Saturday, April 05, 2008

Fracture and Harry Potter

This new movie starring Tony Hopkins and Ryan Gosling is not so much a "Who dunnit" as a "How did he do it?". On this basis I should have a job in the DA's office because I spotted it very early on. Hopkins keeps changing accents, which is was disconcerting. Was it deliberate? Was he trying to add mystery to his character? Was it just lazy? In a sort of sub-Lecter character Hopkins acts everyone else off the screen, but it's still a lazy performance; it's too easy for him. So what's wrong with the film? The love interest with Rosamund Pike is pointless and without chemistry - probably there to introduce her father. The final twist was telegraphed long before it needed to be. The business with the confusion over the cell phones was put in as a heavy hint when most people would have solved the puzzle, but the main problem was Gosling. He just can't carry a film. I've not seen him before in anything. He is apparently Canadian, so he can't be all bad, and he was nominated for an Oscar for Half Nelson, which I haven't seen. Perhaps it's unfair to play him alongside Hopkins, but even a lazy Hopkins makes him look like an amateur. He reminds me of Edward Norton. In a famous Master Class on acting, Michael Caine emphasized the importance of being still for the camera. Both these young actors seem to have taken this on board. They have thin-lipped expressionless faces that hardly move during a performance.

I absolve David Strathairn from criticism. He was the only other convincing actor in the movie.

Daniel Radcliffe is what is wrong with the latest Harry Potter film. He is so wooden that he must have thought he was playing the part of his wand rather than Harry Potter himself. This franchise is getting to the darker end of the books; there's not much humor in this one. The supporting acting is generally excellent. Imelda Staunton, once again astonishes with her range, Michael Gambon looked much more of a Dumbledore than last time, Robbie Coltrane still convinces as Hagrid, an ageing Rober Hardy plays Fudge, but then there are Emma Thompson, David Thewlis, Richard Griffiths, Fiona Shaw, Helena Bonham-Carter, Ralph Feinnes, Brendan Gleeson, Gary Oldman, Mark Williams, Maggie Smith, Julie Walters, Jason Isaacs and Alan Rickman. A special mention for David Bradley. This veteran actor has been playing villains, tramps and petty criminals for many years, and has been able to construct the horrible Filch in all the films. No-one does loathsome better.

Emma Watson may have a career after Harry Potter. The jury is still out on Rupert Grint. As for Daniel Ratcliffe - take the money and run.


Anonymous said...

The legendary British actors Alec Guinness, Anthony Hopkins, Richard Burton, Michael Caine and others elevate films by their presence, don't they?

There are so many classic films these men were in that must be considered among the best of all time. Yet, each of them were in real clunkers, weren't they? I suppose it's a case of 'going for the paycheck' over anything else.

'Blame it on Rio' had Michael Caine, Guinness had 'Cromwell', and Burton had 'The Exorcist II'.

I wonder if you have a favorite among British actors?

(In the US, we can claim noted thespians Paris Hilton and Britney Spears.)

Terry Hamblin said...

Peter O'Toole has been in more clunkers than anyone, but his matchless Laurence sticks in the memory. Paul Scofield CH, who died recently, turned that old tyrant Thomas More, into a saint and is the actor most actors revere. I always find that Jeremy Irons seems to elevate every film he appears in. Stanley Baker was a much underated actor. My favorite among modern actors is Alan Rickman. Of the previous generation, Alec Guinness was my favorite because of his versatility.

Anonymous said...

I agree with your assessments of O'Toole, Irons and Rickman. Rickman, however, in the US is known primarily as a heavy, a thug or a terrorist. He was good and affecting as Col. Brandon in Sense and Sensibility (the Emma Thompson version).

Which does lead to a natural question. What about Hugh Grant? People seem to either like him or detest him. I think he can be entertaining (see S&S above), but he can also grate on the nerves with his 'aw sucks' portrayals (The Englishman who went up a mountain...).

We Yanks tend to see only a partial body of work of a foreign actor. John Guilgud is another fine actor. Ditto, Derek Jacobi, Ian Holm, Kenneth Branagh, Robert Hardy, John Thaw (a sentimental favorite) and a host of others.

Of course you could add Richard Starkey and Rowan Atkinson, if you are so inclined.

Terry Hamblin said...

Hugh Grant - one character, quite funny. Derek Jacobi - great.Ian Holm - his Lear was judged to be extremely good. Branagh? Can't make up my mind about him. He needs to stop trying to be Laurence Olivier. His Heydrich in 'Conspiracy' was marvelous. Thaw was great as Morse, but I'm not sure about his range. Gary Oldman, David Thewlis, Ralph Feinnes are all good among the younger set.