Tag Archives: Graham Greene

SNEAK PREVIEW: Four stage & screen lions in their prime dare, delight & dazzle us in The Performance

Writer-director Stephen Wallis’ hypnotic new film The Performance is all about the excruciating pain and exquisite pleasure of being a working actor. And what makes it so hypnotic are the mesmerizing performances of the four working actors who bring it to life: Nicholas Campbell, Graham Greene, Art Hindle and Nick Mancuso.

All four are 40-year-veterans of stage, screen and television, still in demand, still working. All four still know how to dazzle us. And all four still know how to surprise us.

MANCUSO: astonishing tour-de-force

As the film opens, arrogant aging actor Victor Moore is preparing for what is purportedly his final stage performance. Addicted to melodrama and the deep, rich sound of his own celebrated voice, Victor is about to present his tried-and-true autobiographical theatre piece, despite the objections of Dennis, his cheerfully alcoholic director. “There’s more fantasy in this script than a Tolkien novel,” Dennis chides him. “Show the audience the truth.”

Sparked by Dennis’ goading, Victor reluctantly starts to confront the ghosts that still haunt him. Raised by parents who played the vaudeville circuit, he has never forgiven his mother for leaving him in the questionable care of his father. “Other mothers stayed, but not you!” he storms at the  30-year-old incarnation of his mother.

CAMPBELL: Spellbinding

He has never forgiven his father, Harold, either. 

Especially not his father.

After all, Harold was only a song-and-dance man. Victor was a star.

“Did you think you were better than me, son?” Harold asks him.

“I made 300 movies!” Victor spits back at him.

Harold shrugs. “Let’s not confuse fame with talent.”

Victor knows quite a bit about fame. And scandal. And why his clandestine love affair ended so badly. He could not, would not sacrifice his career; he was not willing to be banished from the screen for a youthful indiscretion.
In those days, he notes, “The movies could talk, but we could not.”

GREENE: buoyant

As the minutes fly by Victor starts to suspect that this is more intervention than rehearsal, and we start to suspect the same thing. But then his old friend Jack, another key player in his life, stops by to surprise him, and Victor remembers what fun acting used to be, when they played Hamlet together in this very theatre. It’s Jack who teases and cajoles him into finding his inner child again. And it is the nimble Jack, and only Jack, who can coax Victor to park all his theatrical baggage, albeit temporarily, to come out and play.

“Actors are actors,” Victor insists, “because they lack the ability to perform in real life.” And yet, what can he do? Victor’s greatest love, his relentless passion, his hopeless obsession, is acting.

“I have to do this!” he protests. “It’s who I am.”

HINDLE: powerful

As director Wallis’ screenplay twists and turns to take us to both familiar and unexpected places, The Performance becomes an extravagant, richly detailed love letter to actors and their craft, never quite resolving the dilemma of that choice.

It’s also a spectacular showcase for a sensational quartet of actors whose considerable talents are too often taken for granted. Nick Mancuso’s portrayal of Victor is an astonishing tour-de-force filled with bold strokes and audacious choices. As pretentious as Victor is – and he is — he takes no prisoners, and neither does Mancuso, whether he is roaring like a lion, whining like a schoolboy or whimpering like an abandoned child. This is a performance to reckon with.

(Off-screen Mancuso has been picking up a lot of hardware lately; a Best Actor award here, a Lifetime Achievement award there. It’s not hard to see why.)

As Dennis, the director with whom Victor has the time-honoured love-hate relationship, Art Hindle is a powerful sparring partner for Mancuso, conveying a potent mix of cunning and self-loathing with a haunting edge of sadness. Graham Greene is a buoyant, irrepressible Jack, bubbling with mischief, riffing on Shakespeare and salvation. And Nicholas Campbell is spellbinding as Victor’s practical, unsentimental father, reciting Dylan Thomas to his estranged son.

SHANNON: stellar

Two other performances that bring new and intriguing dimensions to Victor’s troubled reveries are especially worth noting. Polly Shannon, still as luminous and as lovely as she was when she played Margaret Trudeau 15 years ago, makes a stellar contribution as the actress assigned to play Victor’s much-maligned mother. And Sienna Guillory adds a wistful melancholy to the proceedings as Victor’s disappointed but still devoted daughter.

I don’t know if The Performance will be coming to a movie theatre near you or if Netflix will snap it up first. But if you enjoy films about show business and actors, add this one to your Must list.

