Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Over & the Under: Part II


1. Scarlett Johansson
-Last Decent Role: Nola Rice, "Match Point" (2005)
-WTF was she thinking?: "Scoop" (2006); I guess this proves that just because it's Woody Allen, it doesn't have to be quirky-awesome to the max.
-Recent endeavors that aren't helping matters: "Anywhere I Lay My Head," an album of Tom Waits covers that is, according to Allison Stewart of the Washington Post, "what would happen if Mazzy Star's Hope Sandoval decided to release a solo album assembled by a group of carnival barkers and hobos."
-Why I think she's overrated: Well, six consecutive crappy roles aside, Scarlet did not show up to the the Cannes Film Festival premier of "Vicky Christina Barcelona" (another "we'll see" by Woody) because of some un-met ridiculous diva demands. Also, her recent engagement to king of dick and shit humor Ryan Reynolds seems to be taking center stage while the fact that she used to be considered a talented actress has seemingly disappeared altogether. She used to be deadpan, the kind of girl you could sit on a New York bench with and make fun of passers-by. Now she's mostly used-up, and even if she does manage an Oscar-worthy performance sometime in the future, unless she gets her act together, it's unlikely that the Academy will care.

2. Shia LaBeouf
-Last Decent Role: Kale, "Disturbia" (2007)
-WTF was he thinking?: "Indiana Jones" and the washed-up franchise--oh, I'm sorry, "Kingdom of the Crystal Skull."
-Recent endeavors that aren't helping matters: Getting arrested for trespassing because he refused to leave a Wal-greens after close. Who do these people think they are? It's a Wal-greens, not the Chateau Marmont. I doubt the good retail workers of the greater L.A. area, the kind making $6.50/hr, are going to sympathize with an overrated movie star on a shaving cream-run/power trip. Gimme a break.
-Why I think he's overrated: Apparently, it is no longer necessary for actors to contribute to the art of performance before the good magazine writers of the world begin making predictions about their lavish, award-winning futures. Plus, I am fully convinced that the only character Shia LaBeaouf is capable of playing is himself: a horny, over-privelaged nancy whose perpetual incredulity does nothing but irritate every living being in his midst. Zero sympathy, Shia. Zero sympathy.

3. Angelina Jolie
-Last Decent Role: Mariane, "A Mighty Heart" (2007), though I feel this might be pushing it. I'd go so far as to say that she hasn't had a truly good role since "Girl, Interrupted" (1999)
-WTF was she thinking?: Any number of movies, my favorite being the up and comer "Wanted." It's like "Gone in 60 Seconds" meets "Girl, Interrupted," and while I will admit to liking both of those movies, I have absolutely no desire to see their completely unrelated and unneccessary spawn.
-Recent endeavors that aren't helping matters: Being pregnant, yet again, with Brad Pitt's weird love-babies. Also, "Atlas Shrugged," to be released to a vast audience of very bored Libertarian types later this year.
-Why I think she's overrated: Ange used to be one of my favorite actresses, but lately, she seems to have resigned herself to Brad's favorite mignon, part-time actress in bad, mostly animated features, and full-time ceaseless regular to the tabloids. As it turns out, Angelina Jolie IS one of those actresses that wins an Oscar and then drops off the radar. I don't know what happened to that daring woman who played Lisa Rowe nine years ago, the one with the exotic looks and intimidating chops, but I wish she'd either disappear completely or make a long-term comeback. One's career cannot exist forever on a cover of US Weekly alone.

