Friday, June 25, 2010

Tilda Swinton, Posterized

Art house patrons first saw Tilda Swinton in a series of controversial works from gay British auteur Derek Jarman's in the late 80s and early 90s (he died in 1994). A much larger international audience followed with Orlando (1993). In the past decade, key roles in mainstream Hollywood efforts won the great Swinton plentiful new devotees.

Do you remember the first time you saw her onscreen?
My first time was Edward II in 1992 and though I was impressed, I had no idea what marvels awaited in Orlando the next year...

Tilda Swinton in Posters...

Caravaggio (86, debut) | The Last of England (88) | Edward II (91)

Orlando (92) | Female Perversions (96) | Conceiving Ada (97)

The Beach (00)| The Deep End (01) | Teknolust (02)

Young Adam (03) | The Chronicles of Narnia (05) | Stephanie Daley (06)

Michael Clayton (07) | Julia (08) | I Am Love (10)

That's not the complete filmography but the lead roles and a few key / essential supporting gigs. There are many more smaller roles. She's not at all afraid of a crowded ensemble film or a blink and you'll miss her cameo. The best of the latter is probably Love is the Devil. And even if you don't blink you might miss her in that rough trade art biopic (starring Derek Jacobi & Daniel Craig) because she's so shockingly unrecognizable in it.

How many of those 15 have you seen? Which are your favorites?

I AM LOVE is an absolute must see for Tilda fans and art film aficionados in general. The film opened in LA and NYC last weekend and adds more cities today. Did it hit your town yet?

previously on Posterized: Tom Hanks, Will Smith, Angelina Jolie, Viggo Mortensen, Cate Blanchett and Barbra Streisand.

35 comments:

notanotherblog said...

Yes. I Am Love is like the Barry Lyndon of today (with less humour). However, I saw it with people mostly twice my age and they didn't get it.

MRRIPLEY said...

hi nat

can i just say that her cameo in love is the devil is one of my fave cameos ever,loved her in the deep end also is female perversions as weird as it sounds.

BeRightBack said...

Edward II!!! I first saw her in that, too, it's still one of my favorite performances (and movies).

Jorge Rodrigues said...

Oh I was sure you would have mentioned her role in Burn After Reading 'cause she's one of the highlights of an amazing ensemble.

From the rest, I've only seen the most recent ones, 'Young Adam' being the first one I recall seeing of her.

/3rtfu11 said...

My Tilda introduction was The Deep End – a Fox Searchlight title with a decent commercial promotion. The next time I saw her she had the Roy Brocksmith (RIP) role in Vanilla Sky.

Craig Bloomfield said...

The I Am Love poster is perfectly fitting to the film itself; it tells us exactly the right things about it. Love it. (Like the Michael Clayton & The Deep End ones too.) It's getting a lot of L-word adoration now, as it should... I think I first peeped at The Swints in The Last of England - when she was like some wailing wraith by a bed on a beach. (That happened a lot in Jarman's films I seem to remember!)

(Her doc. last year, The Invisible Frame, where she cycled the perimeter where the Berlin Wall used to be, was one of the best things she's done. Awesome woman.)

Drew said...

You posterised Tilda!!

The ones I haven't seen are the ones I've never been able to find in Aus -- Edward II, Female Perversions, Conceiving Ada and Teknolust. But I will find them.

I watched I Am Love yesterday and it reminded me of how thrilling some of her Jarman work is -- particularly The Garden and War Requiem. I can't think of another actor that potent or innovative on screen. Her Jarman work, Orlando and I Am Love are masterpieces of visual performance, and her performances in Julia, Stephanie Daley, Michael Clayton and The Deep End just have everything. And even in Narnia she gives so much to the role and really elevates the film beyond mediocrity.

Derreck said...

wow, mine was The Beach. lol. what an awful movie. er and after that, it was Young Adam. That movie was ok, but i liked it for all the wrong reasons.

;)

john said...

Looking forward to We Need to Talk About Kevin, hope it gets shown next year at Cannes.

BeRightBack said...

Drew: I like her in those weird "pop" roles she takes, too, like Narnia (she and James MacAvoy make it re-watchable) or as the angel Gabriel in Constantine.

