Friday, January 20, 2012

Best Actress Birthday Party, Week 4

As backloaded as the the current week is, with Patricia Neal and Geena Davis coming up on the 20th and 21st, next week is even more front-loaded, with these two gals blowing out candles right away on the 22nd. I'm happy to cull your suggestions a bit early, and don't be surprised if one of these gals has to wait a day or two for her party. Consider it like President's Day Observed.

Born January 22–January 28:
Click here for the full list of entries

Jan 22: Piper Laurie (80)
New Review: Tim (1979)
Piper's Best Work: I haven't seen her tough customer in The Hustler or her demented disciple in Carrie in so long that I can't really pick between them.
I've Also Seen: Disconcerting in ways Lee Remick could barely touch in the live-TV Days of Wine and Roses; goading Jeremy Brett to action and commanding the stage in a direct-to-video staging of Macbeth; intimidated by her child's deafness and by the grown daughter's anger in Children of a Lesser God; in an ensemble of actor's actors as David Morse's mother in The Crossing Guard; bullying Toni Collette and unconcerned about self-parody in The Dead Girl
Where To Go Next: If we're insisting on a theatrical release, then I'm guessing the Capote adaptation The Grass Harp, with Sissy Spacek, Walter Matthau, and Nell Carter. If TV movies count, I'm all about Piper as Magda Goebbels, with Anthony Hopkins as Hitler, in The Bunker. She was Emmy-nominated for that, and I'm betting she did it up real big. But if any medium will do, the answer is obviously Twin Peaks. I lived in Germany the two years it ran in the U.S., and by the time I moved back, it had come and gone. Never have caught up, but obviously must.

Jan 22: Diane Lane (47)
New Review: Rumble Fish (1983)
Diane's Best Work: Sexy, accessible, and believably conflicted as she juices up the second act of her career in A Walk on the Moon, a movie seen by too few people but savored by all of them.
I've Also Seen: Young, charismatic leader of the whelps in Six Pack; as Paulette Goddard, but not such that I recall her, in Chaplin; maybe a bit bashful as Stella to Jessica Lange's Blanche and Alec Baldwin's Stanley in A Streetcar Named Desire; as good at fretful waiting as anyone could be in The Perfect Storm (my review); an appealing interview in Searching for Debra Winger; getting her nod for the commuter-train scene in Unfaithful (my review); a flattering audience surrogate and the centerpiece of light pleasures in Under the Tuscan Sun; stranded by a dumb script and stolid direction in Hollywoodland (my review), though everyone else seemed to like it; chafing, surely, under a new round of typecasting in Nights in Rodanthe
Where To Go Next: The 90s weren't the easiest decade for Diane, but I'm really eager to see Wild Bill, the no-doubt unusual biopic starring Jeff Bridges and Ellen Barkin and directed by Walter Hill. It's sitting right here on my shelf, and if it had been as short as Rumble Fish, I would have selected it.

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Blogger James T said...

I had enjoyed Lane (and the film in general) in Fierce People.

3:00 PM, January 20, 2012  
Blogger Sam Brooks said...

Two films that are nowhere near good, but are at least curios for fans of the actresses would be: The Grass Harp for Piper Laurie and Killshot for Diane Lane.

Killshot is as trashy and disposable as it sounds, but it's a semi-interesting turn for Lane, and it features a pre-Wrestler Mickey Rourke chewing up some scenery.

The Grass Harp is based on the book and reunites Laurie with Sissy Spacek. It's not a great movie, but there's worse.

3:09 PM, January 20, 2012  
Blogger Walter L. Hollmann said...

I haven't seen enough Diane Lane, but there's plenty of Piper Laurie to choose from. I have to go with Appointment with Death, a late-80s all-star Agatha Christery directed by, of all people, Michael Winner. Carrie Fisher, Lauren Bacall, and Hayley Mills co-star!

3:34 PM, January 20, 2012  
Anonymous Dave said...

Lane wasn't necessarily the most prominent part of these films, but "Rumble Fish" or "The Outsiders" could be worth a visit if you've never. (Although I do have a soft spot for her rock star/damsel in distress role in "Streets of Fire", but she doesn't get to do too much there except lip sync to Jim Steinman songs.)

5:35 PM, January 20, 2012  
Anonymous Patrick said...

I saw Carrie for the first time when I was 11 and Piper Laurie disturbed me so much that it was was about 15 years before I watched the movie again. During those years I often cited Carrie as the scariest movie I had ever seen (I've stopped saying that since my repeat viewing).

9:34 PM, January 20, 2012  
Anonymous Laika said...

I know it's outside your cinematic wheelhouse, but I've always thought Piper Laurie's very best work was in Twin Peaks - both blunt and inscrutable, totally commanding, and that rarest of things, a portrait of satisfied carnal desire in a middle-aged woman (who actually looks middle-aged) on screen. She has a memorable screen husband in Jack Nance, and if you haven't seen it, she's involved in a plot twist involving a Japanese gentleman that has to be seen to be believed.

11:16 AM, January 21, 2012  
Blogger NicksFlickPicks said...

@James T: Wow, I forgot about that one completely!

@Sam: The Grass Harp was a runner-up for what I ultimately picked. Hard cast to resist, and Laurie even got a critics prize!

