Monday, February 28, 2011

There are no words...

So I'll just let David Fincher do all the talking...



Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Fisti Awards Update...

Yay, I just posted my Supporting Acting categories on the 2000 Fisti Awards Page...check them out!

Monday, February 21, 2011

A Performance in Parts...

There was a lot of hoopla made over ‘Man Som Hatar Kvinnor’ this year, and last for that matter.  Granted, a lot of the publicity and obsessing centered on the unfortunate demise of the novel’s author; Stieg Larsson.  Still, on its own, the films have become an odd phenomenon, becoming strangely mainstream.  I say ‘strangely’ because this is a foreign language film, and mainstream success rarely happens for films with subtitles. 

At the core of the success is rookie actress Noomi Rapace, although calling her a rookie now seems almost insulting.

Garnering serious respect and accolades for her riveting ‘three part’ performance, Noomi Rapace is certainly becoming a household name, even here in America (not only was she nominated for the BAFTA, BFCA and Satellite Award, which she WON, but she was also handed nominations and some wins with critics bodies and has landed a slew of upcoming features, including the sequel to Guy Ritchie’s 2009 Sherlock Holmes reboot).  I have heard some comment on her performance with a mixed bag of admiration and hesitation, and I understand that for the performance is really one I find hard to truly describe.  The fact remains that it is wholly dependant on each layer, layers that are presented throughout the development of the entire trilogy, and so appreciating her performance doesn’t come until one sees it in its entirety.

Lisbeth Salander is an interesting specimen.  I have yet to read the novels (I recently ordered them all from Amazon and so I will be diving in soon) and so I may not have a correct or at least a full understanding of her many layers based on the film adaptations liberties (assuming there are some).  Still, from what is presented to us on the big screen, her personality is truly three dimensional, even if it takes time to establish those dimensions.  The idea of a woman guarding a hurt-filled past with a rough exterior is not uncommon in film today.  In fact, it almost feels clichéd to a certain degree; and I must admit that the first stills I saw of Rapace in full on S&M gear struck me as a total stereotype and somewhat of a caricature at that.  I was not impressed and I was certainly anticipating something the complete opposite of what I got. 

I think maybe that is where Rapace’s performance strikes its first controversial blow; in the softness with which she renders Salander’s ‘edge’. 

In ‘Man Som Hatar Kvinnor’, the first installment in the series, we are introduced to Salander in a very direct manner.  She speaks coldly and firmly and with purpose.  I remember that it almost came across rehearsed, as if she was reading off a teleprompter.  It felt manipulated, far from natural.  She was putting on airs that she was this tough girl, but I didn’t believe her.  My initial thoughts were that the hype was undeserved. 

Even as the film progressed I found myself questioning where she was going with the character.  She came across progressively one-note and I felt as if her emotional resonance was nearly non-existent.  Even when she is assaulted (for the first time) by her ‘guardian’, she reacts with a sense of apathy.  There are no cracks in her demeanor.  And then, something started to change.  Within the horrific moment of her rape, she bleeds with such ferocious vulnerability that you begin to see the woman behind the façade.  She breaks down.  In a complete 180, when she returns to exact her revenge on her rapist, there is a light in her eyes that reads through her expressionless face.  Instead of coming across vacant and robotic, she came across lost in her own skin.

After meeting Blomkvist and entering his investigation, Salander almost seems to drop the cold exterior altogether, donning a much softer tone.  As she loses herself in her work you can see an excitement (self gratification?) that comes from uncovering the truth.  This is what really took me for a loop.  It was such a drastic change from the expected that I started to think that Rapace just wasn’t ‘going there’.  She wasn’t taking the performance or the character to the level it needed to be taken in order to be taken seriously.  By the time I had finally gotten around to seeing the film, I had gotten used to the idea of Salander being this no-nonsense badass, and instead she appeared to be a poser.  On top of that, she stripped herself of the whole emo look while lounging in the comforts of her home or alongside Blomkvist, and the midnight romping that took place between the two seemed out of place and fantastical (isn’t she a lesbian?). 

As the film drew to a close we are brought back to the hard edges of Lisbeth as she uncovers the truth behind a sadistic killer and, in a remarkable sequence of emotional flickering, she watches him die.  Again, I was brought back to the revenge against her rapist and the emotional sterilizing of her facial features that were betrayed by that spark in her eyes. 

