Friday, August 08, 2008

The Mystery of Junkets (and Patricia Clarkson)

Lately I've been nibbling at a few junkets. I don't mean nibbling as in food (though food is present) but nibbling at the idea of actually being there. I'm sort of in denial. I don't really dig the roundtables. I much prefer the awesome one-on-ones I've had with folks like Marisa Tomei, Max von Sydow and Jennifer Jason Leigh. But work is work and there's always Oscar season for a return to the one on ones. I've written up another piece (on Elegy this time) for Tribeca Film --they've been good to me lately. Yay them.

The odd thing is that one on one interviews feel remarkably less schmoozy and more honest. You'd think being alone with a star would be more schmoozy. But it's not. It levels things off. You're somehow equals, even if your accomplishments are rather obviously not. But in a room full of other writers, journos and whomevers it can get really blurb whore & slobbery. The most frustrating thing for me is that I'm a conversational interviewer by nature and you can't do follow up questions @ press conferences or junkets. The talent needs to answer and move on.

I'll share an example and if you love Patricia Clarkson as much as I do you'll be interested. I'm stammering my way through a complicated question [note to self: save those for the 'one on ones' dummy!] summing up my theory about her career (see previous article) and how she moved from wiseacre supporting gal to best friend/betrayer (Dogville / Far From Heaven). I'm thrilled that she's now entered a third phase: a womanly sexual phase [editors note: If Married Life or Elegy were men rather than celluloid, they'd be boinking her]. What I'm trying to get at is this: Is it a conscious choice to steer her career into and out of these "types" or is she just grabbing parts she likes? Patty, smiling, nods her head at the connection I'm making between Married Life (review) and Elegy and jumps in...
Yes, the Dogville days are over. THANK GOD the Dogville days are over...
...I swear there's a quick look between her and her director Isabel Coixet and then Patty segueways into why she said yes to Elegy so swiftly. Meanwhile I'm left to ponder the infinite meanings this sentence, her voice raising and the glance to the side may have meant.
  • Does she not know how gobsmackingly brilliant she is in Dogville?
  • Perhaps she secretly cherishes Hummel figurines?
  • Did she have a miserable stay in Denmark?
  • Is she merely relieved to finally be using her sexuality onscreen? (Dogville's Vera was quite a pissy frump and Patty in person is hot stuff)
  • Does Coixet know Von Trier ...or maybe they've talked about him?
  • Is Patty just annoyed that I've momentarily steered away from Elegy even if my point is about Elegy? She's there to promote Elegy.
I'll never know. It will haunt my dreams. But at least I got to stare at Patty for 20 minutes. There are far worse fates.

(sing with me now) might as well face it,
you're addicted to Patty


Elegy
opens today in major markets. If you've been itching for some genuinely adult drama after this summer of capes, tights, toons and explosions, you'll be relieved watching it. Fine performances all around I must say.
*

24 comments:

Katey said...

I wish talking about junkets didn't so often sound obnoxious-- listen to what Will Ferrell said to me today!-- because they really are strange, frustrating animals. Questions like yours, Nathaniel, are so hard to get out there, but the actors so often seem to appreciate not hearing the same "So, what was it like kissing _____?" questions.

We need to form an alliance! Take back the junkets for the movie lovers, or something like that.

Janice said...

Given the experiences that Bjork and Kidman had at Von Trier's hands, Patty's response doesn't really come as any surprise (to me, anyway.)

But I hear you about Junkets. I watched the video for last year's NYC conference (or roundtable, whatever) for Margot at the Wedding in bits on YouTube and Kidman, Jason-Leigh, Baumbach etc all looked as bored as I felt watching. It looks perfectly excruciating.

Janice said...

I just read your terrific article on the roundtable at the Tribeca Film site and Patty's comments about Isabel being a director who loves actors (and the director's own comment "I love actors!") seems to confirm what I posted here previously, and is no doubt a world away from a Von Trier who seems to treat actors "like cattle" in a way Hitchcock would have approved of, a necessary evil rather than collaborators. (Not that loving actors by itself yields good performances. but a certain sympatico can and has yielded some of the best performances we've seen on film from the beginning of the cinema. When "work" is a joy it shows, no matter what field you are in.)

Thanks for the article - this is my first time hearing about this, and now I'm very eager to see it. That cast! And, kudos to screenwriter Meyers for giving Roth another go. I'm one of the few people who is actually fond of The Human Stain - my favorite parts in it (mainly the two scenes in the kitchen between Faunia and Coleman) are actually not in the book but go deeper into the love those two characters have for one another than even Roth was willing to go at times.

