Lovely & Amazing (USA; 89min.)

directed by: Nicole Holofcener
starring: Catherine Keener; Emily Mortimer; Brenda Blethyn; Raven Goodwin
Lovely & Amazing
Laura says: "Holofcener has a terrific ability to conjure breathing characters out of the quirks and ticks of human foibles. A woman sees herself through her doctor's eyes as the 'after' until she's reminded that he's more familiar with the ugly realities of the 'before.' A vain movie star becomes interested in a woman who is willing to have the veneer stripped away. Trying to sample success on the coattails of a relative, a woman painfully finds herself alone in the midst of a cocktail party. A child uses the words of her older sister against her and the shock startles. A teenage boy's mother sees a vastly different woman with her son than he does. With one (huge) exception, where she tries to be too cutely symbolic in her plotting, Holofcener's script is a winner. It should be noted that each of her adult female character's shows their maternal side by adopting strays and all require the admiration of a man for self esteem.

"Catherine Keener is the standout of a strong ensemble. Keener's not afraid to play unlikable, yet because of the truth of her acting, she's always sympathetic. While Michelle complains to Bill about their nonexistent sex life, Keener makes it clear that it's self-affirmation she wants, not sex, with an impatient shrug and roll of the eyes. Blethyn finally tones it down, making Jane a breathy female who hints at a former seductress. Mortimer is sweet and shy, quite miscast in the career she's chosen for herself. Goodwin is a natural, trying to make a stand against the past that's no longer hers while trying not to drown in the present she's inherited. Mulroney gives the unexpected in a vain star who may actually be a nice guy underneath. Gyllenhaal is puppyish as the awkward yet sexy teen who goes for broke with a prickly older woman. Le Gros invests no emotion in his character." 4 cats
For Laura's complete review: ""
Michael says: "The Boston International Festival of Women's Cinema kicked off with LOVELY & AMAZING, Nicole Holofcener's follow-up to WALKING & TALKING. Once again starring Catherine Keener, LOVELY & AMAZING explores the lives of a mother and her three daughters. Brenda Blethyn plays the matriarch, a wealthy single mother who wants to finally lose her gut by undergoing a liposuction treatment. Her daughters include: Michelle (Keener), an underachieving married mother of a single daughter who has issues with anger, Elizabeth (Emily Mortimer) a crushingly insecure fledgling actress with big self-image issues, and Annie, an adopted, African-American, 8-year old with identity issues of her own.

"We caught this film in Toronto, with Holofcener, Blethyn and Mortimer present, and I really enjoyed it. As the Women's Film Festival opening night film, Holofcener once more attended, introducing the film and providing a nice q&a afterwards. Keener is superb and funny as the superficially unlikable Michelle, who somehow manages to charm the audience as she struggles to find herself. The dialogue is sharp and funny, and the women are complex, a rarity in the moviehouses nowadays. And how delightful to see Jake Gyllenhaal (DONNIE DARKO) take a role as Michelle's 17-year-old boss at the 1 hour photo shop.

"This film opens at the end of June, and I highly encourage you all to catch it. And do so on opening weekend if you can. It's so important for independent films to be seen on opening weekend to give them a chance for a longer run." 4 1/2 cats
Robin says: "Helmer Nicole Holofcener's original screenplay does not give much shrift to the men in the story. This is a woman's yarn first and foremost and the guys are little more than stick figure symbols. Mulroney is arrogant and charming as the gets-what-he-wants movie star. James Le Gros is wasted as Elizabeth's live in boyfriend who has grown tired of her insecurity, self-esteem problems and narcissism. Clark Gregg is a cardboard cutout as Michelle's husband (though not, I think, the actor's fault.) Nouri is suave and reassuring as the surgeon that may have screwed up with Jane's operation and just covers his ass.

"Straightforward techs don't call attention to themselves, leaving the spotlight to the team of very capable actors in this character-driven feminine tome. Sophomore helmer Holofcener tells a complex story of the lives of a nuclear, woman-dominated family that is wrought with neuroses. The feminine tone of LOVELY & AMAZING is not going to draw droves of guys, except to make points on a date. I, personally, felt emotional clobbered as the ladies, in the end, get through life's problems. " 3 cats
For Robin's complete review: ""