Sunday, September 26, 2010

Jane Fonda in Coming Home

Jane Fonda received her fourth Best Actress nomination and second Oscar for playing Sally Hyde, a naive houswife whose husband goes to Vietnam in Hal Ashby's acclaimed movie, Coming Home. Jane also won a Golden Globe for her performance and I am sure that she was the front-runner. She had the "we forgive you" factor, she lost the previous year for an awesome performance, she starred in a very hot and brave (then) movie and her main rival was a three time Oscar winner. So it was no huge surprise I guess.

Coming Home is a good, but a bit dated movie about Vietnam for which critics and audiences went wild back then. It's one of the very first openly anti-Vietnam movies and its battle with The Deer Hunter for Best Picture has become legendary. I think that finally the Academy made a right decision as The Deer Hunter is still a classic but Coming Home is just as great, if not better (actually, I would have probably voted for Coming Home). Jon Voight gives a brilliant, heart-breaking performance in the movie and he more than deserved to win the Oscar. His sadness and fury really burns the screen and certainly amazed me. Bruce Dern is awfully overacting sometimes but he's quite great and so is Penelope Milford. They both deserved the nominations.

Jane Fonda. Brilliance in human body. She's really someone we can be really grateful for. She's not only a fantastic actress, but also a great human being (and the latter helps the former, too, I think). I am always so blown away by her and her movies. She gives such special performances that I find so easy to relate to. She makes all the characters deeply human, so understandable and close to your soul. And I'm not only talking about her works in drama. I could mention her carefree young wife from Barefoot in the Park or the terrified divorcée from Nine to Five. She always gets the human out of the parts.

When we first see Sally Hyde, she's just an ordinary American houswife cooking for her husband, smiling, being kind and loving. Sally herself is a stereotype, but Julianne Moore and Judi Dench have proven that you can turn a cliché into a performance for the ages (with a great script of course and an extraordinary amount of talent). When I didn't like Jane here, I was complaining that the part was underwritten and really boring. Now that all the pieces of the puzzle have fallen into the right place, I know how wrong I was (and why I was wrong). Sally shouldn't be interesting. She has to be a very ordinary person just like most of the people on this planet. Sally is (I think) the viewer who watches Coming Home and witnesses the horrors of war (without any pictures of war). Therefore, it's so easy to relate to her and understand her feelings. I guess you should rewatch Coming Home a couple of times until you find this out. Jane's performance here is like good wine that becomes better with age. If you let her grow inside you, it's going to be a much better experience.

Sally's transformation is so real and it's both incredibly heart-breaking and uplifting to see her go through this journey. Not only do we see all her happiness, but also her fears and doubts. Her monologue to Jon Voight on the beach is just terrific and it's a very touching, gentle and quietly emotional moment that should be shown everywhere. I think that's probably my favorite moment of the whole movie.

However, it would be a scene not to mention the two sex scenes in the movie involving her. They were done very tastefully and they weren't too rough and it was so interesting to compare the emotions of Sally (and how Jane showed them). With her husband, Sally doesn't enjoy the act but she seems to be so passionate and free while being with Luke. The moment of the orgasm is (and please don't take this the wrong way) really the highlight. We see all of Sally's emotions coming to the surface and it's a brilliantly acted moment.

Moreover, Jane's presence is incredibly strong and not only because of her star power. Somehow she attracted my eyes with her personality and her confidence on the screen. I was always looking forward to the scenes of Sally because then I knew that something special was going to happen.

You might ask why I changed my mind about this performance. It might be that seasons change or I might have had a revelation. I must say, however, that for her work alone (without comparing her to anyone), Jane richly deserved the Academy Award she won for Coming Home. This performance may not be for everyone and I see why some dislike it, I think Jane's utterly brilliant and heart-breaking as Sally Hyde. Truly astonishing work by a brilliant actress.

What do you think?

Friday, September 24, 2010

Geraldine Page in Interiors

Geraldine Page received her sixth Best Actress nomination for playing Eve, an interior decorator having mental problems in Woody Allen's bergmanesque drama, Interiors. Well, poor Geraldine Page. In my opinion she had the least chance of winning as she was campaigned in the wrong category. I'm more than sure that had she been nominated supporting she would have won the Oscar (just like she did at the Baftas). I'm not certain though if I would pick her over the great Dame Maggie, but I may give her the win in a tie.

Interiors is a pretty much love-or-hate movie and your attitude and reaction really depends on your own mood. When I first saw it I couldn't stand a minute of it as at the time I was a bit anxious. But now when I was totally relaxed looking forward to the weekend, I really was crazy about it. In fact, it was so good sometimes that I got creeps. It really is a grabbing piece with excellent performances by Maureen Stapleton, Diane Keaton and mostly by Mary Beth Hurt and Geraldine Page. I especially loved Hurt in the last scenes. It's interesting that for the first time I hated the movie mostly because of her.

And Geraldine Page. What can I say about this masterful actress? She was so unique and versatile that whenever I see a movie with her I am really not surprised at all how brilliant she is. For her it wasn't a problem to play a forgotten movie star after a shy spinster, or a suicidal, theatrical interior decorator before a lovely old lady desperate to see her home. She had so many faces and really never could be stuck in a typical character.

You might think that when I said in the beginning that I would give her the Supporting Actress win, I really wanted to suggest that she belongs to the supporting category. But if I really think about it, SHE is the lead. Despite not having much screentime, everything is about her and the effects of her actions on her family. It's tricky that she is even on-screen when is not (if you know what I mean), because her impact in this small (at least in terms of time) role is probably the most significant one.

When we first see Eve, Page makes it very clear that she's a very controlling, ultra-sensitive woman with over-the-top reactions, mood swings, huge screams and breakdowns, but also that she's a very intelligent and gifted person, who's probably way too perfect for her family and even herself. She loves being worshiped and pampered, but she always makes sure that it's the decision of the other person. Actually I can think of her profession (decorator) as a symbol of her role in the family. She always sets the stage for everyone, guides, helps, but also mercilessly controls them.

It's also fatanstic to witness how carefully Page built the relationship between Eve and Joey. In one of the first scenes they are chatting, but all the tension between these two women come to the surface. Eve really corners everyone emotionally and almost kills them with her mood swings. She always refers to the other one and has problems and she causes so much pain.

My favorite scene comes at the beginning during the birthday party. Eve is having a usual conversation with her daughter, when she suddenly (after a brief sentence about her husband) suffers a theatrical and almost laughable breakdown in front of everybody. Right there, Page was really on the edge of being too over-the-top, but she solved this very hard sequence with such dexterity and ease that it's amazing.

Her suicide attempt is really chilling. It shows, how theatrical and over-the-top Eve is, lying down gracefully in a beautiful dress. She's really madness in person.

People mostly praise her (well sort of) last scene in the church, when she has another breakdown as she finds out about the marriage plans of her ex-husband. I cannot really say enough times how well page shows Eve's personality. She screams "It's humiliating" with such passion and I even dare say, pleasure. Actually there and in the birthday party I became quite sure that Eve actually enjoys being in the centre of attention. Not to mention how incredibly haunting she is even when she's silent.

So to sum up, I saw once again fantastic, brilliant and unforgettable acting for the ages and I'm really hoping that more people will discover Page's brilliance. Although I could have arguments that she's supporting, the impact of this performance is so strong that it truly stays with you. Terrific work by a terrific actress, which gets
So, what do you think? I haven't decided about who should be the next, but you will know in time.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Ingrid Bergman in Autumn Sonata

Ingrid Bergman received her last Oscar nomination (and in my mind her last award) for playing Charlotte, a concert pianist in Ingmar Bergman's drama Autumn Sonatata. I am quite sure that had she not won that supporting Oscar four years earlier, she would have won for Autumn Sonata, despite the fact that her performance was in Swedish. I believe that she received many votes from the older and/or conservative members of the Academy over Jane Fonda. Nevertheless this was her last motion picture (not counting a Tv movie), because at the time she was suffering from cancer.

Autumn Sonata is one of the greatest movies ever, which brilliantly observes and shows the complex and stormy relationship between a mother and her daughter. It's a 100% intense experience, which is far from being easy or pleasant to witness as we get to know such depths of the human mind that we can only see in a Bergman movie. Just like in Interiors, the characters are unlikeable and selfish, however Bergman was able to present them with much more reality. The actors are all terrific, including Liv Ullmann, who was ROBBED of a nomination for her performance. The dialogues, the directing, everything is pitch-perfect.

However, Ingrid Bergman is beyond perfect. You can easily say that I'm very biased, because she's one of my favorite actresses ever and I would not deny it, but I would also expect other people NOT to deny Ingrid Bergman's brilliance in this movie. And you must understand that I don't love this performance because Ingrid is one of my favorite actresses. She's one of my favorite actresses because of this performance. If you expect to see something like Casablanca or Gaslight from her, turn off your TV right away. It's not about teary eyes anymore. You don't get to see an actress acting, you'll witness the torture and misery of a woman.

Ingrid Bergman had already been ill, when the shooting of this movie started. It's known that she remained dignified and brave in her illness, which caused her death, but somehow you get the feeling that she acted as if this was her last chance to show herself to the world. She pushed the bounderies and burdens of acting, as we can clearly see: acting and life cannot be separated in Autumn Sonata. She put every strength, ability and skill she possessed into this one last movie of hers. She's not a technical actress like, say, Meryl Streep. She's the prototype of an actress totally relying on emotions and this type of performing totally suited Ingmar Bergman's screenplay (or filmography as a whole). She shows her feelings by little looks or shows her pain with her hands, fingers, eyebrows.

She plays a theatrical, over-the-top woman (which is NOT true about her performance!), who's life is just pure acting and pretending. The first time she appears, she's getting out of her car, having pain in her back. Charlotte has many regrets, dreams and desires, however throughout the years she's become bitter and pretentious. In the beginning she has little clashes with her daughter, short arguments and that's it. It's simply mindblowing to see her face in the scene where Eva tries to impress her by playing the piano, the musical instrument that means Charlotte's life. She becomes teary, we can see that she's proud of her daughter, but we can also observe that she's a bit scared that she may not be the best and we can also experience that she does not only feel pride and love towards her daughter. Eventually, she plays the same prelude: she straightens up, almost closes her eyes and we immediately see a genious working, producing ART.

Before this scene, she talks about how much her longtime companion suffered from a long fatal illness. It must have been tough for her to talk about things, which were so current in her life, but she never lets us feel her own pain, only the characters despite the fact that she lived Charlotte's character, she BECAME Charlotte.

In a mindblowing scene (which Liv Ullmann's character is listening to in the background) Charlotte talks about Eva to her son-in-law, who tells her nearly all of Eva's secrets. Bergman brilliantly portrayed the two-faced nature of the character: she pretends to be concerned about her daughter, and by this we cannot be certain if she's really interested.

The whole movie gets more intense after a shocking dream scene (she does it brilliantly) where Charlotte wakes up screaming. Her daughter meets her downstairs and as they are alone, they cannot avoid the confrontation and the arguing about the past. Eva can only blame her mother, who's not defending herself (and does not even want to in the end). It's so natural and real when she whispers while she's crying: "Eva, you hate me." All the bitterness and desparation of this woman is revealed mercilessly and she breaks down under this heavy burden. In the end she begs for the forgiveness of her daughter, who cruelly rejects it. Charlotte says that she'll change, but she does not believe it herself. And we also know that their relationship cannot be saved.

This long fight full of emotions reaches its highlight when Bergman lies down on the floor, opening up to her daughter about her feeling. Her performance reaches the biggest depth an actor can ever achieve. The way she says "I don't remeber" is simply so utterly heartbreaking, but in a very strange way. You don't cry or anything, desparation fills your soul. Along with Bergman we reach a level of catharsis which can rarely be experienced.

Charlotte tries to escape, but we know that she's hopeless. There's only one thing that can give a meaning to her life: music. Ironic though, that this movie is not about music or its power, it's just a brilliantly edged relationship drama. At the very end of her movie we can see her face for only a few seconds. In this minimal time, she shows more truth than most of the actors can through their entire careers.

This is, and now I'm not overly enthusiastic, the best and most true performance I have ever seen from an actor, male or female. With this re-watch I've become certain. I have seen it three times, but she always gives me something else. She does not only haunt you for days, she remains with you for the rest of your life. I wish Bergman had the opportunity to say farewell to her film career with a last, glorious Oscar win for this once-in-a-lifetime performance.
I keep the formality of rating, but this performance doesn't need it.

Comments anyone?

Friday, September 17, 2010

Jill Clayburgh in An Unmarried Woman

Jill Clayburgh received her first Best Actress nomination for playing Erica, a recently divorced woman living in New York in Paul Mazursky's acclaimed movie, An Unmarried Woman. In my opinion Clayburgh had a fair chance of winning as she had strong support and I think she was eventually third in the voting. The old school actors must have went with Ingrid Begman and they might have given Fonda some votes, who also had the new generation supporting her. Clayburgh must have been the most popular among women.

But enough about speculations. An Unmarried Woman is a fair movie, which is not ground-breaking, but great. OK, some say how much impact it had on today's culture, but I don't consider Sex and the City as marvellous as most people (in other words I dislike it). However, there are not that many similarities between these two, maybe the over-the-top conversations of four women. The actors give very fair performances, but they really don't have very complex roles.

