Still Trying to Get Pacino

August 9th, 2007  |  Published in etc  |  1 Comment

In 2003 I wrote of Al Pacino:

Just finished a viewing of “Heat,” and I’m trying to think of a way to characterize what happened to Al Pacino. “Heat” wasn’t his “last great role” or anything dramatic like that: he was headed downhill after being richly rewarded for AC-TING!! in “Scent of a Woman.” But in “Heat” there’s plenty to remind us of why he was great, and plenty to remind us that his conception of passion increasingly involves behavior I’ve never been exposed to among normal adults.

Today there’s Slate on how Al Pacino got typecast as Al Pacino:

Michael Corleone’s seamless transformation from baby-faced college boy to hollow-eyed, brother-killing Don has been much celebrated, yet the first two Godfather films drew something from Pacino that’s rarely been tapped since: a regal stillness that evokes far more pity and terror than all the mugging and ranting that would later become his stock in trade. Though Michael does become a bit of screamer by Part II, all of his most tectonic scenes are quiet: when he announces his intentions to kill Sollozzo and McCluskey; when he plants the kiss of death on Fredo; when he wordlessly shuts the door on Kay, sealing her cruel exile from her children.

and then this insight:

The victory of shtick over craft is disheartening. It’s important to remember, though, that the man is a populist, whether he’s communing with admirers outside the stage door or directing Looking for Richard, a film obsessed with making Shakespeare accessible to a mass audience. In Babbleonia, Pacino recounts seeing a performance of Paradise Now at the Brooklyn Academy of Music as a life-changing experience: “The audience became the theater; they were the event, they were the play.” This observation may be instructive: If, for Pacino, the audience is the thing, and the audience wants Cartoon Al, then Cartoon Al they shall have. (Oscar voters certainly did.)

Responses

  1. dot unplanned » “Fracture” Endumbened Me Further says:

    August 27th, 2007 at 12:39 am (#)

    […] Hopkins is one of the main reasons the movie will go down as one of the most abysmally stupid movies made in the last ten years. If it didn’t “wallow” in B-movie territory already, that’s because wallowing requires recognition on the part of the wallower … “Fracture” doesn’t even have that going for it. Confronted with a broken script and a tired premise the production team decided to go for broke and play on their debauched audience’s identification of Anthony Hopkins with Hannibal Lecter. Hopkins slurped no fava beans with a nice kee-AN-tee, but that’s less a mark of his mastery of this role and more a sign that the production team figured it could bank on prospective viewers getting the premise through their thick skulls with a little nudge from central gimmick casting. See also: “Still Trying to Get Pacino“ […]

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