Thursday, March 01, 2007

Puzzlement, Tripled

Things I've read recently that puzzle me

Re: Zodiac David Fincher's quote on the arduous multiple takes required of his actors for this new drama
I hate earnestness in performance...usually by Take 17 the earnestness is gone.
and Gyllenhaal's professed bewilderment at the same has already been heavily blogged elsewhere. But here's what I'm thinking. If you strip away the negative connotations you might have for the word "earnest" isn't that an adjective that perfectly describes Mr. Gyllenhaal's acting style? And so it begs the question: Had David Fincher ever seen any of Jake Gyllenhaal's work before casting him?

Re: Jennifer Hudson The Boston Globe thinks she's headed for obscurity. "Try to imagine for a moment Hudson in another role, especially a non-singing one." But here's my question. Wasn't this obvious from moment one? Her dream was to become a singer, not a movie star. I fell in love with her back in the AI days (my favorite contestant from any season by a mile) and i don't remember any 'this is my ticket to movie stardom!' ambitions playing out. I'm kind of surprised that people thought that getting raves for singing (amazingly well) in a movie when you've never so much as acted in a school play meant that you would have a big film career? Isn't that why so many cinephiles bitched about her dominance in awards season: that acting Oscars should be given for acting rather than 'dreams come true' hooks or other noteworthy talents?

More interesting is this writers contention that she's not going to have a big music career either. Don't know that I agree but that's something worth debating. People will chalk up her future lack of films to the infamous "supporting actress curse" but in reality, it's just this: she's a singer by ambition and talent, an actress by detour --but also as way of fulfilling singing ambition.

Re: Sweeney Todd David Poland writes a few days ago that word from the set about Johnny Depp's performance is "excellent" and that he'll probably win next year's Oscar. I want the praise to be justified. Love Depp. Love Sondheim. Love Sweeney Todd. Used to love Tim Burton. But it puzzles me that people are allegedly saying and getting it trickling down emphatically to journalists when filming began just three weeks ago tops. They've still got months of work to do! Depp is at best just 1/3rd of the way into his performance. Seems awfully early to start praising it, don'cha think? Jeffrey Wells of course has an amusing rebuttal. Those two...do we have to separate them again?

23 comments:

John T. said...

I think that Jennifer Hudson could have some future in Hollywood, but the next role should be a musical too. Considering the rumors that she's now pals with Oprah, maybe Oprah will bring the musical version of The Color Purple to the screen; I've been thinking since Dreamgirls premiered that this would be the perfect followup for Hudson. Another musical with a big built-in audience, a musical that has several plum roles, and it would be a way to prove that she can be more than just Effie White.

Jim Dandy said...

Jennifer Hudson appears to be a very grounded, happy, confident & spiritual young woman....unlike the majority of young female singers & actresses. She seems to be genuinely very family-oriented, has the same boyfriend since high school, etc. Very refreshing. I personally never had any expectations of her becoming the next Angela Bassett. My assumption, after seeing her in many interviews, is that she doesn't see herself as going in that direction either. She's working on an album with Clive Davis next....she has made no mentions of future film or TV. I loved her "Dreamgirls"...thought she was terrific. My hope for her is that she views this win as a great achievement (which, of course, it is) and then goes about what she loves doing - whether it be music, live performance, small night clubs, whatever. If she doesn't go on to do more movies - then it shouldn't be perceived as if she's gone off into obscurity. My only concern for her - that little silver space jacket. Oy.

StinkyLulu said...

Jennifer Holliday said something on the CBS Sunday Morning program last week that I think is really important: She observed that Jennifer Hudson got to do something she was never able to -- leave Effie behind, take Effie off.

The folks who love Jennifer Hudson in Dreamgirls love Jennifer Hudson -- not Effie and not only because of JHud's performance as Effie. While I do think whatever choices she makes next are key to the level of stardom she achieves/maintains, I don't see that her career's in trouble at all. Her success with Oscar will certainly sustain her marquee value for a generation or two. She's not going nowhere.

And I hate the very idea of a Supporting Actress curse -- why does said "curse" only hit women?

