Mid-Day Mini – Ice Castles

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The Facts:

Synopsis: A young girl is on top of the world until a tragic accident dashes her hopes and dreams of becoming a world-class figure skater.

Stars: Lynn-Holly Johnson, Robby Benson, Colleen Dewhurst, Tom Skerritt, Jennifer Warren, David Huffman

Director: Donald Wrye

Rated: PG

Running Length: 108 minutes

TMMM Score: (5.5/10)

Review:  Oh boy, Ice Castles is a movie I avoided for the longest time because it looked like another of those 70’s romance filcks that was light on plot and heavy on schmaltz and for the most part it is.  A great deal of the 108 minute running time is devoted to overly sentimental situations involving a girl from a small town with dreams of becoming a famous figure skater.  Her coaches (Dewhurst and Warren) believe that she has what it takes but her father (Skerritt) and boyfriend (Benson) can’t get behind her to give her the support she deserves.  The film hinges on the young athlete bouncing back from an accident that sidelines her and that’s when something curious happens…it gets good.

Though star Johnson (For Your Eyes Only) tries to thwart the film with her painfully off-key line readings, Ice Castles has one of the better third acts in sudsy romance outings culminating in a final scene set to the Oscar nominated tune “Through the Eyes of Love” that had this reviewer going from dry-eyed to red-eyed in about 4 seconds.  It was then that it became clear why people consider this worthy of making a tearjerker list.  Don’t get me wrong, the bulk of the film is poorly acted and feebly constructed but the finale makes it all worth it. 

Benson was arguably the big star at the time and he receives top billing here though the film tends to rest too much on the uneven shoulders of Johnson.  It’s always nice to see Skerritt and can anyone match the rich, gravelly tones of Dewhurst?  If you can’t make it through Ice Castles, I suggest trying out Disney’s 1991 film Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken which essentially is the same story presented in a much more well-constructed package.

The Silver Bullet ~ Frances Ha

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Synopsis: A story that follows a New York woman (who doesn’t really have an apartment), apprentices for a dance company (though she’s not really a dancer), and throws herself headlong into her dreams, even as their possible reality dwindles.

Release Date:  May 17, 2013

Thoughts: Is Frances Ha star Greta Gerwig the Parker Posey of this generation?  Gerwig has cut a nice swath for herself in the past few years with indie performances while occasionally appearing in a big-budget studio picture.  Like Posey, she’s adept at playing a range of characters without making them all feel like variations of the same shtick.  I still find that Posey is a more interesting actress overall but Gerwig is absolutely on the right path.  Reteaming with her Greenberg director Noah Baumbach (they also collaborated on the script), Frances Ha is presented as art-house indie through and through with its B&W photography and culturally observant/oblivious dialogue.  I find Baumbach and Gerwig to be hit or miss but applaud them for pushing themselves outside of the box they’ve created for themselves.