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Entries in Jim Broadbent (5)

Sunday
Dec042011

Interview: Olivia Colman on "Tyrannosaur" and Mumsy Meryl Streep

British actress Olivia Colman speaks softly and with great modesty but perhaps that's wise. Her talent speaks loudly on its own behalf by way of ntroduction. Though British audiences have embraced her comic talent for years now, international audiences are just now getting to know her as a dramatic force. She's utterly devastating as a meek Christian shop owner in the violent drama Tyrannosaur. The film, directed by the actor Paddy Considine (In America), is gathering a small but very vocal fanbase who think Colman really ought to have a Best Actress nomination in her very near future. Later this month, she'll be onscreen again as Carol Thatcher daughter of The Iron Lady, but even if you exited the first movie only to immediately enter the latter, you'll scarcely recognize her from one film to the next.

We spoke briefly on the phone recently about her rising stardom, drama and comedy acting muscles, and having a living legend as a co-star.

Olivia Colman is a true believer in "Tyrannosaur"

Nathaniel: Have you been able to soak in all of this attention from Tyrannosaur? Your name being on the awards radar here in the US and such?

OLIVIA COLMAN: Not really. it's quite surreal. Because it's not my first job. I'm 37 and i've been working for a long time. So... [long pause]  This job means so much to me that I'm thrilled that people are liking it. That's the best thing about it, that other people are taking it to their hearts as much as we all did.

Nathaniel: Your involvement with Tyrannosaur goes way back. You were also in Paddy Considine's short film "Dog Altogether" about the same characters. Did this feel like a do-over? What was it like going back?

COLMAN: lt felt different. A lot of the scenes from the short were also in the feature and the reshooting of those scenes that we'd done years before were the hardest to film. It's weird because it's like an echo. You can hear yourself. You've already said it but years ago. It felt very different apart from that because we suddenly had a sense of a much longer journey. In the short I didn't know about Hannah's backstory at all. 

Nathaniel: This gave you a chance to dig deeper then?

COLMAN: Yes. It's lovely to get your teeth into it.

Nathaniel: In terms of Hannah's religiosity and her generous nature. How did you approach constructing her? A lot of religious characters in cinema aren't, well, sympathetic like this. 

COLMAN: It was so clear from the page. Paddy had written it so beautifully you just had to do what was written, really.  I knew who she was straightaway. Even if she hadn't been a Christian of good faith, she would still have been a good person. Her faith is sort of her protection and her armor but even without it, I would have known who she was.

Nathaniel: Paddy is such a brilliant actor but he's not in front of the camera for this one. So what it was like being directed by a fellow thespian?

COLMAN: Amazing! It made such a difference. I don't imagine all actors can direct at all. I think probably a lot of them would be terrible but he was so comfortable on that side of the camera. He knew how difficult he found it in front of the camera and he made sure we never felt like that. We always felt safe. He's an extraordinary creature. He would say exactly the right thing to get you to the right place. I've said this before but I think he could get a performance out of a log. He's amazing, just taps in. Everybody wanted to make him proud. And he's a great leader of people. A little thumbs up at the right moment would made someone feel 10 feet tall.

For those of us who don't act, we always assume that sets of intense brutal dramas like this one must be sober or difficult to be on. But maybe it's not like that exactly. 

The "jolly" Tyrannosaur team

[Olivia on working with Meryl Streep and Michelle Pfeiffer... AFTER THE JUMP.]

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Jun012011

Hit Me With Your Best Shot: "MOULIN ROUGE!"

In the Hit Me With Your Best Shot series we look at pre-selected movies and name what we think of as the best (or at least our favorite) shot. Anyone can play along and we link up. Next wednesday's topic is Fritz Lang's noir "The Woman in the Window".

But tonight, we celebrate Baz Luhrmann's "Spectacular! Spectacular!" which went wide on US screens ten years ago on this very day.

MOULIN ROUGE!


SHE'S CONFESSSSSSSIIIIINNNNGGGG!
She suddenly had a terrible desire to go to a priest."

We begin with a confession.

Though I was an early veritably possessed cheerleader for Moulin Rouge! since I beheld its genius on opening night at the Ziegfeld theater in NYC, though I saw it five times in the movie theater (a post '80s personal record), and though I named it Best of the Aughts when the decade wrapped, I hadn't actually sat down and watched Moulin Rouge! in full for at least five years. This wasn't intentional. I wrote about the movie so often from 2001 to 2005 that at some point I just put it on the shelf, afraid of breaking its spell. I worried, sitting down in the dark, the remote far from me as if I were back in the temple of the movie theater, 'would it still thrill?'