Hayden said...

Patricia Clarkson can do no wrong. There isn't a film from the past two decades that wouldn't be that much better with a little Patty. She's like instant credibility.

Emma said...

I asked one of my mates about Elegy and all he said was "Penélope's got great tits in it".

I knew that already, but OK! ^_^

Walter L. Hollmann said...

I am jealous right now. Patricia Clarkson is a flawlessly beautiful woman, a modern Bacall imo. She *does* need to be in everything. I'm glad they've gotten around to using that sexuality. Mm. More please.

elgringo said...

THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!
I've been trying to remember Patricia Clarkson's name for two months!

I kept getting her confused with Julie Delpy after thinking it was Clarkson on the Before Sunset cover.

THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!

Catherine said...

Patricia Clarkson is basically the only reason I'm planning on seeing this. LOVE. HER. I'm even willing to sit through a film with Ben Kingsley in it, for her.

adam k. said...

I agree with Janice's comment about Von Trier and how he was obviously a terror to work with. And I'll also chime in with the idea that - let's not the obvious here - Isabel Croixet is a WOMAN. That is rare and prized among directors. And Von Trier is an insane, woman-hating looneyman. I'm sure "the look" was in reference not only to their bond as actor and director, but also to their bond as women. Patty must be elated to now be expressing her sexuality healthily under the direction of a cool chick (girl power!) rather than betraying her own and smashing little hummel figurines. I'm sure it was creatively fulfilling in that masochistic, Von Trier-ish way, but one can only do that for so long.

adam k. said...

Correction: Let's not *FORGET* the obvious is (obviously) what I meant.

Dammit, I was going for perfection with that comment.

adam k. said...

OK it seems I've also misspelled Coixet's name. Damn damn damn. I fail.

Anonymous said...

That's not a good picture of Rachel McAdams at all. :(

Anonymous said...

Just one weird thing :

Patricia Clarkson is the only American actress who seems to be forever single...

It really is true. All the other ones are married or have a known partner.

I just find it amusing because a beautiful woman like her can get away with it, but if she were a fifty-year-old single man...

I guess it's just a Harper Lee-type situation

NATHANIEL R said...

anon --are u implying that our Patty is not unlike Peppermint Patty with a submissive Marcia on the side?

NATHANIEL R said...

elgringo

how does one forget PATTY CLARKSON's name? haven't you carved it into tree bark, or scribbled it in your notepads surrounded by huge hearts like everyone else?

verninino said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
verninino said...

I've never been really able to get into Roth's fictions (and increasingly Kingsley, too). To my sensitive nose they reek of mildewing testosterone.

But having Clarkson and Cruz (and Roth and Kingsley) taking direction from a woman-- without tinseltown sensibilities-- has me really intrigued. I've got high hopes for them both.

NicksFlickPicks said...

I'm nervous about this movie, but I love the press-junket story.

How hard did you have to resist the urge not to ask your question in GretaVoice?

NicksFlickPicks said...

Plus, I have to add for anyone who forgot this anecdote or never heard it, one Great Moment in the History of Press Junkets happened when someone asked Paul Schneider what it was like to work with Patty in All the Real Girls, and he said (something like), "It was great for me and great for the movie, because when Patricia Clarkson is playing your Mom, it automatically adds a dimension of incestuous desire that wasn't in the script at all." Hilarious, and true.

Catherine said...

@Nick: You're right, I hadn't heard that before and it's GOLD.

Kamikaze Camel said...

"Perhaps she secretly cherishes Hummel figurines?"

I loved this one. It had me giggling uncontrollably for some reason.

Also, Croixet's My Life Without Me was dreadful. But that's for another time...

Arkaan said...

Yeah, I'm nervous about this movie because of the degree of difficulty (re Roth on screen) and the only Coixet movie I've seen was a major disappointment. And because I'm not convinced about Cruz.

Arkaan said...

Oh, and von Trier may treat actors like cattle, but he's also gotten Emily Watson to give one of the greatest performances in the history of the medium, so it balances out.

amir_uk said...

That Elegy poster would be a lot nicer if it had "Academy award nominee Peter Sarsgaard" on it... Damn them! Twice they missed their chance!

(Missed reading you, Nathaniel. Hoping to catch up this week - having a full-time job is not so great when it comes to taking away personal liberties like spending hours on thefilmexperience every week... like I used to.)