Law of the Ladies

Thanks to Fiona for finding a book with a title that nearly pushes Clint Eastwood: Sexual Cowboy from the official Top Spot (a good book title should lodge in the reader’s mind and immediately make them want to take a bath).

I give you Jude Law: A Man For All Ladies by “McVicar” (the ’70s stick-up artist?). This has everything a title could possibly need, with the possible exceptions of taste, charm and attraction. I particularly like the evocation of a play and film with which Law has no obvious connection, and which has nothing to do with the title’s overall premise, which is presumably that Law has some kind of irresistible appeal to the fairer sex (Fiona prefers Peter Lorre).

I will say this for Law — he makes a very good robot.

28 Responses to “Law of the Ladies”

  1. Actually Jude has an irresistible appeal to his own sex. The “bathtub chess” scene in The Talented Mr. Ripley is a classic. And in Pinter’s scandalously unappreciated remake (and page one rewrite) of Sleuth (which is at heart a Pinter rip-off to start with) the action between Jude and the great Michael Caine (at his most chillingly suave) centers entirely around the question of Who’s Going to Seduce Who First. The suspense is teriffic.

    Yes he makes a great robot. In Spielberg’s superb (and very much misunderstood A.I.) his last line “I am…I was” is incredibly moving.

  2. I think Law, like Keanu, may be one of those actors who can be great when he’s not self-conscious, but disastrous when he tries too hard. Keanu, a bright guy and an appealing presence onscreen, tends to hit his stride more regularly. Law fluctuates from film to film and within films too. But he’s very good in Ripley and A.I.

  3. And he’s teriffic in I Heart Huckabees, by the totally insane David O. Russell. Law suffered when Hollywood decided he was the Next Big Thing and he and his management allowed him to be cast in everything.
    The remake of Alfie was a classic bad “good idea.” Law is in no way a conventional leading man. His “charm” is a lure, and mainstream audiences immediately sensed his dark underside — which is anathema to the conventional.

    Glad to see you’re appreciative of Keanu’s actaul talent — which tends to be overlooked due to his dazzling beauty. His performance as a melancholy existentialist dentist in Thumbsucker is particularly wonderful. But for his fans he’ll always be the street hustler Prince Hal of My Own Private Idaho and “Neo” in the Matrix trilogy.

  4. Oh yes, everybody in Huckabees is so good.

    I wasn’t as taken with Sleuth as yourself, but it certainly is the only Michael Caine remake that doesn’t simultaneously both suck and blow. The Italian Job, Get Carter and Alfie should all have been left well alone.

    Keanu’s nadir is probably Dracula — assuming an accent is absolutely antithetical to what’s good in his acting. I’d even argue that something similar is true of Brando, although MB learned to be an amusing ham.

  5. Here’s Lily Tomlin’s legendary flip-out

    Keanu is VERY Maria Montez in the Coppola Dracula.

  6. Arthur S. Says:

    Well the poor guy is cast in the Jonathan Harker role, the definitive sap-hero in all of literature. And then he’s cast opposite Gary Oldmas as Vlad “the Impaler” Dracul a.k.a. Dracula. And then Anthony Hopkins plays Val Helsing who actually is the Vampire-Hunter. Poor Keanu never had a chance.

    assuming an accent is absolutely antithetical to what’s good in his acting

    Perhaps but it is important in some occassions. Like Robert Mitchum in ”Ryan’s Daughter”, a great performance which depends on his very convincing Irish accent. Then Charles Laughton with his southern twang in ”Advise and Consent”. Robert DeNiro speaking Sicilian(in the right dialect) for ”The Godfather Part II” and many other examples. Of course this is by professionals far above the accent-obsessives today who expect their voice-training to hide their lack of ability.

    Marlon Brando on the other didn’t do accents in his best roles(he only hammed when he knew the role was beneath him). In ”The Godfather”, he created a kind of an accent but his performance carries that.

    Interestingly has there ever been a case in European or Asian cinema of actors going out of the way to get regional accents right? Mostly it’s the Americans or the British who go out of their way. In Europe, they don’t have qualms dubbing actors who can’t do accents or languages. Like the very French Catherine Deneuve was cast in the very Spanish ”Tristana”(a fact which Bunuel regretted later though he was friendly with Deneuve during the shoot) and she was dubbed and somehow it works even if she has a very distinct voice. It’s also one of her great performances.

