Thursday, November 18, 2010

Julianne vs. Cate. Plus: What's Wrong With Hugo's Face?

Have you ever seen the movie Vanya on 42nd Street (1994)? It's really quite good. The movie plays something like a fly on the wall rehearsal documentary of a stage production of Anton Chekov's immortal "Uncle Vanya." It marked the first important clue that Julianne Moore was going to be a major screen goddess (unless you count Short Cuts as just that, which some do) and it also gave Brooke Smith her first worthwhile role after achieving a kind of 'who is that she looks so familiar?' fame as "The Girl in the Pit" in Silence of the Lambs.

Two "Yelena"s: Cate (on stage) and Julianne (on film)
It's a worthwhile rental so long as you give it your full attention as it's full of intricacies and performances of quiet but potent dramedic depth.  If you're in Australia, though, you can see more than a rehearsal. You can see the real thing on stage.


VANYA ON 42ND STREET


VANYA ON PIER 4, HICKSON ROAD

Andrew Upton (Mr. Cate Blanchett) has adapted the play for the Sydney Theater Company. The cast is full of familiar Australian movie faces like Cate herself, Hugo Weaving, Richard Roxburgh (Moulin Rouge!) and this year's Best Supporting Actress hopeful Jacki Weaver (Animal Kingdom). I expect a full report from Australian readers who get a chance to see it. Do as I say! The production is currently playing and runs through January 1st, 2011.

Can Cate's "Yelena" measure up to Julianne's sublime take?

And when is Hugo Weaving going to get another worthwhile film role? Lately the movies have reduced him to a disembodied voice or cameo player in noisy "event" movies (V For Vendetta, Lord of the Rings, Transformers). His next big role is the villainous Red Skull in Captain America: The First Avenger. But given the role, we still won't really be looking at his face, will we?

And what's wrong with his face, I ask. It's got real character. Stop hiding him, moviemakers!

14 comments:

Volvagia said...

Yet, ironically, that disembodied voice was also a leading role. OKAY?? By the way, to people who may be wondering, "what percentage of performances does this guy consider lead" my answer would be about 7% of performances are leading, as in dominant, roles in regards to the story. Yes, that's right: 7%. Then about 91% are supporting and the remaining 2% are tertiary. For example: Jack Warden, Warren Beatty and Julie Christie are the LEADS of Shampoo. I buy Goldie Hawn and Lee Grant as support though. But anyone holding out for Carrie Fisher will be disappointed: she's tertiary in Shampoo.

mrripley said...

Hi nat.

would julianne be in you best actress 1994 linep and who were the other 4 that year for you,what about brooke in supp actress 1994 and who were your other 4.

The Hated One said...

@Volvagia

Why are you always talking about leads, supportings and tertiarys and whatnots?

Volvagia said...

I think I remember that The Ref, Nell and Heavenly Creatures were also in his lineup. Not exactly what I'd go with, but my ballot probably skews more young (Natalie Portman), more trashy (Juliette Lewis, Linda Fiorentino), more foreign (Irene Jacob) than Oscar ever would go.

Drew said...

wowzer... Cate, Richard, Jacki, Hugo AND John Bell and Sandy Gore! I might consider it if Sydney weren't 3000+ kilometres from my corner of Australia. Plus Andrew Upton has so far proven himself to be one of the worst playwrights in Australian history... just google "Riflemind" for the reviews.

Volvagia said...

Because it's important to have a genuine sense of who fits where, as opposed to the studios who tell us "if they're famous, they must be a lead and if they're not, they must be a support." Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society is the ultimate example of that issue because he was supporting (bordering on tertiary). But no way were Robert Sean Leonard or Spike Lee taking lead slots from someone the studios felt was famous and, thus, more acceptable to be submitted as a lead than as a support. (Worst Lead Actor fields ever: '83, '86 and '89. At these times, I toss the field. The first time, it's almost entirely due to their reluctant attitude toward comedy (Local Hero, King of Comedy, Scarface (the most biting satire EVER) and their rejection of a "small" actor in a leading role (Local Hero, The Right Stuff). The second time results from a combo of factors. 1. Kurt Russell ousted because of comedy status of Big Trouble in Little China. 2. Feldman, Roderick and Ruck were too young/small. 3. Sid and Nancy way too gritty for them. And that's without having seen Manhunter and the Fly. The third time: Not sure if I'd toss My Left Foot, but Henry V and Born on the Forth both look like they would descend into the irredeemable (over earnest) form of histrionics.

