A loose prequel to 1996’s False Documents, this dark psychological thriller, finds Meg Ryan’s federal agent Maggie Dearden lured into a web of intrigue spun by Laura Carrington (Michelle Pfeiffer), a black widow who’s suspected of marrying and killing wealthy older men in order to inherit their fortunes.The mysterious Laura assumes multiple identities to ensnare her prey, including a politician’s polished PA, a red-haired Texan hairdresser, and a bookish anthropologist. Pfeiffer, demonstrating her masterful talent for building character via performance, deftly disappears into each persona, using only make-up, wigs, attitude and good old fashioned acting.In his desperation to secure the services of Meg Ryan, fresh from her success in Sleepless in Seattle, director Steve Kloves acceded to her demands for top billing, and the choice of either of the main roles. Ryan, who also insisted upon delivering the film’s final line, eventually chose the protagonist detective because she thought the milieu of the evil woman who marries and murders was too macabre. Having acquiesced to Ryan’s machinations, Michelle Pfeiffer proceeds to literally own the film, elevating the femme fatale trope to a new level, and evoking memories of Rita Hayworth and Gilda in the process.Kloves was always a wonderful creator of mood, and his movies bear all the hallmarks of an old-school approach to movie making — character, believable people and small-time settings, so it’s interesting to see him tackle the murder/mystery genre head-on. But who else was better equipped? Kloves’s characters are always on soul journeys, the heart of any good thriller.Following an all-too-brief cameo from Jeff Bridges, the film becomes reminiscent of Hitchcock as the chase takes the ingénue and her nemesis to New Jersey, where Laura has a widowed hotelier (Jack Nicholson) under her thrall. By now Meg is acting as though her life depends on it, the chemistry between herself and Michelle intensifying, as their characters engage in a battle of wits which will spell doom for either woman. Black Oleander is an underrated, tight, well-written film with stellar performances from its two leads, and a scintillating premise. Just don’t try to find it on Netflix. It’s a film that exists only in my imagination.
Addicted to Love and One Fine Day are inextricably linked in my mind. In fact every time I watch one of these films, I can guarantee I’ll end up watching the other in the following days. Addicted to Love is set in Greenwich Village, and the city is treated as another character in this dark tale of jilted lovers Maggie (Meg Ryan) and Sam (Matthew Broderick), whose paths cross when they discover that their ex-partners are now living with each other. Sam hopes to win back the affections of school teacher Linda (Kelly Preston), but Maggie’s only intention is to see former lover Anton (Tcheky Karyo) “in pain, hopeless and finished off.”Addicted to Love may appear to function just like any other romantic movie, but you really have to dig beneath the surface of this film to find its hidden layer of sweetness and silver linings. Meg Ryan, who trades in most of her usual sparkle for something more brittle and belligerent, couldn’t be more fetching in biking leathers, boots and tie-dye dress, and she also adds a hard edge to her voice, which she uses to marvellous effect as she delivers some fairly adult lines to the straight-laced Broderick.There’s never any doubt about what’s going to happen between this odd couple, and the only question is whether the 100 minutes between the beginning and the foregone conclusion can hold your attention. Addicted To Love successfully accomplishes this feat. Partly due to some clever dialogue and black humour, but mainly thanks to the magnetism of Meg and her character Maggie.If you’re a Meg Ryan fan who hasn’t seen Addicted To Love I’d suggest you take a look at it. On the surface it might appear to be When Maggie Met Sam in Soho via Seattle, but it did bring some much needed originality to what had become a very predictable genre, and if you give it a chance it’s a film that might just surprise you.
