Making Of Elizabeth'; 'Golden Age' sneak peek; Theatrical trailer; Photo gallery.

Watch: brief CE interview

16 Feb 1999
Film | Dir. & wr. David Cronenberg
Role: Seminar leader.

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Alex: "Cronenberg's attempt at cross-breeding games, virtual reality and film is a convoluted affair. And I say this as his fan. Immediately the concept is really interesting, but then it doesn't keep its promise.

"Seminar leader has two scenes at the game's presentation – the briefness of his appearance is explained, perhaps almost self-ironically from Cronenberg's side
– but there's really nothing to write home about."

Conclusion: Obscure cameo role – not something you should watch the film for.

DVD Notes:
1999 "Momentum Pictures" Region 2. English HOH subtitles. Extras: Commentaries by D. Cronenberg, Director of photography and Visual & special effects supervisor; FX documentary; Theatrical trailer.