Saturday, 25 July 2009

Friday Favourites: Helena Bonham Carter

I was going to write about Kristin Scott Thomas, but I saw Harry Potter & the Half Blood Prince yesterday and all my adoration of Helena Bonham Carter [or HBC] came rushing back and I decided I'd do her instead. While writing this post I realised that even though I have a few of her films on DVD, I don't have enough. I've got Sweeney Todd, Merlin, Live From Baghdad, Hamlet and Howards End. I don't know where the hell my copy of Fight Club is [somebody's got some explaining to do!]. But alas, I have never owned a copy of her best work - The Wings of the Dove on DVD, because it is unavailable in my country. Horrors. But I'm getting way ahead of myself. Let us take a walk down memory lane as we celebrate the beloved Helena Bonham Carter, Mrs. Tim Burton, Ms. Bellatrix Lestrange, Mrs. Lovett and so much more. She also happens to be Gemini like me which makes her extra special.
I'm not sure what my first meeting with HBC was, but I'll start with one of her early triumphs in A Room With A View where she played Lucy Honeychurch opposite Dame Maggie Smith. I suppose she was in a way overshadowed by her costars [it was her first film], but I still think HBC was wonderfully dainty as the London misfit travelling with her chaperone and cousin Charlotte. A Room With A View is a good film to check out if you haven't seen. And Twif you haven't seen...ummm why, not? Moving on about four years later when HBC tackles Shakespeare. For the record I will always prefers Branagh's Hamlet to Gibson's Hamlet. But I do enjoy HBC in the role. This was back in the day's when Mel Gibson was not a joke, but they did have good chemistry... and thank God she didn't play Ophelia like some simpering fool. Two years later she returns to Merchant Ivory gloriousness with Howards End which is one of my favourite films. It's also the best film Helena has been in, so you should check it out. She plays the sister of Emma Thompson as middle class 19th century Londoners who deal with the injustices of their society. Helena is completely mesmerising as Helen Schlegel. Once again no Oscar love was forthcoming despite the year being VERY weak. Still, she won in my heart. She continued for the next few years playing in some low key fare, earning a Golden Globe nod for a TV movie as the wife of Lee Harvey Oswald, and then playing Woody Allen's wife in Mighty Aphrodite.
But in was in 1997 that HBC gave her greatest performance earning her only Oscar nomination for The Wings of the Dove as a complex character Kate Croy. I have only seen this film once and if you have not seen it you should, if you have a chance to buy it, do so. It's delightful. One of the best of 1997 and despite not winning the Oscar Helena did win the NBR and some other critics awards. The next year she played Morgan Le Fey in the miniseries Merlin. That movie is rather gruelling but it's good and HBC is delightful as the lisping, demonic woman/child Morgan. This was actually the beginning of a whole line of revolting/freaky/outrageoys/crazy characters. Take for instance her work as Marla Singer in Fight Club... a performance that was worthy of an Oscar nomination I might add. HBC is all kinds of hot with Brad Pitt, despite a very strange character.

She earned a second Emmy nod for her performance in Live From Baghdad, a political thriller of sorts but a good film nonetheless. It's a pity this couldn't have been a big screen hit. She soon got involved with Tim Burton and his pet projects, some were not right for her but she was outstanding in Big Fish, Sweeney Todd and Corpse Bride. If it's possible, this is her second best performance ever for me. I know this is an animated film but her performance as The Bride is so haunting. I wish this could have been a live action film, it could have been a great career opportunity for her.
Today I have to be satisfied with snatches of my beloved in Harry Potter films or whenever Tim Burton lets her out for play. Hopefully that TV production of Enid Blyton does not suck. Who knows? Maybe it could be Emmy bound since it seems that her Oscar hopes have all but gone. Still I continue to adore... and you should too. She's brilliant.

I know it's Saturday, but I got caught up looking at Howards End for the umpteenth time. Sigh.

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