My fields on those unforgivable races:

'83:

Al Pacino, Scarface
Peter Capaldi, Local Hero
Peter Riegert, Local Hero
Robert DeNiro, The King of Comedy
Ed Harris, The Right Stuff

'86:

Kurt Russell, Big Trouble in Little China
Corey Feldman, Stand By Me
Alan Ruck, Ferris Bueller's Day Off
Matthew Broderick, Ferris Bueller's Day Off
Gary Oldman, Sid and Nancy

'89:

Christian Slater, Heathers
Spike Lee, Do the Right Thing
Martin Landau, Crimes and Misdemeanors
Jack Nicholson, Batman
John Mahoney, Say Anything...

NATHANIEL R said...

let's stay on topic: julianne, cate, uncle vanya, hugo weaving. k' thanks.

mrripley -- my 94 list is always changing but it usually includes these three: LEWIS (nbk), FOSTER (nell), RYDER (reality bites)... with a bunch of others ever rotating. I don't much like the Oscar list that year. it was one of those years where the best work was being done in non-prestige type films. But Julianne is great in VANYA ON 42ND STREET but i didn't see it till after [SAFE] so she wasn't in my original list. I'd have to rethink since there's also the HEAVENLY CREATURES girls :)

Hayden said...

Julianne Moore is so terrific in this. Although when we studied it in my Theater into Film class two semesters ago, my professor said a lot of theater-minded critics said she (and a lot of the cast) missed the comedy that was Chekov's intent. But that's also the eternal problem a lot of people have with Very Dramatic interpretations of Chekov.

But, for how they interpreted the play, Julianne Moore is flawless. The whole concept of the film is a blast because you don't feel guilty focusing on the actress at work instead of on her character. Although both are SO compelling.

/3rtfu11 said...

The Academy’s post-89 ceremony hatred of Sigourney Weaver automatically disqualified the best female performance of 1994 in Death and the Maiden.

JoFo said...

I've got my tickets! I can't wait to see it, and I'll let you know how it is. I'm lucky enough to work in the Sydney Theatre Company building actually, which means I've had the pleasure of serving Cate Blanchett a slice of banana bread. Highlight of my hospitality career.

That or Jacki Weaver calling me darling.

So far word on the play is that it's pretty darn good, but I have to admit I'm a bit concerned about Andrew Uptons involvment. His previous scripts have been pretty ordinary and a production he staged of Long Days Journey Into Night earlier this year with Robyn Nevin and William Hurt was was saved by great acting, but the direction was bland and amateurish.

Glenn Dunks said...

I thought the 94 actress race was all about Linda Fiorentino (and her subsequent ineligibility).

As for the play with Cate... well, someone I know who has seen it wasn't that impressed. I hope this doesn't keep Jacki Weaver out of Best Supporting Actress! She's not able to ditch the play for US press until the new year I think.

29crowjane said...

Hugo Weaving does plenty of roles where his face is on full view... most of them are in smaller-budget Australian films like Proof, Little Fish and Last Ride. He has said he prefers to be hidden to some extent in some big-budget films because he wants the focus to be on the character, not Hugo Weaving, Celebrity. (I also think he's reluctant to be over-identified with genre villain roles, given the extent to which he's downplayed his Transformers VO.)

Vanya on 42nd Street was my first exposure to Uncle Vanya... Julianne Moore was luminous in it. I also adored STC's version of Hedda Gabler a few years ago, so I envy everyone who can make it to STC's Vanya. And Oscars rarely if ever go to the most deserving nominees, if the most deserving performance even gets nominated.

NATHANIEL R said...

29crowjane -- but PROOF was so long ago. I just feel like lately the movie career isn't what it should be. I mean WOLF MAN? ugh. He was so good in Proof and Priscilla and even The Matrix... and now i feel like he's hiding. ;)

JoFo -- Cate eats carbs? Who knew. Love that Jacki called you darling.

Glenn - yikes, i hadn't thought of that. but not campaigning is definitely a problem when you're lesser known.

Bing147 said...

Moore is my win for this one in 94, she's just amazing. I also make room in my actor lineup for Wallace Shawn who gives a career best performance here. Its great stuff.