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Entries in Actressexuality (37)

Friday
Sep122014

"The Women" turns 75

Anne Marie here to celebrate a personal favorite. There are two ways to enjoy George Cukor’s sparkling comedy, The Women. The most obvious is to thrill in the delights of the best that a 1930s MGM comedy had to offer: an A-List, all-lady cast including Norma Shearer, Rosalind Russell, Joan Fontaine, Paulette Goddard and Joan Crawford; costumes designed by Adrian (with a Technicolor fashion show bonus), and lavish sets, from department stores to nightclubs to Reno, including a bizarrely beautiful bathtub courtesy of Cedric Gibbons. But strip the elegant frivolity away, and you see the true nature The Women: A claws out, teeth bared, no-holds-barred bitchfest.

The Women is social satire aimed squarely at the myth of love in marriage. Neither Clare Boothe Luce (original playwright) nor Anita Loos (who adapted the screenplay) was shy about uncovering the backbiting of upper class socialites. The fights get more vicious as the stakes rise for these rich women for whom marriage is as much a job as a happy accident of love.

The film centers on two knock-down, drag out fights.

ROUND ONE: Saintly Mother Mary Haines vs Perfume Counter Girl Crystal Allen in the dressing rooms of Saks Fifth Avenue. The barbed insults fly as Norma Shearer and Joan Crawford, MGM’s reigning royalty, face off.

WINNER: It seems to be a draw. Crystal doesn’t fight fair, but Mary gets a few blows in for motherly morality.

ROUND TWO: Old Wife Sylvia Fowler (Rosalind Russell) vs New Wife Miriam Aarons (Paulette Goddard) in the wilds of Reno, all pretenses of civility stripped:

WINNER: Miriam gets a scar, but she also gets Sylvia’s husband. Here’s where the film gets tricky: Sylvia’s presented as a comedic villain, but she’s also in the exact same position as Mary, losing her husband to a lower class woman. The fact that Miriam Aarons is the victor in the fight and in the audience’s sympathy makes The Women better than a simple divorce comedy.

Of course, these are just two scenes in a film with more insults and innuendo than a Hedda Hopper gossip column. So this weekend, paint your nails Jungle Red, open a bottle of wine, and watch the film while thanking heavens you don’t have friends like these.

Whom do you root for: Mary or Crystal or Miriam or Sylvia?  Post your favorite moments below!

Monday
Jul142014

Podcast: Katharine with a side of Bette!

In this special edition of the podcast, Nathaniel welcomes two Katharine Hepburn buffs Nick Davis and Anne Marie Kelly to talk about their (shared) first Actress Obsession. Naturally Kate the Great isn't the only diva that finds her way into the conversation. Expect supporting roles or cameos: Bette Davis, Cary Grant, Barbara Stanwyck, Tennessee Williams, Deborah Kerr, Spencer Tracy, Audrey Hepburn, George Cukor and more...

You can listen at the bottom of the post or download the conversation on iTunes. Continue the conversation in the comments.

00:00 Intro. Plus Middle School drama: Hilariously "intense" early obsessions
13:00 Types, Genres, and Suddenly Last Summer
17:00 Her autobiography and films she loathed like Dragon Seed
22:00 Chemistry and co-stars
33:00 Revisiting unsatisfying movies -- raise a cocktail to this peculiar cinephile habit
40:00 The Spinster & The Magic Penis
47:00 Bette Davis and why we compare them. Silliness before the sign off.

Further Reading
Hit Me With Your Best Shot: Summertime 
Nick's Hepburn Oscar Profile
A Year With Kate: Pat & Mike
A Year With Kate: Dragon Seed 
A Year With Kate: Christopher Strong
Me: Stories of My Life (Book)
The Making of the African Queen (Book)
Alex Von Tunzelmann & Self Styled Siren (Twitter) 

Kate with a side of Bette

Saturday
Mar082014

Beauty Break: Happy International Women's Day!

But, let's be honest: that's kinda every day here at the Film Experience. Therefore I have nothing special planned for it. Sorry bout it. I'd list my single favorite actress from every country but who got time for that? Instead a shout out to international readers and please enjoy these pictures of Anouk Aimée, Nicole Kidman, Maggie Cheung & Zhang Ziyi, Monica Vitti, Melanie Lynskey & Kate Winslet and more after the jump...

Tell us which actresses you'd like as cinematic ambassador from your country (or State)!

