Monday, September 13, 2010

Yes, No, Maybe So: Mildred Pierce (2011)

It's not intentional but today will be something of a TV day here at The Film Experience -- and to think how we were just bitching about all the false arguments in its favor -- and let's start with this trailer for the HBO Miniseries Mildred Pierce. [thanks to Sebastián for alerting me]



Like Angels in America seven years back, the director, cast and production values allow us to easily pretend that it's really just a feature film in disguise. It's just another part of The Great Convergence because what are today's franchises like Harry Potter and Twilight other than three season'ish long television series with bigger budgets?

YES I'll see anything -- and have seen everything -- that Todd Haynes directs. From subversive queer shorts like Dottie Gets Spanked to the inventive Superstar (the legally troubled Karen Carpenter bio with Barbie dolls) through to Oscar contending films like Far From Heaven and I'm Not There. His films never fail to excite the eyeballs, the intellect and hormones. Some people think he has trouble with the heart portion of entertainment, that his films are too heady, but to this complaint I say [insert expletive]. Even if that were true, better that problem than the far more common cinematic ailments of brainlessness, sexlessness and generic aesthetics.

NO I don't understand the casting of 23 year old Evan Rachel Wood as 34 year old Kate Winslet's nasty ungrateful daughter Veda at all. Aren't they too old and too young for their roles respectively, thus compounding the problem? Believable mother daughter chemistry won't be as important as usual since they're at odds, but still. Not sure I follow this. Plus, I've been aching for Evan Rachel Wood to get out of her bad girl rut. She has more range than this (or at least she once did).

MAYBE SO As much as I love Kate Winslet, performing in the shadow of Joan Crawford's signature role just seems so... foolhardy? It's one thing to star in an adaptation of a novel that's been adapted before. It's quite another to star in an adaptation of a novel that's been adapted before as an immortal and glamorous star's biggest hour.

I'm a yes given Kate + Todd + below the line players like DP Edward Lachman. Though I feel I should note that Todd's regular costume designer Sandy Powell did not work on this -- she told me her schedule conflicted when I interviewed her during the Young Victoria Oscar run.

My current plan: read the book in the next month or two so as not to be thinking of the gorgeous Michael Curtiz noir the whole way through.

Kate in her Emmy winning* role as Mildred Pierce.

You? Have you seen Joan Crawford's Oscar winning take on the Mildred Pierce role? If not, what are you waiting for?

*just guessin'
*

48 comments:

James T said...

The trailer looks great and I haven't seen the Crawford version, so no problems of comparing (if there might be one), but Kate looks like she uses what she already knows. That certainly means a good performance but I want her to surprise me. As I've said at another site, I think the character becomes stronger and nastier after a ceratin point so I think that's where most of the meat will be. It;s 5 hours long so I can't really tell from a trailer.

I'm a total yes. I would have been a yes even if the trailer wasn't that impressive.

Drew said...

I'm a definitive YES. Kate's close to being my favourite actress working (it's so satisfying to see that "Academy Award Winner" tag above her name) and working with Haynes can only yield amazing things.

As to the doubts about Evan Rachel Wood, I agree that casting them as mother and daughter will be a tough sell, but it could work. And I think Evan has real talent and could do an exceptional job. So it's still a yes.

Lea said...

I was a bit anxious to see the trailer. But Winslet is great. I still love the old version of this piece better, but WInslet is a total yes.

But I am not so sure about Evan Rachel Wood. I really have doubts about her. I didn´t really buy that mother-daughter relationship here.

Magicub said...

I'm afraid about the age gap, but Wood and Winslet are very look alike.

SoSueMe said...

Are the mother and daughter supposed to be close in age? If so, I guess the the casting is justified.
From what I see in the trailer ERW looks too delicate and ungrounded to play an opera singer. (Not saying opera singers are generally overweight, they're not. Regardless of whether they are thin or fat, they have to have a groundedness to support that kind of Olympian style of singing.)

Mirko said...

