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WORKING MAN: A NOT-SO-SIMPLE SLICE OF AMERICANA

Peter Gerety is a familiar character actor who’s appeared in Syriana, Public Enemies, Charlie Wilson’s War, and scores of other movies and TV shows, including Ray Donovan. Working Man offers him his first leading role (at age 80!), alongside Talia Shire and Billy Brown. It’s a modest indie film that starts out in a Frank Capra populist vein and then takes some surprising turns. I missed it when it opened this past spring and I’m glad I caught up with it now.

The setting is an archetypal American town where Gerety follows a daily routine that never varies, walking to work at a nearby factory, carrying a lunch pail and thermos. When the facility abruptly shuts down without concern for its personnel, Gerety—who seldom speaks—refuses to change his pattern, showing up and sneaking in a back door to continue “going to work” every day. One morning he’s joined by a relative newcomer to the town (Brown), and before long several dozen others are at their side. They decide to make a stand, occupying the factory and spending their days completing orders for the plastic parts they manufacture.

Gerety’s character is taciturn, to put it mildly. He’s finally impelled to speak when his wife forces him to confront reality—and circumstances that have mushroomed beyond his control.

Working Man is a creditable feature debut for writer-director Robert Jury and his actors come through for him. His characters’ plight is an all-too-familiar one but he incorporates a couple of twists that maintain interest without unduly stretching credulity. It’s not a perfect movie but it’s worth a look. You can find it on many platforms including Vudu, DirecTV, and Amazon Prime.

Leonard Maltin is one of the world’s most respected film critics and historians. He is best known for his widely-used reference work Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide and its companion volume Leonard Maltin’s Classic Movie Guide, now in its third edition, as well as his thirty-year run on television’s Entertainment Tonight. He teaches at the USC School of Cinematic Arts and appears regularly on Reelz Channel and Turner Classic Movies. His books include The 151 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen, Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons, The Great Movie Comedians, The Disney Films, The Art of the Cinematographer, Movie Comedy Teams, The Great American Broadcast, and Leonard Maltin’s Movie Encyclopedia. He served two terms as President of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, is a voting member of the National Film Registry, and was appointed by the Librarian of Congress to sit on the Board of Directors of the National Film Preservation Foundation. He hosted and co-produced the popular Walt Disney Treasures DVD series and has appeared on innumerable television programs and documentaries. He has been the recipient of awards from the American Society of Cinematographers, the Telluride Film Festival, Anthology Film Archives, and San Diego’s Comic-Con International. Perhaps the pinnacle of his career was his appearance in a now-classic episode of South Park. (Or was it Carmela consulting his Movie Guide on an episode of The Sopranos?) He holds court at leonardmaltin.com. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook; you can also listen to him on his weekly podcast: Maltin on Movies. — [Artwork by Drew Friedman]

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