Friday, February 17, 2017

LIZ SMITH: In Praise Of

by Liz Smith & Denis Ferrara

In Praise of Stephen Colbert — and Andrew Garfield!

“IT IS absurd to divide people into good and bad. People are either charming or tedious,” said Oscar Wilde.
I’M so happy that Stephen Colbert recently won the late-night talk show ratings battle.  He prevailed over NBC’s Jimmy Fallon and ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel. 

True, it was only a slight edge, but he did it, and I’m glad.  Colbert is super-intelligent, a grown-up; shy but a natural scene-stealer.  His charm is palpable.  He welcomes women stars with genuine delight and glad-hands an assortment of musicians. He keeps up — no surprise — with who and what matters in politics.
Colbert makes it all look simple and he doesn’t apologize for the medium for the subject matter.  He appears to succumb to the charm of his guests without going overboard.

He was, for years, an actor, masterfully playing a buffoon-ish conservative TV pundit.  He has had to navigate the choppy water of finding himself, and in the process has become a loveable host; neither too cloying nor too self-important. I’m a fan, obviously.
Recently, Colbert and actor Andrew Garfield won another little piece of my heart, during Colbert’s discussion with Garfield about kissing other men — as Garfield did at the Golden Globes. He exchanged a smooch with fellow actor Ryan Reynolds. (Both were GG losers to Ryan Gosling that night.)  The “are you comfortable with it?” question ended with the actor and the talk show host exchanging a kiss.  I don’t know whether it was planned, but Colbert’s reaction was so sweet, slightly bemused.  I found it adorable, planned or not.
A word, a shout out for Andrew Garfield who is exceptional, and Oscar-nominated in Mel Gibson’s “Hacksaw Ridge” and equally as compelling in Martin Scorsese’s “Silence.” (He did his re-boot time as Spider Man, following Tobey Maguire, being succeeded soon by Tom Holland. I have a feeling Garfield doesn't look back on his red-and-blue costume days as particularly edifying.) 

In both his new films, Garfield plays men of faith — a conscientious objector sent to war (“Hacksaw”) and a priest, propagating Catholicism in an unwelcoming 15th century China “Silence.”) In talking to Colbert, Garfield said he’d been raised with no religion and had no exact faith.  In fact, he said, he had the utmost doubt.
Garfield as Desmond Doss in “Hacksaw.”
But then he added that he felt, experienced and appreciated mysticism. Going further, he said those who expressed total faith tended to put themselves “above” doubters.  So, in his opinion, it is better to have doubt, to keep one humble and open to faith, if one wishes to open that door.

I think a philosophy like this has far more light and hope than one which condemns doubters to hell, purgatory or some other uncertain darkness. And how remarkable that this particular doubter — Andrew Garfield — has the talent, and the great heart to convey onscreen, the souls of men who have no doubt whatsoever.
As a Christian missionary in “Silence.”
I’ll also join others in predicting Garfield will be up again for an Oscar next year for “Silence.” (Possibly one of his co-stars, Liam Neeson, as well.)

A word of warning, however, for anybody who has yet to see either of these Andrew Garfield movies. Both are long in length and long on suffering and graphic depictions of pain and torment, physical and psychological. No musical numbers.
ENDQUOTE: “Disrespect for the afflicted won Meryl Streep an Oscar, as when she portrayed Lady Thatcher in a film about the Iron Lady.  Lady Thatcher was still alive and very conscious of how Meryl portrayed her. According to people in the know, Lady Thatcher was very hurt by it. Empathy is a word used quite a lot by Hollywood types while ‘virtue signaling.’ Meryl Streep got a lot of mileage out of virtue signaling at the Golden Globes. Margaret Thatcher was a great leader who deserved better than the way Meryl portrayed her, i.e. as having lost her mind.”
And that, like it or not, my liberal friends, is my conservative friend, Taki Theodoracopulos, giving it to Meryl Streep in the new Wedding Issue of Quest magazine.

Taki doesn’t cotton to all the Hollywood negativity about our current president.  It’s difficult to fathom if Taki actually supports the 45th Commander in Chief, or if he simply dislikes show biz liberals. (Although Mr. Theodoracopulos certainly knows his way around that most tired of show biz euphemisms: “People in the know.” At least Taki didn’t say “many, many people” or “thousands” of people.  Or a “huge” amount of people.)

We probably won’t be seeing Taki at the Vanity Fair Oscar party. (What a deliciously scathing read that would be!)   But don’t be surprised if America’s president invites the erudite Greek over for dinner some night at the White House.  The Chief Executive of the U.S. and the journalist can have a deep and nuanced discussion of, say, Lady Thatcher’s policies during her tenure as Britain’s Prime Minister.  

I’m sure Taki wouldn’t mind if it was a fairly one-sided conversation.  He has as big an ego as the president, and he, at least, has more than 10 adjectives with which to express it.
Contact Liz here.