Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Old News: A Dubious Honour

I don't normally do my film awards until, well, August, but hark! There is an award I feel sure enough in giving out now. Yes, now.

Because, really, who's going to 'better' Thandie Newton's performance as Condoleezza Rice in Oliver Stone's W.?

I like Thandie. I do. I even tried to love her once (sadly not in that way), but she doesn't half make it difficult. She fluctuated so wildly between superness and awfulness in Crash it was like she was acting in two different universes (is it too mean to blame Terrence Howard? No? Okay. Oh, and good work, Matt Dillon). She tries to imitate Audrey Hepburn (?!?!?) in The Truth About Charlie. She starred in Simon Pegg's vacuous 'comedy' Run Fatboy Run (okay, so I haven't seen it, and hate it for ridiculously silly personal reasons that aren't really related to the film at all, but so what?). She insists on taking vapid roles in things like RocknRolla (okay, I haven't seen that either...) and The Pursuit of Happyiness (harpy alert!). But she did at least spirit Noah Wyle away from ER, so it's not all bad.

But she is the definition of the word awful in W.. The friend I saw it with said that no one had told her it wasn't a comedy, but I think the problem was that somehow had told her that it was (which it is, methinks) and the only way she knew to try the funny was to make Condoleezza a grotesque caricature. For the most part of the film this isn't really a problem because the film barely cares about her existence- in one lengthy boardroom meeting she sits silently observing as all the menfolk talk politics. I'm not sure whether her moments were cut or whether this is a conscious decision on Stone's part- there is a jokey allusion to her being-ignored later when Bush finally remembers to add to his "Gentleman..." a "... and Lady...", but perhaps it's better to think her scenes generally ended up on the cutting room floor. In the opening scene I conjectured to myself that she looked constipated, but as she reappeared it was simply more like someone else had relieved themselves right next to her and it stank. She also appeared to have lead piping in her limbs and spine, because she sat like something had been shoved up her rectum and walked like she had to keep her arms at a certain distance from her body to prevent immediate death. And I haven't even mentioned her voice.

So yes. I have no hesitation in now naming Ms. Thandie Newton the Worst Supporting Actress of 2008! *applause*

Well, at least she's not torn up about it.


Anonymous said...

Rice looks constipated most of the time. Have you ever really watched that woman's footage?!?

Newton nailed it and that's what she was supposed to do.

Dave said...

Yes, anon, I have watched footage of Rice, and she doesn't look at all as grotesque as Newton did. At all. I'll give Newton the voice (slightly over-done but still a reasonable effort) but there was no excuse for the constant grotesquery on her face. No human being perpetually looks like that. It was ridiculous.

Cal said...

It was total impersonation. The lips were so permanently huge I was hoping the wind was gonna change and she'd stay that way. Hilarious, though.

I liked her more than most in Crash. What was wrong with Terrence?! Meanie. You didn't mention Beloved, where I thought she was also horrendously funny at times. She does play a lot of detestable characters: Rice, Beloved, a son-abandoner, a berating housewife. It's a wonder she's got any fans.

Oh, a word in her defence. Have you seen her line-readings from The Graham Norton Show? Damn funny. Maybe she should do more comedy... intentional comedy I mean :-)

P.S. Post more! X

Catherine said...

Hahaha! I totally agree with this. When I saw 'W' a few weeks ago, I was literally in shock. Like, "".

Anonymous said...

CRASH was an awful movie in its ENTIRE way: Acting, Script, Direction, Music, Film Editing... So don't blame on Thandie.

Dave said...

Cal: I haven't seen Beloved (yet). And yes, she was fantastic on the Graham Norton show! She's obviously a great person who's fun to be around, but as an actress... she has a lot to prove. (And I do try! I've done my essay now and term is almost over so hopefully posting will pick up.)

Catherine: Yes! That was exactly my reaction.

anon: I didn't blame Thandie for it all; but she was hardly the film's shining light.