Ron Rosenbaum

Wow! A Movie I Really Loved: "The Great Buck Howard"

It’s called The Great Buck Howard*; it stars John Malkovich, and it’s a genre I’ve loved ever since I was first knocked out by Spinal Tap: the satire of second rate show-biz sincerity.

Call it meta-showbiz; I think I like it better than I like first rate show-biz, although in a way, like Tap this film transcends first rate show biz.

And it stars Malkovich the most interesting man in Hollywood if you ask me, our Brando, (I know: that says a lot about us). Here he’s playing a played out over the ill “mentalist”, utterly oblivious to the fact that time (when he was a regular on Johnny Carson) has long passed him by and he’s playing half filled venues in Bakersfield.

But–and here’s where it transcends even meta-showbiz which is, even I’ll admit, a kind of dark and cynical genre; it offers a hint of a Larger Question of the sort Hamlet conjures u when he tells Horatio there may well be more things on heaven and earth than dreamed of by Hoatio’s rationalist philosophy.

Of course I’d watch Malkovich in anything; I love the utterly unbridled contempt for humanity and its ideal only he can express so eloquently: we need that. But he’s also great when he’s playing someone other than himself, like Buck Howard, those who still believe in something if only themselves.

Anyway this is one of those films that can get lost and sink out of sight in a week or two (it just oponed this weekend in New York) so make sure you don’t miss it. I’d be interested in hearing the reaction of others who have seen it.

*Hasty error corrected thanks to “oxford”.