Sunday, September 08, 2019

Revisiting a Favorite

I was hunting for a movie to watch last night. Is it just me, or is Netflix charging more money for less content? After about fifteen minutes of scrolling in vain to find a decent show, I retreated to the "Search" feature and looked up my favorite actor, Denzel Washington.

There it was, from 2010, one of my favorites from my favorite--The Book of Eli. If you haven't seen it, I recommend it. It's the story of a lone road warrior in a post-apocalyptic world who believes he is called to preserve the Bible from extinction. The scenery is grim, the action is violent, and the story is riveting. Even knowing the ending--which, as a repeat viewer, I did--it's a fast-moving two hours.

In Hollywood's golden age, the renowned director Frank Capra cast James Stewart (another of my favorite actors) in the leading role in such classic films as Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and It's a Wonderful Life.  I'm paraphrasing, but Capra once said in an interview that Stewart had the ability to make the viewer believe that the action was happening at that moment, on the screen.

I agree with Capra about James Stewart. For our current times, I would choose Denzel Washington as the actor most gifted with the ability to convey that rare sense of presence. A quote often attributed to screen great Spencer Tracy says it this way: "Acting is fine. Just don't get caught at it." In my opinion, Denzel Washington never does.