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Mar042014

Stage Door: Is Kelli O'Hara Obsessed with Best Actress Losers?

Here's Jose to talk about a currently odd Broadway trend.

People like to complain about the movies running out of ideas, with only remakes and sequels in production. But the stage is no different.

Here in New York, Times Square can fool you into thinking you've fallen in a time vortex which has dropped you back in the mid-90s. Billboards for Broadway shows adapted from 1990’s movies are all over the place (The Lion King, Aladdin, Kinky Boots) and two of the newest and biggest are for Bullets Over Broadway (which starts previews next week!) and The Bridges of Madison County. The latter makes me ponder the peculiar choices of its leading lady Kelli O'Hara. Is she secretly a cinephile or actressexual?  

More after the jump (help us guess what Kelli will star in next!?) 

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Feb012014

We Can't Wait #1: Carol

[The Film Experience's "We Can't Wait" series, highlighting the most exciting prospects of the 2014 film year concludes with new contributor Matthew Eng (you loved his Jennifer Lawrence piece) on the latest from Todd Haynes, long absent from the big screen. Thank you to Amir for managing this anticipatory series! - Nathaniel]

Carol
Set in 1950s New York City and based on the classic yet long-neglected novel of the same name (originally published under the title "The Price of Salt") by Patricia Highsmith (The Talented Mr Ripley), Carol traces the blossoming lesbian romance between Carol, an older, dissatisfied housewife, and Therese, a young, infatuated shop girl. 

Talent
At long last, that magnificent maverick Todd Haynes makes his long-awaited return to the big screen, a full seven years after I’m Not There, with a sterling cast that includes soon-to-be two-time Oscar winner Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara (stepping in for Mia Wasikowska) as the film’s central couple, as well as the recently-announced Sarah Paulson as Blanchett’s gal pal. Phyllis Nagy (HBO’s Mrs. Harris) is scripting, and movie maestro Carter Burwell (FargoWhere the Wild Things Are) is scoring the thing.

Why We Can’t Wait
If only the directors you loved most were the ones who were most prolific. Yes, it’s probably harder for a filmmaker as gloriously provocative and fearlessly risk-taking as Todd Haynes to get a new project off the ground than it is for say, Woody Allen or Tyler Perry to. But the movies need Todd Haynes, who hasn’t exactly been napping in the years since I’m Not There, even though his last buzzed-about effort, the 2011 HBO miniseries adaptation of Mildred Pierce, is likely to be remembered more as a mega-sized Kate Winslet awards-magnet than it is as a feat of occasionally flat but more typically immersive and intelligent filmmaking.

Haynes has assembled a rich, actressexual-pleasing cast of actors for Carol, including his I’m Not There star Blanchett, who, with this and Blue Jasmine, seems poised to have something like a Jennifer Lawrence-year in 2014, with two buzzy, presumably Oscar-friendly performances within only two years of each other; Mara, who I’d like to continue her string of smart and striking work, in projects more deserving of her than unsavory slop like Side Effects; and Paulson, who was so indelibly tense and terrifying in 12 Years a Slave and whose current career surge is a delight to witness. Carol, which caused quite a stir during its initial publication in 1952 for its uninhibited and unashamed depictions of homosexuality and female agency, sounds like a perfect fit for Haynes, who is one of our most groundbreaking gay filmmakers . He's made a commendable career out of wrestling madly and marvelously with explicitly queer ideas of desire, obsession, and identity. Plus, the last time Haynes worked in a fifties milieu...

...need I say more?

But We Do Have to Wait
Filming hasn’t even begun yet, likely due to the fact that Cate Blanchett couldn’t possibly provide us with the most priceless acceptance speeches of this awards season and deliver yet another tremendous performance, right on the designer heels of Jasmine. But have no fear, shooting commences in the spring, in both New York and London, with the Weinsteins distributing and Haynes’ go-to collaborator Christine Vachon and her indie outlet Killer Film producing. A release date is still TBD, but so very highly anticipated. We may never stop having to wait those grueling five, six, or seven years betwen Todd Haynes creations  on the big screen. But when they do arrive, they make you wonder how your moviegoing life ever went on without them. 

