For Eleanor Coppola, an 81 year old writer/director/producer, this is an amazing achievement. Even with fine performances by Diane Lane and Arnaud Viard and a mercifully brief cameo by Alec Baldwin, the cinematography, locations and memorable recipes steal the show.
The film is the somewhat autobiographical story of Coppola and an incident that occurred when she was in her mid-70s. The stretch is that Coppola is a long way from Diane Lane, who plays her in this film. Lane, at 52, is more beautiful than most of the ingénues who populate Hollywood today and will never be confused with a 73-year-old woman. But this is a movie and it needs a woman a man will yearn for.
Anne (Lane) is married to Michael (Baldwin), an actor who must travel from the French Riviera to Budapest for a film. Anne isn’t feeling well and tells him she will meet him in Paris. Jacques (Amaud Viard), a modern day Maurice Chevalier, offers to drive her. Along the way he treats her to a gorgeous tour of France, all the while subtly trying to seduce her.
We see terrific scenes of France, wonderful meals to which he introduces her, incredible locales, superb acting, enticingly slow pace and delicious dialogue reminiscent of My Dinner with Andre (1981). This is a delightful film for everybody.
Like a fine wine, this ages well. I originally gave it a rating of four Swans, but the more I think about it, the better I like it.
Chuck Wepner (Liev Schreiber) was a liquor salesman in New Jersey who also boxed. He hit the jackpot when he was picked for Muhammed Ali’s first fight after the “Rumble in the Jungle” against George Foreman.
Foreman was a former client of mine for a short period of time when I was in the Litton Industries Law Dept. One of my responsibilities was the Parks Job Corps Center in the Bay Area and George was one of the corpsmen. When he started to get some fame, I was assigned to help him with some contracts, one notably with a big Hollywood agent that I told him not to sign. And Ali was my next door neighbor for almost a decade.
That said, I didn’t know Wepner from Adam. This is his story. The reason it’s cinematic is that the “Rocky” series was based on him, and he tried to take some advantage of that because he apparently was unaware of it until well after the movie came out. Schreiber does such a good job as Chuck that he is almost unrecognizable.
Chuck fought for 10 years, during which time he was knocked out twice, had his nose broken eight times, and had 313 stitches taken in various parts of his body, mostly in his face, where he got the reputation as a “bleeder.”
This film details all of those, or most of them anyway, and also his problems outside the ring which involved alcohol, drugs, womanizing and epic ups and downs.
Schreiber is ably abetted by the performance of Elisabeth Moss, who plays his long–suffering wife Phyllis. Naomi Watts also appears as one of his women, and although she gives a good performance she is not on screen that much. Morgan Spector does a good imitation of Sly Stallone.
One thing I liked about the movie was that the fights that are re-created herein do not have the phony audio enhancements that make every blow sound as though an atomic bomb has gone off. These fights are a lot more realistic.