For many movie maniacs “the Face is Familiar“, is a great shout out to hard-working underdog character actors that we’ve already known about and have been following, but not everybody is a Quentin Tarantino-like encyclopedic enthusiast for film. For most people, when you move past the Brad Pitts and Jennifer Lopez types, the rest of the cast is a vague and hazy slew of “I-know-hims” and “she’s-in-something-I’ve-seen-recentlys”, hence the title.
This documentary focus’ on the working actor and not the stars. For many people it’ll be a cool formal introduction to people they’ve been watching for years but never noticed. The feature is short with a run-time of about an hour and covers career highlights and interviews with about a dozen actors. I could list the names here, but they’ll mean more to you once you’ve seen the movie.
The only complaint is for the die hard movie buffs, and it comes with a certain amour of understanding. Most of these people are well known now and few of them operate in virtual anonymity. Samuel L. Jackson is huge and while it’s cool to have him talk about his old Spike Lee flicks, not only does he never mention them, he only talks about Pulp Fiction and Die Hard: With A Vengeance! In fact those are the only two movies they show from his work! This is hardly a good example of a character actor and is more of an example of “character actor makes good”. This complaint does come with some understanding of course; how interesting would it be to watch a documentary about nobody’s and never-were’s? It’s smart to hedge your bets by putting Sam in there with some other bigger fish so that he audience is better entertained.
Either way it’s worth watching. Whether to open your eyes to some new favorites or to spend some time with old favorites that rarely get the interviews, The Face Is Familiar is pretty fine fare.