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Entries in Patrick Wilson (12)

Friday
Nov212014

Ten Great Performances from Mike Nichols' Films

Amir here. Mike Nichols was a true giant of show business, with a career that lasted more than six decades and sprawled across many different media and genres. Nathaniel's heartfelt eulogy already highlighted the dreamy number of classics he directed and the collaborations with Meryl Streep that resulted in some of her most memorable roles; but Meryl wasn't the only performer whom Nichols guided to career-best work.

Team Experience decided to make a list of ten great performances from Mike Nichols' films; we were truly spoilt for choice. If you want a testament to the man's sheer brilliance and chemistry with his actors, look no further than the missing names from our list. An equally long, equally illustrious alternative list can be made of the likes of Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate, Melanie Griffith in Working Girl, Philip Seymour Hoffman in Charlie Wilson's War, Jude Law and Natalie Portman in Closer, and many others. 

Here is our team's unranked, personal picks:

Anne Bancroft, The Graduate
Let’s talk about making difficult parts work. On the page, Mrs. Robinson is as slippery, duplicitous, and out-and-out a villainess as they come. But in the hands of the glorious Anne Bancroft, working with but also brilliantly against Nichols’ effervescent direction, Mrs. Robinson becomes someone different and deeper but no less mercurial or indelibly iconic. Fleetingly sensitive, impossibly stylish, and smarter than everyone else around her, Mrs. Robinson still makes life difficult for Benjamin Braddock, but complicates our sympathies and keeps a cryptic, critical, and spellbinding distance while doing so. That’s not just making a difficult part work; it’s making a difficult part soar. - Matthew Eng

Shirley MacLaine, Postcards from the Edge
When Suzanne Vale's mother comes to visit her in rehab we're not told that the woman we're about to meet is a movie star, but as soon as Shirley MacLaine swans in, we know. Adept at creating an audience wherever she goes, MacLaine's Doris Mann is a delicious caricature of the aging star: the Norma Desmond of the musical-comedy era. (Her "I'm Still Here" will floor you.) Her immense ego and her sincere motherly love coexist contentiously, with poignant results. Instead of hammering at monster-mother camp, MacLaine keeps her humanity close, never losing it to the absurd. -Margaret de Larios

Mike Nichols, Nichols and May
Before he was the wunderkind of Broadway or the well-respected Hollywood director, Mike Nichols was half of the smash comedy duo Nichols and May. Later in his career, Nichols would tell actors, “You made it funny. Now make it true.” This was his gift as a comedian: the ability to ground increasingly absurd situations - a phone call between a rocket scientist and his mother, a man losing his dime in a phone booth - in funny, true reactions. Nichols was the master of the exasperated double-take and the monotone quip, two skills he would later pass to actors. -Anne Marie Kelly

Mary Louise Parker, Angels in America
Upon winning the 2003 Emmy Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Miniseries, Mary Louise Parker thanked her "mighty" director Mike Nichols by explaining "you could get a great performance out of a quiche". She was right. In "Angels in America" he turned her character, Harper Pitt, from a thankless supporting wife into a sublime exploration of self-discovery. As someone trapped in a marriage with a closeted gay man, Parker beautifully opened up to Harper's fears, disillusionment and horniness. Nichols had her acting opposite CGI penguins and still she remained perhaps the most recognizably human figure in the film. -Jose Solis

Julia Roberts, Closer
Patrick Marber's crude barbs are spat from her mouth but Nichols' work in drawing Roberts into twisted versions of her romantic comedy smashes is equally instrumental in making this, I'd wager, her best ever performance. Roberts unleashes venom and allows her infamously angular features to manifest much of her character's ugliness, in a way that speaks volumes of her trust in the man directing her. She is at the same lithely sexual in a way she'd never been before; Nichols found the panther beneath the kittenish America's Sweetheart, an even deeper level of revelation than her Oscar winning turn four years prior, and the closest she's ever felt to reality. -David Upton