I watched Mildred Pierce by Michael Curtiz and I have the same feeling about Winslet reprising Crawford's signature role

but I'm still so curious to watch this, for Todd Haynes

IslandLiberal said...

Soon to be three quarters of the way to EGOT.

Look out, Broadway: you're next.

NATHANIEL R said...

sosueme -- i don't remember if the age gap is commented on (haven't seen the movie in quite awhile) or if it's part of the book but even so. 11 year difference? i mean that is CRAZINESS :) it's like sally field playing tom hanks mom in forrest gump. haha

adam k. said...

Well I thought Evan looked absolutely FAB in this. Love her. No problems believing her as an opera singer. Anyone who's seen Across the Universe knows she can in fact sing very well, so she knows what she's doing even if it's lip synched, which I'm sure it is.

Was Kate supposed to have had Evan when she was a teenager? If so, I see no problem with the casting. Evan looks very young and could easily be 20. Kate, bless her and her hatred of anti-aging products, could pull off late 30s or 40. I think it's fine. They look to have good chemistry. I'm excited.

I think the remake is justified if only so they can flesh it out to 5 hours in length, rather than 2 or whatever the original was.

I'll wait to see the original until after I've seen this.

Ryan T. said...

Haven't seen the original so I won't have the problem of comparing the two. But even if I had and even if the trailer was awful (not at all!) I'd still be a BIG YES especially with Haynes and Winslet involved. I'm strongly considering subscribing to HBO just to see this!

jimmy said...

i'm more concerned as to who gets the eve arden sassy-with-a-heart-of-gold bff role. eh - hate to say it - this doesn't look like it holds a candle to the original. too overwrought. would love to see see some kate glam shots w fab shoulder padded mink coat. btw - lorne green was only 7 years older than his "daugther" ava gardner in "earthquake"

cal roth said...

I've read the book and I see a lot of room for a new adaptation. Curtiz smartly cut off a lot of material, but since we have more screentime in a tv miniseries, it could work fine.

Ashley said...

Kate better write her Emmy speech now. Unless a bigger/better actress than her appears in a TV movie or mini series,or if her performance is really bad, I see Kate winning the Emmy, SAG and Golden Globe for this.

RJ said...

I'm not TOO worried considering my suspicion is this not a remake of the movie, but a faithful rendering of the book (which does not, I think, contain the central murder mystery that the film does).

Chad said...

I believe the novel covers like 9 years, so it seems appropriate to get an actress like ERW who can easily play a teenager as well as age into an adult.

MRRIPLEY said...

I am not buying this with winslet it seems that evertime she has her big oscar moment she does the exact opposite of what people expect,it is so attention seeking in it's own way like in 97 when she did hideous kinky instead of going to hollywood so to speak.

like aren't i so great that ican do tv ha ha you all thought i'd be doing alien 5 or some such crap,why not take a role in an ensemble auteau pic or a real good thriller or even dabbble in the horror genre do something different woman before you parody yourself!!!

MRRIPLEY said...

melissa leo is in the eve harden role.

/3rtfu11 said...

I’ve never seen a Joan Crawford movie. “Mommie Dearest” doesn’t count as such, I’m sure.

You shouldn’t take offense of the very Hollywood casting choice for the mother and daughter not being legitimately far apart in age to actually be mother and daughter instead of in all actually being the age of real life sisters.

They gave Renee Zellweger an Oscar for playing a Mulatto (albeit the film never directly addressed that fact) all the same it’s the Hollywood choice.

Love Kate Winslet!

James T said...

MRRIPLEY - Winslet was offered the role and it was really hard to say no to an offer like that.

Even if she did go the thriller/horror/ensemble way (though I think Mildred Pierce has an element of thriller (or at least mystery, someone who's read the book could help) and Soderberg isn't exactly an auteur but his film is an ensemble), wouldn't you still think she tries to surprise us?

She was offered a juicy role in a juicy project and she said yes. Pretty logical and predictable choice, I think. Why not just judge the performance when you see it?

