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Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle
Mrs Parker and the Vicious Circle
Actors: Jennifer Jason Leigh, Campbell Scott, Matthew Broderick, Peter Gallagher, Jennifer Beals
Director: Alan Rudolph
Genres: Drama
R     2006     2hr 6min

Cigarette smoke and laughter... The hollow clink of martini glasses and biting one-liners... This was the famed lunch scene at the Algonquin Hotel's Round Table of the 1920's, home to a circle of mutually supportive young ...  more »

     

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Movie Details

Actors: Jennifer Jason Leigh, Campbell Scott, Matthew Broderick, Peter Gallagher, Jennifer Beals
Director: Alan Rudolph
Creators: Alan Rudolph, Allan F. Nicholls, Ira Deutchman, James McLindon, Robert Altman, Scott Bushnell, Randy Sue Coburn
Genres: Drama
Sub-Genres: Drama
Studio: Image Entertainment
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen
DVD Release Date: 09/05/2006
Original Release Date: 11/23/1994
Theatrical Release Date: 11/23/1994
Release Year: 2006
Run Time: 2hr 6min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 18
Edition: Special Edition
MPAA Rating: R (Restricted)
Languages: English
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Movie Reviews

Mrs Parker vicious wit rules, okay!
Kali | United Kingdom | 07/10/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The biting and caustic wit of Mrs Parker is bought superbly to life by the versatile actress Jennifer Jason Leigh who plays the brittle writer, critic and sometimes playwright to vulnerable perfection.This is not an easy film to watch and I can understand why some people found it hard to get into. I mean the 1920s were supposedly a time of fun, jazz, speak easy booze and laughter all around, the Great War was over and life was back to normal.However watching the desperation of Mrs Parker's generation, the bright young things drink themselves silly, take drugs and lash out at each other in a perpetual game of verbal cat-o-nine-tails makes you realise that perhaps everything was not as "normal" as most people hoped.The film jumps back and forth through Mrs Parker's life, some of the best scenes are in black and white, and we are treated to subtle barbs, cruel wit and tasty treats in the guise of a crackingly good cast, with Mathew Broderick doing himself proud as the sweet talking but brutal rouge who abandons his pregnant lover (Mrs Parker), Andrew McCarthy as Mrs Parker's husband Eddie, fresh from war and addicted to morphine.All in all this is a deliciously complex film that will you need to see more than once, well worth an evening in with a box of pop-corn and a friend to share the sarcasm, and the very satirical humour that runs through the film from beginning to end."
You won't be disappointed
Tom Knapp | Lancaster, PA USA | 01/15/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Critics moaned when Jennifer Jason Leigh was tapped to portray Dorothy Parker, the Grand Lady of Barbed Words whose light shone brightest in the colorful 1920s. And, predictably, many critics trashed Leigh's performance. But, while Leigh made her name making sexy comedies and sexy thrillers, she actually does an excellent job here as the witty wordsmith in "Mrs. Parker & the Vicious Circle." OK, so she played a sexy wordsmith, getting naked with fellow writer Charles MacArthur (Matthew Broderick) for an eye-candy romp. But the sex and nudity, for all its visual appeal, could have hit the cutting-room floor without much being lost from the film. The romance that makes this film worth watching is the romance that never happens: Parker's non-romance with humorist Robert Benchley (Campbell Scott).

Let's face it, Broderick shared top billing with Leigh because he's a name. But it's Scott who deserved it; it's Scott's Benchley who provided an excellent foil for matching wits and barbs with Parker. They were, it seems, the perfect match -- but the film tells us they never consummated for fear of losing what closeness they already had.

Parker, Benchley and, to some extent, MacArthur were part of the Algonquin Round Table, the so-called "vicious circle" of the title, a regular gathering of the luminaries of the writing field back in the good ol' days of Prohibition. And director Alan Rudolph assembled a fine cast to round out the circle: Robert Sherwood (Nick Cassavetes), Edna Ferber (Lili Taylor), F. Scott Fitzgerald (Malcolm Gets), Harold Ross (Sam Robards) and Alexander Woollcott (Tom McGowan), among others, plus occasional cameos by the likes of Will Rogers (Keith Carradine) and a lively Harpo Marx (J.M. Henry).