Kurt Russell, Silkwood
I'm going to relish this sentence, because saying it feels like such a rarity, but Mike Nichols’ artistry was so often and so brilliantly focused around women that it can be easy to forget the sensitivity and intelligence he granted men. Kurt Russell is not an actor known for subtlety, but in Silkwood, Russell finds something in himself that defies the rough and tumble box Hollywood liked to put him in. He's just as masculine, just as strong as he ever was as Snake Plissken, but there's a self-assured playfulness to his acting in Silkwood. He's looser here – sexier! – than anywhere else. Masculine posturing was irrelevant in Mike Nichols world, and for that and much more I thank him. - Teo Bugbee

James Spader, Wolf
By 1994, Spader could play the venal yuppie with feathered hair and a predatory smile in his sleep. But it was under Nichols, in this savage parable of the New York publishing world, that his stock character reached its height. Playing the human villain in a story about werewolves and still feeling like the most dangerous person in the cast is no mean feat, but Spader did it with smarmy ease, while being the only member of the cast to successfully navigate the film’s wobbly shift into explicit horror, largely because his backstabbing striver was already a fairy tale monster. -Tim Brayton

Emma Thompson, Wit
Vivian Bearing would be the second of three roles under Nichols’ direction for Emma, and the most significant. University professor Vivian may be dying of cancer but she retains her Thompson-esque traits – that slightly sardonic piquancy, the quiet dignity, the wit. But even as the affectations are all Emma, the performance is suffused with Mike, his warmth, his quiet effectiveness. The film, invariably, depends on their duet. Mike’s direction trusts Emma, giving her room and allowing her to devastate as Vivian. In a career of superlative work it’s hard to call Vivian Bearing Emma’s best but it’s a type of performance I’m grateful to Nichols for getting out of her, in touch with her usual sensibilities as an actor but pushed just further to become one of the most superior displays of suffering on screen. -Andrew Kendall

Robin Williams, The Birdcage
Williams was at his best when he harnessed his boisterous madcap energy into a fully delineated character whose quieter moments shaded his brassy zingers. His Armand, which could have so easily turned into a caricature with his loud shirts, his bushy mustache and his campy sense of humor comes alive with Williams' warmth: "Yes, I wear foundation. Yes, I live with a man. Yes, I'm a middle- aged fag. But I know who I am." -Manuel Betancourt

Patrick Wilson, Angels in America
In a cast full of established masters (Streep, Pacino) and future stars (Jeffrey Wright, Mary Louise Parker), it would take a truly great performance to stand out, and that’s exactly what Wilson gave in the miniseries that put him on the map. It’s one of the script’s showier roles, to be fair – a Mormon denying his sexual identity – but Wilson plays it with note-perfect sensitivity, confusion, self-doubt, and yearning. The actor’s subsequent decade of fine, but hardly complicated performances in limiting projects only serves to make his achievement here that much more impressive. -Tim Brayton

Wednesday
Oct082014

Linktime Stories

Cinematically Insane #DontTouchTCM when it comes to Turner Broadcasting layoffs 
Richard Kelly, of Donnie Darko directing fame, lurves Gone Girl and write a whole epic essay about it while also touching on Eyes Wide Shut and Fincher's music videos
In Contention interviews cinematographer Robert Elswit (Inherent Vice, Nightcrawler)
MNPP gives Quote of the Day to Michael B Jordan on his costumes for Fantastic Four. "snug"
Deadline Scarlett Johansson about to do an Edith Wharton miniseries that was originally supposed to be a Michelle Pfeiffer feature film in the 90s. *sniffle*

Empire first images of Mark Wahlberg, Jessica Lange and Brie Larson in The Gambler remake
Vulture the exact moment Jennifer Garner fell in love with Ben Affleck 
Antagony & Ecstacy on The Boxtrolls. Glad Tim loved it
Boston Globe Mark Wahlberg's compound is finished. Holy third nipple, is he planning to house everyone who has ever appeared in any of his movies?
IndieWire 11 things learned about PT Anderson / Inherent Vice at the recent press conference
The Dissolve interesting video about shooting sex scenes from Joe Carnahan. Starring Patrick Wilson! Who...speaking of...
The Playlist interviews Jason Reitman who talks about the initial indifference to Young Adult, his Labor Day "misfire" and the critical savaging of Men Women and Children. I haven't seen the latter film yet so I don't know if it's gotten a fair shake or not but Reitman does have a point about film criticism today:

