MOBILE USERS: m.isthmus.com
Connect with Isthmus on Twitter · Facebook · Flickr · Newsletters 
Thursday, April 24, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 48.0° F  Light Rain Fog/Mist
Collapse Photo Bar

Kevin Costner and terrible acting in good movies

Comment on the Isthmus movie reviews, write one yourself, discuss upcoming flicks, recent DVDs, and other realms in the world of cinema.

Kevin Costner and terrible acting in good movies

Postby pjbogart » Thu Apr 11, 2013 10:51 pm

Yeah, so obviously Kevin Costner comes to mind first, but as I watched Robin Hood last night, despite his ham-fisted acting it was actually a pretty entertaining flick. And that's not even his best movie... "The Untouchables" and "Dances With Wolves" are great movies, and he actually directed "Dances With Wolves". How does such a terrible actor pull off great movies?

So who are some other terrible actors/actresses who star in movies that are great DESPITE how terrible they are?

Keanu Reeves in "The Matrix", "My Own Private Idaho", and "River's Edge" comes to mind. Do kids count? Because Cory Feldman might as well be a wooden statue, but "The Goonies", "Stand By Me", and "The Lost Boys" are all worth a watch. Arnold Schwarzenegger hardly even qualifies as an actor, but people certainly loved "Conan the Barbarian" and the Terminator movies.

Is it great direction that saves movies from their terrible performers? A good script, terribly delivered? Or is it just that all of these movies are the sort that don't really require good actors?
pjbogart
Forum God/Goddess
 
Posts: 6020
Joined: Thu Sep 04, 2003 4:57 pm

Re: Kevin Costner and terrible acting in good movies

Postby bdog » Fri Apr 12, 2013 5:50 am

I like Kevin Costner but I never saw Robin Hood. He was miscast in the untouchables; too young. His wheelhouse was field of dreams and bull durham. He's just a likeable guy.

Charlton Heston.

It's people you know.
bdog
Forum God/Goddess
 
Posts: 3184
Joined: Wed Mar 31, 2010 5:26 am

Re: Kevin Costner and terrible acting in good movies

Postby Galoot » Fri Apr 12, 2013 7:08 am

Even though Groundhog Day is one of my favorite movies, I think that Bill Murray is just playing Bill Murray the entire time.
Galoot
Forum God/Goddess
 
Posts: 1450
Joined: Thu Jun 14, 2001 1:10 pm

Re: Kevin Costner and terrible acting in good movies

Postby Marvell » Fri Apr 12, 2013 10:13 am

I think part of the answer is the difference between the traditional notion of acting that developed in the context of live theater, and acting for film – or, perhaps more accurately, acting for sound film.

Back in the silent era, there was less of a distinction. The need to telegraph emotional shifts without words required the same skill set (or at least a very similar one) as needed to project to the back of the balcony.

With the advent of sound, however, and especially with the emergence of the more naturalistic acting style most commonly associated with the Actors’ Studio (most commonly referred to as ‘Method Acting’), the type of acting that translated effectively on to the screen became very different from the traditional theatrical style, to the point that many actors no longer were able to successfully make the jump from the stage to films; increasingly, you see the terms ‘stagey’ and ‘theatrical’ used as pejorative descriptions in published film criticism.

And some of the most effective and beloved film stars are not, in fact, ‘good’ actors at all in the traditional sense. Consider Cary Grant, who for me and many others is the quintessential ‘movie star;’ when you really stop to think about it, his range is extraordinarily limited. It’s practically impossible to imagine him playing, say, Hamlet – and why would you want him to? There’s nothing Hamlet about Cary Grant, thank god; that’s what I love about him.

