Sony Pictures via Everett Collection
Cate Blanchett recently won her second Academy Award for her brilliant performance in Blue Jasmine , which means that a younger generation of moviegoers is becoming familiar with her work for the first time. Prior to this, Blanchett has been relatively absent from the film industry, devoting her time instead to the Sydney Theatre Company which she co-directed with her husband for six years. Moreover, most moviegoers recognize Blanchett for her brief appearances as Galadriel in the beloved The Lord of The Rings trilogy, or for her performances in more mainstream films like The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008) and The Aviator (2004), for which she won her first Academy Award as legendary actress Katharine Hepburn. All of this is fine, but Blanchett’s greatest performances can be found in lesser-known, independent films that mainstream audiences tend to overlook. Below is a list of 10 of these performances to remind us once again why Blanchett is one of the most captivating screen actresses of our time.
1. Jude in I’m Not There. (2007)
In Todd Haynes’ wildly inventive “biopic” of Bob Dylan, Blanchett owns the film as a version of the musician during his electric years. Since the film isn’t told in a linear fashion, audiences didn’t bother to see it, but within seconds it becomes clear that Blanchett is the only performer — male or female — who could have played this role.
2. Philippa in Heaven (2002)
Blanchett is a revelation as a woman who is arrested for terrorist acts and subsequently falls in love with the officer (Giovanni Ribisi) who is supposed to look after her while in a holding cell. Heaven begins as a thriller and ends as one of the most romantic films ever made, with Blanchett taking the audience on this riveting journey every step of the way
3. Sheba Hart in Notes on a Scandal (2006)
Blanchett goes toe-to-toe with acting legend Judi Dench in this taut psychological drama about a teacher (Blanchett) who has an affair with a student and is found out by one of the senior teachers (Dench) at the school. Few films are as impeccably acted as this, and during the film’s intense, climactic showdown, Blanchett shows a side of herself that audiences haven’t seen since.
4. Cate and Shelly in Coffee and Cigarettes (2003)
Coffee and Cigarettes is an anthology film by Jim Jarmusch, and in one of the vignettes entitled “Cousins,” Blanchett stars opposite herself as both Cate and Shelly, two wildly different cousins who reunite over a cup of coffee. Not much happens here, except that we are shown Blanchett’s incredible range as she inhabits both of these characters with equal skill. Who else can pull something like this off and yet make it so watchable and believable?
5. Tracy in Little Fish (2005)
Blanchett is riveting as a drug addict struggling to rebuild her life in this excellent Australian drama. Those who marveled at Blanchett’s ability to confront addiction head-on in Blue Jasmine might be surprised to find that she’s just as fierce in Little Fish, a film that might have earned her a Best Actress Academy Award if it were more popular in the United States.
6. Charlotte Gray in Charlotte Gray (2001)
Blanchett is lovely as a young Scottish woman who joins the French Resistance during WWII to find her boyfriend who is lost in France. Director Gillian Armstrong is known for her beautiful restraint, and Blanchett matches her with a performance that feels so authentic we almost forget she’s acting at all.
7. Kate Wheeler in Bandits (2001)
Who knew Blanchett could be so funny? Bandits is a ridiculous caper that stars Billy Bob Thornton and Bruce Willis as two bank robbers who kidnap Blanchett and fall in love with her. Unlike Heaven, which is somber and serious, Bandits is a playful romp. For those who admired Jennifer Lawrence’s “Live and Let Die” moment in American Hustle, remember that Blanchett did it years ago while dancing to “I Need a Hero” in this film.
8. Veronica Guerin in Veronica Guerin (2003)
In this true story, Blanchett plays Veronica Guerin, an Irish journalist who was murdered by drug dealers when she exposed their crimes in her articles. This is a heartbreaking tale about an ordinary hero, and Blanchett’s riveting turn pays proper homage to Guerin while simultaneously allowing her legacy to live on in the hearts and minds of those fortunate enough to who watch this courageous film.
