Cineast: ‘Bettie Page Reveals All,’ ‘Delivery Man,’ ‘Philomena’

Philomena, Delivery Man and Bettie Page Reveals All are new to theaters this week.

Bettie Page Reveals All

Bettie Page, the Tennessee Tease, was a pin-up girl from the tail end (so to speak) of the pin-up era—the 1950s, the days before Playboy magazine came along and made nudie pictures a newsstand staple, and before the obscenity laws that made trafficking in erotic materials a crime were struck down. As such, Bettie Page, while her pictures and films seem extremely tame by today’s standards, was considered a temptress and a scandal for using her looks and body for titillation. Bettie Page Reveals All uses extensive interviews with Page, who died in 2008, to narrate a history of her life and career, telling the story of the 1957 scandal that ended her career and plunged her into a life of mental illness and obscurity, the “disappearance” that only enhanced her legendary status.

Delivery Man
A favorite Hollywood comedy storyline is the one about a man who can’t get his act together and therefore can’t achieve the things that are supposed to make men happy: fulfilling job, respectable dwelling, pretty wife and a family. Delivery Man presents us with the affable Vince Vaughn in the standard loser role, an irresponsible and feckless deliveryman for his father’s bakery who’s finding it harder and harder to make excuses for his failures. The twist comes when he finds out that, by dint of having donated sperm to a fertility clinic 20 years ago, and due to a serious mix-up at said fertility clinic, he’s the biological father of 533 children. (Get it? “Delivery Man?”) OK, so he discovers the identities of some of his offspring and decides to engage in a heroic act of mass parenting—in the hopes of steering the various fruits of his loins away from the bad choices and bad luck that have stymied him.

Philomena

Philomena, which was screened at the Hamptons International Film Festival last month, tells the story of struggling journalist Martin Sixsmith (Steve Coogan) who agrees to help the aging Philomena Lee (Dame Judi Dench) to locate her son, whom she was forced to give up for adoption in 1950s Ireland. Under the strict Roman Catholic regime of Philomena’s upbringing (she was schooled in a convent), her illegitimate child was taken at age three and sold for adoption in the U.S.—a shocking but common practice in Ireland at the time. Afterward, Philomena moved to England and raised a family, but she never stopped grieving for the loss of her son and never stopped wondering what happened to him. Sixsmith is reluctantly drawn to the story, not because of any real sympathy for Philomena’s loss, but because of the journalistic challenge of taking on the Catholic Church and uncovering it’s historic brutality. However, as seen in the film, Sixsmith comes to regard the eccentric Philomena with affection and appreciate her humor and spirit.

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