So, to your point about Arnold – Arnold doesn’t need to act to be good as Conan, or the Terminator, because the roles are conceived in a way that doesn’t require ‘acting’ in the traditional sense at all. Arnold just has to be physically impressive, and the camera and the editing and the music does all the heavy lifting as far as delivering the emotional content of the film. After all, how much emotional complexity does Conan have? Drive the enemy before you, lamentation of the women, yadda yadda. And the Terminator is a frickin’ machine.
Marvell
Forum God/Goddess
 
Posts: 6969
Joined: Thu Nov 08, 2001 11:28 pm
Location: At one with time and space

Re: Kevin Costner and terrible acting in good movies

Postby kurt_w » Fri Apr 12, 2013 10:16 am

This is a nifty topic for a thread.
kurt_w
Forum God/Goddess
 
Posts: 4858
Joined: Tue Jul 22, 2003 3:11 pm

Re: Kevin Costner and terrible acting in good movies

Postby Detritus » Fri Apr 12, 2013 10:37 am

A good director can also get amazing performances out of non-actors, sometimes better performances. Werner Herzog did much better with the non-actors in Herz auf Glas than he did with Klaus Kinski in Fitzcarraldo. Of course, it didn't help that, by Fitzcarraldo, both Herzog and Kinski had pissed away all of their talents making the same damn movie over and over.
Detritus
Forum God/Goddess
 
Posts: 2313
Joined: Wed May 13, 2009 9:42 pm

Re: Kevin Costner and terrible acting in good movies

Postby Prof. Wagstaff » Fri Apr 12, 2013 10:38 am

Just screened High Noon for someone who had never seen it and, as I have been in the past, was once again struck by how not-very-good Gary Cooper is in it. Cooper, for me, is a good example for this thread because he can be very, very good, both in dramatic roles (Beau Geste, Vera Cruz) and in comedic ones (Ball of Fire, Meet John Doe) but he's just as likely to be a total stiff. I've always wondered if it's attitude, direction, interest, or what that can make an actor run so hot and cold, but Cooper truly runs the gamut (and Marvell's analysis may help illuminate some of his problems, given that he started in silents and then had to adapt to sound.) Now, sometimes, there's not much anyone could've done with the material (The Fountainhead) and other times his performance transcends a lackluster production (Along Came Jones) but when he's bad, he's downright terrible (They Came To Cordura.) Now admittedly, Cooper had a bleeding ulcer all through the filming of High Noon, but even still, the movie succeeds (and it does succeed) pretty much despite him, even though he's in nearly every scene.
Prof. Wagstaff
Forum God/Goddess
 
Posts: 8617
Joined: Tue Feb 19, 2002 6:35 pm

Re: Kevin Costner and terrible acting in good movies

Postby rabble » Fri Apr 12, 2013 1:07 pm

Back when the Conan movies were first coming out, I remember reading several articles talking about how easy Ahnold was to direct. Everything the director said, Arnold did. One guy said Arnie had the same relationship with the directors as he did with his trainers in the bodybuilding years. What they say goes.

My favorite Costner movie is Silverado but Dances is second. I liked waterworld too. Maybe not because of Costner.
rabble
Forum God/Goddess
 
Posts: 5779
Joined: Tue Jun 10, 2008 7:50 pm

Re: Kevin Costner and terrible acting in good movies

Postby pjbogart » Fri Apr 12, 2013 8:25 pm

When I watch a Kubrick film, I can't help but feel that he's instructing the actors to seem wooden, almost like a host of SNL reading off cue cards. Is that for the surreal effect?
pjbogart
Forum God/Goddess
 
Posts: 6020
Joined: Thu Sep 04, 2003 4:57 pm

Re: Kevin Costner and terrible acting in good movies

Postby bdog » Fri Apr 12, 2013 8:29 pm

There are of course, notable exceptions.

