Monday, December 22, 2014

Tagging Al Pacino in
"The Humbling"

by Ilene Proctor

eeting Al Pacino should be on everyone’s bucket list. He’s one of the mensch wonders of the world. Al, he of the dog day very lived-in face, the calm inky black eyes, and such a telling way with an anecdote that even Oscar Wilde would rise up in envy. When Pacino talks, everyone stops texting. 
Pacino plays an aging actor who finds it hard to distinguish the stage from his real life in one of the best films in the 74-year old actor’s career The Humbling. Pacino recalls his own humbling personal memories of facing one of an actors' worst nightmares. Botching Shakespeare when he sometimes found himself quoting lines from another Shakespeare play. “The audience doesn’t understand a thing you’re saying anymore, and neither do you. But you find yourself recovering and quickly fast tracking back to the original Shakespeare play as if nothing happened. Gee. Yeah. ”
He described the movie as a dark comedy or a tragicomedy or a tragedy with a whole lot of comedy. The Humbling, is based on Philip Roth's last novel, depicting the life and work of noted actor Simon Axler (Pacino). There's something about the movie that's both unforgiving and forgiving at the same

time. The opening sequence quickly sets the theme for the whole movie. Ungraying his grizzled beard, Simon (Pacino) is reciting Shakespeare to his mirror image

who talks back to him with observations about his personal life. When the director calls out “three minutes to curtain call” Simon rushes to the stage, gets lost and locks himself out of the theatre. When he frantically bangs on the door to be let in, the stage manager has no idea who he is and refuses him entrance. In a short time, the audience realizes this is a dream. But it is another one of an actor’s worst nightmares.
Pacino calls Philip Roth his favorite author— he's thinking about an actor losing his talent. Well, that is not quite what an actor goes through. Both Buck Henry and Barry Levinson and I got together a few times, talked. I think what we came up with, the spin being humorous, there's some fun here. There is so much of "King Lear" in this movie, but the classic line, for me, from "Lear," is when he rages, "I am a man more sinned against than sinning," and you see Simon as a man more sinning than sinned against. The screening was hosted by Sharon Waxman’s The Wrap at the Landmark theatre in Los Angeles . The audience, a whole cabbage patch of intelligent industry insiders, not overdosed on Botox and bling. was deeply appreciative and gave Pacino a three minute standing ovation.

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