The Man from Elysian Fields Reviews
Curiously, the thing which bothers me most about this flat little work is that they make such a fuss about Pasadena and then get vast amounts of the geography all wrong. For one, no one in Pasadena who really loves to read would ever bother with a Barnes & Noble. They probably have book signings there, but the place in Pasadena for that is Vroman's, on Colorado Boulevard. I saw Sue Grafton, Madeleine L'Engle, and Anne Rice there. My mother saw Walter Cronkite, Ken Burns, Jimmy Carter, and many others. (Including Sue Grafton and Anne Rice!) Honestly, I don't even know where a Barnes & Noble is in Pasadena. There was a bookstore of some sort in the mall, but I understand the mall isn't there anymore. Maybe there's one nearer Old Town, which does get a brief appearance. However, most of the really distinctive buildings shown are in Los Angeles, so what's the point of making Pasadena a Thing?
That fine actor, Andy Garcia, plays Byron Tiller, one of those guys who had one book sell and felt he could quit his job and make a living at writing. Except his one book ends up in the remainder bin, of course. His wife is working at a record store while he writes his next book, which the publisher won't even accept because who reads that crap? One day, he meets Luther Fox (Mick Jagger). Luther runs Elysian Fields, a high-end male escort service for bored and wealthy wives. Byron tells his wife, Dena (Juliana Margulies), that he is meeting with the Book of the Month Club to consider making his book, which he has not told her hasn't sold, a selection. Instead, he is meeting with Andrea Alcott (Olivia Williams), wife of Tobias (James Coburn), who has won three Pulitzers and whom Byron studied in college. Tobias Alcott is sanguine about his wife's affair and in fact asks Byron to read his new book, hoping for an honest opinion. And honestly, it's terrible. But Byron has this idea . . . .
The thing is, all these people feel like paper dolls. Andrea is described at least twice as having the face of an angel, and that appears to be what she's for. She's there to be pretty and provide a link between Byron and Tobias. She's also there because it's important that Byron be treated as a whore, which in fact he is. Dena is there to be the Good Woman Betrayed. The first night Byron spends with the Alcotts, I'm not even sure what story they told Dena. He was just sitting at their breakfast table the next morning. By the time Dena has had enough, he's spending pretty much all his time with them and none at home. There is also Nigel (Michael Des Barres), there to be a mirror in which Byron does not want to see himself. And, you know, man-whore Mick Jagger sleeping with inexplicable Anjelica Huston. I think she's supposed to be there to add depth to his character, or maybe to make the life Byron loses seem so much better. It doesn't work for me.
I do think it was filmed well, honestly, which just made it all the more disappointing. I can't ever live there again, but Pasadena does have some charming places in part left over from the colonial days. Of course, a lot of the things shown here were actually Los Angeles proper, but they still do film it to good effect. Los Angeles is the dream, but Los Angeles is also the land of loneliness. It's really big. Spread out. Even just Pasadena keeps on going. Los Angeles is full of places we go through. My mom's house is miles from my old high school, and while I know approximately what's between them, a lot of the neighbourhoods are places to go through on the bus. And, yes, Los Angeles is a town of secrets, but it's because there are so many places to hide them. Byron (and ye Gods, there's a bit of a pretentious name) uses a phone in front of the old Tower Records building, many miles from home. Ambassador Auditorium isn't very far from Old Town--just a couple of blocks. But there's still a sense of distance which the filming helps explore.
Once again, we have hit one of those movies with a wasted cast. Fortunately, it wasn't James Coburn's final movie, though I haven't seen the movie which actually was. But for all my teasing (which is based on a one-off reference on KROQ in the early '90s), Andy Garcia actually is a fine actor. Juliana Margulies hasn't done a huge amount worth watching, but she's not a bad actress. Mick Jagger . . . well, is Mick Jagger. Olivia Williams is beautiful and charming. And honestly, I think you could do a really great movie out of the feeling of isolation these people have. There's also an interesting movie in the idea that writers are, in the end, selling themselves no less than the "escorts" Byron ends up becoming. However, Pasadena is just a stage, and the people in it are merely shadows. The writing parts of it don't ring true. Somehow, the two men working together produce the Greatest Work of All Time--even though it sounds a great deal like the one Byron's publisher rejects at the beginning.
There is a saying that might perhaps be one of the themes of this interesting passionate character study: "Never love a woman who loves you unconditionally." I think is how it goes?!
However, I won't spoil the surprise.
