Saturday, January 7, 2012

Jessica Lange Double Feature

A Thousand Acres, 1997. Directed by Jocelyn Moorehouse.

This one is not great, nor is it one of Lange's best performances, but I put it on my list months ago after having read the book (A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley, not King Lear but I am reading that now). It's really Michelle Pfieffer's movie, she gets all the fiery monologues and I suppose interesting performances, despite it really being oldest daughter Ginny's (Lange's) story. There are some inspired scenes between the two actresses, and Jason Robards (uh, King Lear, as it were) is always pretty mean, but this was a chick flick. Which is to say, I think as a production, it could have been a lot better. Axe that voice-over, like, eliminate it completely and let the scenes tell the story. Choose a less-cheesey, less-swell-y score; this man RAPED HIS DAUGHTERS for Christ's sake; some dreary music wouldn't be out of sorts here. And either get a script doctor or replace Jennifer Jason Leigh---her dialogues, no matter who with, were bloody awful. Good settings and landscapes, though. *Also look for teenage Michelle Williams and Elizabeth Moss (Peggy from Mad Men) as well as a very young, very handsome Colin Firth.

Blue Sky, 1994. Directed by Tony Richardson.

"Hank Marshall is a tough, square-jawed, straitlaced Army engineer and nuclear science expert, assigned to help conduct weapons-testing in 1950's America. Hank has become a thorn in the side of the Army, though, for a couple of very different reasons. He is an outspoken opponent of atmospheric testing, though his superiors hold contrary views and want to squelch his concerns...and his reports. The other problem is his wife, Carly. She is voluptuous and volatile, wreaking havoc in his personal life and stirring up intrigue at each new Army base." (IMDB).

This film is amazingly difficult to get these days----no Netflix and no YouTube! I think I ordered it originally from Columbia House Video Club back in the day (on VHS) and I used to watch it all the time; Jessica Lange as Carly Marshall is seriously one of my favorite roles of all time. She's breathy, many times annoying, overly charming, obviously disturbed, and a complete Rabbit Mother, but damn. You just can't look away. Tommy Lee Jones plays husband Hank, and Powers Boothe (who is both frightening and awesome) plays the guy who just can't leave Carly alone . . . Yowza! You know my normal jingle about old people doing it (Lange was only 45 when this came out) but wow. Daughter (Amy Locane) was also great, "and don't you sass me, sister!" "I AM NOT YOUR SISTER!"