Tag Archives: Meryl Streep

I Knew It Was You

I don’t get HBO.

I mean, I get HBO – great concept – but I’m not a subscriber. I did, years ago, when I got everything, but as the cable company bill kept skyrocketing little by little things dropped off, until I was down to the skeletal, but still expensive, basic package. At the time I wasn’t missing much, since the home viewing market had transcended from VHS to DVD and the quality of the televisions got better. So by the time HBO started to really craft its signature programs like The Sopranos, I was so weaned off of pay cable that I still resisted. Only the advent of DVD recorders and the new market for TV on DVD box sets saved me, but shows like The Sopranos and The Wire were meant to be watched in six-hour gulps. I never would have survived the week in-between episodes.

I certainly can afford HBO now, but for some strange reason, I just haven’t bothered. Maybe it’s because basic cable channels like FX, AMC and USA have followed their lead and stolen their thunder? But the consequence is the same. Occasionally I still miss good programming, and I’ve conditioned myself to wait for the inevitable DVD, which likely will have bonus features and other amenities that would make it more than worthwhile.

And that’s my long-winded story about how I came across I Knew It Was You, the documentary about the great 70’s actor John Cazale. The title, of course, refers to the classic scene in The Godfather Part II between Al Pacino’s character and Cazale’s damaged brother Fredo. Of all the great moments in the first two films – and there were many – the last scenes between Michael and Fredo are the most haunting.

Pacino played Michael tight-lipped, private, superior. Cazale was palpable, he oozed defeat.

Cazale was only in five films, but every one was nominated for Best Picture; three of them took home the prize. He shared the screen with legends Robert Duvall and Marlon Brando as well as a Who’s Who of his generation in Pacino, Gene Hackman, Robert DeNiro, Meryl Streep and James Caan. He was never the lead, but The Conversation and The Deer Hunter and Dog Day Afternoon and both Godfathers would have been weaker without his presence.

I was captivated by the subject and by the film, but it had two major drawbacks. I didn’t really learn much about John Cazale, as the narration and the interviews basically echoed each other – an actor’s actor, found the heart of his characters, made his fellow actors better, always played true to the moment. I already knew that, having seen all of his films numerous times. Still, it was enjoyable to watch his co-stars as well as other craftsmen like Philip Seymour Hoffman, Sam Rockwell and Steve Buscemi vouch for his impact as well as his directors Sidney Lumet and Francis Ford Coppola.

The other shortcoming – literally – was the forty minute length.  Again, I was honed in on every minute, so the quality was there. But even if they couldn’t have acquired rights to longer clips of the films, certainly there were more actors who could have been involved, or reflections from major critics who analyzed his work. As stated, I didn’t see this on HBO, but since there are no commercials other than their own promos…they couldn’t even hit an hour?

There are bonus features including extended interviews with Pacino and director Israel Horowitz (Cazale acted in several of his theatrical productions) as well as a commentary and two short film projects from the 60’s, so it’s not as if this DVD isn’t a good value. Despite my comments above, I’m thrilled to own it and will watch it again. But I guess when all is said and done, what I really wanted was more John Cazale…and maybe that’s the whole point of this portrait.

He was the perfect actor; he had no public persona that would  cloud your impression of the character he put on the screen. As good an actor as George Clooney or Morgan Freeman or Clint Eastwood are, when they first appear in a film, a little voice in your head says “there he is“. But when John Cazale entered a scene, you saw Fredo or Sal or Stan. John disappeared.

Cazale died in 1978 at the age of 42. For his friends and colleagues, there is a wealth of great personal experience and memories. For me, who never met him, there are but five timeless films…and now, this tribute.

No fish today, Fredo.

John Cazale Wiki page

Cazale on IMDB.

Oscilloscope Films

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Golden Globes: Four Words

Well, compared to last year, I was a little more on target. Still there were some surprises along with the close races that just tipped the other way. After John Lithgow and Michael C. Hall won, I figured Dexter was a shoo-in for Best Drama, but you can’t stop Mad Men with a bullet. And as the nominees were read, I was reminded again how many serious omissions there were.

And I’ve really had my fill of talk about the “greatest crew” and the “best job” and “loving to come to work every day” to “a true collaborative effort”. At least do what Chloe Sevigny did and name some names (she thanked one of her PAs for running lines with her every day). But there’s something about seeing Mike Tyson on stage in a tuxedo being celebrated for his role in the highest-grossing comedy film of all time that puts things into perspective.

So I think a lot of my post-Golden Globes impressions can be summed up in four words

Not enough Ricky Gervais. He had some great moments, whether tossing zingers at upcoming presenters or pimping his own DVDs, but it seemed like there were often ten or fifteen minute gaps between appearances. Maybe it just seemed that long because (as usual) actors reading scripted gags from cue cards are painful to watch, especially when they’ve been downing champagne at a furious pace. But it probably didn’t matter that he didn’t get more podium time because…

They didn’t get him. “Looking at all the faces here reminds me of some of the great work that’s been done this year – by cosmetic surgeons.”…”I’ve had a penis reduction. Just got the one now. And it is very tiny. But so are my hands. So when I’m holding it, it looks pretty big. I wish I was doing that now instead of this, to be honest.”…(After visibly drinking beer from a pint glass hidden in the podium) “I like a drink as much as the next man. Unless the next man is Mel Gibson.”…comedy gold! But when the cameras panned to the crowd they were either enveloped in conversation or staring blankly. Too hip for the room, but thankfully not for those watching the broadcast.

