Uma Thurman: Top Five / Bottom Five
If you have nothing else to do and self-mutilation is not your thing, why not check out Motherhood this weekend? Forgive my snark. I haven’t seen the movie so I shouldn’t judge, but man, the marketing department sure did a good job of trying to make it look like as lame an experience as possible. Uma Thurman is a lovely actress and simply deserves better. She’s got talent, class, and looks but has never quite managed to break through with the masses. Looking at her filmography, it’s easy to see why: it’s a very mixed bag. Here are her highs and lows.
Writer-director Andrew Niccol’s superior science fiction thriller doesn’t actually feature Thurman’s best work. She’s been a lot better in many other films: The Producers, Beautiful Girls, even Jennifer Eight. Still, it’s easily one of the best projects she’s been involved with.
Kill Bill Vol. 1 & 2
Unless Motherhood surprises and is something other than a very tough two hours in a theater, it’s safe to say Uma Thurman’s defining roles have all been Quentin Tarantino features. And of her three films (technically two projects) with Tarantino, it’s the Kill Bill movies that contain her best work. In fact, she should have been nominated for both of them. Not unlike the movies, she balances the campier aspects with the more dramatic, and it gels. It’s tricky work and she pulls it off beautifully.
Mad Dog and Glory
Bill Murray is the mob boss. Robert De Niro is the shy loserish crime scene photographer who saves Murray’s life one night in a grocery store. Uma Thurman is the thank-you gift who ends up falling in love with the photographer. This sweet little John McNaughton comedy is one of the nineties’ hidden gems. Thurman is her luminous self and somehow makes the romance with De Niro seem real. You would think De Niro’s and Murray’s roles should have been reversed, but just about everything here is unconventional and works (did I mention Murray’s mob boss does stand-up?). David Caruso and Mike Starr check in and provide great supporting work as well.
This is probably the movie where most people were introduced to Thurman. At the very least it is likely the movie that got everyone’s attention. Mia Wallace’s style and attitude are one of the many things that make Pulp Fiction so damn cool. When I think of that movie I think of Jules sipping down a Big Kahuna Burger soda, and I think of Mia Wallace dancing to Urge Overkill’s version of “Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon.”
This film has only three actors (Uma Thurman, Ethan Hawke, and Robert Sean Leonard) and only one set (a motel room), and yet it’s one of Richard Linklater’s most compelling films. If you limit a movie like that you better have great dialogue (which it does) and some really good performances (again, check). Thurman is excellent here. Her character is just as strong as The Bride only she doesn’t need a samurai sword to take anyone down.
This movie is an embarrassment for everyone involved. On paper this could have worked but instead it, uh, didn’t.
Batman and RobinBatman & Robin
This might be Thurman’s worst performance. How many lives did this movie nearly destroy? Five? Twenty? A thousand? Someone needs to investigate and write a book.
Even Cowgirls Get the Blues
Tom Robbins’ fantastic book never should have made it to the big screen. Gus Van Sant never should have directed it. And Uma Thurman never should have said “Yes!” when asked if she would star. I didn’t like this movie when I saw it many moons ago, and I hated it after I read the book. For shame.
Johnny Be Good
I hate this movie. I really, really hate this movie. It’s an unnatural, unhealthy level of hatred; I’m the first to admit this. And it’s almost unexplainable except for the fact that it’s just a really bad and poorly made movie. Other than that, I don’t know. Me and this movie just don’t get along. We don’t really run into each other much, which is good. We don’t socialize with the same crowds, which helps. But damnit, if I run into this S.O.B. at a party it is so on ’80s-style.
Thurman isn’t bad in this ironically-titled Ben Affleck thriller. Almost everything else is, however. I’m hoping Red Cliff sucks the suck out of John Woo because he used to be one of my favorite filmmakers and he turned into this god-awful Hollywood hack. Not really Thurman’s fault, but she has to answer or it.