Sunday, November 13, 2011

Jane Fonda in The Dollmaker

Tom Joad and Gertie Nevels. Two characters who are facing severe hardships in their lives and who keep on fighting despite the obvious setbacks. They are the people (as Mama Joad would say) and as a European, they represent the true meaning of America in my heart. They were played to perfection by a father and daughter, Henry and Jane Fonda, which only feels right to me. The former received an Oscar nomination for his work The Grapes of Wrath (and was robbed of an Academy Award, in my opinion) and the latter won her only Emmy award to date for her work in The Dollmaker.

I kept wondering why I always feel that Jane is fantastic in everything and I came up with a very obvious answer: her greatness comes from the fact that she believes in all of her characters and that's especially true about Gertie Nevels. In her fantastic autobiography, My Life So Far, Jane describes a wonderful journey with the character of Gertie Nevels. It took her twelve years to get the movie made (the chapter where describes her preparation is one of the most interesting ones in My Life So Far) and yet she was somehow hoping that they day of the filming would never come, because she was afraid of not playing Gertie the way she deserves to be played. In my opinion, it might have felt like expecting a baby: you prepare a lot, you do everything to make sure everything turns out well for the sake of your child and yet you are secretly scared of the day that's gradually approaching. Jane gave birth to the character Gertie after cherising her for twelve years and in my opinion, miracle was born in 1984.

During World War II, Gertie Nevels, a pioneer woman from Kentucky who carves dolls to express herself, experiences severe hardships in her life once she (along with her five children) follows her husband to Detroit where he got a job in a factory. One shattering tragedy follows another and it's up to Gertie to keep her family together.

In my review of Jane in Klute (on the other blog), I admitted that I only wanted to write the sentence: "Best performance ever. Period." Although I'll probably keep that opinon, I have never been so uncertain about it as I was while I was watching The Dollmaker :), which is an excellent movie and Jane's work serves it just as well as it does with Klute. Both Gertie Nevels and Bree Daniels are at the centre of their films and the outcome depended mostly on Jane Fonda. She had the biggest responsibilities in these pieces because it's only her who carries the movie on her shoulders, even though she's getting some great supporting players both times (despite the small screentime, Geraldine Page is just wonderful as Gertie's mother and in my humble opinion, it would have been priceless if Henry Fonda had lived and he had played the father of Gertie). Again, any misstep would have ruined the character and the whole experience of the movie, but Jane succesfully avoided all the traps (once again).

Jane Fonda, Barbara Stanwyck, Ingrid Bergman, Glenn Close and Kate Winslet are actresses that share two common things besides being my favorite actresses: they all won the Emmy for Best Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie and (oh, it's so awesome) Ingrid, Barbara and Jane took it in three consecutive years (in this order). However, the most important thing about them here is that they have a wonderful instinct for playing with the emotions of the character and the audience as well. In their cases, it's always the emotional side of the character that impresses me (though they also excel in the technical part). That's especially true about Jane and her Gertie. Jane's fabulous intuitions guided her so well in playing another intuitive genious, Gertie Nevels. Yes, I would say Gertie is a wonderful artist as well, because (like Jane) she loves her creations. Gertie didn't have the chance of polishing her skills in carving and yet her rough gems are wonderful pieces. Although Gertie is not an educated woman, she has a heavy accent and she may not know what adapting means, she's a very sensible and intelligent person who understands what's going on in her environment (Jane is fabulous in the scene where Gertie confronts her son's teacher). Her life is difficult, she has to work hard to get by. She could have beeen presented as a toughened or complaining woman but instead Jane showed her as someone whose (not only country) values and beliefs help her cope with the many problems and keep her good spirits.

To the people Bree Daniels is nothing but a protstitute and Gertie Nevels is nothing but a hillbilly and yet the audience (thanks to the empathic, loving interpretation of Jane) knows how rich their personalities are. Bree can be herself while she's acting to the old client of hers and Gertie is herself while carving various figures and most importantly, Jesus into a piece of cherry tree. Contrary to her mother's fanatic religiousness, Gertie's faith is something special, which is not about hell and damnation, but about love and creation that she expresses through her art. In my opinion, Jane fabulously showed this very giving and divine side of Gertie. You just have to look at Jane's face in the scene where Gertie's carving Jesus on the cross.

