Introducing Murtada’s Corner

Let me introduce Murtada’s Corner which will be the new section where you can read about other topics. The podcast will remain all about Cate Blanchett but here I will branch into other writing – old and new – about other topics. Mostly cinema related.

Muligan in Never Let Me Go

I’m starting with another actress I admire, Carey Mulligan and a collection of articles I’ve written about her through the years. Happy Reading!

Carey Mulligan is an actress of immense range. Since her breakout at the 2009 edition of Sundance with An Education, she’s given us many tremendous performances. All of them heartbreaking and deeply felt in different ways, whether she’s a replicant trying to make human connections (Never Let Me Go), F Scott Fitzgerald’s famous Daisy (The Great Gatsby), a broken sister singing her heart out as a last cry for help (Shame) or a wife and mother facing the dissolution of her marriage and the paucity of choices after (Wildlife). And once again she gives an exceptional performance in Promising Young Woman

On her performance in Wildlife:

This is her shining moment. It’s her Blanche Dubois moment. Her Jeanette, a Montana housewife dealing with the repercussions of a crumbling marriage, is untethered yet Mulligan is in complete control. She holds the performance in her voice, as it trembles with emotion – hurt, confusion, anger, uncertainty  – all is clear to the audience through the timber of her voice.”

Click to read more…

and stream on Netflix

Mulligan’s performance is an emotional marvel and delivered with technical mastery. Her working class English accent is impeccable, her weariness and defeat is visible in her hunched back and heavy walk, her defiance rises to crescendo and is delivered with skillful control of her voice. This is why there are awards for acting.

Click to read more on Suffragette, also available to stream on Netflix.

And at this year’s Sundance Mulligan impressed me once more in Promising Young Woman.

Mulligan is engaging and ferocious throughout and the reason to immediately buy a ticket.

Click to read more….

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An Ode to La Divina Cate’s Couture in Venezia

The legend of St. Mark, and the lion that represents him, is one of the defining traits of the city of Venice. The winged beast watches over the township from the famous square named after the saint, and St. Mark’s effigy can be found all over the churches, homes, and tourist shops of the Italian city.

The legend states that the evangelist once found himself caught in the midst of a storm in the Venice lagoon, and upon landing in a small island an angel appeared to him and announced he would find rest there.

For film fans, hungry for the couture and red carpets the pandemic stole from them, Venice Film Festival Jury President, Cate Blanchett arrived in very much St. Mark- style to let them know “be at ease children, your patron saint of fashion is here.”

To claim her throne, Blanchett appeared in nautical Armani, wide slacks, a navy jacket and of course a mask. The Blanchett does not toy around with Covid.

The effortless ensemble recalls one of Cate’s most iconic characters, her take on Kate the Great in Martin Scorsese’s The Aviator.

“Do your worst, Ms. Blanchett!

Like most decent people, Cate doesn’t understand what’s the big deal with wearing a mask. If she can sport one while looking unfazed in the striped Armani jumpsuit she wore to the jury photocall, how can you complain about putting one on to wear to the grocery store, where you won’t be photographed by all of Europe’s paparazzi?

Before arriving in Venice, Cate promised she would make this a “green” red carpet by wearing some of her most beloved looks from premieres past.

Allow me for a second to fantasize and get lost in the dream of visiting Cate’s closet. It must look like the one from the first Sex and the City movie, where Big proposes to Carrie, right? Yes, I will marry thee, canary yellow Valentino from the 2004 Oscars. I shall love thee forever, pink Balenciaga from 2013! Yes, I take you as my beloved husband, Galliano gown from the 1998 awards.

Yes, you too hummingbird!

Never one to disappoint, Cate’s first recycled look came from 2015, for the opening night film at Venice, she wore the same caped Esteban Cortázar she donned to the BFI Festival premiere of Carol. Notice how the mask with the winged sleeves makes her look positively superehero-esque.

Speaking of Carol, look at this pair:

I demand a Freaky Friday or a Persona where the two trade places or merge as one supreme being of fashion and rule over our humdrum lives.

Cate’s couture reconfiguration continued with Alexander McQueen. In 2016 she wore this exquisite beaded McQueen top to the BAFTAS with a feathered skirt that would’ve made the late Lee swoon. For Venice 2020, a pair of pants and a 1940s style up-do got the job done.

