‘Fading Gigolo’ can’t balance comedy and drama


Fading Gigolo is actor John Turturro’s fifth film, which came as a bit of a surprise to this reviewer, as I missed the bus on “Romance & Cigarettes” (a musical), “Passione” (a documentary), and “Illuminata” (a period comedy). And “Mac,” his first film from 1992, is so dim in my memory that I might not have seen it at all. Regardless, “Fading Gigolo” is two things: a love letter to a New York City that is fast disappearing, a world of bodegas and small shops and affordable brownstones. It’s also a similar mash note to his co-star Woody Allen, whose film romanticized exactly that world.

The set-up also reminds us of mid-’90s Allen: He plays Murray, an old friend of Mr. Turturro’s Fioravente (such a name!), and when both find themselves at the end of employment and needing some cash, Murray half-jokingly suggests that his friend, an eternal bachelor, turn to the oldest profession in the book. Murray will be his pimp, and like an agent, take 10 percent. (This is much better than the 50-50 between artist and gallery owner, he points out.)

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SBIFF: Catherine the Great: Cate Blanchett honored for her role in ‘Blue Jasmine’

Ms. Blanchett signs autographs before walking the red carpet Saturday at the Arlington Theatre.MIKE ELIASON/NEWS-PRESS PHOTOS
Ms. Blanchett signs autographs before walking the red carpet Saturday at the Arlington Theatre.


Cate Blanchett sat down with Deadline Hollywood’s Pete Hammond on Saturday night for a conversation about the craft of acting.

This was the Santa Barbara International Film Festival’s evening for the Outstanding Performer of the Year, honoring Ms. Blanchett for her starring (and Oscar-nominated) role in Woody Allen’s “Blue Jasmine.”

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Matt Sayles photo
Matt Sayles photo

There’s always been something in actress Cate Blanchett’s eyes that has made her a star, perhaps it’s this sense that behind her most glamorous characters, there’s a touch of pain. It’s a vulnerable beauty she’s used to good effect from playing Katherine Hepburn in “The Aviator” to her role in “Babel.” She also plays characters enigmatic —”Elizabeth I,” and ethereal — Galadriel in “Lord of the Rings.” But it’s her stunning, lead role in Woody Allen’s “Blue Jasmine” that has justifiably earned her a sixth Oscar nomination and this year’s “Outstanding Performer of the Year” award at the SBIFF (Saturday at the Arlington).

And what a role it is, in one of Woody Allen’s best films in a long time. Ms. Blanchett’s Jasmine is a woman not just on the verge of a nervous breakdown, but living through one in real time. In flashback, we learn she lived the life of luxury with her Bernie Madoff-like husband, but when he went to prison, she lost everything. Now she has to move in with her sister, whose savings her ex also lost. Yet, Jasmine refuses to face facts and continues to live in a fantasy world of excess. Ms. Blanchett plays her just this side of sympathy, bringing all that vulnerability to the fore.

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The best movies you may not have seen – These alternative film gems from 2013 are worth tracking down

"Frances Ha" IFC Films photo
“Frances Ha”
IFC Films photo

End-of-Year Lists in Film get a bit redundant after the 10th or so. The consensus is formed — and rightly so: “Gravity” was awe-inspiring amazing. Woody Allen finally made a good film again with “Blue Jasmine.” “Before Midnight” completed the excellent trilogy. “12 Years a Slave” is probably going to win everything, deservedly so. “Dallas Buyers Club” will also pick up awards for its two strong leads. And then there are the ones that have just opened (“Inside Llewlyn Davis”) or are about to open (“American Hustle”), but most of us aren’t film-festival hoppers who saw these in Toronto or Cannes.

So here’s a list of the unsung, the little seen, the ones that passed us by, the streaming-only, and the ones you need to seek out, in no particular order … plus a few guilty pleasures. (Caveat: not everything has a copyright stamp of 2013 on it, but this year is when they became available)

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