A silly question it was. From the first frames I was swept up. By the time Zidler and his diamond dogs came rushing at the camera (best shot!?!), a chaotic swishing mess of vibrant color, sexual promise and mashed-up music, I forgot to take any notes at all. By the time Satine, the sparkling diamond, descended from the ceiling onto the dance floor, I had completely blanked on the the "best shot" assignment. So, returning to skim again today, a decision: I would only choose a shot from the film's second half, which I haven't written as much about.

Moulin Rouge! famously borrows, sometimes with song and other times visually, from dozens of famous musicals but it's comic/tragic masks are not unlike the work of the great Stephen Sondheim. In many of Sondheim's most famous musicals, he starts out light and comic and you leave the theater at intermission for fresh air that you don't even need since you're already walking on it. Within seconds of returning to your seat, he's out to crush your heart. Into the Woods provides a famous and literal example: the first act, which is a play on famous fairy tales, ends with the "ever after" part. When you return for the second act you're left to wonder what comes next and that "happily ever after" part sure turns out to be a false bill of goods.

And so it goes with Christian and Satine's romance, which comes on, like the whole of Moulin Rouge!, in a heady hallucinatory rush of color, comedy and eroticism and then dives straight into tragedy after the (literal) romantic fireworks. Consider the juxtaposition of the shots above, one when Christian sings "I-I-I-I-I-I will always love you" (best shot!?!) and Satine is fully on board" and the much later shot of Satine, realizing she has to give Satine up singing "today's the day when dreaming ends" (best shot?!?) which she sings with her eyes glassy, not really looking at the caged bird sharing the frame, who we already know she feels a kinship towards (Someday I'll Fly Away). Both shots are audaciously clichéd, but that's how Moulin Rouge! plays it, boldly throwing ALL tropes at you and daring you to not reembrace them in a fresh dizzying form.

Zidler himself precipitates this vacant "you're dying"/ 'I'm already dead' staring and the longer I live with the movie the richer the Zidler/Satine relationship becomes. So for the moment, and there are roughly 100,000 shots worthy of the name "best" in the film, this is the one that absolutely kills. A slow cold zoom out on Zidler performing Zidler as The Maharaja (aka also the Duke) claiming Satine all over again. It drains the last life from our heroine. Art is imitating life and then life will imitate the art again.

She is mine. She is mine."

The cinematography by Donald McAlpine which so deserved the Oscars that year (sorry LotR), loves to shoot Nicole Kidman with blue light whenever she is bereft of love. Even in the "Elephant Love Medley" when she's first resisting Ewan McGregor she's lit in blue while he is glowing with warmer light right behind him. By the end of "Spectacular! Spectacular!", beginning with the exact moment when she coughs on stage, all the hot pink light which had been battling it out with the blue, vanishes to leave her like this.

She is mine. She is mine."

She always was... Zidler's that is. Christian was never able to steal her away, only playing with her in her gilded cage for that Summer of Love, 1899.

Madonna's classic "Like a Virgin" number is only used comically in the film, to mock the prostitute/john Satine/Duke relationship. But it could just as well have been used dramatically, with Satine in Christian's arms; thawed out, shiny and new. This beloved movie, ten years familiar, can still touch you for the very first time. It hasn't lost a drop of heart or magic in a decade's time. 

 

18 Children of the Revolution
Visit these fine blogs for more on this "Spectacular! Spectacular!"

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Monday
May162011

The Harvey Girl.

 Jose here with one for all of you Streep obsessives.... which is, hmmm, 88% of TFE readers? Last week The Weinstein Company acquired distribution rights for Meryl Streep's Margaret Thatcher movie The Iron Lady. Apparently Harvey Weinstein was so impressed with Meryl (duh?) that he just had to have this movie.


What does this mean in terms of Oscar? Meryl probably has it in the bag. Consider: Back in the glory days of Miramax, Meryl was nominated for Music of the Heart (one of the most forgettable performances in her oeuvre) and people like Émilie Dequenne, Julia Roberts, Cecilia Roth and Nicole Kidman were snubbed. Meryl had no chance of winning that year but still...

