Sign in using your account with
Big Fan: The Dark Side of Frantic Obsession
What is it about comedians giving stellar performances? Is it because it goes against our expectations, or maybe because no one understands the strains of life better than the ones who get the joke?
Paul (Oswalt) is the biggest fan of the New York Giants. Between an imminent midlife crisis and a dead-end security job, the Giants’ fandom is Paul’s only excuse for a calling. His family endlessly nags him about his lack of ambition. His mother, who still puts a roof over his head, is annoyed about his daily calls to his favourite radio sports show, and both his siblings beg him to procure a better job. However, none of them can get through to him, because none of them understand how comforting and consuming an obsession can be; it’s the drug of choice for the marginalized.
The film’s director, Robert Siegel also penned the script to 2008’s Wrestler, where Mickey Rourke sacrifices himself for the sake of his legacy. In Big Fan, Paul’s devotion endures a test of purity when the Giants’ star player physically violates him, and subsequently, a chain of events leads to the team falling behind in the season. Again, the main character has to choose between himself and his identity; a dilemma that forces him to confront what he has been escaping from all his life. Big Fan doesn’t hold back on showing us the ugly truth.
Fandom imbues its comrades with a sense of self-importance, and at first, Big Fan makes light of the sentiment. By midpoint, the film shifts gear from observing Paul and his vapid passion to sharing the world from his perspective. Paul is served right by Oswalt’s comic talents. A huge comic book geek himself, the actor is no stranger to the subject of fan obsession. And while it may be true that he’s playing a self-aggrandised version of himself; that doesn’t make any less impressive the talent and stamina that he brings to the film.
Siegel’s directing debut finds him without a clear voice. More of a passion project, Big Fan proves how big of a role Darren Aronofsky played in turning the wrestler into a twenty-first century Christ figure. Despite the lack of a strong vision, Big Fan still manages to capture truth in a challenging way.
She wakes up from her coma to a husband who she doesn’t remember and parents who are overjoyed that she’s forgotten about their dispute. While Paige’s parents try to bring her back to the way of life that she’d rebelled against, Leo tries to help her remember why she’d left all that behind in the first place. Fighting for a wife who doesn’t remember him and is a completely different person than the one he knew, Leo tries to get her to fall in love with him again.
The film rarely gets unbearably cheesy, setting it apart from your run of the mill Sparks adaptation. It gets mushy, emotional and sappy, but it’s more likely to make you smile than roll your eyes. Leo’s pain and heartbreak combined with Paige’s family’s delight at having their daughter back, gives the film a level of grit that keeps it from becoming overly cloying. However, the secret of the film’s success is the leads, who have great chemistry and manage to pass off some of the cheesiness as bearable.
Even at the ripe old age of seventy-seven, and with over forty movies to his name, writer, director and actor, Woody Allen, continues to impress with his latest exploit of a fallen New York socialite, in the quirky and the incredibly emotional, Blue Jasmine.
Loosely based on the Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire, the story is cantered on Jeanette “Jasmine” Francis (Blanchett); a pompous Park Avenue princess who, thanks to her husband Hal’s (Baldwin) dishonest business schemes, is left without a penny to her name or a home to live in.
With no one to turn to, Jasmine flies to San Francisco to move in with adoptive sister, Ginger (Hawkins), and her loud-mouthed fiancé, Chili (Cannavale). Relying heavily on copious amounts of vodka and a handful of anti-depressants, it’s clear that Jasmine – often seen talking to herself – is on the verge of a nervous-breakdown.
Determined to make it through the rough patch, but still very much in denial, Jasmine acquires a menial job as a receptionist at a dentist’s office; however, after an embarrassing run-in with her boss, Dr. Flicker (Stuhlbarg), Jasmine is forced to look elsewhere. Things soon take a turn for the better, when she comes across a charming and an incredibly wealthy diplomat, Dwight (Sarsgaard), who, in her spoiled opinion, might just be the answer to all her problems.
Woody Allen has never had any qualms in writing and casting strong leading ladies and his obsession with the human psyche, intermingled with his own personal assortment of phobias and neurosis , continues to be the beating heart of his forever intriguing imagination. Shot mainly on the streets of San Francisco, with a few brief flashbacks spent on the New York’s Upper East Side, it’s nice to see a Woody work outside of Europe and the Big Apple.
Stepping behind the wheel in her very-first Woody Allen adventure, Blanchett is magnificent and ends up delivering a powerhouse performance in her portrayal of a woman whose complexities are both testing and somehow endearing. Undoubtedly, Blanchett is the movie’s shining beacon, however, she does receive great support from the rest of the cast; Baldwin is an ideal fit for the arrogant and devious Wall Street businessman, whilst bubbly-adoptive sister, Hawkins, is positively infectious.
Blue Jasmine is an honest, self-assured, funny and yet incredibly profound, character-driven drama that proves that Woody Allen’s very specific type of comedy really is timeless.