Why I love Joan Crawford’s performance in Daisy Kenyon

Joan Crawford in Daisy Kenyon (1947)

Joan Crawford moves into the light, just barely. Her eyes are boxed in by the surrounding darkness and her face framed by the shoulders of a man. What seems like a single light source reflects on her misty eyes as her late-light lover offers her, on a silver plate, everything she’s been waiting for. “Come live with me and be my love,” he tells her.

Torn between two men; a married big shot lawyer, Dan O’Mara (Dana Andrews) and an emotionally distant recently widowed veteran, Peter Lapham (Henry Fonda). With an established career and her own apartment, it’s not that she needs to find a husband, but it’s something she wants. Daisy Kenyon wants someone to choose her and love her above anyone else. Would she give it all up though, to make the world a better place?

Otto Preminger’s film embodies nearly all the aesthetic trappings of the then-emerging film noir genre. Photographed in high-contrast black-and-white, a rainstorm is ever-threatening, and the locales, stripped of glamour, almost seem real. It’s a film about the morally ambiguous, but unlike most films of the genre, there is no murder or heist, the only crime is an out in the open adultery. The drama, rather than mined from back-alleys and gin-joints, emerges from the problems facing adults in a world that seems to have lost its moral grounding. In a world of lost souls, the choice between right and wrong becomes more difficult to parse; the decision between the individual versus the collective not quite so obvious.

In many ways, Daisy Kenyon feels like an anomaly, a movie that skirts between noir and melodrama – all the while anchored by Crawford’s performance. Not long after the success of Mildred Pierce, she had entered a new stage of her career. While she maintained her elegance, the roles she took on reflected her age; she was older and more established. Out of the shadow of the War, Crawford’s characters suddenly had careers and ambitions. Crucially, Crawford never entirely shed her working-class edge.

Her large eyes and mysterious smile suited characters who sought to maintain a determined facade while revealing their true desires through the smallest gestures. Forty-two at the time she agreed to star in Preminger’s film, Crawford was old by Hollywood’s standards, yet no one was going to tell her she could no longer play ingenues. Women no longer felt as though they were merely wives or mothers, wanted to see their work and desires reflected on the big screen, and Crawford leaned into this growing demand.

A lifetime since it premiered, Daisy Kenyon still resonates in large part due to Crawford. Here is a woman who had it all but yearned to have more; in the process, finding herself torn between her own freedom and a struggle for what is right. Crawford elevates the film’s relatively low stakes by embodying a woman who is willing to give up her small dreams to make the world better, even as that battle for good increasingly seemed like a distant or impossible reality.

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Gal Gadot, Mark Ruffalo, Amy Adams & More Sing John Lennon’s Imagine

Gal Gadot, Mark Ruffalo, Amy Adams & More Sing John Lennon's Imagine

Gal Gadot, Mark Ruffalo, Amy Adams & More Sing John Lennon’s Imagine

You may have already seen Gal Gadot’s Instagram video that the Wonder Woman star posted yesterday featuring a long-list of celebrities singing John Lennon’s 1971 “Imagine,” as the video currently has over 4.5 million views.

Before leading the song, Gadot shared how after six days in self-quarantine, the situation has made her feel “a bit philosophical” about the pandemic. The star says she was inspired by a viral video from Italy featuring a man playing Lennon’s “Imagine” on his trumpet for other people quarantined in their homes to listen to. Gadot felt that “there was something so powerful and pure about this video,” before singing the opening lines of the classic song.

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Other celebrities who sang lines of the song include Mark Ruffalo, Amy Adams, Natalie Portman, James Marsden, Sarah Silverman, Kristen Wiig, Sia, Pedro Pascal, Jamie Dornan, Zoe Kravitz, Chris O’Dowd, Leslie Odom Jr., Eddie Benjamin, Ashley Benson, Lynda Carter, Jimmy Fallon, Will Ferrell, Norah Jones, Kaia Gerber, Cara Delevingne, Annie Mumolo, Labrinth and Maya Rudolph. The video ends with Gadot delivering the final lines of the song.

