HERE AND NOW – Review by Susan Wloszczyna

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I read a bit about what was once called Blue Night and is now called Here and Now, directed by documentary filmmaker Fabien Constant, before I saw it. Starring Sarah Jessica Parker, the story takes place in Manhattan, but is a far cry from her Cosmopolitan-swilling single lady escapades in Sex and the City. Instead, it is about a moody singer in the midst of preparing for a major engagement who learns that she has a possibly deadly brain tumor. Much of what I heard about this dazed walkabout through urban landscapes dotted with encounters, both by chance and arranged, sounded contrived and uninvolving.

But it kept me watching, fascinated to see what would come next for Parker’s Vivienne who strolls about in stilettoes, a pleated white skirt and a denim shirt opened down to there with a necklace that has a heart-shaped lock. She is mostly ignored by others as she works through her bad news and tries to attend to the day at hand. She rehearses. She refuses to open up to a shallow reporter. She deals with her self-centered French mother (Jaqueline Bisset), who is staying with her. She has sex twice with her drummer boyfriend. She buys a gorgeous gossamer gown and nearly loses it when she takes a Lyft. She stops by the apartment of her ex-husband (Simon Baker) to see her teen daughter and then runs into an old tipsy friend (Renee Zellweger) outside a restaurant who is celebrating her birthday. Then Vivienne sings a song at a club, a fluttery ditty by Rufus Wainwright with lyrics that contain the phrase “unfollow the rules” that is more Broadway than jazz or blues.

That is quite a day. On top of that she keeps running into the same Lyft driver, who is having issues with his wife. They share an appreciation of Django Reinhardt and he becomes her guardian angel of sorts. Parker flutters her hands on her face now and then, as if to see if she can feel it, while her intense blue eyes practically shoot out rays of pained emotion and uncertainty. It seems she digs going deep for once and that isn’t a bad thing.

And, all the while, her likely fate hangs over her like a medical sword of Damacles. I don’t know what to make of Parker’s breathy whispering of “I Think We’re Alone Now” over the end credits but it is apt enough conclusion to an open-ended but not unpleasant watch.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Here and Now is AWFJ’s Movie of the Week for November 9, 2018.

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Susan Wloszczyna

In her nearly 30 years at USA Today, Susan Wloszczyna interviewed everyone from Vincent Price and Shirley Temple to Julia Roberts and Will Smith. Her coverage specialties include animation, musicals, comedies and any film starring Hayley Mills, Sandy Dennis or hobbits. Her crowning career achievements so far, besides having Terence Stamp place his bare feet in her lap during an interview for The Limey, is convincing the paper to send her to New Zealand twice for set visits, once for The Return of the King and the other for The Chronicles of Narnia and King Kong, and getting to be a zombie extra and interview George Romero in makeup on the set for Land of the Dead. Though not impressive enough for Pulitzer consideration, she also can be blamed for coining the moniker "Frat Pack," often used to describe the comedy clique that includes Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn and Will Ferrell. Her positions have included Life section copy desk chief for four years and a film reviewer for 12 years. She is currently a senior editor for the online awards site Gold Derby. Previously, she has been a freelance film reporter and critic, contributing regularly to RogerEbert.com, MPAA’s The Credits, the Washington Post, AARP The Magazine online and Indiewire as well as being a book reviewer for The Buffalo News. She previously worked as a feature editor at the Niagara Gazette in Niagara Falls, N.Y. A Buffalo native, she earned her bachelor's degree in English at Canisius College and a master's degree in journalism from Syracuse University.