9. Petal Barr in The Shipping News (2001)
The Shipping News isn’t a great movie, but it is worth mentioning for Blanchett’s scene-stealing turn as Kevin Spacey’s reckless lover who leaves him in the beginning of the movie. Her part is small, but she makes an undeniable impact, and shows how she can make the most of even the slightest roles. For the few scenes she’s in, Blanchett makes us feel like we’ve been with this character forever.
10. Queen Elizabeth I in Elizabeth (1998)
One of the biggest injustices in Academy Awards history is when Gwyneth Paltrow won the Best Actress Oscar for Shakespeare in Love in the same year that Blanchett gave us her rendition of a young Queen Elizabeth in Elizabeth, one of the finest lead performances in the history of cinema. Paltrow is fine, but Blanchett’s work in this film is in a class by itself. This is the one that started it all.
You don't arrive at the Grand Budapest Hotel without your share of Wes Anderson baggage. Odds are, if you've booked a visit to this film, you've enjoyed your past trips to the Wes Indies (I promise I'll stop this extended metaphor soon), delighting especially in Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, and his most recent charmer Moonrise Kingdom. On the other hand, you could be the adventurous sort — a curious diplomat who never really got Anderson's uric-toned deadpan drudgings but can't resist browsing through the brochures of his latest European getaway. First off, neither community should worry about a bias in this review — I'm a Life Aquatic devotee, equally alienating to both sides. Second, neither community should be deterred by Andersonian expectations, be they sky high or subterranean, in planned Budapest excursions. No matter who you are, this movie will charm your dandy pants off and then some.
While GBH hangs tight to the filmmaker's recognizable style, the movie is a departure for Anderson in a number of ways. The first being plot: there is one. A doozy, too. We're accustomed to spending our Wes flicks peering into the stagnant souls of pensive man-children — or children-men (Moonrise) or fox-kits (guess) — whose journeys are confined primarily to the internal. But not long into Grand Budapest, we're on a bona fide adventure with one of the director's most attractive heroes to date: the didactic Gustave H. (Ralph Fiennes mastering sympathetic comedy better than anyone could have imagined he might), who invests his heart and soul into the titular hotel, an oasis of nobility in a decaying 1930s Europe. Gustave is plucked from his sadomasochistic nirvana overseeing every cog and sprocket in the mountaintop institution and thrust into a madcap caper — reminiscent of, and not accidentally, the Hollywood comedies of the era — involving murder, framing, art theft, jailbreak, love, sex, envy, secret societies, high speed chases... believe me, I haven't given half of it away. Along the way, we rope in a courageous baker (Saoirse Ronan), a dutiful attorney (Jeff Goldblum), a hotheaded socialite (Adrien Brody) and his psychopathic henchman (Willem Dafoe), and no shortage of Anderson regulars. The director proves just as adept at the large scale as he is at the small, delivering would-be cartoon high jinks with the same tangible life that you'd find in a Billy Wilder romp or one of the better Hope/Crosby Road to movies.
Anchoring the monkey business down to a recognizable planet Earth (without sacrificing an ounce of comedy) is the throughline of Gustave's budding friendship with his lobby boy, Zero (newcomer Tony Revolori, whose performance is an unprecedented and thrilling mixture of Wes Anderson stoicism and tempered humility), the only living being who appreciates the significance of the Grand Budapest as much as Gustave does. In joining these two oddballs on their quest beyond the parameters of FDA-approved doses of zany, we appreciate it, too: the significance of holding fast to something you believe in, understand, trust, and love in a world that makes less and less sense everyday. Anderson's World War II might not be as ostensibly hard-hitting as that to which modern cinema is accustomed, but there's a chilling, somber horror story lurking beneath the surface of Grand Budapest. Behind every side-splitting laugh, cookie cutter backdrop, and otherworldly antic, there is a pulsating dread that makes it all mean something. As vivid as the worlds of Rushmore, Tenenbaums, Fantastic Mr. Fox, and Moonrise might well have been, none have had this much weight and soul.
