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Entries in Rabbit Hole (6)

Tuesday
Apr042017

Tuesday Top Twenty: Ranking Nicole Kidman's Work

By Nathaniel R

Nicole at the ACM Awards this weekAs mentioned in our piece on the finale of Big Little Lies the internet is finally accepting that Nicole Kidman is a genius. Why they haven't noticed that she's been a regularly gripping actor since Dead Calm (1989) with her ascent into intermittent genius happening as early as 1995 (twenty-two years ago!) with her sly breakthrough as fame-obsessed Suzanne Stone in Gus Van Sant's To Die For (Golden Globe win, Best Actress in a Comedy) we will never understand.

But it is what it is. Actresses not named Meryl Streep have to go through this from time to time with people doubting their talent. One imagines if Michelle Pfeiffer is brilliant in any of her comeback roles this year we will get a raft of "who knew this 80s sex symbol, Catwoman herself, was also a great actor?!" articles and we will have to roll our eyes with a "anyone who was paying any attention at all!" answer and a weary shrug.

But it's fun to do quick rankings, so herewith...

Nicole Kidman's 20 Best Performances

The order would vary if the list were composed on a different day though the top eight would remain the top eight, give or take the exact numbers...

Click to read more ...

Monday
Oct142013

Monologue: Dianne Wiest x 2 in "Rabbit Hole"

As awards season gets into full swing The Film Experience will grow more Oscar focused by the week. I'm nowhere near as adept at prognostication as Nathaniel, but I reckoned it was as good a time as any to resuscitate one of our key features, the Monday Monologues. To make up for its absence, you get two quickies.

I was re-watching a few episodes of In Treatment last weekend and remembered how much I love Dianne Wiest. I’m sure you do, too. In a career of illustrious turns (including her duo Oscar wins) I’m turning my attention to one a little less feted, the supporting role of "Nat" in Rabbit Hole.

Rabbit Hole remains one of the most interesting curios in recent Oscar history. [more]

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Jun202013

To Nicole on Her 46th Birthday

Tim here. The career and talents of Nicole Kidman have been well-examined at the Film Experience through the years, but never by me. So I hope you’ll forgive the indulgence if I take advantage of her birthday to launch into a little celebration of my favorite working actress, one of the only people in the world with a legitimate claim to being both movie star and serious artist. For every big bit of Hollywood nonsense she deepens and improves with her steady presence, there’s an adventurous, even dangerous film that she makes with some of the most interesting directors out there, and she’s equally great in both modes, the odd Stepford Wives remake notwithstanding.

To celebrate, I'd like to share my 5 favorite Kidman performances, in chronological order:

 

Grace Stewart, The Others (2001)
I yield to no one in my love of Moulin Rouge! and Kidman’s performance therein, but this has always been my pick for her best performance of 2001, and not least because Alejandro Amenábar is less interested in ceding huge chunks of the film’s landscape to her than Baz Luhrmann. Providing the human core to an abnormally handsome, ultimately generic haunted house movie couldn’t have been anyone’s idea of a rewarding assignment, but Kidman dives with intelligence and restraint into the role of a stern matriarch, terrified by the empty old house she lives in. She turns out a leading performance that is deeply sensitive and wounding (that meeting with her husband!) while also paying scrupulous attention to the mechanical needs of the horror script. She’s especially good at converting the twist ending from something ludicrous into a genuinely moving moment.

four more after the jump

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Jan132011

Link Catches Us

NOTE: Sorry about the delay in the top ten -- probably tonight. maybe tomorrow morning. Depends on how the day goes. The writeups take awhile. But now... news and linkage.

