Monday, February 02, 2009

Paying A Film Visit

Paying A Film Visit

Want to know what one of my greatest entertain-ment pleasures is aside from seeing live theatre?

It's seeing some of the stage's greatest talents on the silver screen. Every now and then, a film comes along that surprises with the number of decidedly un-Hollywood actors in them.

In 2007, for example, it was the Steve Carell comedy/drama "Dan In Real Life" that surprised with an exciting cross-section of today's top talents known primarily for their work treading the boards, including Norbert Leo Butz, Alison Pill and Matthew Morrison, alongside several actors who have successfully straddled the seemingly widening gulf between stage and screen: John Mahoney, Dianne Wiest, Amy Ryan and Juliette Binoche. Not incidentally, the Rhode Island-based flick also features such names from live theatre as Frank Wood and Jessica Hecht.

Yesterday, in an effort to catch up on some of the most talked about flicks from 2008, I finally saw the tender little New York City-based gem called "The Visitor," for which Richard Jenkins has earned an Academy Award nomination. What an absolute delight to see cameos from the likes of Marian Seldes as a bluntly honest piano teacher, Michael Cumpsty as Jenkins' university colleague and Richard Kind as an exuberant next door neighbor.

The moving film itself is an examination of an unexpected friendship that develops between a less-than-hardworking college professor and Muslim émigrés over a shared loved of music. Broadway itself also makes a surprising cameo as one of the characters expresses a desire to see The Phantom Of The Opera -- placing that 21 year old tuner in the most touching light I've seen it in years.

I've often lamented the fact that more American films don't feature more of the great stars of the Great White Way. But thankfully, every now and again, the stage actors and actresses we've come to love have their chance to shine for the whole world to see. "The Visitor" certainly provides one of those rare opportunities.

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

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At 02 February, 2009, Blogger Esther said...

I'm so glad you enjoyed The Visitor. I thought it was an exquisite little gem, too. It shows a side of life in New York that you don't see on screen too often. It explored the lives of immigrants and this unlikely friendship in such an absorbing way. And it has a Rhode Island connection - Richard Jenkins is a former artistic director at Trinity Rep. I agree, the way they used Phantom was so touching. Plus, it was such a great surprise to see Marian Seldes in a cameo!

Btw, the opening scene of Dan in Real Life, in the coffee shop, was filmed very close to where I live!

At 02 February, 2009, Blogger SarahB said...

Even though I see very very very few current movies, I loved loved loved this movie.

At 07 February, 2009, Blogger Dale said...

It was a wonderful film and wonderful to see Richard Jenkins in anything.


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