Top 5 Actors I just don’t get

Posted on July 16, 2011. Filed under: Top 5 | Tags: , , , , |

I’m baaaaaaaaaaaaaaack! ūüôā

Howdy folks. I’m back from the East Coast where the weather is generally windy but the baby goats are cute.¬† I have a whole arsenal of posts in the early draft stages ready to head your way, so I thought I better get going.

This post is brought to you by a late night re-run of The Departed. You’ll see why.

There are some actors out there that as far as I’m concerned are way more succesful than they should be. It’s not exactly that they’re bad actors, I just don’t understand why they keep getting lead roles.¬† They are either what I call beige people, who just blend into the background and can’t convince me of any kind of hero-like status, or they’re just plain creepy.¬† So with that in mind, I give you my Top 5 Actors that I just don’t get.

5. Adam Sandler

I haven’t seen that many Sandler films.¬† Mainly because I don’t think I could be less interested in him if I tried.¬† I don’t know what it is. I don’t actively dislike him, unlike some other names to come, but I don’t like him either, so as a lead character I never sympathise. I’ve never really found him funny either. Yet there’s a significant proportion of, mainly American, people who think the sun shines where he walks.¬† Anyone care to explain what I’m missing?

4. Russell Crowe

It took me a while to work out that the reason I don’t like Gladiator is Russell Crowe.¬† Again, it’s nothing against him personally, I just don’t find him an engaging screen presence.¬† When I found out he would be starring in the latest Robin Hood offering I actively avoided it, and without Paul Bettany I doubt I would have made it all the way through Master and Commander. I think the problem is that I find him boring.¬† And because he tends to take on more serious subjects… Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

3. Pierce Brosnan

Anyone who has read my review of Mamma Mia may have noticed I’m not a fan.¬† In fact, he is responsible for me actively avoiding all James Bond movies until Daniel Craig took over.¬† I have no idea what it is but for as long as I can remember Brosnan has literally made me shudder. He is the slimiest thing I’ve ever seen on screen and I simply can’t watch him.¬† There’s only one film with him in that I like, and that’s Mrs Doubtfire. Because he gets hit in the head with fruit and chokes on spicy fish.

2. Tom Cruise

The only man in the world creepier than Pierce Brosnan.¬† Not only is Cruise slimy he’s genuinely scary.¬† I mean seriously, I know you can’t believe everything you read in the tabloids but if even 10% of that is true the man is a¬† nutcase.¬† And I’m sorry but no matter how many times you try to convince me he’s a “heart-throb” his cheesy smile will always make me retch.

My active avoidance of his films is more of a boycott until he releases poor Katie Holmes.  Rain Man is his only saving grace because Dustin Hoffman is so good you can get through nearly the whole film without looking at him.

1. Matt Damon

And in at number one, the blandest actor in Hollywood, Matt Damon.¬† I don’t know what it is with him, he’s just so incredibly beige.¬† The only film that I’ve actually liked him in is Dogma and I think the chemistry between him and Affleck has everything to do with that.¬† Like Crowe, I’ve now found myself avoiding films just because he’s in them. Not because I particularly dislike him, but just because he bores me.¬† Even The Talented Mr Ripley, which I really like, tends to get passed by when I’m picking a film the minute I remember he’s in it and Jude Law doesn’t last long enough to carry him.

The Bourne trilogy should be up there with my favourite films.¬† It has all my favourite things; guns, explosions, ridiculous number of double crosses and twists, yet for some reason I just wasn’t feeling it.¬† I don’t know whether it’s that I don’t believe him as an action hero or what but something isn’t right there.¬† Re-watching The Departed the other night I remembered something I wrote in my review of Inception about not necessarily seeing Leo Di Caprio as an action hero but actually it’s Damon who struggles to convince while DiCaprio once again reminds me that I really should stop forgetting how good he is.¬† Apart from Damon’s rubbish wandering accent in that movie, he’s just unconvincing as any kind of hardcore gangster-come-cop. Or hardocre anything for that matter.¬† I spend the movie waiting for Wahlberg, Nicholson and DiCaprio to get back on screen.

