The Great Buck Howard written and directed by Sean McGinly
A different version of this note and thoughts on other books are available at:
- https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLEVa4_CsRStSBBDo4uJWT8BSWtTTn0N1E and http://realini.blogspot.ro/
Even if it received only one nomination, I see this as an exceptional film.
John Malkovich is glorious in the leading role.
In fact, the only nomination is for him.
But in what was considered to be a supporting role.
I beg to differ and consider this performance as evidently dominating the movie and not just spiritually, but literally.
Throughout the years, John Malkovich has proved that he is one of the best actors ever, with an incredible talent:
- The vicomte de Valmont in Dangerous Liaisons, John Malkovich in…Being John Malkovich, Burn After Reading, In The Line of Fire and so many other films stand testimony to the genius of this incredible actor
And his performance in The Great Buck Howard is overwhelming, combining irony with arrogance, silliness with talent.
The great Buck Howard is a multi-faceted personage.
Some will dismiss him as a “has been”.
But he is still capable of “magic”.
The hero is Troy Gable as played by the excellent Colin Hanks.
Troy was sent to law school by his father –tom Hanks- but he is not happy with that education and he might be right.
Lawyers are laughed at in so many jokes, but they should be pitied for their profession is the most negative in USA.
They have the highest rates of suicide, divorce and depression and the jokes with what you call 500 counselors at the bottom of the ocean are not fair.
Troy leaves school and that could be good, because psychology research has proved that people choose a job for three reasons: money, career or calling and only the latter category offers happiness and achievement.
He wants to be a writer and in the meantime, he has to get a job to pay the food and bills and so he becomes assistant to The Great Buck Howard.
In the first place, Troy has little idea who the man is and he says – you were a magician? - Only to be corrected:
- I used to be a magician when I was three
- But I am a mentalist and I have nothing against magicians…as long as they are dead!
There are many humorous moments, including when the great Buck Howard throws tantrums on various subjects, from the reception with a minivan, on the issue of Jay Leno, whom he hates, the subject of tipping…
He wants his assistant to tip more than $ 1, because he represents the Great Buck Howard, but not $ 10, for he is not made of money.
The performances of the mentalist are exceptional and it is even more fascinating to learn that they were based on real life events.
Buck Howard is able to hypnotize not just one or a few people, but numbers that amount to a record audience.
Alas, the special show that was supposed to launch his career again coincides with an accident involving Jerry Springer.
All the media teams leave the performance of Buck Howard and when he asks what happened we have another very funny dialogue:
- Well, you see, Jerry Springer had an accident…
I mean even I know who that talk show host is, even if it is his bad reputation and the IQ of those participants in the infamous televised fights that made the word on the Jerry Springer show travel so far and wide.
In another ironical take on the fascination of the media with “sensational, negative, accident and fatalities news” the publicity that was supposed to come from a real “mentalist” achievement of Buck Howard comes from…his own accident, as he collapses on the floor.
I think this is a very good movie and it is a pity that it did not get more recognition…I for one consider John Malkovich worthy of a few Oscars, including for this role which deserves an Academy Award more than, say Casey Affleck- Manchester by the Sea-yes, a worthy act, but still…