Thursday, August 30, 2007

DVD: Perplexing Endings and Actresses

oops. forgot to post this on Tuesday

This Week's New Releases
Red Road -Nick speaks highly of this debut film from Andrea Arnold which opened for a split second earlier this year. It won a prize @ Cannes last summer and has been compared to work from Haneke and Von Trier. Already on my queue
Year of the Dog I'm really fond of Molly Shannon's work in this film as a very sad very smiley dog lover. Can you put your finger on how she's revealing so much with so few facial expressions? Bonus Points: eminently discussable ending.
Blades of Glory Will Ferrell and Napoleon Dynamite as figure skaters

Documentaries
Air Guitar Nation on well, what it says should you be looking for a light funny documentary. And Blood and Tears details the Arab/Israeli conflict if you're getting serious.

Special Editions
Crocodile Dundee Trilogy -Can you believe I was an 80s teen and never saw this? Didn't even remember there were three
Dr T & the Women -a minor Robert Altman picture about a gynecologist (Richard Gere) and the many women who love him. Strangely compelling / surprising reason to watch it: Tara Reid (!) is actually not half bad in it. Otherwise its unfortunately marred by a bizarre ending plus the presence of Helen Hunt in the largest female role. Robert Altman and Woody Allen are two of the best directors of actors but neither has been able to make this one interesting.

19 comments:

Pivo (From Rio, Brazil) said...

Give "Red Road" a chance very soon, Nath. Kate Dickie's brilliant work is one more example of how strong 2006 was in female leading performances.

Ray said...

Helen Hunt elevated "Twister" to the great heights it achieved. Do not mock her angular features or her laser-sharp on-screen personality.

www.therecshow.com

Nick Davis said...

I actually like Dr. T & the Women (who else saw it in the theater? Bueller?), and I even like Helen Hunt in it. But not as much as I liked her in As Good As It Gets, where I thought she was quite good, and better than Judi Dench in Mrs. Brown.

There, I said it. Load off my chest. A whole new life can begin!

(Oh, and don't read too much plot summary of Red Road before going in; I'd even be nervous about reading the back of the DVD box.)

Stephen G said...

Agreed, re Helen Hunt and Woody Allen. Curse of the Jade Scorpion was execrable, and she was lousy in it.

Lyn said...

I think most people have tried to supress their memories of Crocodile Dundees 2 and 3 (all I remember: #2 has a ludicrous plot about drug running, and #3 has an annoying blond moppet. Or perhaps the other way round.)

But I just can't quite hate on the original, even though I know I should.

Ed Hardy, Jr. said...

I think that the bizarro ending is the best thing about "Dr. T." It's a good flick but drags on too long with no characters to latch onto.

(And Nick, I too saw this one in the theater!)

Deborah said...

I adored Dr. T and the women, I saw so many layers in it, and I guess that others didn't. And I loved the ending.

Helen Hunt was luminous in As Good As It Gets but she hasn't been impressive since. I thought she fell down in the very difficult role of the female lead in Cast Away.

Kamikaze Camel said...

Haven't seen Dr T, but I find I never have a problem with Helen Hunt. Well, not in anything I've seen her in.

M said...

Yikes. Dr. T & the Women may be THE most unfunny comedy I've ever seen in my entire life. I'm still trying to recover... Just horrible

And I don't remember having much of a problem with Hunt in it.

Anonymous said...

I too really like Helen Hunt in As Good As It Gets, though clearly not... [gasps for air]... as much... [still gasping]... as Judi Dench in Mrs Brown... [paramedics have just arrived and it's aaaall Nick's fault].

And I still have enough residual Mad About You goodwill to be excited about seeing her again.

She needs to balance out the omnipresent tendancies of old and the reclusive tendancies of late.

Rob

Kamikaze Camel said...

I think with me it's that I've only seen the major stuff from her. Mad About You, Twister (it's ESSENTIAL, okay!), As Good As It Gets and none of the Jade Scorpion, Dr T and Pay It Forward dreck.

NATHANIEL R said...

M --i didn't have a "problem" with Helen Hunt in it so much as I have a problem with "why is helen hunt in it?" i just never find her remotely interesting. I always imagine better more surprising more complex actresses in every role she plays.

Anonymous said...

The ending of Dr. T was far and away my favorite part. Up until then, it was probably my least favorite late-period Altman (with the caveat that I still have not see Ready To Wear). I liked it for its sheer chutzpuh.

Anonymous said...

Helen Hunt better than Judi Dench? LMAO. I don't think I've ever seen a Helen Hunt performance that I've liked. Maybe, maybe some of her "Mad About You" work, but even that's a stretch.

JA said...

I haven't seen Dr. T and I liked HH in AGAIG plenty, but I've never recovered from the time I ate dinner across from HH and she sat there with that actressy "I have my hands clasped under my chin and am really listening to you" grimace on her face the ENTIRE meal and it made me hate her.

Incidentally, Sigourney Weaver was sitting at another table in this same restaurant that same night and I had to say excuse me to her to get to the coat check and I almost fainted from glee when she smiled at me.

I love my office Christmas dinners, taking me to fancy restaurants I can't afford on my own dime!

Nick Davis said...

@Anon: Don't get me wrong: Dench is many, many, many times the actress that Hunt is. Hunt herself seems to feel the same way, as she indicated in her Oscar speech. But [sidebar about 1997] the Mrs. Brown turn has always struck me as way above and beyond the call for emotional withholding, to the point where Dench barely rewards the camera in several scenes. Hunt hasn't got Dench's range of technique (or her range, period), but she's mentally alive and accessible throughout As Good As It Gets, and her weird combination of girl-next-doorness and standoffishness work terrifically for that character. I still would have voted for Helena Bonham Carter, but since she wasn't really in the race, I was glad to see Hunt win. [∕1997]

I agree with people above, though, that Hunt has stumbled badly in most of her subsequent screen roles. She did what she could in Pay It Forward, I thought. I don't even allow myself to remember Curse of the Jade Scorpion, and I agree that she just didn't do anything in Cast Away. I didn't go near A Good Woman (did anyone?), and since the thought of a Hunt-Gibson pairing sounded like bad Dada to me, I gave What Women Want a pass, too. [∕Helen Hunt]

I go back and forth on the ending to Dr. T. I liked Laura Dern, Kate Hudson, Tara Reid, and Liv Tyler a lot in it (not great performances, but great for the movie), and Shelley Long and Farrah Fawcett have their moments.

Anonymous said...

Nick, I too was all about Bonham Carter in 1997, and I say that as a drooling Dench fiend.

However, I couldn't disagree more about Dench withholding beyond the call; I thought that was precisely what the script called for from her. It made her moments of NOT withholding (especially the breathless moment after the dance) infinitely more special.

"Dench barely rewards the camera in several scenes"? I'm not sure I can think of an example, but I'd suggest that she shouldn't be thinking about the camera - that's the director and the DP's job to capture whilst she's busy rewarding the performance as written. And that she did in spades.

All that aside, I still think we're both essentially coming from the same "Hunt Happy Place"! I too thought she did all she could with the risible Pay It Forward, and - even though I'm not sure if people are being tongue-in-cheek about her Twister turn or not - I still think that film was richer (!)than it deserved to be because of her performance...

Rob

Anonymous said...

I thought that Judi Dench was masterful in "Mrs. Brown", so all of this withholding talk and coldness toward the audience is silly to me, b/c that's what the characterization demanded, and in that respect, she more than delivered at every turn, slowly revealing shades of hope and warmth after years of Victoria's cold thaw grief. Then looking at what the rest of the field offered that year, the choice really was only Dench to me. But as they say, to each their own.

NATHANIEL R said...

Dench would've been in the 5th to 7th range for my nominee choices that year. I also felt that there weren't enough notes to the characterization but what was there was very good. For me that year was all about Helena Bonham-Carter (shoulda won hands down) and Victoire Thivisol in Ponette who wasn't nominated because, well, she was 4