Writer-Director Chloé Zhao’s Nomadland has proven a hot favourite at this year’s awards season. In addition to two Golden Globe wins, the film has also received six Academy Award nominations to go with seven BAFTA nominations. Nomadland premiered at the 2020 Venice Film Festival where it won the Golden Lion. It also won the People’s Choice Award at the 2020 Toronto International Film Festival. The film tells the story of a woman named Fern (essayed by Frances McDormand) who embarks on a journey through the American West living as a van-dwelling modern-day nomad after losing her job during the Great Recession when the US Gypsum plant in Empire, Nevada shuts down. Having worked there for years along with her husband, who has recently died, she decides to sell her belongings and purchase a van to live in and travel the country looking for work.
Zhao’s film is based on American journalist Jessica Bruder’s non-fiction book titled Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century about the phenomenon of older Americans who, following the Great Recession, adopted transient lifestyles travelling around the United States in search of seasonal work. Nomadland’s cast features an interesting mix of actors and non-actors. Other than McDormand and David Strathairn (who essays the part of Dave in the film), the rest of the cast mostly consists of real modern-day nomads including Linda May, Swankie and Bob Wells, among others. It is an inspiring tale of survival that presents the modern-day American West in a completely new light.
Now, the story of the making of Nomandland is no less interesting than the movie itself. McDormand and Peter Spears (best known for being a producer on the 2017 film Call Me by Your Name) optioned the film rights to Bruder’s book in 2017. McDormand had just seen Chloé’ Zhao’s 2017 film The Rider which had impressed her greatly. In McDormand’s own words, “As a producer, I was drawn to this woman director who had used classically male, Western genre tropes to tell a universal story of triumph over adversity.” So she decided to approach Zhao about the project. She and Spears subsequently met with Zhao who agreed to write and direct the film for them.
Zhao, a Chinese filmmaker with a strong feminist voice, has made a name with her work in independent U.S. films. What she brings to American cinema is something very unique. Even when she is approaching subjects that are deeply American in nature she is able to approach them with a rare oriental sensibility. This rare amalgamation elevates Zhao’s cinema above the work of most of her contemporaries in the US. Also, there is great empathy and a sense of humility in her work that’s far removed from the kind of cinema that’s generally associated with mainstream Hollywood. Having already bagged the Golden Globe for the Best Director – Motion Picture, Zhao looks the favourite to win the Academy Award for Best Achievement in Directing. Already, she has become the first Asian woman to get nominated in the category. Interestingly, Zhao’s success as a filmmaker is bringing her all kinds of offers from Hollywood. She is now set to embark upon a new journey with the Marvel Cinematic Universe superhero film Eternals, slated to release in November 2021.
Zhao’s brilliant work as writer-director gets brilliantly complemented by actor-producer McDormand (she becomes the first actress to get nominated for acting and producing for the same film) whose brilliant performance is at the heart of Nomadland. She is so good in the film that it’s impossible to think of the film without her portrayal of Fern. Now, there is no denying that McDormand is a wonderful actress. Over the years, the two-time Oscar-winning actress has essayed several memorable characters in films such as Fargo, North Country, Burn After Reading, Blood Simple, The Man Who Wasn’t There, and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, and Missouri among others. But her pitch-perfect performance in Nomadland is easily the finest of her career.
During the filming, McDormand lived out of vans for over four months with other crew members and real-life nomads and it shows in the manner she approaches the character of Fern. Having seen McDormand over the years, one can tell that it’s not really a veteran performer on display here. On the contrary, we get to see someone who is learning on the go. Perhaps, she is learning new methods to acting just as Fern is learning basic survival and self-sufficiency skills for the road. In one of the videos available online, Zhao while narrating a scene from Nomadland compares McDormand with Buster Keaton and Charles Chaplin in the manner how she interacts with space. There is a certain nonchalance with which she glides through the spaces and while Zhao’s comparisons are quite apt, I personally find her body language resembling even more closely to the late legendary Italian actress Giulietta Masina. Anyone who has seen Masina in films like La Strada (1954), Nights of Cabiria (1957), and Juliet of the Spirits (1965) can see the similarities between the two great performers who are separated by time but united by their free-spirited performing styles.
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FANS IN AWE OF TAAPSEE’S PHYSICAL TRANSFORMATION
MUMBAI: Actress Taapsee Pannu strives to give her best in everything she does and proof of the fact is her recent Instagram post.
On Sunday, Taapsee on her Instagram shared a picture in which she is seen standing in a field with her well-toned back muscles visible in the photograph. “Bhaut sar pe chada rakha hai ise, kisi ki nhi sunti par khud ki sunti hai ….bahut badi baat hai.#TheCalmBeforeTheStorm,” she captioned the post.
