By Paul Bendix
About this blog: A 32-year resident of Menlo Park, I regularly make my way around downtown in a wheelchair. This gives me an unusual perspective on a town in which I have spent almost half of my life. I was educated at UC Berkeley, and permanentl... (More)
About this blog: A 32-year resident of Menlo Park, I regularly make my way around downtown in a wheelchair. This gives me an unusual perspective on a town in which I have spent almost half of my life. I was educated at UC Berkeley, and permanently injured there in a 1968 mugging. Half paralyzed at 21, it took me 11 years to find full-time work. A high-tech job drew me to the Peninsula in the early 1980s. After years as a high-tech marketing writer, I retired and published my own book, Dance Without Steps (Oliver Press, New York, 2012). Having long aspired to café society, I frequent Peet's on Santa Cruz Avenue. Rolling through our downtown, I reflect on my own life - which I have restarted several times. My wife died in 2009. I remarried in July, 2013. (Hide)
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'Fading Gigolo,' now at the Guild, pleasantly defies expectations. This charming little film directed by John Turturro misleads with its title, and even its costar, Woody Allen. It is really a love story, in the truest sense, set against the backdrop of Brooklyn's Orthodox Jewish neighborhood of Williamsburg.
Turturro plays a melancholy bookstore clerk who gets entangled in a sex-for-hire plot of his boss, played by Allen. What happens next is neither farcical nor titillating, but human. This turns out to be a gentle New York romantic comedy.
John Turturro, familiar as a character actor, provides much of the gentleness. For long scenes he acts largely with his eyes. Turturro's script develops the romantic lead as a man of few, achingly felt words. Woody Allen does a familiar turn, the hapless yet canny schlemiel. Turturro mutes Allen's excesses, giving us more character than shtick. Who charms, and faintly mystifies, as the rabbi's lonely widow? That's French songstress Vanessa Paradis.
This small film is a big delight.