ComingSoon.net recommends all readers comply with CDC guidelines and remain as isolated as possible during this urgent time.

(Photo by Karwai Tang/Getty Images)

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Big Time Adolescence

Pete Davidson has only just started playing lead roles in feature films, and he has already achieved a mythic silver screen presence. Later this year, we’ll see him play a version of himself in the Judd Apatow studio project “The King of Staten Island,” and this week we see Davidson as a different type of legend, playing the funny, slightly older screw-up you looked up to when doing your own growing up. You know: the charismatic figure you thought had it all figured out because they partied through the good and the bad. But then you get slightly wiser, and you see what that person doesn’t have in their life, how no-rules coolness is just Monopoly money when the party is over. It’s a common wake-up call experienced by numerous film characters, and writer/director Jason Orley at least makes us laugh and relax before getting to obvious reasons about why you shouldn’t want to be like Davidson’s chaotic slacker Zeke.  

But Mo (Griffin Gluck) doesn’t know this lesson yet, because he’s in high school. Mo looks up to Zeke as if he were the coolest older brother, even though Zeke is the ex-boyfriend of Mo’s sister Kate (Emily Arlook). Mo is a decent kid, relatively plain, and that makes him highly susceptible to influence. As he hangs out with Zeke more and more, spending time with Zeke’s drinking and smoking buddies, Mo unknowingly but willingly mutates himself into Zeke. First it’s when Mo repeats Zeke’s jokes, then it’s when Mo tries out Zeke’s crude strategy in order to get a classmate Sophie (Oona Laurence) to want him back.  

It’s a highly unusual friendship, but the chemistry between Gluck and Davidson help make it seem like a believable anomaly. Davidson’s Zeke is the constantly amused devil on the shoulder of Gluck’s high schooler Mo. And because Mo wants to be popular, Zeke essentially pushes him to sell drugs to the older rich kids at their weird themed parties. It’s just one of many things that Zeke normalizes for him, and in turn sets Mo on a path of destruction.

With his feature debut, Orley presents himself as someone who knows this world of suburban kid basement parties well, but also as a storyteller interested in the dynamics to be found in these two slackers of varying levels. In particular, it becomes apparent that even though Zeke is introduced as a goofy god, Zeke needs Mo just as much to help make himself look cool, too. 

This creates a sizable symbiotic bond that the movie lives and dies on, and “Big Time Adolescence” often hits a strong beat anytime it builds backstory to make it about how their backstories inform their need for each other. But Orley’s script cheats itself out of any major emotional impact. As strong as it may to be start hanging out with them, basically anyone watching this movie would know that this kind of life gets old fast; some urgency is given to the film by tender performances from Jon Cryer (as Mo’s dad) and Oona Laurence (especially when her character Sophie realizes that Mo nonetheless walks and talks like a jerk). Watching Mo learn all of this feels more obvious than usual for a story about arrested development—of course the fast life will lead to loneliness—because Orley doesn’t offer any sense earlier that he’s much interested in shaking things up. 

But Orley has enough jokes and heart in “Big Time Adolescence” to recommend it as a comedy, getting laughs from character work (Davidson’s hyper-active performance especially), little gags in the background, and abrupt cuts that create their own punchline. And the supporting cast stands out too—there’s a liveliness whenever Zeke, Mo, Nick (Machine Gun Kelly), Danny (Omar Brunson) and Holly (Sydney Sweeney) are in Zeke’s pit of an apartment together, even if you don’t want to drink whatever they’re drinking. Orley is also constantly mindful for framing and how characters fit into an image, giving the movie’s hangout scenes a sense of being loose in story, but considered visually. Even when “Big Time Adolescence” starts to become ordinary, it always has a freshness from its on-screen talent, and from the promise of Orley’s directorial eye. 

