Biography David Thomson Nicole Kidman

ISBN 13: 9780747577102

Nicole Kidman

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9780747577102: Nicole Kidman

From the brilliant film historian and critic David Thomson, a book that reinvents the star biography in a singularly illuminating portrait of Nicole Kidman—and what it means to be a top actress today. At once life story, love letter, and critical analysis, this is not merely a book about who Kidman is but about what she is—in our culture and in our minds, on- and offscreen.

Tall, Australian, one of the striking beauties of the world, Nicole Kidman is that rare modern phenomenon—an authentic movie star who is as happy and as creative throwing a seductive gaze from some magazine cover as she is being Virginia Woolf in The Hours. Here is the story of how this actress began her career, has grown through her roles, taken risks, made good choices and bad, and worried about money, aging, and image.

Here are the details of an actress’s life: her performances in To Die For, The Portrait of a Lady, Eyes Wide Shut, Moulin Rouge!, The Hours, and Birth, among other films; her high-visibility marriage to Tom Cruise; her intense working relationship with Stanley Kubrick and her collaborations with Anthony Minghella and Baz Luhrmann; her work with Jude Law, Anthony Hopkins, Renée Zellweger, and John Malkovich; her decisions concerning nudity, endorsements, and publicity.

And here are Thomson’s scintillating considerations of what celebrity means in the life of an actress like Kidman; of how the screen becomes both barrier and open sesame for her and for her audience; of what is required today of an actress of Kidman’s stature if she is to remain vital to the industry and to the audiences who made her a prime celebrity.

Impassioned, opinionated, dazzlingly original in its approach and ideas, Nicole Kidman is as alluring and as much fun as Nicole Kidman herself, and David Thomson’s most remarkable book yet.

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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.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Chapter 1

Strangers
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 the films of Luis Buñuel, one of which is actually entitled That Obscure Object of Desire. (In that light, let me alert you not to miss this book’s vision of Belle de Jour as if Nicole Kidman had played in it. In fact, I have dreamed this film with such intensity that it matters to me more than many films I actually have to see.)

Anyway, the subject of this book is Nicole Kidman. And I should own up straightaway that, yes, I like Nicole Kidman very much. When I tell people that, sometimes they leer and ask, “Do you love her?” And my answer is clear: Yes, of course, I love her—so long as I do not have to meet her.

Now, that proviso could be thought hostile; it might even conjure up possibilities of an aggressive streak, a harsh laugh, or even a regrettable body odor in Ms. Kidman that one would sooner avoid. That’s not what I am talking about, and it’s nothing I have ever heard suggested. I suspect she is as fragrant as spring, as ripe as summer, as sad as autumn, and as coldly possessed as winter. Much more to the point, you see, I am suggesting that getting to know actresses is a depressing sport. The history of Hollywood could be composed as a volume of melancholy memoirs all made ruinous when Alfred Hitchcock, say, actually met Tippi Hedren, or whomever. Actors and actresses are seldom marriageable and too little thanks has been offered to the profession for the steadfast way in which its members sacrifice themselves to each other. It is as if they understood the spell put upon them and knew that anyone raised in any other craft or system would collapse with incredulity if confronted by the endless fascination performers only find in themselves. They go to the altar— they do not alter.

Laboring with movies for six decades now, I am coming to the conclusion that this medium has been steadily misunderstood. Yes, it has some semblance of being an entertainment, a business, an art, a storytelling machine—and so on. But all of those semirespectable identities help obscure what is most precious and unique, and what is absolutely formulated by the simultaneous presence and denial on the screen: that a movie is a dream, a sleepwalking, a séance, in which we seem to mingle with ghosts. And here is the vital spark: whenever we seem within reach of these intensely desirable creatures, their states and moods, we ourselves resemble actors as they come close to redeeming their terrible vacancy by assuming parts, or roles.

In other words, acting and being at the movies are mirror images, and they are the persistent, infectious forms of nonbeing that have steadily undermined the thing once known as real life in the last hundred years. So the study of acting is less a record of creative process or artistic eloquence; it is a kind of drug-taking, very bad for us—yet absolutely incurable. I daresay this sounds a touch odd or obscure at first—or maybe it is just alarming—but it will creep up on you as this book proceeds. It is an insidious process, such as ought to be banned everywhere by churches, schools, parents, and the law (all those institutions that claim to be looking after us). On the other hand, it has entered the bloodstream; it goes on and on—and some would say we are hopelessly lost to fantasy already, and so thoroughly immersed in desire that something like real, practical improvement (surely a good thing?) has been befuddled.

