By David Poland email@example.com
Seattle Day II
It’s so beautiful in Seattle that no one seems to be able to talk much about anything else.
That is, except for Anthony Hopkins, who we chatted with tonight for almost 2 hours before a screening of Remains of The Day as part of his tribute here. He couldn’t have been a more gracious or forthcoming guest. And where else will you get a world-class James Ivory imitation, Ismail Merchant to boot, and acting insights from Hepburn to Gielgud to Alec Baldwin, who shut down production on The Edge in order to get Hopkins to the hospital as Hopkins tried to soldier on. Sir Tony even has the distinction of having developed a relationship with Bart The Bear over two films. (He tells a great story about one take when Bart didn’t get his treat after doing his bit… and how he could see Bart’s face turn from domesticated animal to wild bear in a flash.)
Because of the Hopkins schedule, I have only had a chance to see his Slipstream at a theater last night and a number of films on DVD. Unfortunately, a couple of the docs I’ve seen have been minor versions of previous docs, like Rock School and King of Kong (which is here) and Darkon. I also viewed a rather wacky, but not-sticky-enough-for-me (not literally) Korean teen sex comedy called Dasepo Naughty Girls that was almost a grrrlpower episode of The Monkees… but not quite that good… at least for me…
The first film I watched was The Life of Reilly, which was a videoed version of Charles Nelson Reilly’s one-man touring show. Obviously, losing him this last week made the urge to watch all the greater. And he was funny and tough and insightful and even understated. I wish the filmmakers had been a little less concerned with trying to make it look like more than it was, shooting a great deal of the film from the backstage, which meant seeing too much of the back of a man whose expressive face was all an audience might ask for. But when he underplays moments, like being told by the head of casting at NBC in the 50s that “They don’t put queers on TV,” and somehow not being disturbed by that verbal aggression, there is enormous power.
The new wave of documentary… what really is being changed by the availability of cheap, good quality cameras… is about cataloging every little thing. And some day, the way we surf the web now, we will surf video history. If you want to learn about actors, you will catch a little of The Life of Reilly and a little of Special Thanks To Roy London, and so on.
And after a couple of hours of great stories tonight, I would feel it was really a shame if we didn’t get Sir Anthony Hopkins to sit down for 4 or 5 hours just to tell his stories. He tells them with love and with humor and self-deprecation. But mostly, he carries in his mind a big part of the history of film. He’s worked with so many of the great directors. He’s been on top and he’s been slogging along. But how many people can give you a first hand opinion about the work of Coppola and Spielberg and Cimino and Stone and Lynch and Attenborough and Ivory and Parker and R. Scott and Demme and Lester and Wise and Schlesinger and Zemeckis, whose Beowulf he is in this fall. And that’s just scratching the surface.
And come tomorrow… I’ll be able to just go to the movies and enjoy the spirit (and sun) of Seattle. Yay.