We film critics are known for having bees in their bonnets. Mine is a dislike for the modern American cinema.
When I composed and circulated my list on courtroom dramas my regular readers picked me up on the omission of A Few Good Men. I do admire director Rob Reiner whose best film is This is Spinal Tap so I watched it again..
The acting represented all I dislike. If I had to search for one word to describe American film acting it would be “energised” . Thus the actor often works out . Tom Cruise in a Few Good Men when he is not in lawyer mode has a baseball bat in his hand. Just as French cinema will invariably have a meal sequence so does contemporary American films contain some exercise normally jogging. In the case of the much acclaimed Forrest Gump there was little else. Demi Moore played an another type beloved by the Americans the know all woman. Julia Roberts was the acme of this in Erin Brockovitch. At least Jack Nicholson who is at his best when slightly mad gave a more rounded interpretation of the Marine Colonel.
It was not always thus. The legendary Hollywood actors such as Edward G Robinson or Humphrey Bogart learned their craft on the stage and delivered more nuanced performances. Think of the first shot of Bogart in Casablanca when you see him playing chess and putting his cigarette out. Or Edward G in Double Indemnity as the insurance investigator following his intuition.
Finally the Louis Mayer doctrine of American movies must make Americans feel good still prevails. Never mind the facts as in countless war films or more recently Captain Phillips whose shipping company was sued by 7 of the crew for him sailing too close to the coastline .
For al their longeurs and pretension , give me a French film any day of the week although ironically the new wave directors were huge admirers of Hollywood.