"I think your whole life shows in your face and you should be proud of that."
- Lauren Bacall
"A man finds room in the few square inches of his face for the traits of all his ancestors; for the expression of all his history, and his wants."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
The expression of that history, along with the hope of youth, is the only unifying concept on display here for this ninth collection of Faces I Love. And I suppose that, other than the obvious classifications based on gender, these are the themes that always run through these collections. It's what keeps me turning away from the typical faces on display on every grocery counter tabloid-- not much fascination there-- and toward the ones that tell the story of interesting lives lived, or of potential, or of pain, or ones that hint at the depths of the soul. It's interesting that the last edition of this little photo gallery came almost a year ago, just before Christmas. It's not surprising that I look at displaying these "Faces" posts in the spirit of gift-giving, because when I see these faces myself I feel like I've received one.
Don Rickles The first live celebrity show of any kind that I ever saw was Don Rickles at Harrah's in Reno when I was about 15. Legend has it that my best friend's parents took us to see the show for no other reason that my friend's dad liked to hear me laugh. Well, hear it he did. Rickles, who was already a favorite, became untouchable that night and has remained so over the ensuing 32 years. The new documentary Mr. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project debuted on HBO this past weekend and should be available on DVD soon.
Marcia Gay Harden Currently on view in The Mist, she plays local religious fanatic Mrs. Carmody, who preys upon the fears of townsfolk holed up in a supermarket who are besieged by unknown, possibly apocalyptic terrors. Harden's characterization goes far beyond the usual purview of cartoonish religiosity. Mrs. Carmody's fanaticism is located where her powers of persuasion intersect with her desire to hold a captive audience, to be listened to instead of sneered at. The actress buries the character's insecurities underneath a slightly eroticized layer of gathering confidence in her own prophecies of doom. It's a brilliant performance.
James Marsden Who knew Cyclops could sing? One of the great joys of seeing Hairspray this summer was the revelation of James Marsden as the toothy, angular, hilarious song-and-dance man Corny Collins. Marsden has thankfully now been forever freed from his association with the endless tide of anonymous WB-generation studs. Word has it he is equally Charming as that prince in Enchanted. I never thought I'd say it, but I can't wait to see him again.
Kelly MacDonald I first saw her, as many did, in Trainspotting, but I fell for Kelly MacDonald in Gosford Park, where she served as the "main" character, the human embodiment of Robert Altman's roving eyes and ears. Parts in Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story, Intermission, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and her Emmy-winning turn in The Girl in the Cafe have led to her current appearance as Carla Jean in No Country for Old Men. During breaks in being transfixed by her performance alongside Josh Brolin, just try to recall the native Scottish burr hiding under that authentic Texas drawl...
John Carroll Lynch The first time I was aware of Lynch was in the indefensibly enjoyable Volcano, where he appeared as an arrogant city engineer who gets swallowed up by some very unlikely lava. He's a hard-working actor who has had dozens of roles since then, and despite recurring roles on Carnivale and The Drew Carey Show most probably know him as Norm, Marge Gunderson’s supportive, sleep-deprived, fast-food-bearing husband Norm in Fargo. Unless you saw David Fincher's Zodiac earlier this year. His performance as Arthur Leigh Allan, the man who likely terrorized the Bay Area for years as the Zodiac killer, is insinuatingly, perversely, almost imperceptibly undercut by his apparent normalcy. He seems like every arrogant too-smart-for-his-job co-worker we've ever known, and hey, they might be killers too. His work here may eclipse even Javier Bardem's as the embodiment of unknowable evil.
Emma Stone I'm with Jonah Hill-- as a fetishized fantasy embodiment of what every high school guy wants in a smart, relatable girl, who wouldn't be moved to make a total ass of himself in Emma Stone's honor? Luckily for everyone else, she's got the sass, spirit and aplomb that shows us what she's got going on inside even if we're not as starry eyed over her as was the portly half of the Superbad team.
Torii Hunter Okay, so he's not gonna be a Dodger. He's an Angel now. But now I can go in person to see him snatch uncatchble balls from over the center wall, balls that had "home run" stamped on them from the crack of the bat, and toss 'em into the crowd grinning as the batter stomps back to the dugout. That face would've looked better in Dodger Blue, but even so, he's the first player the Angels have had since Darin Erstad, another balls-out center fielder, who has made me want to make the trek down to the Big A.
Julie Christie It's not the ravaging of Julie Christie's legendary beauty in Sarah Polley's assured, somewhat astonishing and thankfully unsentimental drama Away from Her that gets you-- by any standard, Julie Christie, at age 66, is still undeniably, classically lovely. No, the actress makes you remember that beauty and translate it into what you always thought of as her innate intelligence and spirit. And when the character in Polley's film begins to recede into the shadows of Alzheimer's Disease, the viewer translates a lifelong knowledge of the luminous spirit of Julie Christie to that character, making her loss even more palpable and wrenching.
Mandy Moore Okay, she's cute. I'm superficial. Okay? I was grateful for Southland Tales for no other reason than it gave me a chance to see her on screen-- to be sure, no wild animal of any sort could have dragged me to License to Wed or Because I Said So. But I do think she's got a quality of accessibility that other lovely pop star/actresses of her generation don't-- there's a genuineness about her that suggests fingerprints of a real person all over the surfaces of the kinds of pre-fab roles she's been seen in to this point. Thankfully, roles in movies like Southland Tales and Justin Theroux's Dedication suggest she may be ready for a welcome change of direction.
Jesse White He may be the Maytag man to you, but to me and my generation he's also one of the great character and voice-over actors of all time. What would Jay Ward have done without him? Or Stan Freberg? And he may have a face made for radio, as the slur goes, but even so it was a face the likes of which we don't see much of anymore. I miss a TV and film landscape that doesn't occasionally display with pride a craggy rock formation like Jesse White every once in a while.
Mary Roach She's written two of my favorite books of recent years, Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human cadavers and Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife, perceptive, respectful, irreverent and downright hilarious inquiries into places most journalists care not to go. But she does so with such wit and an honest desire to know that I was not surprised she would have a face to match that kind of literary voice. Mary Roach looks like someone I'd enjoy spending time with in a coffee shop, seriously discussing, and laughing and getting grossed out over the history of cadavers in medical advancement. Happily, that's how she reads too.
Toby Jones Nobody in the U.S. knew what Toby Jones looked like before that second Capote movie, Infamous, came out last year. Some may have heard him-- he voices an homonculoid character in those Jerry Porter movies the kids are so wild about. But he's basically known from British TV, stage and film, though his profile may soon be raised by his turn as Swifty Lazar in the upcoming Frost/Nixon. Right now, however, he's on screen in The Mist as the voice of reason, Ollie, a grocery clerk of no great importance who becomes such a stabilizing force than I was grateful and relieved every time he came into frame. Jones holds the camera like a great actor, with force and assurance, no small feat when surrounded by the people audiences have to choose from in The Mist. He's worthy of our gaze.
Monday, December 03, 2007
"I think your whole life shows in your face and you should be proud of that."