May 23, 2009

Keanu Reeves has been cast as the lead in the latest Hollywood reinvention (reboot?) of Robert Louis Stevenson's classic tale of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.


Of course Keanu is no stranger to literary adaptation. He's mucked about in the classics before.

This is Keanu as Jonathan Harker in Francis Ford Coppola's Bram Stoker's Dracula.

And here he is as Don John in Kenneth Branagh's version of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing.

I didn't go out of my way to select evocative photos but I didn't discard heaps of highly emotive pictures just to make him look stoic either. Of the available options I think I randomly captured my main objection to his presence in the upcoming Jekyll perfectly. Range. He has none. I couldn't decide whether news of Keanu playing Jekyll and Hyde is more depressing or as depressing as the fact that he will be playing Spike Spiegel in the live-action version of Cowboy Bebop until I realized that at least in Bebop he'll only mangle one beloved character whereas in Jekyll he'll massacre two for the price of one.

It's not that he's a bad actor, per se, because in order to be a bad actor one first has to act wherein lies the crux of the problem: he doesn't. He is notoriously wooden. The stakes in Dracula had more personality. Walls out-act him. Paint dries with more emotional output. Of everything Keanu Reeves has done - and fuck me he's done a hell of a lot - I think Much Ado About Nothing is the most apt description for his career as a whole. If he ever writes his memoirs, that should be the title. The man has seven films in development. What is his secret? He can't act but name directors and actors fall all over themselves to work with him. He sleepwalks his way through cult favorites (Johnny Mnemonic, Constantine), literary gems, and original works (A Scanner Darkly) alike but audiences still flock to his films in droves. He has the range of a staple but the variable projects and lack of stereotyping that line his resume would make a more seasoned actor weep with envy.

Keanu Reeves is a big question mark to me. I don't get him. His 'acting' makes me cringe. And yet I end up watching a lot of films he's in and enjoying them despite him. Why is he still around? And why, in these days of Christian Bales and Johnny Depps and Robert Downey Jrs. and Javier Bardems, can Hollywood not find a more suitable actor to play Dr. Jekyll and/or Mr. Hyde?

In any case, if you've ever wanted to see an adaptation of Jekyll and Hyde where the transformation is barely detectable and forces you to ponder the metaphor of the story without the obligatory visual aid of man-to-monster it's safe to say Jekyll will be the film for you. Keanu will totally deliver on that.
Alec Baldwin recently said the following about his 13 year old daughter Ireland on a talk show:

"My daughter is 13 and I see now why, in these films, whenever they represent a Mayan culture, or any tribal culture, or a Hawaiian culture, they always throw a teenage girl into the volcano as a sacrifice," he joked.

And apparently there is a furor online about his comments with some people backing him and agreeing with the sentiment and others outraged and calling him an unfit father, blah blah, yada yada.

I, personally, laughed out loud. Do you know any thirteen/fourteen year old girls? They're dreadful creatures. They're mouthy, sarcastic, bitchy, rebellious, angsty, and really quite unpleasant.

I remember what I was like at thirteen and quite frankly if we had lived near any active volcanos I am positive my parents would have thrown me in one. I would have deserved it, too. I would walk two blocks behind them whenever we went out, would roll my eyes and sigh in irritation anytime they spoke to me, would snipe "I KNOW, Dad" every chance I got, giggled through family prayers at dinnertime, stormed that they "just didn't understand", hogged the phone for hours on end, complained bitterly about every meal made for me, told them I wished I was adopted, etc, etc.

So, you know, you parents with sweet little girl-children, baby daughters with big eyes and adorable dimples and endless hugs, enjoy it while it lasts and don't waste your time being offended at Alec Baldwin's comments. Because he only speaks the truth.

It makes you wonder if The Exorcist was more of an extended metaphor than a literal horror, you know?

May 21, 2009

Worf: Sir, I protest. I am not a merry man!