Who is your favourite actor?
This is a question we have all been asked and probably struggled to answer.
It is an impossible question perhaps and particularly so for me, since it requires me to choose between two of my sons who are currently treading the boards.
It is also a question that can easily be reframed to – what are your favourite movies – and who are the actors lucky enough to have starred in them?
And of course our preference varies with age, time, mood…
In my youth, Michael J Fox was unassailable for being Marty McFly in Back to the Future. Then later for his great work in the unsung sit-com, Spin City; his performance even more winning when we later learned of his illness which was well underway during its filming.
Speaking of illnesses and the bearing they have on us – I suspect that many people might now plump for Chadwick Boseman, following his incredibly sad death. No one has any right to judge the actions and decisions of someone with a terminal illness. The ultimate news we all dread. But I think it is noteworthy how Chadwick Boseman dealt with his terrible hand. Had we known of his condition, the outpouring of sympathy and love afforded him must have been tempting. Stellar notices and gongs no doubt, which might have helped salve the pain his doctors were struggling against. But like David Bowie, choosing to keep his illness private was perhaps the hardest option and for me, marks him out as a remarkable individual alone without even what he achieved in his too short life.
Back in the day, Richard Gere was a prominent contender of mine: An Officer and a Gentleman, Primal Fear, Pretty Woman and Internal Affairs.
Denzel Washingston might be on many people’s minds right now. An actor so famous and popular that commentators refer to him by just his Christian name alone. Training Day, Man on Fire, Philadelphia, The Equalizer…
Tom Hanks is another likely heavyweight and who would argue with: Toy Story, The Green Mile, Saving Private Ryan, Sully, Castaway, Philadelphia…
During lockdown, many people have sought refuge in movies, me included and after last night’s viewing, a new actor currently occupies my top spot – an actor who has often caught me unawares and has quietly crept up on me…
Ladies and gentleman, I proudly present to you…
Shia La Beouf.
By starring in Holes alone, Mr La Beouf has already done a lot of heavy lifting for me as it ranks as one of my all-time favourite films. As a writer, I am in awe of the Louis Sachar’s fiendishly clever and perfect story. It is funny, layered, moral, decent and fantastically well concluded. Watch it and immediately feel better about the world. What an achievement this is. The film adaptation has a brilliant ensemble cast including Eartha Kitt, Jon Voigt and Sigourney Weaver and another of my childhood heroes, Henry Winkler and all ably spearheaded by a gawky looking newcomer with the unusual name.
What chances of him lasting in a business as competitive as Hollywood, I wondered?
Then came the war epic, Fury.
I tend not to seek out war movies but only happened upon Fury because of the director and his previous film, End of Watch. Fury is not for the faint hearted. It is a visceral watch and lays bare my ignorance of history and the sacrifices and bravery that were required of our forebears. All the cast are terrific in what is an arresting and chastening film.
And now for the clincher, a film I watched recently on Nikki’s firm recommendation…
I give you The Peanut Butter Falcon – an unlikely buddy film starring Zack Gottsagen and Shia LaBeouf and the enchanting Dakota Johnson.
It is such a beautiful film and a shining example of simple storytelling.
Often today, complexity is the order of the day with high concept films where meaning is often subjective and plots can be impossible to follow. I have yet to see Tenet but I have been warned off it by many and after the debacle of Spectre, how many of us are really looking forward to the new Bond?
No such ambiguities with Peanut Butter Falcon, a movie very much in the vein of Little Miss Sunshine. It is a simple story of two vulnerable young men. One has Downs Syndrome and is confined to an inappropriate care home. The other is a guilt ridden drifter with nothing going for him apart from his abundant sense of kinship and kindness. They meet and become unlikely friends, over the course of which we fall in love with them both and Dakota Johnson’s character to boot.
It is so affirming and I suggest as powerful and medicinal as the best drugs that Big Pharma pimp at anyone who needs a lift.
Sadly, there is little kudos in ‘feel-good’ and not much credibility in comedy either when it comes to awards and plaudits. And yet to feel-good is most often the very thing that audiences want from their movies. And therefore The Peanut Butter Falcon is an easy movie to recommend.
The purpose of this blog is pretty broad. Hopefully, it is a weekly take on the quirks of life and it is at least, an amusing and fun read. But occasionally, like this week, I like to use it to share something with my good readers.
Families look to do things together because it is shared experiences that are most likely to create formative memories. Special moments that are more likely to resonate in our manic and complicated lives.
A night in for the family with The Peanut Butter Falcon has a good chance of becoming one of these moments.
You might even think of me when you watch it.
Trust me, it is worth it.
And you can thank me later.