Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I Tried to Love Them...

...but, reader, I couldn't. Remember nine months ago, during a particularly fantastic Best Actress race, when it seemed certain that this year's derby would be even starrier and more marvelous? Winter and spring and then summer failed to add much to the mix, especially since Savage Grace was just as Oscar-unfriendly as everyone had said, and I found Melissa Leo a little hemmed in by the incomplete imagination of Frozen River, though I still think she's got a bright shot at a nomination. Anyway, none of it mattered: we'd have Julianne again! But then Blindness opened. Nicole back with Baz! But have you seen that trailer? Meryl Streep in Doubt! But have you seen that trailer? Kate Winslet in Revolutionary Road! But have you seen that trailer? Maybe they'll all pull it off, but I'm putting on my Tim Gunn face and voice to say, "I'm worried." And when it comes to what's already bowed: Angelina in a Clint Eastwood movie and Kristin Scott Thomas in a well-buzzed chamber drama. As you'll hopefully read, I didn't think much of either movie, but more disappointing than that, I didn't think much of either performance, partly because both of their directors seem 105% confident that these actors in these roles couldn't possibly put a foot wrong. But isn't it a director's job to help the actor put her feet right? And, in Claudel's case, shouldn't he be making sure that his world-class star has something actually to do? I'm sure I'll be in the tiny minority on this one, but give me the nervy floridity of La Vie en rose and Marion Cotillard's precise gradations of hysteria and terror any day over the wan, watch-her-exist complacency of I've Loved You So Long and the astringent but finally defeated efforts of Kristin Scott Thomas to find a character inside of this tepid stunt.

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Blogger tim r said...

Such treats! I may not take that saggy mess La vie en rose over the wildly overregarded I've Loved You So Long, but it's rather close, and I'm completely persuaded that KST is forced into a stalled, threadbare performance here, even while admiring her face, and watching her deflect the moment of revelation time after time, provides the film's only real point of interest. Plus, your version of Changeling sounds like the one I want to see. Can you please just direct everything from now on?

2:37 AM, November 13, 2008  
Blogger NicksFlickPicks said...

Thanks, Tim. I'm expecting plenty of disagreement about I've Loved You So Long, aka I Don't Want to Talk About It, although I fear it will be nothing compared to the months of shouting my dissent about Slumdog Millionaire, which you and I both agree is the most insanely overrated movie of the year, right? It opened here yesterday, and the reviews are not to be believed. I'm anxious to finish one of my reviews for something else I liked (Che, Wendy and Lucy, Johnny Mad Dog) before venting on another stinker, but I may have to get it out of my system quickly...

6:35 AM, November 13, 2008  
Blogger tim r said...

Hello, Stitch! What else you been demolishing lately? I can't even face the Slumdog reviews as I bet they're more likely to remind me of what was ghastly about it than to convince me in the other direction. I know one other person here who hates it as much as us. I feel a support group coming on...

...Back from a quick look at metacritic, because I have no backbone. Holy shit! Someone even mentioned Oscars! To rewrite Scott Foundas, how's this for the poster:

"The rare feel-good movie that made me feel dirty, depressed, and bashed around the head..."

7:51 AM, November 13, 2008  
Blogger Guy Lodge said...

I won't really get into "I've Loved You So Long," as I'm afraid it's one my favourite films -- and performances -- of the year so far. (Though I will add the caveat that it hasn't been much of a year, has it?)

I do, however, think you're spot on about "Changeling." I'm still struggling to figure out when Angelina Jolie became such an uninteresting physical presence on screen. Who on earth is she trying to be?

Please do elaborate on the inestimably lovely "Wendy and Lucy" when you have time. I so enjoy agreeing with you.

4:11 PM, November 13, 2008  
Blogger NicksFlickPicks said...

@Guy: Can I be demanding? It is my house, and I'm dying to hear an argument on behalf of ILYSL, so I can at least understand some of what other people see in it. It obviously got me in a sour mood, but I'm not closed off to having my horizons broadened, even if I'm not feeling very likely to change my mind.

5:40 PM, November 13, 2008  
Blogger Guy Lodge said...

Nick, of course you may be demanding. (One always should be.) I hope you don't mind if I'm lazy and simply link to my review:

An extract from it that attempts to explain why I was so moved by Scott Thomas ' work:

Many of the reviews paint her portrayal as some kind of film-consuming tour de force, but it’s much more calibrated and surprising than that. Immaculately attuned both to her material and her surroundings, she observes as much as she acts, listens as much as she speaks, more concerned with crafting a character than a performance.

The result is that her Juliette is a constant, alert presence even when she’s at the edges of the frame; something as simple as the defensive manner in which she smokes her cigarettes becomes a vital outlet into her shifting perceptions of self and other.

5:58 PM, November 13, 2008  
Blogger gabrieloak said...

I went into I've Loved You So Long with no expectations. I had already seen quite a few films in Toronto so I was beginning to get jaded. And I was floored by Scott-Thomas's performance. She is always skillful but I can't say I've been moved by her. But I loved her in this film. And she's also very funny in Easy Virtue, which is coming out soon. (She's not as impressive in The Seagull on stage, though she's gotten raves for that performance.)

Re: Wendy and Lucy. I almost fell asleep during this film. Williams does an admirable job but because of the limitations of her role and the way the film is directed, I came away wishing I hadn't seen the film. And I liked Old Joy.

9:57 AM, November 16, 2008  

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