Wednesday, February 07, 2007

We Can't Wait #11 Bug

Some of you will remember pieces of this post from last year. Bug played at Cannes in May '06, winning an international critics prize, and was scheduled to arrive stateside in December. Lions Gate mixed up a trailer and then *poof* it was gone from the schedule. But Bug still exists. It's now just marked as "coming soon."

The cropped Avedon photo to your left [NSFW version] ran in the New Yorker back when Bug was a word-of-mouth sensation Off Broadway. What I love about this photo is the way it catches so much of Bug the play; the exposed actors (not just physically, mind you) and the paranoid hostility projected from its insular love affair.

The story of Bug involves a down on her luck woman (Ashley Judd in de-glam mode --calling all AMPAS voters --taking on the role originated by Shannon Cochran, in the photo here) hiding out from her estranged ex-con husband (Harry Connick Jr) and falling in with a sweet stranger (Michael Shannon) who she hopes will protect her. The play starts off grounded and gritty but lifts off into the surreal in the second act. Bug's memorable narrative force might have indeed made for a corker of a film but the intense lunatic vibe of its second half was so rooted in theatricality (and close quarters with the audience) that I scratch my head wondering how William Friedkin transferred it to the screen. I hope he got his 70s Exorcist powers back. Certainly he'll have to go without the nudity the play used effectively. The central duo will have to give extremely naked performances to do full justice to the unraveling souls of Bug.

So what I wanted to ask my blogbuddies is this: If you've seen the play how do you imagine it faring without the nudity? Ashley Judd: true actor or washed up celebrity?

Gabriel: I can comment on the play, which was one of my top ten of the year in 2004. It'll be fine without the nudity...the play is a psychological torment, so what's most important is the sense of claustrophic fear. I love the play, and love that they kept Michael Shannon for the movie...he was amazing on stage. My biggest fear: that Ashley Judd screwed it all up.

Joe: I think Ashley Judd has shown us before that she’s a real actress capable of serious and impressive work. It’s just been a matter, lately, of her not seeking (actively avoiding) quality material. Well, okay, Ash. You’ve made your money. Now it’s back to making movies. I like that this looks like something she can dive right into, creatively.

Lulu: Oooh. Gosh. Golly. What's that scent? Eau de Trainwreque? But I will eat a bug if I turn out to be wrong. (Heard it here first)

Nathaniel: Bon appetit. I doubt we're talking trainwreque ;) the source material is very strong. I'm just worried they didn't do it full justice.

JA: All of my excitement about Bug comes from Nathaniel, and what he's said about the play, so Nat, this one lay totally on you! You better not let me down!

Nathaniel: the pressure. the pressure.

JA: Ashley Judd I have no opinions on, good or bad. The only film I've ever seen her in is Heat and she was in that for maybe 10 minutes of screentime. Then she went and made a 12-hour miniseries where she was a drunk cop tangled up with a murderer and Morgan Freeman, right?

Nathaniel: Something like that, yes. How about the readers: any interest in the psychological horrors of Bug? And your verdict on Ashley Judd as an actor?

previously on "we can't wait"
#12 Sunshine
#13 Southland Tales
#14 300
#15 Hot Fuzz
#16 Stardust
#17 The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
#18 Spider-Man 3
#19 Rendition
#20 The Bourne Ultimatum
Intro -films that didn't make the list

tags: Michael Shannon, Bug, Ashley Judd, theater, theatre, Harry Connick Jr


John T said...

I personally think that Judd will get a nomination for this, particularly if it's any kind of good. This is for three reasons:

1. She's one of the most bankable female leads of the last decade-Oscar hearts money.

2. She's gotta be popular with the Academy, they keep inviting her to present (witness the recent nominations for additional perennial presenters Salma Hayek and Penelope Cruz).

3. De-glam, de-glam, de-glam!

I'm looking forward to it-I've always kind of liked Judd, in a I-know-I-shouldn't-be-enjoying-this sort of way.

