May 2, 2008

Uma Thurman in court — how can an actress witness convey real emotion?

The Daily News reports:
In films like "Pulp Fiction," "Kill Bill" and "My Super Ex-Girlfriend," Thurman has played fierce heroines, the kind of gals who could squash a pathetic pest like Jack Jordan without ruining their makeup.

That kick-ass Uma was nowhere to be found Thursday in room 1300 in the Manhattan Criminal Court building.

Dressed in funereal black, her face bare and her hair messily pulled back, she practically cowered in a courtroom so new it almost looked like a Hollywood set.

Her hands trembled as she read Jordan's creepy letters in a monotone that wouldn't have gotten her a gig as an extra on a NYU student film.
I don't think an actress witness wants to sound like an actress.

IN THE COMMENTS: Bob aptly adds: "Or perhaps she was doing a performance of an actress traumatized by a stalker to the point that she forgets to put on makeup and speaks in a lifeless monotone."

36 comments:

Mortimer Brezny said...

The worst part was that Quentin Tarantino was there with a digital camera, prowling around to record footage while licking his lips.

Bob said...

Ann Althouse: Her hands trembled as she read Jordan's creepy letters in a monotone that wouldn't have gotten her a gig as an extra on a NYU student film.

I don't think an actress witness wants to sound like an actress.


Or perhaps she was doing a performance of an actress traumatized by a stalker to the point that she forgets to put on makeup and speaks in a lifeless monotone?

George said...

She's appeared in 36 movies, according to imdb.com.

Dangerous Liaisons, Gattaca, and Pulp Fiction appear to be the only memorable ones.

And without the nasty, cruel Pulp Fiction, she'd be just another B-movie star.

In Kevin Costner's Robin Hood, she was Maid Marian?!

Glad I forgot ever seeing that.

rhhardin said...

Witness is already a part, as is judge, for everybody.

It's called social roles.

Everybody knows how to play them.

Tibore said...

"In Kevin Costner's Robin Hood, she was Maid Marian?!"

Wrong movie; Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio played Marian in that version. Thurman was in a made-for-TV variation.

dannyboy said...

Dangerous Liaisons, Gattaca, and Pulp Fiction appear to be the only memorable ones.

Dangerous Liaisons memorable only because she wasn’t shy about showing off those spectacular knockers.

Not so spectacular now. I saw a picture not too long ago of her topless and they looked like two eggs sliding down a wall.

I'd still do her though in a New York minute.

Bissage said...

Everybody knows how to play them.

Some better than others.

Pogo said...

More unintended consequneces from the desire to do good:

1) From the legal complaint:
"that the letters
contained among other things, a cartoon drawing which represented the defendant walking along the edge of a razor blade,,and which represented [Thurman] digging a grave for [Jack Jordan].

"the defendant's family did, in fact, have defendant involuntarily committed to a hospital after learning of his behavior.

that [Jordan] has been in love with [Thurman] for many years, that he feels that [he] and [Thurman] are fated to be together and that he came to New York, has been sleeping in his car on [Thurman's] block, among other places, has been trying to see [her] in person and continues to love [her]."


2) From the Congressional Record—Senate
Monday, July 12, 1999
"Late in 1961 President Kennedy appointed an interagency committee to prepare legislative recommendations... This included the recommendation of the National Institute of Mental Health that 2,000 "community mental health centers" (one for every 100,000 people) be built by 1980. A buoyant Presidential Message to Congress followed early in 1963. "If we apply our medical knowledge and social insights fully," President Kennedy stated, "all but a small portion of the mentally ill can eventually achieve a wholesome and a constructive social adjustment." ...The President signed the Community Mental Health Centers Construction Act on October 31, 1963— his last public bill signing ceremony.

The mental hospitals emptied out. The number of patients in state and county mental hospitals peaked in 1955 at 558,922 and has declined every year since then, to 61,722 in 1996. But we never came near to building the 2,000 community mental health centers. Only some 482 received Federal construction funds from 1963 to 1980. The next year, 1981, the program was folded into the Alcohol, Drug Abuse, and Mental Health block grant program, where it disappeared from view.