I was so confused. 

Who was this woman?

With the second installment, ‘Flickan som Lekte med Elden’, the best thing that can be said for the character of Lisbeth Salander is that she is given room to reestablish her rough edges with the distancing of Blomkvist, whilst still incorporating the softness that made her more than one or even two dimensional.  In this second film, her character begins to expand texturally.  We see her outside of her emo persona, understanding that it is truly a façade and not a true part of her, and with the expansion of her back-story we are given better insight into the actorly choices that Rapace made with the character.  In fact, the parts of the character that made less sense in the first installment start to become realistic to us as we get to know the character.  It is the films climax that really allows the audience to get inside Salander, watching her confront her father and watching the same guiltless hatred well up (as it did in the aforementioned scenes in the first film), this time with the noticeable signs of pain.

But, for me at least, the real body of Noomi’s work can be seen in the trilogy’s conclusion, ‘Luftslottet som Sprängdes’.  Here, with Lisbeth Salander mainly confined to the hospital bed, Rapace chips away at the layers of guarded pain and suffering to truly develop the woman underneath that tattoo.  Learning to trust and understand her purpose, and seeing the light at the end of that long tunnel, Salander hatches from her cocoon and becomes a real woman.  She is still on edge, but it is softened by an understanding on her part of where she is in life. 

You can see the real Lisbeth fighting to get out of the faux Lisbeth.

As much as she developed while lying almost motionless in a bed, the real transformation came while sitting across from the man she reviled.  In the court proceedings, we see Lisbeth as she fights for her retribution, this time in a manner that is foreign to her.  Convinced that the law is the furthest thing from her friend, this 180 is just what was needed to atone for the wrongs committed against her.  Having her problems finally solved, not at the hands of a criminal’s revenge but with the swift justice of the very organization that instigated the hurt she felt her whole life, we watch her face soften in a complete way.  That sideways smirk when she realizes that it is over and that she was vindicated in the fullest sense, it is belated yet beautifully rendered with an uncontrollable happiness that she fights to control.

The way she removes herself from Blomkvist is also brilliantly played, because we can see that faux apathy creeping up on Salander as she resorts to her former way of dealing with life.  We see that the end of her problems did not undo that damage created, but when face to face with the man who campaigned against all odds to clear her name, we see the want in her eyes.  She wants to let him in, to really let go of everything and LET HIM IN; but she can’t.

Not yet.

By the time the three films are finished, the character of Lisbeth Salander feels like something unlike anything you’ve ever seen before.  On it’s own, these films don’t really flesh out who she is, but as a whole they give us something spectacular; and Noomi Rapace should be congratulated for emptying herself so readily into this role. 

I’ve mentioned this to friends, and it pains me to say this, but I cannot find room to nominate Noomi in my personal ‘Fisti’ awards for her work in these films.  Being that the films are separate and regarded as separate films, I don’t feel the performance segregated from its counterparts is strong enough.  Had the films been released as a 6 hour film all its own, I would hand her the win in nearly any film year this past decade.

In the end, I’m super anxious to see what she does next (not including that ‘Sherlock Holmes’ sequel, since I won’t be seeing that).

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Because my taste is better than yours, AMPAS...

My Fisti Acting Nominees for 2010
Lead Actor:
Christian Bale/The Fighter
Leonardo DiCaprio/Shutter Island
Jesse Eisenberg/The Social Network
Colin Farrell/Ondine
Ryan Gosling/Blue Valentine
Supporting Actor:
Kieran Culkin/Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
Michael Fassbender/Fish Tank
Andrew Garfield/Never Let Me Go
John Hawkes/Winter's Bone
Mark Ruffalo/The Kids Are All Right
Supporting Actress:
Marion Cotillard/Inception
Kirsten Dunst/All Good Things
Elle Fanning/Somewhere
Mia Wasikowska/The Kids Are All Right
Jacki Weaver/Animal Kingdom
Lead Actress:
Jean Do-Yeon/Milyang
Giovanna Mezzogiorno/Vincere
Julianne Moore/The Kids Are All Right
Tilda Swinton/Io Sono L'amore
Michelle Williams/Blue Valentine

Monday, February 14, 2011

Hey everybody, have you heard the news?

