Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year and a New Beginning

I wish you all a very happy new year with lots of fun, laughter, joy and great movies to watch! And of course, a great party for New Year's Eve! :) 

I hope you won't have a New Year's Eve like these people had

And especially poor Shelley: 

But here I am, announcing how my blog will change in 2013. I was seeking new ways for myself and how I can share all my movie- and tv-related thoughts besides my teeny-tiny tweets and then I suddenly realised: I have two blogs! It also seems crazy that I'm only doing Best Actress reviews here so I sort of comibined these two blogs. It feels like I'm only watching these movies and care about such things in terms of movies. No ways. I want to go deeper and explore more areas, Oscar, not Oscar, Europe, television, you name it. This all means more regular posts and various subjects, also hoping that this will lead to more conversation and discussion. I will go on with the Best Actress years and I'm gonna finish it. :)

In the past few days you saw two of the examples how my blog will look like from now on (I didn't get much feedback so I'm assuming you're all fine with the changes).

But as I said, I'm not even remotely finished with Bets Actress. Hilary's review is coming as soon as I have time. I'm also going on with revisiting some years that left me some doubts. Truth to be told, sometimes I did my ranking according to what I thought was right (or wanted to be) and not what I really felt. My new goal is to allow myself to be wrong and surprise you and also myself (if you know what I mean). 

So here's one revised year where there's a shocking change. Some of you may have noticed, some of you may not but see it to believe it (I changed the winner's review a little bit, added some new elements). More to come. :) 

Happy New Year everyone! :) May Captain Nielsen guide you to safer seas!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

The perfect movie for the holidays

Whenever you want entertaining life lessons, you turn to one person and that is...

Yep, Woody pretty much knows it all. Although my absolute favorite of his is Annie Hall (quite easily), around Christmas, there's a movie I just cannot miss and that is...

Hannah and Her Sisters, the bittersweet masterpiece is just the perfect holiday movie. It's a brilliant summary of life, our world as well as the best movie of the eighties (for me). Now I've seen it 8 times (counting the one two hours ago).

The movies chapters all offer different views and perspectives of life that get even richer and richer at each viewing. It's marvelous to me how Woody's brilliance truly unfolds to me over the years, since there are so many aspects of his movies that I become fascinated by. Things that I previously barely noticed or even ignored. 

This year, for me, that is the wonderful, stunning visuality of the movie. People so easily ignore the visuality of "small" movies like the ones made by Woody. The cinematography of Carlo Di Palma is just stunning and its best proof is the lunch of the three sisters. The way the camera gazes at the expressions of the sisters combined with the fabulous performances that these three ladies give and the flawless directing is an unforgettable experience.

Hannah's worries, Holly's nervousness and Lee's shame are all perfectly captured. It's like looking into three different souls at the same. Although Dianne Wiest was the one winning the Oscar (and deservedly so, she's my favorite winner in that category), the two other sisters are not less brilliant than she is. Barbara Hershey's performance is incredibly painful, but also uplifting, making her probably the emotional core of the story. Mia Farrow does an amazing job holding the movie together with her character: it's so easy to ignore her merits in the movie, but once you've seen this film many times, you recognise the amazing job that she does here. And no words are necessary to describe Dianne Wiest: she's the one you relate to, the easiest person to love in this whole story, despite playing a neurotic mess. The way Wiest portrays how Holly longs for love is just amazing and makes this character so relatable (her scene in the cab is one of the greatest ones ever made). 

Hannah and Her Sisters give us scenes from life tha feel so close and real to what we experience every day. One says you watch a movie to escape reality and to see something different as Haneke says "24 lies per second". But as Woody proves it, it can be "the truth, 24 frames per second", Hannah and Her Sister is a mirror in which we can all observe our lives and what we know and think about this world. And that's the best thing one can get at Christmas or any time of the year. 

Happy Holidays once again! :)

Happy Holidays!

First of all, let me wish you a merry Christmas! :) Unfortunately, I can't post the usual picture, but I hope your holidays will be as peaceful as it will be for the owner of this house: 

Really, all I want for Christmas is an infinite season of Homeland, with all the scenes being between Claire Danes and Mandy Patinkin.

I watched these two over the years and their duo is one of the most powerful ones on television ever. In some ways, they are like Great Glenn and Rose Byrne were on Damages, a teacher and a faithful student, like a parent and a daughter.

I don't want to get into how brilliant these two actors are separately. Claire is a natural: many say she's been this brilliant since 1994, I'd say she's been this brilliant since 1979. Her talent and skills only compare to the greatest: she has such an overwhelming talent, like that of Great Glenn, Meryl Streep, Cate Blanchett or, of course, Jane Fonda. I hope she's winning an Oscar someday (she certainly gives Oscar-worthy performances week after week on Homeland). And then there's Mandy Patinkin, who's also insanely fantastic. His more subtle approach to his character is a wonderful counterpart to Claire Danes' untempered brilliance. His facial expressions speak volumes. It's an outrage that he didn't win the Emmy last year for The Weekend (he wasn't even nominated). The way he expresses Saul's almost unconditional acceptance of Carrie, his care is just outstanding and he amazingly underlines how Saul would be a lonely and bitter old man without the crazy and moody Carrie. His fear and desparation in the last scenes of the season (and his ultimate relief) is a testament to that (oh, his prayer in that brutal finale was harrowing). 

In my humble opinion, they are the engines of this fantastic shows. Many are celebrating Damian Lewis as the great discovery and while I admire his work a lot, too, for me it's all about Danes and Patinkin.

Since Christmas is also about being generous and unselfish, I'll probably give up on that infinite, private Homeland season and I'll just wish a Golden Globe for Claire Danes and Mandy Patinkin, respectively because they are both, well...


