Thursday, September 8, 2011

Canadian eh?

I grew up with a great generation of Canadian actors,all of whom achieved success in the US. How about these names for a start:

Donald Sutherland
Keifer Sutherland
Raymond Burr (Perry Mason series)
Raymond Massey (who portrayed Lincoln)
Leslie Nielson
William Shatner
Keanu Reeves
John Candy
Michael J. Fox
Christopher Plummer
Jim Carrey

Then there's also movie mogul Jack Warner who started Warner Brothers,  and Mack Sennett who did silents and Norman Jewison who directed Fiddler on the Roof among a dozen other great movies. And director David Cronenberg also.

And even the gorilla in the room; James Cameron.

All of the performers were solid actors, okay maybe Keanu doesn't do Shakespeare, but he has presence.

So who does the new generation have?

Ryan Reynolds and Ryan Gosling.

Generally acknowledged as nowhere near the abilities nor the presence of the actors named before them. But what they do reflect is the fickleness of the audience. Reynolds is the Canadian Ben Affleck, or as my director friend says, "a hold in the screen". Like Ben, whose acting career careened after several flops, Reynolds is now facing the same fate, his 2 big box movies this year failed and he's only a star when he's in a movie with Sandra Bullock.

And like Ben, who realized he could change a career by directing films and being tight with Harvey Weinstein, Ryan now is directing.

Both Ryans are TV actors at best, one Ryan got an Academy Award nomination which defies all logic. One of the best performances ever was Donald Sutherland in Redford's Ordinary People, in which the two other stars got nominations for "chewing the scenery" as the saying goes.

There are also at least a dozen young Canadian actors who seem to populate WB shows and of course, Ellen Page, also nominated, and actually a good actress.  But her biggest problem is that she looks 14. Think Patty Duke.

But the situation with American actors is pretty much the same, take for example the remake of Hawaii 5-0, where the entire cast walks over the lead actor, who has the presence of a wet rag.

So where are the great actors? Where are the new Cary Grants (maybe Clooney, but he's in the older category now), or the Robert Mitchums, John Waynes, Gary Coopers, Jimmy Stewarts, Jack Nicholsons, Warren Beattys, and so many others.

A feminist writer once referred to the new actors like Depp, Edward Norton, Toby MacGuire and others as "little lesbians" in that they were cute boys that seemed to be more feminine than masculine. And I still seem to think Leonardo is dressed in his dad's clothes.

Of course, competing with old stars like Mitchum and Wayne was no contest, they screamed masculinity, not that it's all that great either. But all of the older actors came out of hard times and wars, Steve McQueen and James Dean had difficult periods of growing up as did many more.

And I'm not even talking about Brando, there is nobody like him at all, or Montgomery Clift,who influenced an era of actors.

But like all things; the times change and in a time of mediocrity (see last week's blogs) it creates mediocre actors. Little lesbians and all.

At least this lack of presence and great talent seems to not be restricted to Canadians. I look forward to the new Sutherlands, or Massey's or even Carrey's.
Even Mary Pickford, a Canadian, was a star in her day. Because she had "it".

Where are the actors out there who "have it"?  Judging from TV shows, it seems the leader of many shows (CSI etc) is usually an aging baby boomer for the boomer audience, and one who has some presence (Mark Harmon, Ted Danson, Tom Selleck) but the rest of the cast seems interchangeable with any actor on another series,  you  can't tell them apart.

But then I do like Jennifer Garner and Jessica Biel.

And they're not even Canadian, eh?