Wright’s Stare

An hour ago I spoke to the seriously hardcore Joe Wright, director of the form-breaking Anna Karenina, at Toronto’s Park Hyatt. I haven’t time to tap out a piece, but rather than describe Karenina as “a musical without songs,” as I put it, Wright called it something closer to “a ballet with words.” He also felt that the influence of Powell-Pressberger (particularly The Red Shoes) was stronger than that of Ken Russell, an association I thought of immediately when I saw the film yesterday afternoon.


Anna Karenina director Joe Wright — Park Hyatt, 14th floor, 9.7, 1:50 pm.
  • DiscoNap

    Kind of sick of directors who look like movie stars, but Nolan, Tony Gilroy and Joe Wright are all pretty legit in their own way.

  • Admiral82

    Really dig his films. They have a certain distinction to them.

    I especially enjoyed “Hanna.” A ballsy flick with some great visuals and performances!

  • Rashad

    I wish Wright would do something bizarre, like go on a killing spree, so that Billy Crudup can play him in a movie. Crudup is a great actor, who just can’t catch a break it seems.

  • Edward

    Really looking forward to seeing this. I agree with Admiral about “Hanna,” a terrific film. I’ve seen bits of “Atonement,” and have looked forward to seeing all of it. Wright has a good eye for composition and lighting. He knows how to direct his actors too.

  • Edward

    I should add that comparisons with Powell-Pressberger/Ken Russell peaked my interest one hundred fold.

  • cyanic

    That’s pretty funny Rashad.

  • Ira Parks

    INT. ADVERTISING OFFICE, 1977 – Day

    AD EXEC: How about this: “He’s got that stare, that animal, craving stare. He’s a harbinger of wrenching, seething lust that can only be improved by one thing. A cologne as manly as his very soul.”

    AD EXEC #2: Yeeessss

    AD EXEC: We get Lauren Hutton.

    AD EXEC #2: I’m seeing it.

    AD EXEC: She’s pawing him up and down as he stares into the camera. We get the 7up, LIVE AND LET DIE guy for the voiceover.

    AD EXEC #2: “You’re only as manly as your cologne.”

    AD EXEC: That stare….that stare. Benny, I’m going to make Joe Wright into a beefcake God. Get sandwiches and some Orange Julius, we’ll be here all night.

  • Raising_Kaned

    He could play Paul Dano’s dad in something.

    Not that I particularly want to see more of Paul Dano…

  • Noiresque

    So, how long until Joe Wright trots his hoary old Marlon Brando does not have the monopoly on truth line?

    I hope Anna doesn’t have have another wanky “Give My Cinematographer an Oscar!” showy low-budget tracking shot like that one in Atonement .

    But seriously, I love he, like Baz Luhrmann, plays with theatrical tropes. Unlike Baz, his films takes themselves a tad too seriously. He needs a shot of good unironical tastelessness and fun.

  • Noiresque

    Well, Jeff didn’t compare him to Powell and Pressburger, he did it himself (kind of for want of a better comparison how Beyonce compares herself to Tina Turner and Barbra Streisand in order to bring on the comparisons from others). Powell and Pressburger are artistically unparalleled in their compassion for people, sexuality, nature, individuality and community and revealed it through cinematic and story mastery. I see Wright as more of a magician (which is not such a bad thing.)

    I will never miss a Joe Wright film, but his works are also kind of overripe and… glossy, without really owning it. He mentioned David Lean a lot regarding Atonement, but in Summertime and Brief Encounter, Lean played with sentimentality but grounded it with base human emotion and desire and shame and just a touch of the absurd. Wright remains a fantasist. The scene in Atonement in which McAvoy’s masturbatory revery on Keira Knightley causes him to mix up his letters and envelopes looked like a 1980s perfume commercial. This sits uneasily with the later moral damnation of Briony, and implies that the biggest crime of all was that she personally destroyed the fantasy of romance.

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