Sunday, February 13, 2005

Vanity Fair and Reese Witherspoon

Who would of thought that an actress with the unlikely name of Reese Witherspoon could be so good in so many movies. Since American Psycho I have watched her blossom into an actress with tremendous skill, seen especially clearly in The Importance of Being Earnest (still a wonderful story, despite the several remakes) and Sweet Home Alabama. She excells herself in Vanity Fair, Thackery's tale of social class and social climbers. Nuances, gestures, energy, passion - she has it all. A great film, well worth watching.

I note that she has also started producing (Legally Blonde 2 and Sports Widow) - which means she must also be able to command commercial respect in LA. Not bad for a lady who was born in Baton Rouge in 1976 (22nd March) and has been making films since 1991 (and TV shows / movies too since 1998). She is married (to Ryan Phillipe, actor seen in Cruel Intentions, Gosford Park and Crash and currently filming Dorian Gray) and has two children.

She has been nominated for two Golden Globes (2000, 2002 - Election and Legally Blonde were the films), but didn't win.

She is an actress to watch. If you haven't seen her in Cruel Intentions, rent it.

Another film, this time a documentary, worth watching is Nine Good Teeth - a film by Alex Halpern. Its the story of an Italian lady who, when the film opens is 96 (she is now 105). The film unfolds through the stories of Halpern's Italian-American grandmother Mary Mirabito Livornese Cavaliere ("Nana"). In an intimate and often hilarious portrait, Mary, a fiercely independent woman, dispenses homespun wisdom in a series of unflinching conversations with her persistent and equally outspoken grandson. As she divulges family secrets and rivalries, Mary confronts her own mortality with candor and courage while remaining the rock on which the rest of her family relies. In the process of capturing Mary's life and times, Halpern turns his camera on various members of the extended family and uncovers a multitude of conflicting viewpoints. Questions are asked, left unanswered and later revisited. We learn Mary was an inattentive mother with artistic aspirations who resented being trapped at home. Mary and daughter Maria's explosive and contradictory relationship is steeped in a shared revisionism of past events. Her younger sister Gladys blames Mary for her lost adolescence and refuses to see her before either die. Mary's desire, from an early age, to live her life equal to that of a man, was often in direct conflict with her roles as daughter, wife, mother, matriarch and first-generation American. She is one tough cookie and good luck to her.

The film is full of good little sayings. Here are a few:

Italian Dialect: "Quando si manga non si parla, perch* si combata con la morte."
English:"When you eat, don't speak because you're fighting with death."

Neapolitan: "L'omo, che podda fare bichin'a vonella"
English:"What can a man do alongside a skirt?"

Sicilian: "Mangiati quattru figatedd'i muschi arrustitti."
English: Go and eat four roasted flies' livers.

You end up both liking and fearing this lady, but her story is compelling.

Today I am making ice cream in the new ice cream maker I managed to pick up on eBay. Watch this space! Lynne made some last week (Pistachio) and it was excellent.

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