Revealing Retrospective Revisits Life and Times of SNL’s Gilda Radner
Gilda Radner (1946-1989) is best known as an original cast member of Saturday Night Live. In fact, she was the very first of the “Not Ready for Prime-Time Players” hired back in 1975 by the show’s creator/producer, Lorne Michaels.
She soon skyrocketed to superstardom on the strength of sketches where she played such unforgettable characters as Roseanne Roseannadanna, Emily Litella and Baba Wawa (aka Barbara Walters), to name few. Sadly, her career would be aborted by a diagnosis of ovarian cancer which would claim her life at the age of 42.
Love, Gilda marks the directorial debut of Lisa Dapolito who paints a poignant portrait of the late comedienne, mostly in her own words, via a combination of diary entries, home movies and recently discovered audiotapes. The reverential retrospective also features archival footage of performances, as well as wistful reminiscences by her brother, Michael, and colleagues like Chevy Chase and Laraine Newman.
The engaging biopic unfolds chronologically, with Gilda reflecting upon how she developed an interest in comedy at an early age while growing up in Detroit. “Because I’m not a perfect example of my gender, I decided to be funny about what I didn’t have.” she explains.
She majored in theater at the University of Michigan and dropped out not to kickstart her career, but to follow her sculptor boyfriend to Canada. She did join Toronto’s Second City comedy troupe there, comparing improv to a circus performer’s working without a net.
Gilda eventually landed her big break on NBC’s groundbreaking show in New York She insightfully describes each SNL episode as “an opening night of an under-rehearsed Broadway play.”
Overall, a fond tribute to a much-beloved comedy icon.
Excellent (4 stars)
Running time: 88 minutes
Production Studio: 3 Faces Films / Motto Pictures
Studio: Magnolia Pictures
God Bless the Broken Road
Military Widow Loses, Regains Faith in Cliché-Ridden Tale of Redemption
Sergeant Darren Hill (Liam Matthews) was just days away from finishing up a tour of duty in Afghanistan when he died during an ambush of his unit. The shocking news devastated his wife, Amber (Lindsay Pulsipher), and their young daughter, Bree (Makenzie Moss).
In fact, Amber was so embittered, she Amber stepped down as her church’s choir director, moaning, “Look where my faith in God got us.” And pep talks from Pastor Williams (LaDainian Tomlinson) and her BFFs, Bridgette (Jordin Sparks) and Karena (Robin Givens) fail to bring her back into the fold.
Two years later, and we find the grieving widow struggling to keep a roof over her head. Waitressing at the local diner simply doesn’t pay enough to keep the bank from threatening to foreclose on her house.
When Amber’s served with a notice to vacate the premises, she borrows $800 from a loan shark at a usurious rate, a short-term fix certain to come back to bite her. It takes hitting rock bottom for her to rethink turning her back on God.
Thus, unfolds the opening act of God Bless the Broken Road, a faith-based drama directed and co-written by Harold Cronk (God’s Not Dead 1 and 2). Unfortunately, the cliché-ridden, modern morality play is less concerned with character development than with hammering home a heavy-handed message about the virtues of Christianity.
Quite predictably, Amber’s fortunes do improve, but only after her faith in the Lord is restored. Meanwhile, the screen is littered with one-dimensional caricatures who bear no resemblance to real people.
A simplistic, sermonizing parable strictly for the Bible-thumping demographic.
Fair (1 star)
Rated PG for combat action and mature themes
Running time: 111 minutes
Production Studio: 10 West Studios / A Really Good Home Pictures
Studio: Freestyle Releasing
OPENING THIS WEEK
Weekly Previews That Make Choosing a Film Fun
For movies opening September 21, 2018
Fahrenheit 11/9 (R for profanity and disturbing material and images) Michael Moore mockumentary takes a humorous and thought-provoking look at the 2016 election and the presidency of Donald Trump.
The House with a Clock in Its Walls (PG for sorcery, mature themes, action, scary images, rude humor and mild epithets) Adaptation of John Bellairs’ sci-fi fantasy about a young orphan (Owen Vaccaro) who enters a world of magic after being sent to live with his warlock uncle (Jack Black). With Cate Blanchett, Lorenza Izzo and Colleen Camp.
Life Itself (R for profanity, sexual references, violent images and brief drug use) Romance drama chronicling a couple’s (Oscar Isaac and Olivia Wilde) relationship from college to marriage to the birth of their first child. Ensemble cast includes Annette Bening, Samuel L. Jackson, Antonio Banderas and Mandy Patinkin.
INDEPENDENT & FOREIGN FILMS
American Dresser (Unrated) Buddy adventure about a grieving widower (Tom Berenger) who talks his BFF (Keith David) into joining him on a cross-country motorcycle trip from New York to the West Coast. Supporting cast includes Bruce Dern, Gina Gershon and Penelope Ann Miller.
Assassination Nation (R for disturbing violence, gore, pervasive profanity, menacing, and teen drug and alcohol use) Suspense thriller set in Salem, Mass. where a high school senior (Odessa Young) and her friends turn on each other after an anonymous hacker starts posting details of their private lives. With Suki Waterhouse, Anika Noni Rose, Joel McHale, Maude Apatow and Bella Thorne.
Colette (R for sexuality and nudity) Keira Knightley portrays the title character in this biopic about Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette (1873-1954), the French feminist and novelist best known for Gigi, which was adapted to the screen as the classic musical which won 9 Oscars, including Best Picture. Cast includes Dominic West, Denise Gough and Eleanor Tomlinson.
Garry Winogrand: All Things Are Photographable (Unrated) Reverential retrospective of the career of Garry Winogrand (1928-1984), serendipitous, NYC street photographer famous for capturing the cultural and political upheaval of the Sixties and Seventies.
Love, Gilda (Unrated) Novel retrospective offering an intimate look at the life and times of original Saturday Night Live cast member Gilda Radner (1946-1989) in her own words, via her diaries, home movies and recently discovered audiotapes, along with archival footage and interviews with friends and colleagues. Featuring commentary by Chevy Chase, Laraine Newman and Lorne Michaels.
The Sisters Brothers (R for profanity, violence, disturbing images and some sexuality) Western comedy based on Patrick DeWitt’s best seller, set in Oregon in the 1850s, about a gold prospector (Riz Ahmed) being chased across the desert by a couple of notorious assassins (John C. Reilly and Joaquin Phoenix). With Jake Gyllenhaal, Rutger Hauer and Carol Kane.
Tea with the Dames (Unrated) Revealing documentary shot over the course of a weekend in retreat the country shared by four legendary British actresses who have been friends for over a half-century: Dames Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Eileen Atkins and Joan Plowright.