Tag Archives: Kate Winslet

53 of 366: Heavenly Creatures

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I like making lists and then making them again and then editing them. My downfall is I am often adding new tasks or ideas to a list before I finish anything on it, and then I make more lists and the madness continues.

This could be why I have 327 titles on my Netflix DVD queue and a list of another 243 I removed to save for watching next year … or probably never considering how long they were there before without ever arriving in my mailbox.

I still occasionally get stuck in the pattern of browsing through my instant queue for way too long before picking a movie, but I didn’t have that problem tonight when I spotted Heavenly Creatures.

I knew the film (1994) by Peter Jackson is a 1,001 Movies You Must See Before You Die recommendation and introduction to the acting careers Kate Winslet and Melanie Lynskey.

It is also an early film for Peter Jackson before he embarked on his path to bring the Lord of the Rings stories to the big screen.

I haven’t seen those films (I know, I know), but those who have may identify some small connection between Heavenly Creatures and the trilogy in that Jackson brings a bit of fantasy style into the true-crime based story set in 1950s New Zealand.

The platform for visual storytelling is there through the presence of the main characters’, Pauline (Lynskey) and Juliet (Winslet), diary entries expressing their teenage angst and struggles with their families trying to keep them apart.

Lynskey and Winslet’s characters are based on the lives of two girls who formed a fast friendship in their New Zealand school in 1952, much to the dismay of their parents.

They bond over music and movies and being somewhat outcasts in society with no harm done, that is until their relationship and connection progresses too far for their families to handle.

Juliet and Pauline come up with the perfect crime to escape their families and particularly Pauline’s mom, who they think is trying to keep them apart the most.

Jackson and screenwriter Fran Walsh, who is his wife and writing partner on many films, effectively mix the realism of Juliet and Pauline’s world with the fantasies they have through use of visual effects such as digital clay figures, colors and dream sequences.

That is certainly an interesting style to take with a film based on true events and a crime not expected of two teenage girls, but it works all together as a haunting and beautiful character-driven story that set the stage for Winslet, Lynskey and Jackson.

I haven’t been on McSweeney’s site in a long, long time (they have a lot of lists there to bring it full circle), but I also found a funny essay by Harris Mayersohn. 

“This was the last straw. I’m over you. My bedroom is full of bad memories and I must cleanse myself of you.

First go the pillows we once nuzzled. They smell too strongly of your Suave Ocean Breeze-scented conditioner. My tears only amplify their stench. So out the window they go and into the dumpster they’ll stay.”

 

 

 

I like Steve Jobs and Surprises

 

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I listened to Marc Maron interview Danny Boyle (director of Steve Jobs) on WTF this week and their conversation made me think more about some of my favorite aspects of the film.

It is becoming more of a front runner for me as far as one of my favorite films of the year and it’s largely due to the acting by Michael Fassbender and Kate Winslet.

In my last, short, commentary on Steve Jobs I did not focus on Jobs’ relationship with his daughter portrayed in the film. Boyle and Maron talk some about the relationship and how its one of the key components in the story that bring what flaws and weaknesses Jobs has to the surface.

They also talk a lot about Aaron Sorkin’s work on the script and the process to hone it to balance Jobs’ professional and personal life without actually going overboard with the dialogue.

I remember very heated, sometimes lengthy, conversations between Jobs (Fassbender) and Joanna Hoffman (Winslet) as Jobs prepared to launch various Apple product throughout the film but Boyle and Sorkin built in effective pauses to let the moments sink in and show the impact of what can be said without words.

It’s an interesting reflection to have on a Sorkin script (I am still scarred by the verbose Social Network – or maybe just Jesse Eisenberg) but he and Boyle achieved a healthy balance in Steve Jobs.

The film, while still not getting the attention it deserves, has acting nominations for Fassbender and Winslet between the Screen Actors Guild and Golden Globes lists released in the last week.

Strong acting seems to be a common thread among many of the top films whose studios are pushing for a spot on the Academy Awards nomination list.

For example, Johnny Depp made the SAG cut for his performance as Whitey Bulger in Black Mass. I didn’t like the film as much as I thought I would and, despite the incredibly distracting and unnecessary makeup, Depp did shine through.

I’ll leave it to Eric Kohn from Indiewire and Anne Thompson from Thompson on Hollywood  on Screen Talk to better explain the unpredictability of which films will make the Academy’s final cut.

The Screen Actors Guild and Golden Globes lists  have some consistency – but more surprises – which makes me think (or at least hope) that could influence the final word from the Academy. The Academy Award nominees are usually easy to predict by the end of the year, but I’m happy with the unknown for now and how many great films  are on the way to theaters before the home stretch of award season.

In other news, for the first time in a many years I am going to see a movie on Christmas Day. Our selection depends on what is showing at the theater in up nort’ Wisconsin, but I am pretty, pretty excited about it and getting out of town to spend a week with my family.

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