Check out episode twenty-four of Richard’s web series, “In Isolation With…” It’s the talk show where we make a connection without actually making contact! Today, broadcasting directly from Isolation Studios (a.k.a. my home office), we meet Joe Pantoliano, a working actor for over forty years. From doing plays in empty basement theatres in New York City to Broadway to guest roles on the biggest television shows of several decades like “M*A*S*H” and “The Sopranos” and juicy supporting parts in films like “Risky Business,” “The Goonies,” “The Fugitive,” “Memento,” “Bad Boys” and “The Matrix” he says “There aren’t any small parts, only small paychecks.”
He jokes that he has a twenty-minute face, perfect for character work but his new film, “From the Vine” offers him the chance to show off his ninety-minute face. His first starring role in recent memory sees him playing a man who gives up a high-flying career as an executive to return to Italy, where he was born, to search for find his centre and regain his moral compass. In this interview we talk about the parallels between his life and that of his “From the Vine” character, Jimmy Stewart’s wig and how “On the Waterfront” made him want to be an actor… and here’s a surprise… it had nothing to do with Marlon Brando.
“They sent me to a place called Bob Roberts,” Joe says in the interview, “a guy who made wigs on Robertson Avenue. Robertson Boulevard in LA, and as I was walking up the courtyard out walks Jimmy Stewart. He’s got a fishing cap on, and he is carrying a box. It’s his hairpiece. I said, ‘Mr. Stewart. I’m a young actor and I just got a big job over at Warner Bros. I’m getting fitted for my first hair piece.’ He said, ‘Well good for you young man. I didn’t get fitted for mine until I was 38.’”
Let’s get to know Joe Pantoliano.
Watch the whole thing HERE on YouTube or HERE on ctvnews.ca!
“From the Vine” breathes the same fragrant air as “Under the Tuscan Sun,” “A Good Year” and any number of other movies that offer up beautiful scenery and a stripped-down way of life as a tonic for the soul.
In a rare leading role Joe Pantoliano stars as Marco Gentile, an Italian born CEO of a Canadian automobile company. He’s at a crossroads in his life. Tired of the grind and troubled by an unkept promise he made years ago, he throws it all away. Without consulting his wife Marina (Wendy Crewson) he quits his high-paying job and makes a plan to hightail it to the tiny town of Acerenza, site of his grandfather’s old vineyard in Italy. There he hopes to reconnect to a way of life that will help him find his centre and regain his moral compass. But will his new beginning spell an end to old relationships?
There is a sense of déjà vu that comes along with watching “From the Vine.” Like the movies I mentioned above, it’s a beautifully shot travelogue with that follows a familiar path. Adding some spark are engaging performances from the cast.
Pantoliano plays Marco as a man having an extreme mid-life crisis, but it’s not about buying a Maserati or trading in his starter wife for someone younger. He’s having an actual existential crisis brought on by the realization that the life he leads isn’t the life he wants. To illustrate his dilemma director Sean Cisterna adds in a few surreal Felliniesque flourishes, but the heart of the character comes from Pantoliano’s rough-hewn charm.
As Marco’s long-suffering wife, Crewson brings warmth and a considerable amount of heart.
“From the Vine” doesn’t add anything new to the soul-searching travelogue genre but the point of these movies is not to reinvent the wheel. Like rom coms, the most formulaic variety of mass entertainment there is, it’s about the journey not the individual stops along the way. Sure, the story is predictable but it exudes good vibes and tries to appeal to our better natures and these days maybe that’s enough.
Richard sits in on the CFRA Ottawa morning show with host Bill Carroll to talk the new movies coming to VOD and streaming services including the Netflix animated movie “The Willoughbys,” the Netflix doc “Circus of Books,” the high school crime drama “Selah and the Spades” and a pair of big screen movies coming to VOD, “Bad Boys for Life” and “Run This Town.”