There is a wonderful Minnie Driver story says for director Joel Schumacher, who responded dryly when a co-star complained that Driver’s interpretation of “The Phantom of the Opera” was too much.
“Oh my love,” Schumacher replied, “no one ever paid to look down from the top.”
I have been thinking a lot about this bon mot during this movie season, where so many stars seem to be hovering over the fences. I’m thinking Lady Gaga and Jared Leto, which come out so boldly in the “House of Gucci”, or Jessica Chastain and Andrew Garfield as TV announcers in “The Eyes of Tammy Faye”, where they present their performances almost as wide as Tammy Faye Bakker’s mascara-filled eyes.
In “The Last Duel“Ben Affleck has a lot of fun playing his dramatic costume and the fact that he does it all with a blonde wig and a nu-metal goat makes the role even higher. And then there is Kristen Stewart, who avoids the minimalism filed for the awful maximalist “Spencer”, where she is asked to swing, shout, dance and dive, sometimes all in the same scene.
After the last season of the Oscars celebrated the quiet, naturalistic “Nomadland”, it is a kick to see so many of this year’s prestigious dramas go in a different direction and embrace the huge size. In an age dominated by superhero movies, perhaps smaller films now need a show that resembles the size of an event. Or maybe, after a period when so many of us have lived limited lives, it is refreshing to just watch actors break free from their shackles and break.
Either way, it works. “Tick, Tick… Boom!” is animated by Garfield’s composer Jonathan Larson, a man who works at 11 at all times. Watching him, I remembered the funny “30 Rock” where Jenna Maroney pushed Tony to add a category for “living theatrically in normal life. » And this month brings a double dose of great performances by Cate Blanchett in “Don’t Look Up”, which gives her as a terribly “favorite” cable news presenter, and in “Nightmare Alley”, in which she faces the film’s stunning eyes. . Production planning as if it were all to order to seduce her wife.
I do not want to suggest that these great performances are a miscalculation. Quite the opposite: An actress like Blanchett is as attuned to the tone of her films as a singer who asks for the key she wants and then starts banding. When an experienced singer is able to strike all these high notes, it is more than technically dazzling: It makes the softly played notes feel even louder.
But hey, there’s nothing wrong with just being dazzling for his sake. It’s fun when Bradley Cooper appears on “Licorice Pizza” to scare the new protagonists with wild, nervous electricity: Just when he feels the movie is coming to an end, Cooper adds enough jolt to give “Licorice Pizza” strength for 30 more minutes. Part of the thrill of watching such a great show is that you know how much mockery is at stake if the actor fails to nail it. Just think of poor Ben Platt in the film adaptation of “Dear Evan Hansen”: His cries, so loud on stage, unfortunately turned out to be memorable in the movies.
And sometimes, the most exciting thing in a movie is the frisson between a great performer and co-stars who do not. The first time I saw “The Power of the Dog”, I will admit that I did not associate with Benedict Cumberbatch, whose performance as a sadistic breeder Phil Burbank was very broad. After all, his main collaborators on stage are Kirsten Dunst and Jesse Plemons, a real-life couple who happen to be two of the best professionals in American naturalism: They can do anything on screen and not only will you believe it, but you will hardly believe it. catch them doing it. Opposite them, I found Cumberbatch very educated, as an actor determined to show his work.
But the second time I watched the movie, I realized that all these tricks are perfect for Phil, who hides much more than his upbringing and degree from Yale. Combine the pieces of his story together and you will realize that Phil’s cowboy act covered in dirt is completely crazy, a fight show so full that an intervener like Dunst threatens her because she does not need to do any action at all. It took nerves for the film’s director Jane Cambion to assemble this cast and trust that it would work, just as it took Cumberbatch nerves to push things a little farther than some actors thought comfortable.
And yes, at least those above average performances will make some good Oscar clips. Many of the stars who have gone on break have won the attention of the awards, although I want to go throw the bat for Affleck, who is great as the pompous earl in “The Last Duel” and deserves a serious second cast . Instead, the Golden Globes nominated him for his low-key work at “The Tender Bar” – a mistake, since the only thing Affleck did this year that even compares to “The Last Duel” is his contribution to pop culture. . half of Bennifer 2.0.
Maybe that’s part of the fun of these oversized shows: They’ve finally escalated to the level of fame we rely on someone like Affleck or Gaga to serve. So often, Hollywood has asked the most living stars to shrink to recognize critics. But where is the fun in that? They made this screen big for a reason.
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