Friday, October 30, 2009

You've got me wrapped around your little finger.

"You've no idea how boring everything was before I met you"


After my short spiel about the lack of femininity in a recent Empire poll, I was rewarded with another fine example of an iconic creation in the very female shape of An Education's Jenny.

Carey Mulligan's Jenny is the wide-eyed, open-hearted girl that lives in hope and obsesses over things she will do; she characterises the innocent ideals and ambitions of our youth, an innocence that is lost during the course of the film (and no matter how merrily that last line may have been delivered, I cannot see that last line as any redemption of innocence). She is an everyman in the particularly charismatic form of Mulligan, who is nothing short of mesmerizing. Yes all you have heard is true. And yes, she would be a deserving Oscar princess come March 2010.

The film itself is not without its flaws (Jenny's redemption is rather ill-examined, force-fed and irritatingly conventional) but these are forgiven thanks to its bright core of Mulligan, a terrific soundtrack (I have 'You've Got Me Wrapped Around Your Little Finger' by Beth Rowley on repeat!) and top-notch support from some of my cinematic heroes; Emma Thompson, Alfred Molina, Cara Seymour, Rosamund Pike and - in a blink and you'll sorely miss her role - Sally Hawkins.

I have been officially swooned by Miss Mulligan & co. Hoorah!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Icons of the Decade x4




Due to the lack of female characters on Empire's own list of this decades' icons, I wanted to offer some sort of counter list so that the world isn't fooled into thinking we're all an average heterosexual male in love with action heroes such as Bond, Bourne and men with claws. So it is time for some girl loving!

Alongside the four women above - EVE (WALL-E), Vera Drake (Vera Drake), Bridget Jones (Bridget Jones' Diary), Miranda Preistley (The Devil Wears Prada) - there is a limitless pool of worthy additions; Satine (Moulin Rouge!), Poppy (Happy-Go-Lucky), Barbara Baekeland (Savage Grace), Olive (Little Miss Sunshine), Julia (Julia), Giselle (Enchanted), Dory (Finding Nemo), Ashley Johnsten (Junebug)...I could go on and on and on.

Its time that female orientated film and characters should be justly accounted for in "The World's Biggest Movie Magazine". If only...

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Quote.12


MARIE ANTOINETTE
So, I hear you like to make keys as a hobby?


LOUIS XVI
Yes.

MARIE ANTOINETTE
And do you enjoy making keys?


LOUIS XVI
Obviously.

Not the most passionate of conversations, this is how not to start off any type of romantic relationship - especially one that leaps into marriage and depends on a heir to the throne! This is the one and only world of Marie Antoinette, through Sofia Coppola.

And yet somehow the couple - eventually! - manage to bring about a gang of babies and create one of the most touching, if rather platonic, portrayals of married life this last decade. Although who can blame Marie for straying once Jamie Dornan strides onto the scene...

Monday, October 26, 2009

Like A Drug (I Want Moore).

Julianne Moore's greatest tool? Her mouth...

Whether she's gasping for breathe in [safe]...

Erupting on a truly deserving pharmacist in Magnolia...

Or struggling to maintain the perfect image of wife and mother in Far From Heaven...

Her mouth is the core, the indicator for the rest of her performance. You can go further with her mousy Laura Brown in The Hours, how her lips struggle to utter a word, or her Barbara Baekeland in Savage Grace, where her mouth is greater than any weapon.

Moore's mouth is a cinematic treasure trove, and what makes it all the more delicious is that it is also responsible for one of the most infectious laughs I have ever heard and fortunately a reoccuring presence during her Screen Talk that coincided with the 53rd London Film Festival, where she screened not one but two new films, A Single Man and Chloe. (Both of which I was lucky enough to have seen, and will discuss later).

Humble to the point of frustration (how I didn't scream "YOU ARE A GODDESS" I am unsure), Moore was as intelligent, entertaining and enchanting as her film roles would suggest and any hints of superiority, in any capacity, were distinctly absent. In fact her message was quite clear, acting is simply a job and film is a director's medium, actors are only their vessel for which they can achieve their vision and be a cultural force. This was accompanied by an interesting ancedote of new-mum Moore on the set of Magnolia, where she would instinctively alternate from her role as gold digger in the midst of hysteria to mother rather than complaining "I can't mother my child, I'm in character!". Both interesting scenarios...that would surely scare any child senseless.