Dimitra said...

I love the Atonement music from behind.

I'm definitely watching this. Todd Haynes+Kate Winslet=GOLD

Paul Outlaw said...

YES YES YES

I hate trailers and I usually avoid them, but since I already know the plot, I couldn't resist watching this one. Imagine my surprise when I caught myself applauding at the end of it. Holy shit.

PS. I'm a big fan of just about every aspect of the Crawford film.

PPS. In the novel, Veda is 11 when Mildred and her husband split and Mildred becomes a--wait for it-- waitress. Veda is 20 at the end of the book. I think Mildred goes from her late twenties to her late thirties in the same time period.

Mirko said...

I think the too much undeappreciated Mare Winningham will reprise Eve Arden's role

BillBill said...

This is winning so many Emmys. So many. Starting with La Kate Winslet as Mildred Pierce! Can't wait to see this one. Big YES for me to the trailer!

Andrew R. said...

Good luck living up to Joan Crawford, Kate Winslet, you'll need it.

Ronald said...

I've seen the original, and I'm fine with a new interpretation out there being fleshed out in miniseries form. But I don't consider the original film a sacred cow either.

NATHANIEL R said...

ronald -- i'm fine with a different version too -- knowing that it will be much different and not a shameless copy like some remakes -- just that i was going to feel bad for ANYONE who had to work in Crawford's shadow.

Dave in Alamitos Beach said...

I think this is an incredibly gutsy move and it put's Kate even more into the "fearless" category. I've seen Mildred Pierce at least five times, and it's definitely iconic, but it's not as if Kate is starring in Sophie's Choice 2 or anything.

Actually I'd be more worried that it's overly sincere or just plain dull. I hope it's crazy bizarre instead.

And the age difference? I'm guessing Kate is supposed to be a teen Mom and there should be an 18 to 20 year age difference. I'm not worried about it at all, but I am very impressed that Kate is willing to be cast as the mother of a 23 year old, no matter the circumstances.

I don't know the age difference between Joan and Ann Blyth but I can't imagine Joan allowing anyone to think she was even out of her 30s at that point.

Ronald said...

Winslet will be okay either way, and I don't see Crawford's performance as being some huge shadow or mountain that she needs to overcome. It's a different and more complete version of the same story that they're doing with this miniseries, just put to television instead of film. I have completely different expectations for Winslet than I ever would have had for Crawford. And either way Kate's winning the Emmy for this role.

Paul Outlaw said...

Mildred Pierce (1945):
Ann Blyth (b. 1928)
Joan Crawford (b. 1905)


Mildred Pierce (2010):
Evan Rachel Wood (b. 1987)
Kate Winslet (b. 1975)

James T said...

Why are we talking about age difference using numbers when we can actually look at what the trailer gave us. Do they feel right, or not? For me, they're believable as mother-daughter.

YT said...

A 23-year age difference (fine) vs. a 12-year age difference (uh oh!!!). Makeup and costuming can and will probably do the rest of the work here, but this ever-so-slight age difference between Wood and Winslet is kinda ridiculous you must admit.

Paul Outlaw said...

The trailer convinced me. The only doubt I would have is whether Wood can pull off the younger end of character's range, and I have a feeling little Veda (if she's even portrayed in the miniseries) will be played by a child actress.

James T said...

Again, the numbers are not as important as what we actually see in the trailer. And it's not that hard to sell a 12 years difference as a 17 y.d. witch would be adequate, I guess.

Les said...

It may not be important to you, but the lack of genuine age difference between the two leads WILL be a negative factor for some people here. Deal with it. There's no reason why they couldn't have gone younger for Veda's casting. And what I SEE in this trailer are two actresses that make for more convincing sisters than mother/daughter.

James T said...

What I said was that if you're OK with what you see, then the numbers are irrelevant. If not, the same.

I don't have something to deal with except whatever problems I might notice when I'll finally watch it. Anyone else can like or not whatever they comes naturally to them.

