actors, In My Opinion, movies

Oscar Isaac and Al Pacino

I can’t get these two great actors out of my head. Especially after watching Isaac in A Most Violent Year, Two Faces of January, Inside Llewyn Davis, and Ex Machina. With Pacino, I revisited The Godfather, Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon, and The Insider. Physically, they could be father/son. There is a two inch difference in height. Their tenor voices are smooth. Same chins, brows, hair, long noses, and body frames.

It’s their talent, however, that has me boxing them together.


Internally, their characters contemplate, sizzle with energy, and powerfully control their world.  Externally, their soft-spoken responses are calculated, laconic. They are both great at giving cool, deadpan deliveries and explosive reactions in one sitting. Their full-range sensibilities have me captivated every time they are on the screen.


As he ages, I predict Oscar Isaac’s voice will change into a grittier, growling pitch you recognize Pacino having in Scent of a Woman. I do not claim that Oscar Isaac is a better actor than Al Pacino or that he will grow into an iconic status as Pacino. Maybe Isaac will as the new Hans Solo of sorts in the Star Wars reboot? In 2016, he will appear as the villain in X-Men:Apocalypse. He’s stepped into the blockbuster arena.

I confess, this saddens me. I suppose he’d be crazy not to do these roles, but you never saw Al Pacino or Robert DeNiro or Marlon Brando play a superhero.  It didn’t help Jack Nicholson’s career as the Joker or Dustin Hoffman as Mumbles in Dick Tracy. It hasn’t helped Christian Bale as Batman, Ewan McGregor’s career as Jedi Obi-Wan Kenobi, or James McAvoy as Xavier. Money in their pocket? Sure. Able to score in a blockbuster? Yes.

They all could be contenders. Do they regret the time it takes afterwards, shaking off their costumes, and trying to be taken seriously again with varying results? Would Oscar Isaac be better off not going down this path? Sounds like the premise behind Birdman, doesn’t it?

Oscar Isaac has the talent to earn any “best acting” award out there. He’s to be taken seriously. I hate the thought of him in front of a green screen. Give him his Scarface. Let him shine in his own personal Scent of a Woman. I want to see him stretch as an actor, not buying into franchises that are redundant and predictable.

Yes, I am convinced he will be just fine in Star Wars 7,8,9, but I fear we’ll be saying goodbye to greatness.

That’s just my opinion. What’s yours?

books, music

Fleet Foxes and Crosby, Stills, Nash

Read this: Wild Tales by Graham Nash

Anyone else out there think the indie folk group Fleet Foxes sounds like Crosby,Stills, and Nash? I’m a fan of folk/rock music and a long time fan of Crosby, Stills, Nash (Neil Young, too).  Their harmonies placate the stressed mood and nourish the weary soul. Okay, a little melodramatic, but these musical icons from the late 60s and 70s have a story any music lover would appreciate. Did you like the music from Inside Llewyn Davis, the story behind the real folk singer from Greenwich Village, Dave Van Ronk? He was one of many who sang in smoky bars and represented the merging of folk music from the California scene with stars like The Mamas and the Papas, the New York scene with stars like Bob Dylan, and in the Midwest, dropped from Canada into the Detroit scene came Joni MItchell. Music was the glue that held the country together when the egos clashed and the government failed. David Crosby, Graham Nash, and Stephen Stills were friends with them all. In Wild Tales, it was fascinating to learn about the relationships and stories behind the songs I’ve heard hundreds of times. If you are interested in 60s/70s pop culture, I highly recommend Nash’s book, Wild Tales. 

So we have an indie/folk music revival going on and I couldn’t be happier. Five years ago, Washington group, Fleet Foxes came out belting their harmonies. Their looks, their lyrics–I can’t help wonder if they aren’t the sons of Crosby, Stills, and Nash.

Let me show you how similar they are. Listen first to Crosby, Stills, Nash, “Helplessly Hoping”

Now listen to Fleet Foxes, “Drops in the River”

When I play Fleet Foxes music, I have to stop and ask myself is it them or CSN?

How about another example from Crosby, Stills, and Nash, “Just a Song Before I Go”

Love the smooth harmony. Now listen to Fleet Foxes “The Shrine: An Argument”

In this case, I love history repeating itself. Glad to have a new round of beautifully crafted music to listen to again. Young and old alike can appreciate Fleet Foxes while revising Crosby, Stills, and Nash never gets old.