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Archive for the ‘Janet McTeer’ Category

Maleficent

22 Jun

Maleficent – directed by Robert Stromberg. Fractured Fairy Tale. 97 minutes Color 2014.

★★★★

The Story: A fairy queen jilted, takes out her resentment on the jilter’s daughter, giving rise to unforeseen circumstances.

~ ~ ~

The Disney Imagination that has gone into this can be seen by looking into one big Keane painting child’s eye. It is exaggerated in its content, yet it is too big even for its content. Sentimentality with bling.

But we must set that aside if we are to remain in our seats. Even though, as usual with Disney films, we see the details become lost in the speed, we are at least afforded one thing to gaze upon steadily and with reverence, and that is the visage of Angelina Jolie.

Once again she is one of her PowerBeauty roles. Not too many actresses have the fortification to manage such parts. Our Liz, of course, and Garbo, who did it without exerting any power. But Jolie brings forth the blaze of her beauty as a weapon fit to crush all who dare to look upon it impiously. Ah, the Jujitsu of her eyes! It is a treat which movies alone afford us.

Angelina Jolie is an actress much limited to such roles, and when you see her in a part such as in Changling, it is clear she does not have the technique to manage it. But here, as Maleficent, she is on her home field, and, boy, is she good. She gets to be hot under her many collars but brings touches of wit and reserves of humor to the role, which often consists of her standing still in a huge cape and horns and being gazed upon. A little “hm” of commentary now and again brings all the fun we need.

The rest is spectacular displays of special effects and animation, with a dragon emitting more fire from its mouth than Bette Davis, and a flying scene that’s a humdinger.

The story is just like that of The Rover with Guy Pearce – in a field of hell, someone who hates someone else comes to love that person. Children may be frightened by the hell, but so what? If Disney had been afraid of that, he would never have made Snow White.

Janet McTeer does the narration. And Imelda Staunton flapdoodles about as a maladroit  fairy. And as to the rest – well, it’s all Tinkerbell tosh – but still, a little of that is good thing sometimes, especially when Angelina Jolie is just the medicine that helps the sugar go down.

Everyone is seeing it, and, although I didn’t, I should think it’s better to do so in 3-D than not.

 
 

Albert Nobbs

31 Jan

Albert Nobbs — directed by Rodrigo Garcia. Drama. A waiter in a second tier Irish hotel is actually a female in mufti, which leads to difficulties and revelations for all. 113 minutes Color 2011.

* * * * *

Master actor Glenn Close has co-written a screenplay of a short story of the Victorian writer George Moore, so it is curious that she makes the error she does in creating her own part. She is remarkable in it, mind you, and the film is worth seeing for two other extraordinary performances in it as well, the celebrated Pauline Collins playing, with Dickensian relish, the old trout of a hotel owner who rules her roost with the high hand of hypocrisy. And Janet McTeer. It’s wonderful to see for the first time an actress of genius whom one has never come upon before or even heard of. Once Janet McTeer enters the screen you do not want to forsake her company no matter what. You want the camera to be on her perpetually. She is not a scene-stealer or a virtuoso actress. She is simply present wholly as the character in the moment before her. To reveal more would be to betray her part in the story and the brilliant and heartful way it is played out by her. But back to Glenn Close, who is a virtuoso actress and whom we want to steal all scenes within reach. Will she get it right this time?  Or will she fall into her usual trap? But – wait, what is clear almost from the start is that the part as written by herself is virtually unplayable, by which I mean that it can’t go anywhere. First, she has chosen the name of Albert, which no other name can exceed in tedious respectability.  She does not try to make the character masculine. She does not imitate a male. She simply presents Albert as a person without gender of any kind. Also she makes him hysterical, but with an hysteria completely lidded down by fear of exposure. That is to say, Albert is forbidden all emotional life. Also she makes Albert withdrawn, an introvert’s introvert. He is shier than shy, a person without repartee. At the staff meals in the hotel kitchen we see how he is accepted by everyone as Mr. Nobbs and taken an interest in by no one. Which is as it should be, for he is so without affect that he is entirely without mystery, even the mystery of how come he is without mystery. An automaton of self-effacing efficiency, he offends no one. The creation of this human being right before our eyes is a major treat. Here is the great Glenn Close doing the impossible, and the first half of the film gives us really one of the great performances of modern times. But the thought crosses one’s mind: where can she go, having set it up as a person so frozen there is no melting possible, no calving of a glacier? Albert has one ambition, which is to open a tobacconist shop. And that is probably the direction the story should go, but it doesn’t. Instead it goes in the direction of her trying to marry a cute housemaid at the hotel. If this worked in the original story, I don’t know, but it does not work here. First, because Albert is a watcher and a listener, and it is obvious that the housemaid is involved with the sexy cad handyman. This is known; everyone says so. So Albert loses our sympathy because she is rank stupid. Secondly, the cause given for her lesbianism is the routine TV reason that she was gang-raped when young, as though every lesbian had to be likewise to become one, whereas the fact is she has no notion about sex or love whatsoever; she is a sexual anorectic; she has no drive, not even a lesbian one. She is clueless. Her desire to set up housekeeping with a woman is not sexually based; it is commercially based: she would have a shopgirl in the tobacco store. So the character loses more and more identification as the film goes on. And Close falls into her old trap of making the character she plays holy with happiness in a beach scene in a dress. Setting all this aside, the film itself is a deep and vital investigation of hypocrisy in action in us all. And worth seeing for the three great actresses at the top of their bent in it. Don’t miss it.

 
 
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