Monday, March 21, 2011

Musicians Go To The Movies - Part 2


A few months back I wrote up a little feature called When Disaster Strikes talking about some “interesting” cases of musicians trying their hands at acting. A couple were good, some were godawful. Today having caught a glimpse of the new Pirates of the Caribbean trailer (which I’ll pop on the end of the feature) and seeing that Keith Richards is once again popping up as Jack Sparrow's pater, it reminded me about doing a follow up. After all there are so many worthy mentions. So here’s five more...


Sting
as Feyd Rautha in Dune
What can you say about the self-righteous one’s underpants, I mean performance that hasn’t already been said. Playing the part of a vicious assassin Feyd Rautha who is out to kill our hero Paul Atreides (Kyle MacLachlan) you’d would hope that Sting would bring some steely-eyed menace to the role. You would hope that he would inform the character with an edge that made him present even when off-screen, the danger of his up-coming showdown always on our minds. Nope all that is swept right out of the window the moment he appears from a massive steam-room wearing nothing but his underpants. Lovely Feyd indeed. He grins a lot too. But apart from that there’s not a lot going on in ways of acting. I know underpants don’t really affect the quality of the performance, of which there is very little quality. But the horror of that image usually makes me cringe every time he pops up on screen. Or if I ever watch Quadrophenia. Or Radio On.
Grace Jones
as May Day in A View to a Kill

Just as memorable in Conan the Destroyer (again more for the wardrobe) but A View to a Kill has the trump card of having Grace Jones acting alongside Christopher Walken. In the few films she’s appeared in she’s managed to bring a real manic quality, wide-eyed and unpredictable to the roles - she’s fucking terrifying in McCinsey’s Island. She can’t compete with Christopher Walken unfortunately, simply because he... is. But it is also remarkable that she gets a love scene with a well-past it Roger Moore. Now there is an image. It’s legendary that neither actor really got on so it makes those moments even more interesting to watch. Although she can’t hold a candle next to the Walken, Jones does a decent job as a the secondary villain - she’s mysterious and you kind of believe that Grace Jones would happily kill a man. She also brings an interesting angle that enlivens a vastly under-rated Bond film.
Prince
as The Kid in Purple Rain
Don’t get me wrong. It’s a fine soundtrack. A fine slice of 80’s hokum. Under the Cherry Moon is a far worse film. Pretentious and meandering, that’s just Prince’s performance but Purple Rain winds out for one single moment. Coming home to confront his abusive father The Kid jumps off his motorcycle and crashes through the door with a thunderous voice. His cries out “where are you mother fucker?” and then does a charming little pirouette rendering the entire moment hilarious. I can’t really say too much else acting-wise. He does quiet angst very well. You’re not really watching Purple Rain for the Grand Master of Romantic Funk’s acting skills. It’s the music we be wanting and it’s music that holds up well. It’s the concert scenes where Prince really comes alive as a performer.
Madonna
as All her characters in All her films
At first I was thinking about Shanghai Surprise. Then I suddenly thought of Body of Evidence. Then I remembered Die Another Day. That reminded me of Swept Away. The horror. One’s incredible about Madonna’s oeuvre is that she’s shown that she’s capable of not being completely shite. Desperately Seeking Susan showed she could be sassy and compelling and Evita demonstrated that she could hold your attention for a whole two hour period (granted she was sinking rather than having to deliver dialogue). The rest of the time though she just sounds bored as hell. She delivers her lines like they’re a matter of course, something to be tossed out so that they can get to the end of production quickly, the film will be released and she can get all the praise that she richly deserves. Nah she’s just boring. Even in films as dire as Die Another Day and Shanghai Surprise she still manages to stand out as a particular low-light. I can’t think of any particular moments that offend me, there’s just something about her overall presence on screen that makes me grind my teeth in frustration. It’s always interesting to see people who aren’t naturally driven toward screen acting have a go at it. Sometime it reveals untapped talent but in Madonna’s case every performance seems like an act of vanity rather than artist pursuit.
Fat Joe
as Lonzo in Thicker Than Water
This may seem a completely random choice but I’m kind of obsessed with this film. Films with rappers filling out the cast are ten-a-penny these days but back in the late 90s they were very much a novelty. Thicker Than Water beside boasting a STARRING role for his Fatness Jose also stars Mack 10, MC Eiht, B-Real, Big Pun and Ice Cube bringing his Hollywood credibility to the production. The film is about two rival music producers (Fat Joe and Mack 10) who start to work together, thereby bringing peace to the neighbourhood, but they are double-crossed by an old friend threatening to bring a war to the area. The plot gives everyone an excuse to brandish a firearm at some point. The plot is pretty much dispensed with as quickly as possible to get to the gun fire and car chases. What stands out for me though is Fat Joe’s performance. His is the very definition of “natural” to the point that I don’t think he realizes there’s a script or that he’s even on camera. It all looks like a day-in-the life. That’s also another way to say that Joe can’t act in this film. I say “in this film” because a few years later he did some lines for Happy Feet and in those couple of lines he completely out-acted himself in 90 min run time of this.
Have you got any favourite musicians in movie moments? Share them with us.
Oh yeah here’s the new Pirates trailer.

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