I normally enjoy the snark and wit of the blog "by Ken Levine" but I took issue with this post which takes easy potshots at one of the best actresses on the planet. The usual complaints are there: botox, box office poison, weird movies, etcetera. I'm not sure why hating on Nicole Kidman became such a popular sport. It can't only be her ubiquity. Cate Blanchett is even more irremoveable from magazines and screens these days and it's definitely uncool to hate on her as I've discovered ... I'm still dressing the wounds, you savage unforgiving beasts!
I think quite possibly the reason it's cool to hate on Kidman is sadder to point out: her artistry. It's true that her mainstream efforts tend to stink a little. She doesn't have the best taste in mall films or her heart isn't in them. And just as the haters suggest Kidman makes small weird and unsuccessful films, too. These intermittently challenging volleys to the audience --Fur, Birth, Dogville, Margot at the Wedding etcetera-- seem to upset people, else why would they so frequently be used in the targeting of the star? I don't think we're used to behemoth stars confronting us with our own limitations as movie consumers and I think it's even more discomforting -- for whatever reason...I'm no psychologist-- to realize that this type of film/role is what makes one particular A Listers heart beat quickly and fondly. And I think even the people who won't watch these movies have realized this about Mrs. Urban by now.
Our other formidable and über famous actresses who could handle the auteur driven tasks that Kidman takes on, or the burdensom warped psychologies she attempts to illuminate choose not to. Streep, Dench, Blanchett, Winslet etcetera mostly don't go to such dark and weird places... at least not with such persistence. Helen Mirren has some peculiarities in her filmography but people weren't paying such close attention. After the Queen she chose National Treasure 2 (maybe that was an avant garde tribute to Charlize Theron and Halle Berry's post Oscar choices? Oh Helen you sly silver fox) Even Julianne Moore and Tilda Swinton, former darlings of iconoclast auteurs and the avant garde respectively, are spending lots of time in mainstream Hollywood pictures.
I think the public at large would probably prefer it if they didn't have to hear about little oddities like Fur and Birth and, here's the truth about fame's power, they wouldn't if people like Kidman weren't in them. Which brings us to The Golden Compass. I'll give you that it's messier plotwise than most of the would be blockbusters you see out there. But cut it a small break, it's got much more complex material and themes to deal with. So F'in What if The Golden Compass isn't half as successful monetarily as the simple Christ metaphors in Narnia. Who cares?
The old cliché that awards bodies don't cotton to unlikeable characters (unless they happen to be showy "love to hate" villains) is holding true this year for Kidman's impressive if highly confrontational work in Margot at the Wedding (my thoughts). Is the problem that she doesn't give the audience a good light charming woman as a buffer inbetween the disturbed ladies? Or is the problem that she's just not great at the light stuff that's usually a requirement for supersize celebrities who command $15 million a picture?
Can't we at least look at The Golden Compass (my review) and recognize that Nicole Kidman understands and is beginning to illuminate a character with an unusual surplass of mental baggage. Or is that verboten in a children's fantasy flick, this discomforting psychology as obvious as the golden monkey on her back? Shouldn't the reviewing types be writing about these things rather than bitching about how smooth Nicole's face looks. That particular quibble wasn't in Mr. Levine's post but I've seen too many reviews that complain about the way she's lit, as if her scenes were filmed in such a way entirely to serve her vanity. Newsflash to all people bitching: look at the movie. Numerous surfaces are filmed this way. Kidman's face is but one of hundreds of elements that get that airbrushed glossy sheen) But, oh yes, sorry. Nobody wants to think about cinematography and production choices when they watch a movie. They just want to love or hate on celebrities and gawk at CGI.
Pass the popcorn. [/rant from a defensive Kidman fan]
These posts aren't Nicole Kidman related but they're in the same field on the commerce/art battleground: NovaSlim has a funny post on the whack criteria of judging musical talent by bank accounts; Low Resolution takes Richard Corliss to task for his oddly incoherent and pandering article on "out of touch" critics. Imagine it... critics daring to trumpet movies that haven't come out yet and adult oriented films that don't play with the Transformers crowd.
Classic Kidman Quiz: We Are All Nicole Kidman