as a Catherine Keener deepfake dishonors the 90s icon.

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as a Catherine Keener deepfake dishonors the 90s icon.

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This post contains spoilers for The Adam project.

The villain of Netflix The Adam project it should look like a familiar face, but there is something fundamentally wrong with them: their face, in particular. In the new time travel thriller, Ryan Reynolds returns to his early 21st birthdayst century to stop the invention of technology that will ultimately ruin the world. The problem is not the technology itself, which was invented by his late father shortly before his death. The problem is the unscrupulous hands she’ll eventually fall into: the hands of her father’s ruthless business partner, Maya Sorian (Catherine Keener). In the future, she will be a science fiction lord, wrapped in a black cloak that drapes around her like a shroud. But when the plot returns to 2018, let’s take a look at a younger Maya, a stylish businesswoman with sparkly blouses and a ponytail for all business. The film’s goofy approach to the time paradox allows the two Maya to meet face to face, and the same anti-aging technology implemented in the Marvel Cinematic Universe allows both versions of Maya to be played by Keener herself. But having grown up watching – and let’s be honest, passed out – Keener’s performances in the ’90s, The Adam projectDeepfake is nerve-wracking turned off.

He is not alone, like many spectators noticed online the following weekend The Adam projectat the debut, that the effects are bad and Keener’s dialogue is not synchronized with the movements of the young Maya, or even that the CG version does not match the extensive photographic documentation of what Catherine Keener looked like in her thirties. The mildly graceful, plastic-smooth Maya feels like a rebuke of Keener’s idiotic cinematic self, a discreet desecration of one of indie film’s most prominent icons.

Watching American independent cinema 30 years ago meant being in love with Catherine Keener, or wanting to be her. I remember first meeting Keener in 1996 Walk and talk, the first of five films he made with screenwriter and director Nicole Holofcener. When introduced, Keener is sitting alone in a bar, writing in a notebook, when her childhood friend (Anne Heche) joins her. Heche’s character has just sat down when the waiter offers her coffee, which prompts Keener to clear his throat and add that he’d like some of her too — her tone suggests the long-felt offense of being blacked out. from her increased self-confidence blonde companion. But even if she is presented as a wallflower, with tousled hair and a loose t-shirt tucked haphazardly into her jeans, there’s no risk of Keener fading into the woodwork: from that first moment, she radiates a keen intelligence and mind. fiercely active. As the waiter reluctantly takes her order, Keener gives him a quick grin of thanks for noticing, and as he turns around, she sticks out her tongue and pants like a dog. She maybe she is making fun of her own desperation or her dullness of her, or maybe she is just discharging excess neural energy so her head doesn’t explode. But it’s a moment of pure camera communion, which passes so quickly and unnoticed you’d miss it if you looked elsewhere. (You weren’t.)

Keener wasn’t just the sex symbol of the thinking person. She was your smartest friend, your kindest ex, the person you can trust to tell you directly, even though you may not like her. heard.

Especially in the movies he made with Holofcener, Keener’s characters always seem to enjoy a private joke, even if the joke didn’t start out that way. She begins the cycle as the personification of Generation X: she overqualified for her humble work, but too suspicious of success to push for anything better. In Enchanting and surprising, Keener’s character runs into an old high school classmate and expresses shock that her childhood friend is already a practicing pediatrician. The friend, perplexed, says: “We are 36 years old” and Keener replies: “Yes, but not 36 36 “. In Holofcener’s latest films, she finds a niche for work, whether it’s writing scripts or running a vintage furniture boutique, but her professional progression doesn’t give her any more solid sense of security. She is always adrift, restless, unsure if the problem is the world or herself. Happiness is for the simpleton, not someone who can always anticipate the next crisis that is coming around the corner.

