Monday, April 30, 2012

Five Times Nick Nolte Was Screwed Out Of An Oscar Nomination

By Lars Trodson

Nick Nolte has been nominated for an Oscar three times. Paul Newman, God bless him, was nominated nine times. One may have been the bigger movie star, but who was the better actor? Nolte was most recently nominated for "Warrior,"which I don't know anything about, so whether he deserved his nomination or not, I can't say.

His Oscar nods came for "The Prince Of Tides" (1991 — and meh), "Affliction" (1997 — great) and the aforementioned "Warrior" (for Best Supporting Actor, 2011 — ?).

But here's five films he should have been nominated for, and at least one for which he should have taken home the prize.

"New York Stories" — 1989 — "Life Lessons" segment directed by Martin Scorsese. It's extremely hard for actors to do certain things on film, and one of them is to come across as a technically adept painter. In this one, Nolte plays an artist, tagged as a genius, named Lionel Dobie. He moves around the canvas like a true painter, and he's also, of course, utterly convincing as a tortured genius.

"Q & A" —1990, directed by Sidney Lumet. Notle plays a psychotic, sexually repressed NYC cop in this underrated, intriguing thriller. Very strange role for Nolte, who is one of the most chameleon-like actors ever. His physique seems to change with certain roles, and in this one he's thick, with slicked-back black hair.

"The Thin Red Line" — 1998, directed by Terrence Malick. This is the one Nolte should have bagged the big prize for (Best Supporting Actor). Nolte plays Lt. Col. Gordon Tall, and if there ever was a picture of frustrated ambition this is it — look at the image at the top of the story. In the scene where he's trying to convince his company commander, Capt. Staros (Elias Koteas) to charge up the hill (the film takes place on Gaudalcanal), and his order is refused, Nolte rubs his head and his voice is almost strangled with emotion. It's a beautifully sustained performance, and one that was improbably, sadly overlooked by members of the Academy.

"The Good Thief" — 2003, Neil Jordan. Nolte takes the baroque lines of this compelling little movie and gives them a rhythm all his own. All of a sudden he's not someone from Oklahoma (Nolte was born there), but a hybrid European. He plays a drug-addicted thief, Bob Montagnet, who's got some troubles. This is more of a tone poem than anything
else, and Nolte is its warm heart.

"Paris, Je' taime" — 2006, segment "Parc Monceau" directed by Alfonso Cuaron. A small gem. Nolte gives a humane, plaintive performance in a short film that has a lovely little twist.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Providence, RI, circa 1975

This is a real treat, especially if you know Providence, RI. This is Super 8 film I shot probably around 1975. The old train station had been more or less abandoned by then - it's now the site of the Capital Grille and all the other restaurants. The Paris Theater, a movie theater, showed "the finest is all male adult entertainment" - you can only see part of the old marquee. There's the Old Stone Bank, back when it was a bank, and the Hospital Trust building, which still stands, of course. It's safe to say, though, that this Providence just simply doesn't exist any more.
-- Lars Trodson

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Unexpected Power Of Silence

By Lars Trodson

About halfway through Alexander Payne’s “The Descendants” he does something so basic, so fundamental, that it almost seems revolutionary. What does he do? He takes a few seconds, no more than five, to enjoy a moment of silence.

That’s right. No dialogue. No explosions. No engines revving. It’s just a simple pan shot over the Hawaiian landscape and the Pacific Ocean, and all you hear is the breeze as the characters in the movie stand there appreciating nature. In the context of today’s moviemaking it almost seemed -- should I even say it? -- brave.

It wasn’t always this rare. I watched “The Bridge On the River Kwai” recently. That’s about as big as a movie can get, and even in the midst of an enormous amount of action and talk and scenery, David Lean took a few moments to shoot a scene at sunset where the two main characters stand in quiet to assess what they have just been through.

In Alfred Hitchcock’s “Vertigo”, there’s almost 10 minutes where not a word is spoken. Jimmy Stewart is simply following Kim Novak through San Francisco.

It’s a powerful thing, silence, and can be just as dramatic as any dialogue, car chase or spaceships flying through the universe. Dramatists once understood its appeal, and its mystery. But it’s become anathema to filmmakers, which is of course too bad.

Peace and quiet is something we all crave, and we probably should try to enjoy it while we can.

Take a look at this New York Times article here: