Is Laura Linney a Good Bad Actress or a Bad Good Actress?

Laura Linney is, according to many people who know more than I do, supposedly a good actress, 1She’s been nominated for two Academy Awards for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress as well as won many other acting awards. but it’s hard for me to see what all the fuss is about. When I see her I think she’s either just alright in a role or downright wrong for the part. It’s probably just me, but she seems to have this snooty arrogance to her, like if you met her at a party in New York or L.A. and you didn’t know about some oppressed Iranian poet or an obscure theatrical reference she mentions she might just stop talking with you and turn away. Like I said, maybe it’s just me, but I just don’t get her.

In her favor, she’s been in some fine movies but that doesn’t mean that she’s been fine in them. Several cases in point I’ll go over here – Dave, The Truman Show and Breach. Let’s break ’em down.

I loved and continue to love Dave. Why wouldn’t I love it, given that it was the first “date” I went on with my wife in college? In Dave, Kevin Kline is thrust into the role of President of the United States when the man (the real President) he was doubling for has a massive stroke. Linney plays the Oval Office secretary that the real President was having an affair with when he had the stroke and her “fawning” and “relief” when the “President” returns to office ring hollow. You can tell that Dave is a little freaked out by her reaction and with good reason – he has no idea who she is and she’s chomping at the scenery. Not a good choice for a rather important plot point.

I also love The Truman Show and still think that Jim Carrey has the makings of an actual living breathing actor in him, if he can just get away from mainstream fare like Fun with Dick and Jane or Bruce Almighty. But in The Truman Show, Linney once again rears her bad-actor head, this time in the role of Meryl, Carrey’s television wife. She’s over-the-top skittish and not likable at all, and maybe that’s the point, but it doesn’t make her sympathetic in any way when she breaks down while Carrey interrogates her in their kitchen about his situation. The only good that could have come from that scene would have been if Carrey had killed Meryl with that jar of Mococoa she was holding.

And what can you say about her in Breach? It wasn’t a big money maker, but it wasn’t a bad movie at all, far from it. It was better than I thought it would be, but Linney plays tough-as-nails FBI agent Kate Burroughs, and she wasn’t a very good choice for the part. Get someone else, Holly Hunter, Jodie Foster, just don’t pick Linney to talk tough to Ryan Phillippe. It’s flat and silly and we know that she’s doing the one thing she doesn’t want you to know she’s doing : acting. She was just wrong for the part.

In her favor though she’s done some wonderful (or at least, good) films also where she too has been wonderful. You Can Count on Me, where she plays big sister to the way-cool Mark Ruffalo, is excellent, and she is too. She’s also great in Love Actually as the pathetically lonely Sarah who pines away for Rodrigo Santoro. She hits all the right notes as she tries to woo Santoro and take care of her mentally imbalanced brother. And while it wasn’t (any) good, The Life of David Gale featured her as an anti-death penalty advocate and she was very good. It always seems that the parts she’s best in are where she’s a pathetic little creature trying to get by in the world or fight for a higher cause. Unfortunately, you don’t get too far in Hollywood playing the same character over and over. 2Or maybe you can. Case in point – Robin Williams.

When Linney’s good and cast in the right character she’s great, but when she seems completely out of her league it’s embarrassing to watch. I just don’t “get” Laura Linney. I’m sure I’m not the only one.

Creatively Paranoid

There is a film that premiered at Cannes this year called Shortbus. I don’t expect you to have heard about it or John Cameron Mitchell, the director of the film, but I read about this stuff, hence my knowledge of its existence. The film is pretty much political porn, at least that’s what Mitchell says it is.

“It’s a little bit of a cri de coeur to us, a little bit of a call to arms” against the prevailing conservatism, he told a media conference, adding that his country was living in “the era of Bush, which is about clamping down, being scared.” The 43-year-old, whose previous work was Hedwig and the Angry Inch, about a transsexual rock singer, said the film was his own small act of defiance against Bush. “If you can’t do elections you might as well do erections,” he said.

More…

One scene likely to create controversy in the United States and some other countries shows a gay threesome in which one participant joyfully bellows “The Star Spangled Banner.” The actor with the singing voice, PJ Deboy, said he did the scene to show that he was as American as anyone, despite resistance to gays in parts of the country, including Washington.

“I thought to myself: “Can I do it…?’ And I decided I could, because it is a patriotic act…. There’s nothing un-American about gay sex and there’s nothing unpatriotic about it,” he said.

Tim Robbins, an actor I’ve liked for a long time, is currently starring in a stage production of George Orwell’s “1984?. His thoughts on the play –

“We have right now a media that is willfully ignoring the high crimes and misdemeanors of the president of the United States…””(Bush) got us into (the Iraq) war based on lies that he knew were lies. … His war has recruited more al-Qaeda members than Osama bin Laden could ever have dreamed for … yet no one in the media is calling for impeachment,” he said.

“Unfortunately, the book and the play is more relevant now than it ever has been,” he said. “(It) talks about continuous warfare as a means to control the Western economy, and as a way to control rebel elements within society through the use of fear, constant fear.”

“In my country we seem to be sanctioning renditioning of innocent people without trial… put them in jail without telling anyone… and torture them out of suspicion of what we think they might do,” Robbins said.

“This is exactly what Orwell was talking about when he spoke of thought crimes,” he added.