Dave said...

I actually saw 'Bug' at the London Film Festival, and, although I can't compare it to the play (since I've not seen it- I don't think they ever did it in Britain), I thought it was absolutely brilliant. It's extremely disturbing and tense, with a very dark sense of humour- although I was so horrified I could barely laugh. Friedkin does a brilliant job of descending into the two central character's insular worlds as they go, well, insane. Both Ashley Judd and Michael Shannon are amazing. I don't think it's everyone's thing (my mum, predictably, didn't go for it), but it could easily be my top for 2007- something truly stunning will have to arrive to beat it. I hope it gets a release date soon so I can experience it again.

Anonymous said...

I'm confused about this film? Is this the Friedkin film? Because the trailer looked very schloky, lowest common denominator horror - and I can't remember Judd being in it. I remember being hyped up about the film because of its original play origins.

Or is there another Bug also banging about?

Anonymous said...

And yes - totally second John T on Judd being a guilty pleasure. I'd like to see her with an Oscar nom one day.

Loved that really derivative film she did - when she was going on a revenge rampage after her husband framed her for murder, or something like that anyway!

Barry said...

Ashley Judd can be a very good actress (Kiss the Girls and the recent Come Early Morning) and a very bad actress (Twisted, High Crimes). Hopefully she will be good in Bug. From the trailer she doesn't look too bad.

Anonymous said...

'Double Jeopardy' you mean. Trashy fun that was but quality? Not so much (and P.S. I think this was her only certifiable hit, so "bankable" might be a stretch).

Judd seems to be a decent actor who pidgeonholed herself in those "women in peril" movies for far too long. I remember how exciting -- or, at least, promising -- she was in the mid-90's so it would be nice for her to make good on that.


Dave, that's really good to hear. I loved the play so much that I'm just anxious.

all I actually have barely seen Ashley Judd in any movies at all the more I think about it. I avoided all that obvious schlock she was doing... though I did somehow end up sitting through Kiss The Girls (meh) during the era of everyone wanting to find the next Se7en

but I loved her in Smoke. Woulda definitely one a cameo gold medal had i been doing my awards back them. Really intense vibe she gave off in that movie.

Anonymous said...

Judd has been good in limited roles before -- Heat, A Time to Kill, Frida come to mind -- and on TV in Norma Jean and Marilyn, but has never impressed me all that much as a lead in a film. I'd bet she has the chops though and this could turn into a nom. Everyone loves her and she sure is purty.

StinkyLulu said...

Judd's got the goods. She's scary good in parts of Ya Yay. She's just been so strangely packaged and botoxed.

I'm all for this being as good as Dave says. Bugs are a good source of protein.

Anonymous said...

I find Judd generally makes me sit up and pay attention whenever she's onscreen, but the choice of material has been ba-a-a-ad. There's a few great performances in there, I reckon.


PIPER said...

I've seen this trailer and thought it was pretty cool looking, but then as you stated it was gone.

Looking forward to seeing it. It seems like a very original idea, hope it doesn't get lost in the mess that is Hollywodd.

Anonymous said...

Waiting for the defining great Judd performance.Hope this is it.She has showed she's more than capable and with Michael Shannon it could be great. (Botox?--don't think so.)

Jason Adams said...

May 25th, it seems.

mistyh92104 said...

If ya haven't seen it, try to locate "Ruby in Paradise" (which, unfortunately, is still not out on DVD). It's a lil gem of a movie and one of Ashley's first roles. Though she hasn't really done much for me since, she is wonderful in this one. Though I did like her little parts in "Smoke" and "Heat", I'm still waiting for her to follow through on her early promise in "Ruby".

Glenn Dunks said...

I remember loving her deleted scene from Natural Born Killers.

Anonymous said...

BUG will be released in the US on May 25th, 2007.

Ashley does an amazing job, btw. Michael Shannon is pure genius. I hope we see more of him.