While Gertie's husband quickly adapts to the new circumstances, Gertie's always hoping to return to her home that's given her so much over the years. Jane is so fantastic at showing Gertie's desire to return to her roots. I think she completely nailed Gertie's very strong personality that's so connected to her home and the soil. In many ways, Gertie is an earth mother who's forced to live next to a factory and who feels like a fish out of water as a result. Her big breakdown to her husband is just unforgettable. Jane miraculously balanced the feelings of Gertie and the deliveries of the lines is just perfect. It's so heartbreaking when she says "And they are mine". Gertie only has those dolls from her old life where she found harmony and peace.

A very tragic and horrible thing happens to Gertie and Jane is so heartbreaking in those scenes. She so thrillingly identified with the grief of her character that these scenes become especially hard to watch. There's something deeply haunting about how Gertie copes with the tragedies. However, Jane used Gertie's love for her country so wonderfully (Again, those instincts!) that it left me completely speechless.

Despite all the horrible events in Gertie's life, the ending of The Dollmaker is so uplifting and truly moving. The last thing we see of Gertie is her smile: it's an endlessly cathartic moment for me. There's so much true and deep emotion in that very simple expression. Not only does Jane show Gertie's feelings, but she also communicated the feeling of harmony and love. Gertie goes back to her roots and it feels like an earth-shattering, universal moment: the earth mother is not a fish out of water anymore.

I don't believe in accident. Everything happens for a reason, in my opinion. There was a reason why the divine quality in Jane showed itself the best with a character that often used her own divine quality in her art. In her book, Jane says that each and every actor has different personalities that they have to show in their various performances. The "Gertie-self" of Jane Fonda is one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen on the screen. Apparently she burst into tears instantly where she finished shooting as she got so attached to the character. She lived with people like Gertie for a while (thanks to Dolly Parton) and I believe she's developed an enormous amount of love for her character and these people and that's what made it so hard to part from her.

It's indeed true that Henry Fonda would have been very proud of her daughter's performance in this movie. I understand that Gertie is also a tribute to him, but it's a fantastic and mindblowing performance apart from that and he would have been extremely proud of his daughter who created such a wonderful, true character who's about everything that he represented in his work.

I think I'll tie the Best Performance title between Jane Fonda in Klute and Jane Fonda in The Dollmaker. :)

Note: I haven't found out a rating system for these tv reviews so I'll think about something and add the rating of a perfect 5 here later. :)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

So it's time to find out how I rank this year's nominees in this categories. On my Oscar blog I give out Meryls as grades but that wouldn't mean much here. With Comedy, I'll use Marys (after Mary Tyler Moore, the comedy legend). With Drama, I don't have an idea but I'll find out.

So the much anticipated ranking is:

1. Edie Falco in Nurse Jackie "Rat Falls"
Mindblowing performance by Edie Falco as Jackie, who has to steal a statue of the Blessed Virgin, deal with a rat and her own addiction. I love Edie Falco so much as she's such a versatile actress. She can play Carmela Soprano and then Nurse Jackie, being brilliant in both. I mean come on! She's unbearably brilliant in Rat Falls. Her performance is full of layers, it's outrageously hysterical and heart-breaking at the same time. Full of wonderful wit and dramatic moments, Edie Falco is unforgettable once again in Nurse Jackie.

2. Laura Linney in The Big C "Pilot"
Honest to God, choosing between Falco and Linney is impossible. They are both fantastic in their dramedy roles. The reason why I went with Falco was the fact that she was freakin' hilarious in her episode. However, Linney is just as great as her showing wonderful irony as a cancer patient who wants to change her life. She's totally realistic and so wonderfully shows the emotions. I'm going to be very happy if she wins (which seems to be most likely).

3. Tina Fey in 30 Rock "Double-Edged Sword"
Tina Fey was born to be on a sitcom. Please don't take it the wrong way but I love the old-fashioned (in the best way possible), ironic greatness left from the classic shows. In Double-Edged Sword, she deals again with her horrible love life. Liz has a fight with her boyfriend during a long wait in an airplane and Fey gets the best out of her. Although sometimes Alec Baldwin and Elizabeth Banks steal the spotlight, Fey's just excellent.

