Saturday, June 21, 2014
I was lucky enough to catch Henry Jaglom's The M Word at the State Theater this weekend.
I have been a Jaglom fan since high school and have commented on all his previous movies elsewhere: https://mubi.com/topics/henry-jaglom-compendium.
The M Word is about menopause. The film's plot allows for lots of candid and funny interview-type conversation about the topic. It calls to mind earlier Jaglom films Eating, Babyfever and Going Shopping (among others).
Going Shopping is the film Jaglom made before working with Tanna Frederick. Tanna is an exotic neurotic, a force we have never seen on film before, and we are all better for it.
Her best film, and Jalgom's too, is Irene in Time. It's devestatingly dramatic and always feels true. My fiancee (V) and I watched the documentary Who is Henry Jaglom recently. When Tanna married Henry, V expressed concern because Jaglom in that film did not seem nice. He seemed to push people to capture some raw screen power, think Cassavetes, but I have the feeling that a) that documentary was not necessarily fair and b) Henry's film interests have changed some. Irene in Time being the exception, he seems more interested in a sort of filmed larger than life theater with Tanna (And since the next film is called Ovation, maybe it will be along those lines as well). With Just 45 Minutes From Broadway, it was great. For The M Word, which to be fair is a cross between a theatrical outing and the taped confessionals of those earlier films mentioned, it is good.
With Venice/Venice, Jaglom showed he knew the world of independent cinema well. With Last Summer in the Hamptons, the Hollywood Dreams trilogy and this, he shows that the world of modern mainstream entertainment is unknown to him. Not that there is anything wrong with that, it reminds one of when Woody Allen writes for teenagers. The TV studio in the M Word always seems sort of public access. The only show I could imagine watching is Michael Emil's science show, and that is because Emil is, as always, wonderful. The chldren's show where Tanna, as Moxie, plays a dog (despite how great I am sure she was playing a dog on Broadway) is scary. The sports show is several years out of date. The M Word concept within the film could work as a TV show (wasn't The View like that before they brought in younger folks?) and probably should. It is possible that the TV station was parody, but it plays earnestly so I am not sure, and its unrealness (if that is a word) takes me out of the main plot a bit. This is one of few movies that Jaglom did with a co-writer and co-editor. And I think the editing here is not as strong as it could have been. It is overlong. There are scenes that don't add much for me at least. Plus there are plot holes and confusions (particularly in terms of romantic motivations). I think an 85 minute film without the embezzlement plot and with more on-camera interviews would have been a masterpiece. As it stands of course, there is much to like.
Besides Emil, Corey Feldman does some of his best work here. He is given a chance to do something dramatic and funny in a good movie and runs with it. Everything said about menopause here is involving and usually funny.
Tanna is funny and smart and sexy (that scene at Thanksgiving dinner). The real breakout star here though is Simon Jaglom.
Henry's son is hilarious here. This picture is not him in the film. He plays a computer expert who moves the plot forward. The rapport between him and Tanna is a thing of beauty. He is the best part of this enjoyable film that I hope everyone tries to catch wherever they can.