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Posts tagged ‘Patrick Stewart’

Superb “Waiting for Godot” w/Ian McKellan & Patrick Stewart Blazes on Bway

Don’t miss the superb current revival of Samuel Beckett’s  “Waiting for Godot” starring Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart at the Cort Theater on Broadway. It is in rotating rep with a play by Harold Pinter “No Man’s Land” which seems tepid by comparison. The quartet of players, McKellan, Stewart and American actors Billy Crudup and Shuler Hensley, soar into theatrical heaven with “Godot,” a play I’ve never liked or understood. Until now.

In a blasted post-apocalyptic landscape, two hobos( or today’s parlance would dub them homeless people) we find Estragon (McKellan) utterly bedraggled and sometimes bootless and his companion, the ever-so-slightly more dapper Vladimir (Stewart) waiting for Godot. Who is some one or some thing they don’t know and never find out about. But they keep hoping they do. And they keep waiting and waiting and waiting. And that’s the plot.

McKellan and Stewart are at their absolute zenith of their combined talents, as they entertain us and each other mightily, while waiting for SOMEthing to happen. They have each other. And a tree with no leaves, and the tattered clothes on their backs, rags, really. Dusty, crusty. They’re frightening to look upon.

But you end up just loving them. Because they make you laugh. At the utter absurdity of everything.

That’s something that I never thought of “Godot” as, being a supremely entertaining comedy. It was just one laugh after the other, surprising and delighting the audience. As Vladimir and Estragon keep entertaining each other, as they wait and wait and quarrel and make up again and consider suicide and reject it and wait.

Finally something DOES happen in the scarifying persona of the outsized blow-hard Pozzo (Hensley) and his hideous, pathetic captive scarecrow Lucky( a nearly unrecognizable Crudup).

Vladimir and Estragon think that this ovewhelming personage MUST be Godot. But then decide he isn’t. He doesn’t know who they are and they don’t know who he is.

And Hensley is so revolting and despicable and hugely fat as Pozzo that the two bums become almost attractive by comparison.

And in the second Act things do change, but to reveal just how magnificently they’re embodied by this quartet of great actors, all four at the peak of their powers, in both plays would be to spoil a lot of the fun for the 1% of you that aren’t already familiar with “Godot.”

I now see for the first time ever through the combined artistry of these Four Horseman of the Apocalyptic(Theater) just WHY Samuel Beckett’s difficult, dense, infuriating play is the existential classic that it has always been considered. And it’s an anthem, a subtle anthem to hope.

“No Man’s Land” by Harold Pinter seems almost picayune by comparison.

A rich man Hirst (Stewart) encounters a less squalid ne’er-do-well, Spooner (McKellan) Less squalid as his Bum of Bums, Estragon in “Godot” on Hampstead Heath, a notorious gay pick-up ground. Was that what Pinter was implying by starting the play with this unexplained meeting? I wonder? In any case, Hirst brings Spooner home to his grand mansion of a house and it turns out that Spooner is a poet and then also so is Hirst, and that they actually knew each other at university. But Spooner didn’t like Hirst…and so it goes…a rather pallid reflection of “Godot” in certain thematic senses.

Crudup and Hensley are consigned to supporting enigmatic servant/thugs in “No Man’s Land” and we never quite find out why. Or who they really are.

At the end of “Godot” the entire audience was standing and cheering loudly with many curtain calls and “Bravos!” filling the air. That didn’t happen with “No Man’s Land.” So if you have to choose between the two choose “Godot.” It’s worth the wait.

“X-Men:First Class” is exactly that! Michael Fassbender is a Magnetic Magneto!

Topping the box-office charts this weekend and packing the fanboys and everyone else in  is the “X-Men” pre-quel, now called “X-Men:First Class” and it really is a first class entertainment. An Action Hero flick with pyrotechnics galore. But it’s Irish actor Michael Fassbender as the most magnetic Magneto imaginable that powers this flick into the stratosphere. An actor I’ve admired greatly in many smart Indie films like “Hunger”, which was on my year’s 10 Best List that year,”Fish Tank” and many, many more. He makes smart choices and smart directors seek him out.

And here he is in the role he was born to play. I never thought of him as an action hero. I just thought of him as a very, very talented, but underappreciated actor. Although he works constantly, his really good work in a big film of two years ago “Inglorious Basterds” went pretty much unnoticed. He was also doing sword and sandal duty in “300” in a Supporting Role.

Supporting roles will no longer be something you see him in because he’s the real break-out star of this very well done popcorn movie. It’s NOT in 3D thank goodness. I hate those glasses. They sometimes make me quite sick.

And the lead in this film is James McAvoy as Xavier, and he and Fassbender really make the chemistry, the human, acting kind of chemistry, not just the CGI- kind these super-heroes are constantly capable of producing really work. There are ACTORS here! And the best of the younger generation I might add, and attention must be paid.

I will go see every sequel to this prequel from now on because their dynamic duo dynamism is dynamite.

Less successful, but I don’t rate her much as an actress anyway, YET is the least deserving Academy Award Nominee of All Time Jennifer Lawrence, who certainly nails the babe-licious part of this character, who when she turns blue and scaly, often sheds all her clothing at the same time. Since I don’t think she has much range ALREADY, the blue make-up, with the yellow CGI cat’s eyes, made her look like she was acting more than she actually was.

There was a certain poignancy that she exhibited as Mystique and she’s certainly easy on the eyes. And VERY TALL. That they kept pairing her with the much shorter James MacAvoy (she’s his adopted sister, or something like that), I kept wondering how many boxes he was standing on or how many holes she was standing in, to make them look equal in height. But they do! That’s one of the neatest special effects of all in this special effects laden movie.

I couldn’t keep who did which effect and who has what super power straight, there are so many mutants in this movie.

Oliver Platt plays the small part of one of the only humans in this mutant-filled movies, but his only super power seemed to be that he was simply fat. But at least he WAS a human.

Kevin Bacon seems to be having the time of his life as the villain of villains here. You really need a score card to keep all the Super Heroes straight in this movie. I’m not an X-Man addict, so I can’t parse them all and who they all turn into later. Although I do remember vividly Ian McKellen’s gleeful, older Magneto. An Action Hero At Last! At age 60 something!

And one of the indelible moments I have with Sir Ian, was when I was interviewing him in his dressing room on Broadway back in 2001 and he had a Gandalf figurine and a Magneto one, too, and he made them fight with each other! Hilarious! He was on Broadway with Dame Helen Mirren having a gay old time screaming at each other in one of Strindberg’s more strident pieces “The Ghost Sonata.”

And my favorite Michael Fassbender moment was when I was interviewing him for “Fish Tank” and I was the one who broke the news to him about the death of a mutual friend, the great Irish movie critic, Michael Dwyer, and how he nearly burst into tears, when he realized he was here in NYC and was missing the funeral that was taking place in Dublin.

Michael has a great, sensitive soul and will make a great, great movie star.

Unfortunately, both these interviews were for print, so I never got either of them on camera, for my TV show, but I look forward to many, many more with these two terrific stars,James MacAvoy and Michael Fassbender acting their hearts out in and giving class to “X-Men:First Class.”

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