DID YOU READ

Anthony Hopkins is grumbling about mumbling.

Anthony Hopkins is grumbling about mumbling. (photo)

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In a predictably contentious interview with The Guardian, Anthony Hopkins caps off an eminently readable series of straightforward admissions about his alcoholic past, estranged daughter and disdain for the British tabloids by denouncing what’s going down in the UCLA acting classes he teaches. “There are a lot of young kids, good actors, but they are so macho they think it’s sexy to whisper. I don’t know what the hell they are talking about. They may as well put subtitles on them. I teach acting classes at UCLA, and I stand there and say: ‘I can’t understand one word you’re saying, so how d’you expect me to sit in the audience?'”

Now, I don’t know what Hopkins is talking about, if he’s teaching theatrical or film acting, nor could I find evidence of said acting classes online. And I don’t remember a swarm of recent Hollywood performances specializing in whispering. The tentative, awkward shuffle, sure — I used to want to slap some decisiveness into Tobey Maguire until he snapped out of it, Jake Gyllenhaal has run with it pretty well, and Paul Dano’s brilliant turn in “There Will Be Blood” pretty much took it into the realm of self-parody. But I don’t think that’s what Hopkins is talking about, nor, I suspect, is he being inundated with a new breed of mumblecore actors.

01212010_nixon.jpgHopkins’ complaint, nonetheless, seems curiously anachronistic. He began stage-acting in the early ’60s and was on film by 1967, making him probably the most successful British screen actor of his generation. His compatriots included the largely now-forgotten Nicol Williamson and John Hurt, both of whom he acted against, but Hopkins eclipsed them both for sheer fame. (Michael Caine’s of the same generation, but his insistence on keeping his own accent rather than the Queen’s English makes him a whole other story.) Hurt has proven himself adept at sinking into characters; Williamson, primarily a stage actor praised by the likes of Samuel Beckett, never could tone it down for film.

Hopkins gets to have it both ways, as pretty much every profile notes. He’s overwhelmingly associated with either his quiet Merchant Ivory turns (“The Remains of the Day,” “Howard’s End”) or scenery-chewing on a massive scale (Hannibal Lecter, his enjoyable hammy tête-à-tête with Ryan Gosling in “Fracture,” being Richard Nixon). But if you look at his overall body of work, it’s clear Hopkins is kind of an anomaly, splitting the difference between the old-school theatrical training he had while learning to adapt to new screen conventions. Which makes his grumbling about mumbling even more puzzling. He had to learn to take it down a notch to continue a successful screen career; surely, he doesn’t expect the new generation of kids to start from where he started 40 years ago? Besides, his turn in the underrated “The World’s Fastest Indian” is as mumbly as it gets.

[Photos: “Hannibal,” MGM/UA, 2001; “Nixon,” Buena Vista Home Entertainment, 1995.]

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Inauguration Alternative

Bill Murray On Repeat

It's a movie "Murray-thon" all-day Friday on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIFs courtesy of GIPHY

Democrats, Republicans and Millennials agree: 2017 is shaping up to be a spectacle — a spectacle that really kicks into high gear this Friday with the presidential inauguration. Not only will the new POTUS swear in, but all the Country’s highest offices will be filled. It’s a daunting prospect, and to feel a little anxious about it is only normal. But if your anxiety is snowballing into panic, we have a solution:
Bill Murray.

He’s the human embodiment of a mental “Happy Place”, and there’s really no problem he can’t solve. So, with that in mind, how about we all set aside reality for a moment and let Bill take the pain away by imagining a top-shelf White House cabinet filled exclusively by his signature characters. Here are a few hypothetical appointments for your consideration…

Secretary of Defense:
Bill Murray from Stripes

His incompetence is balanced by charm, and dumb luck is inexplicably on his side. America could do worse.

Secretary of State:
Bill Murray from Lost In Translation

A seasoned globetrotter steeped in regional traditions who has the respect of the whole wide world. And he kills Costello in karaoke, which is very important.

Press Secretary:
Bill Murray from Ghostbusters

“Cats and dogs, living together. Mass hysteria.” Dude knows how to brief a room.

Secretary of Health and Human Services:
Bill Murray from What About Bob.

A doctor-approved people person who knows that progress is measured in baby steps.

Secretary of Energy:
Bill Murray from Groundhog Day

Let’s be honest, this world is going to need a lot of do-overs.

Feeling better? Hold on to that bliss. And enjoy a healthy alternative to the inauguration brouhaha with multiple Murrays all Friday long in an IFC movie marathon including Kingpin, Zombieland, Ghostbusters, and Ghostbusters II.

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Home Run

Hank Azaria Gets Thrown A Curve Ball

Brockmire Premieres April 5 at 10P

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection

Unless you’ve somehow missed every episode of the Simpsons since 1989, then surely you know that Hank Azaria is one of the most important character actors of our time. He’s so prolific and his voice is so dynamic that he’s responsible for more iconic personalities than most folks realize. Basically, he’s the great and powerful Oz — except that when you pull back the curtain the truth is actually more impressive. And now Hank is coming to IFC to bring yet another character to the TV pop culture hive mind in the new series Brockmire. Check out the trailer below.

Based on the following Funny or Die short and co-starring Amanda Peet, Brockmire follows the story of imploded major league sportscaster Jim Brockmire as he tries to resurrect his career by calling plays for a floundering minor league team in a podunk town.

The series is written by Joel Church-Cooper (Undateable) and produced by Funny or Die’s Mike Farah and Joe Farrell, meaning that there’s funny in front of the camera, funny behind the camera–funny all around. Sounds like a ball to us.

Brockmire premieres April 5 at 10P on IFC.

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Car Notes

Portlandia On People Who Can’t Park

Portlandia returns tonight at 10P on IFC.

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If flagrant bad parking takes nerve, then retaliatory note writing takes neuroses. Watch Fred and Carrie take passive aggression to next level in Car Notes, the new Portlandia web series presented by Subaru. The first episode is yours right here and now, and you can see every installment of Car Notes anytime online, on the IFC app and on demand.

Portlandia returns tonight at 10P on IFC.

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