So those are the guys who have the exact opposite to the desired effect when I see them on the posters.¬† I’m sure that I’m going to get some disagreement out of you so bring it on. And let me know who your big screen turn offs are.

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“You can’t tell me that you’re not in there somewhere.”

Posted on February 15, 2009. Filed under: Movies to see before you die, Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

The combination of my dissertation on autism and watching Benny and Joon last night inspired a blog post about mental illness and the movies, not necessarily an easy topic to tackle but one which I think has been done well on a number of occasions.¬† Three movies immediately spring to mind for me: Rain Man, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape and, of course, Benny and Joon.

Rain Man is clearly the most successful of the three, bringing autism to the mainstream in a way that no other movie I can think of has.  Perhaps, Mercury Rising; a tale of Bruce Willis trying to save an autistic boy from a gang of government assassins, tried, but while the depiction of autism is fairly accurate, the film is more a thriller than an in depth look at how the disease affects people.

For this we have Rain Man.¬† There’s a fair amount of criticism for Dustin Hoffman’s portrayal of autism, which I think is unjustified.¬† Yes, not all autistic people are savants with “special skills,” but if we forgive Hollywood that much, Hoffman’s portrayal of routine rigidity and repetitive speech is right on.¬† Tom Cruise, in one of only two roles I can put up with him in, also gives a strong performance as Charlie, who discovers on the same day that he has a brother he never knew he had, and that that brother is severely handicapped.¬† The growing relationship between the two is very well written, with the final scene where Raymond rests his head on Charlie’s made extremely poignant now that the audience has some understanding of what this means in an autistic individual.

Raymond and Charlie

Interestingly, all three of these films located mental illness within a sibling relationship, the second of two brothers being Gilbert Grape.¬† I have only seen this movie once (soon to be rectified as I have the DVD) but I was completely astounded by the 19 year old Leonardo DiCaprio’s portrayal of “mentally handicapped” Arnie.¬† I’ve seen some reviews that call him autistic, but I don’t buy that, even though there are elements of autism in Arnie.¬† In the film itself, his illness is never defined, (which is quite often the case in real life) but DiCaprio’s portrayal is both sensitive and fearless.¬† While you may expect the film to centre on Gilbert (Johnny Depp) and Arnie’s relationship, it’s more a film about how he relates to his morbidly obese mother, who has become house-bound since Arnie’s birth, and how Arnie’s illness and his father’s subsequent suicide has affected her.¬† Gilbert Grape gives a very real insight into what it is like to live with a disabled child and how this can affect every aspect of your life, but it doesn’t let itself turn into a macabre tragedy.

Arnie

This is something also brilliantly achieved in Benny and Joon, a film I’ve written about before and cannot recommend often enough.¬† Essentially Benny and Joon is a romantic comedy, with some classic funny lines, but at the same time it depicts the struggle between Joon (Mary Stuart Masterson) and her brother Benny (Aidan Quinn), who no longer feels he can look after her, but can’t deal with the guilt of “farming her out.”¬† What makes this film special though, is the introduction of Sam (Johnny Depp, again), an eccentric and naive character who in a lot of ways is more vulnerable than Joon.¬† The way the two characters complement eachother is perfect, Joon teaches Sam to write, while he shows her that unpredictability is not always a threat.¬† Joon, like Arnie, is never given a label, although its clear her illness is closer to Schizophrenia.¬† Masterson gives a great performance, making Joon a strong character who knows about her illness and how it affect people and isn’t just a someone to be pitied.¬† Lines such as, “Don’t underestimate the mentally ill, we know how to count,” and “having a Boo Radley moment are we?” attack the presumption that mental illness removes a persons ability to understand their effect on others.

Joon

All three of these films are great achievements which I think show mental illness in a more accurate way than you would expect from Hollywood.¬† The fact that none of them wallow in pity for the ill characters or their families makes them far more poignant than any 2 hour tragedy mourning the ravages of mental illness, instead giving us a real idea of what it’s like to live with these diseases.

All three are on my Movies to see list, and I’m sure once you’ve seen them you’ll find yourself recommending them as often as I do.

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