Julianne Moore is one of Hollywood’s most versatile actresses but there are arguably three performances where she could be interchangeable with Madonna. The first and most obvious is as Charley in A Single Man. The second being Maude Lebowski although of course we’ll assume that the singer doesn’t have the same comic timing as Moore does. The third is the twice divorced Laura Chevely in An Idea Husband, a dramedy set in London during the Gilded Age. Madonna has the alabaster complexion back in 1999 but Moore had the curly red hair, ringlets and a luminescent yet cleavage-revealing golden gown, looking like an older yet polished Morisot muse. But when she slithers beside Lord Arthur Goring (Rupert Everett, at one time Madonna’s best friend), opens her mouth and unleashes her laced sexuality, it makes my mind go ‘Madge….’
An Ideal Husband is Oscar Wilde territory – petty, bourgeois, yet more lighthearted than a few other works I’ve skimmed. Laura used to believe in concepts like love but she only concerns herself now with acquiring husbands for power or destroying the enemies who get in her way. She threatens Arthur, wanting marriage from him or else she will reveal the contents of a scandalous letter! Her other option would be destroying Sir Robert Chilton’s (Jeremy Northam) integrity, a Member of the Parliament, by convincing him to approve of a scene. Meanwhile the lives of headstrong Mabel Chilton (Minnie Driver), Robert’s sister, and the shy Lady Gertrude (Cate Blanchett), more worthier wives than Laura can ever make, hang in the balance.
Moore’s casting, along with Blanchett’s, makes the film merely three-fifths British. Everyone’s accents, including Moore’s affected and sassy rendition, are passable but there’s something in the movie that takes away from its authentic locality. Maybe I’ve seen most of these actors play North Americans too many times and in better movies. Or that they seem to belong somewhere else.
Getting neither man, Laura plants the letter, leaves London’s boulevards and hopes her work is done. Unfortunately, she leaves us withe the rest of the sappy, romantic characters and I turn into a Grinch.
- Happy 51st Julianne Moore. What’s Next? (thefilmexperience.net)
Richard Eyre‘s Notes on a Scandal begins with the symbolically named Barbara Covett (Judi Dench) looking out of her classroom window, narrating her low expectations about her pubescent, multiracial students. A lesser actress would read the word ‘progress’ as a racist, but Dench knows to keep the undertones down here and besides, Barbara has taught long enough to see the rough-edged evil within every generation of adolescents and she hates her students equally for that.
The more Barbara gets to know the new art teacher, the symbolically named Sheba Hart (Cate Blanchett), the more she thinks she knows what latter wants. She calls Sheba’s affair with the year 10 student Robert Connolly a middle class fetish to mold any poor person and that Sheba needs rescuing from her loveless and impulsive marriage. Robert joins her so, curtly telling Sheba that she wanted to feel like Bob Geldof. They’re not necessarily wrong – Sheba is a lost character but comfortably so because of her financial stability and beauty, making others covet her, and a character shouldn’t feel needy if she’s wanted back. She hasn’t planned on the husband (Bill Nighy) and children (Juno Temple) but she’s grown to love them.
I’m also still ambivalent about how these major characters place themselves on a morality scale. Barbara and to a lesser extent Robert distrust Sheba as the other, a person similarly inwardly dirtier. There’s obviously some class war here. These working class characters dissociate the bourgeoisie as a prison of appearances and consumerism, both thinking about the affair as if she’s had many. The two are easy to condemn if we forget that Sheba is inadvertently a leech, too.
- Notes on a Scandal (shewhoshallremainmentallychallenged.wordpress.com)
Hanna (Saoirse Ronan) converses with her father Erik Keller (Eric Bana) in Teutonic accents and commits to combat training from him in the forests somewhere in the immediate south of the Arctic. Telling her father that she’s ‘ready,’ and tiring of the isolation that Erik has inadvertently put her, she flicks a switch that emits a signal so her hunter, agent Marissa Viegler (Cate Blanchett), can ‘find her.’ He flees, she gets captured, she escapes and finds herself on a rocky desert and meets a British faux chavette her age named Sophie (Jessica Barden), who suddenly prattles on about God knows what.
I highlight this part of Hanna’s journey just to say that I love Jessica Barden, who seems like a cherub in the trailer but she plays a precocious character as she did in Tamara Drewe. And she almost steals the show from Ronan, as she talks about MIA and other topics in breakneck speed, without caring if Hanna can understand her. She’s the comic relief with her bodily non sequiturs. But when it comes down to it, watching the latter kill full-grown men, she stands paralyzed, teary-eyed, knowing that she cannot copy what her new-found friend is doing in front of her.
Both girls are worldly in their own way, Hanna through the encyclopedias and languages that her father teaches her, Sophie by actually visiting [laces and immersing herself through the culture. One complements the other. What, then, does the film say about teenage girls’ relationships with each other and the overwhelming possibilities of the outside world? Or the independent, free-love parenting that Sophie’s mother (Olivia Williams) tries as an experiment towards her daughter, who probably isn’t turning out to be what the former exactly wanted? Or the dangers of the outside world that they have to face?
But it doesn’t need to think about those things while it’s offering to show us parts of the world. Hanna breaks a Fake Marissa’s neck and takes out armed guards, escaping a CIA prison facility. She beats up guys on a pier while loaders are driving around her. CIA operatives surround Erik in a Berlin U-Bahn – he kills them all, the audience applauds. Hanna combines snowy forests, Northern African country and city, Germany’s inner-city and abandoned amusement parks. But director Joe Wright, a trickster with his long takes and spinning cameras, doesn’t shoot those locales and the actors filling them with any slow-paced art film pretension. There’s wilfulness in making’ this mainstream action film, these locations thus making the movie more real.
That doesn’t mean that the film is just 110-something minutes of limbs hitting bodies, as it shows the character’s pain and its psychological effect as the outside world, intentionally or otherwise, attacks. Hanna ironically becomes overwhelmed by the stimuli of household appliances of a cheap, Moroccan hotel. Marissa uses one of her electric toothbrushes until her teeth bleed.
Marisa hires an assassin (Tom Hollander) to find her, but when that doesn’t work, these fractured women – Marissa can also be seen as Hanna’s other mirror/double – eventually meet and know that their survival depends on ensuring the other’s death. 4/5
In next month’s Vanity Fair, Angelia Jolie reveals that “[Acting]’s a luxury…. But I don’t think I’ll do it much longer.” That’s great. I don’t know if I have to take the literacy test again, but there’s either an insinuation or a truncation from other websites that makes me think that because of her influence, Brad will stop acting too.
See this face? This is a face that ages like wine. I’ve always liked him above everyone else in his generation, him and Russell Crowe. Let’s look at his generation. Johnny Depp is permanently in costume while Tom Cruise, Nicholas Cage and Russell Crowe are all in different wavelengths of crazy to be stars again. Brad Pitt’s also lucky to have pissed off half of the female populace and live to tell the tale. And he’s just gonna go out like that? Hell no.
Also, it’s surprising how the Pitt-Blanchett movie coupling works out. Would you ever set up a Southern goofball and a regal Aussie together? It’s like a ‘she gives him class and he gives her sex’ kind of dynamic. And $161 million in revenue and four Oscars later (one acting nom for Pitt in Button). Someone put these two in movies forever.