I’m not a member of the Academy, but I sure felt like one when I attended two screenings last week at the Academy Theater (that’s right, the official theater for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences!) There’s even a life-size statue of Oscar, the Academy Award! (Pictured above).
The first screening was for Obvious Child (aired at Sundance Film Festival) and the other screening was Third Person (aired at Tribeca Film Festival).
Obvious Child tells the story of a female comedian who becomes pregnant after a one night stand. It starts off kind of raunchy and raw but I grew to love the main character, Donna Sterns played by Jenny Slate. The film was watchable, real, brave, laugh-out-loud hilarious and tells this age-old story in a different and matter-of-fact narrative rarely seen on screen. The question was not whether Donna would have an abortion; it was about whether she would open her heart and be vulnerable to those she loves, as well as those who want to love her.
I truly adored Max’s character played by Jake Lacey. He was both sexy and sweet, the type of guy I would want to be with. Then there was Nellie, Donna’s outspoken best female friend played by Gaby Hoffmann. She was perfect as the best friend: Supportive, loving and always there when needed. And then there’s the gay best friend, Joey played by Gabe Liedman who was wonderful and fun. Donna’s relationship with her parents (who are separated) is complicated and deeply real. She has a closer relationship with her father (played by Richard Kind) who is warm and fun loving, while her mother (played by Polly Draper) is a little more distant and seemingly judgmental. This perception of the mother is changed during a key moment in the film, which I will let you discover for yourself…
Without revealing too much, the ending of Obvious Child is beautiful and speaks toward new beginnings.
Third Person is romance psychological thriller drama with an excellent ensemble cast: Liam Neeson, Olivia Wilde, James Franco, Mila Kunis, Kim Basinger, Adrien Brody. The basic premise is that there are three couples living in Paris, Rome and New York City and have interlocking stories. The film is compelling, intense, extremely well acted and really pulls you in as more and more is revealed about the lives of each couple. There is a fair share of heartbreak and pain within the stories, as well as shocking revelations.
In Paris, Michael, a married writer played by Liam Neeson and a Anna, single woman played by Olivia Wilde sadistically toy with one another. Michael is moody and dark, while Olivia is gorgeous, sexy-crazy and a breath of fresh air. After learning about a different relationship she has, the audience begins to see the motivations behind her actions. Then there is Sean, a corporate thief played by Adrien Brody in Rome who meets a beautiful gypsy woman who may or may not be lying about her situation to steal his money… Lastly, in New York, we have a Julia, a mother who is estranged from her young son and Rick, the father who has both moved on and has custody of the son, played by Mila Kunis and James Franco, respectively. Julia is unreliable, emotional and constantly late, making it look like she doesn’t care, which couldn’t be further from the truth.
At the end, the parallels between the three stories become evident and the climactic scene is quite a whirlwind. You’re also left thinking about the film and trying to piece it all together.
I had a great experience viewing Obvious Child and Third Person at The Academy Theater. Both are now playing in theaters, so check them out!