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So it's astonishing that we're able to zip to and fro' every crevice of this haunting, misty Central Europe at top speeds, grins never waning as our hero Gustave delivers supernaturally articulate diatribes capped with physically startling profanity. So much of it is that delightfully odd, agonizingly devoted character, his unlikely camaraderie with the unflappably earnest young Zero, and his adherence to the magic that inhabits the Grand Budapest Hotel. There are few places like it on Earth, as we learn. There aren't many movies like it here either.
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Tribeca Film via Everett Collection
For a film that involves a love triangle, mental illness, a Bohemian colony of free-spirits, an impending war and several important historical figures, the most exciting elements of Summer in February are the stunning shots of the English country and Cornish seaside. The rest of the film never quite lives up to the crashing waves and sun-dappled meadows that are used to bookend the scenes, as the entertaining opening never manages to coalesce into a story that lives up the the cinematography, let alone the lives of the people that inspired it.
Set in an Edwardian artist’s colony in Cornwall, Summer in February tells the story of A.J. Munnings (Dominic Cooper), who went on to become one of the most famous painters of his day and head of the Royal Academy of Art, his best friend, estate agent and part-time soldier Gilbert Evans (Dan Stevens), and the woman whom they both loved, aspiring artist Florence Carter-Wood (Emily Browning). Her marriage to Munnings was an extremely unhappy one, and she attempted suicide on their honeymoon, before killing herself in 1914. According to his journals, Gilbert and Florence were madly in love, although her marriage and his service in the army kept them apart.
When the film begins, Munnings is the center of attention in the Lamorna Artist's Colony, dramatically reciting poetry at parties and charming his way out of his bar tab while everyone around him proclaims him to be a genius. When he’s not drinking or painting, he’s riding horses with Gilbert, who has the relatively thankless task of keeping this group of Bohemians in line. Their idyllic existence is disrupted by the arrival of Florence, who has run away from her overbearing father and the fiancé he had picked out for her in order to become a painter.
Stevens and Browning both start the film solidly, with enough chemistry between them to make their infatuation interesting. He manages to give Gilbert enough dependable charm to win over both Florence and the audience, and she presents Florence as someone with enough spunk and self-possession to go after what she wants. Browning’s scenes with Munnings are equally entertaining in the first third of the film, as she can clearly see straight through all of his bravado and he is intrigued by her and how difficult she is to impress. Unfortunately, while the basis of the love triangle is well-established and entertaining, it takes a sudden turn into nothing with a surprise proposal from Munnings.
Neither the film nor Browning ever make it clear why Florence accepts his proposal, especially when they have both taken great pains to establish that she doesn’t care much for him. But once she does, the films stalls, and both Stevens and Browning spend the rest of the film doing little more than staring moodily and longingly at the people around them. The real-life Florence was plagued by depression and mental instability, but neither the film nor Browning’s performance ever manage to do more than give the subtlest hint at that darkness. On a few occasions, Browning does manage to portray a genuine anguish, but rather than producing any sympathy from the audience, it simply conjures up images of a different film, one that focused more on Florence, and the difficulties of being a woman with a mental illness at a time when both were ignored or misunderstood.
Stevens is fine, and Gilbert starts out with the same kind of good-guy appeal the won the heart of Mary Crawley and Downton Abbey fans the world over. However, once the film stalls, so does his performance, and he quickly drops everything that made the character attractive or interesting in favor of longing looks and long stretches of inactivity. He does portray a convincing amount of adoration for Florence, although that's about the only real emotion that Gilbert expresses for the vast majority of the film, and even during his love scene, he never manages to give him any amount of passion.
Cooper does his best with what he’s given, and tries his hardest to imbue the film with some substance and drama. His Munnings is by turns charming, brash, and brooding, the kind of person who has been told all of their life that they are special, and believes it. He even manages to give the character some depth, and even though he and Browning have very little chemistry, he manages to convey a genuine affection for her. It’s a shame that Munnings becomes such a deeply unlikable character, because Cooper is the only thing giving Summer in February a jolt of life – even if it comes via bursts of thinly-explained hostility. It's hard to watch just how hard he's working to connect with his co-stars and add some excitement to a lifeless script and not wish that he had a better film to show off his talents in.
