Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Nathan Jones's Diary

On my flight to Utah on Delta airlines last week, the little free TV on the back of my seat was showing a variety of unappealing series. Two movies happened to be playing. The first choice was King Arthur which looked ridiculous with a capital R whenever I flipped past it (I haven't seen it). The second choice was Bridget Jones Diary. Renée Zellweger is really veddy veddy good in it. But you knew that already. I'm totally down with her Oscar nomination that year (though I think she's even better in Nurse Betty the year before). You can see all of Renée's familiar facial tics but there’s nothing calcified or forced about her comic mugging. It’s like at some point in her career --I'm guessing Chicago but your chronology may vary -- she decided to Perform Renee Zellweger rather than just Being Renée Zellweger. It was and remains disconcerting.

Also: she’s so much hotter with a full figure. There's a couple of unflattering outfits in BDD but mostly she just looks healthy... comfy even. Too bad she became the poster child for the stick figure revolution among actresses. Spilling out of her playboy bunny outfit and giggling / embarrassed at her giant underpants, she’s adorable with a capital A. Bet you never thought you'd hear me say that again. Hey, it was a long flight. She thoroughly distracted me and you have to give thanks for unexpected gifts.

But the airline's satellite feed was lost and Renee’s image was eventually scrambled, her face distorted and frozen in mid-expression... art imitating life retroactively.


ryansumera said...

i've also "re-seen" this one a few days ago. and, yes, she was very, very good. a funny thing i've noticed is how unappealing the character of "shazzer" was considering it was played, supposedly, by the same person the character was based on.

Andy Scott said...

Fingers crossed that she wins you over again in "Leatherheads" ;)

I caught bits and pieces of Bridget over the weekend. I tried picturing what Kate Winslet would've been like in the title role, but I don't think she would've pulled off the awkward charm like Renee did. It's her best performance in my book.

Neel Mehta said...

a funny thing i've noticed is how unappealing the character of "shazzer" was considering it was played, supposedly, by the same person the character was based on.

I don't think that's right. I believe the inspiration for Shazzer was a friend of Helen Fielding who also directed the movie.

ryansumera said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ryansumera said...

@neel mehta

ah yes. it was the director. still, an unappealing performance. too bad, it had "scene-stealer" written all over it in the book.

poz pig said...

I completely fell head over heels in love with Renee in Jerry Maguire. I thought she gave the stand-out performance in that film and I was convinced she would be a huge star. It did take a while but Bridget Jones confirmed everything I thought about her work in Maguire - yes she has great comic timing, but she can bring a touching emotional gravity too. The garden scene in Maguire, where she breaks up with Cruise is still her finest moment.

But I agree completely that something has changed in her work over the last 5 or 6 years. I thought she was actually great in Chicago, but nothing she has done since has really suited her. I am still hoping its just a bad patch and she can get back on track.

Anonymous said...

Who are you to decide what's best for an actress in terms of her physical appearance ?

Renee Z is known to be a fitness addict. She likes to work out (weight lifting, running...), just like Madonna for instance. Being naturally slim and pretty small, she appears very thin but she's also very toned.

Funny because I never hear people complain about Hugh Jackman working out too much... or any other male actors for that matter. Double standard live on

I don't think it's that hard for people to understand that there are women out there who enjoy working out and, just like men, feel better if they do, even though they don't qualify as babes for.. gay (!) bloggers.

Maybe you should point out at how great Nikki Blondsky look ? But you wouldn't want to upset anyone I guess, since it's so unpopular to bash obesity but it's so tendance to bash fit girls just for the sake of it. Pretty lame actually.


dick --it's the business of all audience members to decide what's best for their own eyes. I like Renee plumper than she likes herself. Deal with it. I'm not her personal trainer or dietician or advisor. I'm just a writer who shares his opinion on films and actors.

My feeling: it's not healthy to be that thin. No matter how you want to justify it. Being fit is different than being thin. As for comparing that to Hugh Jackman. I don't get it. Hugh Jackman has big muscles... He's obviously in good shape. Defined musculature is not detrimental to your health. Being as underweight as many actresses are is. It can interrupt menstrual cycles, complicated pregnancies... you name it.

And frankly, I don't see what Nikki Blonsky has to do with any of this. Or for that matter what my being gay (!) (exclamation yours. what's that about?) has to do with it either.

