Broadcast News (1987)
Writer and Director: James L. Brooks
Starring: William Hurt, Holly Hunter, Albert Brooks
Sweet and Lowdown (1999)
Writer and Director: Woody Allen
Starring: Senn Penn, Samantha Morton, Uma Thurman
When Holly Hunter, a native of Conyers, Georgia, made a splash playing the whip-smart television news director in Broadcast News in 1987, I got a kick out of telling my non-Southern friends how nice it was to have a movie heroine who spoke without an accent. 35 years later, it is still difficult to be cast as a Southerner without being cast as a buffoon, but I suppose stereotypes are made to be broken. This point is underscored and illuminated by James L. Brooks’ excellent script. Intelligence, talent, and charisma are interestingly enough not the same thing. And experience, lest we forget, is yet another dimension. Holly Hunter’s acting is as brilliant as her character. Out of the many terrific roles William Hurt had in the 1980s, this one is surely in the top tier. Albert Brooks is perfectly cast, plays it straight, and comes out ahead. The chemistry here is choice.
Woody Allen’s script for Sweet and Lowdown turns on a similar question of how gifted and how much a dope somebody can be at the same time. It’s sort of an Amadeus for the 1930’s… but better. Sean Penn’s portrayal of “the world’s second-best jazz guitarist” and Samantha Morton’s of the down-to-earth girl he’s sweet on pull at the heartstrings while Woody Allen’s fanboy appreciation of the music yields a nice soundtrack and a detailed setting for the story. There truly is a sweet and poignant quality about this.
*Coming up next time: Enough of this poignant and sentimental stuff — let’s try goofy and farcical with a couple of movies 37 years apart. Funny is always in style.
Wondering how these Movie Matchups get matched up? Care to take a look at the pairings already in the books? Check out the “Movie Matchups So Far…” link in the upper righthand corner of the blog.
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