You may not know this, but as soon as the 3 people above said what they said, they were whisked away to a secret CIA prison camp where they were tortured and humiliated for saying and doing what they did.

Yeah, right.

Why do film makers feel that they’re under constant persecution, when they live in the freest country in the world? Many places, they wouldn’t be able to even make these films or say what they are saying. It’s just foolish.

Clerks II! Run For Your Lives!

Clerks II is coming out! Run for you lives!

For some of you, you’re wondering what I’m talking about. Like my parents. If you’re like me, you know that Clerks II is a sequel to Clerks, the 1994 film that cleaned up at Sundance and made a star of director Kevin Smith, who, upon finding out his film had been selected for Sundance, had to close up the convenience store he was working at at the time. It was a great rags to riches story, very Capra-esque.

At the time I loved Clerks. At the time.

After repeated viewings I think it grows less and less funny, but that first time that you see it it is hilarious, usually. It’s very much a guy comedy, though, I don’t know many girls that like Clerks.

And then he started making movies, none of which really did as well as Clerks. It’s like the story of a band’s 2nd album : the first album took 8 years to make, the 2nd, 3 months. And they’re never as good.

He made Mallrats, Chasing Amy, Dogma and then Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. After that came the worst of the worst, from what I hear, yes I haven’t seen it, Jersey Girl.

And now, with failure staring him in the face, he comes full circle with what made him popular. A Clerks sequel.

Lame!

My Theory on James Bond

We’re getting a new James Bond film, with a brand freaking new guy playing James Bond, later this year. Yipee.

If you’re like me and kind of lost interest in what James Bond does along about when Timothy Dalton took over, you probably won’t care about this new film either. But I like the old school James Bond films, they’re fun and have their silly kitsch factor about them. And go ahead and make fun of me, but after Connery my favorite Bondie is George Lazenby. Yes, I like On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, ‘cause the movie rokkks, man. It’s got one of the better story lines and it’s the deepest you ever get into Bond’s character, since he gets married and all. And then she dies, which is gold, man.

But I’ve got a theory about all this James Bond stuff.

It started out with the last Bond film, Die Another Day. It was the 40th anniversary of the Bond juggernaut and they had a scene where the then-current Bond, Pierce Brosnan, was with John Cleese’s Q, and in the scene they’re walking through Q’s workshop and they have a lot of different gadgets and weapons that Bond used over the decades. Bond picks up the shoe dagger from From Russia with Love and looks at it like he has no idea what it is, just this quizzical look. He puts it down after pondering it a moment, but it sparked something in me. And I think I figured out who “James Bond” is.

Another thought – in the new film, Casino Royale, new Bond, the butt-kicking Daniel Craig, is shown earning his two zeros the only way that he can earn them – by assassinating two people. Later on Judi Dench’s M speaks with Bond. Now, if this were some sort of origin story, as it’s being purported to be, shouldn’t M look a little bit like Bernard Lee, who played him for decades before he died? If we’re going waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay back to tell how James became who he is, why is M a woman? I don’t think MI6 from 1964 would want anybody else but Moneypenny.

Because there are many James Bonds, and the name is a pseudonym for someone else hiding behind the persona.

And it’s backed up by the line said by Lazenby in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

James Bond: [to the camera[/mfn] This never happened to the other fellow.

It makes sense. If Daniel Craig has to earn his ‘00’ title then Judi Dench can be there, since Daniel Craig’s “James Bond” is circa 2006, not 1964. And it explains why Brosnan can eye a dagger shoe like a dork.

It totally makes sense. And you know me, I’m never wrong. Ever!

Can a Film That Opens on a Tuesday Win the Weekend?

The new remake of The Omen came out last week, on a Tuesday, which, for marketing purposes translated out to a release date of 6-6-06. For those Biblically uninitiated, 666 is the number of “The Beast”, or the Anti-Christ, a creature whom the whole darn plot of The Omen rests upon. The day after it came out, there were stories all over the web how The Omen had opened strong, pulling in a record for a Tuesday opening, $12,633,666. Note the hundreds amount, I would think that that is more studio numbers massaging than anything, but it makes for great copy, I guess. The thing about it is, what if The Omen had been the top grossing movie of the week? It wasn’t, as Cars pulled in over $60 million, but what if it was? Is it fair, industry-wise, to have the top grossing movie of the week open on a Tuesday? If that was fair, why not open movies on Sundays? Then you’d have 7 whole days to rake in whatever you could make off of a film before having to report final earnings for the week. Why even wait for the usual Friday to open a film? What if Cars had opened on Sunday? Could they have pulled in $80 million? Maybe $100 million? Does this seem borderline unethical to anyone else?

After Seeing The House of Sand and Fog, I Will Never Buy a Repossessed House

As I was racing to work this morning I heard a bit on the radio this morning about the government selling repossessed houses and how you could get them at super deals, because the government isn’t into selling real estate and you could get an incredible deal on some former drug dealer’s house or something. I mention this because if you’ve ever seen The House of Sand and Fog, you would probably not want to buy a repossessed house. Everything that could go wrong for the people that buy Jennifer Connelly’s house goes wrong, mainly, every member of the family dies. One is shot and killed by the married police officer boyfriend of Connelly, one is poisoned, and another suffocates himself.

As far as happily ever after, this is not. So why take the chance you’ll either be shot, poisoned or suffocated and even think about buying a repossessed house?