The Bicentennial Production Design - Can we just give a standing ovation to the 1976 Academy for giving the award to a contemporary movie? They had a Western, a period drama about the theatre...
Thursday, November 10, 2011
Let's be honest about this, when we all saw the trailer for Jack and Jill, it wasn't just the content that left us running for the nearest bin in disgust. It was something far, far worse. The trailer featured perhaps one of the greatest hits to those of us who admire and adore cinema of the last thirty years. It featured what very well may be the end of Al Pacino's career.
Hear me out on this. The last general consensus good film Pacino did was Ocean's 13, and even there he was playing more of a novelty than an actor. Not to mention that he bookend that film with the much maligned 88 Minutes on one end, and the double down disaster that was Righteous Kill on the other end. But even as you go back, the 2000s haven't been all that kind to Pacino, and he seems unable to get out of it.
The made for TV miniseries Angels in America might be a high point for him, but he was trapped in a pitfall that involved a tentpole film for nobody in particular, S1m0ne. A tentpole film for Colin Farrell that never really made him a star in The Recruit. And a film whose very mention brings tears to the eyes of human beings everywhere in Gigli.
Going back just a little bit further and you can find some light at the end of the tunnel with Pacino starring in Christopher Nolan's 2002 film Insomia. Not a great film by any stretch but it features possibly the most recent solid film performance he's turned in, in a long while. Though before that you're walking through the land of divisive with Any Given Sunday, The Devil's Advocate, and The Insider. None of which are particularly good, and he plays pretty much a variation of the same character in each one (I know there's a heavy debate to be had that he does so for all his films, but still....).
To really find quality, appreciable films, from Pacino you have to go back to the mid '90s and take a journey through he one two punch of Heat and Donnie Brasco. From there backwards, you've at least got plenty of good to help shuffle the bad under the carpet.
These days Pacino isn't quite so lucky, and his film selection seems to imply that he either no longer cares or no longer gets offered good films. I hate seeing great actors - and I would argue he is a great actor no matter what some dissenters say - trapped in a sea of awful. Pacino's Heat and Godfather Part II costar Robert DeNiro could arguably be lumped into this same category. Except I fear Pacino is in a far worse boat. His entire career has been built on 'alright' films being compounded by great ones. These days he is swimming upstream just to get near alright.
I don't want to say farewell to Pacino's longstanding career just yet, but I'm starting to think it would be in the best interest of all if he curtailed his output some, and waited to find just the right role. Lest he one day find himself looking back fondly at the time he was asked to play himself in an Adam Sandler movie. Let's just hope that never happens.