“Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” – Nathan’s Movie Challenge, Week 28
“I’m tired, I’ve been drinking since nine o’clock, my wife is vomiting, and there’s been a lot of screaming going on around here!”
I went into Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf completely blind. The name was vaguely familiar. Other than that, I didn’t know anything about it at all. Not the basic idea of the plot, director, actors… nothing.
As I started into it, I realized the characters were coming home from a party drunk, and still drinking. I decided I probably should join them, so I paused briefly to pour myself a dark and stormy to help immerse myself in the scene.
What followed when I resumed was witnessing the masterful, commanding performance of everyone in the film – but Elizabeth Taylor, in particular. I’d always heard of her, but I don’t think I’d ever actually seen one of her starring role pictures before. In some ways, now I’m not sure I’d want to see any more of them because I doubt they could be any better than she was as Martha in this film.
The score, the editing, the long takes, the set design, the cinematography – everything in the movie is really firing on all cylinders. It’s edgy, it’s emotional, it’s artsy, but it’s also raw and dense and dramatic in the best way possible.
I usually don’t respond well to mean-spiritedness or cynicism, but this was more a cautionary tale of pity and contempt. I admired and abhorred them all in equal measure.
Color me completely and utterly impressed. Bewilderingly so.
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf was at the time of this review at #100 on my Flickchart list of shame (ranked #240 among the best films of all time). Here’s how it entered my chart:
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf vs. Below
Below is an ok submarine movie. Woolf is a masterwork.
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf vs. Seeking a Friend for the End of the World
I do love the premise and the awkward chemistry of Seeking…, but it pales next to Woolf.
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf vs. Star Trek Beyond
Had almost nothing bad to say about Star Trek Beyond. It’s fun and feels more like actual Trek than any of the other new cast films have. It’s no Woolf, though.
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf vs. The World’s End
OK. This will win, but it’s close. The World’s End truly blew me away with its perfect symmetry and characterizations and relentless pacing. Edgar Wright is one of the best filmmakers we have today.
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf vs. Pee Wee’s Big Adventure
As much as I admire early Tim Burton whimsy and creativity, it’s not as emotionally transformative as Woolf.
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf vs. Predator
Great action sci-fi. Possibly one of the most testosterone-filled movies ever. Can’t beat Woolf.
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf vs. The Fountain
There’s a whole lot to love about The Fountain. It’s beautiful. It’s epic. It’s ambitious. It’s still not a perfect movie. Woolf almost is.
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf vs. Munich
Spielberg does a wide range of styles, but Munich feels less like other Spielberg than most. It’s very, very good, but not as good as Woolf.
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf vs. Iron Man
If it were just the first act, Iron Man might have a fighting chance. Its third act and weaksauce villain pull it down. Woolf wins.
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf vs. Silver Linings Playbook
My second favorite David O. Russell picture (behind Three Kings) is incredible, but Woolf just edges out.
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf is now ranked #93 out of 1476 movies on my Best Movies of All-Time chart.
Next up is Last Year at Marienbad. In the meantime, check out the other films I’ve ranked during the challenge.