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Archive for the ‘Rubén Blades’ Category

Dead Man Out

11 May

Dead Man Out – directed by Richard Pearce. HBO Drama. 87 minutes Black And White 1988.
★★★★★
The Story: A psychiatrist, tasked with restoring a death-row inmate to legal sanity, finds himself entangled with the soul of the man he treats.
~
Where has Rubèn Blades been all my life?

I assumed an actor this dangerously brilliant must be dead, but I see he has a going career in television series, and I am glad for him and all his kin. I had read his name but assumed it was Spanish and pronounced Bladès. He is Panamanian by extraction, but his last name is English, Blades. As you already probably know.

This praise for him must be couched in another praise, which is that his performance takes place in a very great TV play. Great in the sense that The Ajax is great, or that Coriolanus is great or The Outcast Of The Islands. Which is to say that it deals with a human dilemma so massive it steals the power of conception from the viewer. No solution can be imagined for it for either protagonist.

Blades is a crazy-behaving prisoner, and he must be treated back to normalcy. Danny Glover is his treater. Glover is a lovely actor all his life and perfectly suited to the part because of his big open features behind which anything might be felt. Glover is 42 when he does this, which is just at that perfect age before middle-age, when the inner life is only partly settled. As he persists with the treatment, it is borne in on him that the man he is treating is far more intelligent than he is, far more daring, more eloquent, with far more at stake.

As that man, Blades is 41, and so he must be, for the character is ripe in the ways of the world and of prison. Blades plays him full out. Nothing is omitted and because nothing is omitted we credit him with full humanity, full intelligence, full ability to perceive and know and speak. You root for Blades’ character at his worst and best. He is humanity as seldom revealed, so you have no option but to invest. Blades gives him all you ever knew about life.

The film exists on VHS, where I saw it, but also on DVD, neither expensive. Every collection of great film acting must contain it.

You deserve the best

Find it.

See it.

 
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Posted in ACTING STYLE: AMERICAN REALISTIC, Danny Glover, PRISON DRAMA, Rubén Blades

 

The Devil’s Own

05 Feb

The Devil’s Own — Directed by Alan J. Pakula. Thriller. A young man on a revenge mission boards with the family of a cop, who has to choose between his friendship with the lad and his hatred of what the lad stands for. 111 minutes Color 1997.

★★★★

I don’t know if Harrison Ford ever knew how to act, but he certainly has forgotten how by the time he plays this character. He “acts” by “playing stern”. He does this by scowling and drawing down the sides of his lips and staring. That is to say, he makes faces. Too bad, because the result is that his vis à vis, given nothing to play with, takes every trick. The vis à vis in this case is the brilliant Brad Pitt, an actor whose every response seems right. As opposed to Ford whose every response seems righteous. We are presented thereby not with Ford’s character being tortured by his own perfection and the lack of it in others, but by an actor who never questions the foundation of and impossibility of such a rock-faced contrast. Harrison Ford has no way through his own fixed method, and no suggestion of one. We are faced with thickness. Brad Pitt, however, is all wit, susceptibility, openness, and so he makes the most unlikely situations plausible, although in this he is certainly helped by the editor. After all, it is a story with guns going off and no one getting hit. So with no one for Pitt to play against the film lies flat, save when we see him. We side with him wholly and throughout, which is not what we are supposed to do. At first it seemed that the film was set in Ireland, since the opening has everyone speaking the tongue; it was only with forced effort that I understood it to be taking place in Brooklyn. Pitt is running guns to Ireland and is lodged in Harrison Ford’s home. When Ford finds out what he is up to, oh dear! Because of Ford’s acting choice, the wrap-up goes for naught. The supporting people, particularly Treat Williams as the gun middleman, are excellent, and, this being Pakula, the production values are first rate. See it for Pitt – always worth our appreciation in lower-class roles.

 
 
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