Venetians have a reputation for being tall-tale-tellers, some accuse them of being liars! But what they know how to do is tease and reveal just about enough to leave one wanting more. The 16th century Venetian scholar and historian Paolo Sarpi once exclaimed “I never, never tell a lie, but the truth not to everyone,” and so fashioning herself a Venetian, not by birth but by spirit, Cate didn’t stick to couture compost, and debuted two new Armani suits.

After all, a girl has to fulfill her spokeswoman contract duties.

With the festival wrapping up this weekend, we wrap up this ode to la divina Blanchett, with some lines from Emma Lazarus’ appropriately titled “A Masque of Venice,”

We shall mark
All the pageant from this ivory porch of ours,
Masques and jesters, mimes and minstrels, while we hark
To their music as they fare.
Scent their flowers
Flung from boat to boat in rainbow radiant showers
Through the laughter-ringing air.

Addio, for now.

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Fashion Moments We Hope to See at Venice

Cate Blanchett will start her jury president duties at the Venice International Film Festival this Wednesday September 2. The festival will be the first major international film event since the Covid-19 pandemic cancelled all events around the world. Fashion lovers  are cautiously excited since there will be some sort of red carpet.

Blanchett has indicated in an interview with WWD magazine that she plans to exclusively re-wear looks from her closet throughout the festival. Yes, no new couture for Cate this year. It fits a socially distant event to be more responsible and promote sustainability. So we applaud the decision and suggest six looks we hope to see on Cate in the next 10 days.

Arriving at this list was arbitrary. Balnchett has wowed so many times that it’s futile to try to come with any rhyme or reason for my choices. It’s just a few that I love. There is one I did not choose whilst being my favorite because I’d like it to remain exclusive to that moment, the Carol premiere at Cannes. 

Where / When : The Oscars, February 2011

Designer: Givenchy 

Divisive at the time but now universally acknowledged as one of Cate’s most audacious red carpet moments. Everything about it is unusual. The pale lavender color spiked with yellow, the intricate embroidery, the pleats and the architectural breast piece. So avant garde, so Cate!

Where / When: SK-II event in Shanghai, September 2010

Designer: Christian Lacroix 

This is more obscure yet remains one of my faves ever. A glowing burgundy gown embellished with shimmering gold sequins. We have previously waxed poetic about it on the pod.

Where / When: The Oscars, February 2007

Designer: Armani

She wore this column Armani couture silver sheath the year she was nominated for Notes on Scandal. That was also the year she witnessed a moment we love from the telecast. You can see her front row clapping and whooping when The Aviator director, Martin Scorsese won his first Oscar after many nominations and decades of a wonderful career. 

Where / When: Cannes Opening Night and premiere of Robin Hood, May 2011

Designer: Alexander McQueen 

What a way to pay tribute to the recently deceased McQueen at the time. Cate wore this gorgeous black and white gown with the striking eagle print just 3 months after McQueen had passed.

Where / When: The Good German, LA premiere, December 2006

Designer: Versace 

This cream and gold peekaboo dress is singular but rarely mentioned in any fashion retrospectives about Cate. Bring it back, let the people enjoy.

Where / When : The Oscars, February 2005

Designer : Valentino 

Go big and re-wear something from one of your biggest career moments. That would be the bespoke Valentino that was specially designed for her to collect her first Academy Award. Cate and Valentino wanted to create a unique fashion moment, so he dressed no one else that year at the Oscars. This Yellow taffeta with the mauve sash was certainly a big wow and my favorite Oscar fashion from Cate. 

I haven’t chosen anything from last year’s Venice or from her stint as jury president in Cannes 2018 because I wanted to go further back in time. However let us know in the comments what you want to see repeated from those festivals?

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2019 Redux

While the podcast is on hiatus for the next few weeks, revisit some of our more popular episodes from last year.

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Ocean’s 8 and the peak of Cate Blanchett’s celebrity post Carol (2015).

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Her spot on interpretation of Katharine Hepburn in The Aviator.

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An early career highlight in The Talented Mr. Ripley.

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The Podcast is on hiatus

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The second season of the podcast has wrapped. My thanks to all my guests on this 2nd season of Sundays with Cate. Hope you enjoy all 14 episodes that we recorded. I will taking a short break and will return later in the summer. Notes on a Scandal, Carol we have a few movies we havent discussed as well as other surprises in store for Season 3 of the show.

In the meantime all episodes and show notes are available here – just scroll down or click on the right side bar for you favorite podcast app.

If you are enjoying the podcast, please consider a small donation to help us with maintenance costs. The cost of a cup of coffee,  $3.00.

