Monday, January 03, 2011

RIP Pete Postlethwaite

At age 64, with many years and many films left in him, Pete Postlethwaite has died of cancer.

Postlethwaite's probably best known to my blog readers as a character actor - as the father in In The Name of the Father, or as Friar Lawrence in Baz Luhrmann's Romeo and Juliet. He also plays, very briefly, the dying father in Inception; and he's underused - but still exudes menace - in the new release The Town (which I didn't mind, actually; though it's a far cry from The Friends of Eddie Coyle, at least Affleck, in making a Boston crime pic, clearly is aware of that film, though I found the ending had a bit too much cheesy sentimentality to it, a quality that Eddie Coyle would scoff at). Something about Postlethwaite's performances always elevated the films he was in; sometimes, he's the best thing by far -- he certainly towers head-and-shoulders above the rest of the cast (including many fine actors and actresses) in Spielberg's Jurassic Park 2, where he plays the head "dinosaur hunter." I rather love the anecdote offered in the Wikipedia article on him, about that film:
Steven Spielberg called Postlethwaite "the best actor in the world" after working with the actor on The Lost World: Jurassic Park, to which Postlethwaite said: "I'm sure what Spielberg actually said was, 'The thing about Pete is that he thinks he's the best actor in the world.'"

Looking through his filmography, of the fifteen films there I've seen, one is a bit of a gem that readers of this blog might want to seek out, should they wish to pay Pete respects: Brassed Off, from which the still above was taken. It was actually brought to my attention by one of the teachers at the high school I taught at in Japan, an attractive (married) female teacher in her 40's, who knew and loved the film as Brass! - the somewhat more upbeat Japanese title, made a little less mysterious to non-English-speakers for being shortened, while actually enhancing the double meaning. It's a rather emotionally powerful experience, set during the coal mine strikes and shutdowns of the Thatcher regime, focusing on a group of miners who form a brass band; it manages to be quite fun at times - and has some of the most powerful images of working class anger-at-being-screwed* that I've seen in a fictional film. An enthusiastic early Ewan MacGregor performance, too, though Pete, of course, towers over him.

My respects to Pete Postlethwaite, and condolences to his family and friends.

*There oughta be a word for "anger at being screwed," to differentiate it from other forms of anger, but awakened by dreams at 4AM, I am unsure what it might be.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

from Mickey