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First Look: New Films Co-Starring Al Pacino, Greta Gerwig, Felicity Jones & Eddie Redmayne

First Look: New Films Co-Starring Al Pacino, Greta Gerwig, Felicity Jones & Eddie Redmayne

Do not adjust your sets, this has not become a theater news site. Earlier this year, we were startled to remind ourselves that way back in 2011, Al Pacino and Barry Levinson announced that they’d be reteaming (off the back of HBO film “You Don’t Know Jack”) to film a version of Philip Roth‘s novel “The Humbling,” as adapted by Buck Henry, screenwriter of ”The Graduate”). In February we learned that Greta Gerwig was joining the cast as—and this plot might come as a shock if you’ve never read any Philip Roth, in which case lucky you—a sexually adventurous young woman who ends up getting together with an older man (Pacino) of famed artistic ability.

In this case, the older man in question is a stage actor, hence the play-within-a-film stills that have popped up over at Chopshop, looking suitably thespy. “Is this Al Pacino’s “Nymphomiac”?” we asked in February, back when we were still blissfully unaware of the content of the actual “Nymphomaniac.” How innocent we were then. We’ll let you know when we hear release details for “The Humbling.”

Meanwhile, a year ago today—insofar as time is real and not merely a dimension of space-time upon which our limited consciousness’s impose the comforting illusion of linear causality—we heard the announcement of “Theory of Everything,” a biopic covering the early life of Stephen Hawking in which the great physicist would be played by Eddie Redmayne, with the excellent Felicity Jones as his wife Jane Wilde, and James Marsh (“Man on Wire”) directing. We now have the first image from the film from Working Title, and though it’s not the most telling still, it gives some indication of the presumably considerable physical aspect of Redmanye’s performance—the film will cover the period of Hawking’s life when his debilitating motor neurone disease began to set in. “Theory of Everything” is set to release on November 7th—if, again, we can meaningfully speak of precise points in time.

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"… and this plot might come as a shock if you've never read any Philip Roth, in which case lucky you…"

How sad and unfortunate, especially if one likes to read. Simply put, Philip Roth is one of the greatest writers ever to have put pen to paper. Not only is he extremely skilled; not only does he have a boundless imagination; not only is his observation and discernment about the world spot on; but his work illuminates the human condition in so passionate and uncompromising a way that one is left feeling both edified and grateful.

What is it that Ben Brock doesn't like about Mr. Roth's work? To voice disdain, and to offer no reasons as to why he feels the way he does, reveals Ben Brock as being rather a lazy writer — something one does not find in Mr. Roth's work, for it is wholly human, his characters beautifully three-dimensional, and their conflicts investigated in an unflinching manner.

I admire that Mr. Roth treats his fellow human beings fairly and with intelligence. He refuses to pander to them; what's more, he doesn't pretend that life is a facile equation, its questions readily reduced to simplistic lies masquerading as answers. Not only is his work immensely entertaining, it is also very informative. And, yes, empathetic. He challenges one to take on stereotypes, to see beyond the illusory, and to contemplate what it is that makes us human.

Consider American Pastoral, the story of a man who, by all accounts, has lived a blessed life (viz. the American Dream). After establishing this creaky facade, Mr. Roth delves deep to investigate the textures and shades by which we choose to see the world. Peeling back layer upon layer of the main character's psyche (as well as those of his family and friends), we learn that no life — no matter how "perfect" it might appear — is without challenge and conflict and loss. One reaches the last page of such a book feeling humbled, shaken, and — strange though it may seem — comforted.

He is a writer to whom I turn when I wish to be reminded of how varied the world and life are. I turn to him as well when I wish to be reminded of what writing is at its best.

How sad that Ben Brock feels it important to toss out a slur without respecting readers enough to explain why he feels the way he does. For words without support (viz. examples) are timorous things indeed; they are shaky, thin, and adroitly fall apart.


lucky me i'll never read this blog again. ignorant fool you.

Drag Me To Taco Bell

I'm thrown off by the Roth criticism too. He's one of the living greats.


Yeah, I'm a bit thrown off by the Roth comment, too. It's bizarre to be so flippant and dismissive about him. (Especially since, at a minimum, Roth's prose is terrifically engaging and funny.) Ben, I hope this doesn't come across as combative, but would you mind elaborating on your apparent contempt for Roth?


Lucky you? What? Even if you don't think Roth is one of the greats, he's certainly worth reading … how can you troll Philip Roth? When did The Playlist get so snarky?

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