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Sarah Paulson’s Queer Confesssion about Cate Blanchett in Mrs. America

In a snippet from the podcast about the finale of Mrs. America Murtada and Tayler Montague discuss the possibility that Alice McCray (Sarah paulson) might have feelings fo her best friend, Phyllis Schalfly (Cate Blanchett). 

 

Follow along Mrs. America is streaming on Hulu. Then listen to our recaps of all 9 episodes.

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Cate Blanchett in “Mrs. America’ Recaps

The podcast will be back later in the summer. In the meantime here are our reviews of Mrs. America.

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Episodes 1-3 with Tayler Montague

We are going back to the early 1970s to recap the first three episodes of Cate Blanchett’s first major TV role in the FX on Hulu show, Mrs America as polarizing right wing figure Phyllis Schalfly. We discuss her performance, the all star cast, the costumes and review the show. Murtada’s guest is  writer and filmmaker Tayler Montague.

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Cate Blanchett as Schlafly with Ben Rosenfield as her gay son John Schlafly

Episodes 4 & 5 with Casey Mink

In our review of episodes 4 and 5 we talk about Betty Freidan (Tracey Ullman) and Brenda Feigen Fasteau (Ari Graynor) debating Phyllis Schlafly (Blanchett). We also discuss talk Blanchett’s self slap, the fractions in the Feminist Movement, the “Tokenism” scene and many other topics. Murtada’s guest is staff writer at BackstageCasey Mink.

MRS. AMERICA -- Pictured: Bria Henderson as Margaret Sloan. CR: Pari Dukovic/FX

Episodes 6 & 7 with Andy Stewart plus an interview with cast member Bria Samoné Henderson

This time we tackle episodes 6 and 7 of the series about Jill Ruckelshaus played by Elizabeth Banks and Bella Abzug played by Margo Martindale. Also in this episode an interview with Bria Samoné Henderson who plays activist Margaret Sloan on the show. Murtada’s guest is Andy Stewart.

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Episodes 8 & 9 with Tayler Montague

To review the last two episodes of Mrs. America  Murtada Elfadl welcomes back guest writer and filmmaker Tayler Montague. The TV miniseries about the fight to ratify the equal rights amendment in the 1970s is created by Dahvi Waller and stars Cate Blanchett as Phyllis Schlafly, the right wing polarizing organizer. 

If you are enjoying the podcast buy Murtada a cup of coffee, or rate and review.

Follow along the show is streaming on Hulu.

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The faces that Blanchett makes on this show!

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‘Elizabeth’ and the 1998 Oscar for Best Actress

For the 2nd season finale of the podcast, we return to 1998. Elizabeth was Cate Blanchett’s international breakout and the first time many people saw her on screen. Hence it deserves a revisit. To discuss the film again, along with Blanchett’s first Academy Award nomination and the 1998 best actress Oscar race, Murtada Elfadl welcomes Izzy from Be Kind Rewind Logo - Lizzy copy Subscribe:  Apple Podcasts   /   Stitcher   /  Spotify  /   iHeart What is the film about? From imdb: The early years of the reign of Elizabeth I of England and her difficult task of learning what is necessary to be a monarch. Directed by Shekar Kapur; also starring Richard Attenborough, Geoffrey Rush, Joseph Fiennes, Emily Mortimer, Kelly McDonald. What year did it come out? 1998. Who does Cate play? Duh – top billed.  How is Cate introduced? 7 Minutes in, dancing in a field among her ladies in waiting. Box Office: Domestic = $30,082,699 (36.6%), Int’l = $52,067,943 (63.4%).
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Cate Blanchett as Elizabeth I
Topics Discussed:
  • Why was this performance so well received? It was considered such an arrival of a major star. How much is the role? How much is Cate? She charts a whole journey and character arc from young woman to monarch to stateswoman to almost deity, getting the chance to play innocent, cunning, in love, betrayed; the whole gamut of emotions.
  • So many actresses played this part: Bette Davis, Glenda Jackson, Anne-Marie Duff, Helen Mirren and Margot Robbie. Why is it so attractive to storytellers?
  • What is the Cate moment that sealed her stardom and Oscar nomination? Basically what’s this film “I have a hurricane in me” from Elizabeth: The Golden Age?
    • Ominously surrounded by men as Elizabeth is interrogated in the tower early on the film. Vacillating between fear and trying to hold it together while answering a barrage of questions.
    • Her scene with Kathy Burke as Mary “I see you are a consummate actress.” 
    • Preparing and delivering her speech to the bishops.
    • Lamenting the defeat of her troops in Scotland by Mary of Guise.
    • The finale “I’ve become a virgin.
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Cate Blanchett in Elizabeth and Gwyneth Paltrow in Shakespeare in Love. Both won Golden Globes, Paltrow won the Oscar
Other 1998 Oscar Best Actress Nominees: Gwyneth Paltrow, Shakespeare in Love – the winner. She and Cate both won at Golden Globes. Meryl Streep, One True Thing – Nomination #11 out of 21. Only nomination for film. Great monologue, “I’m tired of being shushed.” Fernanda Montenegro, Central Station– won best actress at the Berlinale, LAFCA and NBR. She and Cate were runners up to Ally Sheedy (High Art) at NSFC. Runner up to Cameron Diaz (There’s Something About Mary) at NYFCC. This tweet is funny! Emily Watson, Hillary and Jackie – forgotten film, more of an afterglow nomination 2 years after Breaking the Waves. Interesting career trajectory with Blanchett as she was considered for Elizabeth.
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The other 1998 Oscar nominees were Fernanda Montenegro in Central Station, Meryl Streep in One True Thing and Emily Watson in Hilary and Jackie
Did Paltrow win because she played a romantic lead, something academy members are prone to award —Roman Holiday, Moonstruck—while Blanchett was playing a more traditionally male role as a monarch? More from Murtada and Izzy: Elizabeth was previously discussed on the podcast. Don’t miss Be Kind Rewind on how Shakespeare in Love won its Oscars. Note on the headline: This Oscar year is sometimes referred to as “the 1999 Oscars” since the ceremony took place in March of 1999. However I prefer using the year of the film’s release, 1998.  Subscribe:  Apple Podcasts   /   Stitcher   /  Spotify  /   iHeart Like? Rate and Review. Have a question? Leave us a comment.