Now you got a sneak peak of how my blog will change next year. It'll include more subjects, more topics, not only Best Actress reviews (I'll go on with those as well with sometimes radical changes in the old rankings). I guess I'm trying to just reinvent myself. :) But more on that later.

Happy Holidays everyone! :) I'll post in the evening as well. :)

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Annette Bening in American Beauty

Annette Bening is not a really lucky lady in terms of Oscar wins. She came incredibly close to winning the Golden Boy not less than three times (well, it might be four if we count The Grifters as well) and she was upstaged by the same person twice. And she's Hilary Swank. There was enough sentiment both times to reward Bening, she was the more acclaimed and respected actress, a true diva. However, like Great Glenn, Annette has never been good at having the critics on her side, which eventually led to her being Oscarless. Of all her nominations, the loss for American Beauty was the biggest and yet personally, it might probably my least favorite of all her nominations.

The roots of all my problems with Bening's performance are in the movie itself. Although at the age of 14, it seemed to be the best movie ever, nowadays I find American Beauty to be pushy, overcooked and even manipulative. First of all, it's so obsessed by the aesthetics and just tries so hard the communicate all the beauties of life. That being said, I'm still stunned by the genious Conrad L. Hall's great cinematography (that 100% deserved the Oscar though it had some serious competition from Sleepy Hollow) and the wonderful art direction (which deserved a nomination at the very least). I can even praise Thomas Newman's catchy, heartbreaking score and yet I feel that Sam Mendes wasn't able to use all these wonderful things properly to have a great effect. But don't get me started on Alan Ball's screenplay, because I'll get really mad. 

There's something similar about Annette Bening's performance here: Bening is a natural source of greatness and brilliance (even though it took me some time to see it). In American Beauty, she stuck with a part that many people imagine would be an actress' dream: for me, however, it's nothing but an overwritten, gross, one-dimensional caricature of the suburban lady who doesn't even get as much screentime as I remembered. In fact, I thought that most of the time, Carolyn Burnham was present in the role of a court jester with over-the-toplines that would make even Diana Christensen blush in comparision. She cries, she screams, she laughs, she's SOOO mean she's VERY pretentious, she' REAAAALLY phony and all she needed was REALLY being nailed by a real estate king and taking shooting lessons. While Kevin Spacey is provided with an arc for her character, Annette is left with some crazily exaggerated, over-the-top scenes. 

This could have been one of the worst performances ever that people still would have loved if it wasn't for Annette Bening. As I said (and I want to emphasise over and over again), Bening is a natural resource of acting greatness and she's excellent even under the most awful circumstances. What I appreciate the most about this performance is how dynamic and vivid Bening actually is in the role. She actually was able to make the screenplay work in her favor in many ways: she didn't decide to tone down the character a little bit and instead, she chose to go all the way with Carolyn. It was a very risky move on her part though I'd say if she hadn't done crazy overacting here, this would have turned out even shakier than it is. 

As I've previously mentioned, Carolyn is written as a gross caricature, which would be fine considering the subject of the film (the pretentious and empty life of the American suburbs), but Alan Ball forgot about something: writing Carolyn as an actual human being. She's such an unbelievably consistent bitch that you'd hardly find one person like that in real life. There's absolutely no color and texture in her and yes, she's only there as a court jester. That being said, Annette (with her over-the-top acting) makes you remember Carolyn and in a way, added some humanity to this humanoid character and also made her, one of the better aspects of this movie.

If there's nothing else about Annette in this movie, she's memorable at the very least. She pulls off the entertainment part of this performance beautifully: she's nothing short of amazing in her deliveries of those crazy lines and she says them like nobody's business. Her "I will sell this house today" scene is, quite simply, brilliant. Her breakdown in the end is just brilliant: she really is like a baby whose candy was taken from her. The hysterics of Carolyn are played so brilliantly by Bening that sometimes you even ignore those major gaps in the character. In my humble opinion, if there's anything you can rely on in case you hate American Beauty, it's probably Annette. Weirdly enough, she gives the least pretentious and most honest performance of the cast despite playing the "obvious" #1 phony of the story. Just like Carolyn is a shameless phony, Annette is just shamelessly over-the-top here, not sweating (like the rest of the cast) to make this movie "mean something" to the audience.

I'd like to ask Annette privately what she herself really thinks about this character and the movie. I'm quite certain that she considers it one of the high points of her day career. I wonder, though, if it is about the richness of the character or the acclaim and the awards she received for it. It's neither her most demanding nor the most rewarding (both are easily be Being Julia in my view, that was tailor made for her and she was brilliant). She gained lots of fans with this role and I also bow before her talent and her ability to save the movie. However, that's because she so wonderfully saved the movie with her crazy acting and she was the only character that eventually carries some emotional weight. With all the exaggerations and the hysterics, Bening showed a more human side of Carolyn that the story so carefully concealed.

While this might be my least favorite of her nominationsI really admire this performance of La Bening, partly because of the previously mentioned movie-saving and partly because we got to witness what a brilliant comedienne she really is. Her scenes are unforgettable and not only because of the hysterics, but also her amazing skills. She's doing some crazy overacting and goes way over the top, but I feel her acting seems even better compared to the rest of the movie.

What do you think?

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Next Year


So the nominees were:
  • Annette Bening in American Beauty
  • Janet McTeer in Tumbleweeds
  • Julianne Moore in The End of The Affair
  • Meryl Streep in Music of the Heart
  • Hilary Swank in Boys Don't Cry
Since I'm busy and have absolutely no motivation to go on with 1938 (well, um, to start it), I'm doing a year I'm really interested in. :) This is the first Bening-Swank fight though it's not as controversial despite the fact that Swank won in an upset. And let's face it, this year looks pretty stunning to me. :)

What do you think? Who's your pick? What's your prediction for my ranking? :)