Sunday, April 17, 2016

Talking Tribeca: Actor Martinez

I’ve had the pleasure this year of screening a number of selections from this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, which takes place April 13th-24th.

Actor Martinez
Directed by Mike Ott and Nathan Silver
Festival Screenings

Some actors thrive on attention, while others prefer to shy away from the spotlight. Usually, the level of press and stardom performers seek directly corresponds with the nature of their personalities. Those who are more boisterous and excitable are likelier to appear in front of the cameras even when they are not in character than those who lead quiet, personal lives away from prying eyes. In some cases, an actor’s perception of himself may not match reality, and a yearning for being in the public eye based on imagined enthusiasm and charisma doesn’t tend to work out.

“Actor Martinez” follows actor Arthur Martinez, who splits his time between acting workshops in the Denver community and regular work as a computer repairman. The acting scene isn’t what Arthur has hoped it would be, and so he commissions two directors, Mike Ott and Nathan Silver, to make a movie about him. The trouble is, both of Arthur’s professional lives aren’t terribly exciting or illuminating, and basing a film on a man whose energy level is most keenly compared to Louis C.K. as his most melancholy and stoic proves a difficult task indeed.

It’s near impossible to keep track of what is actually authentic and what has been invented for this film. Arthur plays himself, the directors play themselves, and Lindsay Burdge, an actress more well known than everyone else involved with the film combined, is a member of the cast as a big-name actress (herself) who Arthur considers a major get for the film even though she may not be the best fit for the part. Selecting Arthur as a subject is interesting in a sense explicitly because he is unknown, and therefore the audience has no preconceived notions about what to expect.

The problem, of course, is that his life is not inherently fascinating, and the obstacles encountered in the film-within-a-film are doubly true in the film itself. The style is a purposely slow and intentional one, spending a great deal of time on each scene to maximize its impact and to demonstrate the power of small moments. This film also has a lot to both subtly and overtly say about the nature of what it really means to act or to put on an act. As a case study of an actor and of the profession itself, this film has merit, but it doesn’t possess any truly defining qualities.


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