Tuesday, October 25, 2005

My name is Michael Caine

There are real perks to the gig. Last night's came after running through the remnants of Wilma storming through town, following a decent movie called "The Weather Man," just beyond a lovely dinner eaten while overlooking Columbus Circle as the rain streamed down the great glass wall and made New York look like a Matisse painting: I got to meet Michael Caine. (Sir Michael Caine, if you go in for that sort of thing.) And he was completely lovely. Not only did he get up from his table to stand and talk with me away from the others, not only did he have a nice warm firm handshake, but he actually made and held eye contact.

I told him "The Man Who Would Be King" was an all-time favorite. "It had a good director," he grinned.

Told me about why he had a beard: He's filming a role in London (for "The Prestige") that requires it.

We discussed his role in "The Weather Man," which is supporting. But he's a grandfather whose grandkids call him Pop-pop, which is a name I've never heard any grandparent called except my own, so I was touched. We talked about that.

He talked about doing smaller roles, and why that's just fine: Having to basically self-promote "The Quiet American" a few years back, when Miramax went full-guns for Oscars on "Gangs of New York" rather sapped him, so commanding a picture is a little more than he's up for these days.

And then I asked what he really thought of the remake of "Alfie" (since the director told me Caine had given him approval of it), and in essence he was most diplomatic, and I agreed: Caine said that his version of Alfie in the 1960s was a seducer who was really quite an innocent, and by the end of the picture, his last line is "what's it all about?" meaning that he's questioning the universe now. But -- and he qualified this by saying he quite likes Jude Law, which I also agree with -- he said "when Jude Law shows up on the screen in that first minute, you know he's someone who's seen everything, and who knows everything already." So there's no curve, no arc, and it's a static picture.

And then I shook that warm firm hand again and headed off to dessert, buzzing.

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