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REVIEW: Golden Exits

By Eric Hillis, TheMovieWaffler.com

originally published: 02/26/2018

REVIEW: Golden Exits

With its middle class New York milieu and a jazz inflected score by Keegan DeWitt, Alex Ross Perry’s Golden Exits may draw simplistic comparisons with Woody Allen, but the filmmaker whose work it evokes most is Alan Rudolph. In Rudolph’s best films - Welcome to L.A.; Remember My NameTrouble in MindChoose Me - the intersecting lives of a group of people are thrown into turmoil by the arrival of an outsider.

In Perry’s film the outsider is Naomi (Emily Browning), a 25-year-old Australian who moves to Brooklyn for a few months to take up a position assisting archivist Nick (former Beastie Boy turned naturally gifted actor Adam Horowitz), who is cataloguing the life of his deceased father-in-law, the former publisher of a literary magazine.

The idea of her husband spending eight hours a day in a cramped basement with an attractive young woman doesn’t sit well with Nick’s wife Alyssa (Chloë Sevigny), still struggling to trust him following an earlier instance of infidelity. The goading of Alyssa’s  acid-tongued sister Gwendolyn (Mary-Louise Parker), who is reluctantly funding Nick’s project, doesn’t help her insecurities.

Stuck in a big city with no real friends, Naomi looks up Buddy (Jason Schwartzman), a local Brooklynite whom she once met on a childhood trip to New York. Happily married to the adorable Jess (Analeigh Tipton), Buddy is uncomfortable at the forthright attitude of Naomi, and tells the Aussie that he can’t spend time with her alone, but will do his best to introduce her to potential suitors.

REVIEW: Golden Exits

As penned and pictured by Perry and rendered by Browning, Naomi is a captivating character, a ticking time-bomb whose awareness of her appeal to the opposite sex is offset by an innocent naivety. When we first meet her, she’s sitting on a brownstone stoop warbling a rendition of Russ Ballard’s ‘New York Groove’, but her emotional poker face makes it unclear if we’re witnessing the beginning or end of her Big Apple arc.



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Through no fault of her own, Naomi’s trip to America is doomed from the outset by the insecurities of the tightly knit group of locals she encounters. A couple of weeks into her arrival and Nick is drunkenly arriving on her doorstep late at night, throwing caution to the wind and potentially out the window with his marriage. It’s as uncomfortable a scene as you could endure, our sympathy for the pathetic and misguided Nick tempered by the potential for male aggression. The ensuing glimpses of Nick and Naomi’s irreparably damaged working arrangement are difficult to witness, the spurned older man barely looking up from his work when his assistant asks for permission to go to lunch.

Seeing the potential for damage, and perhaps motivated by jealousy for a young woman who reminds her of herself at that age, Gwendolyn imposes an impossible deadline on Nick’s project in order to break up the pairing. Alyssa, unaware of how unattracted Naomi really is to her pathetic husband, becomes so riddled with paranoia it begins to negatively affect her career as a therapist.

Perhaps the most fascinating dynamic is that shared between Naomi and Buddy, the latter breaking his self-imposed rules of avoiding the former as he continually sneaks away from his wife to spend time with the Aussie, pushing ‘platonic’ as far as any definition of the word will allow. His motivations are debatable - is he hoping to succumb to Naomi’s obvious charms or using her to test the strength of his resolve and his relationship with Jess?

Perry doesn’t give us any easy answers to the questions raised by his characters’ complexity. Eschewing the traditional tropes of the ensemble drama, Perry allows his characters to run away from him, and he’s commendably uninterested in having them learn any trite life lessons. Naomi’s presence doesn’t damage their lives, rather it merely exposes the fragility they’ve kept hidden away until her arrival.

“People never make films about ordinary people who don’t really do anything,” Naomi moans to Nick in an early discussion on her cinematic tastes. Of course, plenty of filmmakers do exactly that, but few can make ennui as enthralling as Perry does here. The magnum opus of Perry’s still relatively burgeoning career, Golden Exits is a film about ordinary people who don’t really do anything, and watching their inaction is as beguiling as cinema gets.

4 ½  stars out of 5

 

 

Directed by: Alex Ross Perry

Starring:  Emily Browning, Jason Schwartzman, Chloë Sevigny, Adam Horowitz, Mary-Louise Parker, Analeigh Tipton, Lily Rabe, Kate Lyn Sheil





