MY CINEMATIC ROMANCE #2 – JULIANNE MOORE – BY PAUL LAIGHT

MY CINEMATIC ROMANCE #2  – JULIANNE MOORE – BY PAUL LAIGHT

**SPOILERS AHOY**

Following my tribute to Ryan Gosling a while ago the second in my little paeans to cinematic people I admire is the wonderful Julianne Moore.  Here I pick out seven memorable performances which make me fall in love with her over and over again.

 

SHORT CUTS (1993)

Moore is a versatile actor who, along with appearing in some cinematic classics,  has been in some right old tosh over the years. However, SHE is ALWAYS great in EVERYTHING!  She can do vulnerable. She can do funny.  She can do romance. She can do sexy.  She can do sweet. She can do evil.  And boy can she do neurosis!  My earliest memory of her was from Robert Altman’s fractured ensemble classic Short Cuts where she spends a lot of time naked from the waist down.  It certainly took er… balls for Moore to take on such a role and she is a stand-out as an artist on the edge of a nervous breakdown.

 

BOOGIE NIGHTS (1997)

I still think this is Paul Thomas Anderson’s best film. Well, it’s my favourite of his brilliant oeuvre. I mean it takes some kind of genius to make a film about the porn industry and imbue it with heart, humour, sexuality, Oedipal tragedy and humanity without poking fun and merely relying on smut or underlying sleaziness.  Moore portrays “Amber Waves” the tragic mother-figure of the porn “family” who, estranged from her own young son, provides emotional support to the young porn actors such as Rollergirl and Dirk Diggler. She is wonderful as a pained addict trying but failing to achieve a conventional lifestyle, instead finding comfort and solace with Burt Reynolds’ led dysfunctional troupe of sex actors.

 

THE BIG LEBOWSKI (1998)

Much has been made of Jeff Bridges wonderfully comic and laconic i.e. stoned-off-his-nut performance in the Coen Brothers’ much-adored cult classic The Big Lebowski, but the many idiosyncratic supporting characters deserve praise too.  The film is a delightful patchwork of eccentricity and none more so than Moore’s Maud Lebowski – a privileged, upper class artist who seduces The Dude in a strange side-story to already hyper-convoluted kidnapping-gone-wrong-right plot.  The Coens’ satirise rich artistic types via Maud as she too as uses The Dude to her own ends.  Moore dominates the screen with her witty portrayal and even ends up in one of The Dude’s hallucinogenic dreams as a Viking goddess of some sort.

 

MAGNOLIA (1999)

Paul Thomas Anderson’s does Altman’s Short Cuts  up to eleven with a modern mosaic of human dysfunction, loneliness and tragedy.  It’s a difficult but compelling watch as Anderson removes the humour palette, so richly used in Boogie Nights,  to present a cross-section of characters each struggling with existential and familial estrangement.  Moore role is a risky one inasmuch as she is a self-confessed adulterer who married for money and only now — with her elderly husband (Jason Robards) about to die — does she feel any kind of remorse.  It’s a complex character who you feel little sympathy for — even when she attempts suicide — but as car-crash humanity and drama go it’s difficult not to be drawn in by her incredible performance.

 

END OF THE AFFAIR (1999)

An amazing feat of literature from Graham Greene is adapted into a heart-cracking film by Neil Jordan; full of eroticism, stellar cast, lingering looks, exquisite photography and elegant Michael Nyman score.  I watch a lot of films and am not often moved emotionally but the doomed love affair between Moore and Ralph Fiennes really gets my tear ducts on the go.  Love is very difficult thing to get right on the silver screen but the intensity of the acting really is a thing of beauty.  There’s been some amazing love stories set during wartime down the years but this has to be one of the most memorable. Moore was deservedly nominated for an Oscar but lost out to Hilary Swank.

