Friday, May 30, 2008

A word on Sydney Pollack:

Director Sydney Pollack, who died last week, didn't start making movies until the mid-60's, so he's not exactly a classic-era filmmaker, but he always seemed to have more in common with the studio wizards of the 30's and 40's than with his contemporaries like Altman, Kubrick, or Coppola. Like Michael Curtiz (Casablanca, Adventures of Robin Hood, Mildred Pierce), Pollack didn't have a distinctive personal style or stamp, but he made well-crafted, entertaining films. In my book, his strongest films are Tootsie, Three Days of the Condor, The Firm, and the remake of Sabrina--not as good as the original but a solidly-made comedy. I'm not as crazy about Out of Africa or The Way We Were, which both could have used doses of interesting style in the storytelling or the visuals.

But I'll miss Pollack more as an actor. He was good at playing friendly but authoritative father figures. I guess I'm mostly thinking of his recurring role as Will's father in Will & Grace, but I also liked him in Tootsie, Husbands and Wives, and in last year's Michael Clayton (in which he was not friendly, but sinister). He only acted in a handful of movies, but he was making acting a bigger part of his career as time went by and I'm sorry for all the grandfatherly (good or sinister) roles he won't get to do.

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