Saturday, November 17, 2007

Notes on D.H. and T.L.J.

When I see a certain actor act -- and I really don't want to give his full name, but let's just say his initials are D.H., his first name is Dustin, and his last name is Hoffman -- I more often than not don't see the character, and I usually don't buy it for a minute.

I see an actor playing a character. In fact, I get a nervous facial tick just thinking about the movie trailer for Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium, Hoffman's new movie. Somewhere in his career, Hoffman just totally lost me, and I always sense that he is all too totally aware of just what an awesome actor he is, and I suspect he might just be his own biggest fan. His cloying appearances at awards shows doesn't help.

It's an easy trap, especially for Oscar-winning actors who have been told for a long time just how good they are.

I suppose it's possible for me to have similar cynicism for Tommy Lee Jones, currently starring in No Country for Old Men, the new Coen brothers film that is every bit as good, and maybe better, than their Oscar winning Fargo. Jones has won an Oscar, and we've seen him play law enforcement officers in everything from The Fugitive to Men in Black. He has police and FBI and sheriff and law enforcement roles down to a science. Ho-hum and So what you might say, when you consider his new role as a sheriff in No Country.

You'd be wrong.

His performance as a small-town sheriff confronting a world that is changing in ways he can't understand or control may just be the best of his career, and I totally bought it from the first second he enters the screen.

No Country for Old Men may be the best movie of the year so far. The trailer is below.

Speaking of magnetic performances, the film also stars Josh Brolin and Javier Bardem. I wonder who decided that Bardem, in his role as the enigmatic and amoral Chigurh, should have a haircut that's a cross between Moe Howard and the Beetles? It's absolutely perfect, and this character is a sociopath that ranks with Hannibal Lecter, right up to the chilling final coin toss.

Oh, so good.

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