Tag Archives: The Humbling

The Humbling

31 Jan

January 26, 2015  |  8:31pm
<i>The Humbling</i>

The translation of Phillip Roth’s words to the big screen has been a tricky feat for any filmmaker. You might recall the staid adaptation of The Human Stain (2003) or the bawdy spin on Goodbye Columbus (1969); many have argued that those leaps to a visual, more commercial, medium neutered the tone of Roth’s sexually torn, disenfranchised Jewish machismo. More affectingly and recent, the little-seenElegy (2008), adapted from Roth’s The Dying Animal, dug closer to the core of the author, and now The Humbling, which covers similar ground, launches another ambitious, if not quite righteous, go at the heralded American provocateur.

In the role of Roth’s alter-ego, Al Pacino plays Simon Axler, a well-regarded stage actor who struggles to remain relevant as he sails across the septuagenarian mark. Much of what Pacino has done on the silver screen over the past decade has tended towards warmed-over mush, which is cause for lament considering this is the icon of cinema who so indelibly barked out “Attica!” in Dog Day Afternoon and anchored Francis Ford Coppola’s timeless Godfather trilogy. (For the record, I’ll cite Jack and Jill and 88 Minutes and leave it at that.) The two endeavors in which Pacino has shone during that drought weren’t theatrical releases but the cable-produced biopics of Jack Kevorkian (You Don’t Know Jack) and Phil Spector, which is a fitting: Barry Levinson (Rain Man and The Natural) directed Pacino in Jack, and again steers him here.  Continue reading

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