When I watch a performance, I always at least try to leave expectations and previous experiences behind and focus only on its effect on me right then. Clayburgh's acting here is very much loved and applauded, some go crazy for it. I never believe in the hype and that's why I wasn't disappointed by her. I did not expect much, but I did not get that much either (or did I?). All I saw was a very strong and subtle work, which really impressed me occasionally.

Without a doubt Clayburgh's strongest and most memorable scenes are in the beginning when she plays the happily married woman who's perfectly satisfied with her life. She has a career, a great husband and a daughter, excellent sex life and lives in a huge apartment. Clayburgh never suggests that Erica doesn't feel alright. She's perfectly balanced, calm person you can truly count on. Actually, (in my opinion naturally) Clayburgh inhabited this face of Erica much better and more interesting. She's absolutely free of clichés, her acting is very impressive.

But it's a huge and significant change in Erica's life (and Jill's performance) when her husband admits cheating on her and says that he wants a divorce. Clayburgh's reaction in that scene is totally priceless: as we see this huge, pink, American dream life falling apart, it's so damn natural (their breakup scene was so much like in Far from Heaven, don't you think with the husband crying that he loves someone else) and heartwrenching. That's probably the highlight of Jill's whole work in this movie. She's 100% realistic and so damn subtle (plus she saves a horribly edited sequence).

But I just felt that from a magnificent beginning, the standard of Clayburgh's whole performance went a bit downhill. Don't misunderstand me here, I absolutely loved her afterwards too, but she really had her best moments in the first scenes. She's amazing sometimes, especially with the therapist. Right then I almost felt that I was talking to the shrink and not Clayburgh. It's funny that only after watching the whole movie did I realise her brilliance here. She's always so subtle and extremely believable.

I felt though, that Alan Bates really ruined this film. There was nothing wrong with his acting, but when he appeared, the movie slowly, but firmly fell apart. Jill was still able to grab our attention, but everything was became quite boring. However, it's mainly Clayburgh's achievement that this whole thing works. She's the engine, the power, she has so much screentime (she's practically always on-screen) and a very baity role, which is much more layered than you would think. She gets into your mind and leaves there a seed which becomes a beautiful tree if you think about it.

Right now, I have to withdraw my previous statement that I did not get much out of Jill Clayburgh's performance. It's truly-truly amazing work, which is extremely realistic, layered and powerful in its subtlety. I did not really expect to write this down when I started this review, but she's just unforgettable.
So what do you think? Ingrid is next, than Ellen.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Next Year

So right now, I'm moving along with my next year, which is said to be one of the strongest ones ever in this category. We'll see. There are supporters of all the nominated performances and you will find out my ranking of these five great ladies. I really wanted to do this year, so I'm quite excited. There are more performances here I am very fond of, so I will really like this year I think.

The nominees were:
  • Ingrid Bergman in Autumn Sonata
  • Ellen Burstyn in Same Time, Next Year
  • Jill Clayburgh in An Unmarried Woman
  • Jane Fonda in Coming Home*
  • Geraldine Page in Interiors

I really don't know what my ranking will look like (well, I have an idea about a certain place, but no rush) but we will see. Any predictions anyone? Who are YOU rooting for?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Final Conclusion - Best Actress 2002

About the field: Well. If I think about it, this year wasn't as bad as I originally thought. It could have been much stronger, but I think my #1 and #2 were really the highlights and they killed the rest of the competition. They gave performances for the ages and both deserved to win. My #3 has in fact grown on me in these last few days and therefore I give her a half extra Meryl. I was thinking about what would have happened had Tilda Swintion played Virginia Woolf. But that's a different story. I can definitely say that this year turned out to be much different from than I imagined, but I like it this way and it was way more interesting than 1998. OK, so now it's time we got to the ranking.

5. Salma Hayek in Frida
This performance that did not disappoint me as I did not expect much, but I may even say that it is worth watching because of the very strong early scenes. But don't really expect a very towering achievement.

4. Renée Zellweger in Chicago
I am not saying that Zellweger gives a bad performance in Chicago, because occasionally she is actually good. But again, damn it I was so dissatisfied. I was soooo hoping that I would like her, but I did not eventually.

3. Nicole Kidman in The Hours
She has quite grown on me as she is extremely haunting in some of the scenes. I understand both the criticsm and love towards her. This is a beautiful and haunting performance by a great actress that keeps growing on me.

2. Diane Lane in Unfaithful

A dynamite performance to say the least. She really gets your guts and doesn't even let you go for a long time (even after watching the film). Lane gave one of the most intimate, credible and unforgettable performances ever. Now I'm really satisfied.

