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LIZ SMITH: "A Most Wanted Man" ...

Thursday, July 24, 2014
by Liz Smith

Mick Jagger Energizes "A Most Wanted Man" Premiere ... Hot Stuff Coming to Broadway: "It's Only a Play" and "A Delicate Balance" — Plan in Advance!

“OH. MY. GOD. It’s Mick Jagger!!”

Real stars generate jaw-dropping awe. Sure, there can be frenzied paparazzi scenes, but the mark of a genuine legend is the great hush that falls and a literal parting of the waters (or the people.)

Mick Jagger with Rachel McAdams at The Skylark at the after-party for “A Most Wanted Man."
That happened the other night at the after-party for the movie “A Most Wanted Man” at The Skylark in Manhattan. Mick had attended the star-studded Cinema Society premiere of this coming film, which includes Philip Seymour Hoffman’s last completed performance. Many of the party-goers hadn’t seen Mick at The Museum of Modern Art earlier. So the rock icon’s casual stroll through The Skylark, right up to the roof, where the view is worthy of immortals, immobilized the crowd — Grey Goose drinks were spilled, shrimps on skewers were suspended in mid-air, as Jagger walked on by. He looked good. (His hair is perhaps a shade too dark for a man who’ll never see 69 again, but it’s more realistic than what Paul McCartney insists on.)

Everybody was too paralyzed with surprise to approach Mick, who didn’t linger long on the rooftop. (Even writer Sergio Kletnoy, not known for his shyness, was agog.) But our friend director/producer/writer Linda Yellen isn’t just anybody. “Hi, Mick!” said the lissome blonde moviemaker. “I’m sure you don’t remember but back when I was with David Maysles [director and cinematographer] and you were with Marianne [Faithfull] we double-dated!” Mick, in a totally natural manner giggled and replied: “Well, very, very nice to see you again!” and then they both burst into laughter.

After Mick left, Linda said: “He probably was just being charming and polite. But I must say, the years have been good to him. And I haven’t thought about David in ages. I guess I dated everybody. Who didn’t in those days?!”
AS FOR “A Most Wanted Man,” based on a John Le Carre novel, we wish there were better things to report. Those who will admire it, will speak of its “mood” and deliberate slow pace. Others will scream in frustration at the lack of energy — the first 30 minutes are almost unendurable. It picks up later, but by then audience goodwill has been squandered. I’d say it moves at a snail's pace, but don’t snails have enough problems?
Philip Seymour Hoffman in “A Most Wanted Man."
Hoffman, extremely subdued, plays an espionage operative in Hamburg, attempting to negotiate with a Russian man — brutally tortured — seeking asylum. The Russian knows things. Then the CIA wants a piece and Rachel McAdams is thrown in as civil rights lawyer.

Constant noise, explosions and killings are not necessary to keep us interested. But “A Most Wanted Man” is almost inverted in its determination not to rely on thriller clichés — not that Le Carre’s work is rife with car chases and gratuitous bloodshed. I know I’ll get notes saying the film is too “cerebral” for the likes of me.
Hoffman is good — when was he ever not — but it’s a pity that this deeply understated performance, in this gray and unforgiving non-thriller, is his final full contribution. (He will be seen in the next “Hunger Games” films, but not in starring capacity.)
SOME things you should plan ahead for, because when they happen, you may miss your chance.

For instance, coming for 18 weeks only, beginning August 28th, is “It’s Only a Play.” This has been written by the prolific Terrence McNally and will be directed by none other than Jack O’Brien. (Just take my word for it; they are both giant talents even if we don’t always realize it.)

This is a Broadway comedy about the comedy of Broadway and it’ll have a cast to die for:

F. Murray Abraham (he won the Oscar and the Golden Globe for "Amadeus") ... Matthew Broderick (Tony-nominated; he was the innocent in “The Producers") ... Stockard Channing (Emmy-winner and theater favorite) ... Rupert Grint (in all the "Harry Potter" movies) ... Nathan Lane (he was the villan in “The Producers” and has won everything but the Kentucky Derby) ... Megan Mullally (Emmy-winner for TV's "Will & Grace") ... introducing Micah Stock, about whom I know nothing.

These big talents will all happen at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre. Don’t let it happen without you! Go to telecharge.com for tickets. Oh, you think they’ll give me free tickets? I can’t be sure, so I’m calling 212-239-6200.
AND then there is Edward Albee’s “A Delicate Balance,” directed by Pam MacKinnon for 18 weeks only at the John Golden Theater. Previews begin October 20th.

This event will ignore all the crazies milling about in Times Square in their Disney and "Sesame Street" garb, picking pockets and ruining a perfectly good tourist attraction of New York.

The play boasts another great cast ... John Lithgow ... Lindsay Duncan ... Bob Balaban ... Clare Higgins and Martha Plimpton.

The Albee drama itself is a Tony-maker! Telecharge.com or 212-239-6200.
THE DAILY NEWS shows us a photo of my pal Taylor Swift, describing this beautiful young singing star as "perfectly primped ... never misses a chance to peacock for the paparazzi."

These days, being famous means you can never ever do the right thing. You're either half nude and a slob or you're "peacocking." There's no reward except vast amounts of money which you are criticized for earning.
AND New York City is the place to come if you want to get rich. The #1 effort seems to be suing the city! Everybody sues the cops, firemen, and emergency workers and anyone else they think of!

Contact Liz Smith here.

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