4. Martha Plimpton in Raising Hope "Say Cheese"
Another excellent entry by an excellent comedy actress. In this episode, Plimpton's character gets friendly with her son's date and we get to know how much of a maniac she is about family portraits. Plimpton gets the best out of the scenes, nailing all those funny lines, she never misses an opportunity, everything is where it should be. It's nothing for the ages but it's good fun for one.

5. Amy Poehler in Parks & Recreation "Flu Season"
Horrible submission anyone? Amy Poehler is one of the funniest people alive but this episode submission was a big misstep. At least, her performance just didn't work for me. I mean, the laughs were there for me, it's just that I didn't feel it was a really great performance by her. Her character Leslie ahs to battle flu as she has to attend an important meeting. That sounds excellent but she doesn't have much screentime and all of the supporting characters get funnier lines. Amy does what she can with this stuff but that's not much.

6. Melissa McCarthy in Mike & Molly "First Date"
Why do they feel the need of nominating the leading lady from a horrid CBS show? I thought after dumping Old Christine, everything will be fine. Well, I guess it wasn't. Melissa McCarthy gives an often embarassing, sometimes lovely performance as Molly, who's preparing for her date with Mike. I mean those scenes at the restaurant were horrid, clichéd and I felt I have seen that before. The weakest link...

Final thoughts: I guess Laura Linney will win, which is great but secretly I'm going to be hoping for an Edie Falco upset (she's an Emmy favorite why not?). I know that's not very likely, but still. If Laura wins, that will be more than fine. I will be satisfied even if Amy gets it as she so has to win an Emmy. A McCarthy win would piss me off but that's not gonna happen. Wow, I really felt like a real Emmy voter. That gave me very much pleasure. I've done it according to the rules, I ranked them so that's it. :) I hope you liked the post.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

My name is Bond. James Bond.

I got the best present two days ago. A James Bond collection with the first 20 movies. So what I decided is to catch up with this childhood favorite of mine and I'll rank the 20 films (I don't know if I should rank Craig's films, we'll see), the Bonds and I'll also pick the 10 greatest Bond girls. So the ranking fun will begin. I've already rewatched Dr. No, today I'll get something From Russia with Love and I might meet an old friend named Goldfinger. :) Depending on how tired I'll be... :)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Emmy nominations

So, the nominations are here. I've been disappointed in the Emmys many times before but I'm still going to give it a chance. However, I'll react to the nominations here.

  • All the adult cast members of Modern Family making it
  • nomination for Matt LeBlanc for the brilliant Episodes
  • no nomination for Neil Patrick Harris (seriously, I'm tired of that show and his character)
  • Mad Men gaining less nominations (Could The Good Wife win? One can hope :D)
  • Glee not getting many nods (Gosh, I hate that show)
Pleasant surprise and/or Enthusiastic Nods:
  • The love for Justified.
  • Outstanding Drama Series to Friday Night Lights
  • Again, some love for Maggie Smith is always great and I hope she beats my arch enemy (M.L.)
  • Martha Plimpton is so great and I'm so happy she was nominated.
Not so sure:
  • I was quite furious that Kyra Sedgwick won last year but not giving her a nomination? I don't think that was fair.
  • Zach Galifianikis? I'm so tired of him...
  • Mariska Hargitay getting in. I mean... COME ON! Why is she nominated every single damn year?
  • No writing nominations for The Good Wife? Are you kidding?
  • Only one writing nomiantion for Modern Family?
  • Jon Cryer is still getting nominated. Again, some originality, dear voters?
Well, that's it! Later I'll reveal some of my picks, I'll watch (some of) the submitted episodes as I don't watch 20 series regularly (I need some life).

However, I'm saying right now that I'm rooting as hell for Modern Family and Julianna Margulies! :)

Saturday, July 2, 2011

My favorite actresses

Yes, this one is also a really crucial subject to get to know each other. It might be tedious to read all of these names but I'll try. I will comment on my favorite actress only because otherwise it would get really boring and you wouldn't read it anyway, just watch the pictures (sorry, I know, I'm just thinking about myself :D) .

My all-time favorite actress is...
Jane Fonda
I mean, how could she not be my favorite actress, favorite person and everything? If you ask me, she's the most versatile actress I know of. She can play the depressed dance marathon contender in They Shoot Horses, Don't They?, a hooker in Klute, a boring housewife going through a radical change in Coming Home, an estranged daughter in On Golden Pond, the opportunist reporter in The China Syndrome and the list could go on. No matter if the movie's a lightweight comedy like Barefoot in the Park, a satyre like Nine to Five or a serious drama like Julia, Jane is always the BEST! :)
My dream is that she presents Best Picture at next year's Oscars (and of course, meeting her in person)! :)
Must-see: Preferably everything, but if I had to choose, Klute; They Shoot Horses, Don't They?; Coming Home, On Golden Pond, Nine to Five, The China Syndrome, Barefoot in the Park, Julia

Maggie Smith
Must-see: A Private Function, The Lonely Passion of Judith Hyrne, California Suite, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Gosford Park, Tea with Mussolini, A Room with a View

Barbara Stanwyck
Must-see: Double Indemnity; The Lady Eve;Sorry, Wrong Number; Ball of Fire

Ellen Burstyn
Must-see: Resurrection, The Exorcist, Requiem for a Dream, The Last Picture Show

Ingrid Bergman
Must-see: Autumn Sonata (in my TOP 5-10 performances), Casablanca, Cactus Flower, Notorious, Gaslight

Glenn Close
Must-see: Dangerous Liaisons, Fatal Attraction, all the episodes of Damages, Reversal of Fortune

Irene Dunne
Must-see: Love Affair, The Awful Truth

Bette Davis
Must-see: All about Eve, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?, Jezebel; Now, Voyager

Sissy Spacek
Must-see: Coal Miner's Daughter, Carrie, In the Bedroom, Missing

Julianna Margulies
Must-see: City Island, The Good Wife, her episodes on ER

Angela Lansbury
Must-see: The Manchurian Candidate, Gaslight, Beauty and the Beast, some episodes of Murder, She Wrote

Edie Falco
Must-see: The Sopranos, Nurse Jackie

Right now, I'm talking about movie and TV actresses only. Stage actresses would be a different category. :)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

My favorite movies

So to get to know each other, it's essential that you know my favorite films and movie obsessions. So here they are, in order of preference:

1. Annie Hall
So resonant with real life. So beautiful, humorous, loveable, stylish and so 70s. I love every moment and especially Diane Keaton's wonderful, unforgettable performance.

2. Tootsie
The reason why Dustin Hoffman is my favorite actor. I know the whole movie by heart. Love the music, the brilliant screenplay, the fabulous performances. Wonderful.

3. The Exorcist
Sick, brutal, disgusting, heart-breaking. Filled with brilliant performances by everyone, great directing, a clever story and catchy music, this is one for the ages.

4. Skylark/Pacsirta
The greatest Hungarian movie with the greatest performance every by an actor. Antal Páger shows the sadness and disappointment so heart-breakingly. Harrowing piece of work.

5. Cries and Whispers
Bergman's best work ever? Quite probably. He shows so much of life, death, suffering and human relationships. An unbearable and yet uplifting journey with so many emotions.

6. Hannah and her Sisters
I watch it every Christmas. The perfect Christmas movie without being about Christmas. Shows true human love and it's so lovely. And Dianne Wiest is perfection!

7. Back to the Future
A piece of childhood. The best entertainment a movie can offer. So rich in fantasy, a BRILLIANT story (scandal that it lost Best Original Screenplay) with incredibly loveable characters.

8. The Godfather
How can I NOT include it? The perfect movie. Divine in every possible way. The greatest family saga and gangster movie ever on the screen. Brilliant direction, fantastic cast.

9. The Silence of the Lambs
So cold, so full of suspense. The chemistry between Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins is perfect. Both give career-best performances. Absolutely astonishing movie.

10. Pillow Talk
My guilty pleasure. Sooooooooooo funny. If you ask me, this was the best movie of 1959. It's so incredibly hilarious. Doris Day crying... LOL :) The most conversations about sex without saying the word.

Up next: favorite TV shows.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Hello there!

In case you don't know me, I'm Dinasztie, the writer of the blog, The Oscar Nerd. While I love the Oscars, I decided to do another blog where I'm talking about movies in general and some television shows that I love (in general and recently). Moreover, I'll post my thoughts on the present Oscar races (predictions and such) here but expect to see reviews of the nominees there. On this blog I'll write reviews of movies and TV episodes in general, so I might just start with a favorite movies/favorite TV shows. This blog is much more free, so ask me to write anything you want. :-)

Have fun! :-)