WILD MOUNTAIN THYME

WILD MOUNTAIN THYME
Bleecker Street
Reviewed for Shockya.com & BigAppleReviews.net linked from Rotten Tomatoes by: Harvey Karten
Director: John Patrick Shanley
Writer: John Patrick Shanley based on his play “Outside Mulligar”
Cast: Jamie Dorman, Emily Blunt,
Screened at: Critics’ link, NYC, 12/27/20
Opens: December 11, 2020

Wild Mountain Thyme Movie Poster

John Patrick Shanley, who directs and wrote both the movie and the four-character play on which it’s based, must have French-kissed the Blarney Stone for inspiration once again. His delightfully stereotyped look at an Irish family that is not as traditionally-oriented as it appears is not unlike his equally stereotypical look at an widowed Italian-American woman in “Moonstruck,” who falls for her fiancés’ energetic brother. The movie opens with a drone shot of rural land in Ireland (is there any other?) that could have been made by the Irish Tourist board and has a musical soundtrack that leads the viewer into a mood of enchantment. “Wild Mountain Thyme” considers a 75-year-old man’s decision to leave the land he owns with its sheep and adorable dog to his American relative rather to his local grandson, who deals with the passion of his neighbor whose romantic entreaties he ignores.

In traditional rom-com mode, the young pair remain apart though they are meant for each other, and surely, though we may think we want a non-traditional conclusion to upend a Hollywood ending, we hope that Anthony (Jamie Dorman) will end up with his soul-mate, the pipe-smoking Rosemary (Emily Blunt), who had the hots for Anthony since she was a little girl.

Jamie Dorman, in a role as far apart from that of a veritable sex counselor in “Fifty Shades of Gray,” hangs out regularly with Rosemarie, and given that women are more assertive nowadays than they were when they had the excuse of Sadie Hawkins day to become the pursuers, we can accept her fevered attempts to get Anthony to propose to her. After all she has loved him for the past quarter-century, as we find out when she looks with frustration at the boy’s attraction to another.

Believing that he will be embraced with first dibs on the farm he wants to buy from Tony Reilly (Christopher Walken), Adam (Jon Hamm) takes off from New York where he has a successful career in finance to try his luck as a farmer. Adam would be Anthony’s opposite, asserting his charm to capture Rosemary’s heart, but his city-slicker mentality does not work on Rosemary. Though she meets him in New York for a ballet and dinner, hers is a one-day stand; that is, she has a return ticket to Ireland the following day! “How yer gonna keep ‘em down on the farm after they’ve seen Paree? Just watch Rosemary who has seen enough of the big city for the next ten years.

The movie is so charming, not in spite of, but because of its kitsch, and did I imply that Emily Blunt is hot?

102 minutes. © 2020 by Harvey Karten, Member, New York Film Critics Online

Story – B-
Acting – B
Technical – B
Overall – B

OLYMPIC DREAMS – movie review

OLYMPIC DREAMS
IFC Films
Reviewed for Shockya.com & BigAppleReviews.net linked from Rotten Tomatoes by: Harvey Karten
Director: Jeremy Teicher
Screenwriter: Alexi Pappas, Jeremy Teicher, Nick Kroll
Cast: Alexi Pappas, Nick Kroll, Gus Kenworthy, Morgan Schild
Screened at: Critics’ link, NYC, 2/3/20
Opens: February 14, 2020

Nick Kroll and Alexi Pappas in Olympic Dreams (2019)

Jeremy Teicher’s movie is about a rom-com about competing in the Olympics, but it is also competing in a crowded fields of other romantic tales opening on Valentine’s Day. Think of “The Photograph,” “Ordinary Love,” and “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” even the horror pick “Fantasy Island,” all February 14th fare. There is just one horror in “Olympic Dreams,” one evoked by the soundtrack. Annie Hart and Jay Wadley’s often pounding music does its best to drown out even the soft dialogue of the two would-be lovers as though director Jeremy Teicher is as uncertain about the pillow talk as his two characters are about their goals.

Other than that, this is the kind of fare often distributed during the Sundance Festivals, too gentle to attract the kind of audience that goes for bit commercial love stories. The two actors, Alexi Pappas as Penelope and Nick Kroll as Ezra are both involved in the script writing along with the director (who in real life is Pappas’ husband).

“Olympic Dreams” may feature Penelope and Ezra’s warm but neurotically repressed conversations but you can’t say that it’s the kind of movie that could or should find a spot even on a Broadway stage. To its credit this is the first film green lighted by the Olympic Committee to shoot on location at the 2018 Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea, giving even people who don’t typically go for rom-coms to see what goes on both on the slopes and behind the scenes at the Athlete Village cafeteria, the active game room, and the parties.

It’s also where too lonely people meet. Penelope competes in cross-country skiing (in real life Pappas is a long distance runner most adept in 10 km runs) while Ezra is a volunteer dentist who at the age of thirty-seven (41 in real life) is understandably unhappy with his position in a New Jersey dental clinic. We don’t really find out why he never used his clinical experience to branch out into private practice, but maybe it’s because at his age he sprinkles the word “like” into his conversations as though he were still a teen or 20-something. But he does have a good dental-chair manner, chatting up the athletes and getting them to talk about themselves before they open their mouths wide.

For her part Alexi is the assertive member of the duo, in effect asking him out on dates, but as we in the audience wonder when (not whether) they will ever “get it on,” we might leave the theater with the impression that fairly severe neuroticism is at work as he rebuffs the advances of the woman fifteen years his junior. Still, you’re not going to get the spoiler here on how everything turns out. That’s all part of the dramatic tension evoked by the twosome.

Here are two people, both the sorts who never make the headlines, though Penelope is an Olympian and that’s something, and Ezra has made it through dental school but is held back to such an extent that in their first argument, Penelope verbally shakes him up, implying that he “snap out of it,” to “just do it.”

Intrusive music aside, Pappas and Kroll are an interesting couple to watch, to empathize with. You will believe that Pappas is an athlete, which she is, and I that Kroll is a Woody-Allen-like stand-up comedian, which he is.

83 minutes. © 2020 by Harvey Karten, Member, New York Film Critics Online

Story – B
Acting – B+
Technical – B+
Overall – B