There have been a few phenomenal and mesmerizing performances that have stayed with me for years. Some have been recognized during award season, and others have somehow flown under the radar. Cate Blanchett in Elizabeth. Edward Norton in American History X. Hilary Swank in Boys Don’t Cry. Charlize Theron in Monster. Ryan Gosling in The Believer. Kate Winslet in Heavenly Creatures. I also love when the chemistry of an entire ensemble cast comes to life onscreen (Magnolia, The Hours, and Closer, to name a few).
The most disturbing movies I’ve ever seen are also a select few I will never watch again. This short list includes Kids and Requiem for a Dream. There are others, and I will expand upon this at a later date.
I dislike Gwyneth Paltrow for no reason at all. The only performances I ever really enjoyed of hers were in The Royal Tenenbaums and Sliding Doors. I will admit to owning Bounce on DVD, but only because it was a gift. I loathe Ben Affleck more than Gwynnie, and together they ruined a perfectly good Don Roos film. For reasons I cannot fathom, Bounce is actually a two disc set. I’d much rather see more extras on The Opposite of Sex DVD, Roos’ far superior 1998 film (he also wrote the guilty pleasure gems Boys on the Side and Single White Female). I recently saw his latest movie, Happy Endings, but I still haven’t decided how I feel about it. Roos wrote the role of a lifetime for Lisa Kudrow in The Opposite of Sex, which she then acted the hell out of and hit out of the ballpark. She played a character worlds apart from Phoebe on Friends, and it was the first time that Kudrow really illustrated her talent beyond the small screen. Perhaps it is because I’m currently watching The Comeback on Showtime, but I was not as dazzled by her in Happy Endings. I enjoy Roos’ films because of the intelligent and witty dialogue, and because his characters have very specific nuances that make them memorable and familiar. But of the many layers and stories woven throughout Happy Endings, Kudrow’s was my least favorite; a shame considering the entire film revolves around the circumstances of her life.
Back to Affleck…whatever agent first told him he was leading man material should be demoted back to the mailroom. He’s like the black sheep of every film he touches, dating back to his Kevin Smith days. I can’t hide my disappointment in Jennifer Garner’s choice to marry him and provide the world with future Afflecks, but they seem unusually happy among a world of loveless celebrity unions, so I’ll get over it. I was rooting for Scott Foley (I heart Felicity), and I knew Vartan was toast, just as he’s about to be on Alias. Anyway, Affleck just isn’t a very good actor, and he certainly does not possess enough heterosexual prowess to convincingly turn both Joey Lauren Adams (Chasing Amy) and Jennifer Lopez (Gigli) into ex-lesbians. When he cries onscreen, I laugh out loud. He should play Kevin Costner’s son. That would be one hell of an emotional movie. Even when he played himself, in Good Will Hunting, I was distracted by his wavering accent (the one he conveniently returns to when appearing in a Boston-based film or attending to the true love of his life, the Boston Red Sox).