1. Julianne Moore in Far from Heaven
I must say that Julianne Moore gives one of the greatest, most moving and beautiful performances that I have ever seen. She's totally heart- and gutwrenching, moving and will haunt you for a long time.I don't really like the world revelation as I think sometimes it's used without a reason, but here Moore's achievement in this movie is worthy of that term.

So I can proudly announce
that my winner is...
Julianne Moore in Far from Heaven


  • Isabelle Huppert in The Piano Teacher *My Pick*
  • Nia Vardalos in My Big Fat Greek Wedding
So it's time to give clues about my next year, to which I'm really looking forward to. It's often referred to as one of the strongest years ever. Gosh I'm sooo excited, I give you my very easy clues.
  • If you don't like deers, instead of going away, think about...
  • Mommie Dearest
  • Sex and the City: The Origin
So what do you think? Any opinions, observations or off-topic subjects you want to talk about? Don't be shy. BTW has anyone seen The Kids are All Right? I'm so damn curious! Do you think that Moore or Bening can win for it? I'm mostly rooting for Julianne as I'm not a big Bening fan (though she seems to be the more praised one).

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Julianne Moore in Far from Heaven

Beautiful, talented Ms. Julianne Moore received her fourth Oscar nomination for playing Cathy Whitaker, a woman who finds out that her husband is cheating on her with other men in Todd Haynes' acclaimed movie, Far from Heaven. I'm pretty sure that if you had asked anyone in 2002 who was going to take home the Best Actress Oscar, they would have said Julianne Moore. She literally swept the critics' awards, however things changed when she lost the Globe and SAG. After that it was all about Nicole and Renée.

Melodrama is not really, my genre as I think they are too over-the-top with emotions and they just really do not give that much to me. That's partly true for the case of Far from Heaven, but it's actually quite well-made, well-directed and brilliantly acted movie. It's score is beautiful and I would even give it the win if The Hours hadn't been nominated. Dennis Quaid gives an excellent performance as the husband and probably would have deserved an Oscar nomination for his work. Same goes for Patricia Clarkson and Dennis Haysbert, who are also very memorable.

What I said in my review of Diane Lane, it's also true here. Far from Heaven is The Julianne Moore Show. But is that a problem? No, a definite NO. Moore probably gives here the performance of a lifetime and I really don't think that she can ever top this achievement of hers (though she got close with The Hours and Boogie Nights). Moore is the greatest and most interesting actress of her generation and her versatility is astonishing. Even when she has a role that is quite similar to another one of hers, she can work wonders.

Cathy is a multi-layered and very complicated character which is very difficult to play, but this does not seem to be a problem for Ms. Moore. She totally captured the heart of this ordinary, perfect 50s housewife. Contrary to Laura Brown, Cathy actually IS happy with this lifestyle, she's deeply satisfied. Or just seems to be. Moore is mindblowing in the scene where her husband does not want to make love because he's so tired. Julianne shows so much love and understanding right there.

It's marvellous how well Julianne understands the sould of Cathy. She thinks that she's perfectly happy, but she starts to feel something she never did before. Also, Moore injects so much poetry, fire and music into her, that she made me feel dizzy (well, almost). I felt that this excellent was going through my brain and my soul. In other words: I felt immediate connection to Cathy.

When she finds out that her husband is a homosexual, her only reaction in her shock is saying, where the bills are (or something, never mind). She loves her husband very much and desperately wants to help him and not for selfish reasons. The priorty for her is family and that's what Moore lets us know from her. However, when she starts to enjoy herself with the gardener, a new Cathy is born and more fascinatingly goes through these changes and never misses an opportunity to amaze us.

Her huge scene when her husband wants to get a divorce is immense. She says almost nothing, but her face and her tears are so utterly real and heartbreaking. I guess this movie was intended to make people sob and I don't think it failed. That's mostly because of the brilliance of the great Ms. Moore.

As I said a new Cathy is born when she befriends the gardener, but I must also mention that Moore does not only nail all the faces of her, but perfectly portrays the mixed emotions of this character. She perfectly shows how much Cathy does not really understand what's going on, all she knows that she's happy this way.

Though she does not have any loud, over-the-top scenes (OK she shouts once) she has the effect of an atomic bomb on you. The beauty of her performance is just as heartbreaking as it was in Audrey Hepburn's perfect turn in The Nun's Story. They are so similar in the type of acting and the effect, despite the fact that the two roles are very different. Well, if I think about it not that much. They are both women who think that they love what they do, but in fact it's not what they HAVE to do.