In contrast to the salacious and hard edge of Addicted to Love, Michael Hoffman’s One Fine Day is an unapologetic delight from start to finish. You can’t deny it’s charm. It’s the kind of film you want to watch after a miserable day at work or on a rainy Sunday evening as you face the prospect of a brutal Monday morning. New York looks beautiful here, whether in the sun or the rain, a heavenly haze surrounds the film infusing it with a richness and romanticism.What this movie also has is a chemistry between its two leads reminiscent of the legendary couples of Hollywood’s golden age. Haunting, heavenly Michelle Pfeiffer and suave George Clooney are a perfect match, they posses a natural charisma, and although it’s as predictable as a stopped clock what will happen between the two of them, at least for the intellectuals amongst us the outcome of their liaison isn’t your typical romantic-movie, moment-of-realisation scene, but a more understated and realistic accord forged between two tired parents.One Fine Day may be too lightweight for some, and you could accuse it of being entirely forgettable, but for me it’s a keeper, one of those rare but genuine feel-good films that you can revisit any time, and never get tired of. The more I think about its magic and heart the more I can’t help but implore Michelle to continue make films that provide memories like this one. The kind of memories that can only be created by an actress as elegant as she is.
Films like Frankie and Johnny and Prelude to a Kiss make me feel nostalgic. There are sentimental reasons behind my adoration for these films. They remind me of a time when I was alive. They take me back to those days, those feelings, those moments. Frankie and Johnny is a gem of a film which got lost in the midst all those high-profile romantic movies that established Meg Ryan as a star. Yesterday evening, there wasn’t anything playing on TV so I took the opportunity to rediscover it, as it were. Frankie and Johnny is slow-paced, talky and shot with a tense, classic film noir quality and the dialogue is beyond superb. Every scene is deliberate, paying homage to the very real intimacy that can occur between two people. Al Pacino is always a force of nature, and in this movie his typical raw intensity blazes in comparison to Michelle Pfeiffer’s strength and fragility. I wish I knew how to really write about this movie without sounding gushing or forced, but I have no idea what I want to write, I just feel the need to write something. That’s how I know Frankie and Johnny is a great movie.Frankie and Johnny was the second time Al and Michelle had played an on-screen couple, and they’re completely believable, in spite of playing characters who could scarcely be more different than Scarface’s Tony and Elvira. Equally believable are the members of Frankie and Johnny’s incredibly well written supporting cast, who provide a large number of the film’s laughs. While two characters’ names make up the movie’s title, everybody is important here. Women are seen drinking beer, people of different ages and races mix, and men and women who aren’t dating talk to each other. These may sound like small details, but they’re things which are still surprisingly rare in mainstream cinema. Little real life touches like this ensure that even though the film is steeped in romantic fantasy, crucially it never feels like it is.Frankie and Johnny is a complete love story, mind you, but you feel the love, rather than seeing it. No other movie I’ve seen recently has achieved this feat to the degree this one does.
I had hoped to make this a regular feature but it’s proved more difficult than I imagined to find items for this monologue series. Screenwriters tend to favour single sentence utterances and shot/reverse shot conversations, leaving the bulk of monologue writing to the playwrights. It’s a shame really, because speeches and monologues have provided some of my favourite moments in films, allowing writers and actors the chance to really show off; not with special effects or action sequences, but with great writing and tremendous acting.
You know, I saw you guys once. You and Frank. At the Roosevelt. Soap convention.
Yeah, they got a convention for everything. This guy was some big roller in suds. At least he was clean. Some of the guys I met through the service, you wouldn’t believe. The older ones, they were okay. Nice. Polite. Pulled the chair out for you. But the younger ones…
It wasn’t so bad, though. I’d get a nice piece of steak, flowers, sometimes even a gift. Usually whatever the guy was into. Got a set of socket wrenches once. I couldn’t believe it? The guy looked like he’d just given me four dozen roses.
But I stayed at the Hartford one time. You should see the rooms. All satin and velvet. And the bed. Royal blue, trimmed in lace clean as snow. Hard to believe sleeping in a room like that don’t change your life. But it don’t. No the bed may be magic, but the mirror isn’t. I still wake up the same old Susie.
