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Friday, April 28, 2006

 

Pfeiffer's Fabulous Five

I'm pleased as punch to participate in the Michelle Pfeiffer Blogathon, a multi-site extravaganza coordinated by The Film Experience to coincide with the diva's birthday this weekend. I've never thought of myself as a fan of La Pfeiffer, but in preparing this post, I realized that I may never have given her the credit she's due. Here's a sample DVD viewing party; tell me if you agree that she rocks the house in each.

5. Susie Diamond in The Fabulous Baker Boys
Although many focus on Pfeiffer's gorgeous gams and unvarnished vocals, she's really just borrowing a page from the Marlene Dietrich playbook: naked and unabashed sex appeal, without sacrificing an ounce of intellect. And yes, she tears the roof off the place while warbling "Makin' Whoopee". However, we already knew she could sing, because we saw...

4. Stephanie Zinone in Grease 2
Following Olivia Newton-John in the overpumped 50's nostalgia sequel is no easy task; the fact that the role is underwritten doesn't help much either. But it's here that we discover Pfeiffer at her most resilient. She takes the coarsely-hewn material and spins kitschy gold out of it, salivating through ridiculous numbers like "Cool Rider" and finding a tough-as-frosted-hair edge to her character.

3. Catwoman in Batman Returns
"Iconic" is the first word that comes to mind when thinking of her batshit-crazy turn in as the feline arch-villainess. What is amazing about the performance is its breadth and intensity; under Tim Burton's candyland vision, Pfeiffer manages a venomous blend of arch drama and comedy. But in the film's final scenes, she manages the unthinkable...your heart breaks for a woman who knows there's no future for her. (Damn shame Halle Berry had to come along and ruin the movie that should have been Michelle's.)

2. Sukie Ridgemont in The Witches of Eastwick
Playing the 'straight man' to the zanier performances of Cher and Susan Sarandon, Pfeiffer's overworked, stressed-out Sukie was the most complex seduction accomplished by Jack Nicholson's horny little devil. For Sukie, there was more than just the promise of good times and spiritual freedom; there was a way out of the trapped existence that her children and deadbeat ex-husband had left her in. Pfeiffer captures a surprising amount of detail in nearly-wordless scenes, a master of silent communication.

1. Madame Marie de Tourvel in Dangerous Liaisons
Even in a film that contains career-best work by Glenn Close and John Malkovich, Pfeiffer manages to steal a scene or two as the devout Madame de Tourvel. Her emotional rollercoaster is so abjectly painful that I often have to wince when watching the film's final confrontation. Emotional and psychological abuse has rarely been captured so extravagantly, or so effectively. Pfeiffer's work moves the film from great work into the rarefied realm of film classics.

Other efforts in the blogathon:
That Round-Headed Boy "Michelle Pfeiffer's Short Stuff"
Many Rantings of John on One Fine Day
Cinephilia "My (Sex) Life with Michelle Pfeiffer"
Movies Madness "Pfor Ever and Always"
Queering the Apparatus "Ohhhhh Witchy Woman"
Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man on Batman Returns
Oh My Trill "My Life Without Michelle"
Cutting Room "What Lies Within (Great Talent)"
NovaSlim "Haute Poosee"
six things "Six Degrees of Michelle Pfeiffer"
Coffee Coffee and More Coffee on Ladyhawke
Popbytes "Pfeiffer is an Amazon Woman"
ModFab "Pfeiffer's Fabulous Five"
Stale Popcorn Michelle and Costumes.
Auteur Lust "Cinema's Own Forbidden Fruit"
Sarcasm w/ Light Cream Sauce on Witches... & Tequila Sunrise
Being Boring "My Sexual Awakening (in Black Vinyl)"
Pfangirl "Diary of a Lapsed Pfan"
Queer Beacon on Whtie Oleander
Noel Vera on Batman Returns
Scene Stealer Top Five Performances
Mainly Movies "Susie Diamond is Forever"
Nicks Flick Picks on A Thousand Acres
The Gilded Moose "BREAKING: Pfeiffer Pissed"
Pop on the Rocks "Pfeiffer of the Opera"
Girish on The Fabulous Baker Boys
The Flick Filosopher on Catwoman's "gyno-power"
Glitterati Gossip "Truly Timeless"
The World of Ramification Hottie of the Week
Stinky Lulu on Grease 2
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