@Walter: I don't always get on with those Christie movies, even though the casts are always scrumptious. Thanks for the rec, though.

@Dave: Very warm!

@Patrick: I think I also saw Carrie the second time about 15 years after I'd initially read and seen it, and I actually found it more unnerving the second time. I hear Kimberly Peirce is trying to option it for another remake.

@Laika: This, of course, is where I most want to go with Laurie, and if there were time to gobble down the whole series, I'd of course do it. One day!

1:02 PM, January 21, 2012  
Blogger NATHANIEL R said...

Yeah Piper is pretty great in Twin Peaks. I'm reading her book right now and she definitely tells quite a story of making TIM with Mel Gibson.

9:38 PM, January 21, 2012  
Blogger NATHANIEL R said...

also diane lane -- i'd love to hear what you see in her debut (would her late career gift show in her teenag work) which made her a star at only 14 (A LITTLE ROMANCE). I saw the film once on VHS when I was a teenager and i enjoyed it but i so don't rememebr much. i'm curious though how her late career gifts would or wouldn't show in youth.

9:42 PM, January 21, 2012  
Blogger Colin Low said...

Popped in to say, thanks for the Michael DeAngelis mention! I just breezed through his introduction and it's a tantalizing piece of psychoanalytic star theory. (I found your Lee Edelman précis is wonderfully punchy, too.)

2:22 PM, January 22, 2012  
Blogger CanadianKen said...

Just watched "Rumble Fish" so it'd be fresh in my mind when I read your piece. Remember enjoying it in '83. And turns out I was just in the right mood to re-experience it. Felt like I'd joined some silk road caravan that travels only by night - and possibly to other planets. And when 94 minutes were up, found myself pretty reluctant to shake off the moon dust. A good deal of which was supplied by Lane, already trenchantly luminous at 17. Matt Dillon's beauty and energy are so extreme it's a wonder they don't morph into parody. But that doesn't happen. His commitment
to the character and to his own abilities give the film a pretty compelling focal point for those deluxe visuals to swirl around.
It always seems Dillon should have been the sensation of SOME generation - but somehow never fully connected with any one zeitgeist. Yet he's had an admirable career - and both the beauty and the talent seem to remain undisputed.
And, speaking of beautiful things, thanks so much for embarking on this new project, Nick. I get giddy thinking of all you have in store for us this year. 2012 is suddenly looking good.

12:11 AM, January 23, 2012  
Blogger NicksFlickPicks said...

@Nathaniel: I can't believe I've had to fess up to you to having missed Twin Peaks and A League of Their Own, all within one month. In other news, that passage in Piper's book is pretty sizzling. Tap it, Rosie!

@Colin: Yes, the day job is peeking out more often these days! You can take the professor off the campus... Glad you caught the Lee Edelman gripe (I assume you mean in the Globes coverage?). I figured you might be the only person reading who would!

@Ken: How fun that you watched it for this! You're making me think I should pre-announce a few of my choices, when I already know I'm not budging, just to see if I can get a good discussion going. Hope you liked the review even after freshening your memory, and of course, this whole comment makes me feel incredibly good. Thanks!

1:45 AM, January 23, 2012  
Blogger Colin Low said...

I did catch the Edelman allusion during the Globes live-blog, but also as a more general poke at futurity in your review of Tim ("Even in a culture that crows endlessly about how 'the innocence of our children' must be defended at all costs—from real and imaginary adversaries, to the point of constraining the freedoms of adults...")—though I suppose you could say that this insight predates Edelman. I've been thinking a lot lately about cultural obsessions with futurity in relation not to an America with its institutionalized freedoms but to other societies that unashamedly take futurity as a grounding philosophy, so I was glad to see such a succinct gloss on the matter pop up where I didn't quite expect it (the gloss, not the succinctness, which you pull off so regularly). Love the stretch of your reviews, as always.

9:04 AM, January 23, 2012  
Blogger NATHANIEL R said...

Grllll, you are turning it OUT. Great reviews and so many of them. This line:

"She looks like a drag queen called Sharia Law, or as though she's intent on bringing a little bit of Lion in Winter to New South Wales."

I died.

12:35 PM, January 23, 2012  
Anonymous Marsha Mason said...

I simply cannot believe you haven't seen Twin Peaks. Not sure why.

4:42 PM, January 23, 2012  
Blogger CCW said...

Nick, what fun parties you threw for Laurie and Lane!
Back in the mid-'90s, I watched a lot of Lane's work, as well as Coppola's. I tend to naturally gravitate towards the "schlockier" titles in an actor's or director's filmography, so Lane's work in Lady Beware and Coppola's early Roger Corman production, Dementia 13, will always have warm places in my viewing memories.
I also had many of the same reactions to Tim that you did and I love how you were able to encompass Derek Jarman and Natasha Richardson in your review for a film of this "magnitude."
You also wetted my appetite for Laurie's memoir. Sounds quite interesting.

6:03 PM, January 23, 2012  
Blogger Dan Callahan said...

Just a brief word: I also totally died laughing at parts of your "Tim" review.

I haven't seen it in years, but it was another of my high school movies, always being played on the Encore cable channel, and you brought it back to me. I mostly watched it for Mel in his Speedos.

10:52 AM, January 25, 2012  

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