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Nicole Kidmanby David Thomson
Synopses & Reviews
I am talking to an Australian, a woman, about Nicole Kidman, and the crucial mystery is there at the start: I've known her twenty years, and I've spent a staggering amount of time with her, but I feel I don’t know her. Because what she gives you is what you want. A lot of actors are like that. They don't exist when they aren’t playing a part.
This book is about acting and about an actress, but it must also study what happens to anyone beholding an actress-the spectator, the audience, or ourselves in any of our voyeur roles. And the most important thing in that vexed transaction is the way the actress and the spectator must remain strangers. That's how the magic works. Without that guarantee, the dangers of relationship are grisly and absurd-they range from illicit touching to murder. For there cannot be this pitch of irrational desire without that rigorous apartness, provided by a hundred feet of warm space in a theater, and by that astonishing human invention, the screen, at the movies. And just as the movies were never simply an art or a show, a drama or narrative, but the manifestation of desire, so the screen is both barrier and open sesame.
The thing that permits witness-seeing her, being so intimate-is also the outline of a prison.
This predicament reminds me of a moment in Citizen Kane. The reporter, Thompson, goes to visit Bernstein, an old man who was Charlie Kane's right-hand man and who is now chairman of the board of the Kane companies. Thompson asks him if he knows what Rosebud, Kane’s last word, might have referred to. Some girl? wonders Bernstein. There were a lot of them back in the early days . . . Thompson thinks it unlikely that a chance meeting fifty years ago could have prompted a solemn last word. But Bernstein disputes this: A fellow will remember a lot of things you wouldn't think he’d remember.
“You take me, he says. “One day, back in 1896, I was crossing over to Jersey on the ferry, and as we pulled out, there was another ferry pulling in, and on it there was a girl waiting to get off. A white dress she had on. She was carrying a white parasol. I only saw her for one second. She didn't see me at all, but I’ll bet a month hasn’t gone by since, that I haven’t thought of that girl.
Bernstein seems to be single-to all intents and purposes he was married to Charlie Kane. I daresay some beaverish subtextual critic could argue that the girl in the parasol stands for the sheet of paper on which the young Kane sets out his Declaration of Principles. Yet the reason why the anecdote (and the actor Everett Sloane's ecstatic yet heartbroken delivery of it) has stayed with me is that it embodies the principle of hopeless desire, and endless hope, on which the movies are founded. Of course, most little boys (even those of an advanced age) feel pressing hormonal urges to satisfy desire. And I would not exile myself from that gang. Still, there is another calling-and film is often its banner—that consists of those who would always protect and preserve desire by ensuring that it is never satisfied. For those of that persuasion-and it is more than merely sexual—there is no art more piquant than t
An original portrait of Nicole Kidman reflects on what it means to be an actress today while chronicling her life on- and offscreen, describing how she has changed throughout her career, examining her personal decisions about her life, and analyzing what celebrity means in the life of an actress. Reprint. 12,500 first printing.
John Heilpern is the author of the classic book about theater Conference of the Birds: The Story of Peter Brook in Africa and of How Good is David Mamet, Anyway?, a collection of his theater essays and reviews. Born in England and educated at Oxford, his interviews for The Observer (London) received a British Press Award. In 1980 he moved to New York, where he became a weekly columnist for The Times of London. An adjunct professor of drama at Columbia University, he is drama critic for the New York Observer.
About the Author
David Thomson has taught film studies at Dartmouth College and served on the selection committee for the New York Film Festival. The author also of Showman: The Life of David O. Selznick, he is a regular contributor to The New York Times, The Nation, Movieline, The New Republic, and Salon. He lives with his family in San Francisco.
From the Hardcover edition.
Table of Contents
Strangers — Just like us: not like us — Australian — Growing up — Dead Calm — Tom — Introducing Mrs. Preston — Not to be missed — Public property, private lives — Malice — To Die For — The Portrait of a Lady — The Peacemaker — Eyes Wide Shut — The Blue Room — Birthday Girl — What are you looking at? — Rouge — Rouge II — Separation — Divorce — The Others — The Hours — Dogville — Cold Mountain — The Human Stain — Birth — Being interviewed — "100 Donne Pi Belle" — Scent of a woman? — Clothes and costume — The Interpreter — Gypsy — My Belle de Jour — That icy look? — Bewitched — Dangerous age.
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