Friday, 15 December, 2017

'Wonder Wheel': Coney Island love triangle makes for monotonous melodrama

Justin Timberlake in Woody Allen’s “Wonder Wheel.” Movie Review – Wonder Wheel (2017)
Kenny Thornton | 08 December, 2017, 09:42

And people say the Louis C.K. movie is baldly revealing of its creator!

I can admit that these do exist. Coney Island glistens and looks straight out of the 1950s.

Dylan Farrow wants to know why her adoptive father, Woody Allen, has been spared.

Winslet's character, oyster-bar waitress Ginny, is a minor working-class variation on Cate Blanchett's in Blue Jasmine, herself a minor upper-crust riff on Blanche DuBois. Narrated by Justin Timberlake, in the persona of Coney Island lifeguard and aspiring playwright Mickey Rubin, the film opens with a caution that the tale we are about to see will include - gasp - symbolism.

Winslet joked that she thought that "on some level Woody is a woman". And they're on their way the hell out of town while Allen soaks in another movie release. It's just a bad movie; a flat melodrama in which some lovely camerawork and a ferocious central performance from Winslet can't hide the rote tiredness of it all.

The character who presents the most issues happens to be one of the few who doesn't have an affinity for cynicism.

B-1B bomber joins US-South Korea drills as tensions escalate
General Assembly in which he threatened to "totally destroy" North Korea, which the country branded a "declaration of war". Precautions must be taken to ensure Pyongyang does not make a similar error that results in an accidental nuclear war.

Carolina seeks refuge with her father Humpty (Jim Belushi), who operates the merry-go-round, and his put-upon wife Ginny, a failed actress now waiting tables in a clam shack. Belushi brings a touching vulnerability to his under-shirted cartoon caricature, nearly like Stanley Kowalski as played by Fred Flintstone. Humpty and Ginny bicker over money, over his alcoholism, over her son (from an earlier man), over his daughter (from an earlier woman), their scenes playing out like sped-up mid-century theater drama, all blue-collar bluntness and declamatory psychology.

With Winslet garnering much of the pre-Oscar buzz for her emotional yet predictable role in Wonder Wheel, it is Belushi's under-heralded pursuance of the lunkish and needy brute Humpty who should be earning more acclaim. For love to bloom in the Allenverse, the woman must be doused, and then handed a syllabus.

Of course Ginny would be upset and distraught and devastated upon learning of Mickey's love for Carolina, but as written by Allen and played by Winslet, Ginny becomes completely unhinged, to the point of criminal madness. (Allen's dialogue defeats Timberlake's flow.) He even lectures us about hamartia, though it's not clear exactly what tragic flaw it is that Allen sees in his protagonist, Ginny. But everyone in "Wonder Wheel" goes on and on in stiff, wordy monologues that play like knock-offs of Odets, William Inge, Tennessee Williams, and other heavy hitters from the era of "serious" Broadway and "Playhouse 90". Which I guess is kinda interesting - it implies that the film will be a post-modern pastiche of itself, and sets up the idea that Allen is out to lampoon half-baked melodrama.

As the discontented Ginny, Winslet emotes all over the place, going from sympathetic to lonely to deluded to angry to manipulative to loony, as if she were spinning on that titular Ferris wheel glowing just outside her home in the park. He's a victim of fate: She think he's smart, the clouds are about to burst, and he's got a copy of Ernest Jones' Hamlet and Oedipus to lend her.

In the end, Winslet, Belushi and Temple carry the latest Allen film fueled by potential and continuously on the verge of an identity. It's important that we don't stand for this and that we don't focus on one or two or three or four stories, it's important that we focus on humanity in general and say, 'This is unacceptable.' " But on the subject of Allen, she said, "It's very unsafe to factor in things you don't know anything about.

In a new op-ed for The Los Angeles Times, Woody Allen's adopted daughter, Dylan Farrow, asks why Allen - who she alleges sexually assaulted her when she was 7 - hasn't been held accountable like other powerful men including Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey.

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