I watch a select few series on YouTube: There’s a world of interesting stuff, but only so many hours in a lifetime, and one must choose carefully.
One series that I adore and watch without fail as soon as each new episode is posted is Speakeasy with Paul F. Tompkins. These are interviews, over drinks, by actor/comedian Tompkins with a range of people — mostly actors but also comedians, writers, and performers of many kinds. There are thoughtful and funny interviews, never confrontational but always having some unexpected element.
Many of the interviews I’ve enjoyed most were with actors I didn’t know at all, people who have played roles in series that I don’t watch, for example. This week’s interview is with Michael Sheen, who played David Frost in the play and then film adaptation of Frost/Nixon, Tony Blair in The Queen, and a variety of other roles on stage, on TV, and in film (Twilight, Tron, Midnight in Paris). He currently has the lead role of William H. Masters in Showtime’s Masters of Sex. These are big roles, and I’ve never seen a single one them.
But this interview is delightful not for the behind the scenes views of these roles, but because Michael Sheen turns out to be a brilliant storyteller of his own experiences, which are themselves funny (or sound so when he recounts them). I could watch him be interviewed all day.
If you’ve spent most of your life cruising ahead on natural ability, doing what came easily and quickly, every word you write becomes a test of just how much ability you have, every article a referendum on how good a writer you are. As long as you have not written that article, that speech, that novel, it could still be good. Before you take to the keys, you are Proust and Oscar Wilde and George Orwell all rolled up into one delicious package. By the time you’re finished, you’re more like one of those 1940’s pulp hacks who strung hundred-page paragraphs together with semicolons because it was too much effort to figure out where the sentence should end.
Lately it’s seemed that I’ve never had business cards on hand when I wanted to hand some out. This is largely because I’m between houses right now* and most of my worldly possessions are packed and piled up, and so a number of things that I would ordinarily be able to find I’m now having to do without. The last box of business cards I had printed earlier this year is somewhere in the pile.
* This is not to say I’m homeless. Rather, I sold my house and have not yet bought a new one, and I’m temporarily living with my lovely and gracious mother. My cats and I are ensconced in the attic bedroom, which was my sister’s and my room when we were teenagers. It’s become our home away from home. Continue reading →
The symphony sounded amazing, well-timed to the film and perfectly attuned to the emotional ups and downs of the film. The film itself was a surprise to me. I thought I’d seen it before, but no, I’d somehow missed this one — all the more surprising since this is considered one of Chaplin’s greatest works.
The physical gags and running jokes in the film are excellent, as I’d expect in any Chaplin movie. But what surprised me was the emotion, particularly that of the Little Tramp. I think of Chaplin films as broad and silly, light-hearted and fun, and on the whole this followed that recipe. But the end of the film isn’t light at all. It’s touching and open-ended, and it’s not clear — at least not to me — what might happen next. I’ve found myself thinking back to it all day.
If like me you’ve somehow missed this particular piece of film history, seek it out. It’s being rereleased on Blu-ray this month, or you could rent it on Amazon Prime. Or if you’re very lucky, you might find it being shown with live accompaniment, which is the very best way to see it.
What if you could start over whenever you wanted? What if you could begin again? What if you could begin again again? What would you do differently if you could do it differently? When do you have the chance to do THAT?
Well, you can each time you step on a stage, sit before a blank page, pick up your axe, sit at the bench, stand by the easel. You just have to decide that you are starting fresh. All it takes is your being aware that always your point of view can be at the “Point of New.”