The Dude finally abides. Jeff Bridges finally won on his fourth nomination, and between his appearance and attitude and his reminiscing about his father (Lloyd Bridges) and family, I would not have been surprised if he asked where his carpet was.

Jane Lynch got screwed. No disrespect to Chloe Sevigny, but this award should have had Jane Lynch‘s name on it. Her bitch-in-a-track-suit character from Glee is far from a one-note performance, as we got to see in episodes that exposed her family life and dating woes. Glee did upset 30 Rock for Best Comedy, however. (“This is for anybody and everybody who got a wedgie in high school” quipped director Ryan Murphy).

Meryl Streep is funny. “I want to change my name to T-Bone. T-Bone Streep!” Priceless.

Drew Barrymore was acting. So one minute she’s sitting at her table, giggling with friends, looking as comfy as can be. Then the red light comes on and she’s blubbering about growing up in Hollywood and dancing really close to the cliff of Sally Field’syou really like me” implosion. Yawn. Take a cue from Robert Downey Jr. next time and do something unique.

Mo’Nique nailed it. Great, emotional speech and a sincere call-out to victims of abuse to have the courage to come forward and heal. I don’t know why I thought the HFPA wouldn’t get such a dark performance, because every award ceremony seems to be honoring it. But if the night had a lump-in-throat moment, it was hers.

Martin Scorcese is awesome. What a fascinating man, and a true champion of film preservation. His batting average as a director is astounding, and he’s been blessed to have actors like Robert DeNiro, Harvey Keitel and Leonardo DiCaprio as collaborators and lead actors. Even DeNiro‘s odd comic riff about Scorcese having sex with film canisters couldn’t tarnish the accomplishments of a true giant in the industry.

Sir Paul is cool. “I’m Paul McCartney, or as I’m known, that guy from Rock Band“. Great line about animation being for “adults who take drugs“, but oddly not a peep out of the crowd when he dropped that blatant hint about a resurrected Yellow Submarine project.

NBC ducked a bullet. Outside of a couple of barbs from Julianne Margulies (“thanks to Les Moonves for believing in a 10:00 drama”) and Gervais (joking that NBC would replace him with Jay Leno during the show), the Tonight Show fustercluck was hardly mentioned. I heard there were comments on the red carpet part of the program, but I don’t do red carpets.

And most importantly I should never wager. Sure, I picked three of the four NFL playoff games (and would have won all four had San Diego’s kicker not gone Norwood on them) but betting on film awards is a good place to clean out your wallet. Six out of ten isn’t bad, but nothing to brag about. (Wrong picks in red.)

Best Picture (Drama): Avatar (The Hurt Locker)
Best Picture (Musical or Comedy): The Hangover (It’s Complicated)
Best Director: James Cameron, Avatar
Best Actor (Drama): Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart (George Clooney)
Best Actress (Drama): Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side
Best Actor (Musical or Comedy): Robert Downey, Jr., Sherlock Holmes
Best Actress (Musical or Comedy): Meryl Streep, Julie & Julia
Best Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds
Best Supporting Actress: Mo’Nique, Precious (Vera Farmiga) 
Best Screenplay: Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner, Up in the Air

But I’ll be doing this again at Oscar time, of course. It’s only Internet money, right?

Golden Globe nominees and winners.

Critic’s Choice Movie Awards also announced this weekend.

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Up The Academy

Okay, I admit it – I’m an Oscar geek.

I have long given up on the Grammys, where the same music can be nominated as “Song of the Year” one year and “Record of the Year” the next. Hello, people…calendar?

And the Golden Globes are basically a hundred or so fawning writers eager to schmooze with celebrities, 98% of which will never set foot in their respective countries. Don’t blame them for taking advantage of their opportunistic position, but really…does that opinion extrapolate?

And the city critic groups – New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston and a handful of others vying for supremacy – well, that’s just a local segment of the National Critics…right?

Boy Oscar, my Oscar…right or wrong you are the pinnacle of self-congratulation, the don’t-we-love-each-other hugfest that separates the elite from the great unwashed. It’s where speeches launch (or save) careers, where catch-phrases tag an actor forever (“you like me…you really like me!”), and where for some reason who you wear is important.

But seriously, it’s where movie legacies are finalized. And frankly, where Las Vegas really ramps up the odds. So here are my “should win” and “will win” for some of the major categories, and if you followed my Golden Globes predictions, you’ll keep your wallet in your pants.

No Joke

Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. We are tonight's entertainment!

 

Best Film: What, no Dark Knight? Fanboys, rage…rage against the light!

Should Win:  Milk, which blended flashbacks, voice overs, stock footage into the film seasmlessly.

Will Win:  Slumdog Millionaire, whose train is running too fast to stop.

click here to continue reading the full article…

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