Thursday, November 17, 2016

LIZ SMITH: Allied

Marion Cotillard and Robert Zemeckis at the screening of “Allied” at the new iPic Theater.
by Liz Smith & Denis Ferrara

Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard are Really Very Serious in "Allied." (We giggled a bit) Manhattan Begs President Elect Trump — Please Head to Washington, Now.


“YOUR WIFE is wearing a purple dress. Look out for the humming bird.”

“I have loved you since Casablanca.”

“My wife is not a spy! Why, we, we — assassinated the German ambassador together!”

“Give this only to the man with one arm. Only to the man with one arm!”

These are but four out of dozens of significant lines from the upcoming Brad Pitt-Marion Cotillard movie, “Allied.” What makes the dialogue in this movie so significant? It is delivered by all hands with perfectly straight faces, utter sincerity; which would be fine if “Allied” had not turned out to be the most unintentionally amusing film of 2016. 
BEFORE going on any further about the Robert Zemeckis directed drama-romance set during World War II, let me begin by saying I went to a marvelous theater, to see it.

The Cinema Society and Paramount Pictures held a special screening of “Allied” at the brand-new iPic Theater way downtown on Fulton Street in New York.  (This is Manhattan’s first iPic theater.)
Part of the “ultimate theater experience" at iPic Theater.
In the 1950’s Cinemascope was the hope of a movie industry trying to pry people away from their TV sets. Now, the iPic theater is yet another lure — why binge-watch Netflix’s “The Crown” at home in your pajamas when you can have an “ultimate theater experience?” 

If the iPics are not the lavish movie palaces of Hollywood’s golden age, they are close enough for a younger generation raised on stained, ugly cineplexes. Cushy seats, pillows, soft throw-rugs, little tables, a bar and restaurant, service right to your seat — in short, the works.  The press for these places calls them “sinfully decadent” and although that is a slight exaggeration (it’s not the balcony at the old Studio 54!), it is close enough.
Cinemascope got the fans lining up in the 1950s.
It is also quite expensive. So we’re told. This was a screening so we got off easy. You can decide if you want an “ultimate experience.”  I say, try it at least once.  Especially if you are desperate for distraction, which so many New Yorkers are, and will be for quite a while.

Frankly, it was a delightful way to watch a film, and if “Allied” had been ten times worse than it is, it still would have been delightful.
NOW, how to describe “Allied?”  Perhaps this will help — halfway through I thought, “Wait, hasn’t Brad Pitt already made a World War II-era spoof? Wasn’t it called ‘Inglorious Basterds?’”  Yeah, like that.

It was surely not the intention of the director or the two talented stars or even the screenwriter to create a film that looks and feels too often like it’s ready to bust out laughing.  If you haven’t seen a movie since 1942, you might just adore “Allied.”  It follows the manner of many vintage, even classic, films — no exposition, no backstory, the protagonists fall in love in ten minutes, the most extraordinary things happen, which everybody takes in stride.  (A torrid love scene in a car, during a violent sandstorm was followed shortly by a birth during the London blitz — outdoors!  As the infant wailed, I turned to my theater companion and said, “At this rate, these two have got to end up in Hiroshima!”)
First comes love ...
Then comes marriage ...
Then comes baby in a baby carriage.
The plot? American intelligence officer (Brad) meets French resistance fighter (Marion) in Casablanca.  They are working together to defeat the German Reich.  Love blooms in the desert, but trouble awaits them in London, later.  Is Marion really who she says she is?  Suspicion abounds, odd characters come and go.  It has the makings of a fine romance-thriller. Hitchcock would have worked wonders with it. Maybe he even did.
But  “Allied” seems forced, strained, unconvincing.   No chemistry whatsoever between Pitt and Cotillard.  He looks particularly uninvolved. With a bad dye job. (Lizzy Caplan, of “Masters of Sex” fame, shows up briefly as Brad’s fun-loving sister.  The film could have used much more of her.)

However, there is a certain sweetness to the movie, because genuine sincerity is offered up, however awkwardly. It’s an homage to old-style Hollywood storytelling that went a bit awry.  Also there’s the obvious expense and an exquisite attention to period detail — kudos to costume designer Joanna Johnston, to Raffaella Giovanetti’s set decoration and the team on production design and art direction.
This is not a hatefully bad movie.  I didn’t hate it. In fact it rather amused and comforted me in a strange way. Perhaps because I’d rather not take anything too seriously right now.

“Allied” did not allow me to take it seriously, and for that, I’m grateful.
I THINK a lot of people at the screening felt the same way about “Allied” — scratching their heads, rather bemused, but reasonably entertained.  Certainly everybody who attended the after-party (at The Tuck Room, in the theater) was in a good mood; swilling champagne cocktails named after Ms. Cotillard's character, nibbling lobster rolls, NOT talking politics.  Among the throng — Donna Karan ... Bruce Weber ... Paul Haggis ... Valentino ... Matthew Morrison ... Mark Selinger ... Alex Lundqvist ... Chase Landow ... Scott Gorenstein.
Marion Cotillard with Donna Karan at the after-party.
WE — Liz and Denis — would like it, before New Yorkers go crazy — to get the Trump family out of New York City! Let them all operate outside of Manhattan for the next four years.

Businesses like Bergdorf-Goodman, Tiffany’s, Bulgari, Harry Winston, Cartier and great and small restaurants and business in this precious area, are stymied and frustrated by the extinguishing of life and commerce all down the important 5th Ave area. The Secret Service and NYC’s fire and police are going crazy.
Fifth Ave and side streets are jammed and closed. New Yorkers are struggling to get from East and West, and back. Next comes the NBC Christmas Tree Lighting, St. Patrick’s Cathedral and and Saks 5th Avenue "confusion" and gridlock. God forbid it all goes on till New Years Eve.
No matter how thrilled the pro-Trump defenders claim to be, the expense and safety are costing them and every-day New Yorkers a pretty penny. And it can’t be doing the so-called “Trump Brand” any good in the long-term. Even Trump lovers are fed up with inconvenience, like rerouted traffic in a city over-burdened to the hilt.

We say — Trumps,  get thee to Washington and let the “swamp” there take a load off of New York!
 
Contact Liz here.