April 23, 2011

Recreating an old reality show, with actors playing the parts of the real people...

... who once lived their supposedly real lives in front of the cameras.

Is this something we want to watch now, or do we feel sorry for actors who are stuck with roles like this? Why not watch the original show, "An American Family," which aired in 1973?

HBO's "Cinema Verite" makes me feel the way I felt about the movie "Frost/Nixon." The original is still available. What's the point of actors imitating them? Presumably, there can be some different angles on what was really happening, but, most likely, we'll just be more aware of the phoniness of acting than we usually are.

Meanwhile, speaking of HBO, I'm struggling through the 5 episodes of the mini-series "Mildred Pierce." (I'm not watching alone, but I'm saying "I'm struggling," because I'm the one with the will to watch, and Meade mainly has this thing of hanging out with me when I'm watching one of my shows, which is something I also do for him sometimes (read:  sports).)

Now, "Mildred Pierce," isn't the recreation of something that happened in reality, but it is the recreation of an old and (for some people) very familiar movie. Kate Winslet is playing Joan Crawford. Now, it's not the same as watching Faye Dunaway play Joan Crawford in "Mommie Dearest," because both Joan and Kate were playing this fictional entity Mildred, but, come on. It was Joan Crawford. Winslet has the challenge of getting us to not think about Crawford.

Now, Kate's doing a fine job of not being Joan Crawford, but... the real thing here is melodrama, and Joan was more truly melodramatic, which means that Kate, by trying to be more authentically human, gives us a less genuine melodrama.

42 comments:

edutcher said...

When they say, "It's not TV, it's HBO", they ain't kidding.

Most of what's on it is dreck (caught a little of "Pierce"), the big "difference" of HBO being all the women getting naked at least once.

I'll stick with TV - at least the Westerns and the History channels.

Ann Althouse said...

I'm not watching alone, but I'm saying "I'm struggling," because I'm the one with the will to watch, and Meade mainly has this thing of hanging out with me when I'm watching one of my shows, which is something I also do for him sometimes (read: sports).

Tell Meade he's not alone. I've suffered through "Charmed" and "Bones" more times than I care to think about.

Ann Althouse said...

"all the women getting naked at least once"

All the women? What I noticed was Guy Pearce!

JSinAZ said...

Ms. Althouse, I'm actually a little surprised by your comment about "Frost/Nixon", which I watched and found to be something other than a remake. Instead, it illuminated somethings about David Frost I did not know, and gave some picture into the motivations Nixon had in agreeing to the interviews (including the wad of cash needed by RMN to pay for lawyers, etc).
I do agree with your more general criticism, being the milking of genre for a new audience - but Mildred Pierce (or Batman or LucasBrand CartoonWars) are a lot more aggregious examples of that than Frost/Nixon.

Irene said...

The ending of the original Mildred Pierce was much better, too.

ricpic said...

It's amazing how close Diane Lane looks to Pat Loud.

That was one of the most embarrassing moments in TV history, when Pat Loud threw her husband out of the house. Embarrassing to watch because whether he deserved it or not you knew she was ecstatic about the exhibitionist aspect of baring all on a national stage..

edutcher said...

Ann Althouse said...

"all the women getting naked at least once"

All the women? What I noticed was Guy Pearce!


Well, I should hope so.

Irene said...

The ending of the original Mildred Pierce was much better, too.

Not familiar with the flick, but the end (saw bits of the last episode) struck me as kind of Lefty nihilism.

Titus said...

The thing I like about Kate Winslet is she shows her tits.

The movie she won the Oscar for was a vehicle for her tits.

Tits swimming, tits resting, tits taking a bath.

Lot's of tits in that movie.

tits.

Titus said...

Her tits bounced when she was swimming in that movie.

bouncing tits.

William said...

I just saw "The Kennedys". Greg Kinnear really nailed JFK's hair and some of his facial expressions. Katie Holmes was too appealing to be a convincing Jackie. There was something about the real Jackie that kept you at a distance. There's something about Katie that invites you in.....Nixon's defining characteristic was his lack of charisma. It is very difficult for a movie star such as Frank Langella or Anthony Hopkins to rid themselves of charisma. With the Kennedy brothers, just the opposite. They had more magnetism and good looks than most movie stars.

Ann Althouse said...

"The movie she won the Oscar for was a vehicle for her tits."

That is an equally apt description of all the Kate Winslet movies for which she did not win an Oscar, including "Titanic."

Roger J. said...

I did not watch the nixon frost interviews when they were aired.

I did see the movie and think Frank Langella's performance was magisterial--He and Forest Whitacker were able to provide a human dimension to two unlikable personas. And this comment is in no way to suggest that RMS and Idi Amin are comparable--rather it has to do with acting ability.