When I talk to directors and actors, "Young Adult" is their clear favorite of my films. I don't think ten years from now people will go, "Oh wow, I didn’t realize "Labor Day" was a such a masterpiece." But what it has taught me is that I can't really gauge what a movie is in the moment. To bring it round back to ["Men, Women & Children"]: film criticism has become a tweet. The moment the movie plays, people are writing about it and there's no digestive period.  

We were right about Young Adult all along, bitches.

 

I love this bookOff Cinema
Arts.Mic on the good news on GLAAD's annual gays on TV report. But...
Slate chimes in with a a more dismissive response: why count?
Pajiba ranking Kyle Maclachlan's TV roles since Twin Peaks

<-- Encyclopedia Madonnica I backed this 20th anniversary edition of the book at Kickstarter. There's a couple more days left to back it and insure your own copy. The book meant so much to me back in the day before you could look up everything instantaneously and when there weren't elaborate comprehensive fansites to celebrities yet. Plus it was just damn fun with lots of trivia and silliness. When I first met Matthew Rettenmund (Boy Culture) here in NYC several years ago I was a wee bit starstruck because of it. And speaking of the big M...
Billboard looks back at the Bedtime Stories album for its 20th anniversary 

Finally...
Esteemed stage veteran Marian Seldes has died at 86. Her regal mischievious face appeared semi-regularly in movies and on TV but usually in tiny roles. It was the stage where she experienced her enduring glorious reign.

I unfortunately only saw her perform live once. It was Edward Albee's "The Play About the Baby" (which also starred David Burtka, pre NPH) a sort of abstract minimalist reinterpretation of "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" and she was a-maz-ing in it. One of my favorite stories about her comes from 1978's "Deathtrap" in which she co-starred with Victor Garber. The hit comic mystery became a controversial movie in 1982 (a gay kiss - GASP!) with Dyan Cannon and Christopher Reeve taking Seldes and Garber's roles for the big screen. But when the movie premiered, Marian was actually still doing it on stage. She was with the play for its whole four year run and NEVER missed a performance. Amazing.

Here are good obituaries at The New York Times and Playbill

Wednesday
Sep242014

Triple the Patrick

Manuel here to check in with “The Prom King” himself whose latest passion project films have been making news lately:

First up and still looking for distribution is Stretch, the Joe Carnahan film he shot in just under twenty-three days with Chris Pine, which is drumming up interest by releasing new images and new clips. Carnahan, who shot the film for Universal, has found himself needing to find alternate distribution for it, and from the plot description (and the weirdly fascinating pics released) one can see why: “The under-$5 million pic follows a chauffeur who’s deep in debt to a bookie. In the hope of scoring a big tip, he picks up a risky job ferrying around a mysterious billionaire (Pine) who wants to sell his book of criminal contacts. The driver tries his best to fulfill all of his client’s requests, but the night takes ever stranger turns, he starts to wonder if his life is in danger.” Sounds like a bonkers Collateral, no? 

On a brighter note, his movie Space Station 76 (featuring him and Matt Bomer in delightfully 70s garb) which premiered at South-by-Southwest earlier this year is now out on VOD and digital platforms. I particularly love the quick and dry synopsis offered by IMDB: “A 1970s version of the future, where personalities and asteroids collide,” as well as the Star Wars inspired poster art. Any of you out there seen this yet? 

Wilson in Carnahan's Stretch

Wilson talking to an R2 (?) in Space Station 76

If those two films don’t satisfy your Patrick Wilson-in-an-offbeat-film needs, you may want to wait until December this year when Tribeca Film and Well Go USA Entertainment will release Let's Kill Ward’s Wife. The just-acquired dark comedy was helmed by none other than Scott “Felicity” Foley and features, among others, Amy Acker (!), Donald Faison and Nicolette Sheridan, and centers on… well precisely what the title suggests. 

The cast of Foley's Let's Kill Ward's Wife

You gotta hand it to Wilson, while Hollywood was unsure what to make of him, he's been slowly building an eclectic resume, surely helped by the success he's found with Insidious and The Conjuring. Those two franchises have allowed him to indulge these smaller, odder projects. Any Wilson fans here anticipating any or all these titles? What genre should the beautifully sculpted Wilson tackle next? (Hint: I'm still waiting for him to return to his musical roots in something other than The Phantom of the Opera)

Monday
Aug042014

Beauty vs Beast: The Monster From Mini Apple

JA from MNPP here, and I think we've got some Charlize Theron fans up in here, correct? While we ache away on our insides for Mad Max: Fury Road to get here (May seems so far away) let's give her one of her very own "Beauty vs. Beast" tributes to pass the time.

I contemplated going the Snow White route but that seemed kinda obvious so the best Charlize movie instead. Jason Retiman's 2011 too-cool-for-Oscar flick Young Adult is endlessly rewatchable... as long as you get off on cringing through your laughter and watching a wonderful actress wield her beauty like a weapon.

One that cuts both ways - watching Mavis be stripped of her beautification accoutrement (those sad silicone inserts) becomes a perverse sort of deglamming that would have made Aileen Wuornos blush. And Patrick Wilson's no slouch - he always gets taken for granted as the premiere amiable suburban object, but Buddy's a sharp portrait of a dude who's never had to give too much thought to things having a whole lot of thought smashed his way in way too short a time.

 

You have one week to cast your vote for the prom king or the prom queen and let us know why in the comments - and give Charlize your birthday wishes while you're at it!

PREVIOUSLY Even though we tried to bribe you a little bit by showing off Tom Hanks' surprisingly fabulous gams, you were having none of it on the occasion of Turner & Hooch's 25th anniversary - slobbery though he may have been it's just a general rule that you're never gonna beat an adorable doggy. Hooch bounded away with just short of 70% of the vote; said Henry:

"As a cat person, I would ordinarily choose the human......but my fourth (or was it fifth) husband was a neatnik. I'll take slobbery over Felix Ungernesseryness any day."

Tuesday
Sep172013

Box Office Ten

No, no. Not the top ten actual grosses from last weekend but ten things worth noting.

1. Any article about this weekend's movies that does not mention Short Term 12 is just a giant waste of time. Expanding into 30+ more cities, this awesome indie climbed the box office charts escalating its gross to a healthy ½ million to date. Congratulations to writer/director Destin Cretton and Brie Larson (interviewed right here at TFE) and everyone involved with this wonderful movie. But most of all let's thank Cinedigm and their publicity team for really getting behind this one. Securing distribution is only half the battle. Once you've got a distributor, you had better hope someone really believes in your movie. And several someones did. 

2. Insidious Chapter 2 opened at #1 with a huge $40.2 million, making it Patrick Wilson's second smash hit horror movie of the year. He's found his niche, however different that niche is than I expected when I first fell for him.

3. The Family, Michelle Pfeiffer's pfirst leading role since Chéri (2009) and only her third in the past ten years (jesus!) opened in second place with $14 million. That's neither here nor there as openings go but at least she's in a movie again! We'll talk about that one soon. 

seven more brief notations about current movies after the jump

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Jul212013

What Did You See: Hauntings, Shootings or Snail-Races?

If people were actually going to see the new Patrick Wilson movie to see Patrick Wilson he'd be a bankable star instantly! But we know they're going to The Conjuring -- just like they went to Insidious -- because the audience for cheaply produced horror flicks is enormous and insatiable.  But at least Our Mr Wilson has found a cash-cow niche since Hollywood proper couldn't figure out what to do with him despite a) talent, b) a stellar singing voice, and c) matinee idol looks.