BeRightBack said...

Oh and I just remembered Thumbsucker! I really kind of liked that movie, maybe more than it deserved on its relatively minor merits, but I think the soft way she plays the mom was part of the reason why.

James T said...

As much as I love this and other movie sites, I always have the problem that when everyone is "masterpiecing" a movie, I end up saying "good but overrated". Well, not always but it's really hard for me to watch a movie almost everyone thinks it's great.

James T said...

It was re: I Am Love by the way :p

Still, I can't wait to find it overrated :p

Franco Marciano said...

It was either the "The Beach" or "The Deep End". Fan since.

NATHANIEL R said...

franco -- i know the shortlived oscar buzz she got for The Deep End did bring new people to her work. Weirdly, that's one of my least favorite performances by her in that I like it just fine but i didn't think it was great exactly.

but i'm so happy that so many people are fans now. Hers is really an unusual success story.

John -- me too. should be interesting.

Drew -- so happy to hear I AM LOVE has another fan. I really need to write it up soon because I have lots to say.

James T -- there's no need to preemptively find I AM LOVE overrated because it has many detractors already so it can't really be overrated. ;)

Anonymous said...

I love this series...it is so interesting how the posters show how a person slowly gains his/her place on the movie poster and how the spot increases in size with increased commercial and /or critical success and how ones bankability or star power or compares to others in the same movie.

James T said...

Just to clarify, my last sentence was a joke ;)

Well, it is generally well-liked even if some people found it "only pretty". And now it has the 4-stars of Ebert. Yeah, it doesn't mean much etc. I know but I was with him on "Julia" so it's kind of like everyone is saying "You'll love it or you'll be untrue to yourself".

Oh, what the hell! Sex scenes with Tilda! I'll love it :p

pomme said...

the first time i saw her in a movie is in "War Zone" by Tim Roth and if i remember well she was pregnant

Rebecca said...

My sister and I used to watch 'Orlando' multiple times a week when we were maybe 13 and 15. That's still one of my favorite Tilda roles, right up there with 'Julia', even though I haven't watched it in a decade.

NicksFlickPicks said...

Do you mean how many of these do I worship? The answer is 11, if only in some cases for her performances. And I'd add War Requiem, Love Is the Devil, Blue, The War Zone, and her hilarious bits in Adaptation to that category. She's often the best thing in her movies, but they're often pretty solid anyway, viz. Burn After Reading, Constantine, The Limits of Control, though it's amazing how she can elevate even very short bits of absolute stinkers like Broken Flowers and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

MRRIPLEY said...

I know it was her bit of tccobb that stuck with me and nothing and no one else.

badmofo said...

As much as I hate to admit it, I've only seen her in Michael Clayton; but I must say: bravo! Nevertheless, I can't help but be a bit annoyed by how much her accent slips in that film. Am I just hearing things? No one else seems to mention it.

Peggy Sue said...

Tilda is one the most fascinating actresses working these days and "Io sono l'amore" is probably my best experience on a theatre this season.

PS Great Supporting Role in "The War Zone". Such a bleak movie.

Blinking_Cursor said...

First saw Tilda in Orlando, and I was intrigued enough by her talent to go out and rent Edward II. Haven't seen as many of her films that I would like. Thus far, have only seen Orlando, Edward II, Chronicles of Narnia, Michael Clayton, Adaptation, Constantine, and Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

I came across this Tilda interview on Charlie Rose the other day, so this blog article is serendipitous. Anyway, it's basically Tilda (sporting a David Bowie buzz cut hair do and rockin an androgy look) and Charlie Rose chatting about her work, and in particular 'I Am Love.' Alas, for me, 'I Am Love' is not playing in my city. :(

Anyhow, linky love is here:

http://www.charlierose.com/view/interview/11080#frame_top

Just click on the picture of Tilda and the vid should start playing. If your computer doesn't have multi-media capabilities, just scroll further down and read the transcript of the interview.

Glenn Dunks said...

Yes, I Am Love is fantastic. Sumptuous and decadent like one of Antonio's meals.

Unfortunately, I haven't seen many from her early period.