 

FAR FROM HEAVEN (2002)

Todd Haynes pristine Sirkian melodrama is a honourable pastiche of 1950s films in both form, setting and content.  It sees Moore wearing the skin of Cathy, a neglected American rose, who ventures into a forbidden love affair with local gardener Raymond Deagen, (Dennis Haysbert).  Once again, Moore is drawn to a character who is pushed to the outside of society, her character becoming a victim of gossip and recrimination within a closely knit bigoted community. American small-town attitudes to race and sexuality are critiqued with director Todd Haynes beautifully designed colour palette and cinematography contrasting the dark subtext at work. Moore was rightly nominated for another Oscar but lost out to Nicole Kidman’s prosthetic nose.

 

THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT (2010)

This was a laidback, fun kind of movie which found Julianne Moore in a relationship with Annette Bening’s obstetrician.  It’s a lower-budget independent gem with a fine cast including: Mark Ruffalo, Mia Wasikowska and Josh Hutcherson.  The story finds Moore and Bening’s sperm donee children searching for their father (Ruffalo) and the ensuing first world drama and “chaos” this brings.  Moore’s budding landscape gardener plays a relatively sane character as she argues with the children and the more dominant Bening, before falling into bed with the more Bohemianesque character of Ruffalo.  Moore ‘s character suffers a minor mid-life crisis compared to other cinematic meltdowns in her oeuvre. Nonetheless, her kind, natural, earth-mother performance is very enjoyable. Fear not though it would appear in her latest film — David Cronenberg’s Map to the Stars (2014) — finds her back on full neurotic alert as an actress flailing in the age-conscious, superficial Hollywood system.

10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU #2 – MOVIE HAIR!! BY PAUL LAIGHT

10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU #2 – MOVIE HAIR!!  

By Paul Laight

As a balding man I felt it my duty to raise my concerns about the desperately poor wig-work that has occurred down the years in the movies.  The wigs, actors chosen suck because they are so appalling and the filmmakers should have let the actor go natural to avoid discriminatory practices against baldies.

Obviously, for sci-fi, historical, and comedy films wigs are used in context and for humorous purposes so I have generally avoided picking on those but for the examples used there is NO EXCUSE!  They are a travesty and deeply hurtful to the bald community.  As Larry David says:  Baldism is a proper thing.


10.  IT LOOKS STUPID!

Okay, I understand certain characters require wigs especially if they wore them in real life like Phil Spector as played recently by Al Pacino but generally Movie Wigs look dumb.  It’s fine if it’s in the context of the character such as American Hustle (2013) where Bale’s character was shown to be vain but when an actor has what looks like a ferret stapled to his or her head then I’m thinking less of the movie as I’m too busy laughing at it.

philspector

 

9.  IT’S DISCRIMINATION!

I started watching the decent-enough movie TransSiberian (2008) on Netflix and Woody Harrelson’s character is wearing an obvious wig.  Harrelson has played some fine bald heroes in his time most notably in the brilliant Zombieland (2009) but he’s let us right down in this movie.  His character was a nice guy in it so by giving him a syrup and spectacles are they saying that bald people cannot be pleasant and easy-going.  Either cast an actor with hair or don’t. It’s baldist! Come on Woody – you SHOULD know better.

Harrelson_TransSib
8.  WHAT HAPPENED TO TECHNOLOGICAL ADVANCEMENT?

So I was watching a very disappointing blockbuster film about a massive lizard and I was so disconnected with the lack of characterisation or suspense I got distracted by the usually brilliant Bryan Cranston and his appalling wig!  Why not allow let the character have a natural hairstyle of the actor? Are they saying a character with a receding hairline or a bald character is less sympathetic?  All that money spent on special effects and incredible looking giant monsters in Godzilla (2014) and his hair-piece was so unconvincing I was embarrassed. Mind you not as unconvincing as the script.

