Saturday, 25 May 2013
Nice to see Third Star get a mention. Anyone who has not seen this movie must watch it immediately!! Although make sure you have plenty of tissues at the ready, waterworks are pretty much guaranteed.
crazy fangirling panegyric piece about Benedict Cumberbatch in a Russian magazine. Translation by Scimommy. Alexey Vasiliev. About new stars. Benedict Cumberbatch
It is a widely held misconception that the acting craft can be learned. It serves to console a broad segment of people attempting the profession, and is also financially profitable for makers of films and TV series – as long as it is physically impossible for the large number of films and TV series currently produced to all star Benedict Cumberbatch. When in “The Hound of Baskerville” he delivers the phrase, not the most dramatic one in the world, “I have no friends”, he spurts out the word “friends” like a rabbit suffering from hay fever. Watson is mortally offended, but at that same moment we all wish for no friends as well. Don’t try to rehearse this in front of the mirror: you won’t succeed. To be able to do this, you need that blunt, wide, prominent rabbit nose that leads to the unyielding, lazy face: the mouth skewed down toward the neck, where the slightest dissatisfaction forms a triple chin, and the flying apart eyebrows, under which diamonds of gray-gray-blue eyes hide tiny dots of pupils. (How would you solve the problem without these eyes if, as did Cumberbatch in “Third star”, you got the role of a man on morphine? Would you have had lights flashed at you until you went blind? But for brown eyes that would be useless.)
Cumberbatch is a great actor because you can follow the activity on his face with unflagging interest until you keel over. This is a nature’s gift. Then there is the superior body language and noble deportment of a grandson of a prominent British Army officer active in two World Wars (precisely the capacity in which the meticulous Spielberg used Cumberbatch in “War Horse”, a film about World War I). Now, certainly, there are other actors, those who train and toil, gain weight and glue on fake noses, and who do get some love, money, and even sometimes Oscars, but to have a face that can be read like a hefty detective novel or contemplated the way the Japanese contemplate cherry blossoms – that one can only be born with. Directors happily integrate that face into scenes of a universal scale. In “Third Star” his face emerges in the starry sky without disturbing its harmony like it had always been there. In the film’s conclusion Cumberbatch’s character accepts death of his own free will, going under water with the facial expression of a babe unborn – this is how we see embryos in test tubes. In the prologue of “Sherlock” Watson complains to his therapist: “Nothing happens to me”, and then across the backdrop of the London panorama – voila! – Cumberbatch’s face appears – and we immediately get it: “Something is about to happen – something huge!” In “Star Trek Into Darkness” he gazes through the windshield of a helicopter in flames – surely this is how God gazed at the Earth while creating volcanoes.
Easily blending into the landscape, that face itself can become a landscape with a changing weather and an interplay of light and shade. In the prologue of “Stuart: A Life Backwards”, Cumberbatch’s character is behind the wheel, listening to an audiotape with the voice of a deceased friend – an alcoholic sociopath (Tom Hardy). In the span of half a minute he covers a whole octave, all four seasons-worth of emotions, from an uncontrollable smile of a person hearing a beloved friend’s “Hello”, to eyes dripping with tears. People who have questions about Cumberbatch’s acting technique can be directed straight to that scene. “Golden”, says a fly-by American girl about his Luke behind his back after he returns from working as a policeman in Malaysia for a bit of a life pause in his English home village, in an adaptation of Agatha Christy’s novel “Murder Is Easy”. “You’re just too nice for this world”, tells him Anna Chancellor who plays his mother in the incomparable six-part Hugh Laurie comedy “Fortysomething”. In that scene Cumberbatch’s hair is hidden under a thick knit cap that resembles a condom. It’s remarkable – watching his STID colleague Chris Pine you constantly think how unlucky the guy is: he could have been very handsome if not for his too high forehead. Yet Cumberbatch’s high forehead in the “condom” only makes him more handsome. Then again, the streaked with highlights fringe of a British intelligence officer issue 1973 in “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” enhances his looks as well. And Shelock’s curls, and Alexander’s glasses in “Stuart”, and the hat the hero dying of sarcoma in “Third Star”… Everything suits him. Because it is impossible to disfigure the sea or the sky.
In “Sherlock” Cumberbatch transforms the world for which he is too nice into a series of exaggerated, clichéd facial expressions. Here is how one smiles while offering a coffee (to check whether the sugar contains a drug). Here is the look to wear while asking to be let into the door (to search an apartment). The means of facial expression are as well worn as those of words. Cumberbatch is an actor, and he shows us that people by and large are living others’ lives using traditional actor tools – borrowed facial expressions. This is what he makes a mockery of. Where did you learn this ingratiating look, that polite smile – from your mother, the electrician, or the TV presenter? In this case facial expressions are a symbol. Behind this wicked parody of the shared facial vocabulary he hides a question for everyone: where are you yourself? Maybe you should reassess and realize yourself as Sherlock realized himself in creating a previously non-existent profession – that of a consulting detective. (In “Third Star” Cumberbatch delivered the reverse story, a deafening tragedy of not getting to realize yourself.)
If you don’t feel sorry for yourself, feel sorry for God who created you precisely for – what? Before going into acting, not having the looks or even the name equivalent of our hero’s looks and name, ask yourself that question; it can lead you to yourself and therefore to freedom and truth. Freedom and truth are brilliant! But leave the screen to Cumberbatch – this is what he was born for.