No matter where I turn, Helen Mirren keeps popping up in my daily conversations. I am doing my best to resist this fresh wave of Mirren Fever – I thought this time around I might have built up some immunity, having succumbed to an earlier strain in 1995, while sick with an actual fever and accompanied by marathons of Prime Suspect.
But over the years, my Mirren fever has tended to recur, presenting symptoms like “OMG, I cannot breathe without Helen Mirren!!!” and compelling me to suffer through awful fare like the utterly scandalous and unwatchable Caligula, the decidedly less polarizing, but still equally unwatchable 2010: The Year We Make Contact and truly bizarre 1981 cult classic Excalibur.
This time around I was determined not to get sucked into the vortex of Helen. I would respect her as an actor and I would watch her films with a cool, critical eye. I would not squeal every time someone mentioned her works and only screen her “important” films. When it comes to deconstructing cinema, a feminist film critic must be dignified, yet passionate and cultivate an air of amused detachment.
But the profile in last week’s New York Magazine and the whiff of Oscar bait rising from Love Ranch – her latest collaboration with husband Taylor Hackford (whom she met while filming White Nights) – have convinced me that resistance is futile. I have to admit I squealed like a toddler while watching the trailer for Red – the action comedy flick slated for release in October – which features Mirren looking quite bad ass as a maching gun wielding “retired” CIA assassin.
Judging from the trailer, Red – which boasts an impressive cast: Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Mary Louise Parker and Morgan Freeman – looks to be my kind of action flick. The inspired use of Aerosmith’s Back in the Saddle certainly ups the excitement quotient for me as well. Too bad Hollywood opted not to release this film during the summer where it would have enjoyed tremendous success, but at least someone, somewhere has heard (and answered) my feverish prayers!