Movie PictureThis week: GOOD ACTING vs. BAD08.08.02Wow, I miss one weekly rant, and I get inundated with e-mails about it... Ok, ok, so nobody noticed. *sniffle, sniffle* It's Ok, though, I'm not too hurt...
Composure, Kerouac, composure.
Here goes. There have been some lively discussion as of late in the message boards about the best performance you've ever seen (and I'm not talking about the "bend over and brace yourself" variety). I've been keeping close tabs on the discussions, as well as adding my $.02. The one thing I've noticed throughout the course of people posting their favorite performances is this: no matter hwo people pick, they're an actor or actress with both unrelenting charisma, and a knack for subtlety.
How is this a rant? Well, seeing that xXx is the talk of the town, and for some reason, Vin Diesel is Hollywood's new Golden Boy, I'm prompted to respond. I've never met Vin Diesel. I don't know him, what he likes, what he dislikes... whatever. I only know him as the personal he presents, and the "acting" he's done. And from that, I don't like him. I keep hearing about his charisma, and I have to say, I don't see it. I've seen more charisma in a 3 day old turd floating around the bowl in a McDonald's bathroom.
Then that got me thinking, how many actors nowadays really have charisma? How can ellicit the response one got when a film was going to star James Dean, or the young Marlon Brando, or Steve McQueen, or Paul Newman? These guys were on fire off screen, then they got in front of the camera and let that fire smoulder just below the surface. You saw it in their eyes. You knew they could explode at any moment, yet they held it in. It was amazing, and it brought about some of the best performances in film history. Nowadays, almost every actor is the same off screen as they are on. If someone's public perception is that of a manic lunatic, well, that's what they give you on screen, too. Not too many actors surprise us anymore.
I'm not saying that charisma and subtlety are a completely dead art. That would be an irresponsible statement to make. There are actors who walk the line, and do it very well. Sam Jackson, Tom Hanks, Johnny Depp (usually), Brad Pitt (when he's careful with his roles) Leonardo DiCaprio (when he actually MAKES a movie) and Tobey McGuire. And a young actor coming into his own with both charisma and subtlety is Josh Hartnett.
But the focus is always on guys like Diesel... and that's fine, for the types of films he makes. They're popcorn fare for the pre-pubescent punks. Keanu Reeves said it best when talking about surfing in Point Break, "This is for little rubber people who don't shave yet!". And because of that, the media blitz focuses on them.
I guess I just won't be satisfied until the media focuses on things like Paul Newman's performance in The Road to Perdition. But, that's about as likely as you guys noticing that I missed a Weekly Rant.
Keep dreaming, Kerouac... keep dreaming.