Sunday, January 09, 2011

Pete Postlethwaite 1946-2011

Long-time readers of CineRobot know I love character actors more than the movie stars that get more press and attention. I just love their ability to be acting chameleons from role to role, film to film as they play both good and bad. These actors, who are usually not blessed with the looks and physiques of the leading men/women, have to craft performances that make their smaller screen time memorable and unique. They are often the glue that makes a movie better and the best actors in a movie are often these people who unfortunately go unnoticed or unappreciated way too much. Well, not by me.

The English actor Pete Postlethwaite was just the sort of actor I loved to watch. Not a traditionally handsome man with his prominent nose and grizzled, angular features, Postlethwaite had as much charisma and on-screen presence as anybody he shared the frame with. Postlethwaite, a lifelong smoker, recently died at the age of 64 from cancer.

The most recent thing I saw Postlethwaite in was a few months ago in The Town, a better than average heist film directed by Ben Affleck set in the working class neighborhoods of Boston. Postlethwaite does what he does best in the film--takes a small role and makes it his own in such intelligent, invisible ways that you can't help become captivated by his gangster ringleader as he masquerades as a semi-legitimate florist. 2010 was actually a great year for Pete as he was also in one of the most-buzzed films of the year in Inception. He was in a third big release too, but I didn't see Clash of the Titans, so I'll go no comment on that one.

Let me give you some recommended titles for films where Postlethwaite shines that are worth checking out on DVD if you haven't seen them or want to re-watch. Start with the previously mentioned The Town to see what he was doing right before he died and then work your way back through his catalogue. In the Name of the Father (1993) got Postlethwaite his only Oscar nod--a best supporting actor nomination--in a terrific movie where he shared scenes with the always heavy-duty Daniel Day-Lewis. His most well-known film role is probably in 1995's The Usual Suspects, but one of my favorite things he did was Brassed Off (1996), a sweet film about a plucky group of coal miners who live for the brass band they love to play in that will be threatened if the mine closes down.

The masses can have their glamorous movie stars with their increasingly wrinkle free faces, their imperfections erased by chemicals, surgeries or Photoshop trickery--I'll take people such as Pete Postlethwaite every time.


hidden staircase said...

brassed off is brilliant! love that film. i think phil and i watched it twice.

most recently, i rented from new releases at scarecrow a pseudo-documentary about global warming. p.p. is way in the future living in some crazy modern structure on what appears to be a nearly uninhabitable earth and showing us news clips and stories of what idiots we've been and how we destroyed everything. not great at all, but pete sure had an interesting and engaging mug!

Joshua Blevins Peck said...

What was the name of that film? That seems interesting if it is in the vein of end of the world apocalypse.

I really liked BRASSED OFF too! Such a sweet hearted movie.

hidden staircase said...

i can't find the name of the film. it's not in his imdb list which is strange, as it's usually reliable! i will see if i can find at scarecrow again. i recall it being at the beginning of the new starting with an 'a' or 'b' perhaps.

ps: i finally left flyers at scarecrow! they let me leave them at the front counter! maybe you will get some fresh readers/participants!

Joshua Blevins Peck said...

Thanks for the flyer drop at Scarecrow! Going to up the posts to make Scarecrow people happy, ha. I sure miss that place...

hidden staircase said...

send me more flyers and i will put one on their bulletin board and leave some more there and maybe another cafe or two. when i go back on monday, i will see if there are any left!

ps i rented 'ghostwriter' just because i needed a ewan m fix and it did the trick. it was in the 2nd take section.not as bad as i expected. some good comic lines for him. lots of scenes of him alone. then it's like...i'm alone with him...hahaha!

Joshua Blevins Peck said...

Ha. I actually liked GHOST WRITER quite a bit. Link somewhere on here for my Urban Tulsa review.