The Nexus of Pop-Culture Fandom

The (Dis)Comfort of Hate

Written by: The CinCitizens

More Takes, by Tony Sanders, CC2K Staff Writer 

  • Edward Burns: Confidence

Edward Burns is locked in a life-or-death struggle with Andie MacDowell and Sean Young to be The World's Most Boring Actor — and he consistently wins. He's the quintessential dumb jock idiot who infiltrated the arty ranks of mainstream actors — the quarterback pressed into duty as Sky Masterson because not enough guys showed up for the audition. He gets roles because he's tall and good-looking and can deliver lines better than Paul Walker.

Burns, though, irks me more than the Paul Walkers and Keanu Reeves of the world because as opposed to Walker and Reeves — two hard-working doofuses who pretty much stay within their limits — Burns fancies himself some kind of expert, Method ACT-torrr — when he's about as charming as Nick Nolte in the throes of a heroin-bender overacting binge (see: Ang Lee's Hulk).
But I like Burns in Confidence, James Foley's wonderfully overwritten, overdirected and over-under-acted late bid to capture the postmodern, LA-set, crime-caper, witty-banter lightning that Tarantino captured in a couple of memorable bottles, and which David Mamet has elevated to some kind of creepy high art form with Heist, House of Games, The Spanish Prisoner and Spartan (though none of those take place in LA or involve the kind of drugs-and-diamonds small-time jobs that Tarantino's movies do).
, by contrast, is a total guilty pleasure. It's just not a good movie. True, the characters sound more like normal people (as opposed to, say, Heist, where half of the scenes need subtitles), but when a movie starts out with a dead guy narrating Sunset Boulevard-style, then essentially jettisons the device and cuts to the leading man speaking directly to the camera with a super-dramatic strip of mood lighting across his eyes — and this is all before the opening credits — you know it's gone off the rails.
But the movie still pulls off a pretty entertaining heist, and Burns turns in a completely decent performance. It doesn’t hurt that he has a fabulous supporting cast (Paul Giamatti, Dustin Hoffman and Rachel Weisz) and a character to play whose very nature requires blandness. I'm not some kind of long-con expert, but as I understand, con artists try not to be memorable. If anything, Burns is too tall to make a credible con man.

  • Adam Sandler: Punch-Drunk Love

I admit that I don’t really hate Adam Sandler anymore. I guess I found him pretty obnoxious when I first saw him on SNL, because he came from that mid-90s SNL class that relied waaay too much on one-joke characters (Pat, Mr. No-Depth Perception, Lyle the Effeminate Heterosexual). Now, don’t get me wrong – I found plenty of these skits pretty funny … but no where near as fucking funny as a certain jerk-off friend I had in high school. You know the type, right? The weasely asshole who weasels his weasel ass into your group of friends where he can torture you with impunity because the rest of your friends think he’s the greatest thing since the import of fellatio?

Oh, this friend of mine simply roared at Sandler’s antics. I mean, every time Sandler would do that Cajun Man shit, this friend of mine would hork gouts of laughter like someone had jabbed him in the ass with a nitrous-pumpin’ pitchfork.
So needless to say, I was predisposed to dislike Adam Sandler when his movie career took off with the unbeatable duo of Billy Madison and Happy Gilmore. I might never have given Sandler a chance had not my sophomore-year roommate in college browbeat me with repeated screenings of the Madison/Gilmore power-pack.
That said, here are the two Sandler moments that completely won me over:
Billy Madison
: When he wins that spelling bee (or whatever) and shouts “I am the smartest man alive!” I still say that  when I figure out something tricky.
Happy Gilmore
: That bit when he misses an easy putt and a heckler gives him shit, and then Sandler/Gilmore strolls up to the heckler, chatting pleasantly – “Yeah, I just couldn’t get it in there,” etc. – and then pulls the heckler’s shirt over his head and punches him out. I about had a stroke I laughed so hard – but later I found out that pulling someone’s shirt over their head is a common tactic in ice hockey brawls (the Gilmore character had been a hockey player, I guess). I was actually disappointed that the scene made more sense than it did – I had thought the shirt-pulling thing was a non-sequitur.
In any event, let’s talk about Punch-Drunk Love. I remember reading an article where someone asked Steven Spielberg who he would cast in a remake of Jaws (if he had to make one), and Spielberg said he would cast Jim Carrey as Hooper (the Richard Dreyfuss role) and sit on him, force him to underplay everything. At the time I thought he had lost his mind, and then I saw Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and I realized that I shouldn’t be so prejuduced against broadly comic actors, because they tend to have quiet souls lurking underneath.
Sandler still isn’t very quiet in Punch-Drunk Love, but P.T. Anderson pulls a massive rail switch with Sandler’s energy and persona and redirects his spastic mania – previously only used for belligerent misfits – into a fractured, stunted man; the kind of guy who would trash a restaurant bathroom and then say, “I’m sorry I beat up the bathroom.” The most resonant scene for me: Sandler’s character snaps and chews out his overbearing sister on a payphone. Anderson shoots it from behind during a parade, so we can only hear chunks of Sandler’s speech as his ears blush a deep red. Awesome.

From Seth Finkle, special to CC2k:

  • Keanu Reeves: The Matrix:

A basic tenet of acting is being in the moment. Drama schools across the country teach their students that each piece of dialogue has to be spoken as if you had no idea what your partner was going to say — a premise as obvious as telling a cop to arrest criminals.

But somehow, Reeves can't even pull off that simple task. He never emotes, he never acts surprised, and he never reacts to his partner(s) speeches. Really, how is this guy still working?

Case in point: Speed. At movie's end, Sandra Bullock — babe extraordinaire — makes some off-handed comment about how great their sex is going to be, and Keanu can't muster anything more than his usual  dumbass "whoa" face — not even so much as a mischievous glimmer! And then he kisses her. That's it!

Now, why does that work for The Matrix? Easy! When you're stoned off your ass, you see the world differently. The clouds seem whiter and the grass is greener (I have only heard about this reaction, of course). So, naturally, when your only style of acting is perma-stoned and your acting assignment is to realize the world is fake and run by machines, you would have to be stoned to not freak the hell out!

He makes me puke when I think of the money my parents are spending to let me to learn the works of Shakespeare, Chekhov, Ibsen and Moliere and this jackass pompous SOB can makes millions by acting like he's stoned! FUCK YOU, KEANU!

Author: The CinCitizens

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