Talking Movies

February 15, 2012

Fassbendering Bravely Onwards

Take a good look at the picture below.

This is Brendan Gleeson and Michael Fassbender laughing at the HBO party after the Golden Globes. There is an even better picture, which I aggravatingly can’t track down as a jpg, in which Fassbender and Gleeson are cracking up so badly that you can barely see Fassbender’s eyes.

This is what losing looks like…

God only knows what they would have done had they both won their Best Actor categories at the Golden Globes. I suspect something like this.

I’d been wondering, indeed worrying, if Fassbender’s increasingly serious roles (in Shame and A Dangerous Method) since I last wrote about the concept would mean an end to Fassbendering, but an interview with David Cronenberg has given me renewed hope that the nonsense will remain no matter how many nominations accumulate.

Interviewed by Maclean’s Cronenberg said, “I felt that Michael’s innate sexiness would work with Keira, and his sense of humour and playfulness would work with Viggo on the set. Even with an intellectual character, his approach is visceral. He jokingly likes to say the only research he did was read ‘The Idiot’s Guide to Carl Jung.’ He reminds me of Errol Flynn. He has that same gently swashbuckling, charming tone.” Laughing, Cronenberg, adds: “He’s just so perky, it drives you crazy. One day I found him standing out in the sun in his costume and makeup, with this big smile. I said, ‘Michael, why are you smiling like that?’ He said, ‘I don’t know . . . life.’ I said, ‘It’s so irritating that you’re happy all the time.’ ”

Fassbendering it seems may disappear from the movies, although hopefully not all of them, but we can be reassured that it will never disappear from movie sets!

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June 16, 2010

Mark Pellegrino gets ambitious

INT.HOLLYWOOD OFFICE-DAY
DELANEY, an agent to the stars, well, minor actors, sits at his desk lovingly watering his potted plant while MARK PELLEGRINO, seated opposite him, complains…

PELLEGRINO: I just…it feels like I’m stuck in a rut, you know.
DELANEY: A rut? Don’t I get you roles in good stuff? Didn’t Capote win Oscars? Doesn’t Dexter win Golden Globes?
PELLEGRINO: Yeah, and I’m glad to be in good stuff but…I’m getting typed. What was I playing in Capote? The second-string killer from In Cold Blood. What was I playing in Dexter? Rita’s strung-out abusive ex-husband. I don’t want to become the go-to guy for down the bill vicious rednecks. I’d even shave if that would help…
DELANEY: Is this an ego thing? You want to be a regular now?
PELLEGRINO: No, it’s not a credits thing. I just want something, bigger, you know.
DELANEY: Bigger?
PELLEGRINO: Yeah, (mimes with his hands) BIGGER.
DELANEY: So, okay, bigger, okay, so you want something like Jake La Motta, something where you can bulk up like De Niro for the part? Be bigger-
PELLEGRINO: No, not physically bigger you idiot.
DELANEY: -Because I could still get you an audition for the Blob in Wolverine if you want to go full-on method to get attention.
PELLEGRINO: No, no! Not… (pause) Why do I keep paying you?
DELANEY: Some deranged sense of loyalty?
PELLEGRINO: (sighs) I don’t want to gain weight you moron, try to understand me. When I say bigger I really mean, loftier, you know. Some role where I don’t have to explain what my part was, and then have people go ‘oh’, and think ‘vicious redneck, I can see that’. I want a character whose name speaks for itself. I don’t mean get me Macbeth-
DELANEY: What’s Macbeth?
PELLEGRINO: (pretends he didn’t hear that) I just mean get me something that’s a bit classier than the seedy thugs I’ve been playing with distinction and sensitivity.
DELANEY: So, still a small supporting role, not a regular, but lofty.
PELLEGRINO: Lofty, you know.
DELANEY: Lofty, yeah, I getcha.
PELLEGRINO: So, do you think you can get me something lofty?
DELANEY: Sure, no problem.
PELLEGRINO: Good, good. Thanks Delaney.
(Exit Pellegrino)
(Delaney waits a few beats, dives into his desk, and emerges with a dictionary)
DELANEY: ‘Lofty’…

INT. HOLLYWOOD OFFICE-DAY
DELANEY sits at his desk lovingly watering his potted plant while MARK PELLEGRINO, seated opposite him, looks expectantly at him…

