Let Me Be Frank — The Review on the Kevin Spacey Video
I’ve reviewed most of Kevin Spacey’s movies, and so when a friend expressed interest in my “review” of his recent video, I decided to take him up on the challenge. So I put down the notes on my fantasy football team going into the final game, and decided to give it another viewing, this time with a critic’s eye.
Now, going into this my one thought was how great a recent video was — a comedian that did a parody of the Ray Liotta smoking commercials. That brilliant parody set the bar high.
I don’t usually start off commenting on “costume design” but with the Oscars right around the corner, and movies like The Favourite and Mary Queen of Scots having people talk about the outfits, I thought I’d start with that. The Santa Claus apron was certainly a nice touch, and very timely. And it was a smart move to not have a tie, like his President character on House of Cards. I have to admit, I’ve never seen that show (although the similarly named House of Games is my favorite David Mamet film, but I digress).
I was a little disturbed that the film starts with Spacey washing his hands. Is that symbolic? And, once we see him dicing something up we realize why he washed the hands. Yet that leads to a whole host of other questions. He obviously scripted this. He learned his lines. I doubt he pulled a Marlon Brando and left lines of dialogue taped to the kitchen cabinets to glance at. Especially since you notice that he does that move where he looks away, and squints his eyes — as if he’s contemplating his next thought or is furious at the predicament he’s in (one he put himself in). It’s usually easy to tell when actors are reading directly off script. Just watch some actors on Saturday Night Live as they look away from the camera or character as they’re reading lines.
Rob Lowe recently sent out a tweet that he speculates nothing was in the coffee mug Spacey takes a sip from. I disagree. Spacey is all about method acting, and I believe he filled the cup. Perhaps not with scalding hot coffee or tea, but water. That also helps when you’re reading lines. Although because I’m such a big fan of his movie The Usual Suspects, I couldn’t help but wonder if the bottom of the coffee mug had some clue. Perhaps it had the name of the young man that’s accusing him of the sexual assault. That also led me to another thought. Why did he choose the Frank character? For the clever title of “Let Me Be Frank” (which is clever). I would’ve preferred him doing one of his other characters. He played that weird alien in K-Pax. He could’ve grabbed a banana and started eating it with the peel on. Although in light of some of the charges against him, perhaps that visual would’ve lent itself to lots and lots of parody videos, although it’s hard to see how this won’t also.
I found his line about everyone waiting with “bated breath” to be very powerful. Although during that part of his monologue, I wondered if Spacey even gets what time we’re living in now. If they could jail Dr. Huxtable, and a big studio would shelve a Woody Allen movie that had a huge cast and cost $25 million — you’re career is probably over. So no matter how well he or the screenwriter (which I’m guessing is him, as this film short didn’t have closing credits) wrote that, it just doesn’t work. It comes across as a desperate man merely trying to get people on his side. Yet it’s going to have the same effect as when O.J. Simpson wrote a book called “If I Did It” because as he so eloquently stated, he didn’t kill Nicole but if he did, he wanted you to know exactly how he would’ve done it. Nothing screams innocence like that. And if OJ Spacey wants to throw out the fact that we don’t have all the facts or that it’s a false accusation, perhaps it would’ve just worked better to say that. A simple presser where you say, “I didn’t do what I’m accused of and am looking forward to my day in court.”
Spacey also says he’s not going to “pay the price” but…he kind of already has. He was cut out of scenes in All the Money in the World, where his replacement Christopher Plummer immediately got a lot of award nominations. Perhaps Spacey could’ve paid Plummer to come in during the middle of this monologue, gently push Spacey aside, and ask him to take off the apron. Spacey could’ve looked down, taken the apron off, and handed it to him. And as Plummer goes on, with that same goofy southern accent, Spacey walks off the screen. At least then, it would be a humorous thing to do. Because one of the other things I think Spacey was trying to accomplish was to make people realize how much they loved that character on the TV show and they simply killed him off. This doesn’t have the desired effect he thinks it does, though. Although it did make me think…instead of Plummer (who obviously would’ve refused to participate in this), he should’ve hired Roseanne. Remember how she screamed in her video “I thought the bi**h was white!” She could’ve said “He thought the boy was over 18!!! After all, he was in a bar drinking alcohol!”