David Fincher just won the Oscar.  Well, he actually won the BAFTA, but we all know what that means!!!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Lead Actress Race: 2011!!!

I know that it is early, and I was going to wait until this years Oscars were done and over with before actually going forward with predictions of any kind, but with the new production photos of Meryl Streep and her soon to be seventeenth Oscar nominated performance in ‘The Iron Lady’ swarming the internet, I found it hard to resist.  It’s hard to know this far in advance, but it will take a tidal wave of catastrophic proportions to derail next years Best Actress Oscar race away from Meryl Streep and Glenn Close.  Two friends fighting tooth and nail for an Oscar, one the eternally snubbed striving for her first Oscar (Close) and the other, legend in her own time, trying for her third (Streep).  Who cares about the other potential nominees, right?  Well, I’ll be trying to put together a full list of my predictions next month sometime, but for now, here is a taste of who I predict (crystal ball in tact) to be duking it out for third, fourth and fifth place next year.

Glenn Close/Albert Nobbs
Rooney Mara/The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Elizabeth Olsen/Martha Marcy May Marlene
Meryl Streep/The Iron Lady
Michelle Williams/My Week With Marilyn

For some reason, this lineup seems most likely.  You have returning vets, a returning rising star and two newbies who will most likely garner a lot of attention and ‘next big thing’ raves for their performances. 

Rooney Mara will be riding on Fincher’s own coattails with his success this year for ‘The Social Network’ (in which she has a pivotal role) and the success this year for the Swedish version of ‘The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo’ will also help.  It is an abrasive and attention grabbing role, and she seems to be digging in deep, and we all know Fincher won’t be shy.  It will be the type of performance that polarizes, I’m sure, but I totally see her landing #1 votes for it. 

Elizabeth Olsen is already making waves with the Sundance raves that poured in for her performance in ‘Martha Marcy May Marlene’, a film about a woman who escapes the grips of a cult.  Add to that the fact that she is basically Hollywood royalty, what with her twin sisters being two of the most famous child actors in the history of the whole world (seriously).  Early word is that the film, and her in it, are spectacular.  You can count her into the ‘Ellen Page’ slot this year.

Michelle Williams is also going to benefit from her nomination this year for her stellar work in ‘Blue Valentine’.  This is her second nomination, and I have a feeling she is working steadily for a win.  A nomination next year for playing the iconic REAL PERSON Marilyn Monroe will only bolster her chances at a win with her next big performance.

But it’s all going to come down to Streep and Close, unless one of them bombs in horrific manners with their film and or performances; and then again, they nominate Streep for everything so I guess a total bomb won’t really hurt them.  I really think that Close will get this thing.  The whole look of the thing so far screams Oscar, and her recent regain of fame thanks to ‘Damages’ will only broaden her chances at a win.  I’m beginning to doubt that Streep will get a third Oscar.  She has two Oscars already, which is two more than most actresses working today.  She is a legend, yes, but I don’t think the Academy is as impatient as her fans to see her with another Oscar.

Honestly, as much as I LOVE and adore Streep, I can’t wait to see Glenn Close finally get what has eluded her for far too long!

Random Stuff

I posted my writing awards for the 2000 Fisti's, so that's up now if you're interested.  Um, I finally finished the Glee episode from the Superbowl and I am praying that Max Adler gets an Emmy.  Seriously.  I kind of love him.  He's taken such a cliched character and really acted the hell out of him.  He's so raw and real and human and relatable despite the obviousness about him.  I know he'd never win one, because the Emmy's suck (I mean, I love NPH and all, but choosing him over Mike O'Malley last year was ridiculous) but I can only hope and pray that he at least gets a MUCH DESERVED nomination.
For you Blasy, if you ever look at my Blog!
On a weirdly related note...I've developed a crush on my neighbor.  Um...don't ask me how they are related.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Fisti Awards Update...

I posted the Directing and Editing honors just a moment ago.  Things are moving along...slowly, but surely.  Next, I'll post the Writing awards, but that won't be till next week.  I hope you enjoy!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Fisti Awards Update...

I finally got around to updating the 2000 Fisti Awards page...with my thoughts on Best Picture.  More awards (all the traditionals minus the shorts and Doc's) to come in time...