Sunday, May 31, 2009

Signatures: Kathy Bates

Adam of Club Silencio here with another look at my favorite actresses and their distinguishing claims to fame.


I'm probably not Kathy Bates number one fan, but I'd certainly be club treasurer. As much as I love her, I just don't have the follow through to keep her bed-ridden and hobble her legs. Even so Kathy's worth any and all fan-frenzy devotion. Not only does she consistently turn potentially mocking roles into comedy and drama gold, she's a director in her own right and an inspirational cancer survivor. It's not just her characters that are unsinkable, it's Kathy Bates.


Many of Kathy's most mesmerizing turns play on that fact that she's an atypical starlet, and she always seems to revel in that - capturing the misery, humor and strength in unglamorous roles. Her Oscar-winning character Annie Wilkes surely never crossed the paths of Sandra Bullock or Julia Roberts, but Kathy takes on this frumpy and fanatical Colorado native as if she'd been listening to Liberace and abducting authors her entire life. Acting shouldn't always pretty, and Kathy manages to make even the most unappealing part a thing of beauty. Few could give an overweight character named Evelyn Couch her due decency, but Kathy never flounders.


Towanda will go on a rampage! I'll slip tiny bombs into Penthouse and Playboys so they explode when you open them. I'll ban all fashion models who weigh under 130 pounds! And I'll give half the military budget to people over 65 and declare wrinkles sexually desirable.

She tackles roles without reservation, without vanity, and that's what really plumbs the depths of her characters. Likewise, real depth exists when you're trying to dump your deadbeat husband's body in a well...


One of Kathy's most stirring and complex portraits comes in Dolores Claiborne, about a woman whose life has been centered on abuse: verbal abuse from her boss, physical abuse from her husband, and emotional bruises that still exist with her distant daughter. The film takes us through the years of Dolores' headstrong life to find the power in a woman painted as victim, bitch and bully. Kathy's own strength is what translates and gives this woman her second chance at redemption.

Here's to Kathy Bates. An atypical starlet as strong, beautiful and bold as ever. Truly unsinkable.

8 comments:

NATHANIEL R said...

just saw Bates again in Chéri. I'm curious to see how people react to her performance. I thought i'd really like it but i ended up preferring everyone else. different tone than the rest of the movie or something.

i've never understood the fuss over delores claiborne but perhaps i should give it another shot. That cellophane moment in Fried Green Tomatoes is so endearing in a guilty pleasure way.

Adam said...

Her role was one of the worst parts of "Revolutionary Road" also, but I always love seeing her anyways.

As for "Dolores Claiborne," I think it's a pretty worthy film made more notable for her performance. She really finds the character. There's really a lot for to her work with since she get to be bitchy, cold, brassy, tormented, motherly, and still maintain a bit of subtle humor. Outside of "Misery" it really is her showcase role. Who knew Stephen King would give her so much in her career?

And is it wrong that I feel no guilt for loving "Fried Green Tomatoes" in all its formulated saccharine female empowerment?

NATHANIEL R said...

it can't be wrong if it feels so right?

Rebecca said...

I haven't seen 'Cheri' yet, but I just saw the preview and I loved seeing her. She laughed in every clip she was in. She is a great dramatic actress, but seeing her laugh made my heart soar.

Rebecca said...

BTW, I saw the preview at 'The Brothers Bloom,' which was great. Definitely worth seeing - the preview makes the humor look a little more madcap, wacky antics than it actually is, which was good for me.

mrripley said...

i feel primary colors is her best role dolores claiborne is stolen by judy parfitt in a 12 minute part.

Adam said...

Good call on "Primary Colors." I neglected to mention since it had been ages since I'd seen it, but definitely one of her career highlights.

Jesus Alonso said...

she certainly should have TWO Oscars at least and a bunch more of nominations. Wins for Misery and Dolores Clayborne (King is actually a model of writting for interesting and strong female characters, by the way, Hollywood should take note) and even win worthy for About Schmidt and Primary Colors, most notably. I certainly love her and would gladly join that club.