Friday, December 31, 2010

Vanessa Redgrave, in Morgan: A Suitable Case for Treatment

approximately 30 minutes and 55 seconds
32% of the film

The film

It tells the story of working-class artist Morgan Delt, obsessed with Karl Marx and gorillas, who tries to stop his ex-wife from remarrying.

You can read my short review of the film just by clicking HERE.

To say that I’m not a fan of this film is an obvious understatement. Because I know there are many people who did enjoy it (why, oh, why), I’m not gonna start destroying it again. I just didn’t see its purpose, nor the big artistic feeling that would justify the irrational plot.

Vanessa Redgrave as Leonie Delt

It says a lot when you have a couple of comedy performances, a low-key French performance and an actress from a Czechoslovakian film competing for Best Actress in the same year. First, it might suggest that the voters in the acting branch are very open-minded. Second, it might suggest that truthfully, they hardly had anything to choose from. As I’ve recently been confronted with Morgan!, I tend to agree more with the second supposition: otherwise, I couldn’t explain it.

Vanessa plays Leonie Delt, the beautiful, free-spirited wife of a crazy painter who partly lives in a fantasy world and with a strong obsession on gorillas and socialism. As Leonie gets tired of his madness, she files for divorce but getting rid of her charming crazy husband is more difficult than you’d think, plus she’s starting to have mixed feelings about him. Her role is not a cartoonish one, but it also has no depth; the film is not about her, and she is mostly used as a plot device, as the poorly written wife/love interest.

No one can argue with Vanessa’s beauty and charm, how great she looks in all those 60s dresses, but these are the only qualities I could find to describe the performance. Oh, yes, another one: she doesn’t hurt the film more than the film hurts itself. What I hope people also can’t argue is that we know almost nothing about who this woman is. Nothing. And I agree: let’s put the blame on the screenplay, which makes the character neither deep and, sadly, neither funny! Not one damn laughter connected to her performance.

A scene where she’s screaming at her husband may look believable, and boy do we know Vanessa usually has the talent! But it’s like she just surrenders to the superficiality of the film and for the most of it she’s not even bothering. Had it been good improvising I would’ve noticed, but to me it just looks like student-play acting. For every spark of potential, of good acting, there’s another couple of minutes of spoiled, surface acting.

The big dilemma of the character – should she give him another chance or not – is completely underplayed and it feels like we have no clear arguments, no real feelings from her character. She just floats around the film, giving us something nice to look at once in a while. Had the screenplay been funny, had the performance been funny or dramatic or anything, this would’ve been a very different conversation. Unfortunately, Vanessa is a victim of the screenplay and doesn’t even bother to try to rise above.

I know some disagree, but that’s my honest take on it. To me, this is by far the most unfortunate of Vanessa’s Oscar nominated performances, I have no idea what’s doing in Oscar’s line-up and it definitely gives Elizabeth Taylor (Raintree County) a run for the title of worst performance I’ve reviewed so far. I won’t go for the 1 star, because Vanessa is Vanessa and she always has charisma, but these represent a 1 and a half for me.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Lynn Redgrave, in Georgy Girl
approximately 61 minutes and 48 seconds
62.8% of the film

The film
A homely but vivacious young woman dodges the amorous attentions of her father's middle-aged employer while striving to capture some of the glamorous life of her swinging London roommate.

You can read my short review of the film just by clicking HERE.

Lynn Redgrave is the force behind the film, because otherwise it would feel even more boring than it ends up looking. I’ve heard people saying otherwise, but I do believe it’s her personal charm that makes this dated film become watchable.

Lynn Redgrave as Georgy
This was just the second time in Oscar history that we had sisters competing against eachother in the same year in the Best Actress category. In both cases, all actresses were under 30 and, what makes this competition more interesting, both Lynn and Vanessa were nominated for comedic performances – resulting in an even stranger case, considering Oscar’s view on comedy in this category. While Vanessa’s nomination might be seen as category filler, such is not the case for Lynn Redgrave: her performance in Georgy Girl was the only one giving Liz Taylor some competition for the win.

Lynn plays Georgy, a less-attractive 22 year old girl, but with a big personality and a joyful spirit. She is very childish, but also full of life, kind and maternal. She falls in love with the boyfriend of her arrogant roommate, just as she’s being courted by her father’s employer, a rich old man. Her life will change, as she finds an unexpected purpose. It’s a comedy role, but with dramedy elements to it. Lynn herself was about 22 when the film was made, so she definitely seems to be exactly what the film required.

Lynn’s biggest asset for this film was (what I imagine it to be) her natural charisma. She is very likeable, very sweet and you feel for her, especially when treated badly by others. In a way, she’s like a 1960s British ugly Betty, constantly winning our sympathy. Georgy is also undoubtedly the heart of the film and the only character to really care about. The audience identifies with Georgy and that’s always a great advantage for the actress creating the character.

