An Ode to Michael Pitt

I know I said I wanted to make Divulge and Indulge more of a priority, but I obviously haven’t.  I’ve had a horrible cold for almost a week now, and while a cold isn’t completely debilitating, it has sucked out a lot of my energy and made it nearly impossible to focus on much beyond a few episodes of Bob’s Burgers on Netflix.  (We just started watching it after Eric’s younger brother recommended it while he was staying with us earlier this month.  If you’ve never watched it, you should … It’s hilarious!)

Although I haven’t written much lately, I’ve had quite a few post ideas floating around in my head.  I’m hoping I’ll eventually find the time and energy to form interesting, thoughtful posts from these ideas, but for now you’ll have to settle with a resurrected LiveJournal entry.

I originally wrote this in April 2008.  I’ve tweaked it a bit, but it’s mostly the same.  I wrote it as kind of a silly thing, mostly because 99.9% of my LiveJournal entries were either long rants about all the things I hated about my life and/or men or really depressing stream of consciousness entries … I guess I got tired of writing the same old shit (at least for one day).

Anyway, this post is all about one of my favorite actors.  He’s probably grown more popular since I first posted this over 6 years ago due to his role on HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, but he’s not the kind of actor you’ll see plastered all over magazine covers or making regular rounds on the late night talk shows.  I’d venture to say that although he’s probably a little more well known these days, a significant number of people have likely still never heard of him.  Or, if they’ve heard of him, they probably haven’t seen much of his work since he typically chooses roles in independent films over Hollywood blockbusters.

Today I’ll be sharing some of the reasons why Michael Pitt has continued to be one of my favorite actors.  Hopefully this will inspire you to check out some of his work (if you haven’t already)!

An Ode to Michael Pitt

Michael-Pitt-insert

Image courtesy of http://www.megasuits.com.

1.  He’s a good actor.  Plain and simple.

2.  According to IMDB.com, he has said, “I just do movies I like.  I mean, I do movies I would want to go see.”  Some people may think this sounds dumb, but I think it sounds like he has some integrity.  You’re probably not going to see him in some special effects heavy summer blockbuster (unless he really likes the script), and I think that’s probably a good thing.  The way I see it, he chooses roles because he thinks they’ll allow him to be part of an interesting project and/or he feels they will challenge him as an actor.  If I were an actress (and trust me, I still daydream about this from time to time!), that’s the kind of approach I would want to take as well … So I can definitely respect that.  (Side note: He actually did have a recurring role on Dawson’s Creek back in the day as Jen’s younger boyfriend, Henry.  He hasn’t really been in anything like that since, though.  And, really, it was Dawson’s Creek … I’d be lying if I said I didn’t watch that show when it was airing!)

3.  I thought he was a good actor before I watched Last Days.  After seeing that movie, I was like, “Holy shit!  This guy is fucking amazing.”  Here’s why: In the movie, he plays a character modeled after Kurt Cobain (and the resemblance is quite eerie, as you will see below), and manages to evoke some serious emotion without saying much of anything.  In fact, the majority of the film plays out with no dialogue, so he relied heavily on facial expressions and body language.  It’s not easy to make an audience really feel something without saying anything, but he managed to do it.

CobainCollage

Kind of creepy, huh? I know Michael Pitt is covering his mouth in the picture, but still … You can’t deny that he did an excellent job getting into character! Although the film is only loosely based on the events surrounding Cobain’s death and it’s not meant to be a biographical movie (Pitt’s character is named Blake, and his bandmates are not Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic), there are a lot of similarities between his character and Kurt Cobain (and not just in looks).  Michael Pitt image courtesy of http://www.theage.com.au and Kurt Cobain image courtesy of michaelhutchenceandme.wordpress.com.  Images edited by me.

4.  He’s also a musician, and a few of his songs and covers have been featured in his movies.  I actually really liked the song “Death to Birth” that he performed in Last Days.  He was in a band called Pagoda for a while (though they broke up in 2011), and apparently (according to my “extensive” internet research) they were initially signed by Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth.  Pretty awesome, in my opinion!

