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Monday, January 09, 2006

Second Best

Perils of self-delusion

"He didn't direct it: he just OK'd the budget"

I'd intended to rent some macho DVD of manly derring-do but as soon as I entered Silver Screen, all self-delusion vanished.

The place was a casting director's dream of clichéd togetherness: family ensembles with their 'March of Penguins'; Hunks with their chicks; Hunks with their hunks; Tweenie temptresses with frowning fathers; Mrs Robinsons searching out the perfect après-nosh movie.

I thought I'd go with something French and suitably louche  but spotted the intriguingly titled Second Best including the underplayer's underplayer, Joe Pantoliano.

I say 'including' because it's so pitch perfect and well cast that I forgot it was a movie and took everyone for the characters they portray.

Living a third-best life myself, and this brilliant movie encapsulating everything I know and breathe, I'm not the best audience to describe what it's actually about:

Casting: Intriguing cameos by super-model, Paulina Porizkova, *and* Patricia Hearst (Patty H of 'Tania' fame) for whom I have a soft spot, having promoted the UK edition of her story and met all sorts of underground toughies as a result.

Special Features Commentary: Pantoliano and Weber's over-movie chatter is a gem of relaxed rambled kibitzing, although from an early comment, I got the impression that they both think that viewers watch the special features *before* the main feature, which is a bit weird.

Jenifer Tilly: An absolute hoot. Not only does she have wonderfully mobile features, but I learned from the commentary what an analytic planner she is, doing homework on the script and spotting "dead" passages where she can add her unique contributions.

  • Hilarious scene where she totally improvs a huffy exit: Boyd Gaines turns up to stay with buddy Elliot who frantically tries to shoo JT on her way. As she walks out, she stops on the porch for some badinage and then - out of the blue - smacks Elliot across the chops followed by a swipe to the urbane Gaines. Neither is expecting it, and the moment when Joe finally allows himself a (genuine) laugh is pure joy.

    Another reason to check out the commentary is that, whereas the DVD jewel case gives the movie's URL for the e-man as "secondbest dot com, it's in fact dot org.

    Well worth viewing, if only to boost one's *own* flagging self-esteem.

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