Thursday, October 03, 2013

Cate Blanchett – A New York Film Festival 2013 Tribute



As the 2013 New York Film Festival continues, I was able to attend The Film Society Of Lincoln Center’s Tribute to actress Cate Blanchett.

The format of the evening began with showing a short film that was an extended montage of Blanchett’s many films throughout the years. This was followed by an interview of Blanchett conducted by a member of The Film Society’s board, which included a brief question and answer session with members of the audience. The evening concluded with a screening of the Woody Allen film “Blue Jasmine” , in which Blanchett stars.

One of the more remarkable things about the montage of the actress’ film roles is that it really forced you to focus on Blanchett’s exceptionally wide range, including playing an elf in “Lord Of The Rings”, portraying a man – specifically, Bob Dylan in “I’m Not There” – and a scene in Jim Jarmusch’s “Coffee And Cigarettes” in which she played opposite herself in the “Cousins” segment. Although Blanchett very likely will have many more compelling roles for quite a number of years, it is truly astounding at how varied her résumé is; she has had a total of five Academy Award nominations, including winning an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in Martin Scorsese’s “The Aviator”, where she portrayed Katherine Hepburn opposite Leonardo DiCaprio’s Howard Hughes.



During the interview, Blanchett recalled her more challenging roles and how differently she worked with various directors. When asked about her dual role in “Coffee And Cigarettes”, she said that director Jim Jarmusch had heard she owned a brunette wig and got the idea to cast her in a scene where she played opposite herself based on that (“He heard I work cheap”, she quipped). With Woody Allen, she said she believed he only liked to do one take and was a little cautious about that, but found that when she worked with him on “Blue Jasmine”, he was always quite willing to shoot multiple takes; Blanchett observed that while Allen doesn’t always know what he wants – he instead prefers to be surprised by his cast – he does know what he doesn’t want and if he sees that, he’ll step in to provide direction. Regarding that role, Blanchett said she became interested in it because she had recently played Blanche DuBois in a stage production of “A Streetcar Named Desire” and felt that the part of Jasmine was so close to Blanche that it would be a natural choice; in fact, she initially thought that she had been contacted about the role because either Allen or his casting director had seen her in the “Streetcar” production, but later discovered that this was not the case.

Enjoyable as it may have been to hear Blanchett describe her experiences in her own words, I ultimately found the evening rather unsatisfying, in large part due to its length – lasting only approximately an hour (not including the screening of “Blue Jasmine” at the conclusion), it did not feel as substantial as some of the other Film Society Tributes I’ve attended in years past at Lincoln Center. One nice touch, however, was a short film clip of filmmaker Woody Allen congratulating Blanchett on the evening’s ceremonies; he joked it up in the way only he could, saying that he was not there because he couldn’t stand an entire evening of listening to compliments about someone other than himself, adding thanks for her kind words to the press regarding her experience working with him, “at least until I had the chance to actually look up the meaning of the word ‘execrable’”.

Here’s a collection of clips from Blanchett’s many motion pictures, assembled by The Film Society Of Lincoln Center:  


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