domingo, dezembro 04, 2005
MOVIE REVIEW 'TRANSAMERICA'
A Complex Metamorphosis of the Most Fundamental Sort
By A. O. SCOTT - NYTIMES
Published: December 2, 2005
To call Felicity Huffman's performance in "Transamerica" persuasive would be an understatement, as well as somewhat misleading. Her character, Bree (short for Sabrina), is a pre-operative transsexual who lives in a modest bungalow in Los Angeles and in a condition she refers to as "stealth." In other words, though still technically male, Bree passes for a woman, though there is nothing very stealthy about her elaborate, almost theatrical displays of femininity. In her tasteful pink outfits and meticulously applied makeup, she presents an image of womanliness that harks back to an earlier era. Her voice soft and breathy, she avoids cursing and peppers her conversation with Latinate words and foreign phrases.
In this debut feature by Duncan Tucker, who wrote and directed it, "Transamerica" sets out to affirm Bree's dignity, to liberate her and others like her from any association with camp or freakishness. That the film succeeds without slipping too far into sentimentality or didacticism is in no small measure the result of Ms. Huffman's wit and grace. (She may also be the first film actor of either sex to do frontal nudity, in a single movie, as both.) Her work on "Desperate Housewives," for which she won an Emmy earlier this year, suggests a knack for gender parody, since that series is in essence a drag show that happens to star real women. The challenge Ms. Huffman faces here is more complicated: she must convey the layers of Bree's identity and the spaces between those layers. It is not just that the actress must play a man who is playing a woman - that much is a matter of technique (with some prosthetic assistance, to be sure) - but also that she must impersonate a performer in the midst of learning a complicated role. Her performance is a complex metamorphosis, and it is thrilling to watch.
mais in NYTimes
The dark glam of a self-destructive rocker: Johnny Depp as the 17th-century writer John Wilmot, a k a the second earl of Rochester, in Laurence Dunmore's film "The Libertine." 1
Glamorizing the Progress of a Notorious Rake
By CHARLES McGRATH
Published: November 29, 2005
The Restoration, the textbooks tell us, was the era when England became a kind of public theater. The playhouses reopened, to great acclaim, and gentlemen began wearing costumes on the street - foppish coats and pantaloons and long Frenchified wigs. Even politics became a kind of stage play, with the king and Parliament enacting elaborately contrived roles in a lengthy melodrama about power and succession.
The degree of spectacle and role playing at court in particular was wittily suggested in Michael Hoffman's 1995 movie "Restoration," a campy costume epic featuring Robert Downey Jr. as a down-at-the-heels physician who becomes veterinarian to the royal dogs. Laurence Dunmore's new movie, "The Libertine," which opened on Friday in New York and Los Angeles, evokes a very different Restoration.
This one is an age of anxiety, in which having survived fire and plague, Londoners regarded the newly arrived Charles II, dandified and nearly penniless, with a good deal of wariness and uncertainty. The movie never refers to him explicitly, but almost every scene is a reminder that a best-selling author of the period was Thomas Hobbes, who wrote that life's natural course is "nasty, brutish and short."
"The Libertine" focuses instead on another writer, John Wilmot, second earl of Rochester (1647-80), a notorious rake who self-destructed with terrifying velocity. He inherited his title at 10, went to Oxford at 12 and graduated at 14. When he was 18 he was imprisoned for abducting a wealthy heiress (whom he later married); he subsequently became a war hero and an on-again, off-again favorite at court, where he was renowned for his wit and his debauchery and for drunkenly smashing the king's sundial; and at 33 he was dead, of syphilis and alcoholism. Samuel Johnson wrote of him: "In a course of drunken gaiety and gross sensuality, with intervals of study perhaps yet more criminal, with an avowed contempt of decency and order, a total disregard to every moral, and a resolute denial of every religious observation, he lived worthless and useless, and blazed out his youth and health in lavish voluptuousness."
In the movie, Johnny Depp plays Wilmot as a kind of fallen archangel, a prince of arrogance and self-loathing, and we watch him rot before our eyes, as he gradually becomes crippled and incontinent; his teeth decay and his skin erupts in lesions; and finally his nose falls off. By the end he's like a figure who has lurched in from a horror movie.
mais in NYTimes
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