So to sum up this rave review, I must say that Julianne Moore gives one of the greatest, most moving and beautiful performances that I have ever seen. I don't really like the world revelation as I think sometimes it's used without a reason, but here Moore's achievement in this movie is worthy of that term. She's totally heart- and gutwrenching, moving and will haunt you for a long time (I saw it first in April, but I could have written this same review without rewatching as it lived in me so much). And that train station scene! Oh gosh!

Wow this was a bit lengthier than I like to do usually, but I just couldn't stop raving. :) Comments anyone? To see Far from Heaven click here. I hope it works.

Diane Lane in Unfaithful

Diane Lane received her only Best Actress nomination to date for playing Connie Summer, an unfaithful wife in Adrian Lyne's movie, Unfaithful. I think she might even have been a dark horse in the race: she had a great, applauded comeback movie and won the most important critics' awards (NYFC and a few others). I strongly believe that had the movie received greater reviews, she would have won.

Unfaithful is a great movie about infidelity, love and marriage. The first part of it is mindblowingly brilliantly and it's full of unforgettable scenes. The second part is a very exciting, but a bit usual thriller, which is still great. So overall, Unfaithful is truly worth watching. The actors give very good performances: Richard Gere is excellent as the confused husband, though he did not get the best role. Olivier Martinez does not have much to do, except for being the cheeky seducer who cannot be resisted. Erik Per Sullivan gives a great child performance as the son of Connie.

But, this whole movie is about Diane Lane, who gives an unbelievable performance as Connie. It's good to actually see a great performance in this line-up. All the problems that I had with the three other reviewed ladies did not emerge here and I could only enjoy Lane's acting here, which is just pure delight.

By delight I do NOT refer to her performance though as this is one of the toughest and most merciless achievements I have ever scene. Lane really doesn't search for ways to show how innocent Connie is. Instead of that, she ruthlessly reveals all the flaws and weaknesses of this character and also suggests how stupid she was that she gave up everything for this affair. Connie has everything: a great husband, a child, a nice house, friends, sex life and most of all happiness. Connie is a very satisfied person, whose only reason to cheat on her husband is pure temptation. Lane perfetly understood all the intentions of this character: Connie's motivation above all is having wild fun with a stranger.

(As predicted) Things turn out to be disasterous though. But before that she has some guilty fun. Her famous/infamous train scene is one of the best acted moments in the history of cinema. There's so much emotion there that the screen is almost exploding. During that sequence we also get so see moments of her first sexual intercourse and she truly rocks there too. It's so brilliant that while she wants to have sex, she does want to resist in a way. Lane is so totally real in those scenes, that it's almost painful.

She's astonishing throughout the movie, though I must admit that the best parts of her performance are in the first half (because the second one focuses on Gere). She got an excellently written role and used every opportunity to shine and show her talent. Her immense, gigantic presence stays with you even when the scene is about another character. However there isn't a moment where one feels that her acting is selfish and doesn't let the others work.

Towards the middle, there's a scene when she becomes jealous of a young rival and has a fight with Martinez which ends up in sex. The hotness and passion of Lane nearly sets the screen on fire. She really gets your guts and doesn't even let you go for a long time (even after watching the film). She made such an impression that cannot really be forgotten.

As I said that in the second part she does not have much to do, but when she's on-screen, she totally rocks: for example there's a scene where she finds out that her husband actually knew about her affair and might even be responsible for a terrible crime. The confusion and desperation Lane shows is unbelievably real. Not to mention how well she delivered some of the weakest lines of the movie and how excellently she solved the scenes of the ending.

So, to sum up, Diane Lane was way better than I remembered (though I was very impressed by her for the first time too) and she totally blew me away. This is the performance I have been waiting for since I announced this year. Now I'm really satisfied. Lane gave one of the most intimate, credible and unforgettable performances ever. Excellent, excellent and naturally gets

So what do you think? Any opinions, observations, off-topic things? If you want to see Unfaithful click here.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Renée Zellweger in Chicago

Renée Zellweger received her second Best Actress nomination for playing Roxie Hart in the musical Chicago. She was even the front-runner to win her first Oscar as she won some important awards like the horrid, sorry Golden Globe and SAG (her face is actually quite amusing in her video). However, she had to wait another year to get the Academy Award for Cold Mountain where she played with the actress, who beat her at the Oscar.

