Saturday, February 14, 2009

We Can't Wait #5 Bright Star

Directed by Jane Campion
Starring Abbie Cornish and Ben Whishaw. Co-starring: Paul Schneider, Thomas Sangster, Samuel Barnett and Kerry Fox
Synopsis A biopic with a romantic focus, it tells the story of the doomed love affair between Fannie Brown and the poet John Keats who died at only 25 by way of period cinema's most fearsome killer: tuberculosis. Cough once and you're dead by the end of the picture.
Brought to you by a merciful god for Jane Campion is back.
Expected release date god only knows

Nathaniel: I've just noticed that this list is rather filled with auteurs who are notoriously slow about actually making movies and Campion fits that bill though we didn't expect she would at first. After the international success of her masterpiece The Piano sixteen long years ago, it seemed like we'd be spending a lot of time wrestling with her inimitable voice and forceful humanist vision. She followed The Piano with a literary adaptation (Portrait of a Lady), a bizarre but intermittently brilliant deprogramming drama (Holy Smoke!) and one reviled genre mashup (In the Cut). Then she disappeared.

Here's to her reappearing act, Bright Star. Let's hope it's an artistic "comeback" to put it in reductive popular context. I have no great love for the biopic genre but I groove to doomed celluloid romances so I'm curious and excited. Campion has never made a film that's less than very interesting (In the Cut doesn't quite work but it's better than its rep) and she's working with a cast of young actors who may be going places.

Whitney: Jane Campion is quite amazing. Her last biopic (An Angel at my Table) is in my top five favorite films.

Nathaniel: And that one also stars the fearless Kerry Fox (who went down on co-stars long before Chlöe Sevigny agreed to service Vincent Gallo... but that's a topic for another post. Or perhaps better left alone entirely). Here's to the Campion/Fox reunion.

JA: Even amid all y'all's enthusiasm I remain cold. It'll depend on the reviews for me. I liked The Piano and I know I've seen Campion's other films but remember approximately zero-point-zero-zero about any of them (save how hot Mark Ruffalo looked with that 'stache in In The Cut).

Joe: Campion tends to make movies that fascinate me, even if I don't ever end up loving them (full disclosure: I've never seen The Portrait of a Lady -- last I checked it wasn't available via Netflix, which: WTF?). In the Cut is a fascinating failure, Holy Smoke! a fascinating mess. Obviously, I'm hoping this is an actual success, both for Jane, and also for my brand new favorite wispy English brooder Ben Whishaw. Love that kid!

Nathaniel: The rest of the cast compels, too. Abbie Cornish still hasn't really lived up to that initial "next big thing" buzz -- it must be so much pressure to be an actor from Australia these days post Russell, Cate, Hugh, Nicole, Naomi and Heath! -- but if anyone can sell me on her worth, it'll probably be Campion. Among the co-stars Schneider has been winning in a few movies recently (Lars and the Real Girl, Jesse James) and I hope Barnett sings again. Remember him crooning in The History Boys?

Readers... are there too many biopics on writers? Will you ever understand what Ryan Phillipe sees in Abbie Cornish? Will this be Jane Campion's ticket back to the Oscars in February 2010?

In case you missed any entries they went like so...
We Can't Wait:
#1 Inglourious Basterds, #2 Where the Wild Things Are, #3 Fantastic Mr. Fox,
#4 Avatar, #5 Bright Star, #6 Shutter Island, #7 Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
#8 Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus, #9 Nailed,
#10 Taking Woodstock,
#11 Watchmen, #12 The Hurt Locker, #13 The Road, #14 The Tree of Life
#15 Away We Go, #16 500 Days of Summer, #17 Drag Me To Hell,
#18 Whatever Works, #19 Broken Embraces, #20 Nine (the musical)
intro (orphans -didn't make group list)



Marshall said...

The Hours? Seriously? One of the worst movies I've ever seen. Glorifies suicide and shows all homosexuals to be completely bitter and miserable people, as if they're being punished.

Marshall said...

Seriously if Daldry hadn't made Billy Elliot I'd start to really wonder about his politics.


I personally don't think there's anything wrong with showing things like they were (Virginia Woolf did kill herself after all) and the suicide rates for homosexuals are disproportionate... but of course this is only true because of societal prejudices and not because of the homosexuality.

also... what drama is not in some ways about people being miserable ;) there'd be no conflict otherwise.

This is a long way of saying that I like The Hours.

and it's interesting that you bring up BILLY ELLIOT as a saving grace because i've heard people complain about the politics in that one, too.

different strokes.

but can i get an amen on how exciting it is to think that CAMPION is finally returning.