  7. Surprised that Bunuel ever expressed regret. Deneuve was a major internaional star and Belle de Jour a monster hit. Of course it wasn’t her voice in Tristana but it was certainly her body. At the New York Film Festival critics screening someone asked her about her mysteriosu smile in a climactic scene, and she proceeded to show us precisely how she did it. No emotion was involved — it was all technique.

  8. Deneuve strikes me as ALWAYS being all technique — but I like that. It helps explain why she finds “normal” characters more difficult than extreme ones, although I think that’s true for most actors.

  9. Arthur S. Says:

    It’s mentioned in the documentary ”A Proposito de Bunuel”. It’s on the second disc of the Criterion DVD of ”The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeosie”. One of the talking heads(sorry if it sounds insulting but I can’t place the name right now) mentioned that Bunuel at one point wondered out loud what this French lady was doing wandering in this Spanish garden. Her casting also raised the budget of the film.

    This was of course during production or pre-production and Bunuel may have changed his mind later. Catherine Deneuve mentions that she got to knew Bunuel personally on ‘Tristana’ so Bunuel certainly didn’t make things difficult for her. I personally prefer her in ”Tristana” over ”Belle de Jour” and likewise the film(though ”Belle de Jour” is a masterpiece) so I don’t agree with Bunuel there though I do understand his idea of ”Tristana” of being a very specifically Spanish film(to the extent that he didn’t think it would get any international interest).

  10. I’ve had the great honor of meeting Catherine Deneuve twice. The first time was at the New York Film Festival in 1970. She was coming in the revolving doors as I was going out. Our eyes met. I expressed utter gobsmackedness , and she rewarded me with the msot dazzling smile I’ve ever seen.

    In the late 1980’s she paid a visit to L.A. The French Counsulate arranged a party for her at somebody’s house in Beverly Hills. Far too many people were invited and it was sheer madness on the order of the stateroom scene in A Night at the Opera. Happily I found myself seated next to her on a couch at one point and we chatted away amiably as the insanity continued to erupt around us. Not for a nanosecond did she lose her cool.

    The great French filmmaker Andre Techine is terrified of flying. He was invited by the New York Film Critics a few years back to come over and pick up his Best Director prize. He agreed to do so only if Catherine Deneuve could come with him and hold his hand on the plane. As he was responsible for giving her some of her finest adult roles, the goddess was only too happy to comply.

    Would that it were possible for us all to fly Catherine Deneuive Airways

  11. Considering Law is currently in adverts for the Film Four channel talking about it being one of his most important film going experiences shouldn’t the book be more appropriately titled My Beautiful Lawndrette?

    Strange that they should go for A Man For All Ladies when most of his films would make great titles for biographies, each highlighting different aspects of his character.

    The arty: eXisten-TiaL.

    The boastful: The Talented Mr Law/Sky Captain and the World of Jude Law/The Wisdom Of Jude Law.

    The frighteningly stalker-ish: Jude At The Gates/Midnight In The Garden Of Jude Law.

    The sexy: Jude Mountain/All The Law’s Men/Breaking and Entering.

    The self-deprecating: Artificially Intelligent/Jude Law’s Series of Unfortunate Events.

    Or if they wanted to choose a different title surely Jude The Obscure should have been an obvious choice? Though I suppose it does suggest that you’ll finish reading the biography knowing little more than when you began it!

    Sorry, I’m in a punning mood today!

    I hadn’t thought about Law and Keanu Reeves being better when they aren’t ‘self conscious’ but that seems to be a good point.

  12. I can’t possibly classify Knoonoo and Jude together. Jude is a very untalented man with a speech impediment, a sort of latterday Terence Stamp, whereas Knoonoo has nothing but latent talent, a talent that’s impossible to develop. But good or bad he’s always a joy to watch, a male Monroe. I don’t think he’s ever self-conscious… when he’s terrible it’s because he’s miscast or because nobody gave him anything to chew.

  13. How DARE you diss the perfection that is Terence Stamp !!!!!!

    And thansk for mentioning Jude’s turn in the scandalously underrate Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, colinr. Everyone chatters about his “limited range.” Clint got him to play Southern White Trash Rough Trade to a fair-thee-well.

  14. Arthur S. Says:

    …and she rewarded me with the msot dazzling smile I’ve ever seen.

    You have just moved to the high echelon of people’s life I’d swap mine with.

  15. Catherine Deneuve Airways — now I understand why Von trier cast her in Dancer in the Dark. Kubrick should have hired her too.

