DAN Wilde's first feature-length film ALPHA MALE (15) is a thoughtful if bleak look at the modern family.
This Ferris family seem to have everything: health, wealth and happiness. But when the husband dies, the family's paradise falls apart. Wife Alice struggles to hold the family together; son Jack takes his new-found responsibilities seriously as the man of the house; meanwhile his sister is resentful of the jealous and money-grabbing visitor who comes to stay.
Years later, when all the characters are reunited for Jack's 21st birthday party, how will each one react when all the old wounds are reopened?
This is a smart film which is both moving and honest. Mark Wells is impressive as the brooding Jack who carries the weight of the world on his shoulders; Jennifer Ehle shines as the mother fighting to keep her family united while the direction is intelligent and original.
An interesting and unsettling look at relationships and how fragile they are.
David Jenkins of Timeout is more critical:
Jim Ferris (Danny Huston) is an affable packaging tycoon whose sudden demise strands his doting wife (Jennifer Ehle) and two children in a purgatory of loneliness and suffering. ‘Alpha Male’ then assesses the willingness of each character to accept his or her new role within the family. It’s a well-intentioned, Bergmanesque drama about paternal anxieties amongst the nouveaux riches, and contains some fine performances and an articulate script. The tone is perhaps a little too frivolous to supply the film with any kind of lasting emotional depth, but there are some delightful moments, such as Mark Heap’s comic cameo as a bashful gardener with a penchant for relieving himself on the grounds of the family mansion, and Tariq Anwar’s editing conveys a pervasive air of melancholy. But the modern- day setting is totally out of sync with writer-director Dan Wilde’s distinctly old-fashioned views on male totemism in the modern family unit, and overall, the film feels too thin to warrant a cinematic release.
The film is going to be showing at Vue cinemas in Leeds, Plymouth and Shepherds Bush. See LondonNet for London cinemas.
At IMDB there's a rumour that the producers cut the film to make it more commercial, against the director's wishes.
There's also a preview of Michael Clayton at Moviecrazed:
A phone tapper and a hit man are just two of the bad boys who may feel at home at the prestigious New York law firm where attorney Michael Clayton (George Clooney) works. Clayton himself, the divorced father of a troubled boy, has conceivably schmoozed with these and other thugs during the 15 years he has performed legal miracles for his slippery, high-profile clients. One thing he learns for sure: more than one of these clients have not told him the entire truth about matters of life and death. And now, at a time of personal peril, Clayton is probably wondering why the lovely young attorney (Jennifer Ehle) with whom he’s been having a clandestine affair is asking him so many deeply probing questions about his unlovely work history. This thriller marks the directorial debut of writer Tony Gilroy, whose screenplays include “The Bourne Supremacy,” “Devil’s Advocate” and “Proof of Life.”
And look, this is cool. Martha Plimpton, one of the Coast of Utopia cast members, has a blog.
...Number one, in September I'm starting rehearsals on a new trilogy of plays by Tom Stoppard at Lincoln Center (TheCoastofUtopia.com) here in New York. It's a huge undertaking and I'm going to Russia with some of the other actors at the end of the month to do some research and see a lot of men with bed head stumbling around drunk. I've never had any interest in Russia as a travel destination but since the plays are about a bunch of crazy Russians in the 19th century I figured I'd go. Also, one of the actors asked if I wanted to go, and I had nothing else to do so I said yes. Kurt Vonnegut said, "Peculiar travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God." He then burst out laughing at how queer he sounded.
Anyway, these Tom Stoppard plays are called "The Coast of Utopia" and I'm beyond excited about them. There are 37 actors playing 70 roles in a story spanning some ridiculous amount of time and we'll be performing them in repertory from October 17 to March 10, 2007. The last three Saturdays of the run, people will be able to come and see all 3 in marathons starting at 11 am, which is terrifying because I haven't seen 11am since I was fourteen. The cast is, in part, Josh Hamilton, Ethan Hawke, Billy Crudup, Jennifer Ehle, Jason Butler Harner, Brian O'Byrne, Amy Irving and Richard Easton. Some of them I've worked with before, some are old friends, and some of them I've never had the chance to meet or work with because there's 37 of us and I can't know everybody, people.
I hope anyone who likes long, epic trilogys about Russia will come and see it. I think it will be an incredible experience for anyone who doesn't fall asleep.
Yeah come, with us!