Ewen Bremner’s sausage and other highlights from the 2020 Glasgow Film Festival

Gutterbee (2019)

There’s a level of warm intimacy at the Glasgow Film Festival that you just don’t get elsewhere. It’s like being on the periphery of a big family meal and watching as everyone mucking in to make certain that everyone has their seat at the table.

It might be something to do with the narrow corridors and the dinky bar space (not a criticism!) at the Glasgow Film Theatre, the festival’s central screening hub. It’s very easy to bump into people you know, or spot programmers and filmmakers milling about ahead of their next Q&A or intro. Seeing the same faces lends the event a subtle sense of comforting cohesion, even as the programme itself covers a wide range of subjects, styles and locales.

My festival began in the most roistering and collegiate style imaginable, at a rep screening of 1994’s Tammy and the T-Rex. The film sees tousle-haired jock Michael, played by Paul Walker, having his brain transplanted into the head of an animatronic T-Rex after he is mauled by a lion in a local safari park.

Denise Richards’ cheergirl Tammy has the hots for Michael, much to the violent chagrin of her psychotic partner Billy (George Pilgrim), who hounds the lovestruck quarterback to the point of near-death. When Tammy quickly realises it’s Michael’s brain powering the T-Rex on a gore-soaked killing spree, she rekindles her love for him and tries her utmost to free him.

The film was made because a South American entrepreneur got hold of an animatronic T-Rex and writer/director Stewart Raffill (the mind behind Mac and Me) wrote something which he could shoot close to his house in Texas. All the splatter scenes were eventually expunged so the film would achieve a PG-13 rating, but no-one went to see it.

Now, the American distributor Vinegar Syndrome, who specialise in artworks of ill repute, have restored and recut the film, bringing it back to its former gory glory. At the screening I attended, many viewers were swigging from wine bottles and bellowing invective at the scene, a noise to be heard amid the rounds of howling laughter. Although its tongue is definitely set firmly in its cheek, this gaudy relic has the potential to become a late night phenomenon á la The Room. Just don’t let James Franco see it!

From tinkering with a botched future classic to building a movie around your obsession with an actress: the title of Chiara Malta’s Simple Women is a nod back to Hal Hartley’s 1992 film Simple Men, which contained within it an iconic dance sequence set to Sonic Youth’s ‘Kool Thing’ and led by Elina Löwensohn’s mysterious epileptic Elina.

When aspiring film director and Simple Men superfan Federica (Jasmine Trinca) bumps into Elina Löwensohn on the streets of Rome, she pitches a biopic of her life to be filmed in her native Bucharest. Löwensohn hesitatingly accepts, and what begins as a chance for the actress to revisit her tumultuous youth, soon turns sour when arguments erupt about who the subject’s life really belongs to. It’s certainly a novel, well-executed rumination on the physical and emotional logistics of filmmaking, even if it does lack for a satisfying conclusion.

Of a more serious political stripe was Amjad Abu Alala’s You Will Die at 20, a slickly-realised Sudanese teen movie with a macabre twist. As a baby, Muzamil is taken to a naming ceremony overseen by the Sheik, and when one of her dervishes faints at a key moment, it is pronounced that the child will – per the title – die at the age of 20. Very quickly, Muzamil’s father ships out, claiming that he’ll find work abroad and send back money, but the reality is that he can’t bear the shame.

The boy his confined to his house, mocked and abused by his peers, and thought to be a dead loss to the community. He memorises the Quran, but nobody really cares. The curse shapes everything about him, even his reticence to forge human connections. The film slowly, carefully rolls towards a denouement in which we are able to witness the results of his two-decade existential breakdown. It’s a little laconic and occasionally a little overwrought, but it’s impressive as a debut feature, both in its visuals which play on the high contrast of sun and shade, and the subtle power of the performances.

Familiarity at film festivals – just as in real life – can breed contempt, so it’s always worth straying a little off the beaten track. Using residual director recognition, or festival awards as a guiding light, can only get you so far. I took a chance on Ulrich Thomsen’s Gutterbee, a tiresomely wacky slice of Southern Gothic which was made worthwhile by Ewen Bremner playing an expat German sausage butcher who is clearly based on Werner Herzog.