The silly, pure comedic scenes are the best for Lynn. She might not have the experience for complicated stuff, but the screwball comedy works best for her. There’s a one minute scene with her taking an Italian lesson from a recorder, which sounds ridiculous by itself (she’s actually having dinner with the man’s taped voice) but it’s crazy funny and Lynn succeeds in every aspect of it, also suggesting the loneliness of the character.

Because, while it’s nice to smile and laugh, Lynn also manages to be very touching in the more dramatic scenes, which (however, unfortunately) never get intense enough for her to really show some range. But she’s so natural that she can pick up where the screenplay fails; her performance is so honest, so down-to-earth, that you immediately connect to her and you want Georgy to succeed.

I have difficulty finding the perfect rating for this performance. While it’s funny, it has lots of heart and even the singing moment manages to work, one could easily argue that it’s just a 22 year old girl acting silly and childish in a film that allows her to go to such places and in a role that doesn’t require heavy acting experience. As I’m writing about it, I am changing my mind and, also considering it’s Christmas Day and considering I found Lynn to be really charming, I’m going with ; to me, she was easily the highlight of the film.

while the film has nothing to do with Christmas, the photo itself makes me think of a Snow Queen! :P

Have a Merry Christmas!!! and enjoy all the movies, food, time to waste & backstage family drama. :)

I'm sure Natalie also wishes you best of everything, and even though I didn't fully enjoy the film, her performance is quite fierce!

Thanks for the constant visits, dear reader(s)!

Your fellow blogger,


Monday, December 20, 2010

Perfect music, fantastic art direction, great cinematography. Incredible first 30 minutes. Too much plot & dialogue, not enough action. Daft Punk's The Son of Flynn & others, for ages. Big screen is a must.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Anouk Aimée, in A Man and a Woman
approximately 45 minutes and 35 seconds
44.5% of the film

The film
A man and a woman meet by accident on a Sunday evening at their childrens' boarding school. Slowly they reveal themselves to each other.
You can read my short review of the film just by clicking HERE.

As I’ve mentioned a couple of times, A Man and a Woman is one of my favorite films ever. It’s such a beautiful, simple, chic story, but nothing compares to the brilliance of the directing, to the perfect mood that Claude Lelouch creates for the film. Watching it is a beautiful experience, hard to forget.

Anouk Aimée as Anne Gauthier

The Golden Globes really loved A Man and a Woman and who could blame them. It won Best Foreign Language Film and Anouk Aimée won the Best Actress in a Drama award over Liz Taylor. The second win is what you call a shocker and pure subjective voting. Even if we’d ignore comparing the two performances, Anouk’s role doesn’t look like much of a winner-type to begin with. While she does nothing wrong and the film is a masterpiece, A Man and a Woman is rather selfish when it comes to its actors.

Anouk plays Anne Gauthier, a young beautiful widow, mother of a small child, who accidentally meets Jean-Louis, an attractive race car driver with a personal loss of his own. They talk, they flirt, they discover eachother and Anne thinks she might actually be in love with him, but can she get past the memory of her dead husband.

The film is very much focused on style, which doesn’t mean that there’s no substance in the story. But Lelouch wants his actors to play it in a simple, natural, uncomplicated way, without any big dramatic moments. This type of acting is exactly what the film needs and it’s effective. Both leads understand that and their dialogues are very natural, looking almost like excellent improvising.

Anouk is always charming, but her main acting challenge in this film is to act like she’s falling in love with Jean-Louis; in all fairness that’s not very difficult to do. She smiles a lot, she acts naive and puts in some schoolgirl charm that really works. She is a courted woman and brings in all the tricks needed to create a believable but unspectacular performance.

One might easily argue there’s no visible character arc and that we know almost nothing about this woman. It might be true, it’s hard to put a finger on it. This works wonders for the film, because it keeps some anonymity of the character, it keeps it simple while giving the impression that anyone could be Jean-Louis and Anne, just a man and a woman on their way to a love story. But it also leaves almost no room for Anouk to show some range.

Her biggest, most meaningful acting moment is of course the ending. The love making scene is filmed with such good taste, beautifully directed and it also has a lot of emotional power and meaning. Her eyes wide open make us understand what she’s feeling and how she’s suddenly thrown back into the past, unable to emotionally connect with the new love in her life. It’s well acted, on a low key.

It’s a difficult performance to judge, because it’s like nothing that usually defines the Best Actress category. The performance is simple, natural, very low key; she is almost a puppet in the director’s hands. Her beauty and classiness make Anouk just right for the film, but the role is not meant to show range. While she is doing exactly what she’s being asked, regardless of how much I ADORE the film, I’m being objective and going with . I respect her a lot, but this is just not an actors’ film.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

SAG predictions...