TITLE: 2 MONTHS LATER…

DELANEY: They’re so lofty they’re practically- (hits speakerphone switch) Janine what was that word again.
JANINE: (O/S) Non-corporeal.
DELANEY: They’re so lofty they’re practically non-corporeal.
PELLEGRINO: Well what are ‘they’?
DELANEY: Well I’ve got you a part in Supernatural.
PELLEGRINO: That’s the one with the two guys?
DELANEY: Yeah, the two pretty boys who drive around the country looking outrageously pretty while killing monsters with a surprising amount of gore for a network show so that it appeals to every demographic!
PELLEGRINO: Okay, that doesn’t sound over lofty though, what’s my part?
DELANEY: Lucifer.
PELLEGRINO: Oh cool! There’s name recognition for ya! No need to explain that part to people. Good going Delaney.
DELANEY: I thank you. I also got you another recurring role in another show.
PELLEGRINO: What show?
DELANEY: LOST.
PELLEGRINO: No freaking way!
DELANEY: Yes freaking away.
PELLEGRINO: Awesome! I get to ‘work’ in Hawaii. What’s the part? Is it lofty?
DELANEY: Oh it’s very lofty, you’ll be playing Jakob.
PELLEGRINO: Who’s Jakob?
DELANEY: He’s so lofty he’s non-corporeal. He’s, sort of, God, on the island.
PELLEGRINO: He’s God?
DELANEY: Yes. No.
PELLEGRINO: Well which is it? Yes or No? Because that would make just a teensy bit of difference to how I play the part…
DELANEY: He’s, well… Look they explained it down the phone and they weren’t particularly clear about it but just play it as probably being God, okay?
PELLEGRINO: Probably?! (pause) Okay, I can explain to people that Jakob is God and then go ‘I also played the Devil – Range!’ When do these two roles shoot?
DELANEY: Next few months.
PELLEGRINO: What, both? I’m doing them simultaneously?
DELANEY: Yes, that’s what I agreed to.
PELLEGRINO: Oh Christ, that’s going to get confusing. You’ve got me playing God and the Devil in two shows at the same time!
DELANEY: Well it shouldn’t be hard to remember which is which. If it’s hot as hell,
PELLEGRINO: Yeah?
DELANEY: Then you’re playing God.
PELLEGRINO: (beat) Not helping dude.
JANINE: (O/S) Did you want something else sir, because I’m still on speaker…
PELLEGRINO: (head in hands) About a million post-its with, ‘Please tell Mark which Ultimate Being he’s meant to be today’, please Janine.

November 27, 2009

Glorious 39

I’m in something of a quandary about Glorious 39, a rare cinema outing by acclaimed writer/director Stephen Poliakoff who specialises in making literate thoughtful dramas for the BBC. When I interviewed Bill Nighy in February he was bubbling with enthusiasm for working with Poliakoff again, having won a Golden Globe for his lead role in the sublime 2005 TV film Gideon’s Daughter. Sadly Glorious 39 has all the recognisable Poliakoff concerns but inexplicably falls apart in exploring them.

In the present day the elderly Walter (Christopher Lee) narrates to his young cousin the events of the glorious summer of 1939 when the world stood on the brink of war – a prospect with which the private dramas of the Keyes family, in which Walter played a minor part, seemed intertwined. Romola Garai, who sparkled in the lead role in the BBC’s recent adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma, stars as Anna the eldest but adopted daughter of Bill Nighy’s aristocratic Tory MP Sir Alexander Keyes. Nighy is rather good as a compassionate man whose experiences in WWI have so unfitted him for dealing with another war that he tries to retreat into the private realm to dote on his children. Jeremy Northam is startlingly good as the sinister MI5 agent who dogs this retreat from Westminster while David Tennant has a nice cameo as a Scottish MP who makes a passionate attack on the policy of appeasement at a Keyes garden party. Anna (Garai) has little time for all this, being more concerned with her budding film career and boyfriend in the Foreign Office (Charlie Cox). However she discovers recordings of secret meetings revealing an MI5 plot to murderously suppress any opposition to Neville Chamberlain’s policy of Appeasement and is thrown into a dangerous world of espionage and intimate betrayal.

Glorious 39 starts as a thoughtful drama but unexpectedly develops Hitchockian paranoia. Poliakoff’s trademark concerns with memory, family, the moving image, and the impact of the past on the present are all present and correct and Glorious 39 is wonderfully atmospheric. All the performances are very good enabling Poliakoff to deliver some shocks with devastating emotional impact amidst a string of unsettling suspense set-pieces including a kidnapped child. Ultimately though the film degenerates into sub-Hitchockian pastiche, undermined by the knowledge that whatever action Anna takes is irrelevant to war being declared or Churchill becoming PM, as this film will not have a Tarantinoesque disregard for historical fact. Poliakoff thus switches genres to introduce a Victorian madwoman in the attic horror story before contriving a deeply odd ‘meaningful’ ending.

A character study that made us empathise with decent individuals promoting Appeasement for good reasons, even though they are on the wrong side of history, by re-inscribing their uncertainty about what the future held would be prime Poliakoff. Sadly Poliakoff eschews this route meaning that this misfiring thriller should have stayed on the small-screen.

2/5

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