Whitacker got his oscar and Frank Langella should have gotten his.

themightypuck said...

Mildred Pierce is also a book. Which I've heard the HBO series follows with the fervor of a convert. I'd watch it but you can't buy HBO without paying for a pointless (for me) cable package. I'm kind of yearning to see A Game of Thrones boobies but I'll have to wait for the DVD.

Titus said...

I loved her in Extras when she played herself and was playing a nun and smoked and talked like a drunken sailor.

James R Ament said...

What got me was that the HBO version was so darned slow and long. Otherwise, I liked the acting and the naked stuff.

Chris Althouse Cohen said...

What they say is that the hbo version of Mildred Pierce isn't really a remake of the movie because they're both based on a book, and the miniseries apparently is more loyal to the book. They say that the book dealt with things they couldn't deal with in movies at that time, etc. I saw some clips that seemed fairly slow, though. I've heard that the second half is better than the first, and that's where the daughter grows up and they have all their problems.

ironrailsironweights said...

the big "difference" of HBO being all the women getting naked at least once

Evan Rachel Wood had to wear a hairpiece for her nude scene in Mildred Pierce in order to make the scene appropriate for its time period. Do you really need for me to elaborate on what sort of hairpiece?

Peter

Terrye said...

Mildred Pierce is not just an old movie, it is an old book written by James M. Cain..that was the same guy who wrote Double Indemnity which also became a movie. Barbara Stanwyck and Fred McMurray. I loved that movie too.

Winslet can not hold a candle to Crawford or Stanwyck either one.

Paco Wové said...

Tried to find a video clip of Joe Walsh's "ILBT" for Titus' edification, but all I could find was the lyrics.

cassandra lite said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ricpic said...

Winslet cannot hold a candle to Crawford or Stanwyck either one.

The thing is that Crawford and Stanwyck grew up without a net. It was grow up quick and be of use or down down down you go. And it shows in their faces and their manner. With Winslet there's ALWAYS been a safety net. It's written all over her. Same for her male counterpart, DeCaprio. No, they don't make 'em like they used to. But isn't it a so much better world with a safety net? Isn't it?

Trooper York said...

Of course Meade will sit through a girly chick series for you. That's what a good husband does. That why I watch the Real Housewives, Desperate Housewives, Army wives and every other freakin' show with wives in the title.

In return I get to see Justified, Sons of Anarchy and now "Game of Thrones."

Trooper York said...

Which of course features a midget. Every show has to have a midget. Even "Celebrity Apprentice" has a guest midget.

edutcher said...

Ann Althouse said...

"The movie she won the Oscar for was a vehicle for her tits."

That is an equally apt description of all the Kate Winslet movies for which she did not win an Oscar, including "Titanic."


For whom the term, "Let's take a closer look...", was invented.

PS As is said of Charlize Theron, Ms Winslet never met a nude scene she didn't like (even though she said she was swearing off them).

Kent said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kcom said...

"The original is still available. What's the point of actors imitating them?"

That's what I thought of "Apollo 13". There was a documentary on the History Channel (probably) featuring James Lovell along with the others involved and after watching that gripping, gripping account of what happened (as told by the real people) there didn't seem to be any point in watching Tom Hanks imitating them. He's a great actor but, as Ann said, all I saw when I watched the clips of the movie was Tom Hanks pretending to be someone else in a way less interesting than the real person. It didn't hold a candle to the real James Lovell and the real story.

The Crack Emcee said...

A remake of "Mildred Pierce"?

No. Fucking. Comment.

pbAndj said...

"That why I watch the Real Housewives, Desperate Housewives, Army wives and every other freakin' show with wives in the title."

That explains part of the mystery. It never made sense that Trooper could reference those shows in comments. Those shows don't seem (as best as I can tell w/o having watched them) like stuff a Trooper would be interested in.


I still have no idea why he seems to know about the comings and goings of Jersey Shore.

vbspurs said...

Ann Althouse wrote:

HBO's "Cinema Verite" makes me feel the way I felt about the movie "Frost/Nixon." The original is still available. What's the point of actors imitating them?

For the shading.

I personally love recreations of famous events, although this may have something to do with my love of wax museums.

Besides, where else but in the movie can one see Dick Nixon unnerve David Frost with an insinuated comment about his sexuality, as he did when he dropped the suggestion that Gucci loafers are effeminate.

That was GOLD.

vbspurs said...

Edutcher, I STILL haven't watched this Mildred Pierce, but I have every intention to start tonight! Darn it, I would've had more to say on this thread if I had started earlier.

shiloh said...

