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‘The Last Movie Stars’ Review: The Complicated Story of Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward


Children of Newman and Woodward’s, and from Newman’s first marriage, are strong presences, especially within the later episodes, but probably the most brutal, insightful and infrequently hilarious commentary comes from the vintage quotes of the 2 subjects, especially Woodward. (One in all the few original interviewees who continues to be alive, she was found to have Alzheimer’s disease in 2007, a 12 months before Newman died.) It was never a secret that she was, for much of their time together, a greater actor than her vastly more famous husband, and that her profession went into eclipse when she took on many of the burden of caring for his or her children. However it’s still sobering to listen to, in her own words, how clearly she saw the disparities and the way deeply she felt them.

Hawke and his editor, Barry Poltermann, elegantly weave together their assortment of fabric. The readings of the old interviews are played totally on top of the film clips, with the sound mixed in order that the voices within the interviews and in the films alternate, fading out and in.

With so many movies to pick from, Hawke is nearly at all times in a position to make the clips correlate with what’s being said about Newman’s and Woodward’s lives, in ways in which may be obvious but are sometimes clever. While we hear Newman’s first wife, Jackie McDonald (voiced by Kazan), discuss being replaced by Woodward, we see — but don’t hear — scenes of “From the Terrace,” wherein Woodward played the wife being abandoned by Newman’s character. (A pleasant touch within the casting: When Robert Altman is quoted in regard to “Buffalo Bill and the Indians,” he’s voiced by the Native American director Sterlin Harjo.)

Hawke asks, “What was it wish to be them?,” and the reply you’re prone to take away is that it was lots like being us — difficult and frightening, completely happy and adventurous — with the quantity turned way up. The difference that shines through doesn’t should do with fame or accomplishment but with passion: Newman and Woodward were crazy for one another for greater than 50 years, through tragedy, infidelity, drunkenness and skilled jealousy. You hear it of their words, and also you see it, crystal clear, every time they’re together onscreen.

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