The Aisle Seat - Movie Reviews by Mike McGranaghan
Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape
Send this page to Twitter!  

THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan


All About Nina

Mary Elizabeth Winstead gives an effective performance in All About Nina, but it might be a little too effective. She plays Nina Geld, a drunken, promiscuous stand-up comedian who moves from NY to LA so she can audition for a Saturday Night Live-style sketch comedy show. Nina lives with with a kooky practitioner of New Age techniques, Lake (Kate del Castillo), and forms a relationship with an emotionally-stable guy named Rafe (Common) that she is in no way equipped to handle.

Maybe this is just a personal thing but -- despite fearless work from Winstead -- Nina is an unpleasant character to spend 100 minutes with. Her material isn't especially funny, and her personality is grating. The film tries to explain the reason for Nina's dysfunction during the third act. That explanation, however, is unearned, given that it touches on a serious, disturbing subject that writer/director Eva Vives has no intention of digging into. Most of the other characters are also irritating, especially Lake, whose hippy antics feel designed to get forced laughs. An unconvincing Nina/Rafe romance, meanwhile, fails to generate sparks. All About Nina is certainly a showcase for Winstead's versatility. It just doesn't come together as a story.

( 1/2 out of four)

The Wife

The Wife starts off somewhat slowly, to the point where you wonder if anything is actually going to happen. Then, at the 50-minute mark, the "twist" of the story kicks in, and suddenly it becomes riveting. Glenn Close plays Joan Castleman, wife of acclaimed novelist Joe (Jonathan Pryce). She accompanies him to Stockholm when it's announced that he's receiving the Nobel Prize for Literature. Once there, tension within the marriage bubbles to the surface. Flashbacks reveal the unusual origin of their relationship, and a long-buried issue between them resurfaces, threatening to change their lives forever.

The Wife is about the sacrifices people make in marriages, both to keep their partners happy and to preserve outward appearances. Glenn Close is superb as a woman who has relegated herself to the background so that her husband can stand in the spotlight. Joan's quiet pain is palpable. Jonathan Pryce is equally good, giving Joe a narcissistic quality; he believes he deserves that Nobel. The Wife is a little heavy-handed from time to time. Even so, its examination of how Joan represses her emotions -- and then eventually lets them all hang out -- absolutely packs a wallop.

( out of four)

All About Nina is rated R for strong sexual content and language throughout, some nudity and brief drug use. The running time is 1 hour and 40 minutes. The Wife is rated R for language and some sexual content. The running time is 1 hour and 47 minutes.

Buy a copy of my book, "Straight-Up Blatant: Musings From The Aisle Seat," on sale now at! Paperback and Kindle editions also available at!

Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.