What I noticed was Guy Pearce!

Indeed, but no such love for Mickey Rourke lol, although you did seem infatuated, obsessed, jealous re: Marisa Tomei, a body you would die for!

10 thoughts about "The Wrestler."

1. To be fair to Marisa Tomei, it should have been titled "Meat."

2. We see a lot of Marisa Tomei's naked body. It's right in our face, lap-dance style. Unlike Kate Winslet, who is always getting naked for the movie cameras, Marisa Tomei has already won an Oscar.

3. Tomei and Rourke display formidable bodies topped with aging, messed up faces.

7. I've been noting a Hollywood trend of delivering pedophiliac titillation with artistic prettification. But "The Wrestler" does not fit the trend. The sex in the movie is completely adult — and it's also grubby and ugly.
~~~~~


Comments:

Sometimes to do good work, you have to give up dignity; but there is dignity in doing good work.

Sounds to me like she (and Roarke) did good work.

>

Tomei has a "messed up" face in this movie? I get the Mickey Rourke part of this statement, but isn't Tomei still very attractive?

>

TitusPaperRoses said...

I loved the movie.

I agree with you on Rourke's body/face mismatch but don't see it in Marisa Tomei. She has an amazing body but I don't think she has a fucked face like Rourke does.

She is only 45-not that old. I think she looks really good. And what about those tits? Man those things are amazing.

>

I think Tomei has a beautiful face, and also the talent to make it act careworn.

>

TitusPaperRoses said...

I think Tomei is beautiful and talented as well.

For some reason she looks like a "real person" and not like so many of the women in Hollywood.

I would fuck her.
~~~~~


Let the record show Titus is truly obsessed with tits! :-P

11. Marisa is a frickin' MILF!

btw, Joe Pesci and Marisa ~ Tomei were great in My Cousin Vinny.

Penny said...

HBO’s film “Cinema Verite” re-creates the filming of the landmark 1973 series that became a media sensation watched by 10 million viewers, exposed its subjects to public condemnation and changed the television medium forever."

Now that's some kind of "Marketing Verite", circa 2011.

It SHOULD be true. You might even think it IS true. Except that it isn't...um...true.

Oh the Loud's deconstructed on TV alright, but that didn't "change the medium of TV forever".

That's laughable.

It sounds good though. And younger folks have no reason to not believe it. Plus it captures the zeitgeist so well!

OK, considering all of that. What are the chances that 40 years from now, someone will be making a movie about Snookie and her pals from Jersey Shore?

WOWZER! I don't care what they'll call the damn movie, or even who will star in it.

I want to know if movie goers will still be buying the POPCORN! ha ha

Life is grand.

E.M. Davis said...

I'm kind of yearning to see A Game of Thrones boobies but I'll have to wait for the DVD.

You needn't wait.

Scott M said...

Looks interesting and I'll probably check it out. I on a very positive HBO swing unlike anything since Band of Brothers. Between this show, the Big Easy cop drama, and the unbridled, un-PC, completely unapologetic Game of Thrones. Someone at HBO has remembered you don't have to cater to the Xena crowd to have a successful show.

Saint Croix said...

The Nixon in Frost/Nixon is way way better than the actual Nixon.

He's totally Nixon.

Saint Croix said...

Althouse, you should check out Real Life which is a mockumentary of reality TV that Albert Brooks did back in '79.

It's hysterical. His funniest movie.

Ann Althouse said...

"Althouse, you should check out Real Life which is a mockumentary of reality TV that Albert Brooks did back in '79."

Yes, thanks. I have seen that. Quite a while ago.

E.M. Davis said...

I file the new Mildred Pierce under "why bother?"

The original is so pitch-perfect, you don't need the remake.

Mondo said...

"Kate's doing a fine job of not being Joan Crawford"

That's actually a pretty common talent. I myself do a very fine job of not being Joan Crawford as do, I assume, many of your other readers.

Robert said...

Joan Crawford's performance is actually much closer to the intent of the book since James M. Cain was a classical scholar who wanted to write the lives of the types of people who lived in trailer parks as though they were Greek tragedies. To make the story more 'realistic' completely misses the point.

CatherineM said...

I was really disappointed in Mildred Pierce. Plodding. Snooze, but finished it because I was already committed. Listening to a brat act like a snob and speak

The big diff with the movie is the movie was a murder mystery - started with a murder, told the back story that lead to the murder - and ended with Mildred finally letting her brat pay the consequences. The miniseries had none of that drama.

I also prefer Eve Arden to Melissa Leo.

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I myself do a quite good profession of not becoming Joan Crawford as do
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