Chris Knipp Writing: Movies, Politics, Art


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2023 9:01 pm 
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Lesley Manville in MRS. HARRIS GOES TO PARIS
For something totally light, and continuing my Oscar prep, I just watched MRS. HARRIS GOES TO PARIS (Anthony Fabian 2021) - not only Best Actress (Musical or Comedy) nom for Lesley Manville, but a Best Costume Design nom for Jenny Beavan. The latter is only right and proper: the movie's recreation of the 1950 "défilé" of the House of Dior is incredible, along with all the other period Paris and London clothes worn in this beautiful fairytale film made on a "shoestring" of only $13 million. At 66, with a string of Mike Leigh films behind her, Lesley Manville (who glows in this, and runs up winding stairs) is just getting started. She played a key role in Paul Thomas Anderson's PHANTOM THREAD in 2017, you'll recall. Soon she will be an international superstar playing Princess Margaret in the latest iteration of "The Crown." In MRS. HARRIS, renamed UNE ROBE POUR MRS. HARRIS for its French release. You also get to see Isabelle Huppert as the mean head of Dior and Lambert Wilson as the aristocrat who falls for the charlady and Lucas Bravo (of "Emily Goes to Paris") as the handsome transformative Dior accountant in love with the beautiful existentialist model Natasha (Alba Baptista). This is costume designer Jenny Beavan's eleventh Oscar nomination, Lesley Manville's second.

Michael Morris' TO LESLIE and Lila Neugebauer's CAUSEWAY
Also recently watched TO LESLIE (Michael Morris) for the go-for-broke performance of Andrea Riseborough, before her surprise, long-shot (but not unanticipated) Best Actress nom, the last-minute, A-lister-manipulated process of arriving at which has lately wound up being quite controversial. But one cannot fault the actor. And I have watched the almost terminally low-keyed CAUSEWAY (Lila Neugebauer), where you will see not only Brian Tyree Henry of "Atlanta" show why he's nominated for Best Supporting Actor, but an outstanding understated performance by Jennifer Lawrence, and the way they play off each other.

Rewatching Todd Field's TÁR
I've also just rewatched Todd Field's TÁR, which I "had" to do because my friend and I missed the first few minutes; but also, what 2022 movie is more worth re-watching? Turns out since TÁR begins with the long credits instead of ending with them, and there is that long, obsequious - and arguably somewhat superfluous - intro to Lydia by Adam Gopnik as himself, we didn't wind up missing very much. But there is a lot to ponder and savor in this amazing film with its top-tier lead performance. The character of Lydia Tár in some ways resembles Cate's lead in Woody Allen's 2013 BLUE JASMINE, but this character is as much richer as the performance is subtler. TÁR makes me revise my view that Cate Blanchett was not a "great" actress though a technically very fine" one - I was very dissatisfied with the amazing, busy, confusing Woody Allen movie. Revisiting Mike D'Angelo's subscription-only (68/100) review: he makes a couple of points to ponder. First, should Lydia's sexually predatory behavior, even if only a little bit, have been more directly shown? On the other hand, would it have been just as good a movie without that plot element at all?
Quote:
I'd very likely have dug TÁR even had Tár simply been a celebrated, mercurial and notoriously difficult conductor/composer, without any hint of sexual impropriety.

As the movie is, D'Angelo much admires TÁR but "did not swoon" over it mainly because of Field's decision that it needed "just a little Black Swan-style freakiness," i.e., the horror touches. I also think those may be unnecessary in a film that's already such a complex - and troubling - double portrait of a world and a personality. Anyway, I'd certainly keep Lydia's dangerous rush into the deserted spaces to give Olga her toy furry animal. Is that a touch of freakiness?

Though for me it's the best Best Picture nom, and Blanchett the best Best Actress one, I don't think the Oscars will go there. And that's the Oscars.

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