The biggest surprise of the festival was Katharine O’Brien’s Lost Transmissions, in which Simon Pegg proves there’s more than one string to his acting bow by playing a man suffering the adverse psychological effects of years heavy drug abuse. It’s a rough-edged film, but everything about it feels ripped from an ostensibly credible reality.

The way O’Brien depicts the cruel bureaucracy of the various treatment centres and the difficulty of seeing a close friend in a new light is both detailed and affecting, with Juno Temple on fine form as the electropop singer-songwriter who falls into caring for this lost soul.

I feel like, in all, I was only able to dip the point of one toe into the deep waters of this festival, but all I can say for certain is that it was very warm (like usual) and I’m certainly hankering wade in a bit deeper next year.

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James Mangold & Robert Rodriguez Rumored for Mandalorian Season 2, Plus Obi-Wan Code Name

James Mangold & Robert Rodriguez Rumored for Mandalorian Season 2, Plus Obi-Wan Code Name

James Mangold & Robert Rodriguez Rumored for Mandalorian Season 2, Plus Obi-Wan Code Name

According to Star Wars News Net, Academy Award nominee James Mangold (Ford v Ferrari, Logan, 3:10 to Yuma) and Robert Rodriguez (Alita: Battle Angel, Machete, Planet Terror) directed parts of The Mandalorian Season 2. The outlet specifies that, along with other unnamed directors, Mangold and Rodriguez have both “directed sequences for an episode” of the second season, and Rodriguez’s contribution was called “great.”

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Bryce Dallas Howard has also returned to direct The Mandalorian Season 2. Howard directed the first season’s “Chapter 4: Sanctuary” episode. Filming for the new season began last fall and is set to premiere on Disney+ in October. SWNN also shared that “big” guest stars are rumored for Season 2.

Additionally, SWNN revealed that the working title of Disney+’s Obi-Wan Kenobi series is Pilgrim. Ewan McGregor will reprise his role as Obi-Wan in the series, which will take place eight years after the events of Revenge of the Sith, where we last saw Obi-Wan delivering the infant Luke Skywalker to his Tatooine homestead. The series will directed by Deborah Chow. Chow, Amini, and McGregor will serve as Executive Producers alongside Kathleen Kennedy, Tracey Seaward (The Queen) and John Swartz (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story). Jason McGatlin, Lucasfilm’s Executive Vice President Production, will serve as co-producer.

After the stories of Jango and Boba Fett, another warrior emerges in the Star Wars universeThe Mandalorian is set after the fall of the Empire and before the emergence of the First Order. We follow the travails of a lone gunfighter in the outer reaches of the galaxy far from the authority of the New Republic.

Purchase Rogue One: A Star Wars Story here.

Pedro Pascal (Kingsman: The Golden Circle) stars as a lone Mandalorian gunfighter in the outer reaches of the galaxy and is joined by Gina Carano (Deadpool) who plays Cara Dune, a former Rebel Shock Trooper, having trouble re-integrating herself into society.; and Carl Weathers as Greef, a man who heads a guild of bounty hunters that hires The Mandalorian for a specific job.

Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad), Emily Swallow (Supernatural), Carl Weathers (Predator), Omid Abtahi (American Gods), Werner Herzog (Grizzly Man) and Nick Nolte (Affliction) also star.

Jon Favreau serves as executive producer and showrunner for the series. Directors for the first season include Dave Filoni (Star Wars: The Clone WarsStar Wars Rebels), who directed the first episode, plus Deborah Chow (Jessica Jones), Rick Famuyiwa (Dope), Bryce Dallas Howard (Solemates) and Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnarok), who also provides the voice for bounty hunter IG-88 in the series.

RELATED: Check Out Our Mandalorian Toy Reveal Gallery!

The Mandalorian is executive produced by Jon Favreau, Dave Filoni, Kathleen Kennedy and Colin Wilson. Karen Gilchrist serves as co-executive producer.

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