A roundtable chat with Paul Giamatti and Rosamund Pike, of “Barney’s Version”

If you’re going to be shallow about it, Paul Giamatti and Rosamund Pike might seem like a slightly odd pair of movie lovebirds. However, the love affair between their characters in “Barney’s Version” hasn’t aroused any of the complaints Seth Rogen regularly gets when his movie character gets lucky with a beautiful woman. No offense to Rogen, but maybe that’s because Giamatti gets a pass for being an extraordinarily brilliant actor — who, as it happens, just picked up a well-deserved Golden Globe for his performance in this very film — and Pike gets points for having the sense to work with him, not to mention for being rather extraordinary herself.

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In fact, the pair have some things in common. Pike’s parents are accomplished serious musicians and she is an Oxford Graduate. Paul Giamatti’s father was the noted Yale University President and Commissioner of Baseball, A. Bartlett Giamatti. Naturally, the younger Giamatti is himself a graduate of Yale. Both have also been busy working actors for some time. After “American Splendor,” “Sideways,” and — on a more heroic level — the miniseries “John Adams,” not to mention innumerable outstanding supporting roles, Giamatti is a bonafide star. The sky is the limit for Ms. Pike, a vastly-above average “Bond girl” opposite Pierce Brosnan in 2002’s “Die Another Day,” who more recently has received a lot of notice for her very diverse roles as a less than brilliant conman’s girlfriend in “An Education” and, more under the radar but no less brilliant, as a highly educated but frustrated housewife and mother in “Made in Dagenham.”

When I and a bunch of other junket journos encountered Giamatti and Pike, they were promoting the new adaptation of Mordecai Richler’s tragicomic final novel about the life and loves of a youthful hustler and bohemian turned aging Montreal television producer and crank. For us shallow types, Giamatti bats 1000 well out of his league with three wives in the course of “Barney’s Version,” played by the lovely Rachelle Lefevre, Minnie Driver, and Pike as Miriam Grant-Panofsky, whom he actually loves. If you read my review, you’ll see that I think the film is a very mixed bag, but the performances are first rate throughout. In addition to that Golden Globe, Giamatti’s performance was praised by his colleague Ron Perlman, and easily deserves whatever accolades it may find. Pike is, as the cliche goes, luminous in a role as a really good person that a lesser actress would have rendered merely saintly and dull.

Rosamund Pike arrived first, but in a moment Paul Giamatti entered, bantering with a female reporter. “She forced me to proclaim myself an ‘indie darling’ yesterday,” Giamatti said.

“Nobody forced you to do anything,” the reporter remonstrated.

“Yes, you did,” he argued. “You tricked me into saying it on camera. She said, ‘When you became an indie darling,’ and I went ‘Well, when I became an indie darling…'” and I thought, ‘I just said those words! Goddammit, that’s on film now, forever.'”

Giamatti, a born comedian as well as a master thesp, was already breaking up the room.

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Celluloid Heroes: My Favorite Posters of the Decade

With all the different ways that studios can market a movie these days, it’s nice to see that movie posters haven’t completely fallen by the wayside. Sometimes, a single image can make or break my interest in a film, and though trailers speak louder than posters, it certainly helps when you’ve got a kick-ass one to display in movie theaters. As part of our look back at the movies of the 2000s, here are some of my favorite posters from the last decade. You’ll probably notice that a good percentage of them come from the last two years, and while that may be representative of studios having to be more creative than ever, I think it’s more just a result of my constantly evolving taste.

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“Antichrist” (2009)

Lars von Trier’s latest film has been stirring up controversy ever since its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year. I still haven’t seen it myself (and I’m guessing I’ll probably hate it when I do), but this poster is great nonetheless. It’s both beautiful and ugly in its marriage of eroticism and nature, and the chaotic lettering crudely written across the image gives you a pretty good idea that you’re not about to see just any ordinary film.

“Cold Souls” (2009)

Paul Giamatti has a great face, so it only makes this Matryoshka doll concept that much more interesting. When viewed in context of the movie’s plot – about a suffering artist (Giamatti playing a fictional version of himself à la “Being John Malkovich”) who stores his soul for safe keeping – it also says everything without really saying anything at all.

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“Grace” (2009)

In terms of sheer grotesqueness, the indie horror film, “Grace,” takes the cake for its simplistic blood-in-a-baby-bottle. The fly perched on top is also a nice touch. Still, there’s something quite alluring about the image in that it doesn’t so much make you sick (like the posters for Eli Roth’s “Hostel: Part II”) as it does curious about the movie.

“Moon” (2009)

There’s certainly not a lot going on in the official poster to Duncan Jones’ directorial debut, but it mimics the quiet tone of the film perfectly. That trippy stereoscopic sphere stationed behind Sam Rockwell steals my attention every time, and that’s all you can really ask for from a poster.

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Turnabout goes “Sideways”

Hollywood loves to remake Japanese horror films for the American market. Why shouldn’t the Japanese remake an American Oscar winning comedy? (h/t The Auteurs Daily)

It looks like this was shot in some of the same Santa Barbara locations as the original. I wonder if they hit any Japanese restaurants or sushi bars. “If anyone orders the California Roll, I am leaving!”

Here’s the original trailer, for your contrast and comparison pleasure.

  

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