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Friday, March 03, 2006

Sir Ben Kingsley, Meet Sir Ben Kingsley's Ego
I had the opportunity to see Lucky Number Slevin the other day, not a great film, but not bad either. To put a point to it, it's rather light in the brains department. It features a great cast: Josh Hartnett, Morgan Freeman, Bruce Willis, Lucy Liu, Stanley Tucci, Robert Forster, and right in the middle of it all, Sir Ben Kingsley. Sir. Now, we're not talking Shakespeare here, nor even Eugene O'Neill. We're talking a third-rate crime caper that even pulp paperbacks would suspiciously sniff at. Not to mention that Sir Ben Kingsley's last two pictures were the ill-fated duds BloodRayne and A Sound of Thunder. I've never met him, but word has it that when he came to San Francisco to promote his overrated House of Sand and Fog, he insisted that everyone, from lowly interns to journalists, address him as Sir.

None of the other Sirs (which basically means British artists who have been knighted) have behaved quite this badly. Picture the great Alec Guinness, a master at both comedy and at Dickens costume productions, who always kept a sense of humility and perspective about his craft.

Even if Kinglsey does stoop to playing in a comedy, he does it with thunderous overacting. In fact, his best performances are the ones that require overacting (see: Sexy Beast). In Polanski's Oliver Twist, he had the role of a lifetime as Fagin, stooped, cackling and caked in makeup. He held it together until the film's tacked-on ending in which that bad ham instinct took over.

I'm starting to think that his pretentiousness and his hamminess have turned him into the next William Shatner. If only Kingsley could see himself, then reinvent himself as a kind of bemused figure as Shatner has, he might ahve a chance to supercharge his career and get close to the kind of excellence that Guinness achieved.
:: posted by Jeffrey M. Anderson, 3/03/2006 Comments (0)
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