MCN Columnists
Noah Forrest

By Noah Forrest

Sienna Miller – Good or Evil?

Everyone knew her name before anyone had even seen her face.  Sienna Miller was simply tabloid fodder, attracting legions of fans as well as opponents based on her style, her looks, and her famous on/off romance with Jude Law.

When audiences first got a brief look at Ms. Miller in the Law-starring remake of Alfie, there really wasn’t much to be impressed by.  She spends a total of twenty minutes onscreen and she spends that time posing, vamping and overacting.  She was supposed to be playing a beautiful obsessive lunatic, but instead she seemed like a famous actress trying to play an obsessive lunatic.

Layer Cake won her a few male admirers after it came out on DVD, but she has about fifteen minutes of screen time in that one and most of it is half-naked.  Later on there wasCasanova, where she did her best impression of Katharine Hepburn, but it felt phony.  But it didn’t really matter because nobody saw it.

Three years into Sienna Miller’s career everyone knew who she was, but nobody cared.  It was hard to tell if the young lady had any discernible talent other than to smoke cigarettes, wear pretty clothes and tell the paparazzi to “fuck off.”  I must say that personally, I was beginning to hate her.

The final straw for me came with the release of Factory Girl, a movie that wears its vapidity like a badge of honor.  Ms. Miller’s performance resembles nothing like any human being anybody has ever met.  Her performance was at turns flat, hammy, and worst of all: unoriginal.  Miller was playing the ultimate wannabe: Edie Sedgwick, a woman famous for hanging out with more famous people and it was hard not to see the comparisons between the actress and her role.

After I walked out of Factory Girl I became convinced that there was nothing separating Miller from any other limited actress like Kirsten Dunst or Lindsay Lohan except for the fact that she had a British accent.  And hey, Lohan did a pretty serviceable British accent in The Parent Trap, too.

Then I saw Interview and everything changed for me.

I was caught totally by surprise by the fact that 1) Steve Buscemi did a remarkable job of adapting Theo Van Gogh’s film with honor and respect, and 2) Sienna Miller is the whole damn movie.  To call her performance great would be an insult because it is better than that.  Every pose and mannerism and vocal tic is so artfully played by Miller that it is something to cherish.  This is Sienna Miller’s coming out party and boy, does this girl have talent.

For those who do not know, Interview is directed by Steve Buscemi who also co-stars as Pierre, a journalist who feels that his latest assignment – to interview a popular American TV star named Katya (Miller) – is beneath him.  Pierre prides himself on being a man who has traveled to the Middle East and Africa, doing “real” reporting and can’t believe that he’s asked by his editor to do a fluff piece on some dumb bombshell.

The whole movie is just the two of them talking, interviewing each other and getting quite candid while doing so, turning the tables on one another.  The movie it most reminded me of was Sleuth – a remake of which is, coincidentally, starring her former beau – but without the theatrics.  It falls apart a little bit towards the end, but I didn’t really care because I couldn’t help but marvel at what Miller was doing onscreen.

The term &”brave performance” is used a bit too often for my tastes, but it is incredibly appropriate in this case.  Miller is playing a character that many people could look at and say “this is exactly what Sienna Miller is like in real life” but she doesn’t shy away from it and doesn’t do it half-assed.  She is ruthless, cold, crazy and real.  Katya feels like a real, wounded person who winds up being famous for having certain looks and certain tricks.  And Miller isn’t afraid to show you what her tricks are.

Buscemi is great as usual and he really pushes her to deeper levels.  He is the sparring partner that Miller has needed, but hasn’t had until now and I hope that this breakthrough role is just the beginning of a special career for a woman who I once thought was no better thanLindsay Lohan. Turns out, if she keeps it up, she might just be the next Natalie Portman. And that’s no small compliment.

– Noah Forrest
July 26, 2007

Noah Forrest is a 24 year old aspiring writer/.filmmaker in New York City.

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon