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Entries in monologue (33)

Monday
Nov102014

Monologue: Cheng Pei-pei in "Lilting"

Andrew here.

Last week’s BIFA nominations saw a mix of expected names and surprises, but the inclusion I was most excited for was the citation of the quiet, lovely performance of Cheng Pei Pei in Lilting. Lilting premiered in January at the Sundance Film Festival to good reviews but it’s the type of smaller film, one in a dozen each year, that seems destined to be forgotten by the time the year draws to a close. It’s a shame, because even when its story falters slightly Lilting remains a thoughtful, and affecting, piece.

Like a profound monologue Pei-Pei has towards the end of the film. Up to this point in Lilting, Hong Khaou (writer and director) has elongated the crisis of when Junn will find out that her dead son’s friend, Richard, who keeps visiting her at her convalescent home is actually his ex-lover. Though it threatens to lag in the middle, Lilting begins and ends with aplomb. The audience has been wondering just why Richard doesn’t just tell Junn the truth. And, in his final big scene as he explains to Junn, Whishaw is fantastic. And like mother oftentimes do, Junn reveals she already knew Kai was gay and launches into a monologue of her own.

“It’s pathetic for a mother to fight for her own son’s attention. I felt so jealous of you…”

It's not so much a justification for Junn's passive aggression towards Junn, so far but instead an essential glimpse into Junn – a lovely clarification of this heretofore inscrutable woman.

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Monday
May262014

Cannes Monologue: Norma Rae

Andrew's Cannes-inspired subseries in our Monday Monologue tradition ends with Sally Field in Norma Rae, one of only four Best Actresses to win both Cannes and the Oscar...

 

Is Julianne Moore finally going to get that Oscar? Blame it on the human urge to tie everything down to laurels, but it seems that's biggest wishful-thinking question coming out of Cannes after the awards ceremony. It’s not enough that she’s recently joined Juliette Binoche as one of the few  “European Best Actress Triple Crown” winners –the allure of Oscar is hard to resist. Cannes and Oscar rarely measure up, of course, but it seems like a good excuse to look back to one of only two performance to manage both Best Actress wins in the last 50+ years: Sally Field in Norma Rae (1979)...

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Wednesday
May212014

Cannes Monologue: Certified Copy

Andrew with another Cannes-themed monologue… 

At 50 Juliette Binoche remains one of the cinema’s finest actors – excellent in multiple languages. Though her time in Godzilla (now playing) is short, we can look forward to much more in Words and Pictures and Cannes entry Clouds of Sils Maris, the latter written specifically for her. Can Olivier Assayas film capture as many of her finest assetts as her Cannes winning turn in Certified Copy (2010)?

 

Certified Copy, my favourite of the decade (thus far), is remembered most often for its cerebral nature, a puzzle we must solve. Yes, much of it is rumination on theory but it's theory with passion and feeling. For all of its technical and intellectual merit, it’s also a love letter to Binoche from writer/director Abbas Kiarostami. 

Given it’s musings on what’s real and what’s a copy, Elle (Binoche’s character) might not quite qualify as a “real” woman - her name literally translates as “She” – as much as a platform for Kiarostami and Binoche to examine temperaments, hers change at the drop of hat, and ideas. The film makes you work but is all the more rewarding for it. Late in the movie, Elle and James head to quaint restaurant. They are no longer an affable writer and beleaguered fan they were at first but a beleaguered married couple.

She heads to the bathroom to put on lipstick and a pair of earrings. When she returns he doesn’t notice, too annoyed with the subpar wine. She tries to quell his moodiness. [More...]

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Tuesday
May132014

Cannes Monologue: Secrets and Lies

Andrew with a Cannes edition of our monologue series...

The 2014 Cannes Film Festival begins tomorrow and The Film Experience is doing its part to keep things Cannes focused with our list of favourite Palme D’Or winners, Diana’s upcoming coverage on the ground, and more. To continue the party let's turn to the Palme D'Or winner that topped my own team ballot, Mike Leigh's Secrets and Lies (1996).