Unfortunately, by the time Florence and Gilbert are finally spurred into activity, the film has dragged on for so long that you’re no longer invested in the characters, their pain, or their love story, even if you want to be. Which is the real disappointment of Summer in February; underneath the stalled plot and the relatively one-note acting, there are glimmers of a fascinating and compelling story that’s never allowed to come to the forefront.
Cate Blanchett and Mia Wasikowska are to play lovers in a racy new film. The two Australian actresses have taken the lead roles in upcoming drama Carol, a big screen adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's novella The Price of Salt, about a New York department store worker in the 1950s who falls for an older woman.
Wasikowska will play the younger character, who heads off on a road trip with a divorcee, played by Blanchett.
The project will reunite the Elizabeth actress with moviemaker Todd Haynes, who directed her Oscar-nominated turn as a young Bob Dylan in 2007's I'm Not Here.
Director Todd Haynes is set to be honoured at the upcoming Munich Film Festival in Germany with a retrospective of his career. Groundbreaking gay movie Poison, period film Far From Heaven and Bob Dylan biopic I'm Not There will be among the pictures screened during the annual event, which will take place between 29 June and 7 July (12).
Kate Winslet is taking a trip to the small screen via a miniseries adaptation of the James M. Cain novel Mildred Pierce. Todd Haynes is writing and directing. Sources told Variety that HBO is the lead contender to get the series, but no deal has been struck.
Joan Crawford won an Oscar in 1945 for her portrayal of the eponymous bored housewife who gets into the restaurant business, an enterprise that leads to backstabbing, romance and murder.
Winslet won an Oscar earlier this year for Stephen Daldry's The Reader, so it could seem surprising that she would jump to TV at this particular time. Still, as Variety points out, the success of Grey Gardens for actresses Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange shows that a pay web like HBO creates a large audience for a picture that might not find one as a theatrical release.
Oscar-nominated Far From Heaven hyphenate Haynes was last behind the camera for 2007's Bob Dylan (sort of) biopic I'm Not There.
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MORE NEWS: Stars Mourn Les Paul
Fellow Australians Cate Blanchett and Geoffrey Rush have paid tribute to Heath Ledger after learning of his death at the age of 28.
Ledger was found dead in his New York apartment on Tuesday after suffering a suspected drug overdose.
Blanchett--who recently starred alongside Ledger in Bob Dylan biopic I'm Not There--says, "I am shocked and very saddened by the news. I deeply respect Heath's work and always admired his continuing development as an artist. My thoughts are with his family and his close friends."
Rush, who appeared alongside the late star in 2006 Australian independent movie Candy, adds, "This is such a sad event. I admired Heath enormously. He was such a sensitive and committed and daring actor. This truly is a tragedy."
Todd Haynes--who directed Ledger in I'm Not There--was stunned by the news of his death, telling reporters, "I'm in complete shock right now. I can barely talk about it. I loved Heath. He was an amazing man, an incredible actor and I can't believe this has happened."
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Director Todd Haynes' quirky, all-star Bob Dylan-inspired movie I'm Not There is set to be the toast of the IFC Independent Spirit Awards in Santa Monica, California, in February, after landing the event's first Robert Altman Award.
Announced at the Spirit Awards last year, the honor is given to the director, casting agent and cast of an outstanding indie movie.
In I'm Not There, Heath Ledger, Richard Gere and Cate Blanchett are among the actors who conjure up the spirit of Dylan at different stages of his life for the offbeat 'biopic.'
The movie was also nominated for the Spirits' Best Film prize, where it will compete with Julian Schnabel's The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Juno, A Mighty Heart and Paranoid Park.
Blanchett and Marcus Carl Franklin earned Best Supporting Actress and Actor nods, respectively, for their portrayals of Dylan, and Todd Haynes is a Best Director nominee.
Other four-film nominees are acclaimed coming-of-age film Juno, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly and The Savages.
Meanwhile, Ang Lee's controversial Lust, Caution is also a multi-nominee; the film's stars Tony Leung and Tang Wei are up for Best Actor and Actress honors, while Rodrigo Prieto's cinematography is also under consideration.