    Peter Mullan once explained to a friend that he cured his fear of flying by going first class.

  16. Arthur S. Says:

    Man I wish I was afraid of flying. Why was I not born a neurotic?

  17. Good neurotics are MADE, not born!

  18. David I met a lady called Betty today whose late husband was the sound recordist on The Passenger!

  19. Brilliant! Did you get her details? I’ll interview her for my forthcoming “widows of sound recordists” piece. She can be the centrepiece. Seriously, it’d be cool to hear if she has any stories.

  20. I agree that Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil is one of Eastwood’s most underrated and perhaps his best recent film, though I realise I’m probably in the minority in not particularly liking Million Dollar Baby!

    Sorry I moved away from the Deneuve talk with my Law related punning! I think Catherine Deneuve is someone in some ways I’m glad I’ll never meet – I wouldn’t want to spoil the impression I’ve built up watching her on the screen (though from the sound of it she more than lives up to a meeting in person!) and really there’s nothing I could say to her any more profound than ‘thanks for your films’!

  21. It’s often the problem when you meet someone you admire (and one I may face this weekend!). What to say? “You’re good,” doesn’t seem like the best conversation starter, although it must SOMETIMES be nice to hear from a stranger.

    Haven’t seen Clint’s Midnight Garden, and up until now only Unforgiven has reall impressed me in his oevre. Great script. David Peoples should just be given the job of writing EVERYTHING.

  22. Clint started as a rather inspired genre director with Play Misty For Me and The Gauntlet. With Bird he turned a corner. Now with the dyptich of Flags of Our Fathers / Letter From Iwo Jima he has become one of America’s greatest directors. Very much looking forward to The Changeling, his 30’s mystery thriller starring the Most Famous Woman in the World.

  23. I tend to feel a bit dense when I look at Eastwood’s films, since I can never see what it is I should admire. But it’s not helped that I seem to catch his lesser films more often than the major ones: Blood Work, Space Cowboys, A Perfect World, Pale Rider, Sudden Impact, Firefox, The Eiger Sanction.
    Moderately liked: White Hunter, Black Heart.

    Somehow missed: Bird, Midnight in the Garden… , Mystic River, Million $ Baby, Flags of Our Fathers & the other one.
    Didn’t like as much as I was supposed to: Play Misty, Josey Wales, High Plains Drifter (and MAN is that rape scene offensive: are we in the TWENTIES suddenly?)…
    I’m not generally hostile to Clint. He’s relaxed, which is a nice, rare trait in a modern American mainstream director. But I’m not transported into raptures by him, as yet.

  24. A Perfect World is teriffic. he actual ly gets Costner to act. Another early gem is Bronco Billy — his closest approach to Fellini. But with his latest works he really has the wind at his back. At the critics screening of Letters From Iwo Jima he introduced himself with “Hello. I’m Clint Eastwood. I used to be an actor.”

    He’s incredibly tall (rare for an actor) and extremely nice.

  25. Arthur S. Says:

    I like Eastwood as a director as well. My favourite Eastwoods are ”Unforgiven”, ”Pale Rider”, ”The Outlaw Josey Wales”, ”White Hunter, Black Heart”, ”Bird”. And of his recent films I think the best is ”Mystic River”.

  26. Perfect World was supposedly a perfect script, until Eastwood decided it needed a bigger role for Eastwood. All the stuff with Costner is good, and he does indeed break from his boring self-image and actually create an interesting character. Eastwood’s stuff is just padding, and it kills the film, imho.
    His big weakness always seemed to be a tendency to cast Sondra Locke, but he’s over that now. I’ll have to try and check out some of those major ones I missed though. It’s a little hard to be sure what to see because he gets blanket approval from the UK broadsheets.

  27. david wingrove Says:

    Dear David Ehrenstein,

    What a gross insult to the lovely Maria Montez, comparing her to the wooden and wholly talentless Keanu Reeves!

    Hope the Spirit of the Cobra Queen doesn´t sue you from beyond the grave.

    Very best regards, anyway.

  28. Hi!
    Disagree re your assessment of Canoe. He can be very effective, just sort of BEING rather than acting. His efforts at the latter are often weak and embarrassing, but his natural ability at the former is rare and impressive.

    Montez of course had several modes, being quite convincing for Ophuls, and reaching delirious heights of ineptitude for Siodmak, as celebrated by Jack Smith in a piece that real should be set to music.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: