Oscar History

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Dangerous Expectations

For what it's worth...

I saw A Dangerous Method last night and enjoyed it. With the New York Film Festival press events in swing (the festival proper starts on the 30th) and other screenings happening to the side we've arrived at our favorite time of year... Prestige Picture let out of the gate! As we speak, Michael and Kurt are watching Lars von Trier's Melancholia (which I've already seen and found fascinating and difficult to let settle) so you'll be hearing about these two movies shortly and later on when they open, too. Fall season is best because even when the movies aren't perfect they offer plenty to talk (and argue) about.

This adaptation of The Talking Cure (a phrase used in the movie unlike its new title) won't hit until November so my proper review will wait but I wanted to note straightaway that it wasn't quite what I was expecting -- almost stately, subtle and one might even say uptight to the point of refusing catharsis. Keira Knightley handles her difficult role well and without vanity, jutting her jaw out grotesquely and contorting her body to the point that it's even more alien and angular than one might have ever found it before. It's as if she's never read any of the critiques of her beauty. (I would like to note that I don't take kindly to the common hateful screeds about the actual looks of actors that are so popular on the web but this is rather like Sarah Jessica Parker -- who I personally love to look at -- agreeing to co-star in a picture entirely about horses.)

Freud (Viggo) and Jung (Fassy)Loved Viggo as Freud but was quite surprised to have difficulty with Michael Fassbender for the first time. I'm guessing that repression is, like depression, difficult to act in a mesmerizing way. For what it's worth my favorite male portrait of stifling repression is probably Anthony Hopkins in Remains of the Day who I would have handed the Oscar to in 1993. I am not overly fond of Hopkins so maybe I just have issues with male repression onscreen? A point of comparison: I was similarly unwowed by Daniel Day-Lewis when he made The Age of Innocence which is the picture my mind kept drifting towards.

As to Oscar speculation: I suspect that if there is Oscar play then The Age of Innocence is a far better comparison than Remains of the Day. But I suppose it all depends on whether AMPAS is in a repressed well appointed 90s period piece mood (they've kind of moved away from that lately, right?) and how the competition holds up when all the game pieces are on the board. 


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Reader Comments (18)

No surprise that it's a bust. Cronenberg going for normal will always be boring.

September 22, 2011 | Unregistered Commenter/3rtfull

Haven't seen The Remains of the Day, but my pick for 1993 would be Bruce Campbell for Army of Darkness. Ash Williams is a magnetic creation, especially in Evil Dead 2. (He loses in 1987, though, because of Withnail. Insane, Shakespeare quoting, drinking, smoking, manipulative asexual a-hole Withnail. A titanic performance of the 80s and certainly my pick for Lead Actor of the decade.) Silver of decade: Bruce Campbell, Evil Dead 2. Bronze of decade: Pete Postlethwaite, Distant Voices, Still Lives.

September 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

Nice to know you enjoyed it but most reactions were so lukewarm that I am 1/3rd as excited as I was before it premiered.
Did you also watch another movie and you're keeping it a secret? (Pressing your head on the wall)

September 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJames T

To all Fassbender's fans... watch this!


September 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

I saw this film at Telluride, and.... was incredibly and consistently underwhelmed. Everything about the film seemed miscalculated.... from the bright-white-daylight cinematography to the lackluster performances of the two male leads. I remember a lot of people said they had problems with Knightley's "overacting", but I thought she was doing what she was probably directed to do.... the problem is that the rest of the movie couldn't (and was incapable of?) spinning up to the same level that would have helped, er, justify, Knightley's constant wriggling/groaning.

My biggest beef: the script was ABYSMAL. So so so many awkward transitions and much too much dead-arrival exposition.... the film was shot in the foot after the first ten minutes of dialogue. Especially the end of the film resorting to sparring via voice-over of written letters, over and over.... perhaps the most "unvisual" way to screenwrite, when screenwriting is a necessarily visual medium. Also the fact that it made sexual spanking *highly* un-titillating. I shouldn't be bored by the sexual awakening of two characters.... but I really, really was.

September 22, 2011 | Unregistered Commenteris that so wrong?

/3rtfull -- um i didn't say it was a bust.

James T -- i'm not trying to keep anything secret but there's a lot of movies hitting (usually 2 to 3 screenings a day now... i can't make it to all fo them unfortunately. too many deadlines and life stuf)

September 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNathaniel R

(Releasing your head) I just meant that I thought you watched a movie some days ago. Anyway.

September 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJames T

I would have handed Hopkins the Oscar that year, too, just for the scene in the library with Thompson's character, where's he guarding the book he's reading. One of those scenes up there on my "favorite scenes in the movies" list (if I had such a thing); and one of the most erotic, in a strange way, I've ever seen (the old fashioned type of eroticism, all potentiality, the unspoken and unseen). I can forget about that scene for years and I read your mention of it, and it all comes back to me again. I'm glad I saw that one at the theaters back in the day, though; the subtly of the energy and the dynamic would be completely lost, I imagine, on a smaller screen.

September 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJanice

- How can you NOT love DDL's heart-breaking performance as Newland Archer in The Age of Innocence?

- What ever happened to Anthony Hopkins?

September 22, 2011 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

Everyone seems to talk about Knightley in the film only in relation to her "hystaria" scenes. Much less is being said about her calmer scenes. Are they unimpressive or do people think they're less important because they're not that intense? Just putting it out there.

September 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJames T

About the title: I wasn't sure I understood what you were saying about The Talking Cure. Was that the name of the book this was based on? I thought not because there is a book called A Dangerous Method about Jung and Freud, and I assumed this movie was an adaptation of that book. I think the author of that book was named John Kerr. It came out, maybe, 15 years ago?

September 22, 2011 | Unregistered Commentertimothy

"What ever happened to Anthony Hopkins?"

Cal - Touche. (Ouch.)

And I probably should have 'fessed that I actually have not sat through The Age of Innocence, so I can't compare the two perfs, and didn't mean to. I remember watching the library scene in Remains of the Day at the theater and I think I would have given him the Oscar right then and there, it took my breath away so. (Admittedly, the rest of the film is rather slow-going, which is why it doesn't come up in conversation anymore, I think.)

September 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJanice

BTW- Pet Peeve of mine Nat (and you know I love you and am a loyal reader, etc etc...) When you do up posts like this that look like they are going to be a review but then say "I can't really review I have to hold back comments for later" but then give little tidbits of opinion." I remember that with Rabbit Hole as well, I think.

Damn it, man, if you can't review it, then don't; just hold your opinions for an actual review. I can wait, and it'll be more worth the read than leaking little bits of opinion like bread crumbs on the forest trail.


September 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJanice

I totally agree with you all that said about Anthony Hopkin's library scene .. I remember turning to my wife and saying ... no other male role should win this year ... But alas! I was wrong. I now forget who did win BA ...

September 22, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterrick

Actually, the winner in 1993 was Tom Hanks for Philadelphia

September 22, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterrick

The Remains of the Day is divine. The movie would have won everything if I were King of Movies. Easily in my top 10 ever.

September 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSawyer

You say you liked Keira's performance, but you don't sound too enthusiastic - is this one that will more than likely not make your final lineups? Thanks.

September 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDanielle

Ya know, SJP is visiting Australia to promote "I Don't Know How She Does It" and the internet basically exploded into one big horse face joke when it was announced she would be attending the spring racing carnival.

September 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn Dunks
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