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George Clooney: Best Male Movie Actor of Our Time?
[Opinion] Being able furrow your brow on demand does not make you an actor
Nicolas van der Leek (Nick)     Print Article 
Published 2008-12-09 11:21 (KST)   
George Clooney, who starred in the award winning thriller "Michael Clayton," was on the cover of TIME magazine earlier this year. He's described with embarrassing bias as "The Last Movie Star." He's not.

It's difficult and tedious to watch this man basking in his own sunshine in a film. If anyone should be on the cover - as an example of a male movie star - it should be the likes of Leonardo diCaprio, Russell Crowe, Heath Ledger or Daniel Day Lewis.

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The Image

Clooney looks good on the cover, and on movie posters. And he looks good in films. He looks like a serious actor, and especially in stills. He looks like he MIGHT be an intelligent character. He also knows what works. He knows that movie stars shouldn't whine about being movie stars. He is careful to drive the right cars - he has a hybrid and one electric - but his flying a private jet more than makes up for the few vapours saved.

The Morality

He says he is passionate about Barack Obama but won't campaign for him for fear of backfiring. He also doesn't accept freebies because he feels "rich people" getting free stuff "looks bad." In these examples there is a strong consciousness in terms of how things look, about appearances, and thus we have confirmation that Clooney is all about how Clooney on Clooney. But who is he really? Because pandering to the public is not quite as intelligent an approach as we were all hoping for from George Clooney.

Mr. Sauve

Joel Stein who gushes over four pages in TIME sees Clooney as a consummate host. In his conclusion he talks about bumping into Mr. Sauve at a restaurant, and being entertained (along with a small party present) by Clooney. Stein writes: "...he's happiest when he controls how everyone around him feels. Because that's what movies do."

No Substance

Any actor who makes their entire existence an attempt to control our impressions of who they are cannot have had any substance to start off with. To have one's whole life an act for the benefit of it simply looking right, looking appropriate. Is life so fickle, so erratic, so constantly vacillating?

Unreal

No, but George Clooney is. Hence his resistance to get married, to give up his Boy's Club, to do anything real. Some will argue that Clooney's trips to Darfur as a UN ambassador for peace shows something significant about the man. Even Clooney admitted after the trip that going there "...isn't in any way helping." Because what does he do? Pose with children, sign autographs, looking and seeming like a decent chap. All the harmless stuff that the crowds and cameras like.

He Cannot Take a Stand

Angelina Jolie and Madonna went into Africa and adopted children, taking them into their homes. But from George: nothing hardcore or controversial. He's incapable of saying: "This disturbs me. Take it or leave it, love me or hate me, but I'm standing for this." Clooney is terrified of making a mistake.

"Michael Clayton" is a good movie. One reviewer describes it fittingly as "suave," praising all performances as "first rate." Another reviewer coos: "Clooney's best performance ever." If Clooney's ability to see his own reflection in the camera - and then do an appropriate dance of facial features - if that's acting, well then Clooney is unique in this skill. He is better than the likes of Tom Cruise, Jean Claude van Damme and Harrison Ford. But only just.

Real actors

At the Oscars Clooney gamely tried to not let a confident looking smile slip when the eyes of millions were directed to him in an opening sequence. Real actors like Cate Blanchett can handle that sort of attention with elegance and wit. Jack Nicholson is a great actor, but he's still a little unsure of himself - hence the dark glasses and superconfident ego approach - when he is in the world of not-make-believe. This is endearing, and more important - real.

Clooney's movies - all are forgettable. "Syriana" was good, but Clooney was still just a little grey man in a suit. What did he do in that movie again? Broker deals? He is the perfect fit for "Michael Clayton." A man who adjusts the truth to suit a scenario. It is not so much a good performance as good casting. He says it best when he says at the end that he is a pawn that can be bought and bribed for whatever purpose.

Creased eyebrows and over rehearsed grins aren't enough to buy audiences onto your side for very long, but George Clooney probably already knows that.


For more on the writer visit www.nickvanderleek.com

©2008 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Nicolas van der Leek

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