In another era, Keener’s hoarse voice and deadpan demeanor may have made her a Hollywood star, the natural version of what Howard Hawks molded Lauren Bacall into. The big sleep. But Keener had no interest in going that route, often refusing to interview or be profiled, leaving Entertainment Weekly to pay her the ambiguous compliment of praising her “unusual beauty”. Indeed, she has always been beautiful, as Holofcener acknowledged Enchanting and surprising making Keener’s struggling amateur artist a former homecoming queen. But her characters rarely seemed to take it to heart, too consumed by their inner failures to take stock, let alone exploit, their outer splendor. “You are really cute,” Kevin Corrigan’s video store clerk tells her Walk and talk. “It looks like you need to hear it.”

by Spike Jonze Being John Malkovich, from 1999, is the rare occasion in which Keener’s character seems in full control of his own magnetism. When John Cusack’s professional puppeteer, who works in the same dingy office building as Keener, makes a stammering attempt to ask her out, she replies with a shriveled air: “If you ever catch me, you wouldn’t know what to do with me. . But it’s clear this is a role he’s playing; it fits into how the characters in the film briefly fit into the body of the titular movie star. Keener’s costumes here – usually all black or white with occasional monochromatic separations. “They suggest that the film wants us to see her in an archetypal way: the unreachable angel or the sexual siren. But in any case, she is irresistible. In the end, Cusack gives up his bodily existence only to have a chance to keep looking at it.”

A woman wearing a white shirt is on a landline phone.
Catherine Keener Being John Malkovich.
Focus functions

In the 1990s, Keener wasn’t just the sex symbol of the thinking person, even though she was called so often. She was your smartest friend, your kindest ex, the person you can trust to tell you directly, even though you may not like what you heard. She remained true to her weapons even when, as it often did, she meant ending up alone, and she never fooled herself into thinking that the world had improved just because her place in it had improved. And that’s what she meant then that it seems like her last decade has made her so dirty.

Keener, who turned 40 in the year 2000, was still getting plum parts in the new millennium; she was the woman Steve Carrell made do for The 40-year-old Virgin and was nominated for an Oscar like Hoodis Harper Lee. But things started to turn around in 2013 Captain Phillips, a film that fostered the best performance of Tom Hanks’ career but gave Keener a glorified anonymous wife, a role so generic and functional that even she couldn’t make it interesting. In 2017 go out, Jordan Peele perfectly (and cunningly) portrayed her as a wealthy liberal whose outward benevolence could quickly turn cold. (In Please give, she is so full of privileged guilt that she offers leftovers from her restaurant to a black man on the street; it turns out she’s just waiting for her table.) But a sourness has set in with 2018 The Incredibles 2in which she voices a wealthy tech tycoon so consumed with resentment towards superheroes, she is willing to commit mass murder to discredit them.

The Adam projectMaya is an equally embittered spinster. The future Maya, played by the regular Keener, 62, is an imperious ruler with a legion of anonymous warriors under her command, but her domination has not brought her happiness. When he goes back in time to educate his younger side on how to illegally control the company at sixteen, he doesn’t even bother to hide his contempt for the naive 30-year-old who still thinks he can have a career and a life in it. same time. “Where are you going?” Elder Maya taunts, while young Maya tries to get out of their conversation. “See someone? No, you’re not. You’re too busy. The fact is, you always will be. This company is all you’ll have. It’s your personal life. It’s your family. (Needless to say The Adam project it does not present its male characters with the same track. Ryan Reynolds’ future traveler remembers his father scientist as an absent father, but he proved himself wrong: the old man may have worked too hard, but he always had time for a game of fishing.)

The fake Maya looks nothing like the young Catherine Keener, but most of all, she is not Touch like her. There is no crackle of thoughts behind her eyes, nothing to distinguish her from the horde of identically attracted tech wizards that one of her 90s characters would have mocked as they passed the bar on their way to work. (or worse, in the gym). The embodiment of Gen X ambivalence has become a well-equipped successful robot, every wandering thought, every melancholy half-smile swept away by a program designed to produce an illusion of life. She is not an unusual beauty, just an usual one. And as it turns out, a digitally perfected Catherine Keener isn’t Catherine Keener at all.

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