No wonder Kidman was upset. I have bolded the most hilarious bit. If anything, maybe this will make people take his book on Welles less seriously. Here's the NY Times review:
By David Thomson.
Illustrated. 284 pp. Alfred A. Knopf. $24.95.
By LAWRENCE LEVI
Published: September 17, 2006
In his previous book, “The Whole Equation: A History of Hollywood,” David Thomson devoted an entire chapter to Nicole Kidman. “In searching commentary on films,” he wrote, “there needs to be some way of accommodating the fondness, the rapture, the attraction (there are other words) the writer feels for an actress.” Fondness? Attraction? What Thomson has is a full-blown obsession, and it has erupted into his latest book, “Nicole Kidman.” Ostensibly a critical biography, it comes off as a weird and unseemly mash note.
“I should own up straightaway that, yes, I like Nicole Kidman very much,” he says at the start. “I suspect she is as fragrant as spring, as ripe as summer, as sad as autumn and as coldly possessed as winter.” He loves her “hide-and-seek eyes,” her “pampered, cherished face” and “that elegant Australian body,” which “has sometimes shone like a lighthouse in sex scenes.” He says, “That’s why I’m writing this book, I think, to honor desire.” But don’t get the wrong idea; he respects her, too. She’s “the bravest, the most adventurous and the most varied” actress of her time.
When he’s not gushing, Thomson strives to show how Kidman used her talent and carefully modulated sexuality to climb to stardom, and how she has grappled with fame. But much of what he says is speculative, digressive or maddeningly obvious. “Just as I take the breakup with Cruise as the liberating and altering experience in Kidman’s life,” he writes, “so we have to see that Tom was changed, too.” Thomson is preoccupied with Kidman’s losing her looks and her status as she approaches 40, and assumes she’s worried, too: “I dare say she wakes up some nights screaming because she felt it was about to happen. (Not that I can be there to witness it — or stop imagining it.)”
His obsession clouds his thinking. He seems offended, even hurt, that Kidman would stoop so low as to do a commercial for Chanel No. 5 or go seminude in an Italian GQ spread when she was already an Oscar winner. He clucks disapprovingly about her choice of lovers; they don’t “seem especially substantial or rewarding,” possibly because “she meets only famous or half-famous people.” He imagines the non-obsessed will want to hear his bizarre fantasies about casting Kidman in remakes of Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rebecca” and François Truffaut’s “Mississippi Mermaid,” or his dream — recounted over three excruciating pages — about stumbling across his beloved in a Paris brothel. (She’s wearing “a very revealing white brassiere, a size or two too small,” as she cavorts with a Gestapo officer and an “elderly Chinaman.”)
Buried within these pages are a handful of keen observations worthy of a critic who has written perceptively about movies for decades. Thomson has clever insights into the virtues of “To Die For” and the flaws of “Eyes Wide Shut,” and argues that as an actress Kidman was transformed by her unrestrained role in “Moulin Rouge.” Discussing “The Hours,” he says of Kidman’s eyes, “That is where the performance lives, in a gaze that has abandoned every hint of the seductive, the sexy or the rather amusing delight in being Nicole.” That’s easily the book’s smartest line. But if you flip instead to the Kidman entry in Thomson’s supremely entertaining “New Biographical Dictionary of Film,” you’ll find a snappy summation of her career — just a few hundred words long, and devoid of references to her “very cute, knockout body” — that’s more rewarding than nearly anything in this inane book.
Lawrence Levi, co-author (with David Kamp) of “The Film Snob’s Dictionary,” is on the staff of the editorial page at The Times.