Monday, December 03, 2007


"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.


Greg said...

Faces are great things. I have all those sidebar pictures I do because I like to scroll down sometimes and just look at them. My two top pics on the sidebar right now are Sophia Loren and Mai Zetterling (an amazing photo and face, she was the grandmother in Witches).

And Toby Jones - I remember thinking if they hadn't just given an Oscar to someone for playing Truman Capote he would have been a shoo-in for nomination. The performance is good enough but what's really amazing is how much he truly (not sort of like Hoffman) but truly really absolutely looked and sounded like Capote. Amazing.

Oh and don't get rid of that Forrest Gump poster. You just may need it again next year. Or maybe Dances with Wolves.

Anonymous said...

Kelly MacDonald is absolutely adorable. Good Lord, I love her. In fact, I...well, never mind.

I like James Marsden, too. I don't LIKE like him, but as a fan of the "X-Men" comics growing up I thought he did a fine job as Cyclops, and was ticked at every movie for giving him and the character the shaft. And I also really liked him in the vastly underrated "Superman Returns".

John Carroll Lynch was superb in "Zodiac", which, as it stands now, is my second favorite film of the year, next to "No Country for Old Men" (which you really need to write about, Dennis. Out of desperation, I've been going to other movie blogs where it's a hot topic of discussion, but no one will listen to my brilliant insights. I think they're just afraid of me because I'm so super-smart). I've never been sure how much I really like Lynch overall, but he certainly delivered the goods in that film. The interrogation scene is a small masterpiece (everyone is excellent in that scene, though).

And, finally, I can't wait for that Rickles film to hit DVD. I love that guy.

Greg said...

Of course they're afraid of you, they're a bunch of hockeypucks. I know I fear you.

Peter Nellhaus said...

The Double Indemnity team in 3-D? The mind boggles!

Brian Doan said...

Great post. I quite like Mandy Moore in American Dreamz where she nails her role as a Kelly Clarkson clone with a heart of steel-- she's sweet and charming, and utterly scheming, like a lost Preston Sturges character.

Bill, glad you also liked Superman Returns-- I agree that it's "vastly underrated," and Marsden does a good job fleshing out a thankless role.

Anonymous said...

Boy, I assumed if anyone was going to respond to my "Superman Returns" comment, it would be to say that I was both stupid and bad. How nice to be proven wrong.

It just felt to me like Singer got the character, the way Raimi gets Spider-Man. I hope Singer and crew get to make more of those movies, and I hope they keep the cast intact (especially Routh). Everyone else can be as disappointed in "Superman Returns" as they'd like, but I was thrilled.

Oh, and Jonathan, regarding Toby Jones: I was flipping through a magazine back when "Capote" and "Infamous" were both filming, and I found a picture of a young Capote lounging in his garden. I probably thought, "Man, he was a weird-looking dude" or something equally insightful. Then I read the caption and realized it was Toby Jones on the set. I was pretty floored.

Peter Nellhaus said...

By the way, check out the name of the character played by Fred MacMurray in The Moonlighter. Too bad the film is unavailable on any home format.

Greg said...

Maybe it's available in Darjeeling.

Anonymous said...

I know I'm tired, but there seems to be some subtext in some of these comments which I cannot understand. Ah well--what I really want to say is, thanks for the wonderful faces and comments! I've long had a thing for Kelly MacDonald, too, not to mention the thing I've had for Julie Christie since I was about 7. And yeah, James Marsden: who knew?!

zmjezhd said...

I'm curious. What parts did Jesse White play for Jay Ward?

Ryland Walker Knight said...

Agreed. One's face is the screen that always plays back the movie that is our metabolization of life, that is our lives. It's clear Lauren Bacall and Shirley Maclaine and Al Pacino a ton of other young beauties all partied just a little too hard, you know? Toby Jones is great. My favorite moment of Marcia Gay Harden's performance in _The Mist_ has to be her posture sitting in that lawn chair, holding a sweaty bottle of milk, sneering the line, "Stealing food now, are we?" Emma Stone... that Apatow guy sure knows what he's doing when it comes to fulfilling wishes. And Julie Christie, maybe one of the all time great beauties. Still need to see that picture.

(Oh yeah: _Superman Returns_ is dope.)

Dennis Cozzalio said...

zmjezhd: You got me! I was transposing the June Foray-Jesse White-Stan Freberg into Rocky and Bullwinkle, but according to IMDb Jesse White never did any voices for that show. This should teach me to blog from addled memory. He did appear on a show I remember from my childhood called Linus the Lion-hearted, but that was not a Jay Ward production. Good call!

Peter: There's a 3-D festival that plays here occasionally, and I'm sure The Moonlighter must have been part of it. I surely wish I hadn't missed it! Jesus! Barbara Stanwyck bolting out of the screen? It's a crime this isn't on DVD!

