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Entries in Willem Dafoe (27)

Thursday
Jul022015

Women's Pictures - Kathryn Bigelow's The Loveless

If you're new to Anne Marie's 'Women's Pictures' it's a weekly series that takes on a new female director each month. Previously covered: Ida LupinoJane Campion, Sofia Coppola and Agnes Varda. - Editor
 

Kathryn Bigelow & Andy Warhol in 1981. Photo: Philippe LedruWelcome to Kathryn Bigelow month!

Considering that July is traditionally one of the bigger blockbuster months, it seemed like the perfect time to delve into the career of one of the most famous female directors currently working. Undoubtedly, Bigelow is most famous for being the only woman to win an Academy Award for Best Director. In 2008, she and The Hurt Locker unexpectedly became the symbols of art "fighting back" against bloated CGI behemoths represented by Avatar, directed by her ex-husband, James Cameron. The irony of this is that before making smaller, serious war movies, Bigelow had made her name (occasionally working with Cameron) on action flicks. So, pop some jiffy pop, lie back in your recliner, and let's get ready for some gun fights!

...But maybe not just yet. Surprisingly, 1981's The Loveless is virtually devoid of any explosions, catch phrases, car chases, or fun. Co-directed and co-written by Monty Montgomery (who would eventually produce Jane Campion's The Portrait of a Lady), The Loveless is a biker movie that falls into genre cliches even as it tries very hard to shed them.

Willem Dafoe (in his first credited film role) plays Vance, one of a gang of bikers who stop in a small town to fix a bike on the way to Daytona in the 1950s. The presence of the oversexed, understimulated bikers sends violent ripples through the stifled town, but the movie takes a long time to build to its climax. First, there are scenes of nearly shirtless Dafoe staring moodily into the distance while smoking. There are homoerotic knife games between gang members. There are downright voyeuristic shots of the biker boys as they leer at women. It's a sex-obsessed movie, is what I'm saying. Just not in the way I expected.

There is either a lot going on in this movie, or nothing at all...

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Oct022014

NYFF: Pasolini, or One Day of Sodom

Our coverage of the New York Film Festival continues - here is Jason tackling Abel Ferrara's biopic Pasolini with Willem Dafoe.

This is a review of Abel Ferrara's Pasolini, but let me just start by saying that I loved Bertrand Bonello's Saint LaurentNathaniel reviewed Saint Laurent and he was more measured in his appreciation of it than I would be - I was bowled over by its style and its sex appeal. I loved it. I went into it with next to no expectations - I'm usually indifferent to fashion bio-pics, I haven't seen Bonello's other films, and Gaspard Ulliel's left me cold up to now - but near to three hours later I was a disciple. Saint Laurent tells the story of a gay man, a creative force to be reckoned with, whose flirtations with reckless sex in the 1970s led him to a muddy field, beaten bloody...

the real Pier Paolo Pasolini... which brings us to Pasolini, the story of a gay man, a creative force to be reckoned with, whose flirtations with reckless sex in the 1970s led him to a muddy field, beaten bloody. I took the long way around but I got there, bridging the two, and I bring up the way the two films shadow each other for more than superficial purposes - it's in the part about "a creative force to be reckoned with" where I see Bonello's film sparking to life while Ferrara's remains curiously distant.

Click to read more ...

Monday
Apr282014

Jane Campion's Gorgeous Cannes Jury

Cannes is but 17 days away and we'll have a TFE team member there this year! Alas it's not me so I'll have to be envious of Diana as she jets off to France in two weeks. We already knew that the brilliant auteur Jane Campion, who regained some cultural caché recently with Top of the Lake (she never lost it with us: Bright Star, hello!) would preside over the jury but this morning the full nine member panel was announced.

Joining Campion this year is a great mix of onscreen talent that happens to include a few people The Film Experience is generally just gaga for from left to right: TFE's favorite Mexican actor ever since Amores Perros, Gael García Bernal;  the future reinterpreter of The Little Mermaid, one of our favorite ladies Sofia Coppola (USA);  former Bond Girl Carole Bouquet will represent the hometeam of France; A Touch of Sin/Platform director Jia Zhangke (China) who I was literally just talking about at brunch yesterday; TFE's favorite Korean actress Jeon Do-Yeon (Secret Sunshine, The Housemaid); the other Mad Dane Drive's Nicolas Winding Refn (Denmark); Hollywood star, experimental indie fixture, and Wes Anderson repertory company player Willem Dafoe (USA); and Leila Hatami, the beautiful Iranian star of A Separation.

 I am in a puddle for this jury. LOVE. 

Tuesday
Apr082014

Top Ten: Lars Von Trier's Actors

Jose here with your weekly top ten.

 

Visionary. Lunatic. Nazi. Enfant terrible. Misogynist. Genius. Poseur.

Lars Von Trier is called so many things that we often forget that he's a terrific director of actors. With his strange sense of humor and world views, his films are often as alienating as they are enlightening, but actors seem to die to work for him. He's led three of his actresses to wins at the Cannes Film Festival and has injected new life into the careers of actors like Kirsten Dunst, Willem Dafoe and now Uma Thurman. Whether you're a fan of his films or not, his contributions to directing actors are incomparable. Now that both of his Nymphomaniac volumes are out in theaters (reviewed), it's a great time to look back

Ten Best Performance in Lars von Trier Films
(after the jump)

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Wednesday
Aug212013

Burning Questions: Does Last Temptation Still Have the Power to Outrage?

Michael C here to reflect on a cinematic milestone. This month marks twenty-five years since the release of Martin Scorsese’s The Last Temptation of Christ (1988)

Growing up Catholic I was taught that Jesus was both human and divine, yet the depictions of Jesus I was presented with invariably paid minimal lip service to his human side while emphasizing the holy. Flicks like King of Kings and The Greatest Story Ever Told presented a Christ with all the humanity of a figure on a stained glass window. The Jesus in these movies is forever staring off into the distance, beatific smile on his face, arms outstretched, making proclamations in the gentle tones of an easy listening DJ. Even his words seem to be walking on water.

It wasn’t until college when I saw Scorsese’s version that I finally grasped what it meant for Jesus to have the same frailties as the rest of us, rather than have a Jesus who appears human but who has none of the weaknesses of humanity. The troubled, doubting savior portrayed by Willem Dafoe in Last Temptaion bears little resemblance to the star of those comforting but shallow Biblical pageants. [more...]

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Oct182012

Oscar Horrors: "Max Schreck"

HERE LIES... The actor-or-is-he Max Schreck, brought to vivid undead-or-is-he life by Willem Dafoe in 2000's Shadow of a Vampire, nominated for Best Supporting Actor.


JA from MNPP here. When I started rewatching E. Elias Merhige's 2000 film Shadow of the Vampire the other day for the umpteenth time I was convinced that we first see Willem Dafoe's Max Schreck is when he's first being filmed by Murnau & Company - when he emerges from his deep dark tunnel, aka the hole where Murnau says he found him. I was wrong. The first time we see Schreck is a few minutes earlier when Murnau leaves a caged mink sitting outside said hole as tasty bait and Schreck's hands - white as moles, fingers long and sharp as stalactites - appear in the background and snake their way around the bars, enveloping their innocent prey.

Now I'm not one to talk about how an actor uses their hands - it makes me feel like Guy Woodhouse telling Roman Castavet about that "kind of an... involuntary reach" - but Dafoe's performance demands it...

Click to read more ...