The Last Movie Stars Review: Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward Doc

Youf you think Paul Newman is the coolest, Ethan Hawke’s superb multi-part documentary Last Movie StarsYou are welcome to use it. Joanne Woodward is his wife’s work, even if it seems you don’t know much about her. Last Movie Stars It is AbsolutelyFor two reasons. You need to learn about Newman’s mother, who helped him become one of the most memorable actors of the 20th century. But there’s something else: Woodward was one of the finest actors of her era, but for various reasons—being a mother to six children chief among them—she never had the big Hollywood career she deserved, even though she was a star before most people knew who her husband was. Newman’s and Woodward’s story is one of Hollywood’s greatest stories. romance:Their relationship was so unique and so complete, at times so rocky that sentimentalizing it does them a disservice.

Hawke is deeply in love with these performers as both stars and people. If Hawke were to be a star, it would not surprise him. Last Movie Stars The HBO Max broadcast is an intimate work that Hawke steers away from turning into hagiography. Hawke was approached by Woodward and Newman’s surviving children, who wanted to ensure that their parents’ work, and their extraordinary but far-from-perfect life together, wouldn’t be forgotten. Hawke didn’t know the couple personally, but as a teenager in New Jersey, he would sometimes see them around his school, which one of their children attended. Hawke thought they were a model couple, a husband and wife team who had created a beautiful partnership. Last Movie Stars explores both the truth and the fallacies behind that image, and even though several of the Newmans’ surviving children appear in the documentary, speaking candidly about their parents’ flaws as humans, Hawke shapes it all into a voyage of exploration, not of muckraking. This is the portrait of two men who were passionate about their work and loved each other in equal measures. It’s also a reminder that marriage isn’t for the faint of heart—and even those unions that look great from the outside always carry their share of heartache.

Last Movie StarsThe series consists six episodes that each last approximately one hour. That’s a lot of Newman and Woodward. However, once you get into the details, it becomes apparent that this book could be much longer. This is due to the manner Hawke presents the material. This is the backbone of Last Movie Stars is a vast set of interviews with key players in Newman’s life and career, conducted by Rebel Without a Cause screenwriter Stewart Stern. Newman initially intended to use these interviews in his memoir. However, he later changed his mind. In 1998, 10 years after his death, Newman burned all the tapes. (Around the same time, he burned his tuxedo in the driveway of the family’s Connecticut home, which tells you something about his relationship to fame.) Fortunately, Stern had had the tapes transcribed, and so the voices of the people who worked with or were close to either Newman, Woodward or both—among them Sidney Lumet, Martin Ritt, Gore Vidal, and Newman’s first wife, Jackie Witte—survived on paper, at least. Hawke Last Movie StarsPartly, it was a pandemic-era initiative, so Hawke gathered colleagues, friends and relatives via Zoom to discuss Newman and Woodward’s dual legacy. Stern’s transcripts are brought to life by some of Hawke’s fellow actors: Laura Linney reads the words of Joanne Woodward, and George Clooney gives voice to Newman’s.

Joanne Woodward is the subject of HBO Max’s ‘The Last Movie Stars’ series.

Warner Brothers

If Hawke’s method is complicated to describe, the result is wholly engaging and intimate. Hawke has an uncanny knack for creating exhilarating, offbeat documentaries. Check out his 2014 Seymour: A IntroductionPortrait of Seymour Bernstein (New York pianist), traces creativity’s inherent meaning in daily life. Last Movie Stars dips and swerves between Newman and Woodward’s personal and professional lives, noting the points of disharmony as well as accord. They met while they worked together in the Broadway musical of PicnicIn 1953. Newman was required to dance onstage and didn’t know what he was doing; Woodward, an understudy, stepped in to help, and the duo’s relationship—which, they themselves make clear, included a bang-up sex life—took flight, even though Newman was married at the time, to Witte.

Those who like their true-love life stories clean and tidy should brace themselves: Newman and Woodward were nearly five years into their union when Newman finally left Witte, shortly after the birth of Witte and Newman’s youngest child, Stephanie, who speaks frankly on-camera about how much Newman’s deceit damaged the family and hurt her mother. (Newman’s son from that first marriage, Scott, died from a drug overdose in 1978.)

Stephanie is also a shopper. Joanne WoodwardHer forearm is inscribed with flowing script. Because if, as this documentary reveals, Newman was often remote and disconnected—both with his children and with Woodward, the love of his life—it was Woodward who held the extended family together, coming to love Newman’s first three children as much as she loved the three that she and Newman had together. Newman, who from the beginning looked celestially beautiful onscreen, and who learned to become a terrific actor after a rocky start, wasn’t always the best father. But it’s entirely possible that Woodward, who put her own career on hold to do her best by six children, was the more innately gifted actor. In several clips culled from talk-show interviews of the 1970s and ‘80s, Woodward speaks with daring forthrightness—for that time, or for this one—about the cost of what she gave up, despite how much she loved her children.

Thought Last Movie Stars is fantastically revelatory about this couple’s life together, which they took great pains to keep private during their 50-year-marriage, it’s still the movie clips that tell the most important part of the story. Newman is a star on the screen in movies like Hud, Luke Cool HandPlease see the following: The Verdict To name three, In some of these performances, he radiates an earthy carnality; in others, he betrays the universal insecurities and doubts of the aged, of people who may know in their hearts they didn’t do as well as they could have by those around them.

Joanne Woodward, Paul Newman and others seen on the HBO Max series “The Last Movie Stars.”

Warner Brothers

Woodward was quite a different actor and saw a completely new career. One of her biggest achievements was for the role she played in Three Faces of EveReleased in 1957. Like the films she produced in her youth. The Sound and FuryAnd It’s a long, hot summer as well as the later TV-movie roles she took on when those constituted the only work she could get, she always seemed to glow from within, and her voice was the equivalent of a seashell’s pearlescent interior. She worked hard at her craft, just like her husband. Both had been trained by Method master Sanford Meisner. However, her spirit, fueled by her natural sexuality, was the source of everything she put onscreen and on stage.

Read more reviews by Stephanie Zacharek

One of The Last Movie Stars’ most revealing moments, we hear Newman’s voice, channeled through Clooney’s, reflecting on his status as a sex symbol. His charisma was so foreign to him that he couldn’t even understand it. He admitted that he struggled with his identity. Woodward is credited with bringing out his finest qualities and enabling him to share them. Watch scenes starting from HereMovies are to witness the truth in its glorious, unspoken form. Newman died in 2008. Woodward remains alive after being diagnosed with Alzheimers back in 2007. The duo made 16 films together, the final one being James Ivory’s 1990 Bridges, Mrs.Newman is one of the most beautiful and captivating sexual characters the films have ever shown. Woodward, however, is an ethereal witchery of springtime that is both fiercely and delicate. A six-hour documentary would be required to fully describe Woodward’s performance and her personality. This is her story. You will be able to see who is really in the top, in an invisible but obvious ink.

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