Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Whatever Happened to Serving the Material?

This morning in one of those free cheesy newspapers that they're always passing out on the subway I read the following:

Considering that sex sells more than ever these days, most actresses seem to relish the role of sexy vixen ...[blah blah blah deleted] So we were impressed to hear that while filming the upcoming Aeon Flux, Charlize Theron demanded to keep her clothes on. The movie's costume designer originally made a bikini and thigh-high boots for the 30-year-old to wear, which is funny considering that the role involved stunt work. Theron sent them back to the drawing board with a request for a bodysuit instead. "When playing with aspects of sexuality, certain things have to be hidden-that's what my mother always used to tell me," she says, according to Star magazine.

Now. You could chalk this up as another case of the rampant ineptitude of "journalists" who seem to do no research whatsoever when they write about something --especially if they're writing about Hollywood. For instance: Implying that a costume designer's idea is stupid because of stuntwork when the idea adheres closely to the visual hooks of the source material is just rude to the designer. Everyone with 90s pop cultural awareness knows that Aeon Flux's outfit looks like this:

not this:

Yes, sometimes you have to alter things for the screen...I'm not saying they shouldn't have made adjustments. But in championing Theron's newfound modesty (seriously, where did that come from?) they come off as just plain ol' clueless about the character. But obviously the costume designer (Beatriz Aruna Paztor whose credits include Alfie, Vanity Fair, Psycho (98), and The Fisher King among many others) wasn't.

So, you can choose to blame the reporter but I choose to blame Theron. If this story is indeed true it is just yet another example of a star unwilling to serve the material for personal reasons. Like Will Smith refusing to kiss his co-star well after being cast in a gay-themed project (Six Degress of Separation)or any number of stars who demand character changes for any selfish reason...even if the character ends up making no sense. My respect for Theron dropped a notch this morning.

It's one thing to not like a costume sketch that a designer hands you. It's another thing to act all high and mighty about your reasons for rejecting it when the truth is probably as simple as 'I'm too famous to show my bits now that I have an Oscar.'

I always felt that Theron wasn't right for this role. It should've gone to someone with a weirder charisma...or a more 'out there' edge. This gossip tidbit only confirms my suspicions. The new release date in December does suggest that the studio has some faith in the film (or Theron perhaps) to draw a crowd. I hope it's good but I'm not banking on a successful crossover.


adam k. said...

Why is Theron making movies like this anyway if she doesn't want to show skin? Oh right, money.
It does smell a bit like Halle Berry/Catwoman, though.
I do like Theron but I fear she'll find her place in the Berry/Swank circle of "look I have an oscar! now look how many bad movies I can make and still be famous and respected". Eh. Whatever.

Joe R. said...

See, I don't mind it so much. The old Aeon Flux wardrobe is one of those things that work perfectly fine on the comic page or in animation but become a distracting focus-puller on an actual human woman. Not that I think those were Charlize's arguments anyway, but whatever.

Halle in Catwoman is a good example, though. People were so focused on the skin-baring costume, and it eventually overshadowed what was important about the film. That being its mind-numbing suckiness.

adam k. said...

Oh, I wouldn't say the skin in Catwoman overshadowed the suckiness. It tried to, sure. But it failed. The suckiness was overwhelming.
I remember Nathaniel's "breasts can't act" comment. Haha.

Calum Reed said...

Jesus. Seeing those drawings I'm not surprised Theron didn't want to wear the originals. I'm really not a fan of Theron, and don't think she should have been anywhere near an Oscar in '03, but there's absoloutely no reason whatsoever why she should look like a hooker in Aeon Flux. She's done that once before.

Regardless of costume, I think Aeon Flux and Charlize will both win the razzie this year. Disaster waiting to happen.

Kris said...

Spot on, Nat.

Aeon Flux really didn't need cinematic updating. It's an entity that should have remained a fond Liquid Television memory. And the role should have gone to, say, Lara Flynn Boyle.

Furthermore, if the character was indeed destined for the screen, the entire landscape of the character and events needed to be altered because aluding to the TV series in any small way, a TV series that was just OUT there, is going to be a slight bit uncomfortable, such as this alteration to the costume. Aeon Flux could have been, for instance, a nice female Mission: Impossible franchise, but I doubt the film will be any good, and I doubt any studio would have such foresight anyway.

As for Theron's modesty...what the fuck? As long as she realizes any pinply faced geek can throw in a tape of The Devil's Advocate if he gets a jones to pleasure himself to those ta-tas. The mystery has been long gone in that respect. Long gone.

Anonymous said...

You know, I kinda have to hand the Oscar to Theron that year, based simply on the fact that the Academy ballsed up the nominations so shockingly. Evan Rachel Wood? Scarlett Johansson? Uma Thurman? Sarah Polley? Jamie Lee Curtis? All eminently forgettable apparently.

Much as I love Samantha Morton, and as thrilled as I was by the cheeky ambush of her nomination, that was a supporting performance if ever I saw one.

But back to the matter at hand: costume-wise, I struggle to care since I foresee giving the movie a miss either way.

Berry/Catwoman hangover still lingers. I'm going for a lie down.


Anonymous said...

Look at me. This is me not caring.

I'd rather watch her in that outfit than the original comic. And, yeah, it may not need to be updated to cinema but neither did a lot of things - but they did. Elektra case and point.

However, Theron has Class Action this year as well so she's not pulling a Berry on us yet.

adam k. said...

YES! Lara Flynn Boyle! That's it! I KNEW there was still a role out there for her, even with her new freakishness. She'd be perfect.
As for 2003, yeah, given the nominees, I'd have to give it to Theron also. But I'd rather have given it to Wood, Curtis, Thurman, or Johannson.
And yeah, I love Morton, but a lead performance that was not. Particularly compared to Considine, who was not even nominated.