A little over a year ago, I was assigned a "Cinematical Seven" on the most overrated actors in Hollywood. I stand by five of my choices, but things have changed for two of the others. Heath Ledger (#4) was one, and his amazing performances in both I'm Not There and The Dark Knight proved me wrong, not to mention that he's no longer alive to be overrated, underrated or any kind of rated. The other was Ben Kingsley (#1). For some reason I have seen five Ben Kingsley movies in the past three months. Seeing such a wide range of performance in such a short time has caused me to re-think my opinion on him. The first Kingsley film I saw this year was The Wackness (31 screens), as part of the San Francisco International Film Festival. I didn't much like the film; I found it to be a rather bland, tame coming-of-age picture disguised as a daring snapshot-of-an-era movie. And Kingsley's performance as a pot-smoking shrink struck me as yet another piece of overacting, with lots of weird pauses and run-on sentences in his dialogue.
His turn as the villain in War, Inc. (20 screens) didn't fare much better. I liked the film, but strapped to a wheelchair, his immobile body only increased his tendency to overdo it in his line readings. The third movie, Transsiberian (opening this week on 2 screens), proved somewhat more interesting. He played a Russian narcotics detective, complete with an accent, but somehow his performance perfectly clicked with that sturdy suspense film. The fourth film, The Love Guru (over 400 screens), was by far the worst of the lot but also proved the most revealing.