Tuesday, December 25, 2012

31 Performances Ripe for Rediscovery (7) Bridget Fonda in BODIES, REST & MOTION (WITH A GUEST CONTRIBUTION BY JOE VALDEZ)


"Beautiful flowers in your garden 
But the most beautiful by far
 The one growing wild in the garbage dump 

Even here even here we are 

Song of the bird lives in the sky 
But the most beautiful by far
 Scream of the man who never learned to fly

Even here even here we are 

Sun shines bright, it's a beautiful sight 
But the most beautiful by far
 Is the blind girl alone with the angel of the night"

-Paul Westerberg, 1993-




I turned twenty in 1993.  In hindsight I would say it was a pretty great time to be twenty although I certainly didn't recognize that fact at the time.  Rock had returned, Tarantino arrived and things were wonderfully noisy again...it was the decade before everyone retreated into their private little hideaways of texting, i-pods and other such various forms of bullshit all designed to bring us together while ultimately tearing us apart.  The nineties, even if just for a few years, kind of rocked and I am happy I was there with my long purple hair, goodwill jackets and torn jeans.  I was born old but I briefly took advantage and lived my youth.  

Moon in the Gutter's author pictured, back in the day, around '93.

If anyone ever asked me what it was like turning twenty in 1993 I would ask that they listen to Paul Westerberg's extraordinary LP from that year, 14 Songs, and watch Bridget Fonda in one of the key American films from that year Bodies, Rest & Motion.  


Bridget Fonda was my favorite actor from my generation.  She might not have been the greatest, or had the most range but she had an undefinable something about her that made her stand apart...she managed to be down to earth, inviting and warm while maintaining a certain secrecy and mystery.  Most directors didn't know what the hell to do with Bridget and disappointing is the word that comes to mind when looking at her filmography, but she was great even when the film wasn't and when she did get a role as terrific as she was extraordinary things happened (there really isn't a more perfectly realized performance from the nineties than Bridget in Jackie Brown).  


I first saw Michael Steinberg's extraordinary Bodies, Rest & Motion at the now closed Vogue Theater in Louisville, KY during its brief theatrical run in '93.  I thought then, and now, that it was the one American film that really captured what it was like to be in your twenties in that period.  While films like Reality Bites and Singles (another film starring Fonda) proved more popular with audiences, it was Bodies, Rest & Motion that really captured the ennui, restlessness and frustration that went along with the joy, chaos and ridiculousness of youth.  It's a wonderful film populated by tremendous performances (courtesy of Fonda, Eric Stoltz, Tim Roth and Phoebe Cates) and it remains one of my favorites from the nineties.  


Bridget Fonda is an absolute marvel in Bodies, Rest & Motion.  She conveys angst, desperation and loneliness in a positively devastating fashion, while at the same time retaining that infectious charm that made so many of us fall in love with her in the nineties.  Along with Jackie Brown, Bodies, Rest & Motion remains the key work from Bridget Fonda before she disappeared from our lives, but not dreams, a decade ago.  
-Jeremy Richey, 2012-


My great admiration and devotion to Bridget Fonda is shared by many of my friends, including critic and writer Joe Valdez, who authors and operates the incredible This Distracted Globe, one of the great film sites on the web.  Joe has kindly written up a little tribute to Bridget for us and I am very grateful to him for taking the time to do so.  

-Joe Valdez on Bridget Fonda, written for Moon in the Gutter in 2012-

"Of all the film actresses of my generation, the one who makes me giddy by just thinking about her is Bridget Fonda. She flew under the radar her entire career. Most of the roles Bridget Fonda was offered initially were the cute barista or some variation. I think she actually played a waitress who gets a $2 million tip from Nic Cage in some movie. That was her bread and butter. If I had $2 million, I'd probably give it to Bridget Fonda. Her presence just lit up movies that weren't very memorable otherwise. Fonda was the only cast member of Cameron Crowe's SINGLES who really seemed to fit; she made that movie better each time her character popped up. Then it seems like Fonda outgrew the cute barista, beginning with BODIES, REST & MOTION, to play characters you'd cross the street to avoid. This gets you to the scheming beach bunny in JACKIE BROWN and to Bill Paxton's wife in A SIMPLE PLAN. Those women were living day to day and knew an opportunity when it came along. One didn't make it and the other one, we don't know if her marriage is going to make it. Just brilliant. You could see Fonda was evolving, playing complicated and sometimes unlikable women and working with great filmmakers. She slipped into that stage of her career very naturally. It didn't come off as posturing to win awards. She pulled those darker roles off naturally. That and what she could bring to a movie with her presence always makes me smile."
   
Criterion's long out of print Laserdisc edition of Bodies, Rest & Motion

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