Thursday, March 3, 2011

Giving Boris a Spin

Satire is a Lesson; Parody is a Game.
- Vladimir Nabokov

~ Contains Spoilers ~

The great thing about an ensemble cast is that no one person gets to monopolize the glory.
The shitty thing about an ensemble cast is that no one person gets to monopolize the glory.

I was able to make some Liev Only screen caps for our slideshow today, but only because this film breaks one of David Mamet's rules. I apologize for paraphrasing as I do not have the book with me but Mamet instructs Directors to never give an Actor too much to do at once. The opening scene of Spinning Boris is all Liev, talking on the phone (sometimes 2 phones), picking up and sending faxes, pacing the room, reading memos and remaining clear all while sustaining two simultaneaous conversations, remembering his lines and looking absolutely delicious doing it. It's the only time he has the camera to himself. Now that's talent!

I enjoyed Spinning Boris immensly, and that could have to do with the fact that Liev looked like he was enjoying it so much. There's something about watching an exceedingly intelligent person speak and think and act wryly for two hours, tongue firmly planted in cheek, that really appeals to me. It's like he doesn't even have to try.

The schvitz scenes are (of course) a special treat but I'm leaving those images out to encourage you to purchase this film on your own. Liev looks suitably and hilariously modest in these scenes; nothing short of endearing. Bathtowel action always pays off, but this film gives a lot more. Intellectual foreplay is the key to grabbing my attention every time.

There's a discernable sense of camaraderie here, as though Liev and these guys really are pals and cohorts. There are moments of frustration or challenge for the characters that come from cultural differences mixed with stygmas about Russia - and they force us to examine how much propaganda we've absorbed over the years. Leading by example, this film makes us understand that it's our duty as free citizens to question and not simply sit back, accepting what we're being fed. 

I enjoyed the mechanics of watching them learn to massage such a convaluted system, blending the two political ideologies. Each man has his own strengths, but there's also a fortitude that comes from them having worked together for so long. Goldblum's little flirtation with the First Daughter was highly amusing and I actually pulled a Danny Thomas when LaPaglia asked him "Jesus, should we light you a cigarette?" after one of their breathier exchanges.

The scene where they're all calling their brokers out on the balcony is a snapshot of Western Capitalism at its finest, also serving to remind us that they have a life back home (Liev plays a newlywed) and they're not just here on some do-gooder Democratic Reform koom-by-yah homework assignment.

Spinning Boris delivered much more than I was expecting. There's nothing better than seeing Liev in his element. And it's a great way to spend two hours if you have an open mind and are interested in peeking beyond the boundaries of what you think you know.   

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