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Two artists: going in, going out

It’s getting to be that time – Golden Globes coming this weekend; non-stop awards season chatter until February. I happened to be watching LAUREL CANYON the other night, and seeing Christian Bale in that 2002 Lisa Cholodenko flick; I started thinking about these two artists, then and now. They currently exist in the same universe once again for said upcoming awards madness, as Bale makes a hard Method-acting hit with THE FIGHTER and Cholodenko goes the emotional distance with THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT. Both artists have made enviable progress in their careers since they were splashing around the pool in LAUREL CANYON (well, Bale splashed; Cholodenko ostensibly was at the monitor, poolside). While Bale has continued to take his craft outward, going beyond his typical detached cool-guy role (think AMERICAN PSYCHO), Cholodenko has successfully traveled even further in, going deeper into the modern American psyche with regard to family and love. Outward and inward – it’s inspiring.

Bale’s performance in THE FIGHTER is truly, well, shocking. Bony, uninhibited, crass – this is not the Bale most of us had come to know through the 90s and 00s. LAUREL CANYON finds him as the repressed, Harvard-educated young medical (psychiatric) intern who resents his freewheeling record-producing mother (Francis McDormand). In previous years most of his work was steeped in genre or stylization – BATMAN, I’M NOT THERE.  THE FIGHTER sees him literally explode outward, engaging embodiment unlike any other performance he’s given. DiNiro in RAGING BULL, Hoffman in RAIN MAN – he is transformed here, and it’s captivating.

Cholodenko, on the other hand, goes deep. While her previous work also clearly had strong emotional lines, the lure of sex and an erotic tension often took up more space. In KIDS, the sex is tamer, more middle-aged, more comfortable, and the human issues are deeper, more long-term, more resonant. I’m looking forward to more … and more attention for both of them in the coming months.

–AH