And if you think I care about what's "popular" than you're obviously not a regular here ;)

If I cared about that I would never be talking about half the people I talk about, i'd only be talking about summer blockbusters and I'd be towing the party line on all the "big deals"... like, say, Cate Blanchett and Phillip Seymour Hoffman.

I gotta be me

but bless your heart for sticking by Renee through thick and thin (no pun intended) I hope to feel as warmly about her again someday

Anonymous said...

I'm not convinced by your response, Nat. It's true that you bash skinny actresses constantly, yet those who are clearly overweight or out of shape get a free pass.

And since when taking steroids is healthy ? Like, how do you think Christian Bale went from his Machinist shape to his Batman Begins shape ? Will-power ? Don't be so naive


Hmmm. the only two I can recall bitching about regularly are Keira Knightley (who I've left alone for a long time now) and Renée (who I've been trying to make up with --this post was nice. come on) but point taken. As for steroids I wouldn't necessarily defend that either but having seen the effects of steroids fairly regularly in Manhattan I personally don't think that Hugh Jackman is using them. The muscles don't look "inflated" or baloon like in that way. Christian Bale is more likely, you're right.

But as for skinny --you're probably right that I have mentioned it more than enough. it is a concern of mine is all. I hate to see beautiful actresses (I love actresses you know) risking their health for it and looking worse for it. Maybe it was all those reports I saw on anorexia and all those gossip photos on the net of bones sticking out of Kate Bosworth and various people.

as for overweight actresses... I don't understand how that relates to this discussion. Or how bitching about that would even it out.

First of all, there aren't very many of them. Who is there to bitch about? ;)

and furthermore why would one bitch about that? Does anyone see Nikki Blonsky (charming and great in Hairspray but a huge future in the movies? Probably not) and think 'I want to put on more weight than is healthy so I can look just like her!' and yet the overly skinny people are constantly held up as ideals. So, yeah, i'm not sure why I should complain about overweight actresses.

it isn't a widespread problem.

Anonymous said...

OK, this has gotten off track, which is sad, because I much enjoyed this post and fondly enjoyed the "Being Renée" nostalgia.

Andy Scott, you make an interesting point re Kate Winslet, although I think of what Winslet achieved in The Holiday (a super genre performance I never expected) and figure she could just have surprised us again had she been cast as Bridget.


Anonymous said...

The first thing I saw Renee in was Jerry Maquire and right off the bat her squinching (or squinting, rather) put me off a bit, but there's admittedly a lot of her work I haven't seen.

the surprise for bridget for me was not that Renee was charming in it (she was) but that Hugh Grant was such a hottie. I had NEVER liked Hugh Grant before - his mannerisms, that "performing Hugh Grant" (or some variation thereof), the predictable bag of tricks (and he came across as a one-trick pony at that) always got in the way, even in Sense and Sensibility.

And then came Bridget (where he played a jerk who does try to be likeable - and became my favorite character) and About a Boy and suddenly I was head over heels for the man. that love scene between him and Bridget! the granny pants! that was amazingly hot. So I thank whoever convinced Grant to drop the fumbling, bumbling, stuttering mannerisms very, very much.

Re: the weight thing - I hear what you are saying, Nat. She was never that thin in Jerry Maquire or in her early pics or photo spreads, never had her bones sticking out. And the fact that extreme thinness: you are absolutely right about how it can mess with the body ( I experienced all of that when I involuntarily fell close to 100 pounds as a teenager - and stopped having menstral cycles for a full year - thanks to undiagnosed systemic lupus).

BUt enough about me - the point is, we are being sold a bill of goods - that THIS is the ideal of beauty, that THIS is how women are supposed to look, and so on and so forth. So when a very normal woman comes our way - Kate Winslet, America Ferrera *sigh* she has to defend herself from charges that she is "fat".

Nat can't rag on fat actresses because there are hardly any in the movies! (Although admittedly I would love to see Margo Martindale drop a few pounds for the sake of her health. She seems to be Hollywood's resisdent "let's get a 'fat gal' in the movie" character actress - lucky for us she's so damn good. Unlucky for her, though, because if she were as thin as Hollywood demands we'd see her in all sorts of leading roles because she can act circles around nearly everyone. Except, maybe, Patricia Clarkson.)

What was the point of this thread again? Renee, oh yeah. Whatever.


Ed Mahony said...

'Also: she’s so much hotter with a full figure'

- i think so too (why oh why do some women think they have to look like rakes?).