French actress Julie Delpy's 2 Days in Paris earned her a First Feature nomination; she'll be up against Jeffrey Blitz's Rocket Science, which garnered three nominations.
In the lead-acting categories, Angelina Jolie is an immediate favorite for her role as grieving Marianne Pearl in A Mighty Heart. Jolie will compete against Sienna Miller (Interview), Parker Posey (Broken English), Ellen Page (Juno) and Tang Wei.
Leung will be up against Pedro Castaneda (August Evening), Don Cheadle (Talk to Me), Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Savages) and Frank Langella (Starting Out in the Evening) in the Best Actor category.
The nominations were announced on Tuesday morning by Lisa Kudrow and Zach Braff.
COPYRIGHT 2007 WORLD ENTERTAINMENT NEWS NETWORK LTD. All Global Rights Reserved.
Ostensibly the story of the man considered by many to be America's greatest songwriter I'm Not There isn't a traditional narrative tale. Six different actors embody aspects of Dylan's life mythology and imagination; each goes by a different name and each has his own road to travel. Some of them are clearly recognizable as Dylan stand-ins while others have more symbolic connections to the singer's life and career. The story's "action" (such that it is) takes place between the '50s and the '80s shifting back and forth depending on which character is in the spotlight. Some scenes portray recognizable moments in Dylan's life (going electric for instance) while others are more enigmatic. Dylan devotees may well appreciate some of the film's more obscure storytelling choices but casual fans looking for a decisive portrait of an American icon won't find it here. While many aspects of I'm Not There are wide open to interpretation the stars' performances are easier to evaluate. Three of the six--Cate Blanchett as defensive '60s artist Jude Quinn Christian Bale as protest-music legend Jack Rollins (who later becomes religious Pastor John) and Ben Whishaw as irony-fueled interviewee Arthur Rimbaud--are identifiable Dylan doppelgangers using everything from shaggy hair to vocal mannerisms to evoke him. Blanchett is the stand-out in this group; her Jude is cynical and vulnerable nihilistic and idealistic. The other three "Dylans"--Heath Ledger as rebel actor Robbie Clark Marcus Carl Franklin as wandering troubadour Woody Guthrie and Richard Gere as reclusive Billy the Kid--are more representative of the singer's career and material. Of this trio Franklin who's charmingly convincing as a world-weary traveler trapped in an 11-year-old's body pulls off the most challenging acting feat. Todd Haynes is known for inventive movies like Far From Heaven and Velvet Goldmine but none of his previous films are quite as experimental as I'm Not There. The constant shifts in style combined with the lack of a clear storyline make the film tricky to follow and sometimes nearly impossible to understand. In that sense it's like poetry--or song lyrics. And while you may not always "get" it it's hard not to be caught up in the sensibility of it all. The movie raises questions about loaded topics like meaning intent message art and feeling but I'm Not There doesn't aim to definitively answer these questions. Instead it aims to get audiences pondering such Big Ideas. Those who embrace Bob Dylan Haynes seems to suggest should be more than up to the challenge. And those who aren't can at least enjoy the soundtrack...
Bob Dylan has given his approval to forthcoming biopic I'm Not There after he was won over by the actors--including Christian Bale, Richard Gere, Heath Ledger and Cate Blanchett--who appear in the film.
The Todd Haynes-directed movie, which sees six actors take on the life of Dylan during different periods of his career, debuted to much fanfare at the Venice Film Festival on Tuesday--and it was Blanchett's portrayal of the rocker in particular that gained the most praise by critics.
But Haynes is adamant it was the movie's open ending that is most pleasing for Dylan.
He says, "There have been documentaries (about Dylan) but this is the first dramatic film about his life which he has ever given his consent to. He has a tremendous sense of humor about the way he has been characterized. I think that's a really healthy attitude and he saw something similar in this film.
"I do think it was because of this open structure, something that we keep expanding through the years. And because of that Bob thought, 'OK, this may be the one thing I'll say OK to.'"
COPYRIGHT 2007 WORLD ENTERTAINMENT NEWS NETWORK LTD. All Global Rights Reserved.