Tinsel Town egos stripped bare: One brave film critic
exposes the unvarnished truth of the Hollywood stars 30th December 2010
Hollywood is a world of
fawning sycophancy and downright deceit. There’s one exception: for 35
years, British critic David Thomson, Editor of The Biographical
Dictionary Of Film, has been compiling compellingly unvarnished
critiques of the stars. In the latest edition, this is how he describes
the new entries...
KEIRA KNIGHTLEY: She is
astonishingly beautiful. But Keira is about as interesting as a creme
brulée where too much refrigeration has killed flavour with ice burn.
She is still more credible as a faintly animated photographer’s model
than as an actress.
JOHN CLEESE: He works very
hard nowadays, but the grim truth sinks deeper — this great man is no
JULIE CHRISTIE: She is, sadly,
obvious in her efforts, lacking in either gaiety or insight and, most
serious of all, gawky, self-conscious and lantern-jawed.
ANGELINA JOLIE: No one writing
about Angelina’s arrival on screen in the late Nineties could mask sheer
wonder at the carnal embouchure that is her mouth. It could blind
HUGH GRANT: With his drooping
chin and pouty lips, his quaff of hair and dithery manner, Hugh Grant
seems like a refugee from Thirties theatre — or an incipient sneeze
looking for a vacant nose.
Richard Gere has been in enough bad films to
make one think his career was drawing to a close
RICHARD GERE: He has been in
enough bad films to make one think his career was drawing to a close -
he is generally more interesting when doing less.
BILL NIGHY: Somewhere between
a scarecrow and a faded aristocrat.
CATE BLANCHETT: Something is
not quite clicking. She was prone and unconscious for most of Babel;
implausible in Notes On A Scandal; again in Elizabeth: The Golden Age;
unbelievable and undesirable in The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button.
SIR MICHAEL CAINE: He tends to
be as cold and barricaded in as his spectacles.
MERYL STREEP: She has problems
now with seeming natural.
DEMI MOORE: She has no
dramatic sense. At present, it is not quite clear if she is active,
resting, or just out of it.
JAMIE LEE CURTIS: She works
steadily, usually in family comedies or the obligatory horror films
(which also fit her increasingly haunted look — or is that just keeping
in such tip-top condition for so long?).
TOM CRUISE: There are those
who view Tom Cruise as the representative of all that is immature in
American cinema today — the cockiness, the grin, the huge box-office
success and the sudden falls from grace. In that spirit, Cruise is the
worst of the spoilt brats of Hollywood — because he has been the most
HUGH JACKMAN: He is hot (I
suppose). Now, he just needs to be interesting.
BEN AFFLECK: On one hand I
have always had a soft spot for Affleck. But my other view is that he is
boring, complacent and criminally lucky to have got away with
everything so far.
BRAD PITT: Hardly anything he
touches now is less than ‘precious’ and ‘awesome’ — it can’t be long
before he begins to look very tired.
JENNIFER ANISTON: She’s in her
40s now and her £5 million-a-movie career cannot go on for much
longer. But rather in the manner of Doris Day, while one can make gentle
fun of Jennifer Aniston, it’s hard to dislike her.
Rachel Weisz is unwilling to do anything to
mask her Jewishness - including putting a damper on her vigorous
RACHEL WEISZ: Yes, she's
Jewish and unwilling to do anything to mask it - including putting a
damper on her vigorous intellect.
STEVE MARTIN: He seems
fundamentally averse to acting.
SANDRA BULLOCK: She has become
a business, a production company and what is called a national
favourite. So be it — but, as I go through the list of her films, I defy
you to be quite sure which film was which.
HILARY SWANK: In nearly
everything she has done, she has been pretty, dull,
ordinary and incapable of lifting the film clear of a sanctimonious mud.
GWYNETH PALTROW: Awarding her
an Oscar for her performance in Shakespeare In Love was too generous.
MICHELLE PFEIFFER: She still
carries the rather stunned, obedient air of a checkout girl at the
supermarket, as well as the lustre of a beauty pageant winner.
LEONARDO DiCAPRIO: Now that he
is past 35 and beginning to look a touch puffy, there are those ready to
dismiss DiCaprio. We’ll see how much creative stamina he possesses, but
I fear that kind of fey magic he once had has slipped from his face.
GERARD DEPARDIEU: Depardieu
has the air of a rugby player (after a game played in heavy mud) crossed
with a great violinist. But am I alone in feeling that I’ve seen his
every mood and urge over and over again?
HARRISON FORD: There may not
be an actor in the history of movies whose films have grossed more
money. But on the few occasions of adventurousness in his career, he
has revealed himself as a limited, anxious actor.
Drew Barrymore was born so recently (in
1975), and yet seems to have been here, and a problem, for so long
DREW BARRYMORE: I can't help
finding it shocking, as well as startling, that Drew Barrymore was born
so recently (in 1975), and yet seems to have been here, and a problem,
for so long.
GEORGE CLOONEY: It’s clear, as
he approaches 50, that George Clooney is the most liked actor in U.S.
pictures. And it is also clear that he knows it.
MATT DAMON: What’s most
interesting about Damon is the very lack of good looks — and the feeling
of a squashed and rebuilt face.
BRUCE WILLIS: The mystery
continues. Willis makes quantities of commercial junk, where his raised
eyebrows soar into the space left by his receding hairline. And then he
produces something that unmistakably reveals a tender, wise actor.
NICOLAS CAGE: It has to be
said that the Cage of the past few years has been distressingly fixed on
money-making movies of questionable worth. If he doesn’t have enough
money yet to settle for taking a risk, then what is the point of money?
RALPH FIENNES: There are those
who find him beautiful, classy and intellectual. Others remark on the
extraordinary opportunities he has had, coupled with his strange
reticence to expose himself — I mean his spirit, for he takes his
clothes off regularly. He sometimes acts as if he would rather be
CATHERINE ZETA-JONES: The
‘Zeta’ in her name (a shrewd move) does suggest some Latin blood that
would match her extreme, ripe, dark good looks. But, in truth, it was
her grandmother’s name — and if one knows Wales at all, there is a very
Welsh look to Jones — a kind of Polly Garter flash, full of flirt,
anger, and sauce. In the real valleys, it must be said, it is a
prettiness that tends to fade early.