Fast forward nine years and Meryl was back to represent Miramax with Doubt. Difference is that by then, the company had nothing to do with the Weinsteins and Harvey was hard at work getting Kate Winslet her Oscar. Meryl was inarguably the runner-up that calendar year but it would be interesting to think how things might have gone, had Harvey been pushing Meryl and not Kate. Let's not forget that back in 01, Miramax (under Harvey) won Jim Broadbent an Oscar for Iris, in the year of Gandalf and Don Logan.

Harvey Weinstein is as much of an Oscar obsessive as we are and 2011 marks the 30th anniversary of Meryl Streep's first Best Actress nomination (The French Lieutenant's Woman). Will he be using this as an angle in his campaign?


Related:
Current Best Actress Chart (next update when Cannes concludes)
Streep Posts and Old Streep Posts

Friday
Apr222011

Streep. The Lady Turns Blue

A new photo of Jim Broadbent and Meryl Streep as Mr & Mrs Margaret Thatcher from The Iron Lady [via The Daily Mail]

This is apparently a recreation of her "The lady is not for turning" speech when she was at war with the unions. As much as I hated Mamma Mia! from her Iron Lady director and as much as I am largely suspect about this movie and whether it will lionize (perhaps accidentally?) an über conservative doing the kind of thing everyone is correctly pissed at the Wisconsin Governor for doing, I'll have to admit I'm getting more curious about the movie.

If only because it's so hard to read this far out. Did I underestimate it in my Oscar predictions?

Monday
Apr042011

Predix: Supporting Actor and The Matter of Young Leads

Jim Broadbent as Dennis ThatcherWhen it comes to blindfolded Oscar predictions, almost nothing beats the supporting categories. I have this vague fantasy of time travel and returning to propose all 10 supporting acting nominees correctly one April to reams of laughter from the internet. They can be so hard to see coming for so many reasons including: adaptations sometimes lean on different characters than the novels or plays that birthed them, ensembles are tricky because you don't know who will win "best in show" reviews, one lead films are tricky because the huge role at the center (The Iron Lady, J. Edgar) sometimes end up sucking up all the oxygen and other times have coattails. Then there's the small matter of Oscar being more diverse aesthetically when it comes to supporting work. Here is where comedy, horror, sci-fi, fantasy  and even comic book movies (Dick Tracy, The Dark Knight) can show up even though they rarely if ever get play in lead categories.

Kenneth Branagh? Christoph Waltz? Philip Seymour Hoffman x 2? Viggo Mortensen x 2? Armie Hammer or Josh Lucas? Ben Kingsley? Christopher Plummer? Jim Broadbent -- his Iron Lady performance already has tongues (and fingers) wagging -- Richard E Grant or Anthony Head? Nick Nolte? Brad Pitt? You can drive yourself crazy thinking about all the possibilities. Maybe you have?

The first predictions for 2011

NEW TOPIC: This is as good a year as any, I assume, to prove my frequent statements about Oscar's double standards with gender. There are at least three very high profile films with young male leads this year: HUGO CABRET (Asa Butterfield is 14 years old), WAR HORSE (Jeremy Irvine is ??? years old), and SUPER 8 (Joel Courtney is ??? years old).

Asa Butterfield, Jeremy Irvine and Joel Courtney

If you've ever doubted my assertion about this double standard -- some people have objected to the statements -- watch how these performances are treated this year while keeping in mind how Hailee Steinfeld's work was greeted in True Grit as if the heavens or the red sea had parted. The media, critics and Oscar voters are quick to shove aside experience and accomplishment in women when a "fresh player" enters but not so with male actors. My prediction: at least one of these three does work on par or better than Hailee's and doesn't get anything like her traction. Watch and see.

Obviously there are exceptions, as there are to every rule: There was no denying Haley Joel Osment's gift in The Sixth Sense (1999) although he did get demoted to Supporting and lost to somebody who already had an Oscar, and Justin Henry won a nomination at 8 (!) for Kramer Vs. Kramer. In both cases the films were absolute sensations at the box office. Dramas no longer explode with audiences like Kramer vs. Kramer did but in today's dollars its box office haul was truly insane. We're talking a domestic haul closer to the latest Harry Potter than a True Grit or King's Speech. In other words, even Oscar doesn't ignore the zeitgeist.