Sunday, November 29, 2009

alec, the actor who cried wolf

Every so often, an actor/actress comes along, upon whom one plants a few dreams. These people are more than favorites. They are screening-room buddies whose each film is eagerly, even hotly, anticipated.

These are people we cast in fantasy films. Well, some of us do.

Burt Reynolds and Beau Bridges are two actors from my distant past who meant something to me. Alec Baldwin and Debra Winger are two others - over-the-top talents who, at one time, I envisoned as playing George and Martha in a remake of "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"

Come on, doesn't that sound absolutely terrific?

But Baldwin and Winger shared another quality apart from their sizable acting talents. Both were pretty tempestuous. So my cockeyed dreams for them went unfulfilled as their careers spun out of control.

But Alec - okay, I feel as if I know him - rebounded. His is a comeback that rivals John Travolta's. And he seems to be enjoying himself in his Second Act. Good for him. But for some bizarre reason, he has this penchant for periodically making - how shall I put this? - threats.

It's no secret that, once again, Alec Baldwin has threatened to call it quits.

This is the third time, by my count, and each time he does this, I cringe.

The first time, if you recall, occured nearly a decade ago during the 2000 Primary. Baldwin vowed to leave the country and move to Canada if George W. Bush won the Presidency. Well, George did win.

But Alec didn't leave.

The second time was in April of 2007 when Baldwin left his now-notorious voicemail message for his 11-year-old daughter. He was so mortified when he was cornered by the media - nothing is private today - that he threatened to leave the struggling "30 Rock" at the end of the season.

Well, "30 Rock" hung on and so did ... Alec.

Now, he tells Men's Journal magazine in its latest issue that he will leave acting in 2012. And while making this premature farewell, Baldwin rather gratuituously noted that he considers his movie career to be "a complete failure." I'm sure that statement heartens the people with whom he's worked on such worthwhile projects as "Glengarry Glen Ross," "Beetle Juice," "The Departed," "Miami Blues," "Married to the Mob," "The Cooler," "Lymelife," "Outside Providence" and "Talk Radio."

Alec, relax. Your filmmography is full-bodied and fascinating.

But wait! While Baldwin may actually bail this time, he is currrently all over the place doing different things - something that's unlikely to change.

Let's see... He writes for the Huffington Post ... he's part of the New York Times Arts & Leisure speaker series ... he just signed for a second season as co-host of Turner Classic Movies' The Essentials ... and, of course, he will host the next Oscarcast in tandem with Steve Martin.

Alec Baldwin says he's leaving. But is he really?

Why don't I believe him?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

cinema obscura: Griffin Dunne's "The Accidental Husband" (2008)

Morgan and Thurman in the unreleased "The Accidental Husband," directed by Griffin Dunne.
Uma Thurman's latest film, "Motherhood," directed by Katherine Dieckmann, opened in a few "select" cities recently and then disappeared after a week - an indication that it will travel no further theatrically.

Next stop: DVD.

But at least it was released.

What on earth happend to Thurman's previous film, "The Accidental Husband," from 2008? It was directed by Griffin Dunne and co-stars "Grey's Anatomy's" Jeffrey Dean Morgan before he even made "Watchmen," and the ubiquitous Colin Firth - and Sam Shepard! With a cast like this, why wasn't "The Accidental Husband" ever released?

In it, Thurman plays a popular radio talk show host, emgaged to Firth but already married to Morgan - much to her chagrin. And confusion. See, she doesn't remember even marrying Morgan. So what gives? This sound like the kind of inane romcom that most studios have no problem releasing - at least, not when the inane romcom stars Sandra Bullock.

Apparently, the Morgan character is harboring some "big secret" which, for me, is code that his character is really gay. I'm only guessing here.

Uma's recent movie choices have come in under the radar in terms of box-office, but they've been nothing if not risky and diverse - Susan Stroman's "The Producers" 2005), Ben Younger's Prime" (2005), Ivan Reitman's "My Super Ex-Girlfriend" (2006) and Vadim Perelman's "The Lies Before Her Eyes" (2007). It doesn't help that both "Motherhood" and "The Accidental Husband" have been virtually invisible.

Hey, Give her a break. Let's see the Griffin film already!