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HOME MOVIES

By Karen Martin

This article was published November 8, 2013 at 2:19 a.m.

Girl Most Likely directed by Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini (PG-13, 103 minutes)

Reading the script for Girl Most Likely won’t cause anyone to fall on the floor laughing. That only happens when a cast with the comedic skills of Kristen Wiig, Annette Bening and Matt Dillon gets ahold of it. Their interpretations are so entertaining that the audience is left wishing there was more script to work with. The film, written by Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini (Cinema Verite, The Nanny Diaries), is intermittently amusing, but there’s a lot of down time in between.

The story concerns Imogene (Wiig), who’s on the fast track to become a superstar playwright in the sophisticated world of New York theater, then hits a wall in her creativity. Her meltdown, aggravated by getting dumped by her snobby boyfriend, brings about self-destructive action, which puts her in the custody of her free-spirited gambler mother Zelda (Annette Bening) at Zelda’s home on the Jersey shore.

Wiig’s talent at casually muttering absurd dialogue and underplaying ridiculous situations, honed from seven years on Saturday Night Live, holds Girl Most Likely together. She gets support from Bening, hilarious as Zelda, a blowsy ditz in capri tights and sequined tank tops who would be a contender as worst mother ever except for her easy-going grace at accepting whatever comes her way.

The interaction of these two fine comedians with Dillon (a welcome addition as Zelda’s younger boyfriend George, even though he’s stuck with a goofy role that’s difficult to make believable) and Darren Criss as Lee (a nice turn as a wisecracking guy who turns out to be more than what he seems) produces the most appealing moments. There just aren’t enough of them in this predictable comedy that, despite being game, doesn’t have what it takes to succeed.

Lovelace (R, 92 minutes) Deep Throat was a 1972 phenomenon: the first scripted pornographic theatrical feature film featuring a story, jokes, and an unknown star in Linda Lovelace. Played here by Amanda Seyfried, Lovelace becomes an international sensation and an enthusiastic spokesman for sexual freedom and uninhibited hedonism. Six years later she presents a much different image to the world. Despite its intriguing premise, the film fails to give its pivotal main character enough dimension. But Sharon Stone’s performance as Linda’s mother is one to watch. With Juno Temple, Peter Sarsgaard, Chris Noth; directed by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman.

The Three Faces of Eve (unrated, 91 minutes) The idea of one person with multiple personalities fascinates everybody. And this 1957 film, now on Blu-ray, rewards that fascination with an absorbing if too-simple story of Eve (an Oscar-winning performance by Joanne Woodward in her third film), a Georgia housewife whose curious behavior eventually reveals three different selves. Eve’s baffled, loutish husband, Ralph (David Wayne), seeks help from a psychiatrist (the always formidable Lee J. Cobb), who treats Eve by probing her subconscious via hypnosis. Directed by Nunnally Johnson.

Intolerance (not rated, 175 minutes) D.W. Griffith’s Intolerance, which began as a medium-budget silent feature titled The Mother and the Law in 1916, evolved into four separate (and unequal) stories illustrating the dangers of intolerance, linked by Lillian Gish as the Woman Who Rocks the Cradle. Now available on Blu-ray, the segments consist of Modern Story (the disruption of a poor married couple’s lives by social reformers), French Story (the persecution of the Huguenots by Catherine deMedici), Biblical Story (the last days of Jesus Christ) and Babylonian Story (the defeat of King Belshazzar by Cyrus the Persian). “One of the great breakthroughs - the Ulysses of the cinema - and a powerful, moving experience in its own right,” says former Chicago Reader critic Dave Kehr.

Clear History (unrated, 120 minutes) This made-for-HBO comedy concerns marketing genius Nathan Flomm (a ponytailed Larry David) at an ambitious electric-car start-up in Silicon Valley who quits after an argument with his boss, Will Haney (Jon Hamm). Flomm soon regrets his too hasty decision when the company hits the big time.So he changes his name, cuts his hair, and tries to reinvent himself in peaceful Martha’s Vineyard. His reinvention is working out OK until he runs into the Vineyard’s newest homeowners: Haney and his wife, Rhonda (Kate Hudson). With Michael Keaton, Bill Hader, Amy Ryan, Eva Mendes, Danny McBride; directed by Greg Mottola. “A wonderfully diverting film with Mr. David at his abrasive best,” says critic Dorothy Rabinowitz of The Wall Street Journal.

MovieStyle, Pages 37 on 11/08/2013

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