I really dislike Chicago as a movie and I'm constantly amazed (or simply shocked) that this nothing actually BEAT The Pianist (one of the greatest, most harrowing movies ever) in the Best Picture race. Chicago is like a gift which is in beautifully made wrapping, but inside, it's a useless gadget. Well, that sums up Chicago, which is a rather poor copy of Cabaret. I must say that the technical part is truly impressive. I would say it deserved four of its six Oscars. Well we got to the performance: John C. Reilly gives quite a great performance, which is probably only really outstanding achievement about this movie. I love Queen Latifah in general, but here she's not more than entertaining. Richard Gere and Catherine Zeta-Jones are rather average in my opinion.

And the same goes for Ms. Zellweger. Actually, her work in this movie is the definition of this previously mentioned gift theory. The role of Roxie is really for the stage and not the screen. I can imagine that on Broadway, an experienced theatre actress could give a brilliant, towering performance and I guess Zellweger wanted to do the same here. Where she failed, at least with me. I know that she's universally praised for Chicago, but here (or in general), Zellweger is quite simply not my thing. I never really got anything from her.

The character of Roxie is a rather slim one: she's a dumb little woman dreaming about having a grand career as a singer and dancer, but actually we never really get to see what she has inside. For the most of the movie, she's just an observer of the musical numbers (some are great, some are not that much) and gets nothing to do apart from playing a dumb blonde and a little bitch. I never really understood what she wanted to show me from Roxie. She made her very one-note and she really did not go into details.

Her juicy lines must be very amusing for some, well, they really did not give me that much fun. I mean, she's always such a common. That might have been the point that Roxie actually did not go through any changes, but it really bothered me. As I said million times: I did not have an insight to this character.

Zellweger's singing is good, even though her voice is not as strong as CZJ's. She solved the musical part quite well. She solved the technical part of her performance decently and I cannot complain about that at all. Well, she's no Liza Minelli in Cabaret, but she has her fine moments. Especially one in the end where she has to face the facts that she's nothing more than a temporary, fake celebrity. Her big number right there really impressed me (probably the only thing I found to be outstanding about this work).

I am not saying that Zellweger gives a bad performance in Chicago, because occasionally she is actually good. But again, damn it I was so dissatosfied. I was soooo hoping that I would like her, but I did not eventually. I really did my best, but I cannot force myself to appreciate her. As I said, this performance is not for me. The worst thing about it is that I cannot really write anything more. Sorry.
I'm the most comfortable with this grade. I really want to give her more, but it would not be honest from me.

So what do you think? I guess I'm just as alone with this as I was with the one about Ingrid Bergman in Joan of Arc. But sorry, I can't help it.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Salma Hayek in Frida

Salma Hayek received her only Oscar nomination to date for playing Frida Kahlo, the famous Mexican artist in Julie Taymor's extraordinary independant movie, Frida. I'm quite sure that Hayek had the least chance to win that Oscar as she was really battling out that nomination with Meryl Streep in The Hours. After all, she lost to Nicole Kidman's performance in The Hours.

Frida is an incredibly weird movie: some might loathe its over-the-topness, some might orgasm over how artistic and special it is. Well, I belong to neither of those groups. I enjoyed it very much (it was actually much better than I expected), though I did not get any message out of it. Nevertheless, it was quite interesting as I got to know lots of things about Frida Kahlo's interesting life (for example I never knew that she slept with Trockij). I must say though, I really dislike when communism is showed in a positive light as you just have to check out how many victims it had in this part of Europe (that's why I really despised Reds).

Salma Hayek's performance however certainly suffers from the movie (wheter you consider it great or awful) as it is actually not about Frida, but her spirit and art which is expressed in a very unusual way. I always felt that Julie Taymor's directing is the lead of this movie and the others (including Hayek) only support it and that's not that lucky considering the fact that this is a biopic.

Moreover, Hayek (just like Kidman in The Hours) suffers from a very underwritten version of a character which is full of enourmous opportunities. Instead of this, for the most of the movie, Hayek is in the background, not doing that much. I am sure that had this movie fully focused on the life of Frida, Hayek (because she's a good actress) would have been able to give a much more complex performance.

All the scenes in which she could amaze us, go by so quickly and there's absolutely no emphasis on them, therefore Hayek is never really able to shine. I must tell though, that in the beginning, she's extremely great compared to the rest of her performance. When she says goodbye to her boyfriend, Hayek is really outstanding giving real emotional depth to Frida and by this she gets much closer to the audience. Unfortunately there's nothing else which is worth of that much praise.

Also, the lack of passion in this performance was totally shocking as in my dictionary raging is not equal with passionate. As I said, Hayek totally gets into the background in the middle as there the movie is more about her husband Diego and his work in the USA. Hayek does nothing memorable there.