4. Quentin Tarantino
-Last Decent Flick: "Kill Bill: Vol. 2" (2004) which, I have to admit, is pure genius.
-WTF was he thinking?: Producing "Hostel: Part II," as if Eli Roth holds any true relevance to the oh-so-innovative world of contemporary horror (#5 on this list).
-Recent endeavors that aren't helping matters: That whole "Grindhouse" fiasco. Tarantino may think he's so good that he can do whatever he wants (like produce bad sex, guns, and gore horror starring actors like Michael Madsen and the intermittently employed Rose McGowan), but a few stylized CSI episodes aside, he hasn't proved much of anything yet.
-Why I think he's overrated: The name Tarantino has become its own genre in recent years. Words like 'tarantinian' and 'tarantino-esque' have swept descriptions of stylized violence from L.A. to Amsterdam, and one might think, were one to be unfamiliar with the recent plights of Mr. Tarantino, that he was a regular Orson Welles. "Pulp Fiction" proved that his cult, pop culture tendencies could be contained into great filmmaking, and then "Reservoir Dogs" pioneered an entire movement of indie blood shed. THEN, he gives us a duo of fantastic movies called "Kill Bill," and then...he disappears? Or, well, he pops up here and there with his big, fat name beneath executive producer, one far-off project called "Inglorious Bastards," but that's about it. He is the vanishing genius of our time, and it's so sad that he's on my list of most overrated humans in the film industry. But he is, and I hope that, in the coming years, he proves me wrong.

5. Eli Roth
-Last Decent Flick: ?
-WTF was he thinking?: Perhaps that he was something new and exciting? That torture porn is some kind of excuse for horror genre innovation? That the same formulaic crap can be used over and over again for films that seem like they should be different but are really all exactly the same? That "Cabin Fever" did for leg-shaving what "Psycho" did for shower-taking? Omg, I didn't come up with that last one. Eli said that about himself once on E!.
-Recent endeavors that aren't helping matters: "Hostel: Part Deuce." No sequels, please, Eli. Yours tend to come off as 'hum drum' and can't even scare a twelve-year-old with asthma (No offense, Nate.). Also, apparently Lindsay Lohan called him old once. Burn!
-Why I think he's overrated: I think it's preposterous that Eli Roth is credited, by anyone, for ever introducing something new and exciting to the horror genre. It's a widely accepted fact that, yes, stylized gore can be scary or innovative (think "The Night Watch" or "Sin City"), but excessive, fakey gore is simply an excuse for not writing good material. The scare factor comes in all forms, but with our society's current inundation with ruby red corn syrup, fake guts that are funnier than frightening, and everything that Tarantino did with gore in "Kill Bill," it takes more than Eli Roth to get our hearts pumping. A constant triggering of the gag reflex does not equal adequate fright. It equals annoying. But, perhaps I shouldn't be saying all this. Eli is probably reading this right now, and later this week, he'll issue a statement to TMZ.com about how funny it is that people think he's an insufficient filmmaker. He does that sort of thing a lot.

6. Reese Witherspoon
-Last decent role: June Carter, "Walk the Line" (2005)
-WTF was she thinking?: "Rendition" (2007); Nobody wants to go to the movie theater to watch the unfolding political agenda of any over-privelaged entertainer. Look, you already have millions and millions of dollars. Just do your job and entertain.
-Recent endeavors that aren't helping matters: Jake Gyllenhaal? Srsly. I haven't heard squat about the little Phillipe kids in at least a year, but every day there's a picture in US Weekly that suggests she's shipped them off to boarding school in the Forest of Dean. Both she and Jake have apparently traded good careers for paparazzi-laden smootch fests. Bleh.
-Why I think she's overrated: Well, she super cute, and she's Elle Woods. She won an Oscar (well-deserved), but I don't understand why so many actresses seem to think that, once you've won an Oscar, the only way to go is Rom-Com central? Like Hilary Swank, who is not on this list, but she might be someday if she pulls that "P.S. I Love You" sh*t ever again. Anyway, I just don't think that, besides "Walk the Line" and maybe "Election," Reese has proven herself beyond the bubbly blond with the too-cute smile. It's like, she won an Oscar and suddenly she's Julia Roberts. Not even a little bit, missy.

