Manuel here still recovering for a wonderful Pride weekend which I'm greedily extending for two more days with Bette Midler tonight and Fun Home tomorrow. Needless to say, movies and musicals, and movie musicals are on my mind. Thankfully, Amy Heckerling is here to tide me over, stoking Clueless fandom by letting us know she's finished writing the book for a stage musical adaptation of her 1995 film (though dampening the excitement a bit by confessing it's a jukebox musical to be directed by ??, of Rock of Ages fame). And so, since she acknowledged casting would be a big hurdle before we see "As if!" being uttered on stage, I thought we could help her out brainstorming names for the central three performances.
You've read the new Supporting Actress Smackdown. Now here is it's companion podcast. This month there wasn't an obvious theme as in 1979's gender politics, but we had fun discussing the films and genres presented from noir to Shakespeare to soggy memoirs.
- 00:01 Introductions and how 1948 is new to us
- 04:20 I Remember Mama is a George Stevens film? And how about those accents in Mama and Johnny Belinda
- 18:00 Why did Key Largo only get one nomination -was it the noir thing?
- 21:00 Stage & Cinema - they're all play adaptations but Key Largo and Hamlet both have an Ophelia! Shakespeare archetypes and Orson Welles
- 33:00 Claire Trevor in Raw Deal (1948)
- 36:00 Alternate nominees plus other 1948 films we like: Easter Parade, Cry of the City and Red River.
- 40:00 Goodbyes and remake/recasting pitches from 1948
You can listen to the podcast here at the bottom of the post or download from iTunes. Please continue the conversation in the comments. Who would you have nominated in 1948 for the big categories -- particularly in supporting? Which of the four main films we discussed is your favorite?
And how about that Ann Miller in Easter Parade?
P.S. Further reading. During our 1948 month we looked at five additional films ICYMI: The Red Shoes, Letter From an Unknown Woman,the animated shorts of the year, Treasure of the Sierra Madre and Sorry Wrong Number
P.P.S. The next smackdown at the end of July is 1995 so make sure to watch Sense & Sensibility, Mighty Aphrodite, Georgia, Apollo 13, and Nixon this month for a refresher.
Weird. Despite a lot of love for Seth MacFarlane's Ted (2012) just three years ago its sequel significantly underperformed with a much weaker opening... like $21 whole million weaker. I say weird because nowadays audiences tend to run screaming with wallets wide open to anything sequelish that they liked before. Witness the explosive returns for Pitch Perfect 2 (which has tripled the gross of its predecessor... also three years old). Speaking of sequels... Jurassic World is now the biggest grosser of 2015 and its only in its 3rd weekend with a typically huge box office holiday fast approaching. The weird thing is that people don't seem to love it. They only seem to love being able to return to that park... which bodes really well for Jurassic Park-World 5,6,7, etcetera one supposes.
Magic Mike XXL and Terminator 5 arrive Wednesday but neither are as family oriented as the current top two so the holiday week could well be huge for all four. Unless Terminator G goes the way of Ted 2 under the 'nah, been there' umbrella?
WIDE RELEASE BOX OFFICE
June 26th-28th Weekend
01 Jurassic World $54.2 (cum. $500) Jurassic Articles
02 Inside Out $52.1 (cum. $184.9) Inside Out Articles
03 Ted 2 NEW $33
04 Max NEW $12.2
05 Spy $7.8 (cum. $88.3) Rose Byrne FYC
06 San Andreas $5.2 (cum. $141.8)
07 Dope $2.8 (cum. $11.7) Sundance capsule
08 Insidious Chapter 3 $2 (cum. $49.7)
09 Mad Max: Fury Road $1.7 (cum. $147) Review & Podcast & Random Articles
10 Avengers: Age of Ultron $1.6 (cum. $452.4) Review & Marathon & Podcast
Jurassic World is the first film to hit $500 million in US theaters since The Avengers (2012). The latter went on to gross $623.3 million but it took a week longer to hit the half billion mark. Jurassic World may well surpass The Avengers but I hope Avatar's $749 million US record is safe since Jurassic World would be a really lame #1 of all time since it's basically a remake. Finally, incredibly Cinderella is still in theaters, albeit only 235 of them, but in its 16th week it has now passed the $200 million mark and seems likely to end the year in the box office top ten (it's number #4 right this moment but will soon slip a rung). The fairy tale doesn't come to BluRay and DVD until September 15th.
What did you see this weekend?
Presenting the Supporting Actresses of '48. A young writer, a drunken chanteuse, two spinster aunties, and a girl who never gets to the nunnery.
1948 is so basic. A typical Best Supporting Actress shortlist looks almost exactly like this: an actress whose paid her dues finally getting a plum opportunity (hello usually uncredited Ellen Corby in I Remember Mama finally stepping into the limelight), a rapidly rising star (Jean Simmons in Hamlet, not her first attention grabbing role in the late 40s), a fresh ingenue in a popular picture (Meet Barbara Bel Geddes in I Remember Mama), and if you're lucky in a good year a couple of revered character actresses to class up the shortlist joint (Agnes Moorehead in Johnny Belinda and Claire Trevor in Key Largo). And within that mix you'll usually have a protagonist demoted to "supporting" and Best Picture heat helping at least a few of them find a seat at the table. All of that is true for 1948. What isn't so typical is a supporting actress winning on a picture's sole nomination and that happened here. Key Largo has aged well but Oscar didn't have any time for it back then outside of Trevor's drunk despair. The other three pictures had 24 nominations between them!