NATHANIEL R said...

i hate the idea of a 'curse' too. it makes me think of Carrie's mom and misogyny in general. BUT it's a pretty common part of Oscar mythology... and in this particular case, it will be silly to blame anything on that (but watch people do just that whether or not she makes another movie.

Edward Copeland said...

If a musical is coming, Poland seems to pounce on it as the next big Oscar thing no matter what. The year he kept trying to defend his prediction of a Phantom of the Opera sweep was particularly embarrassing. What's funny about this is that when I finally caught up with For Your Consideration, one of my problems with the film was that it didn't seem likely that Oscar buzz would start spreading from a set before a film was done and here's Poland proving me wrong, even if the buzz proves to be bogus. I love Sondheim and Sweeney Todd is my favorite but I'm very skeptical about the movie because everyone seems to have been cast so young (it's hard to remove George Hearn/Len Cariou and Angela Lansbury from your mind) and I don't know if all the people hired can really sing, let alone the trickiest of lyrics from the master. As for Hudson, I don't think she's headed for obscurity, but I agree that her goal was singer, not actress (though there are rumors of a Dreamgirls Broadway revival where she'd reprise Effie). Look at others like Oprah who scored a nomination for The Color Purple and then barely acted again but then became a different kind of media superstar. After Cher got her Oscar for Moonstruck, she practically vanished from acting and then "retired" from singing as well. Sometimes an Oscar-winning part and a performer are just the result of auspicious timing. It's not as if Harold Russell went on to a lengthy career playing characters with hooks for hands.

brad said...

SWEENEY TODD actually only starting "filming" last week, but who's counting.

Of course the pre-vocal tracks have already been recorded, so it isn't too early for people involved to have some opinion of Depp's singing skills.

NATHANIEL R said...

okay. so the filming just began but the feb 5th date they were talking about was the prerecordings?

adam k. said...

I don't think it's too early to say "Depp could win the oscar" in the same way Nat said "Hudson could win the oscar" the moment she was cast, but actually praising the performance... yeah, let him film his movie first.

I personally think Depp could very well win the oscar, and will almost certainly win the globe if he's any good. I have more faith in this project now than I thought I would. I hope I'm not proven wrong.

And yeah, I don't think JHud is going anywhere either. I think part of it is that she had a public persona BEFORE Effie - on American Idol. So it won't be that hard for her to leave Effie behind. And yeah, she is sort of more conventionally likeable than Jen Holliday in general. I personally LOVE Holliday, but I could see how she'd be intimidating to people, and just not conventionally lovable as a personality.

vince said...

Oscars aren't just for film actors who have paid their dues. That conclusion took me a long while to get to.

Beau said...

No.
Not doing it.
Not giving in to Poland of all people, and his immediate declaration (read: speculation) that Depp will win the Oscar.

The Academy Awards just happened, dude. Give me a break. There are countless other features coming out this year, biopics poised to make money and earn critical acclaim for their stars. (Soderbergh, Del Toro and Che Guavara, anyone?)
So to immediately start this 'new year' off with this kind of an statement on his part is just plain moronic. There's so much left to watch and so many performances left to dig through that to even consider making such a declaration...
ugh. i'm pissed.

gonna go watch cocteau's 'beauty and the beast'. this is ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

Re: Fincher and Jake G.

Maybe it wasn't Jake G's earnestness he was trying to break down with 17 takes, but whomever Jake G was playing against in those set-ups?

NATHANIEL R said...

good point anonymous. but still. Isn't Jake the most 'earnest' young actor working? I think he is.

Craig Hickman said...

I can imagine Jennifer Hudson doing anything she wants. Perhaps she won't be a "movie star", perhaps she'll never be nominated for another acting award in her life, but there are plenty of roles for her in television if she (her agents) should be inclined to seek them out.

As it is, Spike Lee and Quentin Tarrantino are interested in her for some upcoming projects. Whether those materialize remain to be seen.

But, yes, I can imagine her in a non-singing role in a film, which is her expressed desire.

But I can also imagine her playing in a great Aretha Franklin biopic too.

But I for one think she's a natural actress and can do anything she puts her mind to if she gets the opportunity.

Anonymous said...

Ah... got ya Nathaniel. I thought you were suggesting that Jake G wasn't a very earnest actor...

