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A nod to ploughing your own furrow

It’s Oscar time this weekend – the awards season is coming to its annual close – and in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein eruption, the #MeToo, the Times Up movement and general Western World angst over sexist and/or power-abusive behaviour of any kind – the entertainment industry, and most particularly its movie section, certainly has a lot of hand-wringing to do.

After all, the latter brought the description ‘the casting couch’ into common parlance.

 And the majority of us might say that this righteous revulsion is fully justified given that – never mind the mind-boggling industrial scale of dodgy behaviour by both sexes (mainly men of course) already exposed, out in the open, written about and/or revealed in innumerable documentaries and histories over the past 125 years – with little fear of contradiction I can confidently posit that the full truth is far, far worse, weirder and more shocking than any man or woman sitting on the proverbial Clapham omnibus could possibly ever have imagined in their wildest nightmare.

Ever since home sapiens first walked the earth, innumerable dirty secrets have been systematically buried, burned or otherwise been consigned to dust and oblivion by everyone from emperors to priests to politicians and, yes, even the average Jack and Jill who live just down your street – believe me.

Times move on and, whatever the mores of a particular era, people get to the top by exploiting them. It may be a controversial thing to say but that goes for both those abusers and the abused.

Today I want to post a few words in appreciation of Jennifer Lawrence, a young actress who treads her own path, knows her own mind and doesn’t seem to care what people think.

Acting is a precarious profession. One the one hand, in getting ahead sometimes you cannot be too choosy about what jobs you accept – as the saying goes, sometimes you have to kiss a lot of frogs to find your prince. How many TV shows have been made by scouring the vaults to uncover advertisements, non-speaking walk-on or one-lines roles from yesteryear featuring now world movie superstars as they were early in their careers?

Every day hundreds if not thousands of scripts thud onto the desks of literary agents and movie producers all over the world – and then subsequently onto the desks of actors’ agents, and still later onto the front door mats of actors, aspiring or established, themselves.

Choosing which project to get involved in is a fraught business. The history of the movie business is littered with actors, great and mediocre, who hit the jackpot early on but whose careers eventually took a downward course over the decades simply because of their unerring ability to pick terrible projects in which to get involved.

It is an immutable fact of life that you can say yes to a project which has a great story, great roles, great writers, great producers and directors and great movie studios behind it  – which inexplicably then bombs at the box office.

Just as easily as you can find yourself involved, almost against your will, in an apparently low-budget, rubbish movie project with nothing apparently going for it – and what’s more becomes a nightmare to make and promote – but which suddenly strikes a chord with the public, takes hundreds of millions of dollars at the box office and brings you both acting awards and/or the opportunity thereafter launch yourself as an A-lister.

The life of a movie actor is not easy. But somebody’s got to do it.

Take the previously-mentioned Jennifer Lawrence.

She’ll be 28 in August and first came to serious movie industry attention a decade ago in a minor hit Garden Party, since when she’s been riding a curve to world super-stardom, via her breakthrough role in Winter’s Bone (2010) to blockbusters such as the X-Men and The Hunger Game series and 2016’s Passengers. According to Wikipedia, her films have grossed over US$ 5.5 billion worldwide and she was the world’s highest-paid actress in both 2015 and 2016.

She’s now one of the top actresses in Hollywood and a standard-bearer for women’s rights and the current PC-correct campaigns. But she also ploughs her own furrow, receiving brickbats for alleged red carpet ‘style gaffs’ and her free-flowing opinions.

And now Red Sparrow, her latest movie, has just been released to almost uniformly mixed critical reviews.

See here for links to just a few examples:

Roger Ebert writing on his own website – ROGER EBERT

Robbie Collin, film critic of the –  DAILY TELEGRAPH

Benjamin Lee writing on the website of the – GUARDIAN

Elizabeth Donoghue writing on the movie website – DEN OF GEEK

Peter Travers on the website of – ROLLING STONE

Caryn James on the website of the – BBC

However, I’m a fan of her work and particularly her ballsy, singular, approach to life.

Here’s an article I spotted that I figured Rust readers might like to see – a piece by Guy Lodge that appears today upon the website of – THE GUARDIAN







About Neil Rosen

Neil went to the City of London School and Manchester University graduating with a 1st in economics. After a brief stint in accountancy, Neil emigrated to a kibbutz In Israel. His articles on the burgeoning Israeli film industry earned comparisons to Truffaut and Godard in Cahiers du Cinema. Now one of the world's leading film critics and moderators at film Festivals Neil has written definitively in his book Kosher Nostra on Jewish post war actors. Neil lives with his family in North London. More Posts