oscar run xvi: the quiet american (philip noyce, 2002)
best actress and more

oscar run xvii: frida (julie taymor, 2002)

Frida got six Oscar nominations, one for Best Actress and five for "lesser" categories ... when a movie piles up the nominations in sets, makeup, music, and costumes, but gets no nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, or Best Screenplay, you don't really expect a classic, and Frida lives down to the expectations. The basic story has epic potential: important artist who lived in an important time and hung around with important people. When your title character has slept with Diego Rivera, Leon Trotsky, and Josephine Baker, well, that in itself is pretty epic. The filmmakers (hard to pin down who is in charge here ... there's a director, a shitload of writers apparently including an uncredited Edward Norton, who also shows up in the film as Nelson Rockefeller, and Salma Hayek seems to have had as much to do with the film getting made as anyone) have chosen to focus on the relationship between Diego and Frida, and that's not a bad story, but the result is a bit like Warren Beatty's Reds if they left out the first half that had all the politics.

As for those Oscar nominations, Salma Hayek is a knockout, as usual. I don't think I ever noticed before that, her astonishing bosom notwithstanding, she's a very tiny person. As for her acting, she acquits herself well enough. I can't say much about the other categories ... Best Song, who the hell knows, I left during the closing credits and I assume that's when "Burn It Blue" was played ... costumes and set were fine, makeup was a problem IMO (Salma has the unibrow throughout the movie, but the mustache doesn't make it past the first ten minutes).

I guess what I find depressing is that we're in a period where some great films are coming out of Mexico, yet here's a biopic of a famous Mexican and it's mostly mundane. (For that matter, it should be a Spanish-language film.) It isn't awful, I'm not sorry I saw it (and the aforementioned bosom looks great covered in plaster dust), but six Oscar nominations?


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