I'm not the best judge of what he's like as an actor. I've only seen him in PROOF - where he didn't really make an impression - and DONNIE DARKO - where he didn't seem particularly intense.
(Yeah, I know, I need to get around to see BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN and JARHEAD. I felt so bad I didn't get to either of those on the big screen, and I haven't wanted to sully what I imagine to be very fine DP work with a small screen!)

Anonymous said...

As far as acting, she wasn't bad in the movie at all. I mean if she did films she should definitely get more training, but for the first time she was definitely better than other singer turned actresses ( I'm not only referring to Beyonce here, but Mariah Carey, Jessica Simpson etc.)

I honestly think she would have a better movie career if she stuck to that than music ( even if she doesn't get nominated for anything else,I've heard she turned down lots of Movie roles,to work on her cd.)

Musically, I mean she could be the next Whitney Houston,but how many artists out there with big voices are very successful nowadays??I can only think of Christina Aguilera,Mariah Carey and Beyonce and they all started off singing POP songs and still do. I can't imagine Jennfifer singing a poppy song ,but she can still be relatively succesful in the R&B area.

Kamikaze Camel said...

Craig. An Aretha biopic with Jennifer?! *explodes*

I can see Jennifer focusing on music for a while and occasionally taking small roles in a lets-go-to-the-pub-and-see-what-singer-is-performing type of way. Like Ally McBeal. She could easily do some cameos on tv and in film.

I'd love to see her do a role like something you just wouldn't expect. Like in a movie like Kill Bill or something.

Or, ya know, she could just turn this book into a film. She'd probably win another Oscar if what I've read about the book is true and was transfered well to the screen.

ed gonzalez said...

This multiple-take business in Zodiac shows. And I do mean it shows. Shots look as if they exist solely for their own virtuosity and the actors look absolutely defeated, not so much because of their characters' crises (which don't come across as particularly difficult) but the sense that every single fucking shot has been labored over until Fincher has achieved what he has deemed to be a sense of Kubrickian perfection.

NATHANIEL R said...

argh dont tell me that. This is my large problem with embracing Kubrick -- i know i know I am in a tiny minority of well, just me, here all alone. But there's a lifeless feel in his work sometimes that I don't think adds to the theme or the movie

worst offender for me in this regard: eyes wide shut never had a pulse.

I want to love this. A lot of people do. we'll see.

Andrew said...

I agree Nathaniel. Never understood the Kubrick love. I've tried to sit through a couple of his films and they are so antiseptic.

Regarding Jennifer Hudson having a movie career: Let's face it, there are barely any roles for women of color as it is, and for a woman of her non-Hollywood size and shape, it becomes even harder, unless you don't mind playing varying degrees of sassiness for the rest of your career. I hope she sticks to music.

Last year, the day after the Oscars, the buzz for DREAMGIRLS as the Best Picture, etc. had begun. I think they shot themselves in the foot with all that hype. The makers of SWEENEY TODD should learn from that example.

sa said...

nathaniel, love your blog, first time commenting.

re: jake's earnestness, i totally agree. when cast correctly, this "earnestness" has lead to great performances. and from what i've seen, graysmith seems to be that "earnest" type of character as well, so i honestly don't get fincher's comment either. esp. since jake mentioned in some interview that he first met fincher at the screening of the good girl-- i mean, maybe it's just me, but wasn't jake's holden in that movie the epitomy of "earnest"? it's bizarre.

NATHANIEL R said...

andrew yes they should learn from it. Look what happened to The Departed isn't that the least forcibly campaigned BP winner in welll over a decade?

sa welcome to commenting! its more fun with participation --and yes, exactly...and it's not just Jack Holden. it's a common thread in his work.

glenn i've never heard of this book. are you recommending?

craig i dont wanna burst your bubble but this almost always happens to new Oscar winners (who aren't already uber famous for acting) everybody suddenly professes desire to work with them. The follow through is another things entirely ...especially with people like Tarantino. he is so bad on follow through ;)

Anonymous said...

Saw JHud do an interview where she proudly announced that she was in talks to appear in two films that did not require singing - this tells me she wants to be an "actress". Because of the oscar - her next film role will get a lot of attention - if she can pull it off - if it is a good film - then she has a future

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