Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Billy Crudup Always Brings It

This week, I saw actor Billy Crudup appear live on GOOD MORNING AMERICA to promote a new film.  I interviewed him in 1997 when he was promoting his movie INVENTING THE ABBOTTS.  Not only is he one terrifically talented actor, he's just as slim and handsome now as he was in 1997.  I hate Billy Crudup.  Just kidding.  I'm in awe of his talent and I'm a big fan.  In fact, he's one of those performers on my "Overlooked By The Oscars" list.  Billy Crudup should have at least one Oscar nomination on his resum√© by now.  My favorite of his film roles is Russell, the self-absorbed 1970s rock guitarist in a band on the brink of stardom in ALMOST FAMOUS.  He should have been nominated for Best Supporting Actor. Also, director Cameron Crowe's ALMOST FAMOUS should have been up for Best Picture of 2000.
This wonderful coming-of-age story is both a valentine to the innocence of rock music before it became a corporate money-maker and it's also a valentine to the work of Cameron Crowe's mentor, Billy Wilder.  THE APARTMENT is the Billy Wilder classic Crowe used for major inspiration when writing this excellent screenplay.  As in THE APARTMENT, two guys are unknowingly involved with the same lovable young woman.  She overdoses. One of the two guys must learn to "be a mensch." As Russell the sexy rock guitarist, Billy hit just the right note.  He could be someone you wanted to slap one minute and take care of the next.
He's manipulative, vain, vulnerable, charismatic and still young enough to be intimidated by the formidable widowed schoolteacher mother of a high school journalist.  ALMOST FAMOUS made my Top 5 of 2000 list.  Cameron Crowe won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.  Frances McDormand, for her feisty work as the loving schoolteacher mother, and Kate Hudson ,for her radiant performance as band groupie Penny Lane, were both nominated for Best Supporting Actress.
Philip Seymour Hoffman was a stand-out in ALMOST FAMOUS before his Best Actor Oscar win for CAPOTE.  There were two biopics about Truman Capote made around the same time.  CAPOTE got all the attention and the awards.  INFAMOUS, a very fine film starring Toby Jones as Truman Capote with a marvelous Sandra Bullock performance as Harper Lee, was grossly overlooked and under-promoted.  Jared Leto starred in a 1997 biopic.  He played the celebrated Olympic hopeful, the late long distance runner Steve Prefontaine.  Leto played him in 1997's PREFONTAINE.  I prefer the biopic about the late 1970s athlete that starred Billy Crudup.  It's 1998's WITHOUT LIMITS.

Crudup is very good in this film, a biopic directed and co-written by Robert Towne. Towne wrote screenplay for the classic CHINATOWN. Steve Prefontaine was destined for Olympics greatness but he was killed in a car crash. Like INFAMOUS, WITHOUT LIMITS was a very good biopic that received poor promotion from its studio.

You must see Billy Crudup in 2004's STAGE BEAUTY.  You'll gasp at his remarkable acting range and commitment to character.  Based on a real life story, Crudup plays leading 17th century actor.  Ned Kynaston was celebrated for his portrayals of female characters on the British stage.  In this age of diversity and gender inclusion, STAGE BEAUTY is one to look at again.  Claire Danes plays the dresser to the acclaimed actor.  She'd like to perform on stage too, but a law bans women from such artistic freedom. Meanwhile, the actor is in love with another man, but they must keep their relationship a secret.  Crudup is amazing in this film.  Click onto this link to see a trailer for STAGE BEAUTY:

In Manhattan, I attended a critics' screening for the 2014 indie drama, GLASS CHIN.  I don't think this film opened wide but I sure did dig its pulp fiction rhythm and good performances. Corey Stoll plays Bud, an ex-boxer who trains new boxing talent. Bud leads a low-rent life and, because of this, he's in cahoots with a slick shark of a Manhattan entrepreneur.  Bud gets framed for murder.  In this thriller, the hard luck boxer will have a shot at redemption.  If he wants it.  I loved the silky, seductive, understated menace of Billy Crudup as the entrepreneur.  Click onto this link to see a trailer for GLASS CHIN:

This weekend, the ALIEN franchise continues.  Billy Crudup plays a member of the crew.  Wow. It was in 1979 when we saw a poster showing a large, unusual, cracked egg emitting a strange light with the caption: "In space, no one can hear you scream." ALIEN raised the stakes on the sci-fi horror genre.  ALIEN: COVENANT is the new adventure. Please, Lord, let it be better than PROMETHEUS.  Take a look at this featurette.
I definitely want to see ALIEN: COVENANT.

When I interviewed Billy Crudup, I was a regular on "Good Day New York," the Fox5 weekday morning news program in New York City.  I introduced myself to him before the camera started rolling.  He smiled and said that he already knew who I was.  He said he used to watch me on VH1 in the late 80s and enjoyed my work.  How cool is that?  Go enjoy my movie rental tips for some exceptional Billy Crudup acting.  If you see ALIEN: COVENANT over the weekend, let me know how it is.

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