Unless I'm wrong, the SAG is announcing its nominees tomorrow. Now that was unexpected...

I did badly with my predictions for the Golden Globes, but, in all fairness, most of us did. Few expected the Musical/Comedy category to look that bad & grim.

But getting back to SAG. Here are my predictions, no winners, just nominees:

Best Actor:
Jeff Bridges
Robert Duvall
Jesse Eisenberg
Colin Firth
James Franco
(runner-up: Ryan Gosling)
Best Actress:
Annette Bening
Nicole Kidman
Jennifer Lawrence
Lesley Manville
Natalie Portman
(runner-up: Michelle Williams)

Best Supporting Actor:
Christian Bale
Andrew Garfield
Jeremy Renner
Mark Ruffalo
Geoffrey Rush
(runner-up: Michael Douglas)

Best Supporting Actress:
Amy Adams
Helena Bonham Carter
Melissa Leo
Hailee Steinfeld
Jacki Weaver

(runner-up: Dianne Wiest)

The Fighter
The Kids Are All Right
The King's Speech
The Social Network
True Grit

(runner-up: For Colored Girls)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Predicting the Golden Globes...

I was so sick of King's Speech and Social Network photos, that I just decided to post some Black Swan instead. I think it will get just one nomination, for Natalie, but she'll also be winning, so the photo is, in a way, justified.

They are announcing tomorrow. Here's how I think the main categories will look like (winners in bold). Do notice that so far the only film rewarded with Best Film from the critics was The Social Network. That's depressing, but I'm still sticking to my theory: it's not winning Oscar's Best Picture and maybe not even the Golden Globe.

So here I go. I'll stand corrected in less that 24 hours:

Best Film - Drama:
127 Hours
The Fighter
The King's Speech
The Social Network
True Grit

Best Film - Comedy/Musical:
Alice in Wonderland
How Do You Know
The Kids Are All Right
Love and Other Drugs
Made in Dagenham

Best Director:
Danny Boyle - 127 Hours
Christopher Nolan - Inception
Tom Hooper - The King's Speech
David Fincher - The Social Network
The Coens - True Grit

Best Actor - Drama:
Javier Bardem - Biutiful
Jeff Bridges - True Grit
Robert Duvall - Get Low
Colin Firth - The King's Speech
James Franco - 127 Hours

Best Actor - Comedy/Musical:
Jim Carrey - I Love You Phillip Morris
Johnny Depp - Alice in Wonderland
Robert Downey Jr. - Due Date
Harrison Ford - Morning Glory
Jake Gyllenhaal - Love and Other Drugs

Best Actress - Drama:
Nicole Kidman - Rabbit Hole
Jennifer Lawrence - Winter's Bone
Lesley Manville - Another Year
Natalie Portman - Black Swan
Julia Roberts - Eat Pray Love

Best Actress - Comedy/Musical:
Annette Bening - The Kids Are All Right
Anne Hathaway - Love and Other Drugs
Sally Hawkins - Made in Dagenham
Julianne Moore - The Kids Are All Right
Reese Witherspoon - How Do You Know

Best Supporting Actor:
Christian Bale - The Fighter
Andrew Garfield - The Social Network
Sam Rockwell - Conviction
Mark Ruffalo - The Kids Are All Right
Geoffrey Rush - The King's Speech

Best Supporting Actress:
Amy Adams - The Fighter
Helena Bonham Carter - The King's Speech
Melissa Leo - The Fighter
Miranda Richardson - Made in Dagenham
Dianne Wiest - Rabbit Hole

Best Screenplay:
The Kids Are All Right
The King's Speech
The Social Network
Toy Story 3
True Grit

I've had Hilary Swank in for Conviction up until the very last moment, but we know they really like Julia Roberts, so that seemed more probable. I can't imagine them going for Naomi Watts or even less Michelle Williams. Very indie is not their thing, I guess.
And what a mess is the Film, Comedy/Musical category. There's be some major vote splitting.

We'll see.

Sunday, December 12, 2010


Revisited this all time favorite. Some films are made for eternity and here's why.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Elizabeth Taylor, in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
approximately 78 minutes and 46 seconds
61% of the film

The film

The film focuses on the self-destructive relationship of history professor George and his hard-drinking wife Martha, as they invite a younger couple over for drinks.

You can read my short review of the film just by clicking HERE.

I was quite young when I first saw it and didn’t know what to expect from it. To me, it’s one of those moments: Remember where you were the first time you saw Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Yes, I do, definitely; because such performances you never forget and the film will always be a tribute/proof of what great acting does to a film.