The questions - from the The Script Factory's director, Briony Hanson - played safe with general interest; how did you get into X character, how do you find working with X, etc. And the interview progressed rather smoothly (quite unlike my usual encounters with Moore in the cinema), only on a handful of occassions did Hanson trigger the unanticapated from Moore. And in a flash, she was gone. As this flash lasted approx an hour and a half I cannot complain, but the greedy film fanatic inside me naturally wanted more. What about Savage Grace?, future theatre work?, and - most importantly for me - talk about your mouth!

Fortunately there are always her performances to obsess over, and her work in A Single Man and Chloe are worthy additions to her astonishing array of characters. A Single Man is undoubtedly the greater film (see previous post), and will surely land her a fifth Oscar nomination come March 2010 yet it is Chloe that proves more interesting from the perspective of Moore. It sums up my own feelings on her career; in 'indie' film she rules as Queen, but once she steps into the realm of the commercial she begins to struggle.

The first hour or so acts as a wonderful examination of long-term relationships that have grown loveless and the loss of sexuality. Then a 'twist', more a disjointed change of characters and genre, throws all this good work out the window (teehehe) in a desperate attempt to incorporate a bunny-boiler finale. It is an odd decision that reaps no rewards, unless you enjoy your paint-by-numbers Hollywood thrillers with lesbian overtones (I imagine, to my dismay, many do!). Only Moore comes out unscathed; she could anchor a ship with the automatic empathy she summons. Just look at this failed attempt at a smile for the 'unsuspecting' prostitute she is about to enlist in order to discover her husband's infidelities...

She is wonderful, no?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Our Fair Lady.

More than a year ago we were teased with the news that Keira Knightley might take on the role of Eliza Doolittle in a remake an 'update' of My Fair Lady. There was concern, but this was more or less drowned out with a childish surge of excitement.
Excitement that had since died down until todays news that she will take on the role with the man who brought her to her greatest acting heights, Joe Wright, directing and none other than Emma Thompson on script duties! I'm not usually a fan of remakes, updates or any of the above but this group with that material just sounds so deliciously good that I cannot help but wait impatiently until Knightley bursts into "Wouldn't It Be Loverly".

Now the focus turns to the next Prof Henry Higgins. Who could possibly fill the large shoes of Rex Harrison's wonderful performance? Empire suggests Daniel Craig, others are suggesting Hugh Laurie. I think I'll go out on a limb and suggest Ralph Fiennes, always a solid choice, or Daniel Day Lewis if Nine has whetted his musical appetite or Stephan Dillane if he has a singing voice?

UPDATE: We may have been teased...click here.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

"Can you put a price on your dreams?"

There are those that will argue The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus should be deemed a success simply for reaching cinemas. These same people will praise Terry Gilliam for his customary visual splendor (which is as delightful as always) without penalising him for ignoring the basics of film-making; the story. This is the worst type of style over substance, where the director's preoccupation with the world he has created forsakes the characters of the film and the audience's interest.

It may be unjust to throw the word 'indulgence' into the conversation, after all the loss of Heath Ledger undoubtedly presented a series of impossible issues, but it is evident that Gilliam had more interest in the aesthetics of his world than the narrative of the film. From the get go! Our introduction to the titular imaginarium is a narratively muddled yet aesthetically intriguing prospect; we have glimpses of this world but no understanding of it. This is a problem that is never addressed. How could an audience involve themselves in a world where there is no sense of what is at stake, what has to be achieved? (The soul business loses steam due to the fact the villain, Tom Waits' Mr. Nick, simply wants to play, not to win and therefore does not threaten the equilibrium or pose any real urgency to Dr Parnassus' band at all).

It is a shame then that the rest of the film is so delightful; the performances are solid, the introduction of Ledger's replacements are seamless (so much that it is difficult to imagine the character in any other way) and yes it all looks wonderful, particularly the Gothic imaginarium against the contemporary world of London. These can not compensate for the weak script, leaving the film a treat for for hardcore Gilliam fans and a missed opportunity for everyone else.

Monday, October 19, 2009

"Fucking poof!"

Even when she's enjoying the happier moments in life, Julianne Moore manages to slip in an immense sense of vulnerability. This vulnerability infiltrates each blissful moment of Moore's presence in A Single Man, a role is tailor-made for her acting strengths.

Every moment her Charlotte is on-screen, you can only sit and fear her eventual meltdown. A meltdown that arrives with emotional advances attacks on Colin Firth's George. Fatigued with disenchantment, Charlotte is more desperate and perhaps more startling than any of Moore's other creations, and yes that is including Savage Grace's Barbara Baekeland.

