//Ad libs: Being Bette

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Being Bette

Last weekend was the Odd Couple of movie weekends. For starters, Weekly film critic Tyler Hanley looked at me like I was nuts when I said I'd seen "21." Yes, it would be nice to get that 2 hrs, 3 min. back, but there were a few bright spots.

Kevin Spacey, bless him, could be fascinating reading a Menlo Park Planning Commission agenda. And the kid in the lead role, Jim Sturgess, nicely refrained from chewing the aces. I love an understated performance in an overblown flick. What I don't get is the appeal of Kate Bosworth. Blank face, vapid acting; the most interesting thing about her is the fact that her eyes are two different colors. Maybe she was just yawning at the script.

Why the Odd Couple of weekends? Because the second movie I saw was "The Man Who Played God," direct from 1932 to the Stanford Theatre and starring Bette Davis. Yes, some of the performances were dated and overwrought. Yes, the leading man, George Arliss, was apparently wearing lipstick throughout the entire film. It didn't matter. Arliss was sensitive and honest, and Bette Davis is always so natural and compelling that you hardly look at anyone else. You believe anything she says, are with her through every cliche of dialogue, and long to wear a hat like she does. On her, acting seems just like being.

The Bette Davis film festival continues through June 6 (that's what the Stanford's website sez at this point). Check it out. And while you're at it, imagine a dream film with Bette Davis opposite Kevin Spacey.

Photo from the Stanford Theatre's website, www.stanfordtheatre.org.