The throwback picture appears to be taken during her training session for the upcoming film ‘Rashmi Rocket’, which revolves around the life of an athlete from Gujarat. Netizens have heaped praises on Taapsee for her “amazing” physical transformation for the role. “Mind-blowing transformation,” a fan commented. “Meri sun, body banwa de yaar,” actor and Taapsee’s close friend Abhilash Thapliyal quipped.
Directed by Akarsh Khurana, ‘Rashmi Rocket’ is expected to release on OTT soon.
HAILEY TRASHES RUMOURS THAT JUSTIN ‘MISTREATS’ HER
WASHINGTON: Supermodel Hailey Bieber recently shut down rumours that her pop star husband Justin Bieber mistreats her, saying it is so out of touch with reality that it’s laughable.
Hailey slammed the critics in an interview with singer Demi Lovato on the latter’s ‘4D’ podcast this week, according to Page Six. She lashed out at the ongoing rumours and addressed what she called a persistent narrative about them as a couple. “There are so many narratives that float around about me, about him, about us together. Like, ‘Justin is not nice to her and mistreats her’ and I’m just like… it’s so far from the truth and it’s the complete and utter opposite,” the model told Demi.
The 24-year-old also said that her husband is not only her best friend but that she feels lucky to be with someone who makes her feel special every single day.
VARUN SHARMA TO HOST IPL 2021
MUMBAI: Actor Varun Sharma is super happy to host the matches of the second phase of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021.
Sharing his excitement about IPL, Varun said, “Cricket is the sport we all live for. As a kid who has grown up in 90s India, we breathe, live the sport. It’s such an exciting opportunity for me to do this. My live commentary is bound to be full of heart because I will speak to the audience as a fellow cricket buff. Varun, who is best known for his comedy roles in films said he will also try to add a dash of humour to his hosting skills.”
“This is not a role so a lot of the humour will be impromptu. There will be no script either. This is one of the first times that people will get a glimpse into who I am in my drawing-room on a match day. I am so thrilled to be doing this and can’t wait for this to start,” he added. The IPL 2021 season resumed yesterday with Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Mumbai Indians locking horns against each other in the UAE.
TOM CRUISE GETS SNEAK PEEK OF SPACE
WASHINGTON: Hollywood star Tom Cruise got a sneak peek at what it’s like to circle Earth in a SpaceX capsule. The actor recently took part in a call with the company’s four space tourists orbiting more than 360 miles up.
According To Fox News, representatives for SpaceX’s first privately chartered flight revealed on Friday about Cruise’s call. The conversation, between the actor and the space tourists, like the entire three-day flight, was private and hence no details were released. “Maverick, you can be our wingman anytime,” read the announcement from the flight’s Twitter feed.
Cruise has starred as Navy pilot Pete ‘Maverick’ Mitchell in the 1986 film ‘Top Gun’. A sequel for the superhit movie will be coming out next year.
AMITABH RECREATES ‘JUMMA CHUMMA’ STEP ON KBC SET
MUMBAI: It’s always a delight to watch megastar Amitabh Bachchan dancing both on-screen and off-screen. In a career spanning over five decades, he has given Bollywood several iconic dance steps — especially his signature step in ‘Jumma Chumma’ from ‘Hum’ (1991).
On Sunday, Big B treated his fans with a picture, wherein he can be seen recreating ‘Jumma Chumma’ hook step on the sets of TV show ‘Kaun Banega Crorepati’. “ Yeeaaah !! Jumma Chumma on set KBC .. been a while,” he wrote on Instagram.
Big B’s post has garnered several praises. Actor Ranveer Singh commented, “Arre Oh Tigerrrr, meri JAANEMANNNNNN.”
“You are absolutely amazing! We are still trying to figure how to cross the height of the bar you set decades ago and you keep raising it again and again.
AISHWARYA WRAPS-UP SHOOT FOR ‘PONNIYIN SELVAN’
MUMBAI: The wait is finally over. The first part of Aishwarya Rai Bachchan- starrer ‘Ponniyin Selvan’ is all set to release in summer 2022.
On Sunday, Aishwarya took to Instagram and uploaded the film’s poster, revealing that the cast and crew have complete the shoot of the upcoming project. “Filming complete. PS-1. Summer 2022,” the poster read. For the unversed, based on the Tamil literary novel of the same name, ‘Ponniyin Selvan’ is directed by Mani Ratnam.
Mani Ratnam and Aishwarya share a special relationship with each other. Aishwarya had started her film career with Mani Ratnam’s ‘Iruvar’ only. Later, they worked together in films like ‘Guru’ and ‘Raavan’. Their new project ‘Ponniyin Selvan’ also stars Karthi, Jayam Ravi, Vikram, Trisha, Aishwarya Lekshmi, Sobhita Dhulipala, Prabhu, Sarath Kumar, Jayaram, and Prakash Raj among others.
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