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Entries in Jane Campion (19)

Thursday
Apr162015

Women's Pictures - Jane Campion's The Piano

The Piano contains many stories. It is a love story between two outsiders: a mute woman, and an uneducated man. It is an allegory about oppression: a white landowner in New Zealand treats his wife and the Maori people like children or property. It is a study of conflicted characters: a repressed, oppressive landowner; his passionate, mute wife; the lower class man who falls in love with her; and her wild, intelligent daughter. It is a warning about the hazards of refusing to listen: a failed marriage, a soured initial seduction, and the climax of the film are all spurred by lacking communication.  The Piano also has its roots in the fairy tale “Bluebeard;” a sinister story about a newlywed who discovers that her husband murders his wives. But as we’ve seen, Jane Campion doesn’t do easy fairy tale morality.

Campion’s story opens with the only words we will hear its main character speak:

The voice you hear is not my speaking voice - but my mind's voice. I have not spoken since I was six years old. No one knows why - not even me...

Ada (Holly Hunter) is a mute Scottish woman shipped to Victorian New Zealand to marry a stranger, Alisdair (Sam Neill). Ada carries with her the two possessions that make up her voice: her headstrong daughter (Anna Paquin), and her piano. Alisdair leaves the piano, to Ada’s dismay, but a former whaler named George (Harvey Keitel) senses the piano’s importance, and shelters it in his house. He uses it to start an affair with Ada. Considering that this is a story set in the Victorian era, it is a welcome surprise that Campion refuses to make Ada a victim of anything (except maybe circumstance). But that initial image, the piano on the beach, lingers. The incongruous image of a piano on a beach sets the theme for the film - melancholy, and tinged with magical realism.

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Apr092015

Women's Pictures - Jane Campion's An Angel at my Table

With her 1990 film An Angel at my Table, Jane Campion solidified a pattern for herself. Her films would be about extraordinary women in stifling circumstances. Whether it is mental institutions, marital institutions, family, or society, Campion’s heroines have to overcome great difficulties in order to live truly as themselves. An Angel at my Table, based on the autobiographies of New Zealand author Janet Frame, stands out as the only film of Campion’s early body of work that could be comfortably called a biopic. But to dismiss An Angel at my Table as just another biopic would be to ignore the unusual film Campion has made about an unusual woman.

Janet Frame’s life was as strange as any of the twenty works she wrote. She spent her childhood poor but happy in rural New Zealand, grew into an awkward woman whose anxiety was mistaken for mental illness, spent eight years in a mental institution, was freed when her writing was published, and went on to become a New Zealand icon. Campion cast three actresses to play Frame as she matured: Karen Fergusson, Alexia Keogh, and finally the incredible Kerry Fox. The three actresses are unified by a shock of red, unruly hair, and an awkward physicality that show someone more comfortable in her imagination than in the world.

An Angel at my Table is shot in a straightforward style far removed from the canted camera angles and wide angle lenses of Sweetie. The practical reason for this was the film's humble beginnings as a TV miniseries. However, beyond practicality, this less showy camera blocking lends itself to grounding Janet Frame’s story in reality. Frame’s impoverished but happy upbringing, her nightmarish eight year detention in a mental institution, and her subsequent successful writing career are shown in mostly medium or long shots, with Janet at the visually at the center. Typically subjects are set off-center in a shot, because symmetrical framing looks odd to the audience’s eye. Placing Janet at the center of the frame visually sets Janet apart - reacting to, but separate from, the world around her.

Janet Frame's colorful inner life after the jump.

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Apr022015

Women's Pictures - Jane Campion's Sweetie

Welcome to Jane Campion month! When I asked you all to vote for our next Female Filmmaker, I was surprised when the New Zealand native won nearly half of the vote. In retrospect, I should have seen it coming. Jane Campion is one of the most honored ladies on our list! She’s been nominated for two Academy Awards (one of which she won) and two Golden Globes for The Piano in 1994, garnered three Emmy nominations for Top of the Lake two years ago, and she won the Palm d’Or in 1986, before our story with her even starts! We pick up with her three years after her prestigious win, with a sad, strange, sometimes silly story of one weird woman’s even weirder family.

If taken at face value, Sweetie is a cautionary about how a daughter's untreated mental illness can cause an already unstable family to disintegrate. But nothing in Campion's surreal story is meant to be taken at face value. With the help of (lady!) cinematographer Sally Bongers, Campion shows a gift for making the mundane malevolent. When cast under shadows and seen through a wide angle lens, plastic furniture, dappled rugs, and the brightly-colored trappings of middle class suburbia suddenly suggest something rotten in the state of New Zealand. Campion refuses to shy away from the ugliness of her characters, instead covering them with candy colors that make them all the more grotesque.

Jane Campion's twisted family story after the jump

Click to read more ...

Friday
Oct172014

What I have linked, I have linked.

Popwatch Julianne Moore tribute coming in January at the Museum of the Moving Image - let the coronation mark begin
In Contention Pedro Pascal for Ben-Hur and portrayals of Pontius Pilate on the screen
Salon what Gone Girl and Amazon's Transparent have in common
Interview talks to David Cronenberg
iTunes You can buy Norte: The End of History, The four hour acclaimed Philippines Oscar submission on iTunes now if you'd like.
Vulture talks to Kim Dickens from Gone Girl on claims that the movie is misogynist 

 

Awards Daily new trailer for Unbroken. I feel like there've been a lot of these
i09 compares Battlestar Galactica to Outlander given that they're from the same series creator Ron Moore
Criterion is releasing the classic The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant on blu-ray. Rainer Werner Fassbinder's movies are not available enough so this is great news
The Hollywood Reporter Clowns of America International (that's a real thing) is pissed about AHS: Freakshow's Twisty the Clown. In related news how come y'all didn't comment on the last AHS post. You led me to believe you were watching it!
Screen Daily Jane Campion developing a second season of Top of the Lake
Latino Review Actress Elizabeth Peña (Jacobs Ladder, La Bamba, Modern Family) has passed away at 55 
Towleroad Ezra Miller feels like surprise casting to me as The Flash in DC/WB''s superhero universe (unrelated: I'm enjoying the CW TV show of the same name thus far. It isn't great but it's light & fun, unlike Arrow which bored me silly)
Towleroad gays on television from ABC's hypersexual connivers & neutered comics to the wider queerness of premium and cable channels
Playbill that stage musical version of American Psycho is still happening and is now looking at fall 2015 on Broadway 

Awwww...
Times one thousand.

It's a teaser for the new Disney short Feast. This short apparently tells the life story of a Boston Terrier solely through his meals. It'll play before Big Hero 6 and we may be looking at a serious Best Animated Short Oscar contender. 

The Divas...
It's way too early to be thinking about Christmas but if you're an early shopper please know that Glen Hanson, an illustrator I just love, has designed a Liza Minnelli holiday ornament. Thanks to Boy Culture for the heads up. The proceeds go to Broadway Cares / Equity Fights AIDS.  If you want one you purchase here.

In other Broadway news, a special tribute to Elaine Stritch is coming on November 17th with performances by (are you sitting down) Patti Lupone, Betty Buckley, Christine Ebersole, Michael Feinstein, and my personal favorite of the theatrical divas of a certain age, Bernadette Peters

So who is singing what? They're keeping that a secret naturally.  

Saturday
May242014

Cannes Closing Ceremony - Live Blog

Cannes closes tomorrow and Diana still has a couple more pieces to share with you I believe, but now the prizes are handed out - here are quick notes from the ceremony.

12:45 PM EST the Jury has arrived which means the show is about to begin. Jane Campion is too busy to stand with her jury (at least at this second in the screencap)... and how have I never noticed how toweringly tall Nicolas Winding Refn is (far right)? I love his "who, me?" pose here as if he's aware of the disparity. This image alarmed me so much that I looked up photos of him with Ryan Gosling his 6'2" muse and Refn is yet taller.

12:49 Uma Thurman arrives with Quentin Tarantino and is wearing something like a white winged dove across her bosom... ooh, baby, ooh, said "ooh" ♫. Gorgeous as ever and I've always admired how bold her color choices are. Bright yellow at the Pulp Fiction 20th anniversary screening at Cannes and pure white today.

12:59 Timothy Spall, Mr Turner himself, has arrived which means we know where Best Actor is going (there didn't seem to be much competition for that this year (unlike Best Actress). Best Actor, Oscar Division, will have much more competition.

