“We’ve missed you, Jane Fonda,” writes David Fear, opening his review of Peace, Love, & Misunderstanding in Time Out New York. “Though you’ve recently graced forgettable films in thankless roles (Georgia Rule, Monster-in-Law), it’s been too long since we’ve seen you burn a hole through the screen the way you used to. We’d begun praying that promising éminence grise parts around the bend—a network suit in Aaron Sorkin’s HBO series The Newsroom; playing Nancy Reagan (!) in an upcoming Lee Daniels movie—will offer glimpses of the old spitfire heat. Then along comes Bruce Beresford‘s family drama, and we’re reminded of exactly what you can do when something engages you.”
Fonda will be at the Film Society of Lincoln Center tonight for “a career-spanning conversation moderated by New Yorker theater critic Hilton Als,” and tomorrow evening sees a screening of 9 to 5 (1980) at 92YTribeca: “Produced by Fonda, it is a utopian version of a female-centered world in sharp contrast to the dystopian 3 Women (which 9 to 5 writer Patricia Resnick co-wrote without credit).” One of the most remarkable chapters in any acting career began when Fonda followed Barbarella (1968) with They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? (1969) and Klute (1971), and then Tout va bien (1972), directed by Jean-Luc Godard and Jean-Pierre Gorin, who immediately whipped around and “punished” her (J. Hoberman) with Letter to Jane (1972), which, as Jonathan Dawson notes in Senses of Cinema, has something of “a show trial about it.”
One wonders that Fonda would even want to revisit the 60’s, but in Peace, Love, & Misunderstanding, she delivers “an incredible performance, albeit a diamond in a pile of dung,” warns David Fear. It’s “an incompetently structured film that pits hippies against squares with the usual wearying results,” agrees Melissa Anderson in the Voice. “Reeling from her husband’s demand for a divorce, pinched Manhattan lawyer Diane (Catherine Keener) drives to Woodstock with her two teenage children in tow for a reprieve at the home of her earth-goddess mother, Grace (Jane Fonda). Diane, appalled by Mom’s pot-growing and free-loving, hasn’t spoken to Grace in 20 years; her children, Whitman-quoting vegan Zoe (Elizabeth Olsen) and twerpy aspiring filmmaker Jake (Nat Wolff), are meeting their batik-dress-wearing granny for the first time. The teens marvel at Grace’s chime- and chicken-filled house and find first love in Ulster County. Diane can’t relax enough to get out of her casual-Friday J. Crew dresses and sensible heels, and at first, she recoils from but eventually succumbs to Grace’s rituals: anti-war protests in the town square every Saturday, a full-moon-worshipping sister-circle, filled with ululating and a miserable-looking Rosanna Arquette.” More from Andrew Schenker in Slant (two out of four stars) and Geoff Berkshire interviews Fonda for HitFix.
Also in New York: “Looked at from an anthropological point of view—or simply as a historical spirit-of-’72 artifact—The Harder They Come is undeniably important, a revolutionary rude-boy cautionary tale that introduced reggae to a global audience.” Stephen Garrett in TONY: “But make no mistake: As a movie, it’s Mystery Science Theater 3000 bad.” More from Melissa Anderson (Voice) and Ryan Wells (Cinespect). At the IFC Center through June 14.
And Paul Giamatti and Sarah Paulson have joined Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt, Benedict Cumberbatch, Scoot McNairy and Ruth Negga in the cast of Steve McQueen’s Twelve Years a Slave.
“Thomas de Thier’s film crew has just landed in Luxembourg for a few weeks, to wrap up shooting on his latest film, Le Goût des Myrtilles (lit. ‘The taste of blueberries’),” reports Aurore Engelen at Cineuropa. “Shooting started in Brussels at the end of May. The director’s first film, Feathers in My Head (2004), was a discreet, poetic work about life after the death of a child. Selected for the Directors’ Fortnight in Cannes and praised by the critics, the film introduced the public to a singular filmmaker whose relationship with nature is at the heart of his work.”
Debra Winger will make her Broadway debut in a production of David Mamet’s The Anarchist, “a two-character play about a women’s prison inmate with a radical past who is seeking parole from the prison’s female warden,” reports Dave Itzkoff for the New York Times.