Have you ever seen the movie Vanya on 42nd Street (1994)? It's really quite good. The movie plays something like a fly on the wall rehearsal documentary of a stage production of Anton Chekov's immortal "Uncle Vanya." It marked the first important clue that Julianne Moore was going to be a major screen goddess (unless you count Short Cuts as just that, which some do) and it also gave Brooke Smith her first worthwhile role after achieving a kind of 'who is that she looks so familiar?' fame as "The Girl in the Pit" in Silence of the Lambs.

Two "Yelena"s: Cate (on stage) and Julianne (on film)
It's a worthwhile rental so long as you give it your full attention as it's full of intricacies and performances of quiet but potent dramedic depth.  If you're in Australia, though, you can see more than a rehearsal. You can see the real thing on stage.



Andrew Upton (Mr. Cate Blanchett) has adapted the play for the Sydney Theater Company. The cast is full of familiar Australian movie faces like Cate herself, Hugo Weaving, Richard Roxburgh (Moulin Rouge!) and this year's Best Supporting Actress hopeful Jacki Weaver (Animal Kingdom). I expect a full report from Australian readers who get a chance to see it. Do as I say! The production is currently playing and runs through January 1st, 2011.

Can Cate's "Yelena" measure up to Julianne's sublime take?

And when is Hugo Weaving going to get another worthwhile film role? Lately the movies have reduced him to a disembodied voice or cameo player in noisy "event" movies (V For Vendetta, Lord of the Rings, Transformers). His next big role is the villainous Red Skull in Captain America: The First Avenger. But given the role, we still won't really be looking at his face, will we?

And what's wrong with his face, I ask. It's got real character. Stop hiding him, moviemakers!

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