Tag Archives: Ed Harris

The Set of 400: #48 – My Favorite Soundstage Visible from Space

Today! Because we accept the reality of the world with which we’re presented. It’s as simple as that –

The Truman Show (1998)

Directed by Peter Weir

Starring Jim Carrey (x4), Ed Harris (x3), Laura Linney, Noah Emmerich, Natascha McElhone, Paul Giamatti, Holland Taylor (x2), Philip Baker Hall (x5), Harry Shearer (x4), Peter Krause, O-Lan Jones (x2), Joel McKinnon Miller, Tom Simmons, Brian Delate

I’m not sure at the time if we saw this movie as just a bit of science fiction or as a prescient blueprint, but either way, The Truman Show either accurately predicted what much of cable and network television would become over the next two decades, or it inspired the transformation. Sure, EDtv covered the same ground the following year (and the ’80s rebooted Twilight Zone episode “Special Service” some distance before), and was technically a little closer to the ultimate reality of reality television, plus it’s not like there had never been some version of this in actual practice – the 1973 PBS docu-series An American Family and MTV’s The Real World, most notably – but it wasn’t an omnipresent phenomenon like it would become in the 21st century. Within three years of Truman Show‘s release, the Emmys had a category for Outstanding Reality Program and in four years we had The Osbournes, popularly acknowledged as the beginning of the people having their lives filmed for entertainment craze. YouTube came along three years later, and now anyone could theoretically have their whole existence broadcast for consumption. Ah, what a time this has been to be alive!

Maybe it’s these jackasses who deserve all the blame

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The Set of 400: #126 – My Favorite Set of Steak Knives

Today! Because I can go out there tonight with the materials you’ve got and make myself $15,000. Tonight! In two hours! Can you?

Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)

Directed by James Foley

Starring Jack Lemmon (x4), Al Pacino (x3), Ed Harris (x2), Alan Arkin (x4), Kevin Spacey (x2), Alec Baldwin, Jonathan Pryce (x3), Bruce Altman

Hey, surprise back-to-back Jonathan Pryce movies! Now in the past I’ve mentioned some stage-y films (say, Noises Off) and really stage-y films (Rhinoceros), but then we’ve got Glengarry Glen Ross, which is one of the stagiest goddamn motion pictures ever made. Seriously, it’s what, 80% in the office? Maybe more than that? Sure, they broke some moments out into the rain or that bar, but it’s almost a unit set film, and that set isn’t anything all that striking or cinematic. So how do they counteract this? Towering, screaming performances, that’s how!

Enjoy this one room, suckers!

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The Set of 400: #214 – My Favorite Big Screen Tuberculosis

Today! Because there’s a cancer in the presidency and it’s growing –

Nixon (1995)

Directed by Oliver Stone (x2)

Starring Anthony Hopkins (x5), Joan Allen (x2), James Woods (x2), Paul Sorvino, Ed Harris, Powers Boothe (x3), Bob Hoskins, E.G. Marshall, David Hyde Pierce, David Paymer (x3), J.T. Walsh (x3), Mary Steenburgen (x2), Kevin Dunn (x3), Brian Bedford, Fyvush Finkel (x2), Annabeth Gish, Tony Goldwyn (x2), Larry Hagman (x2), Edward Herrman, Madeline Kahn (x2), Dan Hedaya (x3), Tom Bower, Tony Lo Bianco, Saul Rubinek, John C. McGinley, Michael Chiklis, George Plimpton, Marley Shelton (x2), James Karen (x2), Donna Dixon (x2), Sam Waterston, John Diehl, Robert Beltran

The last good-to-great movie Oliver Stone has made, Nixon is a surprisingly sympathetic portrait of the beleaguered 37th president, even while taking him to task for his many shortcomings as a politician and as a person in general. Throw in a bit of wild Oliver Stone-esque conspiracy speculation and a run time so bloated it manages to encompass decades of Tricky Dick’s life rather effortlessly, and you get a bombastic, overblown, sorta wonderful, sorta insane biopic unlike any other.

The performances carry through some of the more gymnastic directing – it’s a movie drowning in technique and style – with Hopkins’ amazing transformation into Nixon at its center. Many others have taken on this idiosyncratic role – Langella is fine in Frost/Nixon, Spacey a little less so in Elvis & Nixon, Dan Aykroyd’s terrific SNL take – but none were able to capture the manic nuance of the man, while also attempting to physically resemble him, the way Hopkins did. It’s magnificent. Continue reading

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