Thursday, October 2, 2008

Black + White Friday: Birth

Apologies for not being around last week to do this feature, but by the time I got home at 11.45pm (and having left the house at 6am, too!) I had been having a bad day and didn't feel like screencapping if you know what I mean!

My affections for Jonathan Glazer's elegiacal 2004 film Birth are quite well documented. Best film of 2004! Best performance by Nicole Kidman! Best score in modern cinema! etc! Well, I found it odd that I have never even considered using the film for "Black+White Friday", especially since the film is beautiful and I think Harris Savides' dreamy cinematography will prove equally as intoxicating in black and white as it does in those near-sepia candlelight hues that it is bathed it to perfection.

I think it's quite obvious to everyone and sundry that Jonathan Glazer was fixated by Nicole Kidman while making this movie (understandable, really). And she looks stunning here. If she were around during the early days of cinema she would have been worshiped with the greats.

We're all aware how gorgeous Nicole looks bathed in candlelight, right? RIGHT?!

Aah, like the family dramas of yore.

Because she's just so gosh darn beautiful, don't you think? I know a lot of people don't like her anymore because they're "distracted" by whatever surgery she has had done, but I say her acting is just as captivating as anything else about her.

Following on from the above point, any actor who can keep an audience's attention during a silent three-minute sequence with nothing more but a closeup of their face is clearly doing something right. I highly doubt Phillip Seymour Hoffman could do that.

I may not care for Cameron Bright in anything I've seen him in - he's the weakest part of Birth for what it's worth - but, damn, was that not perfect casting? Talk about creepy! If I was to believe anybody was a reincarnation of somebody else I guess I'd believe him.

Doesn't this shot feel like it should be taken right out of Rosemary's Baby? With scary Danny Huston and Lauren Bacall in the backgrounds with their black eyes and the scary Ruth Gordon-esque Zoe Caldwell in the front. Or a zombie movie.

This shot here feels like it's from some 1950s French movie, no?

Fact, Anne Heche looks scarier in black and white. Fact, Anne Heche is amazing. Shame that her career is, basically, over. She is so good in this movie too! Also, doesn't she remind you of Sissy Spacek a little bit here, with that straight hair and plain face?

What have I said before about not letting Nicole near water! It's a recipe for disaster.

Such an amazing, beautiful, powerful movie. I light up a little bit whenever somebody says something kind about it because, for a while there, I felt I was entirely alone.


Matt Riviera said...

This film is an absolute masterpiece.

elgringo said...

That title sequence! Ah, it was made for black and white!

This is the greatest series on the internet.

Ben Wilson said...

Heavens, and I thought I was the one who was all alone in their love for Birth. I have knelt and worshipped this film forever, I still remember my anticipation in the lead up to its cinema release!

Everyone in Birth is perfect, Nicole obviously, but Anne Heche is, I suspect, an immortal queen from another planet, lost and confused here on Earth. I have tried to pursuade others to watch Birth (I've written about it god know how many times!!), but you know how it is when you recommend a film to someone...

What a wonderful post about a wonderful film. 5 stars!

J.D. said...

I drooled a bit reading that, I'll admit.

leah said...

love your black + white fridays, kam. beautiful.

Anonymous said...

When you say "and the Ruth Gordon-esque Novella Nelson in front" - well, that's not Novella Nelson in front.

Anonymous said...

Glenn, I loathe this film with a passion and I think you've made it look really interesting (and not, you know, like a middling Twilight Zone episodes that's two hours too long).

Incidentally, Woody Allen's Interiors is markedly improved by watching it with the Italian dubbing and English subtitles.

Kamikaze Camel said...

Indeed Anon, it is Zoe Caldwell. Not sure why I type Novella.

Guy said...

Yes, yes, yes. I love Birth with a really quite fierce passion. That scene where the camera fixes on Kidman's face in the theatre is one of the greatest acting moments in all cinema. Seriously.

And that score -- I hunted down the soundtrack the second I left the cinema. I never do that.

Glenn said...

So nice to hear people so passionate about it (who is this Matt Riviera person? Clearly he doesn't count at all! :P ) It does appear that those who like it love it a lot and feel quite protective of it because it was so maligned. And because it's one of those "Nicole Kidman is box office poison" examples, which I'm totally okay with because, well, she's just so good in it.