  • The Advocate Rabbit Hole's John Cameron Mitchell (He never ages. 47!)
  • A.V. Club interviews Aaron Eckhart, also of Rabbit Hole. And in case you missed it...
  • The Film Experience ...that's my 11th favorite of the year
  • The Telegraph Bond is not a director's franchise, Tim Robey, reminds us as Sam Mendes preps Bond 23 (to be titled later obviously)
  • In Contention DGA's documentary nominees. YES on Lixin Fan for Last Train Home. The Academy really botched that one. It's one of the best films of the year.
  • Rotten Tomatoes gives out its Golden Tomatoes for the best reviewed movies of 2010. Naturally the animated films dominate as they're generally critic proof if they're any good at all. Though we're slightly weirded out that the best reviewed ten is very very close to the expected Oscar ten. What happened to the days when Oscar ignored critical darlings? My guess is both Oscar and Critics have changed, everyone moving to the center.
  • Serious Film Great use of pop songs in recent movies

Kerry catches usIf it interests you, Reel Talk has the complete NAACP nominees. Night Catches Us gets some nominations but no Best Picture bid? Just Wright is there, though with For Colored Girls, The Book of Eli, Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married Too and... The Kids Are All Right (???). Confusing. So for what it's worth, here are the actress nominations. You know how I obsess on the actressing.

Best Actress

  • Halle Berry Frankie & Alice
  • Janet Jackson Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married Too?
  • Queen Latifah Just Wright
  • Zoe Saldana The Losers
  • Kerry Washington Night Catches Us

Best Supporting Actress

  • Kimberly Elise For Colored Girls
  • Whoopi Goldberg For Colored Girls
  • Phylicia Rashad For Colored Girls
  • Anika Noni Rose For Colored Girls
  • Jill Scott Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married Too?

The message of the nominations is simple: join Tyler Perry's creative entourage. (I wish I'd seen For Colored Girls. I like almost everyone in it.)

Tuesday
Jan112011

Best of 2010: Prophets, Toys, Fish Tanks and Rabbit Holes

Previously: Honorable Mentions
(Short on time so the second half has to wait. Apologies.)

Part 1
The Film Experience loves nothing more than being transported by the movies. The year's top dozen (a baker's dozen) took us deep inside French prisons, soared over Viking villages, danced into British projects and stumbled into Australian crime dens. This year's best films wandered 'round places both far flung (wealthy Italian estates) and right next door (New York City's Lincoln Center wherein a certain ballerina frets and pirouettes and transforms).

 

Wherever the year's best took us, we wanted to go. In fact, we're ready to go again. Just let us grab that unpublished manuscript and a treasured childhood toy for the journey. And, oops... just -- updating facebook status. Okay, now we're ready. Let's go!

[mild very vague spoilers on The Ghost Writer and Fish Tank]

RUNNERS UP



Un prophète dir. Jacques Audiard
[Sony Pictures Classics, Feb 26th]
Last year's shouldawontheforeignoscar contender treads excessively familiar ground patiently, biding its time. Malik (breakthrough sensation Tahar Rahim) may be a criminal savant but Jacques Audiard is the alpha dog in this dank dangerous racially charged prison (and outside of it as well). The French auteur's always expressive cinematic voice makes full use of both image and sound. They flicker and pulse as if in whispered conversation, haunting each other with their most awful details. Malik's horrifying character arc from remorseful killer to skilled death-dealer is so gradual that you're as surprised as he when you fully grasp the new criminal ecosystem when exiting this prison.

Toy Story 3 dir. Lee Unkrich
[Disney/Pixar, June 18th]

This latest and hopefully last Toy Story adventure expertly capitalizes on nostalgia for itself. (Please don't make another one Pixar as you'll taint the beautiful full circle affect of this one.) Scene for scene TS3 is maybe both the best comedy and the best tearjerker of the year.  The only reason it's not in the top ten -- shush, I realize it's supposed to be -- is that its deep comforts and emotional potency are inarguably the product of 15 years of other movies and cozy familiarity with the characters. Its considerable charm and four hankie finale is not exactly derived from this movie itself. In other words, it's got an enormous advantage over practically everything else that came out in 2010. It's like when everyone declared the end of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith so epic and moving and pretended that the movie didn't suck while it borrowed its emotional affect from the Force being with us for 30 years. The difference here (he quickly adds) is that Toy Story 3 is a marvelous movie in its own right: inventive, hilarious, beautifully staged.

Rabbit Hole dir. John Cameron Mitchell
[Lions Gate, Dec 17th]
This is a refreshingly unhistrionic portrait of grief and those are rare beasts. Its unassuming strengths, and maybe that hushed release in the noisiest of movie seasons, might be the thing(s) preventing it from breaking out. Which, come to think of it, is reflective of Becca herself (a great Nicole Kidman) as she's always getting in her own way. David Lindsay-Abaire's expert screenplay gets so many things about grief right. It understands that those most in need of comfort often push it away, it gets the way righteous anger leaks out as freeform hostility, and it sees that strangers can offer clarity and windows to healing that loved ones, with their messy intimacies, cannot. This might not sound like fun but it's sometimes bracingly funny. Rabbit Hole begins with a shot of Becca opening a bag of soil while she tensely gardens. Mitchell's sensitive direction and the fine cast do the work, but they trust you to notice their eventual flowering.

Top Ten List 


How To Train Your Dragon
dir. Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders
[Dreamworks, March 26th]
Here's to happy miracles. When was the last time you saw a movie boy rewarded for using his smarts and intuition and accepting his peaceful nature? When was the last time the hero of an epic was a pacifist rather than a warrior? I won't hold my breath waiting for the answer. (Gandhi?) How to Train Your Dragon figures out how to have it both ways of course (this is mainstream cinema) and like Tangled, it trips on nervous bids at popularity: why do the kids speak with modern American snark while all the adults have Scottish accents? I haven't a clue! But its flight sequences are as magical as Avatar's and Toothless, the dread Night Fury is a brilliantly executed character. This is a personal choice but this movie arrived in my life right when I needed it. Our top tens ought to be a personal, else why make them? Dragon might be the best hug-your-pet movie since Babe (1995); it's not perfect but that'll do.

The Ghost Writer dir. Roman Polanski
[Summit, March 19th]
We never learn the name of the ghost (Ewan McGregor) hired to shadow and write about a politician under investigation (Pierce Brosnan) and why should we? The movie also plays it coy. Polanski's amazing sleight of hand alternately flashes us a political satire, a nihilistic comedy, a murder thriller and maybe even a drama about having a really shitty job for which no rewards or public acknowledgement will ever come. The Ghost Writer has memorably sinister interiors filled with sharp angles and splashes of blood red color. The exteriors are no safer as the endless stormy weather, slick streets and bodies washed ashore portend. Can a whole film be a red herring? It all builds towards the year's most brilliant ending, a vanishing act, a negation.


Fish Tank dir. Andrea Arnold
[IFC Films, January 15th]
Arnold's sophomore feature follows an angry British girl Mia (Katie Jarvis) around in her grim daily life as she hates on her family, picks fights with the neighbors, crushes on her mom's new man (Michael Fassbender, predictably excellent), and dreams of becoming a professional hiphop dancer. There are plentiful movies about downtrodden inarticulate characters each year but few this acutely observed. Even when Fish Tank risks going off the rails by willfully slamming into metaphor (the horse) or veering towards the edge of genre territory (an abduction) it works a peculiar beguiling magic. Just when you think the movie can't possibly resolve the gangly awkward impulses of its teen protagonist towards any satisfying conclusion, it stages a farewell dance that's both perfectly surreal and absurdly mundane. Wow.

..CONTINUE TO THE COMPLETE TOP TEN

Saturday
Jan082011

Podcast: "You Haven't Seen The Last of Us" Pt. 1

Consider this a reboot. A retooled second (third?) season, if you will. With a brand new website, awesome technical support (aside from blog import issues -- still working on it -- Squarespace has been a dream thus far), and the countdown to Oscar, it's time for the lost podcast to return home.

Katey, Joe and Nick have returned to help me kick off this year's audio Oscar-madness. Having been quiet for too long, our conversation spilleth over. Second part coming up shortly.

PART ONE (40 min)
Topics include:

  • the rebirth, the return, general silliness
  • Katey's Top Ten List and the drama and trauma of sculpting them
  • Rabbit Hole the actors, the screenplay, the direction
  • Helena Bonham-Carter escapes from Tim Burton (in the movies)
  • Hailee Steinfeld's stacked deck in True Grit (which category?)
  • Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams in Blue Valentine
  • Golden Globe zaniness and the Precursor Police
  • Matt Damon over and underappreciated.

Podcast "You Haven't Seen" Pt 1