The Film Experience time travels so consistently between the now, the future, the distant past and the recent past that Throwback Thursday, that grand internet tradition, hasn't meant much. But then a lightbulb - "Throwback Thursday... Oscar Campaigns"
Remember Henry & June (1990)? Oscar and Uma anecdotes after the jump...
Some of you were undoubtedly too young to see the first major English language NC-17 movie, from a major studio no less (Universal) and a lauded director (Philip Kaufmann) with a topic (famous authors) and production values so glorious that it was even kind of awards bait. Or, it would have been had Oscar been hornier and the MPAA and newspapers and television stations and videochains and whatnot not been so prudish about the new "adult" rating. That year the Academy wasn't having anything too outré, though. They were in a very mainstream conservative mood, what with paying homage to an old winning crime franchise that had seen better days, dancing with wolves in a long dead genre, and shedding one photogenic tear for a supernatural blockbuster.
In the end the film only received one nomination, for Philippe Rousselot's sensuous cinematography but if it were up to me the rich costume design and Uma Thurman for Supporting Actress would have also been nominated. Movieline called Uma "fascinating" and the New Yorker said
Uma Thurman is sexy and touching... powerfully erotic in the best way"
Uma came in second place at the National Society of Film Critics and first place in my then-just-blooming actresexual heart. She enters with such vivid force (it's seriously one of the film images that's most implanted in my brain) that when she disappears for a long stretch of the movie, which would more accurately be called Henry & Anaïs (Fred Ward & Maria de Medeiros as the famous authors in question), you keep willing her to return.
Kevin Spacey is also in this movie but he wasn't yet famous enough to be listed under the FYCs. One of my favorite film books ever is Richard E Grant's "With Nails:The Film Diaries of Richard E. Grant" in which he sounds off his films from the 80s and 90s and on many of his co-stars but in a clever and amiable enough way that he didn't kill his career.
On Kevin, who he tries to spend time with during rehearsal so he can get his American accent right:
Spacey steadies my derailed nerves with a trot down his very vivid Memory Super Information Highway. He names names: who did what to whom and when and how, and did you know what a fucker this name was and what a doll that one was. Actor yak.
Kevin is waiting to play leads in movies, having done them in the theater including Broadway. His when-will-it-be-me? kvetch receives scant support from me. My nerves are all too grateful just to be enjoying a dose of fresh air.
Grant talks about Uma at length in the book: her bravery during read throughs when she's the only one trying an accent "full-pelt," her fussiness with the hair and makeup team. And he even obsesses over that same cinematic entrance of hers, the one forever imprinted on my brain.
Later once the shot is set up, Uma emerges again from her caravan as though she had just bust out of her chrysalis, such is the transformation. At something around six foot tall in heels, hair coiled and waved close to her head, vamp makeup with blood-red lips, and body poured into a sheath of black satin, she is nothing short of a Venus Coca-Cola bottle! Such is the potent effect of her silent entrance, that you can hear the collective jaw-drop of the cast and crew - fifty of them!
My jaw certainly dropped. I wish Oscars had, too.
previous fyc: Diahann Carroll in Claudine (1974)