Woody Allen gave us the taste for cerebral movies shot in the Big Apple. But these days, satisfaction comes sporadically. Most New York comedies since the late nineties feature a gorgeous leading lady with an unrealistically glamorous job and more issues than Bangladesh. Think Katherine Heigl in...anything. Woody Allen made us yearn for something more textured and familiar.
|Producer John Will|
Enter East Fifth Bliss, which kicked off the 2011 Newport Beach Film Festival. Starring Peter Fonda, Michael C. Hall, Lucy Liu and Chris Messina, the well-written film was warmly received by the sold-out crowd. Michael C. Hall stars as Morris Bliss, an unemployed 30-something living at home with his widowed "Daddy." He plays a lost soul, and is a good listener as the neurotic characters whirl around him. Chris Messina plays a cash-strapped dreamer, but his fast wit and pleading eyes break your heart. Peter Fonda gives a nuanced performance as Morris' father, with a breakthrough scene that showcases a flash of that raw sensitivity he's known for.
|Largest screen west of the Mississippi|
But the scene stealer in this film was no doubt Morris' girlfriend Stephanie, played by Brie Larson. Capricious and unpredictable, I found myself holding my breath when she walked on screen. She was always on the verge of smashing the delicate house of cards that was Morris' life. Delicate as in land mine, not china doll.
I was thrilled at the opportunity to see this film before the general public did, but it won't be long until it gets picked up, premiered and blown out internationally. Let it be known that I sang its praises first!