The Flick Leading Lady Nicole Rodenburg Has the Best Stories About the Films That Rocked Her World
January 4th, 2016
by Nicole Rodenburg
Nicole Rodenburg makes a killer off-Broadway debut as the leading lady of the Pulitzer Prize-winning drama The Flick. Rodenburg stars as Rose, the cool projectionist at the local Massachusetts movie theatre who unknowingly finds herself at the center of love triangle with two other employees. Below she closes out our Flick film series discussing the five films that seriously rocked her world.
The Wizard of Oz
Why I Chose It: I have seen this movie more times than years I’ve been alive. It’s also wonderfully made and makes me feel good whenever I watch it.
Year I Discovered It: Like Avery, this was the first movie I ever saw. I have no idea when I first saw it, so as far as I’m concerned I’ve never not seen The Wizard of Oz.
Ultimate Scene: When Dorothy enters Technicolor Oz. My father told me that most people who went to see The Wizard of Oz in theaters when it was released had never seen a color movie before; so every time I watched it as a kid, I would put myself into the shoes of a color-movie deprived 1939 moviegoer and imagine what that must have been like.
Why I Chose It: It was the first movie I truly obsessed over. I would bring boys I liked over to my house to watch it, hoping to impress them with how cool I was while also hoping that they wouldn’t notice that I didn’t actually understand anything that was happening. (hahahahahahah x infinity).
Year I Discovered It: I was sixteen. It was summer, and I was in those first teenage moments when my inner antennae started finding and seeking the people, places, and things that would help me become the person that I am. I knew in my gut that it was something that loved, and not being able to articulate why was an exciting and scary feeling. The fact that I linked that feeling with inviting boys into my basement is not surprising in retrospect, but the fact that I’m the kind of person that would choose this movie as a seduction tool is why it’s also not surprising that I didn’t have my first kiss until college. SILENCIO!
Ultimate Scene: The reveal of the Bum. It’s still the most terrifying moment I have ever experienced while watching a film.
Jules and Jim
Why I Chose It: I took a class in college called “The History of the B Movie” which is the first place I heard the word auteur, and was my first introduction to French New Wave. This movie is so ballsy, and so so so Truffaut's own, and was the first time my mind began to separate the difference between being “good” as an artist—which was always my main concern-was I good enough?—versus being an artist with agency, concerned with how to execute what I to execute.
Year I Discovered It: Sophomore year of college.
Ultimate Scene: This movie is a master class is ultimate scenes, but I’m going to choose the moment when Catherine jumps into the river in protest.
Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore
Why I Chose It: Ellen Burstyn is one of my personal heroes. I read her memoir Lessons in Becoming Myself right as I was graduating from college, and it’s so brave and honest and she spoke about her life in a way that no one ever had to me—and all of that is on display in this brave and honest and tender film about a housewife and her young son trying to make a new life—a story that could easily be dismissed as a “woman’s” story, but the fact that it was directed by Francis Ford Coppola gave it a weight at the time that I don’t know if people would’ve given it otherwise.
Year I Discovered It: I was my first winter out of college and I was living in Chicago. The financial collapse had happened, I had busted my ass for months trying to get a job— any job! —and was cocktailing at a bar that just opened, slinging drinks to rich dude bros as I flirted for tips and wore two bras so my boobs (and tips) would be bigger, getting seen at auditions was proving next to impossible, and finally my relationship spiraled and collapsed, and I found myself freezing and alone in a city that I never intended to be in in the first place. One sad night, I watched this movie. I sobbed while watching, drinking some of the first red wine I had ever bought myself, but Ellen Burstyn was so remarkable and—I really do think this happens sometimes when you watch really good actors—she was so good and inspiring that I think a little bit of it rubbed off on me via osmosis, and two days later I booked the part that would get me my union card, my first agents, and ultimately bring me to NYC, which was where I always wanted to be. So thanks Ellen Burstyn for making me good enough in the moment where it counted the most!
Ultimate Scene: I’m going to choose the scene where Alice stands up for herself against David and says that she wants to be singer, and that going forward, anything in her life is going to include that. David doesn’t really believe in her and asks her how good she is and she replies, “I’m as good as I am. That’s how good I am!” which was a life changing line of dialogue for me. After years of being afraid of being found wanting, but not afraid enough to stop acting, that phrase was (and is) incredibly centering for me.
Why I Chose It: Brian Miskell (who plays Skylar) and I both wanted to choose this movie, but he left it for me, so I was pre-committed. However, this is my favorite film of the past few years. Joaquin Phoenix is incredible in it and I want Scarlett Johansson’s purr of a voice, and the art direction in this film is absolutely incredible. It’s all my favorite things: heartfelt, funny, experimental storytelling with an existential aftertaste. Alan Watts is recreated! It’s asking the big questions about what it is to be human in the world and what it is to connect and love. Love it.
Year I Discovered It: I saw it in theaters (2014?) when it first came out with a man I had been dating at the time, and we were both so moved by it that we committed ourselves to a relationship that night. Which I guess would be romantic if it ended there, but like the relationship in the movie, it turned into a relationship sustained by projections placed upon each other and I find it ironically funny in retrospect that even the cautionary aspects of the film didn’t alert us to what we were doing in the moment. That experience just made me admire this movie more.
Ultimate Scene: I just love the scene where Samantha breaks up with Theodore. It’s so still and so well acted and poetically written and shot. But second place is Kristen Wigg’s cameo screaming “Choke me with that dead cat!” during phone sex.
It's your last chance to see Nicole Rodenburg in The Flick at the Barrow Street Theatre, through January 10 only.