New York Shows Love for Marilyn

A launch party for Love, Marilyn was held in New York yesterday, celebrating its upcoming broadcast on HBO (this Monday, June 17th.) Director Liz Garbus is pictured above with actors Jack Huston (John’s grandson), and Lili Taylor, who appear in the film. Among the other guests was Amy Greene.

Variety reports on the event:

“In a room in HBO’s corporate headquarters, attendees enjoyed a beautiful view of Bryant Park and were left to wonder what the exact ingredients were of a ‘Norma Jean’, a purplish concoction created for the event. (The answer? Watermelon-infused vodka and simple syrup, according to a bartender.)

‘You can feel Marilyn through this cacophony of voices,’ said Liz Garbus, the movie’s director.

It’s ‘thespians on thespians,’ said Taylor.

And sometimes, you get the straight story. One of the people featured in the film is Amy Greene, a former model who was a friend of the screen icon.

‘I’m the only one that knew her, and I’m saying what actually happened,’ said Greene, holding forth in a coat closet so her raspy voice could be heard above the din of the reception. ‘No bullshit.'”

Liz Garbus, Lili Taylor, the Today Show

Garbus and Taylor also appeared on The Today Show, and you can view the footage here.

Marilyn also made the cover of the New York Post‘s entertainment section yesterday. Read the full article here.

“‘She wasn’t dumb at all,’ says actress Ellen Burstyn, one of the film’s readers. ‘She was smart — and very well-read. She read all the time, trying to educate herself. But she was fragile. She didn’t have the strength that someone gets if they have a loving mother and father. She was knocked around in foster homes, and she just didn’t have any psychological solidity.’

Still, says Burstyn, ‘she was smart enough to create the character of Marilyn Monroe.’

Amy Greene, widow of Monroe’s favorite photographer, Milton Greene, says Monroe was a lot more clever than she got credit for. ‘She knew everybody loved her as a dumb blonde, and the minute she got off the set she wasn’t that way,’ she says. ‘She was playing a character.'”

Variety Reviews ‘Love, Marilyn’

Variety has reviewed Love, Marilyn, giving us a fuller picture of the cast and materials. (David Strathairn as Arthur Miller is surely inspired casting!)

“With: F. Murray Abraham, Elizabeth Banks, Adrien Brody, Ellen Burstyn, Glenn Close, Hope Davis, Viola Davis, Jennifer Ehle, Ben Foster, Paul Giamatti, Jack Huston, Stephen Lang, Lindsay Lohan, Janet McTeer, Jeremy Piven, Oliver Platt, David Strathairn, Marisa Tomei, Lili Taylor, Uma Thurman, Evan Rachel Wood, Lois Banner, George Barris, Patricia Bosworth, Sarah Churchwell, Amy Greene, Molly Haskell, Jay Kanter, Richard Meryman, Thomas Schatz, Donald Spoto.

Two unearthed boxes of diary entries, letters and whatnot (some of which were published in 2010 as Fragments: Poems, Intimate Notes, Letters by Marilyn Monroe) provide the novelty and appeal to what would otherwise be a standard life-overview. The erstwhile Norma Jean Baker’s awful childhood, her stormy marriages to Joe DiMaggio and Arthur Miller, the paralyzing effects of her insecurities on film shoots, her problematic alliance with the Actors Studio, her pill consumption, et al., all constitute familiar terrain that makes Love, Marilyn seem redundant at times.

The first-person testimonies are more interesting, from archival clips of Susan Strasberg, John Huston, Joshua Logan, Jane Russell, Laurence Olivier and others to excerpts from memoirs and other writings by one of her many shrinks (read by F. Murray Abraham), Miller (David Strathairn), and analysts Gloria Steinem (Hope Davis) and Norman Mailer (Ben Foster), among others. Particularly flavorful are Oliver Platt and Paul Giamatti as Billy Wilder and George Cukor, respectively, both recalling their exasperation working with the hypersensitive box office sensation. There are also present-tense interviews with biographers, critics, Actors Studio contemporary Ellen Burstyn, and close non-celebrity friend Amy Greene (who shares some salty thoughts on Marilyn’s husbands).

While there’s no question Garbus has recruited first-rate talent to pay homage here, some of the most impressive names prove heavy-handed or simply miscast in attempting to channel the love goddess’s fragile spirit; moreover, having them act against green-screened archival materials has a tacky, pop-up televisual feel. Probably most effective in their straightforward readings are Jennifer Ehle, who gets a fair amount of screentime, and (perhaps surprisingly) Lindsay Lohan, who does not.

Limiting clips from predictable movie highlights, and skipping over several well-known titles entirely, the pic tries to emphasize lesser-known materials, including numerous candid photos, behind-the-scenes footage, and one uncomfortable live appearance on TV’s Person to Person.”