We get to see them talk and drink at New York's Algonquin Hotel, we get to see them drink and talk at private parties. We also get to see them put on a variety show, the highlight of which is Benchley's fumbling financial report. Occasionally, we see a few of them working, as writers and editors of Vanity Fair and the fledgling New Yorker.

The film plays havoc with chronology, jumping around in the '20s, '30s, '40s and '50s, interspersed with brief scenes of Leigh reciting a few lines of Parker's immortal poetry. But most of the film is set in the '20s, and that's where the real color lies. (To drive that point home, Rudolph had later scenes filmed in black and white, while the early stuff in the '20s is in vivid color.) The Round Table comprised some of the finest literary minds of the age, and the lines popping out of their mouths throughout the film are classic literary gems. The best are traded between Parker and Benchley, who flirt outrageously across the years but never "misbehave" -- with each other, anyway -- like so many of their peers were doing.

Some of the best scenes are shot at the Table, with the camera panning from face to face as they drop lines -- many of which today crowd the pages of any good book of quotations -- with machine-gun rapidity and a surgeon's precision.

Of course, Parker's life wasn't all grins and giggles, and Leigh manages to show us the pain beneath the giddy facade. Parker, like many of her friends, was an alcoholic. She was unlucky in love and kept outliving her beloved dogs. She attempted suicide a few times; the movie shows only once. She was proud, but often too poor to sustain her lifestyle. She survived most of her friends, sank into senility and, despite her wishes, died on a sunny day. She also excelled in a field and an era dominated by men, and her name and writings outlasted the work of many of her male contemporaries.

This isn't a feel-good film by any stretch, but it's not dark and depressing, either. It's a slice of life -- in this case, a slice of several extraordinary lives from a very different time. The dialogue borrows heavily from the characters' actual words, and it's some of the most sparkling dialogue to show up on the big screen in a very long time.

by Tom Knapp, Rambles.(n e t) editor"
Vicious Circle not for squares
Roman Ramirez | Italy, but I'm English | 12/11/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I loved this movie. For those who were captivated by Jennifer Jason-Leigh's over-the-top performance in The Hudsucker Proxy, Mrs Parker is a must-see movie. JJL wears a bob and a cloche hat like nobody else. Her dialogue is not, as some have said, incomprehensible, but simply a marvellous re-rendering of that fabulously affected clipped New England style favoured by street-wise New Yorkers of the period, as essential to the production as the wardrobe. See this movie and then read The Great Gatsby, or, even better, Butterfield 8. The books will then come alive. I particularly liked the way black and white was used for the 'flash-forward' sequences, and colour for her more colourful, happier past in the twenties, unlike the opposite method which is usually used. A movie with great style and earnest attention to period detail - It's got me reading Dorothy Parker's poetry, whereas before seeing this movie I knew nothing about her."
Writers spend their wit
Zack Davisson | Seattle, WA, USA | 12/16/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I was altogether unfamiliar with Dorothy Parker, and the Algonquin Round before this film. The only writer of their generation that I had read was F. Scott Fitzgerald, as required reading in school. I have never read "The New Yorker," which also plays a part in the story.This film does a good job educating the ignorant, such as myself, while spinning an interesting story about an interesting woman. The layout of the film, the cuts through time interspersed with Parker's witticisms made for nice viewing and opened up the era for me. Highlights and disappointments, romance and heartbreaks, the movie plays like the way I think a Jazz Age novel should.Jennifer Jason Leigh is great in the title role. The accent is a little odd, mainly because I had just see "Hudsucker Proxy" where she uses an almost identical accent. "Mrs. Parker and her Vicious Circle" sparked my interest in writer's of this generation, and that is what a biographical film should do. A greater background knowledge of the personalities represented adds to the enjoyment of the film."