Cate Blanchett in ‘Robin Hood’

It’s not Maid Marian but rather Marion Loxely, a more modern take on Robin Hood’s paramour, played by Cate Blanchett in Ridley Scott’s 2010 version of the folklore tale of the legendary outlaw and his merry men. For this discussion Murtada Elfadl welcomes back Teo Bugbee. Logo - Robin Hood 1  Subscribe:  Apple Podcasts   /   Stitcher   /  Spotify  /   iHeart Follow along Robin Hood is streaming on STARZ. What is the film about? A more realistic / historical take on the legend of Robin Hood and his merry men. What year did it come out? May 2010 debuted at Cannes. Who does Cate play? Marion Loxley, not Maid Marian. She’s no damsel in distress, she fights, she leads an army.  How is Cate introduced?  Immediately as part of the prologue, the children of the forest raid her barn Box Office: Domestic = $105,269,730  Int’l =$216,400,011 – one of Cate’s most widely seen films. Critical Response: Metacritic : 53. RT: 43. boomhhhgfddsaa Topics discussed:
  • Did we need another Robin Hood? Which one is our favorite?
  • The movie has ideas about birthright and class that are interesting. Robin is first shown as “salt of the earth” soldier with honor, compared to John who’s only talent is being born a prince. But then they give Robin a story about having a great father and “exceptional legacy”? It’s perplexing.
  • The differences between what we know of Robin Hood and this version.
  • Cate’s best scene is when Marion learns of her husband’s death. Max von Sydow is wonderful too receiving the same news. Their deleted scene together is poignant.
  • Does Cate have chemistry with Crowe? He’s on record that she’s his best on screen kiss.
  • Russell Crowe – his 5th and last movie with Scott (Gladiator, A Good Year, American Gangster, Body of Lies) – they clashed on set, his last romantic lead, his last top lining a big budget studio movie.
  • Lea Seydoux and Oscar Isaac’s performances ; their intro with Eileen Atkins – talk about a stacked cast she plays Eleanor of Aquitaine – snaps the movie alive.
  • What have we been watching in quarantine: Paul Mescal in Normal People.
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Blanchett, Russell Crowe and Ridley Scott on the set of Robin Hood
Film within context of Cate’s career: Filmed within the time she was running the Sydney Theater Company and wasn’t working much in movies. Between 2008 (Benjamin Button) and 2013 (Blue Jasmine) the time she ran STC she only made this film, Hanna  (2011) and The Hobbit (2012).
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Cate Balnchett and Russell Crowe at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival
Promotional appearances: Cannes 2010. Subscribe:  Apple Podcasts   /   Stitcher   /  Spotify  /   iHeart Like? Rate and Review. Have a question? Leave us a comment.