Even when centers were built, the results were hardly as hoped for. ...the planners had bet on improving national mental health "by improving the quality of general community life through expert knowledge, not merely by more effective treatment of the already ill." The problem was: there was no such knowledge. Nor is there. But the belief there was such knowledge took hold within sectors of the profession, which saw institutions as an unacceptable mode of social control. These activists subscribed to a redefining mode of their own, which they considered altruistic: mental patients were said to have been "labeled," and were not to be drugged. So as the Federal government turned to other matters, the mental institutions continued to release patients, essentially to fend for themselves. There was no connection made: we're quite capable of that in the public sphere. Professor Frederick F. Siegel of Cooper Union observed, ``In the great wave of moral deregulation that began in the mid-1960s, the poor and the insane were freed from the fetters of middle-class mores.'' Soon, the homeless appeared. Only to be defined as victims of an insufficient supply of affordable housing. No argument, no amount of evidence has yet affected that fixed ideological view. "



3) "Deinstitutionalization Hasn't Worked"
The Washington Post, Jul 9, 1999
By E. Fuller Torrey and Mary T. Zdanowicz
"While Americans with untreated severe mental illnesses represent less than one percent of our population, they commit almost 1,000 homicides in the United States each year. At least one-third of the estimated 600,000 homeless suffer from schizophrenia or manic- depressive illness, and 28 percent of them forage for some of their food in garbage cans. About 170,000 individuals, or 10 percent, of our jail and prison populations suffer from these illnesses, costing American taxpayers a staggering $8.5 billion per year.

Studies have shown that 22 percent of women with untreated schizophrenia have been raped. Suicide rates for these individuals are 10 to 15 times higher than for the general population.

Between 5 and 10 percent of the 3.5 million people suffering from schizophrenia and manic-depressive illness require long-term hospitalization -- which means hospitalization in state psychiatric hospitals. This critical need is not being met, since we have lost effectively 93 percent of our state psychiatric hospital beds since 1955."



Too bad, Uma.
We don't believe in social control, except for smoking and trans fats.
Your turn to take one for the team.

MadisonMan said...

I'd still do her though in a New York minute.

I'm sure that would be very satisfying for her.

George said...

Catty blurb about the Beautiful 100... Snarky and unsympathetic bit about Uma Thurman... Is this the incipient Maureen-Dowdification of Althouse?

dannyboy said...

I'm sure that would be very satisfying for her.

That goes without saying. My partner's satisfaction is my primary goal.

Can't get repeats if you can't close escrow on the first shot.

MadisonMan said...

I think it would help if it lasted longer than a minute, though.

dannyboy said...

I think it would help if it lasted longer than a minute, though.

Oh, yes of course. Hah! I meant a NY minute as in...

Hey, are you mocking me?

dannyboy said...

Come to think of it, I did satisfy one chick in about 45 seconds but it was a bad experience for me. She squeezed her legs so hard she almost broke my nose and I nearly suffocated.

That may have been her idea of auto erotica but I'm not into that.

TMink said...

Pogo, wonderful post and resource. Thanks dude!

How much of the homeless problem is a deinstitutionalization problem? How much more if you count addiction? 30%? 60%?

Back to the topic, I cannot imagine how unnerving it must be to have some psycho person stalking you. The razor blade imagery is fairly terrifying.

Trey

Pogo said...

"how unnerving it must be to have some psycho person stalking you"

And how even more helpless one feels if unfamous and stalked. Each victim is essentially told "we can't do anything until he does something", even though that 'something' might just be murder.

Public safety is primarily the responsibility of government, and where government fails to provide it, businesses are reluctant to go. Hence the long term decline of inner cities.

When people feel the government cannot or will not protect them, the answer is personal violence. For the rich, security systems and bodyguards. For the poor, it's guns and fighting.

It is then fantasized in the media. "Death Wish" told the story of NY City's decline. Now we see "The Brave One" and Batman.

And Uma Thurman, despite her wealth, is forced to participate in the farce where the rights of a nutjob whose own family thinks he is crazy outweighs the rest of us.

Until he hurts her. Then we act. Christ, how ridiculous. Where are the feminists and the Take Back the Night people on this? Nowhere. Can't criticize the crazy people, until they kill.

PatCA said...

This "news" article also illustrates the sad state of journalism today. Instead of reporting the facts, the writer snarks about this actress and her acting skill and this defendant, who he clearly favors, and his acting skill. I guess Uma is just supposed to give him a trans-fat-free sandwich and everything will be cool. He seems to hate Uma.

Ridiculous.

Mortimer Brezny said...

Uma. OPRAH. Uma. OPRAH.

P. Rich said...

Pogo said: Each victim is essentially told "we can't do anything until he does something", even though that 'something' might just be murder.

That's pretty much the state of law enforcement in general, and the Democrats' view on national defense.

Chip Ahoy said...

she was doing a performance of an actress traumatized by a stalker to the point that she forgets to put on makeup and speaks in a lifeless monotone."

And behind all that is a real person genuinely fearful of showing any emotion atoll for being thought an actress.

And behind that is another actress aware of all that.

And behind that is a real person.

And, behind ... well, this is a problem, innit.

Chip Ahoy said...

I loved Postcards from the Edge that explored this never-trust-an-actor-demonstrating-emotion thing. They don't know themselves what's real. They can't be real, they don't know what it is. Besides they're too good at it.

knoxwhirled said...

We don't believe in social control, except for smoking and trans fats.

Well you can always count on the left to "get tough" on either totally stupid or totally imaginary problems... they wet their pants when it comes to something worthwhile like putting down Saddam, but unhealthy fast food???? they'll go medieval on your ass.

Zeb Quinn said...

It's called social roles.

Everybody knows how to play them.


Long ago, fairly early in my trial practice, I saw the recurring theme amongst a substantial number of witnesses, often including the litigants themselves, who seemed to see themselves in the trial thing as characters in their own personal little soap opera. And I'm either getting better at recognizing it, or it's becoming more common now than it was 25 years ago. I hate it when it happens with one of my witnesses. It usually detracts from credibility and really messes a lawyer up in following and selling his theory of the case.

But with Uma here we have the opposite. A known and veteran actress on the stand. If I were her lawyer I'd tell her that she needs to come across as sincere, genuine, down to earth, and upset by this stalker, so do whatever it takes to convey that.

vbspurs said...

I feel for Uma, very much, but she couldn't act her way out of a paper chapeau. She's an horrific actress.

Granted she could be acting on the stand, since people feel she's giving a "bad performance" but this case reminds me of Lana Turner.

When her daughter killed her mob-boyfriend, she had to go on the witness stand, and possibly lie about who did the killing (her or her daughter) since she gave "dramatic" testimony defending her daughter.

As Wiki says:

"Some observers have said her testimony that day was the acting performance of her life"

Actors. Damned if they do...

Cheers,
Victoria

Zachary Paul Sire said...

Uma is a great actress and some of the comments here are ridiculous.

Uhh, this guy threatened her and her childrens' lives and you're talking about her performance on the stand?

I hope you get stalked one day and are lucky enough to survive it and then have to face your stalker in court.

Have a nice day, jerks.

P.S. The Truth About Cats And Dogs is a great Uma movie.

Zachary Paul Sire said...

P.P.S. Not that any of you are stalkworthy.

Ann Althouse said...

I'm not criticizing her. I'm reading the Daily News coverage and thinking about the problem of being a good witness when you are known to be an actress.

knoxwhirled said...

Zachary, chill

Pogo said...

Yeah Zachary. Man.

I don't criticize anyone here for focusing on a different concern than mine. In fact I was way off topic. The nexus of crime and bad government is one I can hardly get past without steam coming out of my ears.

But that's my problem.

Trooper York said...

I don't know Zach, but Uma's babealishiousness has always seemed to pass me by. She is too gossamer and unformed and washed out in an overly skinny tall and angular way. Sort of like an unformed fetus. I think that's the look favored by you gay dudes. I don't really like the skinny beanpole blondes like Uma or Gynneth or that ilk. Give me a healthy brunette like a Selma Hayek or Hallie Berry or J-Lo any day of the week. Now that's prime poontang baby.

Pogo said...

Agreed.
Just short of Zaftig's the ticket.

Revenant said...

Uma did a fine acting job in the "Kill Bill" movies. Perhaps surprisingly, they called for a wider range of emotions than most of the roles she gets.

rhhardin said...

Radio Japan (audio link, good for a week) reports a system of citizen-judges to be introduced in a year, to bring common sense into trials.

vbspurs said...

Sorry, guys, unmoved by the "good acting" mentions. I actually remember her "debut" in Dangerous Liaisons opposite Keanu Reeves, and that pairing to date, is unbeatable in the bad acting stakes.

She's her generation Scar-Jo, in terms of a gorgeous (if differently shaped) body, and utter lack of range.

They try, bless them, but they IMHO, rarely succeed. And Gattaca is one of my favourite recent films, too.

That said, I think Ethan Hawke is a little putz, and Uma is patently a very classy lady who doesn't deserve this stalking (who does). Here's hoping she can overcome her troubles.

Cheers,
Victoria

blake said...

The Adventures of Baron Munchausen marred though it was by Robin Williams doing his schtick in the middle of an otherwise lyrical film, possessed a scene of Uma which was anything BUT forgettable.

This grainy, low-res version (with the soundtrack replaced by something else) doesn't really do it justice, but still it's one of the great movie entrances.

As for her stalker, if it were a movie, she'd invite him up and then kill him....

Hoosier Daddy said...

I hope you get stalked one day and are lucky enough to survive it and then have to face your stalker in court.

And yet you wonder why us wingnuts cherish our Second Amendment right.