And yet there is something enormously positive and creative that can come from it, a mixture of calm and insight. It is to see that we can entertain the idea of strangers in our minds—if only by wanting to be them, or be like them. The movies are about beholding strangers and in the process losing touch with those real people one happens to meet and has the chance of knowing. I believe now that I learned to fall in love by watching actors and actresses, and that is not a wholesome training. It is one that prompts a rapid dissatisfaction with the thing or the person present, or possessed. Their charm can never compete with the allure of the unattainable. Thus, to follow desire is to give up the ghost on relationship. Just as you reflect on that, and consider how far it is a restlessness that has you in its grip, you will remember from so many life lessons that it is also a very bad thing. This is very dangerous territory, even if most of us are already there—in other words, there is still a weird kind of polite respectability that is possible in life from denying it.

Let me tell you a story that helps explain this. In my last book about the movies, The Whole Equation, I was feeling my way toward this point of view, and I included a chapter, “By a Nose,” which concerned Nicole Kidman in The Hours. I offered it as a testament from a fan, a love letter, from someone in the dark to one of those beauties in the light. As a matter of fact, she was not my true favorite. Indeed, I feared in advance—and I still think it likely— that if I were to write about my real favorites, my movie sweethearts, I would be rendered speechless and helpless, because the fantastic intimacy is too great. So, yes, I do like Nicole Kidman, but not quite as much as Catherine Deneuve, Julia Roberts, Grace Kelly, and Donna Reed (I am tracing sweetheartism back to when I was about eleven).

Nevertheless, when Michiko Kakutani reviewed The Whole Equation in the New York Times, she saw fit to call my “crush” on Kidman ridiculous. (You see how brave authors must be.) Well, maybe, but I am owning up to it, because I think it is the only way to get at things that need to be said (somehow in all the turmoil of desire, I have retained the semblance of some educational purpose). Going to the movies and believing may be foolish, or worse. It may be crazy. But I think even book reviewers have been formed by its risk.

At the moment, as I try to write this, just behind one layer of my computer screen there is an AOL home page in which I have the chance to catch up with the diet secrets of Jessica Simpson and Denise Richards. There are their pictures—lean yet carnal—Jessica and Denise, would-bes who maintain a presence not always in movies...

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Descripción Bloomsbury Trade, 2006. Gebundene Ausgabe. Estado de conservación: Neu. Neu Neuware, Importqualität, , Sofortversand - Like Katharine Hepburn and Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman is a very serious actress. Like Grace Kelly, she is a classy dame, a princess from the Pacific. And like Marilyn or Rita Hayworth, she makes a saucy pin-up, who just loves being photographed. The combination is sensational, and no one can argue about her being the great star actress of the moment. She is mistress to an astonishing range of parts, but she is also the Chanel woman, a face and a body made iconic on billboards, in TV commercials, on magazine covers, on the Internet and in our dreams. But thereis something mysterious and not quite settled about Nicole Kidman, which is why David Thomson, one of the world s most imaginative writers on film, wanted to write about her. He realized that there wasn t another career so single-minded about being a star, a figure on all our horizons. So he tracks her from Australia to the larger world and back again from Dead Calm, Days of Thunder and To Die For to Eyes Wide Shut, Moulin Rouge, The Others, Birthday Girl, The Hours, Dogville, Birth and Fur. In this arc a curly-haired girl from Hawaii and Sydney has become - whatever she wants to be. Has it been easy Pain-free Without problems Look at those blue eyes - so carefree once and already now those of a woman about to be forty, the next great challenge in her determined evolution. What happens when a woman discovers the power to move millions of strangers And what happens to those who watch - the strangers 320 pp. Englisch. Nº de ref. de la librería INF1000218142

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David Thomson
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Descripción Bloomsbury Trade, 2006. Gebundene Ausgabe. Estado de conservación: Neu. Neu Neuware, Importqualität, , Sofortversand - Like Katharine Hepburn and Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman is a very serious actress. Like Grace Kelly, she is a classy dame, a princess from the Pacific. And like Marilyn or Rita Hayworth, she makes a saucy pin-up, who just loves being photographed. The combination is sensational, and no one can argue about her being the great star actress of the moment. She is mistress to an astonishing range of parts, but she is also the Chanel woman, a face and a body made iconic on billboards, in TV commercials, on magazine covers, on the Internet and in our dreams. But thereis something mysterious and not quite settled about Nicole Kidman, which is why David Thomson, one of the world s most imaginative writers on film, wanted to write about her. He realized that there wasn t another career so single-minded about being a star, a figure on all our horizons. So he tracks her from Australia to the larger world and back again from Dead Calm, Days of Thunder and To Die For to Eyes Wide Shut, Moulin Rouge, The Others, Birthday Girl, The Hours, Dogville, Birth and Fur. In this arc a curly-haired girl from Hawaii and Sydney has become - whatever she wants to be. Has it been easy Pain-free Without problems Look at those blue eyes - so carefree once and already now those of a woman about to be forty, the next great challenge in her determined evolution. What happens when a woman discovers the power to move millions of strangers And what happens to those who watch - the strangers 320 pp. Englisch. Nº de ref. de la librería INF1000218142

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