Howard Hughes is one of the most interesting people in American history. Aviator, inventor, filmmaker, and possibly insane, Rules Don’t Apply opens with a packed newsroom awaiting a phone call from Hughes (Warren Beatty) who has holed up in an Mexican hotel room, to debunk a tell-all book about him, and prove to the world that he is still alive, and that he is not crazy. The film then jumps back in time and tells us the story of hired driver Frank (Alden Ehrenreich), and one of Hughes’ contract actresses, Marla Mabrey (Lily Collins). Hughes of course has a strict no dating policy between his drivers and his contract actresses, but naturally sparks fly between the two, but ambitions on both sides get in the way.
She wants to be an actress, he wants to invest and develop land with Hughes. Both want to meet their reclusive boss, and when he does arrive on the scene and each does get to meet him, things get a little crazier and a lot more complicated. Beatty’s Hughes is a character I’d love to meet. He was a bit nuts, but often times he was still the smartest man in the room.
The film was enjoyable, both as a look at a bygone Hollywood age, and as a fictional biopic of Howard Hughes. Warren Beatty really stood out in the film, which is not surprising as he was screenwriter, director and star. That aside, his performance really was excellent. He walked a fine line between sanity and insanity, between genius and insanity. The film almost felt like Sunset Boulevard with Howard Hughes instead of Norma Desmond. Lily Collins (daughter of Phil Collins) had great chemistry with everybody, and I really enjoyed her singing too. The film really brought together a great cast including Matthew Broderick, Martin Sheen, Candice Bergen and Oliver Platt among others.
At times I do think that the film lost it’s course a bit and couldn’t decide if it was supposed to be a comedy or a dramatic tragedy, but overall the story was light and it was enjoyable. The pieces they chose to show of Hughes’ life were interesting and they even managed to throw a few twists in that I did not see coming.
Bottom Line: I thought I should watch The Aviator to get some more Howard Hughes, but I decided to watch The Rocketeer instead. I love The Rocketeer!
Set in a small New Jersey town, The Oranges will sorely test my spellchecking. Oranges. The great, un-rhymable citrus fruit and colour that I seem to type incorrectly every time, and a word that doesn’t even look like a word when you type it to often… Set in a small New Jersey town, The Oranges is the story of two neighbouring couples who have been best friends for years. Watching their children grow up together, David Walling (Hugh Laurie) and Terry Ostroff (Oliver Platt) are best friends. Their wives Paige (Catherine Keener) and Cathy (Allison Janney) have a similar relationship, as did their daughters Vanessa (Alia Shawkat) and Nina (Leighton Meester) until the last year of high school. Everything was great for the Wallings and Ostroffs, that is until Thanksgiving when Nina comes home for the first time in five years after catching her fiancé cheating on her. While the Wallings may have been great friends with the Ostroffs, their own relationships were becoming quite strained. David and Paige have an emotionless marriage, with David spending more nights sleeping in the pool house than his own bedroom. After Thanksgiving though, everything changes when David and Nina kiss. Actually everything changes when Nina’s mother Cathy stumbles upon a motel rendezvous between the two. Losing his wife, losing his best friend alienating his own daughter, you’d think David’s life would be pretty miserable, but in actuality he’s happy when he’s with Nina, and it’s a happiness he hasn’t had for a long time.
This was a pretty good and pretty funny mid-life crisis movie. The improbability of the relationship between David and Nina, given their 27 year age difference, is suspended by the strong dialogue of the film and the strength of the actors. Hugh Laurie carries the show, but Meester also does a very good job with her role. I have long been a fan of Hugh Laurie, though I only really saw the first season of House M.D. in its entirety. I really liked the show but it seemed every episode was pretty much the same after a while. House was essentially a drama with some humour thrown in, and so is The Oranges, with a bit more emphasis on the humour. While I would love to see Laurie in a straight out comedy again (maybe a Blackadder movie?) he does expertly play these roles that mix comedy and drama. That being said, Oliver Platt was perhaps funnier that Laurie in this movie. I absolutely loved him here and wish his character had a lot more screen time. Speaking of more screen time, there were two minor characters in the film I really liked; Hoon Lee and Aya Cash played two of Vanessa’s co-workers (Henry and apparently Maya according to IMDb) who really helped her deal with her situation and made the movie seem a little more “real”. While Lee has been a character actor for years, Cash is a relative newcomer. I would not be surprised to see bigger and better roles in her future.
Interestingly as I was researching the cast for this review I discovered that IMDb listed Allison Janney as playing “Carol” not “Cathy” which is wrong based on both the film’s official website and the trailer above. I just submitted a correction to the IMDb for the first time, so let’s see if it works. Taking that into account, who knows if Aya Cash’s character is really named Maya since I don’t believe they ever addressed her by name in the movie. Ah well, c’est la vie, and quickly back to The Oranges, it has me thinking, maybe it’s time I had a mid-life crisis…