Monday, October 1, 2007

The error of over-association

So I'm watching Ed Zwick's video journal for The Last Samurai, and thinking about how people sometimes (spelled o-f-t-e-n) over-associate products, be they movies, music, or actual hard merchandise, with one or more of the principle elements. When the trailers for The Last Samurai were first released I remember a great public sigh of "oh, another Tom Cruise vehicle". It really bothered me at the time, just as it bothered me when people refer to Franco Zeffirelli's Hamlet as "Mel Gibson's Hamlet".

Now this isn't meant to be a treatise defending the work of film-makers verses that of actors, so bear with me.

People get hung up on the personal characteristics of celebrities and other public figures and then transfer feelings about those characteristics to an associated product.

Tom Cruise may be a bit of a weirdo with the Scientology thing, but he's an accomplished actor and it's an error in judgment to assume that his personal oddness is going to somehow taint the movie.

Mel Gibson, again, the high-profile Catholic that folks either love to hate or hate to love, but guess what folks? He's been an arch-conservative all his career (likely all his life). It's only recently that he's started to let it bleed over into his public life. None of that really has anything to do with his ability to act.

-Prince: The man is freaky, there's no real doubt; he's also a phenomenally talented musician.

-Emeril Lugassi: His flamboyant manner may grate on me but I'm not going to refuse to try one of his recipes.

-Lindsay Lohan: err...OK, I got nothing here.

If you get caught up in the personal oddities of these people (and others) you run the risk of missing out on some of those rare jewels of art and experience. You need to be willing to move past their foibles and appreciate their work.

On a closing note, The Last Samurai was not Tom Cruise's film, although I think he did a fine job playing his part. It was Edward Zwick's film. The Last Temptation of Christ, now that was Gibson's baby. If you liked it he deserves credit; if you didn't, feel free to send him a care package of monkey poop.


Red said...

BUT the problem with Last Samurai was Tom Cruise was "too big" for the part. I found the movie unbelievable because I didn't buy TC as a Samurai...and I think this is because his persona has become larger than any character he plays. Yeah it was an Ed Zwick movie, but the whole film suffered from poor casting. Now, if Clive Owen or Daniel Craig had been cast, it would have been a much better film...

Brennan said...

While I agree that TC was far from the best choice (Clive Owen would have been MUCH better) I feel the rest of the movie was well cast, especially the Japanese characters. Ken Watenabe, Hiroyuki Sanada (whom completely ROCKS!), Shin Koyamada, Koyuki were all outstanding performers in the film.

Red said...

Agreed, but they couldn't make up for TC...