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One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest

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Charles Spencer at the Telegraph (London) reviews the current revival of One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest at this year's Edinburgh Festival, with Christian Slater as Randle P McMurphy and Mackenzie Crook (of BBC's The Office) as Billy Bibbit.

It can't be easy following Nicholson, especially when you are not 100 per cent fit, and it would be dishonest to pretend that Slater makes the role triumphantly his own. The spirit of mad, bad Jack seems to haunt almost every second of Slater's performance as R P McMurphy, which seems subdued in comparison, and never quite bursts into a satisfyingly individual life of its own.

But Slater is never less than watchable. His baiting of the odious Nurse Ratched is often wonderfully funny, his rapport with his fellow inmates touching, and there is no doubt that this anti-hero's final fate tugs, albeit manipulatively, at the heart-strings ...

More here.

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Posted · Report post

Oh, wow, and just when I thought Christian Slater had put his Jack Nicholson imitation behind him ...

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Did Nicholson ever do a stage version? Are they actually comparing a stage production of this play with the flipping move? Does anyone else find that mind-bogglingly stupid?

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Mind-bogglingly stupid? Not really, when you consider that Nicholson's Randle P McMurphy is something of a cultural icon. Like it or lump it, you can hardly just pretend Nicholson's portrayal isn't there, and every other portrayal of McMurphy will always be seen -- whether intentionally or otherwise -- in relation to that, in one way or another. Does that make sense?

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Do they understand the difference between theatre and the movies? Like, no close-ups?

I'm sorry. I find it an absolutely ridiculous comparison. Even if Slater WANTED to copy Nicholson, he couldn't. Movie acting on a stage doesn't work, and the reverse usually looks odd as well.

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Close ups or not, Slater admittedly rode the Nicholson train into Hollywood--and his debut onstage in England follows much the same course, a shrewd maneuver IMO for an actor whose viability has seen better days.

Stage acting does work onscreen--take a look at Nicholson's antics in Cuckoo's, The Shining, As Good as it Gets, ad infinitum--his over-the-top histrionics and gesticulations have been a benchmark that Slater capitalized on on more than one occasion.

If anyone else were being reviewed, I'd be right there with you, BDR. But it's Slater, the guy who once said he called Nicholson after Heathers to see what he thought of the flick. It doesn't surprise me in the least they're applying the litmus he estblished when Heathers first graced the theatres almost two decades ago...

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