Interview: Pavel Giroud on Cuban Oscar Submission 'The Companion' - By Jose Solis. Cuba’s Oscar entry *The Companion*, will surely be seen with new eyes with the recent death of Fidel Castro, as more stories about his dec...
Thursday, August 18, 2011
Mr. Hanks, Mr. Tom Hanks, he could sell a movie to 3 million people with just a subtle wink and a nod. It's a charm he possesses. A rare charm I'll admit, but a charm never the less. That certain core element of likability that allows him to weave in and out of all the various junk and controversial films that Hollywood shuffles his way and come out pristine every time. Of course it takes more than just that charismatic gravitational pull to escape Hollywood unscathed throughout the years - it takes a consistent delivery of quality. Well, either that or a good collection of stories like this making their way through the online media channels.
I'll openly admit, Hanks is one of my favorite performers to watch... well, perform. Yet as of lately I've found myself really struggling on one key concept: Does Tom Hanks really act - or indeed 'perform' - anymore or does he just play a minor variation of his general caricature. I'm not saying if he is, it's a bad or horrid thing, after all many of the most popular actors of all time never did much more than play minuscule alterations of their widely accepted public persona. But for someone as talented as Hanks is when he's on his A-Game, I must admit I find it a bit concerning.
Now at this point some of you might be quick to point out the films Hanks has recently done, but I'm just not seeing it. Even Charlie Wilson's War, despite Hanks being supreme Hanksian, isn't the most complex of film roles. Robert Langdon for the Da Vinci Code/Angels and Demons series is mostly just mild jogging and the occasional narrative. Polar Express, eh I could see an argument there but CGI is still on the outset of being accepted as a passable acting medium (sorry Andy Serkis, you know I got nothing but love for what you do). The Terminal... well maybe Tom Hanks + Funny Accent = acting but that was back in 2004 and skittish at best. The Ladykillers, well Hanks was definitely acting in that but I'm not sure a film as demonstrably divisive as that film has been really works in his favor.
So with these films I suppose one could say Tom Hanks is still 'acting,' he's just picking rubbish films to show it off in. But you only really need to go a couple of more years back to find a solid example of Hanks in form - Road to Perdition. Like the film or not, that's Tom Hanks acting. Cast Away, Green Mile, Saving Private Ryan, Forrest Gump, Philadelphia, heck I'll even throw A League of Their Own in there for good measure. While they do so to varying degrees, all these films highlight what Hanks can do when tackling roles that require him to step a bit outside of that 'Big' persona he's managed to carry in the public eye. I'm not knocking Big either, it's still a fan, and personal favorite among the Hanks collective.
Yet, the question remains. I don't want to wholly undermine what Hanks does these days. After all, he's still someone whose work would call upon me to pounce and watch in a heartbeat. But I do fear he's going down a very redundant route, a route I fear will inevitably lead to him slowly fading from pictures entirely - a far too common occurrence for iconic Male actors once they escape the comfort of challenging material and creep towards their mid-50s and beyond. Admittedly at a much lower rate than their female counterparts, but all the same.