Patrick Wilson recording reactions to Vera Farmiga's Emmy nomination

TOP O' THE CHARTS
01 THE CONJURING $41.5 *NEW* 
02 DESPICABLE ME 2 $25 (cum. $276.1)...about to become the 2nd biggest hit of 2013
03 TURBO $21.5 *NEW* (cum. $31.2)
04 GROWN UPS 2 $10 (cum. $79.5)
05 RED 2 $18.5 *NEW* 

It was a rough weekend for The Lone Ranger (reviewed) which lost a huge swath of screens and fell out of the top ten in only its third weekend. Things weren't much rosier for the crowded field of newbies apart from the documentary Act of Killing which had the best per screen average and excitable reviews and The Conjuring. The latter has already doubled its budget where other newbies like the snail-racing cartoon Turbo and the CGI action comedy RIPD (Ryan Reynolds just can't open movies but Hollywood keeps trying to fix that) with budgets well over $100 million struggle to find an immediate audience. I hope that the disappointing totals for Red 2, which opened weaker than its predecessor though sequels usually build these days, and RIPD which looked like a plagiaristic reboot of Men in Black (at least in trailer form) with aliens swapped out for dead people, give Hollywood cold feet about greenlighting sequels or reboots of EVERYTHING ...but that's hoping for a miracle, I know. 

In limited release The Way Way Back is still building an audience and Fruitvale Station (reviewed) did well in its second weekend passing the million dollar mark. It goes wide next weekend and is surely hoping to win enough box office attention to seal its status as a talking point Oscar contender.

Last Chance! If you can find Frances Ha and The Bling Ring, two of the most unique and discussable 2013 movies, in a theater near you, do it. They'll vanish from theaters any second now and you won't see them on DVD for awhile and good movies are better in theaters anyway!. Only Bling Ring has a date (September 17th) announced.

What did you see this weekend?

Wednesday
Oct032012

"Into the Woods" Seeks Investors & Very Famous Witch

This happened Monday. (Thanks to Julia for alerting.) How crazy is that?

A live reading of Stephen Sondheim's wondrous "Into the Woods" shortly after its Shakespeare in the Park summer (with only Donna Murphy as The Witch transferring from Central Park) to raise interest/funding for Rob Marshall's film version. He's surely hoping to redeem himself post-Nine which angered critics and lost a ton of money at the box office and return to his Chicago heyday. But I swear to god if he makes up some stupid framing device where it's all a dream/fantasy...

I don't know about you but the idea of Patrick Wilson & Cheyenne Jackson as the eternally unsatisfied but self-satisfied Princes is to die for. The other names that most excite me here are Nina Arianda, Victoria Clark, Christine Baranski,  Anna Kendrick, Megan Hilty,... oh wait, I'd just type up every name! 

How do you read "Into the Woods" -- Did they talk/sing through their table read, stand beside the piano for Hollywood moneybags or was it very very short? Broadway.com confirms that this reading did happen as planned though the film version would obviously *sniffle* get an entirely new cast. (We once had a very robust discussion of who should play whom right here at The Film Experience.) Many of those names listed above are famous and accomplished and have golden statues of some sort and are amazing vocalists but you know they'll be thrown over in a second for bigger names with weaker chops.

Streep will probably get the role made famous by Bernadette Peters, and later played by Vanessa Williams and Donna Murphy

Meryl Streep is already reportedly in talks about the most coveted role in any production: The Witch (who raises Rapunzel as her daughter and sings "The Last Midnight" and the show's thematic anthem "Children Will Listen"). That sucks for the great great Broadway diva Donna Murphy who, to date, has only ever had one movie role worthy of her (The Witch... who coincidentally raises Rapunzel!... in Tangled) though she gets frequent tiny roles. But that's how it works for stage-to-film transfers. And Meryl does have a wondrous vocal instrument; I can and have listened to her tracks from Postcards from the Edge, Prairie Home Companion and Death Becomes Her on loop (Mamma Mia not so much). If rumors that Marshall originally wanted Toni Collette for Roxy in Chicago are true -- and why wouldn't they be cuz damn if she isn't great in musicals -- can't we throw her in this movie somewhere?