7. Jake Gyllenhaal
-Last decent role: Jack Twist, "Brokeback Mountain" (2004)
-WTF was he thinking?: See previous overrated ranking's answer
-Recent endeavors that aren't helping matters: Showing up in the tabloids. AT ALL. Jake is that guy that we've always felt close to. The boy nextdoor, apple pie, sad blue eyes, an honest voice. But the mere idea of him traipsing around L.A. with overrated actress Reese Witherspoon blows my mind. Jake Gyllenhaal was supposed to be one of those actors that stayed away from all that, a main reason that former gal-pal (and current alcoholic) Kirsten Dunst kicked him to the curb.
-Why I think he's overrated: I feel that, contrary to what many people might think, Jake Gyllenhaal is rather...one-dimensional. His characters are often vulnerable, usually naive, always handsome, and easy to take advantage of. Perhaps the roles are to blame, the directors, the casting directors, but I really think that if he were a good actor, he'd take control of the situation and say, "I'm sick of being doe-eyed shy guy," whip out those balls, and impress us. I still haven't given up on Jake, having loved his performances in both "Brokeback Mountain" and "October Sky," but I will soon if he continues to fail me, or worse, falls beneath the burgeoning, lipsticky shadow of current love interest Reese Witherspoon. We all saw what happened to Ryan. Poor guy.

8. Halle Berry
-Last decent role: Leticia, "Monster's Ball" (2001)
-WTF was she thinking?: Oh, god. "Catwoman."
-Recent endeavors that aren't helping matters: Absolutely RUINING X-Men 3 by demanding that Storm be given a stronger role in the storyline. Storm is extraneous. They should have cut her out and said she was off training X-kiddies in China or something.
-Why I think she's overrated: Halle Berry has given some interesting turns. I loved everything about "Bullworth," and she won an Oscar for "Monster's Ball." Unfortunately, aside from those two instances, the extent of Berry's performance aptitude rarely ventures past the well-muscled beauty or the femme fatale. Most admire her for her beauty. They fail to see past the flickers in her eyes. They get obsessed with her recent fortune in fertility or the dresses she wears to award ceremonies. Ceremonies she's rarely seen from the stage. It is unlikely she'll ever return.

9. Cate Blanchett
-Last decent role: Sheba, "Notes on a Scandal"
-WTF was she thinking?: Anytime I see Cate Blanchett gliding around, her skin unattainably white and then over-rouged, her voice loud and possibly donning some nonexistent accent, I think to myself, "WTF is she thinking?"
-Recent endeavors that aren't helping matters: "Indiana Jones" and the curse of the aging unemployed--I mean "Kingdom of the Crystal Skull." Seriously. What is with the wig. I hope it is a wig.
-Why I think she's overrated: Because it's almost as if the members of the Academy have entered a sacred pact forged in their own blood that requires them to nominate ol' Cate every single year she does anything at all. And it's not that she's a bad actress. She's wonderful, versatile, beautiful...but come ON. Like I've said all along: Angry Galadriel needs to give it a rest. I want more of the Cate that we saw in "Notes on a Scandal," less of that obnoxious character that yells and quivers and has a face painted white...sigh...but judging from her most recent mishap ("Indiana Drones"), I shouldn't get my hopes up.

10. Sean Penn
-Last decent role: Not "I am Sam," that's for sure.
-WTF was he thinking?: "All the Kings Men." Also, "Into the Wild," which directed. And not because it was a bad movie, but because Sean muddied it up with all kinds of bad eighties contrivance and a sickening quota of schmaltz.
-Recent endeavors that aren't helping matters: Well, well. Where do I begin?
-Why I think he's overrated: Because every single thing that Sean Penn makes, every last performance and screenplay and shot in a movie that he's directed needs a healthy dose of peer revision. Somebody needs to get in there and tell him that sometimes, things are better when they're not soaking wet with emotion. With blood and sweat and tears, the kind you can't wash off, not even with nine beers. And it's not that emotion is always bad. It's just that, after a time, everything that Sean Penn does feels bleary-eyed and under-revised. It's like draft one of a short story I wrote freshman year. Purply and losing itself in its own breadth. Vomit.


Gomez said...

Have to agree on Shi-guy, since I don't like watching actors that make me think "why is this guy famous, yet not me?" Cate Blanchett has begun to occupy a special place in my heart as of late though. Perhaps it was because I watched Elizabeth the Golden Age and Crystal Skull the same day, but I think her range is inspiring.

Gomez said...

this is Dan Wohl by the way.