Acting!

Love the old Jon Lovitz SNL bit Master Thespian. I was merely … Acting!

Also love watching great, blow-you-away acting. Now if I’m cognizant that it’s great acting, you might argue, it’s not great acting. Great acting should be invisible. (Yeah, whatever.)

What brings this to mind is Anthony Hopkins in Fracture. I suspect the script has one good idea and otherwise is mediocre at best. And the female lead, Rosamund Pike [corrected], despite her considerable goodwill earned in the surprisingly and infinitely re-watchable chick flick Pride and Prejudice, gets completely blown off the screen by Hopkins and Ryan Gosling. Hopkins, wow.

Similarly I like watching Johnny Depp and Geoffrey Rush in the first Pirates of the Caribbean, where they recognize the ridiculousness of the script and decide to go WAY over the top, to great effect.

I like male actors with gravitas, and there aren’t many. Denzel in Glory; Russell Crowe in Master and Commander. Worst casting decision ever, in this regard: Bill Pullman as a milquetoast President in Independence Day. He was so much better as The World’s Stupidest Person in Ruthless People

But for sheer astonishing power, any day I’ll sit down and watch Daniel Day Lewis and Emily Watson in The Boxer. Truly an underappreciated flick.

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9 thoughts on “Acting!

  1. Boy, you nailed it for me. I will watch anything Anthony Hopkins does, just to see him. I love to just listen to him talk. There’s something really giant about his presence. I agree as well about Depp and Rush. Those are people you just eat up and cannot get enough of.

  2. Great post. My two cents:

    (1) Hopkins’s portrayal of Hannibal Lecter is so deeply ingrained in my consciousness that I find him literally unwatchable in any other role (kind of like when I see Roscoe Orman, a/k/a Gordon from Sesame Street, show up in a random crime drama). I am presumably in the minority here though; otherwise I suspect Hopkins would have had a lot of trouble finding work after Silence of the Lambs ;).

    (2) You are the third person whose opinions I respect who has spoken highly of Master and Commander. I need to move that atop my must-see list.

    (3) For entertaining over-the-top performances, I recommend Brad Pitt in Fight Club, Reese Witherspoon in Freeway and Christian Bale in American Psycho. (Just realized after typing this that all three movies are extremely violent …. wonder if that says something about me or the nature of over-the-top acting performances ;)).

    (4) I agree that there are so few actors today with gravitas. Prior generations have many more, with Peter O’Toole standing out as my favorite. Powers Boothe (from a more recent vintage than O’Toole) is very good as well.

    (5) As for astonishingly powerful dramatic (and underappreciated) performances, I will need to check out the Boxer. For me, two performances that stand out in this category are are Reese Witherspoon in The Man in the Moon and Noah Fleiss in Joe the King. Remarkable performances, especially considering that both were just teenagers at the time.

  3. Chris – yes, I agree – great presence.

    Anonymous Greg – A lot on your list there that I haven’t seen.

    re: Roscoe, ha, I have the same problem with Charles Durning for whatever reason.

    Powers Boothe, I’m not sold on, but maybe I’ve not seen the right roles.

    Master & Commander is just an action flick, nothing profound at all, but if you take it as such it’s just phenomenally well done, IMO. Paul Bettany nails it too. (I’m also kind of a sucker for historical pieces like this.)

    Hate to sound all modern-rat-packy but I do enjoy Clooney, Pitt, Damon. And Edward Norton – he can pretty much do anything and do it well. A vastly funny performance to me was Clooney doing Batman, where the subtext is an amused, “I can’t believe I’m doing this especially with these two knuckleheads (Alicia Silverstone & Chris Donnelly), but okay, I’m game… “

  4. Derek — Never seen Clooney as Batman, but I too enjoy the modern rat pack. Ocean’s Eleven is certainly among my top 10 or so favorite movies. That said, Ocean’s Twelve may be my least favorite, if for no other reason than the absurd (and in my opinion, unforgivable) breaking of the fourth wall by the Julia Roberts character.

    On second thought, now that I have seen several episodes of Justice League with Powers Boothe voicing Gorilla Grodd, I am having a similar Hopkins/Orman (or, in your case, Durning) issue with him. Whenever he spoke a line on 24, I was always expecting him to end it by saying “Superman” in a diabolical tone ;)

    Btw, isn’t “infinitely re-watchable chick flick” another oxymoron? ;)

  5. My favorite clip in Ocean’s Eleven is at the bar where Clooney twitches and says “That’s enough, right? I mean ten is plenty…You think we need one more?” etc while Pitt says and does NOTHING. Cracks me up.

    Totally with you on the Julia bit in 12. Tsk tsk.

    Also underappreciated: The Mexican (except that the cameo at the end should have been Ben Kingsley – I’ve put a lot of thought into this) and Meet Joe Black. Pitt AND Hopkins.

  6. That is a great clip. The poker scene with Pitt, Clooney and the randoms is also classic. Basically, I liked everything about the movie except for Don Cheadle’s accent.

  7. I was totally going to recommend Ryan Gosling as an incredibly talented young male actor. Then I saw you mentioned him. I was blown away by Gosling’s performance in “Half Nelson.” I also thought, what’s his name, the Australian guy who played Ennis Del Mar in “Brokeback Mountain,” is pretty incredible. Also high on the list of phenomenally talented young(ish) male actors: Guy Pearce (Memento) and Josh Lucas (though he’s been in a lot of shlock lately, in the indie films he started in, he’s totally a young Paul Newman circa Hud.)

  8. ML! Hiya.

    Guy Pearce is old like me :) Josh Lucas, yeah, I don’t think I’ve seen his finer work, or at least I hope not. Heath Ledger, heard good things.

    [This is starting to remind me of Bill Murray’s old Oscar previews on SNL. He’d throw half the movies off the board with a dismissive shrug and a “Didn’t see it.”]

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