Ed. note: Writer-director Stephen Wallis is clearly an actor’s director. After finishing The Performance, Wallis wrote and directed a new film, Defining Moments, with Burt Reynolds and – among others – Nicholas Campbell, Graham Greene, Sienna Guillory and Polly Shannon.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Rachel and Marion love Woody, Jeanne and Barry love to Scrabble, Jerry loves La Cage, and Conan loves Twitter

NO PEOPLE LIKE SHOW PEOPLE: Whatever he’s got, he’s still got it. Woody Allen is set to shoot another film in Paris this summer — mais oui, they love him in France — and

MCADAMS: To Paris with Woody

Rachel McAdams and Marion Cotillard have already signed on … flamboyant figure skater Johnny Weir, the Winter Olympics’ favourite bad boy, is now set to guest with Ice Theatre Of New York at the company’s 2010 Home Season stint April 29-May 1 at Chelsea Pier … John Tory, the new Chair of the TIFF Bell Lightbox campaign, is seeking $17.5 million in gifts needed to complete the TIFF Bell Lightbox between now and the opening of the building, which is still scheduled for this fall … Kelsey Grammer is back on Broadway, currently in previews at the Longacre Theatre for the Olivier Award-winning revival of La Cage Aux Folles that took London by storn. Composer Jerry Herman says this new version “is hysterical, touching, outrageous, ingenious — a revelation from curtain to curtain.” This we gotta see … Channing Tatum and Al Pacino are teaming up for a new screen drama, Son Of No One …  and Sebastian Stan, best known for his roles on Gossip Girl and Kings, has joined the cast of Captain America as leading man Chris Evan’s sidekick.

MARCUS TRIO: at Smiling Buddha tonight

SHARPS ‘N’ FLATS: Talk about a musical coup d’etat! Sting, Elton John, Lady Gaga and Dame Shirley Bassey will perform together at Carnegie Hall  at a Rainforest Fund benefit concert on May 13. The event will mark the 21st birthday of the charitable organization founded by Sting and Trudie Styler to help protect and preserve the world’s threatened rainforest areas and the pricey tickets includes a gala post-performance dinner at the Plaza … Jann Arden, Tom Cochrane and NHL legend Darryl Sittler are set to join Anne Murray at her 2010 Charity Golf Classic in support of Colon Cancer Canada on May 18 at Angus Glen Golf Club in Markham … at last! Hypnotic singer-songwriter Jane Ford has finally released a new album, All I’ve Needed Most, a five-song EP featuring “some great new tunes I know you’re going to love.” Count me in. Her new album is available on iTunes in the US and Canada. “And Europe. Everywhere actually!” … Justin Bieber pop-rocks tomorrow night on SNL … and professional crowd-pleasers The Marcus Trio return to one of their favourite haunts, The Smiling Buddha Bar on College Street, tonight at 10 pm.

O'BRIEN: networking

TWITTERBUG: Deposed late-night prince Conan O’Brien wasn’t a great believer in social networking until NBC bounced him off his Tonight Show throne. But after being hounded by both his friends and personal Followers (read, Employees) O’Brien finally saw the light. He now has close to a million followers on both Facebook and Twitter. Which is how, with a few well-placed wisecracks, he has managed to almost completely sell out his 30-city comedy tour which kicks off on Monday night. “Five days to the opening of my tour,” he tweeted yesterday. “I don’t want to over-hype this thing, but attendance will cure all known diseases.”  His first stop on his sweep of North American cities? Eugene, Oregon.

(Now that’s funny.)

BEKER: all-star Scrabble soiree

SCRABBLE RABBLE: Autograph collectors should have a field day Monday night at the 6th annual Scrabble® With The Stars soiree at the King Suites. Returning hosts Jeanne Beker and Barry Flatman will welcome so many marquee names that I can’t possible mention them all here. Suffice it to say that the glamourous role call includes Angela Asher, Jaymz Bee, Mark Breslin, Dave Broadfoot, Dinah Christie, Arlene Duncan, Jayne Eastwood, Lili Francks, Graham Greene, C. David Johnson, Deb McGrath, Sheila McCarthy, Colin Mochrie, Micki Moore, Eric Peterson, Leah Pinsent,  Avery Saltzman, Elizabeth Shepherd, Paul Soles, Amy Sky, Theresa Tova, Robin Ward, Sara Waxman and enduring entertainment icons Sharon, Lois & Bram, all in aid of the Performing Arts Lodge (PAL) of Toronto. Tickets include dinner, a game of Scrabble with a celebrity and a tax receipt, and as usual there’s only a handful of tickets left. So if you want to play, don’t delay — just click here!

And have a great weekend.

