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By Anna

Breasts: large, small and grotesque. The first images of the film are of mammograms being administered, showing the female body in its lowest form. Director Nicole Holofcener’s portrayal of the frailty and fading of our bodies is more than skin deep and is no reflection of her film, which is fascinating in its neurotic characters and down-to-earth plot, but has room to excavate further.

Kate (Catherine Keener) sells mid-century modern furniture with her husband, Alex (Oliver Platt) which they obtain after the owners have died. What they want to buy most is the apartment next door occupied by a frail 91-year-old woman whose granddaughters also become strangely close with Alex, Kate and their daughter, Cathy.

The juxtaposition of brand new $200 jeans and $1,400 antique bookshelves is purposeful. Kate throws around $20 bills to homeless persons, but can’t manage to heal her guilty heart. The idea of guilt (though not white privilege) is introduced and not solved. Possibly because it cannot be solved entirely in an entire lifetime let alone a film, but also because the film becomes more about the relationships than the guilt—leaving the guilt hanging.

As Cathy finances her pimple removal and Kate complains about her elbow skin cracking their elderly neighbor dies and that’s when guilt is swept under the rug for more important matters, like caring for your neighbors granddaughters who are now alone in the world.

Holofcener’s previous films (Friends With Money and Lovely and Amazing) are decent understandings of life’s little frustrations, but Please Give is her best because it expresses content for ordinary life while addressing guilt and death, yet it still doesn’t go deep enough. In spite of its shortcomings I’d start here with Holofcener’s collection.

Quick reviews from the movies I saw this week:

Black Hawk Down

Ridley Scott is not my favorite director or even close to my favorite, but I have to say this film was impressive. He used less of his close combat shots so I could actually see what was going on, and he had a stellar cast—the English guys really know how to do American war films. I liked the film and wouldn’t put it on my top five best war films, but maybe top 10.

Dazed and Confused

The first time I saw this film was after my senior year of high school, the second time, after my senior year of college. Though I laughed the first time, I appreciated it more the second time (and still laughed). It’s one of the best last day of school, first day of summer movies—my generation’s American Graffiti and everyone should see it at some point as a high schooler and maybe again as an adult.

Funny Girl

If you’re not a Streisand fan don’t discount this one yet. I like some musicals and have never enjoyed a Barbra Streisand song or film, but this one is different. For one, it’s got Omar Sharif and two, it is pretty funny and entertaining. If you like musicals at all and haven’t seen it go for it, if not, that’s OK too.