Friday, December 7, 2007

I heart JJL

Posted By on Fri, Dec 7, 2007 at 2:56 PM

click to enlarge flicks_interview-5683.jpeg

(Photo courtesy Fine Line Features)

At the risk of sounding stalkerish, I love Jennifer Jason Leigh. Her choices in films: sublime. Her performances: quirky, neurotic, intense. Like Jodie Foster, Leigh has grown up on screen, allowing for a deeper appreciation of her highly idiosyncratic sensibility and interests and the feeling that certain actresses can engender in viewers, that we know her because of the many facets of herself she has revealed in her roles. Leigh has never approached acting, as some performers do, as a narcissistic exercise. Instead she invests characters like the grunge-era, attention-craving wannabe singer in Georgia, or the phone-sex worker/mom diapering her baby while she talks dirty in Short Cuts with something women rarely get to see onscreen. Her characters, like real women, are vivid, complicated, often unlikable, sometimes pathetic and sometimes abrasive, but deeply human. If I were to compose a list of favorite contemporary actresses, Leigh would be high on my list. Leigh was one of the reasons Margot at the Wedding (directed by her husband Noah Baumbach) was such a hit with me. See my review here. But there are few Leigh vehicles that haven’t rocked my world. Some of my favorites:

Georgia (1995, Ulu Gorsbard)

Last Exit to Brooklyn (1989, Uli Edel)

Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982, Amy Heckerling)

The Anniversary Party (2001, Alan Cumming, Jennifer Jason Leigh)

Dolores Claiborne (1995, Taylor Hackford)

eXistenZ (1999, David Cronenberg)

Rush (1991, Lili Fini Zanuck)

The Big Picture (1989, Christopher Guest)

Short Cuts (1993, Robert Altman)

How about you? I have a theory that Leigh is an actress women like more than men, but I could be wrong. What are your favorite JJL roles?

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