Cranston_wig
7.  KING OF THE WIGS – NICOLAS CAGE

I can’t stand wigs and plastic surgery and Cage seems to have had his fair share of both. It’s vanity gone mad.  Unless of course you have a tragic disfigurement or burns I see no reason to alter your body or face in ANY way via artificial means!  If you need to lose weight go on a diet don’t use liposuction. If you are bald don’t get a rat transplant on your bonce just deal with it.  The worst hair-cut he ever had was arguably in the terrific prison-escape blockbuster Con Air (1997). While the mullet had a certain magnetic quality it, in my opinion, it was laughable and took the piss really.

conair_mullet

Anyway, Cage — on his day — is an outstanding actor but he has been in some really sorry old tosh like Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (2011).  Here’s a guy who could be a hero to all baldies everywhere with his receding locks so why not  allow his characters have Cage’s natural barnet.  His lack of locks worked well in Adaptation (2002) as it added to low-status nature of one of the brothers but this was an exception to the rule.
6.  BALD PEOPLE DEHUMANIZED AS THE BAD GUY!

Look all the villains over the years who have been bald: Lex Luthor, Voldemort, Ming The Merciless, John Doe (from Se7en), Bane, Gru, Don Logan, Darth Maul, The Baldies from The Wanderers (1979) and many more. Choosing someone who is follicly-challenged is an easy shorthand and detrimental to the humanization of bald people all over the world. We are not villains.  We are humans – just because we don’t have hair it doesn’t make us bad people. We have feelings you know.

Voldemort

 

5.  THE BALD UNTRUTH! – JOHN TRAVOLTA

Why use wigs? Why can’t the character be bald – does it make them any less of a human being?!  At the very least why collude in the fact the character has real hair.  Try and be inventive with the syrups.  John Travolta has worn some horrific fringes in his time but at no stage does he send this part of his being up or make it part of the characterisation.  In Wild Hogs (2007) — a film about mid-life crises he spends most of it in a bandana rather than embracing his lack of hair.  Fair play in the dreadful From Paris With Love (2010) he is bald but he still has a compensatory goatee to take the bald sheen away from the role.

travolta_earth

 

4.  UNINTENTIONAL HUMOUR

I’m just going to say one word:  Surrogates (2009). This Bruce Willis sci-fi thriller is a dog of a film and the syrups are hilarious.  Humans are essentially lock-ins and rarely go out.  Instead they live their lives through virtual reality surrogates.  It’s not a bad idea and contains a reasonable social comment on technology displacing actual physical and emotional contact.  The problem I have with the film is the human version of Willis is bald whereas the computer version has hair.  So basically, Willis’ preferred setting is having hair. Why couldn’t it be the other way round!!   Plus the haircut is an absolute joke; much like the film as a whole.  Bruce Willis is a flag-bearing hero to all bald men and he has worn some dodgy wigs in his time but this is the most monstrous blot on his career.

surrogates

 

 

3.  BAD HAIRPIECES DEVALUE THE PRODUCTION

Films are SO expensive to make you would think they could spend a bit more of an effort to make the hairpieces more realistic.  Some films — even historical dramas like Lincoln (2013) — have incredible sets, amazing actors and a cast of thousands but when it comes to the syrups the whole thing falls down.  I found Lincoln a tough watch anyway as it was SO boring.   Has anyone actually watched this film and enjoyed it?   Anyway, despite a ponderous story the incredible production is let down by wigs so ridiculous they act as a Brechtian distanciation device and consistently remind us we are watching a movie.  I realise that movie God Spielberg may have been going for authenticity but it backfires in Lincoln and the wigs are an embarrassment.

lincoln

 

2.  IF THEY HAVE HAIR – WHY ARE THEY WEARING A SYRUP?

The worst thing is when the actor actually has hair and they STILL put a hair-piece on them.  It’s a travesty really because they could have cast a bald person in the role and given them a leg up in the vanity-led industry that is Hollywood.  Or at the very least use the actors real hair and style it accordingly.  If the film covers a number of years then for additional realism they should shoot the film in order as the hair grows.   The biggest culprit for this is Oliver Stone.  He has made some magnificent films but his career is littered with crimes against bald people. Just have a gander at these monstrosities:

stone1 stone2 STONE3
1. HAIL THE BALD HEROES!

We shall fight them in the barbers, the make-up chairs and film & sets. Hail the heroes carrying the fight against the vain, unreal and plastic harbingers of doom!  Stand proud the hairless and bald!  Fight the good fight to the last strand!

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