I hoped that when she gets back to Mexico, Hayek gets more to do, but apart from a very short lesbian sex scene, there's nothing extraordinary about it. It's just like the rest of the performance: dissatisfying, lacking emotional depth. In the scene where Alfred Molina asks her to remarry, she's quite good but it's not even close to the strength of the beginning (which certainly improved her overall achievement).

The question comes to my mind: is this really Salma Hayek's fault? To be perfectly frank, it is mostly director's, but Hayek could have done a bit more. At least she could have made Frida a bit more complex (because she's a quite simplified), but if you don't have much opportunity, how could you?

So to sum up, I saw a performance that did not disappoint me as I did not expect much, but I may even say that it is worth watching because of the very strong early scenes. But don't really expect a very towering achievement.
So what do you think? Any predictions now? Any suggestions for the next reviewed lady? I'll write about the first one you suggest so be quick, because there could be thousands of others before you. :P

Friday, September 3, 2010

Nicole Kidman in The Hours

Nicole Kidman received her second nomination and won her only Oscar to date for playing Virginia Woolf, the tragic author in Stephen Daldry's movie The Hours. I think Kidman had the most chance during the time (along with Renée Zellweger) to get the award, which she did beating Zellweger (gosh, her face in that video is so hilarious), Salma Hayek, comeback star Diane Lane and critical darling Julianne Moore ( lso her co-star in The Hours).

I'm so blown away... by Julianne Moore. Boy, she gives one of her greatest performances in The Hours as the unhappy housewife in the 1950s (and probably even should have won that Supporting Actress Oscar). Except for her, The Hours is a rather average, meaningless, pointless movie, which so desperately tries to be artistic but never manages to reach its goal. However, I must say (as a fan of Philip Glass) that the score absolutely should have won the Oscar. There are great actors in this movie, but none of them makes such a huge impression as Ms. Moore.

And that includes Nicole Kidman. It's such a common thing to hate this win and performance, but I cannot really agree with the haters as she definitely has her moments, so her win is not as disappointing as, say, Sandra Bullock's (coping with this win will not be easy for me, it still hurts). her whole character and material is rather thin. Sure on the outside she gets very much to do, mental illness, tragic heroine, real-life person and so on, but this role is not as baity as it seems. It doesn't reveal how horrible Woolf's illness really is (though that might also be Kidman's fault).

It's not only her material which is thin, though. Actually, her whole performance is not substantial enough to be called a lead performance. You see, I never had problems with the screentime (I mean Patricia Neal won my vote with only 20 minutes), no it's the lack of true and deep impression which really bothers me. I know it's very unfair to compare her to her co-star, but I'm not fair: quite simply put, Julianne Moore totally outacts her and overshadows all the other storylines (yes, including marvellous Meryl Streep who gives another one of her teary-eyed performances I honestly cannot stand). Kidman never actually becomes the centre of the movie, even though it starts and ends with her.

As I said, her material is rather thin, but she gets some very artistic stuff, which are rather pointless. For example, here's her famous scene with the dead bird. I mean, come on! It was one of the lamest and cheapest scenes of this movie and totally pointless, though Kidman is able to inject some emotion into it. And her infamous nose: that's really not Kidman's fault. She's in my opinion a terrific actress and that nose looks weird simply because the make-up is awful.

Probably Nicole's best moments come towards the end, where she says goodbye to her sister, Vanessa. Her hysterical, over-the-top behaviour totally suited that scene and had some kind of an emotional effect on me. She showed so much desperation and anger deep inside her character, that I felt very releaved that finally I can get to know this woman. Again there comes a brilliant scene (which had an enourmous impact on my opinion of her work here) on the train station where she argues with her husband about her mental health. She's far from gut-wrenching, but her dexterity with the emotions there is remarkable. I was quite satisfied there.

Again there comes another question: whose fault is it, that this performance is not as good as it could have been. In my humble opinion, it's definitely not due to Nicole Kidman, who could have been much more interesting and complex than she was in this one.

So, to sum up, I saw a rather disappointing performance by a very good actress who could have done more, I think. If I'm totally honest with myself I'm dissatisfied, but only to a degree because as I said Kidman has her moments, but the overall achievement was not enough to get me. I like heavy stuff, but this is a bit far from it. The grade is fine I think.
Sorry, you had to wait this much, but school just started and everything's crazy here. Who should be the next (I'll review her tomorrow or Sunday at least)?So what do you think about Kidman? What do you predict for my ranking now?