Ryland (and all): Yeah, I don't really understand where the bad feeling for Superman Returns comes from. Other than Kate Bosworth, who I just don't find very interesting, as Lois Lane or in much of anything else, I think this is about as good a comic book epic as has been made. I realize it has a rep with the moneychangers as somewhat of a disappointment box-office wise, but really, I could care less about that.

Also, I highly recommend Away from Her, not only for Christie, but for the commanding dignity and struggle so well explicated by Gordon Pinsent as her suffering husband, who cannot bear to see his wife losing her memory of him while she begins to fall in love with another man in the nursing home. For Altman fans, the movie also provides a reunion of sorts-- the man in the home is played by Michael Murphy, who co-starred with Christie in McCabe and Mrs. Miller, and who was introduced to her during her brief cameo as herself in Nashville.

Blaaagh: Just try not to fall for Emma Stone when you see Superbad!

Bob Westal said...

Who knew Marge Gunderson's reliable hubby was also quite possibly the Zodiac? I certainly never made the connection. These actor people and their actory changing all over and stuff. Very confusing....

And another liker of "Superman Returns" here, though it does have some brief dead spots. Still, it's funny the way people talk about that movie as if no one liked it. It did very respectably both at the box office and the Tomatometer. For my part, I GREATLY prefer it to all the X-Men films. (I saw it twice -- once in regular and once in Imax 3-D. Worked both times.)

Which leads to Marsters. Boy, has he been a surprise. I'd forgotten about his nice little bit in SR, but he was pretty much blew my mind in a comical/musical sort of way in "Hairspray" and was almost as good in "Enchanted," which I just happened to catch.

And, "American Dreamz" -- I'm not saying it's a great movie, but it's one of the best failures of recent years. Great, great cast, definitely including Ms. Moore. I mean, I'd actually recommend it to people as good entertainment, it's just that it doesn't really do what it set out to, which I think is why it laid such an egg. That, and concept of a sweet-natured would-be terrorist. This year, maybe, last year, no.

Anonymous said...

Well, this is the largest number of "Superman Returns" fans I've seen assembled in one place.

Let's try another one: Who else here likes Ang Lee's "Hulk"?

Greg said...

I think Ron Ely's Doc Savage is one of the great film characterizations. It rivals even the great Cathy Lee Crosby's Wonder Woman. But nothing, NOTHING, can touch Ted Schwartz's Spiderman. Okay, but the big question is: Who was the better of the two Shazams on tv - Jackson Bostwick or John Davey? It's a tough choice but I'm going with Bostwick.

P.S. Linda Carter's Wonder Woman filled my dreams.

Bob Westal said...

Why does everyone think Captain Marvel's name is "Shazam"? The great C.C. Beck cries in his grave.

And there were two of them?

Greg said...

Who's Captain Marvel? Oh, okay, I know the name but to me this is Captain Marvel -
Marvel Captain Marvel
and this is Shazam (both of 'em) -
DC Captain Marvel

Hey, maybe Bill's last name is Batson and we have a hero in our midst?

Bob Westal said...

You win. (Mainly because I don't feel like typing out the HTML to link to images of C.C. Beck's Captain Marvel, who was actually at Fawcett Comics, but the characters were later purchased by DC...and boy am I ever a dweeb.)

Greg said...

and boy am I ever a dweeb

I'll remind you I actually knew there were two CM's on Shazam and actually watched those tv shows and movies I mentioned with feverish delight when I was a kid. So I wouldn't be too hard on yourself. Besides, everybody knows Bill is the king of the dweebs. You and I are just princes waiting for him to abdicate his throne.

bill said...

First, everybody avoids my question about Ang Lee's "Hulk". Then Jonathan calls me a dweeb. You all can go to hell!

Greg said...

Oh Bill, you know I'm just joking with you. You're not the King of the Dweebs. You're the Duke of New York. You're "A" Number One.

Greg said...

And I liked the drama of "Hulk" a lot more than the action. The action annoyed me (as it did in the Spiderman movies) because none of the movement seemed realistic. It was very cartoonish next to the character build-up. But I like the first act of the movie.

bill said...

I know that "Duke of New York", etc., reference but I can't pull it from my memory. I feel like I need to turn in my Super Movie Fan badge. Is it "Emporer of the North Pole"?

Anyway, I have some problemd with some of the action in "Hulk", but the sequence that begins in the desert and ends in San Francisco is, I think, truly breathtaking.

Greg said...

Just imagine Donald Pleasance with a machine gun and Isaac Hayes standing in front of a car with chandeliers on it.

bill said...

Oh, crap, okay. But, you know, I've never actually seen that movie all the way through, even though I like Carpenter. And I STILL know what you're talking about! That's the power of Donald Pleasance, I suppose.

Anonymous said...

I just looked at this again, having seen INFAMOUS, with Toby Jones's terrific performance, the other night, and it makes me want to see what else he can do (first, I have to find a way to get out and see THE MIST, which by now I'll be lucky to find playing anywhere in Eugene...).