The Complete List of "We Can't Wait" Titles
We'll be following all these titles closely this year! Which of your most awaited, didn't make our list?
01 Carol (TBA)
02 The Grand Budapest Hotel (March)
03 Foxcatcher (TBA)
04 Under the Skin (April)
05 Inherent Vice (TBA)
06 Into the Woods (Christmas)
07 Snowpiercer (TBA)
08 Nymphomaniac (March)
09 Boyhood (May)
10 Big Eyes  (TBA)
11 The Last 5 Years (TBA)
12 Gone Girl (Oct)
13 Can a Song Save Your Life (TBA)
14 Veronica Mars (March)
Runners Up:  How to Catch a Monster, Hunger Games: Mockingjay Pt 1,A Most Wanted Man, Godzilla, Untitled Public School Project, Tammy, Magic in the Moonlight, Far From the Madding Crowd, and Interstellar

Monday
Oct212013

Hollywood Is Mean To Older Women. Let's Help Them With A Chart!

The news about Laura Dern playing Reese Witherspoon's mother made me giggle at first this weekend since she's the right age to play her big sister. But the more I thought of it the more it bugged me. Especially since it came hot on the heels of realizing that Tilda Swinton, who turns 53 in a week or two, had the role originally designed for the legendary Angela Lansbury (who is 88) in Grand Budapest Hotel. To add insult to injury, Alex reminded me on Twitter that Susan Sarandon will be playing Melissa McCarthy's grandmother in the upcoming comedy Tammy. Sarandon is just 24 years older than McCarthy which would make her a fairly young mother of the star but a grandmother? That means she and her fictional daughter were knocked up as pre-teens. Gross!

None of this should be miscontrued as me not enjoying myself some Dern, Sarandon and Swinton! But all of this reminds me that Sally Field, ten years senior to Tom Hanks, played his mother in Forrest Gump just six years after rejecting him romantically in Punchline. That's misogynist Hollywood's version of karmic punishment, right?! [more]

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Oct172013

American Horror Story Coven: "Bitchcraft" & "Boy Parts"

So Brad Falchuk and Ryan Murphy have finally done it. After years of wooing me with meaty roles for actresses of a certain age (meat served bloody raw) in their American Horror Story anthology series, I am down for watching it as it airs. It's been clear for some time that the creative team's orientation is fully aligned with the Actressexuality™ named and promoted by TFE for several years now. Thus, a natural kinship exists even if yours truly is squeamish about horror. I have been mostly agnostic when it comes to Jessica Lange my whole life (though I thought her "Sister Jude" on Asylum was easily her best work since the 80s) but when it comes to two-time Oscar winner Lange paired with Sarah Paulson, Oscar winner Kathy Bates, Oscar nominee Gabby Sidibe, Lily Rabe, AND Oscar nominee Angela Awesome Basset? Uncle! I surrender to your casting voodoo. 

Kathy Bates in "Coven"

Please to Note: I did try to watch the first two seasons but in both cases, I eventually bailed after a few episodes from the gore and the, how to put this, unwatchable epileptic fits of lensing and editing and framing. Listen, I can live with frenetic editing (you kind of have to since the late 80s) knowing that when I need a fix of long takes that let me enjoy great acting, I can always seek out auteur films. (Odd that it would be auteurs, who so thoroughly OWN their pictures, that would be the only ones to just hand said pictures to the actors on occasion). But it's not just the genre or the typical short attention span in cutting that has previously made AHS unpalatable for me.

The show, or at least the first handful of episodes of its previous seasons, often appeared to have been shot and edited and framed by a group of wild, bug-eyed, A.D.D. addled 12 year old boys... albeit uniquely pervy pre-teens who were raised in asylums and jacked off to photos of grande dame actresses while horror movies were projected on continual loop on the grey walls of their prison. The only break in horror programming was obviously the complete filmography of Jessica Lange.

...or at least the lobotomy scenes from Frances (1982).

It wasn't just quick cutting but canted cameras, baroque flash cuts, inebriated camera swerves, you name it. But let's put that behind us and move on to Season 3's first two eppys after the jump. Spoilers ahead obviously.

Click to read more ...

Friday
Sep062013

Greatest Calcium Deposits in Hollywood

Anne Marie here with some sculptural Friday fun. Recently, while watching Dick Cavett's immortal interview with Kate The Great, I rediscovered my favorite quote about Katharine Hepburn, or rather her cheekbones:

"The greatest calcium deposits since the white cliffs of Dover."

 

Hepburn undoubtedly had the best cheekbones in cinema history, but there is a veritable mountain range of other great calcium deposits in Hollywood past and present.

Here's a small smattering of my favorites:

Of course, this list is nowhere near complete. Who's your favorite broad with good bones?