1:04 Xavier Dolan arrived looking very pleased with himself #whatelseisnew (I kid. Mostly. I enjoy his work. Intermittently he looks nervous but Mommy is definitely winning something)

1:05 Sophia Loren just had some sort of near wardrobe malfunction and is now holding tightly to her gown (perchance she tripped on the train on the steps). MORE...

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
May142014

Cannes Beauties: Jane Judges, Nicole Headlines, Amy Sells

We'll be hearing from Diana, our woman on the ground in Cannes, soon for her take on Grace of Monaco. Since I'm starting to feel human again (yay!) I'm back at the computer and hoping to be full speed by Friday. So let's check out the festival's first day. 

1. Jane Campion, Gender, and Juries
First a Red Carpet Lineup. Who wins your best dressed vote from the ladies of the jury? (And isn't it special that they all have such different styles?)

Coppola (USA), Yeon (South Korea), Campion (New Zealand), Hatami (Iran), and Bouqet (France)Lelia, Sofia & Jane

Campion, an outspoken feminist and infrequent filmmaker (let's get that new film rolling!) responded to questions about the lack of female films at the festival (which is famously very resistant to new voices, often inviting the same "masters" each time they make a movie... so we're talking lots of old men).

It does feel very undemocratic. We don’t get our share of representation. It always seems to be a surprise for the world when a woman does come out [as a success].”

Thankfully women are well represented on the jury and for the opening film you got two movie goddesses (Grace Kelly & Nicole Kidman) for the price of one... though most critics wanted their money back even though they saw the movie for free.

Nicole Kidman & Amy Adams & Lots of Photos after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Monday
May122014

Earth Girls Are Linky

Cinema Enthusiast double features Bette Davis & Miriam Hopkins in The Old Maid (1939) and Old Acquaintance(1943)
The Dissolve this sounds potentially amazing: Jonny Greenwood will play his score to live screenings of There Will Be Blood this summer and fall
Comics Alliance a brief very selective snapshot of Spider-Man convoluted history

MNPP says good morning to Rami Malek (The Master, Short Term 12). What do you make of him? I haven't yet formed an opinion. No discernible projected persona yet though that could well be an advantage at this early stage of his career.
/Film Joe Quesada talks about planning for binge-watching in series construction with Marvel's Daredevil series (due in 2015) 
Playbill because all big 80s and 90s movie hits will eventually become stage musicals (only 107 left to go), 2015 will bring us Bull Durham. If it's any good expect whoever plays Annie Savoy to win the Tony like Susan Sarandon shoulda won the Oscar (that she wasn't nominated for). 
Awards Daily Sashas surveys the very strong Godzilla reviews but then hoists a really frightening Oscar idea on us. Don't scare me like that. The Oscars aren't meant to be the Blockbuster Movie Awards (remember those?). Big blockbusters already get Oscar attention. No sense giving them their own category beyond visual effects. Look at how embarrassing those "genre" categories are at the Critics Choice Awards each year!  
Coming Soons Open Road will distribute Jon Stewart's true story political drama Rosewater starring Gael García Bernal & Shohreh Aghdashloo this fall. Yay| 

Today's Must Read. 
Serious Film the 8 kinds of awful people at movie screening Q&As. This is a good read to prep you for any film festival you plan on attending. Do not be any of these people. Sadly, they are legion. 

Weird Coincidence
Last night I asked The Boyfriend what he was reading and he said "this National Book award finalist 'The Flamethrowers'. It's about this woman in the 70s artworld and her Italian lover." And then this afternoon I read that they're making a movie of it and Jane Campion is in talks to direct. It's in the air, I guess. But The Film Experience is always YES for more Jane Campion. Let's bulk up that filmography which has been quiet all too long. 

Today in History...


Earth Girls are Easy debuted in movie theaters 25 years ago today. That was before barely anybody knew what Jim Carrey might look like under his bright red fur but when everyone knew that Mr & Mrs Jeff Goldblum/Geena Davis were a hot mutant thing, whether crossing interspecies intergalactic lines (this), giving birth to larvae babys (The Fly! ewwww), or sending up vampire movies (Translvania 6-5000). The towering 80s movie couple (six foot plus!) didn't make it too far into the next decade, though, divorcing in 1990.