-/-


Are the stars out tonight? Yes, for the Dora Awards. But not all today’s showbiz news is happy …

GOOD MORNING, TORONTO: And welcome to another week of razzle-dazzle in Our Town.  Sparklies set to join host Jian Ghomeshi on stage tonight at the 2009 Dora Mavor Moore Awards at the Winter Garden include Anne

GHOMESHI: hosting tonight

GHOMESHI: hosting tonight

Anglin, Cynthia Dale, playwright John Gray, Graham Greene, C. David Johnson, Tom McCamus, Colin Mochrie, National Ballet of Canada soloist Rebekah Rimsay, Ontario Culture minister Aileen Carroll and Mayor David Miller. Director Vinetta Strombergs and writer Briane Nasimok will be talent-wrangling from the wings … what’s NOT happening today? TheNational Post, which is attempting some creative cost-cutting by NOT publishing a Monday newspaper – a new policy that will continue through the Labor Day weekend …  and, of course, Monday garbage pick-up is NOT happening either — unless you’re listening to the right radio station. CFRB wise guys Bill Carroll and Jim Richards are taking trash talk to a new level by sending 1-888-I AM JUNK to pick up trash every week during the strike for six listeners who send the best emails telling why the station should pick up their garbage. The contest ends this Friday, and the winners can invite neighbours to drop off their trash for weekly pick-up as well!

McLACHLAN: celebrating Canada Day

McLACHLAN: celebrating Canada Day

NO PEOPLE LIKE SHOW PEOPLE: Singer Paul Potts, who was the Susan Boyle YouTube sensation of his day when he first triumphed on Britain’s Got Talent, serenades tomorrow night at Kitchener’s elegant Centre In The Square. Torontonians will have to wait a couple of weeks more, when he performs here at the Elgin on July 18 … superthrush Sarah McLachlan and Quebec charmer Marie-Jo Thério will headline the party at Parliament Hill on Wednesday night in Ottawa. CBC Television, Radio-Canada and bold will telecast highlights at 9 pm … Tim McGraw and Reba McEntire

DORE: Rivoli-bound

DORE: Rivoli-bound

are set to headline the first annual Cavendish Beach Music Festival on Prince Edward Island on July 10, 11 and 12 … Jon Dore is hosting two nights of comedy mayhem at the Rivoli July 15 & 16 with a very catchy title: The Jon Dore Television Show’s Writers and Jon Dore of the Jon Dore Television Show Stand-Up Comedy Show, Show! Expect an evening of stand-up comedy featuring Dore and his writers Mark Forward, Laurie Elliott and Steve Patterson. “It is important to understand,” adds Dore manager Lorne Perlmutar, “that none of the proceeds of this show will be going to a charitable organization. Jesus is cool.” Whew! That’s a relief … and did you know that Seinfeld alumnus Jason Alexander is an accomplished song-and-dance man? He’ll show off that next-to-secret skill set when he appears at Casino Rama July 25.

MANN:  more honours

MANN: more honours

FLICKERS: Chalk up another win for enduring filmmaker Ron Mann. Last week he received the 2009 Premier’s Award for Excellence in the Arts. Mann, whose hit doc Know Your Mushrooms is now available on DVD, won the award for Individual Artist, and then selected Toronto actor and film-maker Charles Officer (Nurse. Fighter. Boy) as the Premier’s Emerging Artist prize winner … Canuck heartthrob Taylor Kitsch will team up with one of his Wolverine co-stars, Lynn Collins, in the Disney adventure John Carter of Mars. And talk about yer parent traps — Greg Kinnear and Kelly Preston will play Miley Cyrus’

PRESTON: Miley's mom?

PRESTON: Miley's mom?

parents (!!!) in The Last Song, also for Disney … our National Film Board and the Shorefast Foundation will establish Newfoundland’s first e-cinema installation, the NFB’s first English-language e-cinema partnership in Canada.

The new system will use new digital technology to give residents and visitors to Fogo Island access to great works of Canadian cinema from the NFB as well as independent filmmakers. Fogo Island, by the way, is the largest of the offshore islands of Newfoundland and Labrador, and the new project will be launched this November … and management of the merged British film studio Pinewood Shepperton, where The Dark Knight, The Bourne Ultimatum and most 007 epics are shot,  has signed a five-year deal

CRONKITE: failing health

CRONKITE: failing health

to take over the seven state-of-the-art sound stages of Toronto’s struggling Filmport, which will now become Pinewood Toronto Studios.

APRIL SHOWERS IN JUNE: Quite naturally, lots of other news was overshadowed last Thursday by Farrah Fawcett’s passing and the shock waves caused by Michael Jackson’s unexpected demise. The saddest of the lot, for me, was the confirmation that legendary CBS News anchorman Walter Cronkite is seriously ill with cerebrovascular disease and is “not expected to recuperate.” And to add to that unhappy news — not that you were looking for more — neither Mike Wallace nor 60 Minutes creator Don Hewitt are doing very well at the moment.

T.S. Eliot claimed that April was the cruelest month.

Maybe. But this year, June is no picnic either.

TOMORROW:

Remembering Michael & Farrah

-/-