Setter’s ‘Spectives: Lamenting the Career Path of Johnny Depp

Setter Drawing for Blog 082613Once in a blue moon, I wonder why certain actors have made professional decisions that have taken them away from one career route and toward another.

Take Johnny Depp. About 20 years ago, he starred in the intriguing, Jim Jarmusch-directed independent film Dead Man. Now, however, he stars in big-budget spectaculars such as the forthcoming Into the Woods, as well as Tim Burton-helmed duds such as Alice in Wonderland.

Was Dead Man an anomaly? Is Depp really just a Hollywood actor who doesn’t take cinematic risks anymore?

This is a talented performer we’re talking about here, but I’m concerned that celluloid experimentation is no longer of interest to him – that he’s riding on the coattails of his eccentric, tiresome performance in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl and, as such, doesn’t feel the need to try something new and inventive. I lament that.

Hopefully, there will be more challenging roles in his future. Although in seeing that he’s reprising his role as the Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland: Through the Looking Glass, I am not convinced that’s the path he’s traveling down.

Sad.

Setter’s ‘Spectives: Downgrading ‘Easy A’

Setter Drawing for Blog 082613When good actors appear in bad movies, I sometimes want to scream at the TV, crying, “Why? Why? Why?”

So it was with Easy A, a horrid film about a high school girl pretending to be a tramp in order to become more popular. In this offense to lovers of quality celluloid everywhere were stalwart actors Thomas Haden Church, Lisa Kudrow, Stanley Tucci and, yes, Malcolm McDowell (playing the principal of the school, no less). Directed by Will Gluck, the picture featured glib, unfunny dialogue masquerading as wit and a host of not credible situations that dragged the flick into a swamp of ludicrous plot developments.

Needless to say, the movie was hard to watch. And I stopped doing so after the first 30%. Once a film gets that far on the lousiness spectrum, it can’t come back, in my opinion. I’ll refrain from giving Easy A a chance to redeem itself, given such a probability level.

High school movies are not my cup of tea, anyway, but making a good one requires sincerity, not smugness. You can be tongue-in-cheek without featuring smarmy situations and self-conscious dialogue. Easy A, unfortunately, suffered from the latter issues. And that doesn’t make me want to watch more.

Meanwhile, I say unto the talented actors who participated in this mess: “Wherefore art thou making such films? You can do better.”

Alas, there’s no chance that they’ll listen to my pleas. Guess I’ll hafta continue to rant at the empty air, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

Skip’s Quips: Bob Hoskins and His Cinematic Legacy

Blog Sketch 082813Reading the news elicits a wide range of responses from me, but today was the first time in many months that I actually reacted to something with a cry of “Oh, no.”

It was to the report of character actor extraordinaire Bob Hoskins’ death at the untimely age of 71.

Like all performers, Hoskins has done good work and not-so-good work, but he had a very distinctive style and an old-fashioned bloke quality that worked brilliantly in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, among others. And I’ll tell ya, his performance as Smee in the very bad film Hook nearly elevated it to watchable quality. So this was one pro actor we’re talking about here, with a long, accomplished resume to boot.

I’m sad to see him go.