Tuesday, January 27, 2015

THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING

Well after watching THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING, I can see why Eddie Redmayne, who plays Stephen Hawking, is the favorite to win the Best Actor Oscar, and has already won other Best Actor awards. He brings Hawking to life in a way that seems so solidly real you forget you're watching an actor transform himself and feel like you're watching Hawking himself. Brilliant performance.

But hopefully not lost in the warranted accolades for Redmayne's performance is the actress who plays his wife, Felicity Jones, whose performance is so nuanced and subtle it might be overshadowed but shouldn't be. It's an amazingly compelling performance, and the aging alone is impressive to watch considering so little of it is done with makeup but rather with attitude.

I wasn't expecting a domestic drama, but these actors make it work, along with the rest of the typically competent Brit cast. Well worth seeing.

STORM OF THE CENTURY, UM, YEAR, UH, WEEK

Just another January snowstorm it turned out. But because it seemed it might be worse, a lot of friends didn't have to go to school or work today, so a little mini winter vacation was had by all. Not a bad outcome. And, as always, better safe than sorry.

[PS: Friends in the Boston area and on the cape got slammed with what NYC was supposed to get, so here's to a quick recovery from the storm damage for all of Eastern Mass. and much of New England...]

Sunday, January 25, 2015

THE SAG AWARDS

I'm not going to comment on all the SAG awards that were won tonight, but just wanted to note that two of my favorite performances were recognized: Patricia Arquette for best supporting actress in a movie for BOYHOOD and J.K. Simmons for best supporting actor in a movie for WHIPLASH. Well deserved and who I voted for.

And their acceptance speeches were good too, especially Simmons's, which stated the obvious but you don't hear said much, which is that any production that uses actors, whether in movies, on TV or on stage, the success of the endeavor requires that every actor, even one with only one line, has to bring it for the whole piece to work.

I used to say having the kinds of small roles I did for years in films and on TV was challenging because it's like Picasso paints a canvas except for one little piece of the corner of the canvas which you are then asked to finish. It ain't as easy as just making your own painting.

Anyway, the rest of the awards were relatively predictable (I suppose some would say Arguette's and Simmons's wins were too, but they were both first timers I think, at least in that category and a few months ago neither were very high on the expected winners list) and I was happy enough for the recipients. Though BIRDMAN winning for best cast of a movie seemed a little bit of a stretch for me, as much as I liked that film and the performances.

BOYHOOD's performances were more demanding (picking up the thread once a year for a few weeks for twelve feckin years, come on, that's challenging) and all the best movies had amazing ensemble work. But I won't argue with any of the awards, I'm just happy that Arquette and Simmons won. If you haven't seen their performances, please as soon as you get the chance check out BOYHOOD and WHIPLASH.

SOME GOOD ONES



Saturday, January 24, 2015

SIMON PETTET'S AS A BEE

If you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you've seen Simon Pettet mentioned. He's an old friend and one of my favorite poets and he has a new book of poems out from Talisman House called AS A BEE.

As always with Simon's poetry, a lot of what makes his poems so evocative and provocative is what he leaves out. He's a minimalist lyric poet with a contemporary twist on what initially seems to be irony but turns out to be sincerity in a more subtle form.

Not easy to do, and not everyone can do it, and no one does it quite like Simon. Here's an example from AS A BEE:

"SEMPERVIRENS

I climb inside the Old Woman
and peak through the eye

I trace circles on the bark
on the varnished slice
that's so proudly on display

I look up hundreds of feet
into the sky
into the canopy
of branches
where other whisperers
and other trees are growing"

When he reads his poetry to audiences, Simon often will recite one of his poems twice, the second time—slightly different in rhythm and tone—will always bring out subtleties not noticed before. I would advise anyone reading this book to do the same. Read each poem twice and see if it doesn't begin to resonate in a new way the second time.

Simon's poems demand a kind of surrender to their seeming simplicity in order to become aware of the deeper complexities he's addressing or expressing. That's my take anyway. Here's another:

"A VOW

Each portion
of perfect beauty
is accurately noted,
deftly remarked upon
and
not at all dismissed.

Clap hands mouth cliches
When did you stop loving me?
I never stopped loving you
How could you possibly say such terrible things?
I don't. You do.

You do, sweetie, you do."

Friday, January 23, 2015

FROM THE HOLLYWOOD YEARS

The only time I rode a horse, on the set of Deadwood where I actually spent two weeks mostly on that sweet horse including night shots with me holding a flag and unable to see clearly without my glasses and galloping into town shots, most of which were left on the cutting room floor, but I thank the wrangler who picked the horse for me and gave me a quick lesson on how to go forward and backwards and left and right, the horse treated me right and I was grateful...