Sunday, June 05, 2022

not a hater

There are a few people who get a lot of hate in Hollywood, mainly for perceived bad acting or for other reasons. I'm not really a hater of these people, even if I might agree that, on occasion, they've made poor career choices. (And who am I to judge someone else's career choices, really? I often wonder whether I've pursued the right career.)

I'm not a Hayden Christensen hater. People give him shit for his admittedly wooden performance in the Star Wars prequel trilogy, but I watched Christensen in "Shattered Glass" (unreviewed, alas) and thought he was incredible. In that movie, Christensen plays real-life journalist Stephen Glass, who turns out to be a pathological liar with a compulsive need to be liked. Christensen plays the part with a subtle desperation as the net closes around Glass when people discover that he has basically made up entire articles in The New Republic out of whole cloth. If Christensen came off as wooden in the Star Wars movies, the fault lies primarily with director George Lucas, who might be good at laying out a basic vision, but who seemingly has no interest in actually pushing his actors to their limits. Look at the great Liam Neeson in "The Phantom Menace": he looked half asleep!

Nor am I a Kristin Stewart hater. Stewart gets flak for two primary reasons: (1) she starred in the awful Twilight franchise, which targeted tween girls and no one else, and (2) she, too, is perceived as wooden. I first saw Stewart in a quirky little film called "In the Land of Women," where she starred alongside Meg Ryan, and I thought her performance as a troubled teenage daughter was brilliant. Many years later, Stewart did "Spencer" (reviewed here), and her performance was easily Oscar-worthy. Stewart has starred in quite a few clunkers, such as the totally unnecessary "Charlie's Angels" reboot/remake, but I think she's an amazingly talented actress, which shows when she's given the right material.

I'm not a Shia LaBoeuf hater, even though the guy can be a dick. Given the wrong material, like the Transformers franchise, LaBoeuf comes off as twitchy and cheesy. Given the right material, like "The Peanut Butter Falcon," LaBoeuf shows he's a force to be reckoned with. I don't agree with LaBoeuf's politics, nor do I find him savory as a person, but I respect his massive talent as an actor.

Jared Leto gets tons of hate for many film roles. People hated his Joker, although I heard that many of his scenes in "Suicide Squad" got cut, much to Leto's consternation (the Joker got partial redemption in the Snyder cut). The recently released Marvel movie "Morbius," in which Leto stars, has proved to be a steaming turd. His exaggerated turn in "Gucci" was panned by most critics as well, and even fellow actors can't stand his unconventional way of getting into character for a role (as the Joker, he apparently pulled pranks like sending Margot Robbie a love letter and a live rat). That said, I saw Leto for the first time in "Blade Runner 2049," and I thought he was incredible as Niander Wallace, a spiritual successor to Eldon Tyrell with a massive god-complex. I then saw him in "Dallas Buyers Club," where he played a trans person dying of AIDS, and once again thought he was utterly sublime. Leto won an Oscar for his role, and deservedly so. So once again, this is someone who can be great when he's given good material. And that's why I can't be a Leto hater.

There are doubtless other actors that I like who receive plenty of hate, but the above were the first to leap to mind. I think they've all done plenty of amazing work, and I expect they'll all have the chance to wow us again in the future.

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