Rushes: Oldman | Cutler | Theory | Comedy

17.February.2012: South by Southwest announced its full conference lineup Wednesday, with comedy as a theme in the headline panels: “A Conversation with Seth MacFarlane,” “Funny or Die: Future of Comedy & Everything Else” and “Meat is Might: Epic Meal Time Rules the Web.”

In the not funny and brilliantly so category: Gary Oldman’s buttoned-up performance as George Smiley in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. Up for his first Academy Award, he spoke frankly with Andrew O’Hehir in Salon about the pleasure of playing a character with a much smaller emotional range: “‘It was greatly liberating, powerfully liberating, to play George Smiley,” he says. If he plays a character who’s called upon to cry, Oldman explains, “Those are Gary’s tears. They have to be real. I’ve had to feel that grief or that anger, and then the performance is contaminated by that emotion.’”

The days of Andrew Sarris-Pauline Kael-style debating may be over, but it’s refreshing to find a critic who’ll lay down the gauntlet once in awhile. São Paulo-based Aaron Cutler, via Idiom, takes the auspicious awards week moment to cast aspersions on critical darlings The Tree of Life and Melancholia. “The past few months have seen a steady stream of year-end critics’ polls, with two films consistently placed toward the top,” he writes. “This is a problem, since both The Tree of Life and Melancholia are awful. A lot of bad films do well on Top 10 lists, but Tree and Melancholia deserve to be fought, in particular, because they represent a noxious kind of filmmaking that can’t be easily dismissed. They are not dull, impersonal, or technically unsound, as most bad movies are—their common problem lies in vision. Each of these films sets out to do nothing less than proclaim a statement about the world and humanity’s place within it, but with a vision that is both ordinary and incoherent.”

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