Anonymous said...

i picked the hours but sylvia contains gwynnie's best ever performance and one of my top 10 best actress performances of the decade.

Anonymous said...


Ben Whishaw and Samuel Barnett are the reasons I'm looking forward to this one. I don't like The Piano all that much, thought Portait of a Lady was okay (with some great performances), though Holy Smoke was okay (with a GREAT performance), didn't like In the Cut..... Okay, An Angel at my Table is a great film. Kerry Fox was amazing in it.

I don't hate biopics like Nathaniel, and this one has potential.

Anonymous said...

If the film looks amazing as the story we have a huge contender next year. I love "The Piano", I like "the Portrait of a Lady" and especially "holly Smoke" and about "In the Cut" well not much... But I think this is the ticket for Cornish and Wisham's stardom.

I only hope Cornish effect didn't have the same impact like Claire Danes, awfully snubbed in this AWFUL 2005 and she was snubbed especially after Billy Cudrup-Mary Louise Parker's scandal.

Incredible list of conteders:

*Brenda Blethyn, London Field (I heard EXCELLENT things for her performance in Berlin)
*Michelle Pfeiffer, Cheri: The Comeback of the year.
*Rachel Weisz, Agora: The star of the year in a real character film
*Abbie Cornish, Bright Star: The IT girl of the year?
*Gong Li, Shanghai: Maybe the first asian actress nominated in the leading category ever!!.
*Giovanna Mezzogiorno, Vincere / Audrey Tautou, Coco Chanel / Penelope Cruz, Los Abrazos Rotos: The fever of female actress in a foreign language film is over? Or maybe not?
The italian lady plays the first Mussolinni's wife, the french one follows Cotillard's route (One of the most important french icons) and the spanish one in an Almodovar's film.
*Sophie Okonedo, Skin
*Halle Berry, Frankie and Alice
*Emily Blunt, Young Victoria.
*Natalie Portman, Brothers.

Anonymous said...

I picked Iris. When love is deep, roles can be exchanged with the feelings remaining the same.

Anonymous said...

Yay Jane Campion!

As for biopics, about writers and in general, I wouldn't mind there being so many if most weren't all so 'meh'.
Not awful, and not artistically/cinematically/story-wise fantastic, just... meh.

On the other hand, I restate, yay Jane Campion! :)

Billy D said...

Waiting for The Young Victoria...aaaany time now...

(PS: Just returned from "The Class." Knocked me out)


ladeeduh exactly!

billyd i think we skipped all the movies that seem like they've been completed for ever and feel like they're never actually going to open. So, that one and Margaret we forgot all about. Though I do pray that Victoria doesn't sit on shelves for as long as the former.

Kurtis O said...

Can you believe I only finally saw "The Piano" this year!? Movies like that can change your life and it took me 24 years to get around to it. Needless to say, "Bright Star" has my attention.

Marshall said...

yes, amen on campion. i even kind of like in the cut because it's so insane.

Anonymous said...

I think the It girl of the Year is Carey Mulligan.

Glenn said...

Yes, very much looking forward to this!

I surprised myself and voted for Quills. Out of those listed - that I have seen, anyway - it is the one that has stuck in my mind most. It must be all those crazy visuals.

Anonymous said...

Something about this subgenre has always bothered me. When was the last successful writerly biopic that didn't operate first and foremost by having the writer's romantic/sexual adventures stand in for his or her literary proclivities or talents? Us literary types don't like having our real-life stand in for our life-on-the-page. It's possible that this just isn't a great source of cinema, that more visual strains of artists (painters, sculptors, even filmmakers) make for better biopic fodder.

You can show a Picasso and in so doing give a glimpse of what Picasso's art was like. But how did the filmmakers choose to showcase Capote's style? By playing up his vocalizations and reminding us again that he was really, really, into guys. Even murderous guys.

Anonymous said...

I am glad someone mentioned the extremely talented Giovanna Mezzigiornofor Vincere.

Too bad Love in the time of Cholera was bad, but this movie really has what it takes for her to get noticed. She is a HUGE star in Italy and I have seen her in 3 movies including the one nominated back in 2005 called Don't Look Now ( La Bestia nel cuore ) and she was magnificent in it.
My personal opinion is she is way better than Marion Cotillard who is good but Giovanna is always superb in everything in everything I have seen her in.

And the only reason I am looking forward to Bright Star in Ben Whishaw too!!!1

Anonymous said...

I really like Abbie Cornish... she was this beautiful revelation in Somersault (the Aussie big break of not just Abs but Sam Worthington, this year's Avanator) and then worked really well with Heath Ledger in Candy... I hope she turns out well in this film.