Drew, yes, stuff like Edward II is very hard to find (I don't think it's available on DVD), but Quickflix (our version of Netflix) does have Female Perversions and Teknolust.

Henry said...

She was in The Beach?! I do not remember that. Of course, I don't remember a lot of things from that film. Except the ludicrous sex scene in the water.

Y Kant Goran Rite said...

I think The Deep End was the first time I saw her on the big screen (and Orlando on VHS may or may not have preceded that), and of course I fell hard. Still, based on that performance alone, I never would've thought her capable of a "Julia". But that how many actresses would be?

I caught "I Am Love" last night and I was in rapture. I want to have a threesome with Tilda and Luca Guadagnino (how have I not heard of him or seen any of his films before - this man is staggering).

Even more startling than the film itself is the fact that its Australian release was barely two weeks later than its US release. That almost never happens with the arthouse blockbusters, much less something so forcefully arty (how it even managed not to go from the festival circuit straight to DVD is beyond me). I always knew Tilda had a dedicated cult following, but I never realised she'd reached such iconic arthouse status.

MRRIPLEY said...

Why can't i get behind her julia performance.

gehrett said...

I saw I Am Love here in Philadelphia last night. Beautiful and amazing.

NATHANIEL R said...

mrripley -- i have no idea. cuz it's freaking amazing. and one of the best examples i've ever seen of an actor playing brilliant against type. because there's no one like Julia anywhere in Tilda's filmography.

The Jaded Armchair Reviewer said...

My first exposure to Tilda was a trailer for The Deep End that played on tv and my reaction back then was, "Now who do they want me to care about in this movie? I don't know any of these people." Didn't watch the movie but I was impressed more that a movie like that would actually be playing, let alone getting ad time, in my side of the world. I was 15 then and was a few years away from taking cinema seriously.

My first Tilda movie would be Young Adam. "What a frumpy, passionate mess Ewan McGregor is f**king" was my first impression of Tilda! How was I to know she could be that and so much more afterwards? A pleasant surprise indeed, haha.

chris na Taraja said...

I really love her in the DEEP END. but then again, i have not seen a lot of these other movies.

Laika said...

Is there a Swinton performance that the consensus is less than glowing about? Her consistency is slightly unnerving. I get nervous that some crazy anti-Swinton backlash is just around the corner.

My path to Swinton has been a familiar one - fascinated by her in The Deep End and Blue, falling in love with her in Orlando, tickled by her as Gabriel and the White Witch, realising I was still underestimating her in Michael Clayton and Julia.

I have mixed feelings about I am Love; Sight and Sound treated it like the second coming of the European arthouse, but I like it best as a high-culture Kill Bill - an inspired remix of familiar tropes and specific references, art-directed til it hurts. Even then, some of them fall really flat - that bird flapping around the empty church is my nominee for most bathetic symbolism of the year, and the pastoral sex scene is painful. I'd love it more whole-heartedly if it didn't try to get all serious in the last half hour. But still - it makes me swoon to think of Tilda interacting with all that lush food and hairstyling and ostentatious camerawork. To paraphrase Pauline Kael, it's high-cholesterol film-making - delicious, but probably really bad for us.

Craig Bloomfield said...

Laika - I often get a bit apprehensive too when there's a bit surge in praise for someone I like, but those things (backlashes etc) are an inevitability sometimes. I tend to ignore them.

S&S did lavish attention on I Am Love in their feature on it, but the actual review had several snide asides in it, if I remember. Catherine Wheatley, the reviewer, seemed to pre-empt the abundance of love about to be thrown at it, and seeing an opportunity to play devil's advocate, she played down and was slightly disparaging about a lot of stuff rather unfairly, in my view.

The pastoral sex and occasional symbolism is ripe for ridicule - the film almost seems to invite it - but taken in accordance with everything else I was impressed by how barefaced and audacious Guadagnino was in unabashedly revelling in all those heightened visual flourishes. I liked that he went against trends and dialled the romanctic stuff up pretty high.

ak said...

I am in no way trying to start a backlash. I love me some Tilda. But I was not that impressed with I Am Love. Sure, Tilda is fantastic in it and the colors and costuming are lush and arthouse porn. However, I did not care for the plot at all. Just seemed banal.