Here to talk about these five turns are screenwriter/author Abdi Nazemian ("The Walk in Closet"), film blogger Catherine Stebbins (Cinema Enthusiast), freelance journalist Joe Reid, film critic Tim Robey (The Telegraph), and your host Nathaniel R (The Film Experience). In addition to this write up we recorded a companion podcast where we flesh out some of these thoughts and expound on the movies themselves.
Without further ado...
SUPPORTING ACTRESS SMACKDOWN
BARBARA BEL GEDDES as "Katrin" in I Remember Mama
Synopsis: A teenager who dreams of being a writer finds source material in her immigrant mother
Stats: Then 26 yrs old, 2nd film, first and only nomination. 72 minutes of screen time (or 54% of running time).
Abdi Nazemian: She carries much of the emotional life of the film, but I found the film unbearably sentimental (this from a man who loves Andy Hardy movies and Little Women). She lacks the unique quirks that young actors like Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney brought to the same kinds of roles, and gives us a bland portrayal of adolescence. Of all the nominated actresses, she was given the most screen time, and did the least with it. ♥
Catherine Stebbins: One of these days I’ll figure out why I’m always so drawn to Bel Geddes. She has a lot of screen time as Katrin, given the unenviable task of holding up the film’s relentless episodic nostalgia. She is narrator, observer, worshiper, and an adult playing an adolescent. Katrin constantly looks at her mother, whether in the background or foreground, with reverent awe. Bel Geddes plays this with a partial cognizance that Katrin is in the gently reenacted memories of her past. ♥♥♥
Joe Reid: I can see how, if you were swept up in the homey charms of George Stevens' film, you'd want to throw accolades at Bel Geddes, who plays such an observant window onto the life of her saintly mother. Her hushed voice-over gets to the gauzy-memoir nature of the story effectively, but I'm not sure the performance ever gets much farther than doe-eyed wonderment. ♥♥
Tim Robey: Saddled with just about the hoariest framing narration in film history, and doing little to lift it out of sanctified goo, Barbara has a near-impossible task here – making the terminally precious Katrin and her “gifted” (read: soporific) memoirs interesting. She can’t win, but we still need something more than a voice like tree sap to get us through this. In overegged close-ups she’s weirdly divorced from real-time engagement with her scenes, and every co-star seems faintly embarrassed about what to do with her. ♥
Nathaniel R: In the movie's crowded frames, you can often see just her hair or the back of her head; unfortunately her full closeups aren't that much more expressive, generally landing a single emotion. The narration is even stiffer like she's reading to a very small child from an immobile body cast. (The direction and screenplay all but force this stiff repetitiveness though, so it's not all on her) She aces warm awestruck looks at goddess Irene Dunne, but... I mean... who doesn't? ♥
Reader Write-Ins: "She is telling THEIR story, which she happens to be in. Therefore she is bland, quiet, blending to the background so others can showcase themselves." - Tom (Reader average: ♥♥¼)
Actress earns 10¼ ❤s
It's time for another round of reader questions, so, ask yours in the comments. There's no particular theme for the questions this week but we need a new banner so the "question of the week" recipient will get to choose our next theme. I'll answer a handful or so of your questions on Tuesday.
P.S. On Tuesday or Wednesday we'll start a few days of "Halfway Mark - Year Thus Far" festivities. If you'd like a teaser check out my new piece at Towleroad where I look at the year through the lens of Inside Out's emotions (and no, as you may have guessed, I didn't much like Jurassic World). Naturally we'll go into more cinema nerd detail here by naming Best Performances and the like.
We've taken the weekend off but for the big 1948 Smackdown tomorrow... which is plenty!
But what's on your cinematic mind in this crazy joyful weekend of SCOTUS rulings, unprecedented Presidential speeches ("Amazing Grace" - just...wow), and parades? Will you have time for movies?
Is any particular movie/actor/director/theme on your mind?
With the Kate Winslet romantic drama A Little Chaos in select theaters and on VOD, we're seeing Matthias Schoenaerts as the Romance Novel Ready Cover Boy twice over this year since Far From the Madding Crowd already passed us by. If they ever release Suite Française in which he co-stars with Michelle Williams we'll have three swoony Schoenaerts fantasies in one year in which he falls for beautiful recent Best Actress nominees.
So how familiar you are with Belgium's greatest export? He first came to our attention in the Oscar nominated Belgian drama Bullhead (2011) though in truth we had seen him before in Paul Verhoeven's undervalued Dutch WWII thriller Black Book. (2006). But since that movie was all about Carice Van Houten & Michel Huisman erotic fantasies (at least it was for yours truly -- they were both later coopted by Game of Thrones as Melisandre and Dario Naharis, respectively) I'll admit that I didn't glom on to him right then.
Did I ever tell you I met him? That story and movie posters after the jump...