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‘Parker’ depicts cancer breakthrough ‘Uneasy, yet sentimental’

‘Decoding Annie Parker,’ based on a true story, is an often uneasy, yet sentimental and witty tale of two women, one a cancer patient and the other a geneticist. Canadian Annie Parker (Samantha Morton) battled breast cancer in the 1970s — and beat it. But after losing her mother and older sister to the disease, she becomes convinced that cancer is stalking her family. Though most doctors then said cancer was a stroke of bad luck, Annie believes she’ll get breast cancer like her immediate family members. Annie checks for lumps daily. And after she discovers one, she must have her left breast removed. Meanwhile, in Berkeley, California, geneticist Dr Mary-Claire King (Helen Hunt) is researching genetic links to breast cancer. When Annie learns of this, she starts doing her own research with a medical student and former nurse (Rashida Jones). Writer-director Steven Bernstein, who was inspired to write “Annie Parker” after reading Parker’s unpublished memoir, offsets gloomy moments in the film with ironic humor.

Genetic
King, who eventually identified the genetic link to certain types of cancer, spends most of the film ignoring Annie’s letters. And Hunt and Morton don’t appear onscreen together until the end of the movie, which makes this feel like two projects forced to mingle. Additionally, Hunt never really displays her talents in this role. But Bernstein’s willingness to show cancer’s intense darkness is admirable, though unsettling.
The most harrowing moments of “Decoding Annie Parker” come when a chemo-ridden Annie, having recovered from breast cancer, is suffering from ovarian cancer. There to support her during much of her illness is her husband, an aspiring musician played by Aaron Paul. Paul has an extremely simple presence next to the vastly talented Morton, who displays a compelling range of humility, drive and vulnerability. Having lost most of her hair due to chemo, and with only one breast, Annie struggles to feel desirable. But she manages to maintain a bit of sass, even after she discovers that her husband has been unfaithful. While talking to herself in the mirror she repeats, “Damn, you’re hot. One breast, no hair ... they all want you but they can’t have you.” “Decoding Annie Parker,” an Entertainment One release, is rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America for “language and some sexual content.” Running time: 91 minutes. Two stars out of four.


Also:
LOS ANGELES:
Having just wrapped a small role opposite Jenny Slate in Joe Swanberg’s new movie, “Veep” star Timothy Simons has joined the cast of Sony’s “Goosebumps,” which has also added actress Amanda Lund, TheWrap has learned.
Rob Letterman is directing the film, which is based on R.L. Stine’s popular book series.
Dylan Minnette (“Prisoners”) plays a teen named Zach Cooper, whose family moves to a new home where his new neighbor is a mysterious author, played by Jack Black. When a demonic ventriloquist’s dummy unleashes the author’s creepy creations, it’s up to his niece Hannah (Odeya Rush) and Zach to battle the evil forces and save their town.
Oscar-nominated actress Amy Ryan (“Gone Baby Gone”) will play Minnette’s mother, while Jillian Bell (“Workaholics”) will play his aunt, as TheWrap first reported. It’s believed that Black will also voice the demonic dummy Slappy.


“Goosebumps” will find Simons playing an inept cop, while Lund (pictured left) will play his partner, who proves equally useless when monsters begin to invade their small town.
Neal H. Moritz (the “Fast & Furious” franchise) is producing “Goosebumps” with Deborah Forte of Scholastic Entertainment. Sony executives Hannah Minghella and Elizabeth Cantillon will oversee the movie for the studio. “Goosebumps” is one of the most popular children’s book series ever, surpassed only by the “Harry Potter” novels in total sales, with more than 300 million copies sold worldwide. (Agencies)
The series has been published in over 32 languages and was successfully adapted as a TV series by Scholastic Entertainment for the Fox Kids Network, where it was rated #1 for four seasons and aired in over 100 countries. It also spawned a video game from Scholastic Interactive.


Simons, who is best known for playing Jonah Ryan on HBO’s “Veep,” recently appeared in Ivan Reitman’s “Draft Day” and the acclaimed indie drama “Beneath the Harvest Sky.” He’ll soon be seen in Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Inherent Vice,” the Seth Rogen-James Franco comedy “The Interview” and Swanberg’s “Digging for Fire,” which stars Jake Johnson and Rosemarie DeWitt.
Lund recently appeared on the sitcoms “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” and “Friends With Better Lives,” as well as the indie comedy “Someone Marry Barry” starring Tyler Labine, Damon Wayans Jr. and Thomas Middleditch.
Simons is represented by UTA, Brillstein Entertainment Partners and attorney Derek Kroeger, while Lund is repped by WME and 3 Arts Entertainment. (RTRS)
 

By Jessica Herndon

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