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Pacino @ 70, Offscreen, More

The Auteurs Daily

Happy birthday, Al Pacino. He's 70 today, an occasion for a 60 Minutes sit-down with Katie Couric — and a few clips here.

The Observer has a series going in which they ask a prominent filmmaker or actor to briefly discuss the "film that changed my life." This week, Richard Schiff has a few words about Jerry Schatzberg's The Panic in Needle Park (1971). Pacino, he says, "was as much as anyone the reason why I got into this business. His movies in the 70s were just phenomenal and have influenced the way that I work to this day."


Surveying over 30 years of performances in 2003, the New York Times' AO Scott wrote that "the second major phase of his film career stands as a sequel to the first. A little disappointing, perhaps — what sequel, aside from The Godfather Part II, is not? — but nonetheless irresistible to anyone who saw the first installment." From Panic through Brian De Palma's Scarface (1983), Pacino's work "has been enshrined in the pantheon of great acting even as it has entered the bloodstream of the popular culture.... Without Michael Corleone, there would be no Tony Soprano; without Tony Montana, no gangsta rap. Michael Corleone is not only Mr Pacino's greatest role, but also, as the film critic David Thomson suggests in his Biographical Dictionary of Film, 'The great role in modern American movies.' This is because he is one of the very few movie characters to achieve an authentically tragic dimension, as the first two Godfather films chart his simultaneous rise and destruction, and embed them in the transformation of his family by American capitalism."



Between the two parts of The Godfather, there was Serpico, and after them:

Then, of course, came "Say hello to my little friend!" and the "Hoo-ha" years. And far too many moments like this one:

But even then, it wasn't always OTT. From Glengarry Glen Ross (1992):

And finally, here's a clip that can't be embedded: A nearly ten-minute piece on the conversation between Pacino's Lt Vincent Hanna and Robert De Niro's Neil McCauley in Michael Mann's Heat (1995) that includes interviews with Mann and the two players.

Pacino's most recent performance, in You Don't Know Jack: The Life and Deaths of Jack Kevorkian, was broadcast on HBO just last night. For the NYT's Alessandra Stanley, "it is a credit to Mr Pacino that while he burrows deep into the role, he never lets Dr Kevorkian's crackpot charm overtake the character's egomaniacal drive." Salon's Heather Havrilesky finds that "Al Pacino makes us forget every other role he's ever played. Instead of bringing more Pacino to the table than anything else — the macho growling, the eye rolling, the almost poetic line readings, the exaggerated rage — the actor brings low-key eccentric Jack Kevorkian to life. Direct but unassuming, confident but ambivalent about the spotlight, Kevorkian allows Pacino the chance to do something he's only been able to do a few times in his long acting career: disappear."

Birthday greetings in the German-language press: Gerhard Midding (Berliner Zeitung), Barbara Munker (DPA) and Susanne Ostwald (Neue Zürcher Zeitung).



The new issue of Offscreen "casts a glance back at two of the most venerable fiction classics of Québécois cinema, Les Bons debarras, 1980 (essay by Stephen Rife) and Mon oncle Antoine, 1971 (essay by Donato Totaro)." There's also Mike Archibald's report from last year's Vancouver International Film Festival and Edwin Mak arguing that Lee Kang-Sheng's Help Me, Eros "critiques ways economic forces affect, as a process and contaminant, human life within the microcosm of urban Taiwan."

For the NYT, Manohla Dargis recently paid a visit to David Bordwell in Wisconsin, where she found him "indefatigably energetic, fast talking and walking, as he ricocheted from idea to idea, film to film." She looks back, too, to the publication of The Classical Hollywood Cinema: Film Style & Mode of Production to 1960 in 1985: "The book alone certainly didn't reintroduce history back into film studies, but its insistence on the historical conditions that control and shape 'textual processes,' along with the depth and breadth it brought to writing film history, has been profound. The discipline's new emphasis on cinema's past has been rewarding, but it also suggests that film studies has entered a nostalgic, even elegiac stage: many scholars have turned back the clock to write about early and silent cinema at the very moment that others are theorizing about the end of cinema in the digital age."

A Woman is a Woman: The Female POV is a series running from today through Wednesday at Maysles Cinema in New York. For the L Magazine, curator Miriam Bale talks with Alina Marazzi, whose 2007 documentary We Want Roses, Too screens this evening. It tells "the history of feminism in Italy exclusively through diaries, illustrated romance novels, pop songs, home movies and other found footage."

Artists Explore Screen Space: Works by Ryan Trecartin, Peter Campus, Sharon Lockhart, and Joachim Koester is on view at the Power Plant in Toronto through May 24. "Any guesses as to which artist dominates?" asks Jason Anderson at Artforum. "[A]fter some polite (and rewarding) contemplation, a foray into Trecartin's multiverse can feel like assault and battery. Occupying a series of stylized environments that are thematically appropriate to the videos themselves (think: a dorm like the kind used by hopefuls on America's Next Top Model), spectators can spend minutes or hours viewing loops of Trecartin's four-part Re'Search Wait'S series or three-part Trill-ogy Comp."

For SFMOMA's Open Space, Kevin Killian reports on a visit to American Cinema, an exhibition of work by Ryan Coffey and Jason Grabowski at Ever Gold.

Blood of a Poet: The Films of Sam Peckinpah collects four essays by Robert C Cumbow, Richard T Jameson and Kathleen Murphy at Parallax View.

Mike Everleth posts a batch of "Underground Film Links."

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You could get killed…walkin’ your doggy!

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