Sunday, December 12, 2010

And Gwyneth Cried...

I really like Gwyneth Paltrow. She's not only a fine actress, but she's gorgeous and classy and charming and makes cool choices when it comes to movies. Seven, The Talented Mr. Ripley, The Royal Tenenbaums, Shallow Hal, Iron Man...a very diverse body of work that doesn't reek of 'career move' like the canon of movies by other actress of her status.

It seems like her agenda is to make pictures that have scripts she likes or because of the people attached to them. And most of them are pretty good. Of course there are a few clunkers, but I must say that the worst thing I experience watching one of her movies is boredom. I never feel that her films are 'awful' or 'stupid', which is more than I can say for the careers of Angelina Jolie, Reese Witherspoon, Hillary Swank or Sandra Bullock. I'd put Gwyneth up there with the two Kates...Winslet and Cate Blanchett. That is, actresses who are smart enough to know a good script from a bad one and are more interested in acting than creating a persona that is in itself more like a franchise than a human being.

But I had to cringe when I read an article about her new picture, Country Strong, where she talks about learning to play guitar for the role and how ' hands were cramping and bleeding. I cried five times. It's really effing hard.' Yes, Gwyneth. Learning to play any instrument is hard, and can make your body hurt. But how much blood was there, really? I'm a musician and play guitar and bass and drums and know hundreds of other folks who do as well. I don't remember there being a lot of talk about 'bleeding'. Or crying.

I guess you could blame the interviewer who might have grilled her about the guitar playing...maybe it's not something she would've offered up if she hadn't been pressed on the matter. Who knows?

But more interesting than her cry-baby speech was what she said about taking guitar lessons. She took them from a session player and when the interviewer asked her if husband Chris Martin (of Coldplay fame) helped her out, she laughed it off saying, 'Yeah, like he has time to teach me guitar.'

Huh? I mean, didn't Paul McCartney (who is/was much more famous than Mr. Martin could ever hope to be) teach his wife to play keyboards and even encourage her to perform with him? What's the matter Chris? Can't spend an hour here and there showing Gwyneth a few tricks of the trade? Sheesh. If she was my girl, I'd teach her.

The Fallen idol

As a Baby Boomer, I grew up loving all things British. Music, movies, television, name it. Old or new, it was all good. I think the Brits lost their luster for me after the punk scene. Nothing outstanding has come from them since. Not that anything outstanding has come from the USA either, although I think our movies and TV are better these days.

I Netflixed a great oldie recently called The Fallen Idol. I put it in the queue cuz it won the 1948 British equivalent of the Oscar for Best Picture.

It stars Ralph Richardson as a diplomat's butler, who gets in trouble with the cops and is seen mostly through the eyes of the diplomat's son who adores Richardson. With groovy twists and turns, gorgeous sets and photography, it's one of those great soggy old British movies from that black and white post-War/pre-Carnaby Street period. I love that era. When a man would come home to his pipe, BBC radio, a crossword puzzle and a cuppa.

And it's directed by Carol Reed, who followed it up with The Third Man. Nice run, Mr. Reed.