Monday, September 14, 2009

He-Man.

Jose here with a bit of an awards doubt. After watching Antichrist (Read my review here) where the hell is Willem Dafoe's Best Actor buzz?

While it's true that Lars von Trier is a notorious actresses director (see Emily Watson, Nicole Kidman and Björk among others) he also has gotten some brilliant performances from his leading men (Paul Bettany was spectacular in Dogville).

His leading lady Charlotte Gainsbourg got the Best Actress award in Cannes but he gives the film's best performance (although being one of only two actors in the movie this might be a bit hyperbolic). Once again he goes for extreme subtlety and commands the screen as he tries to deal with his wife's condition while coping with his own grief. Any actor who can subject himself to tortures which von Trier had previously reserved for the ladies should be getting more attention.

Because of Dafoe Antichrist goes beyond being the arthouse horror film most think it is/want it to be and actually grows a heart of sorts.

13 comments:

Glenn said...

Oh man, totally agreed. He was superb here. Although it would make sense since he is the "victim" in this movie much like Bjork or Kidman or Watson were in other Von Trier films.

Of course, that still makes him misogynistic, apparently.

Hilary Swank said...

The film is going to be a VOD release, so all oscar buzz towards it is gone!

James Colon said...

Haven't seen the movie, but really want to. Unfortunately, Willem Dafoe is one of those actors who is always ignored when he's actually good (Life Aquatic, The English Patient), but gets recognized when he's annoyingly histrionic (Shadow of the Vampire).

Jordan Ruimy said...

my review is up on this one- very mixed and disspointed. although i do agree dafoe is astounding, but gainsbourg is better.

Danny King said...

I can't wait to see this one.

Glenn said...

Hilary, I thought VOD was seen as a legitimate release (isn't it also getting a limited cinema release parallel to it?) and, thus, falls under the eligibility banner.

I have read elsewhere that that's the case and movies like "Two Lovers" and "Summer Hours" are in the same position.

Y Kant Goran Rite said...

... Did we watch the same film?

Maybe what I mistook as Dafoe's perpetual anticipation of a lunch break was in fact his intense and layered expression of grief?

And even if that really was a mistake on my part - to say his performance was in any way stronger than Gainsbourg's creepy-astoundingly-believable-and-resonant take on a dog of a role..? Truly - I don't think we watched the same film. (Are we talking about the one where a talking fox proclaims that chaos reigns in the voice of Darth Vader..? Which reminds me - you expect anybody to win Oscar buzz for a film that most Academy members will switch off about 3 minutes in?)

UncleVanya said...

Day 5:

I saw three films today at TIFF, but one really stood out because of it’s leading actress:

Marco Bellocchio (”Good Morning, Night”) has really been a hit or miss kind of director, but with his new film, “Vincere”, he seems to have, once again, found his stride. The film interspered with various techniques such as old newsreel, silent and sound films, newspaper headlines,etc immediately sets the time and place (1907, Milan, Italy through to the 1930’s) of Benito Mussolini’s hypocritcal rise from A Socialist leader of The Worker’s Party, to the much loathed dictator of the Facist movement, which walked in lock-step with Hitler’s nazi regime. But this is not a story about that historical rise. It is a film about obsession. Namely, the obsession of one woman, Ida Dalser (played by Giovanna Mezzogiorno), Mussolini’s one-time lover, with whom he bore a child, and who he now vows to keep silent lest her existence stagger his meteoric rise. Like the secret Mussolini tries to hide, the first half of the film is wisely shot in shadows, in darkly lit rooms, and in dim alley ways, with Mezzogiorno barely visible. In one murky scene, after selling all of her worldy belongings (home, store, jewelery), Ida gives the money to Mussolini (played with verve by Filippo Timi) so that he can buy a newspaper company. Of course Mussolini accepts, but vows that he will pay her back (which he never does). Instead, he uses the newspaper to shamelessly promote himself, and to destroy and thwart his enemies. But before breaking with Dalsar, he adds insult to injury, for he knowingly leaves her pregnant and penniless, for a woman (of the working class) who he deems more politically advantageous to the image he wants as he rises to power, from leader of the working class to man of the elite. And this cruel deception fuels Ms. Dalsar’s pursuit for recognition for herself and her son. Indeed she will not go quietly, instead she rages determinedly from the darknes for some speck of light. Though a very bleak and depressing film, there are moments of astonishing beauty (owed in large part to the exquisite cinematography of Daniele Cipri). One scene, in particular, comes to mind. After her son has been taken away from her by henchmen of Mussolini’s (in order to keep the boy a mystery and silent), and she is deemed mad by the authorities and institutionalized in a massive like prison for the insane, Ms. Dalsar tries desperately to achieve some sort of contact with her missing son. In said scene, during a massive evening snow storm, Dalsar is
breathtakingly illuminated as she climbs an enormous barred wall from where she tosses dozens of unsent letters into the barren street, with the hope that one kind soul will deliver them to her son. Using the film style of early German Expressionism, Cipri uses each aching image to capture the inner turmoil of our shattered heroine. And broken she becomes as, increasingly, we are shown successive shots of her deteriorating face (like prison photos), from a willful, single-minded woman to a demented and doomed mental patient.
This past May, at Cannes, many believed that Mezzogiorno would walk away with the best actress prize. She didn’t (it went to Charlotte Gainsbourg for “antichrist”). However, had this film been an english speaking production, I have absolutely no doubt that Mezzogiorno would be enjoying an oscar nomination this year. Not only because oscar loves to honor actresses who suffer, but because Mezzogiorno is just so damn good. There is a commitment to her role that one wonders if the actress was, in fact, slowly becoming unhinged herself. She is like a cyclone that builds to such a state that not only does she destroy herself, but her madness is handed down to her son. Her suffering becomes so difficult to watch, I found myself wishing that the director would simply cut forward to Mussolini’s inevitable execution. Ironically, the films title, “Vincere”, means “to win” in italian. Odd, considering that, here, everybody loses.

UncleVanya said...

I also saw the Korean film, directed by Lee Hey-jun, called “Castaway on the Moon”. The movie is a whimsical fable about a man who attempts suicide by jumping from a bridge into the Han river, but, ends up stranded on a deserted island in the middle of a body of water, with the land and the skyscrapers hopelessly off in the distance. Unbeknownst to him he is being watched from a bedroom window, with a high power camera, by an agoraphobic woman (who sleeps in bubble wrap) from far atop her highrise building. Eventually they begin an odd relationship from their selected prisons. Now this film could have been entertaining had it not been so excessively long. A problem with many films from Asia (not all) is that they don’t seem to like editing to tighten up scenes (rather they like them drawn-out and elongated), and in some cases (like here) they don’t remove scenes which are not needed at all. Thus, ultimately the film, “Castaway on the Moon”, is undermined by it’s own excess.

Hilary Swank said...

Glenn, even though it is being released in theaters, being a VOD release automatically makes it ineligible. Also yes Two Lovers, Summer Hours, and The Burning Plain are also ineligible for the oscars, due to being a VOD release!

NATHANIEL R said...

i think the rule is that they have to play a week. Isn't the VOD feature the following week. As long as it's not concurrent to or prior to, shouldn't the films still be eligible

Hilary Swank said...

Well I know for AntiChrist the VOD is playing two days before it hits theaters.

pomme said...

as i dislike "antichrist" as the acting is great(but i'm not original)