Not that anyone will be focusing on Moore come the films release; this is the Tom & Colin show. And what a show! Visually this is a stunning piece of work; the colours, imagery, costumes, sets, etc. are of such exuberance they really should detach the viewer, and yet they only work to further engross us into Ford's world of remorse, loss, life and love. We could all guess that Ford would have the eye for cinema, but he most definitely has the heart too (I found myself weeping for George. And I wasn't alone!). It helps immensely that he found the perfect core for the film in Colin Firth.
I have already stated my admiration of Firth, an admiration that can only expand from viewing his work here; undoubtedly his best. Limitlessly layered, George Falconer is a character full of sadness and out of hope. Firth's portrayal is nothing short of remarkable; rather than removing himself from his heartthrob status, he embraces it with a melancholic edge that cannot fail to move an unsuspecting audience. George may turn out to be his most iconic romantic turn yet.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

"Something very intellectual indeed"

Being the nerds that we are, 5 of us MA Film Studies students wandered down to the monthly BFI Film Quiz. We did respectable, if not terrific. Still a cherry arrived on the pie...actually it became the cherry AND pie AND any other metaphor you can think of!

On the 23rd of October, as part of the 53rd London Film Festival, I will be in the audience for...
JULIANNE MOORE!
I have been in love with this woman since my tender eyes watched her eventual combustion in Magnolia ("suck my dick!") and have never felt any other way since. My adoration for her is strong that when Nicole Kidman - the woman that could do no wrong - beat Moore to the Oscar for Best Actress in 2003, I wanted Kidman to receive the backlash that has since plagued her career (but not for quite such a long period...).

Simply put, I would kill for this woman. An obsession that her most wonderful creations would be proud of no doubt.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Monday, October 12, 2009

Quote.11

"I suppose life must go on"

Perhaps Lady Sylvia's most delicious moment, where Kristin Scott Thomas makes the conscious decision to move on from the recent murder of her husband. Not that this was ever required; his death was more welcome than, say, the company of the wonderfully inept Mabel Nesbitt (oh how I dote on her!). Initially at least.

Those last moments, discussing her future with Aunt Constance (oh Maggie!) and bidding farewell to her guests, there is a distinct sense of isolation and the happy ending, if you will, belongs to Emily Watson's Elsie who drives away to Hollywood, not the recently 'freed' Sylvia.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Up x4


Heartbreaking stuff. Magnificently so.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Hanging with the girls.

I will pretend that the above image was released as an apology from the Weinsteins for delaying the release of Nine from November until December...those brutes!

The image is endlessly enjoyable! Mainly because it is Nicole that takes centre stage (unfortunately not the case in the film itself); she caresses Penelope's leg as she demands tough answers from Kate (look how uncomfortable her posture is!) while Judi and Marion watch them spellbound, Sophia sends her NK appreciation via laughter and Fergie wonders how the hell she ended up there. I want to watch that movie!

It also hints further that while Daniel Day Lewis is the lead, he may be overshadowed by the presence of this group of beauties. Should we be surprised?!

I still can't see this film deserving the great anticipation I cannot stop myself from throwing its way...and now I must wait a handful more weeks before I eventually reach this disappointment. Oh my!

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

"I'll never go hungry again!"

I have Gone With the Wind on the brain. Or more specifically, I have Scarlett O'Hara on the brain. This could have something to do with my outrageous decision to watch the epic (for the upteenth time!) somewhere between 3-4 yesterday evening/morning. Or the two hour discussion that ensued during my Monday afternoon lecture.

Either way I am left, as always, in awe of its leading lady; ruthless, ferocious and endlessly charming...Scarlett is an institution for anyone feeling out of their depth. A woman that could face-off any of cinema's greatest heroines (The Bride vs Scarlett?...no competition!).

And yet...asking myself "What would Scarlett do?" inevitably leads me to an array of undesirable options. Try it, I dare you! You'll end up scared stiff in the woods with a fox watching you, a la Antichrist. Trust me.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

"Where are we going?"

"Somewhere beautiful"
A rapid succession of events has somehow led me to the end of the week...a week that (re)introduced me to the frustrations of friendship, the loneliness of city life and the unlimited source of hope that seems to come hand-in-hand with struggle. Ironic then that this week also introduced me to wonderful world of Morvern Callar, my hero for the week.

A nymph of everyday existence, Callar discovers an unorthodox route for escape and grabs it with as much enthusiasm as her ethereal face will allow. Lets hope she found her beautiful somewhere.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Kylie x4

My 'home' may have evaporated with a blink of eye and Uni may already be drowning me with work but these images of Kylie (along with handfuls of footage, including a new song) suddenly transport me to a world of unadulterated happiness...with an unlimited supply of glitter.