Susie Diamond as played by Michelle Pfeiffer in The Fabulous Baker Boys, which was written and directed by Steve Kloves. Steve made two great films, the sort the studio system doesn’t like to make. “Baker Boys” with a radiant award-winning Michelle, and the first adult collaboration of the brother’s Bridges, and his follow-up Flesh and Bone four years later. A haunting Southern Gothic, combining elements of Greek melodrama and film noir, Flesh and Bone also features a memorable monologue; this time delivered by Meg Ryan and her character Kay. Meg’s monologue may have fewer lines, but backed by Thomas Newman’s music, and the emptiness of the West Texas landscape it’s all the more profound, providing my favourite moment of the film.
The only parents I’ve ever known are really my aunt and uncle. By blood, I mean. The people in the photograph I never knew. They were lost when I was a baby. Killed. Car accident. When I was old enough to know, I was given the picture and told. I don’t know why I hang on to it, it’s just… You grow up in an ugly house, the way I did, sometimes you wonder how it might have been, if things hadn’t happened the way they did. It’s funny, your father, the other day, mentioned Benson County. That’s where they lived, I’m pretty sure. The people in the picture. My family.
The People in the Picture encapsulates the way Meg portrays Kay Davies. She’s been scarred by her upbringing, yes, but she’s not given up on life completely. This scene comes twenty moments before the film ends and is the catalyst which launches us into the final act. It’s fine. This is the moment Arlis (Dennis Quaid) realises the shattering truth of who Kay is, and although Meg’s marvellously expressive voice never distracts attention from Quaid’s understated work, she conveys sadness with a soulful and unconquerable spirit as no other screen actress I can imagine. Meg Ryan and Flesh and Bone seems as good a way as any to end this run of great movie monologues.
Whenever I watch When a Man loves a Woman and the character of Alice Green, I don’t see Meg Ryan. I see no mannerisms, tics, or indications of who this character may be other than herself. Alice’s damaged psyche lends itself to Meg’s success, but she is not defined by it, and it’s rare to find a modern movie star so completely disassociating themselves from their Hollywood persona.
When I think about Meg in this picture, I think of this one scene in particular. Just look at the block of text below. At the end of the 470 word, four minute long piece I always want to give Meg an award just for getting through it, seemingly in one continuous shot. It’s an unusual monologue, never loud or commanding in the usual ways, and yet, without needing to raise her voice, Meg commands your attention, showcasing the remarkable talent that made her one of the Queens of the 1990s.
Hi, I’m Alice, and I’m an alcoholic. I’ve been sober for 184 days. I drank my first beer when I was nine years old. My dad’s an alcoholic, so my mother liked to blame my lapse on his example. That way she could hurt both of us at once. Anyway, I liked my first beer and the ones that followed, and about a year ago I got drunk. I couldn’t stop getting drunk. It had never really happened like that, and I still don’t know why. I’ve lied to everyone that I know, everyone I love, and I was ashamed and terrified and humiliated every day.One day I got out of the shower, grabbed a towel and decided to go get the paper. And nobody saw me go out the front door or at the kerb, which was a very good thing because I was holding the towel just folded in my hand. I know how lucky I’ve been because there were times when I drove my little girls around just ripped out of my mind. One Saturday I took my baby girl on errands and when I got home I realised she wasn’t with me. I had left her some place. And since I couldn’t remember where I’d been I had no idea where, so I spent the next few hours phoning every shop I had ever been to, until finally the tile guy rang my front doorbell. They had found my address on a check. I rewarded him of course, you know by never going back to his store.My bottom was 184 days ago, when my little girl watched me wash down aspirin with vodka, and then I hit her. And when I passed out she was alone with me, and she thought I was dead. And all of my life I will never know what that did to her. And I know I have to forgive myself for that. And I have to forgive myself for what I did to my husband. It’s horrifying how much you can hate yourself for being low and weak, and he couldn’t save me from that, so I turned on him. And I tried to empty it onto him. but there was always more, you know? When he tried to help me I told him that he made me feel small and worthless. But nobody makes us feel that, man, we do that for ourselves. I shut him out because I knew if he ever really saw who I was inside that he wouldn’t love me. And we’re separated now. He’s moved away, and it was so hard not to beg him to stay, and I don’t know if I’m going to get a second chance, but I have to believe that I deserve one. Because we all do.