Actors all want to be musicians, musicians all want to be actors, and comedians are usually content to be miserable neurotics. The advantage of working out neurosis on stage is that it can be a great training ground for channeling emotion in front of an audience who aren’t shy about giving you instant feedback. In his autobiography, “Born Standing Up,” Steve Martin expounds on the idea of how his stand-up days helped mold him into the actor, writer, and musician he is today. That got me thinking about other stand-ups who’ve turned out brilliant acting performances, and can claim to be Actors with a capital A.
Before I get into Morgan Spurlock’s doc Super Size Me, I feel I should backtrack a moment to my last review. If you’re following this, I’d previously mentioned a series of reviews focusing on films the Academy was likely to nominate for this year’s Oscar-fest. I’d gone out to the multi-plex to check out The Aviator and Ray. I’d just bought Collateral on DVD. I finally caught Million-Dollar Baby. I knew intrinsically that the old Academy voters would likely overlook the best film of the year, I just wasn’t sure how grossly. The distain I harbor for those myopic voters is palpable. I mean when the best film of the year gets LESS Academy recognition than the schlock that was The Phantom of the Opera and A Series of Unfortunate Events, what does that say for our society as a whole?
[rating=4]Starring: Johnny Depp, Kate Winslet, Julie Christie, Dustin Hoffman
Director(s): Marc Forster
Writer(s): David Magee, based on the play by Allan Knee
Ahh, Los Angeles in January… It is a most glorious time of year when our attentions turn collectively to Awards Season©. It is a time when Variety and The Hollywood Reporter do their best work, serving as mere staples for a throng of “For Your Consideration” studio ads.
[rating=3]Starring: Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Kevin Bacon, Laurence Fishburne, Marcia Gay Harden, Laura Linney
Director(s): Clint Eastwood
Writer(s): Screenplay by Brian Helgeland; Based upon the novel by Dennis Lehane
Deeply nuanced performances breathe reality into the film’s somewhat tried plot devices, and ultimately overshadow a director’s visible manipulation and a studio’s heavy handed marketing to deliver an intensely satisfying film.