Elizabeth Taylor as Martha

What was Liz thinking when she accepted/went for this role? It was a role like none other attempted by her and definitely not something a box office star and glamour puss would easily feel comfortable doing. It was the height of her career and strangely enough nothing merely interesting came after it. Rarely does a film like this have such a strong impact on someone’s career, taking her from the level of good actress to one of the most talented performers of the century.

Liz plays Martha, the hard-drinking, loud-mouthed wife of a college professor. She is selfish, mean, exploitive, and sometimes vulgar but unexpectedly likeable. She goes from one emotion to another during one bumpy night which will definitely change her marriage dynamic. It’s a fascinating, interesting, rich character, a challenge for any great actress willing to take the chance and go all the way, without any vanity.

The performance itself is quite flawless. Though young at age, you can feel the acting experience: she knows where the camera is and, with the help of great direction and camera work, she can make the best out of any difficult close-up! There’s no hesitation in the line delivery and she perfectly shifts between the different emotions Martha goes through.

Her chemistry with Richard Burton needs no explaining and the fact that they know eachother so well can only help the performance and adds a spark of charm to the film itself. Her bitchiness is so well played, from the exaggerated laughter to the angry drunk moments and the sarcastic arrows she keeps pointing towards George.

What completes the performance to me is the human side of the character, something I’m always looking for in a performance of this calibre. Liz makes Martha so believable and heartbreakingly human. The last part only goes to prove she’s no monster indeed but a woman with many flaws and weaknesses and Liz always keeps her likeable, relatable.

We get to understand Martha and I was almost excited when, towards the end, she finally sides-up with George, admitting he was her only love and the only man who would actually be able to keep up with her. The final scenes are heartbreaking and her two monologues at the end are delivered perfectly, making for some of the best acting this category’s ever seen: so touching, so meaningful, so perfectly delivered.

My one small issue was that even with Liz’s deglam I could still feel that maybe an older actress would’ve made for a wiser casting; however, by the time the story starts moving, it all seems very much in place. Elizabeth Taylor delivers, with the help or great screenplay and steady direction, what was easily a career best for her and definitely one of the worthiest winners in Best Actress history. No other rating could do justice: .

Thursday, December 02, 2010

The NBR winners... let's see how I did

... and I actually did GREAT!!!, guessing 3 out of 6 main categories and a total of 4/7 predicted ones.

Less than 24 hours ago I've announced my predictions, and here are the winners:

Best Picture: The Social Network - I wouldn't have guessed it, I thought they will go with something more emotional.

Best Director: David Fincher, The Social Network - PREDICTED.

Best Actor: Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network - this wouldn't have even made my top 10... I am looking at past winners: it's the FIRST TIME the NBR is making such an unusual choice for Best Actor, considering they always go for the Clooney, Eastwood, Freeman, Penn type.

Best Actress: Lesley Manville, Another Year - PREDICTED. I'm really congratulating myself for this, because Portman and Bening really seemed strong choices also.

Best Supporting Actor: Christian Bale, The Fighter - PREDICTED. You can say: of course Bale! But truth is: NBR usually goes against Oscar buzz in this category. It was one of the very few last year not having Waltz as the winner.

Best Supporting Actress: Jacki Weaver, Animal Kingdom - 2nd runner-up on my list! They like showy indeed.

Best Breakthrough (for the first time they've combined Male & Female): Jennifer Lawrence, Winter's Bone - PREDICTED.

I doubt I'll ever do this good again.
The Social Network speeping was quite surprising right?
127 Hours didn't even make the Top 10 Best Film list, which is troubling.

***OT: I might not have Internet in the next couple of days, so the regular BA stuff might be a few days delayed. Otherwise, all cool. ***

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Getting ready for the NBR - the predictions...

(is Colin preparing his acceptance speech? Helena looks worried; she knows she's winning sh!t this season, but it's still nice to get nominated I guess)

The National Board of Review, one of the most prestigious groups of critics are announcing tomorrow. They have an impressive history and, while they are not really predicting the Oscars, they are the first big ones to announce (no, the Indie Spirit is no good here imo).

As usual, I’ll probably fail :) but it’s still fun trying:

Best Film: The King’s Speech (back-up: 127 Hours or The Fighter)

Best Director: David Fincher, The Social Network (back-up: Boyle, The Coens)

Best Actor: Javier Bardem, Biutiful (back-up: Duvall, Firth)

Best Actress: Lesley Manville, Another Year (back-up: Bening, Portman)

Best Supporting Actor: Christian Bale, The Fighter (back-up: Rush, Rockwell)

Best Supporting Actress: Melissa Leo, The Fighter (back-up: Adams, Weaver)

Breakthrough – Male: James Franco, 127 Hours

Breakthrough – Female: Jennifer Lawrence, Winter’s Bone

My favorite prediction: Javier Bardem.
My most certain to happen prediction: Lawrence for Breakthrough – Female.