Monday, December 08, 2008


-I would not appreciate Hugh Laurie's performance in 'House' so much had I not thought him a brilliant comic actor who would be wasted in any part which did not require just a little clowning. And I would not appreciate Sean Penn's performance as Harvey Milk so much if I had not seen him in all those grim roles of recent years.

I've always thought him a rather charmless actor and even when he does vulnerable -- something called 'The Translator' with Nicole Kidman? -- he seems to be working very hard. But in 'Milk' he seems to be doing such an open performance, an *easy* performance in that (as with so many less-accomplished actors) you get the sense he just peeled a layer back or tweaked an old shtick.

But my memory of past performance says that's not true. And don't bring up 'Fast Times at Ridgemont High' -- if that was the title. I'm in full blog/fugue, looking up nothing as I look back. That was lout work, I recall. an over-the-top goof. I am supposing that Penn spent some years *not* being Spiccoli (if that was indeed his name and shame on me for knowing or thinking I know).

Penn as Milk? Affected without ever approaching parody.

Do I smell Oscar? You know, that's rather an insult, a way of stepping back from the performance, categorizing, commodifying and reducing it.

But just as you can't unring a bell, some scents do stick in the nostrils.

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