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Critics reviews
Actor Martinez
Mike Ott, Nathan Silver United States, 2016
Spanning the longest 75 minutes you’ve ever yawned through, Actor Martinez is a meta-documentary in the spirit of last year’s infinitely more engrossing Kate Plays Christine… In both outings, the scrutinizing presence of the filmmakers ultimately provokes the actor into fits of anxiety and rage, but what’s left deliberately unclear is whether these onscreen blow-ups are scripted or actually happening: Are we watching voyeurism, or a twisted study on voyeurism?
March 15, 2017
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The characters of “Mike Ott” and “Nathan Silver”… think that they are probing Arthur’s psyche for his own good… The film becomes what it’s critiquing, because as soon as Burdge starts accusing the directors of making the movie about themselves, the viewer’s attention can’t help but turn from working out Arthur’s motivations to working out theirs. It’s a clever but self-defeating exercise: a meta-fictional cautionary tale about itself.
March 08, 2017
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It’s a presumed blend of fiction and documentary, one of those films in which we’re deliberately not supposed to know what’s what, like, say, Robert Greene’s Kate Plays Christine. That film was earnest in its inquiries while Ott and Silver exhibit a playfully nasty streak of impudence, rendering themselves unsympathetic, riffing on the parasitic nature of art, pointedly refusing to caricature themselves as a way of letting us off the hook via editorial orientation.
March 06, 2017
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As the filmmakers chase after some kind of messy, potentially therapeutic truth—and discuss their efforts in boozy, very meta production meetings with their subject—their direction becomes increasingly confrontational, from their admonishments of Arthur (“Don’t phone it in!”) to an eventual breakdown with Burdge, when they spring an unscripted sex scene on her… Actor Martinez feels at once rigorous and out of control.
April 15, 2016
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The tyrannical aspects of directing are as much the brunt of the film’s comedy as the limits of less than transformative acting. As the working relationships between cast and crew become awkwardly strained, the film blurs the lines between performance and reality to a mind-bending degree.
April 14, 2016
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The conceptual layers pile on — Ott and Silver eventually bring on the actress Lindsay Burdge (A Teacher) to play a role designed to echo Arthur’s ex-wife — and the low-key humor of seeing these collaborators fumble along morphs into a more sinister, interrogatory unease.
April 12, 2016
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The film is a spinning prism of fiction and nonfiction that tosses off iridescent glints of a complex and melancholy whimsy, a self-questioning about the creation of drama that’s intensely and prolifically productive of drama, a self-revelation on the creation of fiction that turns the very question of fiction and nonfiction inside-out. The result is a novelistic confection that’s as severely and earnestly emotional as it is intellectually playful and stylistically original.
February 02, 2016
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We have four layers of conceptual drama: Martinez’s life, the film about him, the film about the production of that film, and the film about the production of the film about the production. Are you following? Perhaps; but then again the actor and directors may not be, as they keep decrying that the “film” (whichever they may be talking about) doesn’t seem to have much to it. Unfortunately, Actor Martinez doesn’t seem to have fleshed out each (or indeed any) of its layers laid in composite.
February 01, 2016
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