⋆⋆⋆½ out of four stars
Elaine Stritch pulls no punches in this biographical documentary, which recounts her days as a hard-drinking, high-living, combative Broadway diva, in the era before the theater district was thoroughly Disneyfied. At 87 she remains a prickly show-stopper, as you may recall from her run as Jack Donaghy's mother, Colleen, on NBC's “30 Rock” (Alec Baldwin produced this film) and her recent F-bomb on “The Today Show.” Chiemi Karasawa’s 80-minute film is admiring and unsparing, recording rehearsals and performances for Stritch’s farewell cabaret show last spring. She’s shown blowing the lyrics to Sondheim songs she made famous, and enduring a diabetic meltdown. But Stritch is her own sternest critic, and you have the feeling that only a warts-and-all portrait would satisfy her. What a tough, difficult, talented old broad.
The Face of Love
⋆⋆½ out of four stars
Rated: PG-13 for drug references.
“The Face of Love” is patchy, but it raises such fascinating questions that it deserves to be seen. Annette Bening plays a well-off Los Angeles widow holding on to her architect husband’s memory five years after his death. Then she meets a painter (Ed Harris), a virtual clone of the man she loved. She begins a romance without telling the man the reason for her fascination with him. What she sees with her adoring eyes is a mirage, caused by emotional thirst. The presence of Robin Williams as a friendly/nosy neighbor suggests it might become a suspense film. But the movie is more concerned with the way we can use a new romantic partner to supply qualities we miss in a lost one. Writer/director Arie Posin sabotages himself with a dubious happy ending. If he’d ended with the next-to-last shot of a haunting triple portrait, he would have left us with something savory to chew on.
The Best Offer
⋆½ out of four stars
Rated: R for sexuality and graphic nudity.