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The Morris Museum Brings Back Exhibition On Screen series
(MORRISTOWN, NJ) -- The Morris Museum brings back a film series from Exhibition on Screen beginning on Wednesday, December 12, 2018 with the feature film Degas: A Passion for Perfection.  Two additional films will also be shown: Young Picasso, on Wednesday, February 13, 2019 and Rembrandt on Wednesday, April 10, 2019.  All films will be screened at 7:30pm in the Bickford Theatre.  
A Look At New Jersey Film Festival Spring 2019
(NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ) -- The Rutgers Film Co-op/New Jersey Media Arts Center, in association with the Rutgers University Program In Cinema Studies, presents the New Jersey Film Festival Spring 2019 which marks the festival's 37th Anniversary.  The Festival will take place between January 25 and March 1, 2019. Showcasing new international films, American independent features, experimental and short subjects, classic revivals, and cutting-edge documentaries, the New Jersey Film Festival Spring 2019 will feature over 35 film screenings. 
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(NEWARK, NJ) -- The Harry Potter Film Concert Series returns to New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) with Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Live in Concert, on Saturday, June 1, 2019 at 2:00pm and 7:30pm. See the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra perform the magical score live while the entire film plays in high-definition on a 40-foot screen.
Kean Stage Hosts "White Christmas" Sing-Along
(UNION, NJ) -- Kean Stage hosts a White Christmas Sing-Along on Sunday, December 16 at 3:00pm.  Gather your family and friends for this beloved 1954 holiday film starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney and Vera Ellen. You’ll enjoy singing along to Count Your Blessings, Snow, Sisters and, of course, the iconic White Christmas. And don’t worry if you don’t know the words – the lyrics will be shown on the screen.


REVIEW: "Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald"
For better or worse (worse in this writer’s eyes), the success of the Harry Potter franchise is largely responsible for the current Hollywood landscape of endless sequels, prequels and that awful phrase “universe building.” The Potter films showed Hollywood that it was a far safer financial model to hook audiences into returning for instalments of an ongoing series rather than taking a punt on the unknown quantity of original properties.
REVIEW: "Shoplifters"
Earlier this year, writer/director extraordinaire Hirokazu Kore-eda surprised us with The Third Murder, a legal thriller that made for a stark departure from the sentimental family dramas he’s become known for. With his Palme d’Or winning Shoplifters, Kore-eda is back on familiar ground, but this particular family drama shares much in common with The Third Murder. With his thriller, Kore-eda deconstructed the genre, forcing us to question how willingly we place our trust in a storyteller. Similarly, Shoplifters sees Kore-eda lull his audience into a false sense of security, making us develop a warmth and affection towards people who may not warrant such empathy.
REVIEW: "First Man"
The image that most defines the 20th century is that of a man standing on the surface of the moon. The man is astronaut Neil Armstrong, but we can’t see his face as he’s wearing a helmet, the glass of which reflects our collective achievement back at us. When he took a small step, we all took a giant leap with him, and Armstrong instantly became more than a mere man, a symbol. With First Man, director Damien Chazelle takes us inside the famous helmet, stripping away the symbol to tell the story of Armstrong the man.
REVIEW: "Halloween"
In 2013, John Carpenter’s Halloween received a 35th anniversary blu-ray release. The accompanying booklet credited the following line of dialogue to Jamie Lee Curtis’s babysitting heroine Laurie Strode: “Was it the boogeyman?” Of course, that’s a misquote. In the scene in question, Laurie admits to herself that “It WAS the boogeyman,” to which Donald Pleasence’s Doctor Loomis solemnly replies, “As a matter of fact, it was.”
REVIEW: "Cold War"
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Event calendar
Sunday, Dec 09, 2018


MUSIC

CHINA CRISIS @ The Saint, Asbury Park - 6:00pm

Sensational Soul Cruisers Holiday Show @ iPlay America, Freehold - 4:00pm

Scott, Garner, Gray, Says Jimmy Baldwin @ Victoria Theater @ New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), Newark - 7:00pm

The GLEN MILLER ORCHESTRA @ The Newton Theatre, Newton - 3:00pm

The Weight Band – Featuring members of The Band and Levon Helm Band @ South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC), South Orange - 7:30pm

The Met Opera: Marnie (Encore) @ Pollak Theatre @ Monmouth University, West Long Branch - 1:00pm







THEATRE

Elf, The Musical @ Surflight Theatre, Beach Haven - 2:00pm

A Christmas Story @ Pax Amicus Castle Theatre, Budd Lake - 2:00pm

An Actor's Carol @ Cape May Stage, Cape May - 3:00pm

Seussical @ CDC Theatre, Cranford - 2:00pm

Peter Pan @ Axelrod Performing Arts Center, Deal Park - 1:00pm and 5:00pm

Annie: The Musical @ Centenary Stage Company - Sitnik Theater of the Lackland Center, Hackettstown - 2:00pm

Irving Berlin's Holiday Inn @ Paper Mill Playhouse, Millburn - 1:30pm and 7:00pm

A Wonderful Life @ Broadway Theatre of Pitman, Pitman - 2:00pm and 7:00pm

Junie B. Jones The Musical at Black Box PAC @ Black Box PAC, Teaneck - 11:00am

A Charlie Brown Christmas @ Studio Playhouse Upper Montclair, Upper Montclair - 1:30pm and 3:30pm


KIDS

Breakfast with Santa @ iPlay America, Freehold - 9:30am

PAW Patrol Live! “Race to the Rescue” @ Prudential Hall @ New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), Newark - 10:00am and 2:00pm and 6:00pm


MISC

CIRQUE DREAMS HOLIDAZE @ State Theatre New Jersey, New Brunswick - 2:00pm

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