Again, I didn't say it's not a problem. I said it is not a matter of numbers. That I'm OK with what I see was just me expressing my opinion.

Joe said...

I'm a huge yes.

However, in one of the scenes in the trailer I saw the "Kate Winslet, using her American accent, screams at someone in a strained/pained voice while making a plea." I love her, but I've seen that from her too many times. I hope there is a lot more to this than that.

Also, anything by Todd Haynes I'll watch. I'm just a little bummed he didn't go to his muse Julianne Moore. And she only had a minor role in "I'm Not There." Does anyone know what is going on with that relationship?

Volvagia said...

Well, I guess she views Haynes as one of her "visionaries", along with PT Anderson. They helped her and she helped them in their early-mid career, but now that they've acquired a comfortable position, we can allow them to do what they want.

dbm said...

The original with 6 Oscar nods and Joan's only gold statue directed by Michael Curtiz. Great flick !

This remake won't touch the original, but it still might be good because of the casting and director.

I'm with Nathaniel...I too suggest seeing the original and Crawford at her over the top best. Nobody did over the top better than her.

HBO is cranking out some high level product that challenges regular theater released films.

adri said...

Although Winslet is a terrific actress, for me, I'm going to say "no". I'm tired of her, just a personal reaction. I feel like maybe in a couple of years, I'll catch up with her work and enjoy it then.

The direction I'd like to see her going in now (although yes, parts just aren't there) is the way her Vanity Fair cover looked - blonde bombshell. Not Joan Crawford but Barbara Stanwyck, Veronica Lake, Carole Lombard. Beautiful and sexy and fun and dangerous. Not overwrought and melodramatic.

Jessica said...

I didn't realize it was Evan Rachel at first, and then when i did - my head twisted to the side and I retorted, "huh?"

NATHANIEL R said...

jessica -- just as long as your head didn't twist all the way around

everyone -- i really really hope from the comments here that people will take the time to see Crawford's performance. It's grand. that is probably what i hate most about new adaptations of things that have alreayd been done. It's ABSOLUTELY depressing that so many people have only seen the new Manchurian Candidate when the original is like 200,000 times better (and that includes all the performances Lansbury >>>>> better than Streep in that role)

Les said...

I'm just "expressing my opinion" too that I do find the age difference an issue with this, which I thought since the initial casting. They have a burden to bear with the actual work.

James T said...

You have a problem with the age difference. I got it the first time. ;)

Sara said...

I feel like I've seen this from Kate before. It feels a little vain to me.

ERW looks more like her little sister than her daughter. She wouldn't have had to have been a teen mom she would have to have been a PRE-teen mom!

It all looks a little overwrought to me. My memory might be fuzzy but the original seemed a bit more restrained. Crawford was larger than life.

adam k. said...

I really think Kate looks the way most Hollywood actresses do in their late 30s or even early 40s, and EVR looks like she could still be a teenager. Not bothered by it at all. Plus, EVR is very slight and frail, with small features, and this adds to the impression of youth. Kate has always been rather buxom and robust and was never much of an ingenue, per se. We'll see how it goes, but it seems fine.

Julianne Moore would've been very interesting in the role, but she really is a bit too old now to play 30s... especially the younger part of the story. Back in her Far From Heaven days, she would've been perfect. But also, I'm sure Haynes feels weird using her in EVERYTHING and would like to branch out a bit.

Paul T. said...

Yeah, these two actresses look more like sisters than mother and daughter. Sad that this is what Hollywood casting has become. But Kate Winslet can make this fly I think, and I've missed seeing her on screen. She looks stunning in this period costuming and makeup. She's clearly in her element. But practically anything would be better than her last award-winning project. A dialtone would be better than that.

Sam said...

I’m intrigued. I still remember the original Mildred Pierce with Joan Crawford in the starring role, and Ann Blyth as Veda.

Steolicious said...

Really exciting, what I liked about the classic is the old black-white look, but the 2011 Mini-Series looks stunning too.