Tuesday, March 26, 2013
The movie depicts preparation for a 2007 trial in which Spector was arraigned for the murder of would-be actress Lana Clarkson, who died in his home. Al Pacino gives his best performance in years as the reclusive record producer; Helen Mirren matches him as the sympathetic attorney trying to put the best public face on her famously eccentric client.
Hollywood would have been scared off by the sympathetic take on a man who's now serving a sentence of 19 years to life for second-degree murder, by the talkiness of the drama, by the fact that the main male character stopped being famous around the time Jimmy Carter was president.
But what REALLY would have put people off is old age. Spector is 67 when we see him in the film; Pacino, who wears a series of outrageous wigs, is 72. In fact, everyone involved in a significant way in the production is over 60: co-stars Helen Mirren and Jeffrey Tambor, producer Michael Hausman, executive producer Barry Levinson and writer-director David Mamet.
In Hollywood, two kinds of people are allowed to be stars past 60: ageless women who have been canonized (Meryl Streep, maybe Judi Dench) or perennially juvenile men, who play with guns to show their undiminished testosterone levels (Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger). Older actors are allowed to be supporting characters or co-leads, such as Harrison Ford in the upcoming "42." But a picture entirely about older people -- say, the well-liked "Quartet" -- has to be cheaply made and gets a limited release.
This process fits in with the prevailing attitude in the United States: Eternal youth is not only achievable but desirable. This has countless drawbacks and no advantages, except for plastic surgeons. In Hollywood, it leads to the Botoxing and face-carving of actresses once as fiercely independent as Jane Fonda or Jessica Lange and the marginalization of people who simply want to grow old while looking like ordinary human beings. The mad desire to remain forever young has made America forever childish.
Posted by Lawrence Toppman at 11:53 AM