“Introducing, Selma Blair”
Directed by Rachel Fleit
The actress Selma Blair had a promising career in Hollywood going at the turn of the millennium, appearing in major roles in “Cruel Intentions” and “Hellboy,” among others. She was on an upward trajectory, appearing in dozens of other films and television shows. However, in recent years the actress was cruelly struck with a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis, making it difficult for her to walk or, many times, even, to speak.
Rachel Fleit’s fascinating, intimate portrayal of Blair’s struggles, not only with the disease itself but with a family history of neglect at the hands of a hapless mother, provide the backbone for this heartfelt documentary, which recently premiered at the Hamptons International Film Festival. Blair bravely faces not only experimental treatments with stem cells, requiring many flights to Chicago from her home in Los Angeles, but also the fearful prospect of losing the very tools of the trade that allowed her to make a living on the screen.
She shies away from nothing, and welcomes Fleit’s camera into such intimate moments as requiring help even to bathe. Then comes Covid, and Blair, already immunocompromised, finds herself even further alienated from the world.
And yet she refuses to give up, despite the frustrations, the pain and the indignities and vows to be there for her son Arthur.
It’s an inspiring portrait in bravery and determination.
Now out in some theaters and available on Discovery+ as of October 21st.
Written and directed by Fran Kranz
What an extraordinary thing it is for four people alone in a room, bound together by grief and horrific tragedy. Filmmaker Fran Kranz, who makes his directorial debut following years as an actor, is behind “Mass,” a deceptively simple tale of two couples who meet in a church basement for an afternoon that none wanted, but which they all nonetheless needed to move on.
It is all too clear from the beginning that they are broken and linked forever by a tragedy involving their children. Gradually we learn what that tragedy was, who is to “blame,” and, most importantly, if forgiveness is even possible.
Reed Birney, Ann Dowd, Jason Isaacs and Martha Plimpton are the grief-stricken adults meeting across the table in Kranz’s extremely well-crafted and deftly written screenplay, which he stages almost like a play. Directorial flourishes are minimal, allowing us to be entranced by the performances themselves, with Kranz’s camera standing by to observe four actors at the top of their form.
Now playing in select theaters.