That is a line that might get people on his side, except for the fact that so many allegations have come out against him, many involving teenagers. Richard Dreyfuss’ underage son, while dad was sitting right across the room reading a script. There are numerous allegations from people in the theatre in the U.K. There was that actor that was 13 or 14 when Spacey carried him to his bedroom at a party. Instead of Spacey denying that, he merely said he didn’t remember the episode but that he’d apologize anyway. But I’m not here to review all of his accusations, that would take way too long. I’m reviewing his video. So back to the matter at hand.
I would’ve prefered Spacey doing his character from the movie 21, but I realize that’s problematic. He’s teaching college kids how to cheat at blackjack. Not something that would garner sympathy from the public.
His last role in a movie, was playing the abusive crime boss in Baby Driver, that manipulates a young man to continue being his getaway driver after robberies. Again, that would’ve had the opposite effect.
His role in The Ref had him tied up with a wife he was bickering with, as Denis Leary was robbing their house. That would’ve been a great thing to parody. Leary would’ve done that for a small price, and he could be yelling at Spacey for all the things he did to ruin a promising career.
I have to admit, it was great hearing Spacey use the word “poppycock.” I don’t think I’ve ever heard that used on screen before. His use of that and “animosity” were done brilliantly.
I remember seeing Spacey on Inside the Actors Studio, as well as Letterman…and he impressed me with all the impersonations he could do. He did Christopher Walken, Johnny Carson, and remember the movie Under the Sea? He played Bobby Darin. So perhaps instead of him dicing vegetables at the kitchen sink, he could’ve song a Darin tune. He could’ve picked up a spatula and sang into it like a microphone. Or he could grab that knife he’s dicing things with and sing “Mack the Knife.” That would’ve been cute. And after all, he didn’t use a knife like O.J. Simpson did (allegedly). Maybe folks would’ve found that better than the bizarre speech he was making.
I thought that this video had such strong production values, that he obviously put some time and money into it. And if he’s going to go that far, he should’ve gotten more creative. In the movie The Last Movie Star, director/writer Adam Rifkin cleverly edited Reynolds film clips, to show the older actor talking to the younger actor about life. It was brilliant. Well, Spacey could’ve had a clip from Se7en, where in the background we hear Brad Pitt yelling “What’s in the box?! Come on, what’s in the box?”
And Spacey could get that smirky grin he’s so great at producing, and lift a box up and put it on the counter. Just as we’re wondering if a severed head is in there, he could pull out scripts. He could say “I’m still in demand as an actor. Hell, I’ve won an Oscar. But…we’re going to clear up all this poppycock, cockamamie accusations, and then I’ll be back at it.”
Maybe he could’ve pulled out a bloody Trump head the way Kathy Griffin did. Sure, it hurt her career for a couple days, but most of the entertainment industry is liberal, and he might get a few on his side that way (and Griffin is back to selling out theatres, so it didn’t hurt her much).
Or he could’ve pulled the box up, and grabbed more vegetables out that he was going to dice up for whatever he was making.
Why weren’t rose petals sprinkled all around, to remind us of American Beauty? Oh wait, that stuff didn’t end so well, did it?
Most people didn’t see this great sci-fi movie called Moon, but in that, Spacey did the voice of the computer, which was reminiscent of HAL in 2001. Yet instead of him killing Sam Rockwell, he helps him escape [sorry, “spoiler alert” if you didn’t see that]. Perhaps that’s the video Spacey should’ve made. We just see a computer, and we hear Spacey’s voice talking about these recent charges against him.
But instead of all the talk on what Spacey could’ve done, let me wrap this up with how Spacey wrapped things up. After his last statement, he leaves from the frame. We hear the cheesiest keyboard sound effects ever. It was like something you’d hear from a sci-fi movie in the ‘50s, just as the humans found out the aliens were there to cook them all or probe them in orifices they don’t want to be probed in [insert your own Spacey joke there]. Again, that means he’s putting some thought into this film short. At what point does he get to thinking that music at the end would work, and not just make all of us watching collectively say WTF?
Yet despite all the flaws Let Me Be Frank has, it didn’t take up a lot of my time to view (I think it clocked in at around 3 minutes). I was never bored watching it, and it’s provided lots of entertainment to my friends and I, and fodder for all the talk shows.
2 stars out of 5.