Thursday, July 20, 2017

MORE DUOS (THIS TIME NYC IN THE 1970S)

Aileen (my Irish born late friend) & me (in a shirt I bought in the late 1950s!)
me & JP Donlevy during my less-than-two-years at the only 9-5 office job I ever had (for The Franklin Library) a surprisingly unpleasant and humorless man
Robert Penn Warren & me, same job as above, a delightfully congenial man
me & the mirror me in the bathroom of the loft my composer mate Rain & I rented and lived in with my son Miles on Church Street when it was still only artists and hadn't yet become part of the future Tribeca
Rain & me before we decided to try and become actors in movies
Rain & me after we decided to try and get jobs acting in movies (photo by the great Bobby Miller)
me & the late, great poet, dance critic & friend Edwin Denby at an event (I think a reading of mine) at the legendary Books & Company
me & co-star ("Patricia Lee Hammond") in my first leading man role in a movie, originally called LAST RITES but later changed to DRACULA'S LAST RITES
me & John Carradine in my second leading man role in THE NESTING (my first SAG role, so had to add my middle name David because there was already another Michael Lally in SAG)

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

HEY

Check out (and throw some support to) my friend poet Rachel E. Diken's new web site here, and her upcoming speaking engagement at Interesting People, Interesting Times: Future Nostalgia. Produced by Tom Goodwin it's on July 28th in Brooklyn (see below) and looks like a really promising event. You can get tickets here:


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

ME IN WHITE FANG

I played Sykes, the pit bull owner, my choice to make him kind of a vain dandy...it was fascinating to watch the dogs work, following their trainers' orders, fake fighting etc....though when they brought them into the arena, we all had to stand completely still and silent...

Sunday, July 16, 2017

THE BIG SICK

THE BIG SICK is the story of comedian and comic actor Kumail Nanjani and his wife Emily V. Gordon before they were married and wrote this film together—how they met and the rest of it—the plot points of which are probably familiar to everybody by now since the story has been exposed throughout social and cultural media for weeks if not months.

Pakistani-American boy falls for "white" "American" girl (with seemingly no heritage other than "white"—somehow all the "white" ethnicities I grew up dealing with the realities of, including my own Irish-American one, have become blended into the simple category "white" these days) and the clash of cultures and backgrounds creates the story.

It's a good movie, an often pleasantly funny and moving romantic comedy that makes some good points about love crossing boundaries that in the end are always, or almost always, arbitrary anyway, no matter the traumas of history. Nanjani is a modest star who plays himself unselfconsciously, and Zoe Kazan plays Emily with zest and charm, winning our hearts the way she does Nanjani's.

All the actors are good, with lots of real comics doing stand up and off stage jokes that had me laughing pretty hard at times, and the actors playing each of the lead character's parents did as well. It's worth seeing.

Friday, July 14, 2017

MAUDIE

Sally Hawkins is one of the best film actors ever, for my taste, so MAUDIE was a must see for me, and I wasn't disappointed. She gives her greatest screen performance yet. And Ethan Hawke (who I met on location for WHITE FANG when he was still a very young actor, and he was as nice and as smart as you would expect) has always been a good actor but has only gotten better as he's aged, and his performance in MAUDIE may well be his best yet.

The story is based on the real life relationship between the Canadian "folk artist" Maude Lewis and her mate Everett. It's a compellingly intimate, and challenging, story, and director Aisling Walsh and writer Sherry White shape it so cleanly and crisply that not a move or a frame or a word is wasted. A no frills take on a woman's spirit overcoming obstacles most of us would be defeated by, but not Maudie.

Seeing MAUDIE on the big screen helped convey the soul and artistry and power of what would normally be called a "small film"—especially the contrasting of vast Canadian vistas with a cramped domestic set up that emphasizes the subtleties of the differences rather than the obvious. At least it did for me.

This is an amazingly tough and forceful film, despite the tender precision of the details and nuances of a difficult relationship, and personalities, that creates scenes of such poignancy I actually held my breath a few times out of sheer awe at the actors' artistry.

So, obviously, I highly recommend seeing it.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

R.I.P. LIU XIAOBO

Known as "the Mandela of China" by some, Liu Xiaobo is the first Nobel Laureate to die in government custody since the days of Nazi Germany. Poetry is still powerful enough to frighten totalitarian power structures into jailing the more rebellious ones.

(It's true he was arrested for advocating for human rights, but among all those arrested with him, it was he alone who was sentenced to a decade in prison, and there is no doubt it was because they feared his stature as a poet.)

Long live Liu Xiabo's spirit, poetry, and purpose!

PS: I'm not crazy about the English translations of his poetry so far but here's a pretty good excerpt from his poem "Experiencing Death":

Even if I know
death's a mysterious unknown
being alive, there's no way to experience death
and once dead
cannot experience death again
yet I'm still
hovering within death
a hovering in drowning
Countless nights behind iron-barred windows
and the graves beneath starlight
have exposed my nightmares

Besides a lie
I own nothing


(And PPS: here's the Times obit)