Brenda Blethyn plays Cynthia Purley, a woman who spends much of her time jabbering away (often incoherently). Like Anne Baxter, featured last week, it’s Brenda’s domination of her scenes that fool you into considering her scenes are more monologue-driven than they actually are.

[18 year-old spoilers follow...]

Secrets and Lies has a fine ensemble but it's impossible to look away from Brenda Blethyn's fantastic turn even when you want to - Cynthia can be draining, even overwhelming and exhausting to watch. Cynthia's arc is composed from a string of breakdown scenes wherein she's reacting to family secrets and issues and they are all pitched perfectly. The one which is most significant comes midway through the film when she meets the daughter she gave up for adoption some decades ago when she was a teenager.

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Monday
May052014

Monday Monologue: Anne Baxter’s Nefretiri

Hollywood's found religion again so here's Andrew on The Ten Commandments

Cecil B. DeMille’s The Ten Commandments (1956) is the epic by which all biblical epics should be judged. There's something for everyone: romance, drama, melodrama, religious feeling, glorious Edith Head costumes and a wide scope.  And, yet, despite so much to choose from and no matter the scene, I always find my eyes settling on Anne Baxter, my pick for MVP and the Best Supporting Actress of 1956 (she wasn't nominated). Baxter’s husky tones and lilting line-readings are so memorable that it's easy to reconfigure the film and the dialogue as a series of actressy monologues...

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Wednesday
Apr232014

April Showers: Éponine in Les Misérables

waterworks at 11. here's abstew on Les Miz...

Ever since the musical version of Victor Hugo's sprawling novel hit the boards, Éponine, the tragic waif whose love for her friend Marius goes unreciprocated, has always been a fan favorite. Her storyline in the musical is definitely the most relatable. I don't know about you, but I've never had to turn to prostitution to support my young child or served a 20 year prison sentence for stealing a loaf of bread. But being in love with someone that doesn't have the same feelings for you? Yeah, we've all been there. And this patron saint of unrequited love's anthem "On My Own" has become the rallying cry of broken-hearted teenage girls (and gay boys) for decades now.

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Monday
Mar312014

Monologue: Christopher Walken x 2

Happy birthday to one of cinema's all time greatest nutjobs, Christopher Walken. The Oscar-winner is 71 today. Do you forget he was in Annie Hall (1977) ? I always do until I'm watching it and he shows up in that utterly classic passage when Alvy Singer goes to meet Annie's family.

Alvy, this is my room. Can I confess something?

I tell you this because, as an artist, I think you'll understand. Sometimes when I'm driving on the road at night I see two headlights coming toward me fast, I have this sudden impulse to turn the wheel quickly head on into the oncoming car.

I can anticipate the explosion, the sound of shattering glass, the flames rising out of the flowing gasoline.

LOL. And back out of the room quickly!

Of course that's hardly Walken's only classic movie speech. I'm sure they're numerous but the other one I forget about for the same reason as Annie Hall, in that the movie is so rich that who can remember every passage, is Pulp Fiction (1994). Quentin Tarantino's breakthrough turns 20 this year and I often forget about that Gold Watch sequence. My memories of Pulp Fiction tend to revolve around Pumpkin and Honeybunny (my college roommate and I were obsessed with them) and Vincent Vega & Mia Wallace because I loved the Oscar nominated performances by Uma & Travolta so much.

Though Pulp Fiction's narrative is famously circular rather than linear, Walken's segment exists outside of even that loop in a flashback to Butch's (Bruce Willis) youth halfway through. He literally monologues for 3 minutes (which is a lot for a movie, trust) - a highly appropriate speech for a little boy who's in the middle of watching cartoons.

...so he hid it in the one place he knew he could hide something. His ass. Five long years, he wore this watch up his ass. Then he died of dysentery, he gave me the watch. 

What's your favorite Christopher Walken moment in a movie?