My fellow movie viewers' reviews are "on spot" except for the commentary I read about Andy Garcia. Andy Garcia has the face of a beloved puppy dog and your dearest friend or long lost love to my mind and watching him perform in this believable role where he "performs" to survive, we all were given a glimpse at what integrity means.
Okay, yeah I'm older than I look (especially in this photo!) Let me share a personal experience? Both my brother and sister (Geminis) could never stand to remain in the room (or theater) when watching a violent, or otherwise horrifically uncormfortable movie.
Tiller loved his wife and had just as much passion for his writing. He became numb. Garcia is a man full of raw power, charisma, even vigor but with the face of a hound dog (except even more lovely)...those eyes. He can speak volumes without one word.
What happens to good people when they are forced to feed their family? Watch this and find out... we all might go there.
Rolling Stones lead singer, Mick Jagger, is the Man from Fields. I won't go into the title of the movie.... you will understand when you watch the first half hour.
Well acted in every respect, Jagger is very good as is the main character.
In the first scene, you see the lead character, a down and out writer, in a bookstore seeing that his novel is in the bargain bin. A customer picks it up and notices his picture on the back cover..... the writer signs it for her.... then he leaves the store.... watch what she does with the book!
Watch this one if you like deep thoughts, although what the writer does is rather unbelievable (he has to perform, for his money, some unlikely things).
Two fingers way up on this one. Agree?
The supporting cast is nothing short of great too. Mick Jagger is wonderful as an aging gigolo who is secretly in love with one of his longtime clients (Anjelica Huston). He simultaneously acts as the devil and the angel on Andy Garcia's shoulder, first luring Garcia to become a gigolo, and yet also providing advice about love and life, advice that we can tell he regrets not following himself as a younger man.
Juliana Margulies does well as the disappointed-but-patient wife, and yet we feel sympathy towards both her and her struggling husband as he is pulled deeper into a strange relationship with a famous novelist (Jamed Coburn) and his young wife (Olivia Williams).
An excellent film about hopes and dreams, and the lengths that our human nature will propel us to try and fulfill them.
[b]The Man From Elysian Fields[/b], directed by George Hickenlooper, stars Andy Garcia as a struggling writer who is approached by a man (Mick Jagger) that runs a male escort agency which caters to waelthy women. Desperate for money, Garcia takes the job, all the while keeping this a secret from his wife (Julianne Margulies). The cast also features James Coburn, Olivia Williams and Anjelica Huston. Although the film is uneven, the cast keeps things interesting.
[b]What Women Want[/b], directed by Nancy Myers, is a romantic comedy starring Mel Gibson as a successful ad executive who has always considered himself to be a ladies' man although he's never had a clue to what women really think. Suddenly he is given those powers and he tries to use them to his advantage. There is really nothing new here, nor was the film funny. The cast also includes Helen Hunt, Marisa Tomei, Layren Holly and Alan Alda.
[b]Bringing Down the House[/b], directed by Adam Shankman, stars Steve Martin as a divorcess trying to get his life back in order when convict Queen Latifah arrives. It's an odd couple comedy where Queen Latifah's character has to overcome how Steve Martin tries to stereotype her. For the most part the film fails, but it does have a few laughs. Eugene Levy co-stars.
Director George Hickenlooper has been around for 15 years now making documentaries and feature films, but I had never seen one of his pieces of work upon my viewing of this wonderful film. After only seeing one of his movies I already notice that he owns his certain distinctive style of storytelling and I will definitely be seeking out more from him in the near future. I don't want to dig very deep at all into the story, but I'll give the basics. Andy Garcia plays a struggling novelist who is having trouble receiving publishment for his second book...in fact, he is refused and is forced to search for any other job at the time to support his wife (played by the underrated Marguiles) and their young son. After striking out everywhere he does two things he knows in the back of his mind are wrong. First, he begins a slew of numerous lies to his wife telling her his book is actually getting published and is up for book of the month, and second, he takes an invitation to work for a mysterious man from a company called Elysian Fields whom he knows nothing about. This character, played by Mick Jagger is a great one because he is written with more humanity than we're used to seeing with people like this.
I think that's where I'll leave it with the plot, I just please beg you to see this movie and give me some opinions on it. There's such a stunningly original, meaningful, and bittersweet turn this movie takes along the way, a story that unfolds over the story that is already taking place. Most of the time films don't feel complete when they try to topple more on to what's happening, but [i]The Man From Elysian Fields [/i]just hits the notes right throughout. I find it hard to believe that this movie was rotten overall when I checked it today. Way too many terrific films like this are poorly criticized, and this film is another addition to that growing group.