The World According to Garp 1982 Based on the novel by John Irving. Directed by George Roy Hill. Utterly unique characters and some very fine acting. The vastly unconventional story of T. S. Garp (Robin Williams), bastard son of once abused feminist mother, Jenny Fields (Glenn Close). Jenny becomes a school nurse raising her child outside convention. Garp grows up interested in wrestling and fiction (much like the book’s author), marries the wrestling coach’s daughter Helen (Mary Beth Hurt), and has a book published. His modest success is wildly overshadowed by that of Jenny whose partial autobiography, Sexual Suspect, makes her a cultural icon.
Jenny founds a center for troubled and abused women including transgender ex-football player Roberta Muldoon (John Lithgow – wonderful) and Ellen James (Amanda Plummer) a girl who was raped at the age of eleven by men who cut out her tongue so that she couldn’t identify her attackers. We follow tandem stories of Garp’s family and evolution of the home. Both Jenny and Garp’s next books elicit death threats. Tragedies ensue.
Glenn Close’s film debut. “The movie is a very fair rendering of Mr. Irving’s novel, with similar strengths and weaknesses. If the novel was picaresque and precious, so is the film.” Janet Maslin, The New York Times. Rent on Amazon Prime.
The Big Chill 1983 Directed by Lawrence Kasdan. Though a direct rip off of John Sayles’ 1980 film, Return of The Secaucus Seven, the premise and Kasdan’s ensemble makes it irresistible to Boomers. The classic rock soundtrack alone is worth hearing again. When their friend Alex commits suicide, a group of former University of Michigan classmates gather at the large, gracious home of Harold and Dr. Sarah Cooper (Kevin Kline and Glenn Close) for the funeral which becomes a weekend of revelations and unfinished business.
Old friends include Sam, a television actor (Tom Berenger), Meg, a real estate attorney in Atlanta (Mary Kay Place), Michael, a journalist for People (Jeff Goldblum), Nick, a Vietnam vet and former radio host never without pot (William Hurt), and Karen, a housewife from suburban Detroit (JoBeth Williams,) who’s unhappy in her marriage to her advertising executive husband, Richard (Don Galloway). Also present is Chloe, Alex’s very young girlfriend (Meg Tilly). Kevin Costner was to play Alex, but scenes were cut. To make up for it, Kasdan cast the actor in Silverado. Fun with a reality touchstone. Rent on Amazon Prime.
Fatal Attraction 1987 Based on James Deardon’s short film, Diversion. Directed by Adrian Lyne. A psychological thriller. Successful New York Attorney Daniel “Dan” Gallagher, (Michael Douglas), has a passionate illicit encounter with business associate Alexandra “Alex” Forrest (Glenn Close) when his wife Beth (Anne Archer) and child are away. He considers it a fling. She assumes the so-called relationship will continue and flourish.
Alex feigns suicide and pregnancy, calls at all hours, stalks Dan, borrows his daughter and boils the girl’s pet rabbit. The sociopath can’t be stopped until…Close is bone-chillingly good. If curious, Wikipedia lists a considered alternate ending. Rent on Amazon Prime.
Meeting Venus 1991 Directed by Istzvan Szabo. A histrionic European opera production of “Tannhäuser” is in rehearsal. Conducted by Zoltan Szanto (Niels Arestrup), it will star temperamental diva Karin Anderson (Glenn Close dubbed by Kiri Te Kanawa) – with whom he falls in love, and Jorge Picabia (Erland Josephson). The conductor juggles wife and mistress, the director is expected to have an affair with Karin, union issues include literally not having someone to raise the curtain…Egos abound. Lots of side stories give us an entertaining if cliché look at personnel within the high art. Rent on Amazon Prime.
The Paper 1994 Directed by Ron Howard. Twenty-four hours in a newspaper editor’s professional and personal life. Trying to scoop the murder of a couple of visiting businessmen interferes with a cancer diagnosis, reunion with an estranged daughter, financial straits, an affair, a pregnancy, embezzlement, stolen information, drunken confrontation and a couple of teens in the wrong place at the wrong time. Well put together with a solid ensemble cast: Michael Keaton, Robert Duvall, Marisa Tomei, Randy Quaid, Jason Robards, Spaulding Gray, Catherine O’Hara, and Jason Alexander. Won’t change your life, but diverting. Considerable research is apparent. Rent on Amazon Prime.
Albert Nobbs 2012 Based on a novella by George Moore. Directed by Rodrigo Garcia. Though biologically female, Albert Nobbs (Glenn Close) has spent the last 30 years living as a male butler working at Morrison Hotel in late 19th Century Dublin. Hubert Page (Janet McTeer) who’s hired to paint the hotel, shares the same secret despite being married to a woman. Albert wants to open a shop and thinks hotel maid Helen (Mia Wasikowska) might be the right partner in business – and life. Helen’s lover, Joe (Aaron Johnson), encourages the young woman to lead Albert on in order to get money to go to America.
When Helen discovers she’s pregnant, Joe plans to abandon her. Albert steps in. There’s violence. Hubert’s wife dies. Bonding with Albert, he also gets involved. There’s much more to the drama, all of it credible and intriguing, much of it painful. The novella had been earlier adapted as The Singular Life of Albert Nobbs in which Close starred Off Broadway and for which she won an Obie Award for Best Actress. Both Close and McTeer garnered multiple awards for the film, though not from the Academy. Rent on Amazon Prime.
The Wife 2018 Based on the novel by Meg Wolitzer. Directed by Bjorn Runge. Excellent acting and directing. Wrenching story. As a college co-ed Joan Archer (Glenn Close) is in awe of her married writing professor Joseph Castleman (Jonathan Pryce). They have an affair. Joseph’s marriage falls apart, the two marry, his muse dries up. Then a secretary at a publishing firm, Joan is discouraged from trying to get any of her own writing seen. When her husband struggles, she agrees to help, rewriting the book. It’s a huge success.
A pattern is established. Joseph takes over domestic chores, Joan writes under his name. His reputation grows, their incomes rise appreciably. She ignores a series of affairs. Then he gets The Nobel Prize for one of her books. Joan travels with him to Stockholm where she finally erupts. Rent on Amazon Prime.
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