5.  He’s not afraid to get completely naked (yes, full frontal) in a movie.  This may seem like a weird thing to add to the list, but I actually do admire people who are comfortable enough in their own skin to do nude scenes.  And I’m not just talking about a simulated sex scene … I’m talking about real acting: a serious, emotional scene done completely naked.  Don’t believe me?  Check out The Dreamers.  Not only will you see a close-up of his penis (yes, you read that correctly), but you will also see an incredibly intense scene unfold between the three main characters during which none of them are wearing a stitch of clothing.  The funny thing is, the acting is so good you barely notice it (the nudity, I mean).  Michael Pitt has also acknowledged in past interviews that he was nervous about some of the scenes in that movie because he knew it could potentially damage his career in American film.  I really liked what he said regarding this, though: “It’s looked down upon in American culture at a serious level.  It could be perceived not as work, but as pornography.  Every time I was nervous about it, I would remind myself that possibly I was going to be a part of something that was going to change those attitudes.  I don’t agree with those values at all.  It’s totally fine showing someone getting their head blown off in America and you can’t show the human body.  I think that shows something about the culture.”

6.  He’s not just another “pretty boy” actor.  I would never call him ugly (he’s not at all), but he’s not conventionally attractive in the way that many other young actors are.  I think this is important because I doubt very seriously he’s getting all of his roles (and gaining fans) based solely on his looks.  (And though I wouldn’t list him as one of my top celebrity crushes, I’ll admit he can look pretty hot at times … See the picture below if you want proof.)

actors-in-bands-1684327416-aug-1-2012-1-600x400

Image courtesy of imgarcade.com.

7.  He’s versatile.  Though he often plays really dark characters (like Donny in Bully, Justin in Murder by Numbers, and Paul in the English language version of Funny Games), he has also portrayed really sweet and/or vulnerable characters (like Matthew in The Dreamers and Chep in Rhinoceros Eyes).

I could probably say more about him, but this list is probably sufficient.

If you’ve never seen any of his work and want some suggestions regarding where to start, here’s a short list of some of my favorites:

1.  Bully  (He only has a smaller supporting role, but it’s an overall excellent movie and worth watching.  A word of caution … It’s a Larry Clark film, so it may be a little shocking if you’re not familiar with his work.  If you think something that may be classified as “disturbing” might bother you, I’d recommend reading up on the film and Larry Clark’s other work to make sure it’s something you’re comfortable watching.  I think this one is pretty tame in comparison to, say, Kids, but I still wanted to offer a disclaimer.)

2.  The Dreamers  (As I mentioned before, this movie contains a lot of nudity.  I don’t think this should deter you from watching it, but I know that some people just aren’t comfortable with that sort of thing.)

3.  Hedwig and the Angry Inch  (He also only has a smaller supporting role in this movie, but it’s so good that it had to make the list.  While you probably won’t get a great idea of his acting ability, you’ll at least enjoy a really funny and interesting musical that features some really great songs.)

4.  Funny Games (English language version)  (One of my favorite things about this movie is that Michael Haneke, director of the original Funny Games that was released 10 years prior, also directed this version.  As for the movie itself, it’s brutal.  Michael Pitt and Brady Corbet were perfectly cast as clean-cut, preppy psychopaths.)

5.  Last Days  (As I said earlier in this post, I think this film really showcases his talent.  I’d say fans of Nirvana may be more interested in this movie than the average viewer, but it could really appeal to anyone who enjoys artsy dramas.)

6.  Boardwalk Empire  (Eric and I never got past season 2 of this show because we got rid of HBO, but we really liked it when we were watching it regularly.  I will say, hopefully without giving too many spoilers, that Michael Pitt doesn’t remain on the show after that season … So if you’re watching just for him, you may be disappointed.  I’m still interested in watching later seasons of the show, though.  I initially started watching it because of Michael Pitt, but Eric and I both really enjoyed it overall.  I’ll have to catch up on it at some point!)

I haven’t had an opportunity to see one of his newest films, I Origins.  Eric and I were both really looking forward to it when we first saw the trailer, but it was only in the independent theater here for like a week or two during a time when we were both really busy.  I’m waiting (very impatiently!) for it to become available on Netflix … It’s in my saved DVD queue right now.

Anyway, that’s all the Michael Pitt love I have to give right now.  As you can see, I think he’s pretty awesome.  If I were an actress, I’d definitely want to star in a movie with him!

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3 thoughts on “An Ode to Michael Pitt

  1. Pingback: The Late Honeymoon/One Year Anniversary Recap Part 1: New York | Divulge and Indulge

  2. Pingback: The Late Honeymoon/One Year Anniversary Recap Part 4: Paris | Divulge and Indulge

  3. Pingback: The Divulge and Indulge 2014 Year in Review | Divulge and Indulge

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