Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Astonishing actors

Every once in awhile I discover an actor so astonishingly good I have to, well, write about them. These are people whose one performance so blew me away I now want to see them in anything, anything at all……For example, this past weekend I caught Simon Pegg in How to Lose Friends and Alienate People, Robert B. Weide’s 2008 adaptation of the Toby Young book about life at Vanity Fair magazine. It’s a farce and a farce only the way the Brits can do it. Our hero is Sidney Young (Pegg), a cock-up on an individual trying to make his way in the wide world of irreverent investigative – or should that be, yellow – journalism. Simon is hired by a big New York publisher (Jeff Bridges as Clayton Harding) because of his spellbinding work on London’s gossipy Post Modern Review. But he’s gross, says all the wrong things, and, well, alienates people. But we know before long he’s the sanest person in the place and whose integrity abounds. For all that, the movie is a bit stiff, the sets aren’t the most convincing, and I often thought I was watching The Devil Wears Prada (2006, David Frankel) But, man oh man, Pegg is a standout. His comic timing is fantastic and he injects just that right amount of slapstick enfant terrible-ness to keep you watching this two-foot train wreck. (Picture shows Simon with aspiring starlet Sophie Maes (Megan Fox)).....Another discovery was Yvan Attal, whom I caught a few months ago in his very own 2001 My Wife is an Actress, a delightful comedy about one man’s obsession with his wife, Charlotte (played by his real life partner Charlotte Gainsbourg)’s fame. Attal’s Yvan (based apparently on true events in the couple’s life) is a neurotic TV sports journalist whose depth of consternation and insecurity can’t fail to make you guffaw. His performance also had elements of Truffaut wunderkind Jean-Pierre LĂ©aud, and who can’t like that?

DFT closed…..For those who were wondering, the venerable Detroit Film Theatre is closed for the summer for, believe it or not, renovations. Didn’t the DFT undergo an extensive renovation over the past decade that introduced elegant – and comfortable! – new seats and which enhanced its original 1920s interior? True. But the “air handling and lighting” systems hadn’t been changed, and that’s what’s taking place this summer. The DFT reopens October 10.

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