If you choose to talk about certain films using the term “Chick Flick,” then the work of Nicole Holofcener definitely qualifies. From her 1996 film “Walking and Talking” through my personal favorite, 2001’s “Lovely and Amazing,” to her more recent work like “Please Give,” she focuses on females and their complex relationships with each other, money, men and themselves. So I guess that makes them flicks for chicks.
Furthermore, every movie stars Catherine Keener, who I must admit is kind of the ultimate signifier of chick-flick-dom. If you don’t even know who that is, you’re probably a dude. Anyway, her latest film “Enough Said,” is no exception. It even features Toni Colette, to further stack the chick flick desk. It stars women, it’s about women, and it’s sensitive, well-written, nuanced and perceptive. Actually, it’s probably her least complicated, most accessible work to date.
Starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus and James Gandolfini as tentative, divorced lovers, this story follows a pretty traditional romantic path. What sets it apart are the well-observed details and great performances. Neither of the stars use their famous TV personas or familiar tricks for these characters. Galdolfini still looks the same, of course, but he brings an absolutely touching humility playing Albert; his perceived flaws end up playing a huge role in the story. As timid Eva, Louis-Dreyfus, meanwhile, lacks the brash zaniness of her famous Elaine or celebrated “Veep” character.
The pair meets at a party where Eva also makes a new female friend, played by Catherine Keener to obnoxious, pretentious perfection. For some frustrating reason, Eva cannot see how selfish her new pal is, because she’s impressed by her tasteful house and cool career as a poet. Plus she name-drops Joni Mitchell (OK, it’s definitely a chick flick). Above all, as Julia Louis-Dreyfus makes so tenderly clear, Eva is lonely.
Unfortunately, Keener’s ex-husband, it turns out, is none other than Albert, and she eloquently and convincingly details his many faults to Eva, who having endured the failure of her first marriage, cannot make herself stop listening. She convinces herself that she can head off relationship mistakes before they occur by taking heed of Keener’s hateful feelings about her ex. Inevitably, her delicate new relationship with Albert is poisoned.
Meanwhile, both families have daughters preparing to go far away to college, heightening their various fears and feelings about aging and loneliness. A subplot in which Eva spends more time with her daughter’s friend than her daughter is a little half-baked. My only criticism about this movie is that it could have used a bit more of the complexity that her other films have. It was too ultimately satisfying and resolved to be a true Nicole Holofcener movie, but in the kingdom of Chick Flicks, it’s still way up there.
The historic story of Malbis
Alabama Public Television will host the broadcast premiere of the one-hour film “Malbis Plantation: From Greece to America” at 9 p.m. on Thursday, March 27. The Malbis Plantation in Baldwin County was founded in 1906 by Greek immigrants who made it one of the most successful communal colonies in America. The site of a magnificent Greek Orthodox Church that draws thousands of visitors annually, the Malbis Plantation was added to the National Registry of Historic Places in 2013. The film’s executive producer William Scourtes led the drive to designate the Malbis Plantation as a historic site.
“Malbis Plantation: From Greece to America” is a production of the Foundation for New Media and was directed by Alabama filmmaker Robert Clem, whose previous films aired on APT including the award-winning films “Big Jim Folsom: The Two Faces of Populism;” “Eugene Walter: Last of the Bohemians,” and “William March/Company K”, about the Mobile author and World War I hero whose most famous novel was “The Bad Seed.”
Jason Marcopoulos, who would take the name Jason Malbis when he immigrated to America in the early 1900s, was a former Greek Orthodox monk whose vision was to establish a colony where other Greek immigrants could live together and share their common heritage. The Malbis Plantation was unique in that its residents, male and female, lived as one family and did not marry.
A strong work ethic led the members of the colony to establish a dozen successful businesses over the years. As the original colonists grew older, they pooled their resources to build the Malbis Memorial Church, a magnificent work of art that would serve as a testament to their faith, hard work and devotion to the Greek culture they cherished.