VIDEO ESSAY: Pacino: Full Roar

VIDEO ESSAY: Pacino: Full Roar

I could not stop laughing as I watched Nelson Carvajal’s “Al
Pacino: Full Roar”—not just because it’s the most entertaining
collection of over-the-top moments since Harry Hanrahan’s “Nicolas Cage
Losing His Shit,” but because Pacino is and always has been a theatrical
actor, delightfully so—a performer who manages to be big even when
he’s trying to be small. There’s an overabundance of every emotion in
every moment Pacino inhabits and in every move he makes. He sings the
body electric; sometimes he screams it. He’s a stripped electrical wire
zapping lightning bolts into the air like those transformers in the old
Universal horror films. Even when his characters are hiding or
repressing things, they seem on the verge of imploding or exploding,
transforming or mutating. When, in The Devil’s Advocate, Pacino’s Satan
launches into his “absentee landlord” monologue and his face is
momentarily lit up by pulses of volcanic red, it takes a moment to
register it as a lighting effect, so naturally does it seem to express
the lethal petulance streaming from the character’s eyes, mouth, and
jabbing fingers. 

We live for these sorts of moments. Pacino can be
wonderful when working small—see the first two Godfather films, the
quiet parts of Serpico and Dog Day Afternoon, his under-seen and perhaps
forgotten Bobby Deerfield, and the more Willy Loman-like interludes in
Donnie Brasco, in which Pacino is more likely to flinch from pain than
dish it out. But introversion and reflection didn’t make him a star;
explosiveness did, and whether he arrives at it via “slow burn” buildup,
as in the Godfather films, or launches into it full-throttle from frame
one and never takes his foot off the gas (Heat, baby), it’s invariably
as thrilling as the sight of Jack Nicholson tearing somebody a new one,
or Sean Penn contorting his face into a wet-eyed ball of anguish, or Nic
Cage being Nic Cage. You listen to the whisper while waiting for THE
SCREAM, OH YEAH! THAT’S RIGHT! ATTICA! ATTICA! I’D TAKE A FLAMETHROWER
TO THIS PLACE! THEY PULL ME BACK IN! CUZ SHE’S GOT A GREEEAAAAAT ASS! —
Matt Zoller Seitz

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Comments

Jake

Good stuff all around.

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