Friday, February 27, 2015
It seems incredible that Leonard Nimoy is dead. Despite his age and recent ill-health he is one of those select few among actors who is utterly ubiquitous in the popular memory thanks to millions upon millions of "Star Trek" re-runs on UHF stations back in the 1970's. He was right up there with Adam West, Burt Ward, Lynda Carter or even Billy Mumy faithfully & reliably there every weekday at 4pm or so. He was so inexorably imprinted on my memory in That Role, that I can recall being shocked to see him in other parts smiling most naturally....all very UnVulcan-like. He was in the end, an actor who after some discontented pushback decided to embrace the Mister Spock typecasting and Make It Bleed Money. It also rare for an actor to revive an iconic part forged in relatively youthful days and add new depths to the character sans the slide into self parody. For a performer who had a long journeyman's pedigree in episodic television, Nimoy was clearly the most "methody" of the original Star Trek Cast...this stood him in good stead when it came time to feign mind melding with foam rubber or perhaps strumming a futuristic lyre all with a perfectly composed Mug. But then I've always had a profound respect for actors like Leonard Nimoy who made the typecasting work for them, the Boris Karloffs' and Betty Whites'of this world, their phone rings and rings right up until the end every time. And to think by all accounts his father (a barber in Mattapan so I read) wanted Nimoy to take up the accordian thinking he'd never lack for work as a performer....
Saturday, February 21, 2015
(More like....Oscar Prejudices quite Frankly) Best Picture Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) – Alejandro González Iñárritu, John Lesher and James W. Skotchdopole "Birdman" was for better or worse the only film nominated that spoke to me as a fifty year old man....I wish it well. Best Actor: Michael Keaton – Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) Deserves it, suffered for it, will likely never be in the room again. Although the rumor is a sizable collection of English Academy Members united behind Eddie Redmayne he might just pull off a coup at the last minute, otherwise Cooper, Cumberbatch & Carell are all out of position. Best Actress: Reese Witherspoon – Wild (as Cheryl Strayed) This is why I call them prejudices, Reese will be skunked by Julianne Moore, but I wanna stay to true to my whims. Best Supporting Actor: J. K. Simmons – Whiplash (as Terence Fletcher) Again suffered for it, deserves it, did the work for it...Norton might make it a tight race although in a perfect universe Ruffalo would be right in there at the last minute as well. Best Supporting Actress Laura Dern – Wild (as Barbara "Bobbi" Grey) Again a prejudice, Dern has labored a long time in the vineyard, likely she won't win (I'm guessing Arquette will grab it off fuh real, Streep been too many times to the Oscars an the rest are Able Fledglings...) As for "Best Director" that is too many prejudices for me to pick....:) Anderson would be Poetic Justice, Iñárritu would be Restorative Justice...and Linklater a cunning Plea Bargain by a slick small town lawyer played by Pat Buttram. So figure Linklater....:)
Saturday, February 14, 2015
I wanted to like "Whiplash" a lot, really I did, and before I go any further I wish to laud all the performances, Miles Teller, J.K. Simmons (who deserves the Oscar nomination in every way) even down to Melissa Benoist in the thankless role of the hapless girlfriend. They all done good believe me. But... I had one of those revelatory movie experiences halfway through, the thought more or less slammed into me, to the effect "J.K. Simmons is torturing poor Miles Teller to make him into a kind of Suffering Jazz Drummer Messiah...All so the poor schnook can tour the USA playing thirty one seat venues in front of an aging and shrinking audience that simply hasn't figured out how to steal his music on line for free". If Simmons REALLY wanted to torture the kid he should have made it clear that his youthful passion for Jazz will inevitably into a quaint time consuming second job that will literally drain the joy from his life. And with that, the Movie Imploded Completely. It was supremely well acted, but the premise was almost hilariously flawed from the git-go. And anyway what is our cultural obsession with torment as the only path to excellence? The Ancient Greeks held that happiness was a function of the full use of one's powers along lines of excellence, here in the USA we have come to believe that excellence is impossible without a long tortured apprenticeship full of physical and psychological agony. Thats why these "drill instructor" characters (J.K. Simmons, R. Lee Ermey etc etc) never get second guessed in almost any drama or comedy...ever notice that? Its a sign of insecurity....just sayin'.