Tag Archives: Parker Posey

Stop or My Grandma Will Shoot


by George Wolf

Within the first few minutes of Thelma, writer/director Josh Margolin establishes two important things: 1) 90+ year-old Thelma (June Squibb) and her twenty-something grandson Danny (Fred Hechinger) share a sweetly authentic relationship, and 2) we’re not here to simply laugh at old people eating hot wings or talking dirty.

The laughs are here, but they are lightly organic and relatable across generational divides, consistently peppered around a kinda sorta heist caper and the search for a getaway scooter.

After getting computer lessons from her helpful and patience grandson, Thelma receives a convincingly scary phone call. The boy on the line sure sounds like Danny, and he says he’s been arrested. Then an authoritative voice (Malcolm McDowell) takes over, telling Thelma to cough up $10,000 for her grandson’s quick release.

Danny, and his parents (Parker Posey and Clark Gregg) eventually sort out the scam, but not before Thelma has dropped the cash in a mailbox. The police don’t offer much help, so Thelma sets out to “borrow” her friend Mona’s (Bunny Levine’s) gun and her other friend Ben’s (the late Richard Roundtree) tricked out scoot, and go get her 10k back.

Yes, Ben worries that they’re “old, diminished,” and Thelma laments that most or her friends are “dead, got sepsis or moved to Cleveland.” But they’re not the only ones struggling with their current phase of life. Danny is full of anxiety about his move into adulthood, his parents can’t seem to let go, and Margolin makes sure the message here is that we all have our good and bad days.

“And what’s today?” Ben wonders.

“We’ll find out!” Thelma is quick to reply.

Squibb is an absolute delight (shocker!), and her pairing with the distinguished Roundtree makes for an irresistible duo of vigilantes. Posey and Gregg supply some effective slapstick, and Hechinger (so good in News of the World) impresses again as a young man who worries that caring for his grandma may be the only thing he’s really good at.

Thelma is Margolin’s feature debut, and it displays a fine flair for madcap comedy that comes with a crowd-pleasing, easily digestible message. You’ll be laughing with Thelma, not at her, and that’s an important difference that Squibb rides all the way to the ATM.

Like It’s 1995

Party Girl

by Hope Madden

It was 1995. We’d already had a sense of the unique talent that is Parker Posey because of her drill sergeant character in Dazed and Confused, but we were not yet in love with her. Writer/director Daisy von Scherler Mayer’s Party Girl would change that.

Von Schlerler Mayer’s slight story trails a twentysomething in NYC whose only real skill is partying and looking fantastic. Mary (Posey) is busted throwing a rent party (the purpose of the party is to make enough money to pay rent) and has to turn to her only family – librarian godmother Judy (Sasha von Scherler, the director’s mother) – to bail her out. The condition: Mary has to get a real job. Preferably clerking in the library.

It’s a fairly straightforward “fish out of water” story, the type where the fish realizes dry land (that is, becoming a librarian) is really the way to go. Kind of a cross between Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Desperately Seeking Susan with essentially none of the plot of either, Party Girl skims the surface of extended adolescence.

There are romantic entanglements and an assortment of hip friends on the fringe. And, of course, the clash between downtown style and library shushing. Von Schlerler Mayer’s ensemble delivers charmingly superficial and oblivious characters, and the climax is never really in doubt. So why has this film stood up for almost thirty years?

Parker Posey, duh.

There was no turning back after this film. Posey owns this character, her insecurity and confidence, vulnerability and insensitivity. She carves out a personality that can carry the whole film, even though the film itself offers little in return. Posey radiates goofy charm that’s infectious enough to keep you drawn to Mary’s dilemma, however vapid it is.

Party Girl is a frothy, forgettable good time, but Posey turned out to be a keeper.

Rationalizing with Woody

Irrational Man

by Hope Madden

It’s always exciting when the next Woody Allen movie screens, but it’s best to keep expectations in check. Remember, for every Midnight in Paris, there’s a Cassandra’s Dream; for every Vicky Cristina Barcelona, there’s a Scoop.

The question is, on which side of that coin will his latest, Irrational Man, fall?

As is generally the case, Allen draws an exceptional cast. In this go-round, the always magnificent Joaquin Phoenix plays Abe Lucas, an alcoholic philosophy professor entrenched in an existential crisis. To his aid come the fresh, bright undergrad Jill (Emma Stone), and understanding, morally loose professor, Rita (Parker Posey). But their attention isn’t enough – Abe doesn’t feel himself again until he finds purpose.

What’s his purpose? Or more to the point, what’s Allen’s purpose? It’s to spin a familiar, albeit black, joke about the relative morality of getting away with murder.

Allen’s premise is actually fairly slight and not at all unique, but he pads it with loads of philosophical ponderings. We wrestle with the existential toxin of inaction, the impotence (literal and figurative) of writing instead of doing, and the messy leap from strictly philosophical ideals to life in a real, concrete world.

Irrational Man would sink into verbal tricks and intellectual nonsense were it not for three compelling, grounded performances and Allen’s sudden interest in Hitchcock.

Phoenix and Stone deliver something both pretentious and earnest enough to befit the project. Being from Allen’s pen, there’s something in their May/December relationship that works as both self-deprecation and excuse.

Posey steals every scene with a slyly comical and perfectly realized character.

The film slogs a bit through its first act, but gradually picks up steam, offering a bemused and somewhat detached observation of a mystery as it unfolds.

Though the film is listed as a drama, in many ways it is one of Allen’s cosmic jokes, and not just because he’s again toying with how to get away with murder. It’s more the laugh of, what would it be like if Woody Allen made a Hitchcock movie?