Entries tagged with “Nicole Kidman”.


Director has built a name of herself clearly distinct from the one of her illustrious father by describing the world of women, their fears and tragedies, their anxieties and ambiguities, their relation with the world of men and the results (in many cases tragic) of the clash of cultures between Venus and Mars. I expect any of her movies, wherever and whenever the story is set, to deal with these themes. The Beguiled is not exception to the rule, it even goes farther and digs deeper then her previous films.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5592248

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5592248

 

The movie is based on a novel by Thomas Cullinan which was already brought to screen in 1971 by with a cast that included and However, it’s not a remake but rather a different interpretation of the story, told from the point of view of the community of women gathered in a school for Southern girls in Virginia by the end of the Civil War, who save the life of a wounded Yankee soldier they find in the wood near the premises of the school. The whole story builds around the mixed feelings of distrust and human compassion, desire and sexual awakening, social and cultural differences between the wounded soldier () on one side, and the school principal (), her assistant () and the other girls on the other side. That was time of war and that was a war that changed America, in which social and class taboos were broken. The characters came to revelations not only about the nature of the enemy but also and most of all about themselves.

 

(video source Focus Features)

 

I liked the way the story was told and the characters developed, with the exception of the character played by who is supposed to play a key role in the change of pace and perspective in the middle of the action, but offers few arguments excepting her age and appearance. All the other actors – , , and especially give fine performances. Dunst especially grows into a fine actor undertaking more complex roles. The story building is carefully supported by actors work, by the sets (the mansion that hosts the school, the woods around with the nature threatening to take over the building same as the realities of the war threaten the close universe of the girls school), the background sounds of the war. The characters keep a useful dose of mystery for themselves, none of them is a saint or a full devil. They are human in extreme conditions, war made them political enemies, nature made them enemies in the war of sexes, but they find out that the enemy is not what they believed – for the good and for the worse. This story of reprieved passion that turns into historic thriller and horror works well under Coppola’s screen direction. Do we still need to remind which of the Coppolas?

I read that director Chan-wook Park decided to go into movies after seeing Hitchcock’s Vertigo. He grew up into becoming one of the most successful directors of horror movies in the Korean school of cinema and he now pays back his dept with Stoker – his first American film – which would not have made his master blush at all in my opinion.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0661791/

source http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0661791/

 

The story in Stoker has all basic ingredients of the classical horror movies.  We are in a small town and most of the action takes place in an isolated mansion. The father dies and the 18-year daughter has to deal with her personal trauma and with her mother who seems to be eager to forget as soon as possible and to start the next phase of her life. At the funeral the younger uncle shows up, an uncle the girl has never heard about before, who will stay in the house and take back a place left void by the father who disappeared. It sounds like a family drama, and up to a certain point it is, but the signs of incertitude are there from the beginning, as the descent into horror is not at all unexpected. Mother-to-daughter relations and the mix of grief and coming to age have seldom looked so frightening.

 

(video source Fresh Movie Trailers)

 

Acting plays a central role in the way Park builds his story, characters, and the relations between them. Each of the three lead characters can be considered a slight mis-casting, but this is intentional as none of the heroes really feels well into her or his own skin. Nicole Kidman plays another variant of her ‘beautiful mature lady in trouble’ type she specialized in for the last decade, with an extra touch of evil and despair. Matthew Goode is as disquieting as he is handsome. Mia Wasikowska is the one who steals the whole show, and as spectator I spent most of the film wondering who she really is – angel or daemon, victim or predator.

Chan-wook Park brings to this film the techniques and the atmosphere of the Korean thriller, but he transplants these well into an American story. He plays with the symbols of the American horror films tradition, even allowing himself a shower scene which quotes directly from Hitchcock (but Polanski’s influence is also present). I do not know what he exactly plans for the future and there are reasons of concern in my opinion because his genre of films is being under-appreciated by American serious movie goers and his style has an implicit and subtle violence which does not necessarily translate into enough blood on screen for success with the larger audiences. At some point in time he will need to invent something new to keep the interest alive, let us just hope that it will be at least as good as Stoker.

There are many ways one can dislike Nine . For example trying to compare it with the films of Frederico Fellini, on whose figure the main character in the movie is based on. Or trying to compare it with Broadway musicals, as the one from the 80s on which the film is based upon. Fellini’s films are unique, and by the time the great Italian director was making 8 1/2 Rob Marshall, the director of Nine was just born. Broadway musicals have their own laws of casting, of staging, of telling the story. The screen adaptation of a musical about the making of a film by Fellini is not a film of Fellini and not a Broadway musical. I liked Nine the movie, and here are my arguments.

 

source www.imdb.com/title/tt0875034/

source www.imdb.com/title/tt0875034/

 

Nine is a musical about a film in a film. We are from the start introduced in the atmosphere with an opening song where the theme and the stars of the show are paraded on the kind of music that builds the entertaining score of the show. The sets are the ones in the Cinecita studios where the famous director Guido Contini prepares his next film. It is just that his film is not at all ready as the producer expects. The director’s style of life is as chaotic as his manner of making movies. The personal history is a series of relations with women – from his mother (Sophia Loren, back on the big screens after many years of absence, still glamorous) to his wife, his lover, his inspiring actress, admirers, etc. Can he put all these relations together and make sense of his private life in order to focus on his art? Or maybe he is just destroying himself, and the people around him, especially the women he is involved with? I will just say that the result is entertaining and in my opinion does not make a bad service at all to the image of Fellini.

 

(video source HQTrailers1)

 

I started by listing the reasons one can dislike Nine, but there are many reasons to like it as well. These include the presence on screen of stars like Sophia Loren, Marion Cotillard, Penelope Cruz, Nicole Kidman, Kate Hudson, Judy Dench. They all look beautiful, they all act, sing, dance and create characters that are distinct and expressive and find their right places in the story. But before all we have Daniel Day-Lewis. Let me say that Day-Lewis is an actor I admire but I do not necessarily love. Well, I may be starting the process of falling for him – as I absolutely adored his performance here. He is passionate, he is troubled, he fights with his past and Catholic upraising, he loves and sins, he is credible. However, my ultimate criteria of liking or disliking a film is whether it succeeds to create emotion. And yes, Nine succeeded to make me care for its heroes, made me remember Fellini and wish to see again his films, and it entertained me. On the IMDB scale it’s a NINE.