Image
bdog
Forum God/Goddess
 
Posts: 3184
Joined: Wed Mar 31, 2010 5:26 am

Re: Kevin Costner and terrible acting in good movies

Postby narcoleptish » Sun Apr 21, 2013 9:52 pm

The Thomas Crown Affair (1968) and The Cincinnati Kid. I'm a big fan of Steve McQueen, his movies and his image, but I don't think he was even close to being one of the better actors in any of his movies.
narcoleptish
Forum God/Goddess
 
Posts: 3585
Joined: Mon Mar 14, 2005 1:35 am

Re: Kevin Costner and terrible acting in good movies

Postby Prof. Wagstaff » Mon Apr 22, 2013 12:16 am

narcoleptish wrote:The Thomas Crown Affair (1968) and The Cincinnati Kid. I'm a big fan of Steve McQueen, his movies and his image, but I don't think he was even close to being one of the better actors in any of his movies.

Thomas Crown is a particularly bad McQueen movie (not just because of him -- it's dated extraordinarily badly... not to mention that "Windmills Of My Mind" is one of the worst songs I've ever heard in my life. Not even The Muppets could make me like that one.)
But then there's The Towering Inferno. McQueen's exapserated fireman is probably the best thing about that one.
But if you're looking for a great McQueen performance and a great movie, then The Magnificient Seven is the one to reach for.
Prof. Wagstaff
Forum God/Goddess
 
Posts: 8617
Joined: Tue Feb 19, 2002 6:35 pm

Re: Kevin Costner and terrible acting in good movies

Postby narcoleptish » Mon Apr 22, 2013 8:29 am

I love that Thomas Crown for its style, the clothes and cars and just that 60's vibe, same with Bullitt. I think I had blocked out the windmills song, till now of course..

I own The Magnificient Seven but I can't remember getting all the way through it. I fall asleep easy, hence the moniker. I'll have to give it another shot.
narcoleptish
Forum God/Goddess
 
Posts: 3585
Joined: Mon Mar 14, 2005 1:35 am

Re: Kevin Costner and terrible acting in good movies

Postby rrnate » Mon Apr 22, 2013 9:48 am

Kubrick is a sometimes-good example but an even better example of a director that makes great movies with lots of bad performances is David Lynch - dude has been getting the most out of bad acting for years, to pretty amazing effect. (I'd say that's pre-Mulholland Drive - Mulholland and Inland Empire are notable for the really great lead performances.)

Another good one is Christopher Nolan, who I think pretty much makes bad acting-proof movies.

I think Leonardo DiCaprio is in a number of good movies, though he is often the worst thing about them; he's often called on to be a 'heavy' in Scorcese movies (or in Inception) and he really can't pull it off. But, still, the movies are great.

Cary Grant is a great example, and you can really see the seams showing when he's in more serious roles. I know someone already mentioned Charlton Heston, but his performance is at the very middle of Touch of Evil, and even though he's frigging in brownface, pretending to be a Mexican (but, only really just barely - certainly not, you know, trying to do an accent or something) it's still a really great movie.
rrnate
Forum God/Goddess
 
Posts: 3656
Joined: Sat Feb 02, 2002 6:33 pm
Location: Madison's Corporate Underbelly

Re: Kevin Costner and terrible acting in good movies

Postby pjbogart » Mon Apr 22, 2013 10:16 am

rrnate wrote:I think Leonardo DiCaprio is in a number of good movies, though he is often the worst thing about them; he's often called on to be a 'heavy' in Scorcese movies (or in Inception) and he really can't pull it off. But, still, the movies are great.


The only time DiCaprio really impressed me was the first time I saw him in "What's Eating Gilbert Grape". Maybe it's an age thing, but I usually feel a little bit of a let down by his final products too. Even massively hyped movies like "The Departed" and "Inception" fall a little flat for me.

I completely forgot about David Lynch's wooden actors. I don't think he's getting the most of them, I think he's intentionally having them act wooden for the surreal effect. They seem creepy, almost inhuman.
pjbogart
Forum God/Goddess
 
Posts: 6020
Joined: Thu Sep 04, 2003 4:57 pm

Next

Return to Movies

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 0 guests

moviesmusiceats
Select a Movie
Select a Theater


FacebookcommentsViewedForum
  ISTHMUS FLICKR

Promotions Contact us Privacy Policy Jobs Newsletters RSS
Collapse Photo Bar