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George Clooney: 5 Awesome Performances And 5 That Sucked

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George Clooney: 5 Awesome Performances And 5 That Sucked

Post by Sevens on Sat Mar 22 2014, 17:31

George Clooney: 5 Awesome Performances And 5 That Sucked
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George Clooney was a relatively late arrival at the gates of mega-stardom. Having spent his earliest active career years jumping from one low-budget flick to another, between TV roles, the man who would be Batman got his big break with ER, playing a children’s doctor, which is pretty much the same as being given a key to all of the women in the world.
As Dr Doug Ross, Clooney built a sterling reputation, not only as a dashingly good-looking life saver, but also as a screen presence with the kind of golden age appeal that modern actors don’t often display so instantly or so effortlessly. His star arguably came before his acting chops, but despite taking eye-catching, franchise leading roles like Danny Ocean, he also started out relatively small, finding his way with intriguing properties that allowed him to show a diverse skill set, and resisting the ominous type-casting shadows that typically follow any actor known for a break-out “heart throb” role.
Having already committed three performances as Danny Ocean to the screen, Clooney offers a spiritual Ocean sibling, returning today in a decidedly odd Valentine’s Day release for The Monuments Men – the art heist Ocean’s 14 by another name that sends Clooney’s Frank Stokes to war to rescue artwork from thieving Nazis. As if they hadn’t done enough.
With his profile boosted by yet another grand performance in the lush Gravity, Clooney has moved beyond the usual realms of stardom: he no longer has to make two movies a year, and is buoyed hugely by the fact that his casting in anything becomes the most important part of that project. He is never an incidental element, such is his charisma, and though his track record has been far from flawless, his output in the past decade has been difficult to pick to pieces at all. Thankfully though, Clooney was once  jobber, and his transformation into mega-star is only the more remarkable for the fact that the same man who wows in almost everything he appears in now, was once listed in the credits of a movie simply as “lip synching transvestite.”
5 Awesome Performances
5. Seth Gecko – From Dusk Til Dawn (1996)

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Fresh from his break-out TV success in ER – and a well-received, self-referential Friends cameo – Clooney announced himself to Hollywood with the help of Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez and a dusty, sun-bleached titty bar full of vampires.
Aside from having an instantly iconic name, his Seth Gecko was an irresistible, ready-made icon, badass to the bone, and just verbose enough in the middle of a hellish maelstrom to make him immediately recognisable as a Quentin Tarantino creation. Starring opposite the writer, who played his doomed brother Richie with sublime sleaziness, Clooney commits a reserved, refined performance that showed an almost unnerving comfort in front of the camera. He’s cold-blooded, cool to a fault, and ludicrously iconic as the hero without so much as a moral bone in his body: but it’s the strength of Clooney’s charm that Gecko is never even remotely anything but likeable.
He’s not one of Tarantino’s most flamboyant, or even most memorable character creations, because he lacks the grotesque elements that the writer/director would add for his more successful projects, but he sits easily alongside the likes of Vincent and Vic Vega, Butch and Django Freeman as one of his greatest anti-heroes nonetheless.
4. Danny Ocean – Ocean’s Eleven (2001)
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By 2001, Clooney’s tenure on ER was over (having left officially in 1999,) and though he’d starred in Three Kings, O Brother Where Art Thou? (more of which later) and The Perfect Storm since leaving his career making role as Dr Doug Ross, it wasn’t until he was attached to the uber-heist ensemble remake of Ocean’s Eleven that his star really met his potential. Ocean was the perfect character and the perfect opportunity to turn his on-screen charisma into something more tangibly expressed, giving fans who had watched him play odd-ball roles and everyman the opportunity to see him genuinely playing the Hollywood star alongside a stellar cast including Brad Pitt, Matt Damon and Julia Roberts. Not everything was hugely successful about the movie – Don Cheadle’s accent being the most jarring fault – but the decision to cast Clooney in a role that had been made originally famous by Frank Sinatra proved an inspired one, given that it is his charm, and the dynamic that he builds with Pitt and Damon particularly that make the film so irresistible, and which inspired two further (largely superfluous sequels.) Following on the trend set by Gecko, Clooney plays a loveable rogue, less morally repugnant perhaps, but not a great deal. He just gets away with an awful lot more because of the twinkle in his eyes, which went a long way to making the film a significantly bigger success than Clooney’s first team up with director Steven Soderbergh for the critically acclaimed, but not fan-adored Out Of Sight.  
3. Everett McGill – O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)
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Despite Clooney’s cool on-screen persona, and the genuine assumption that he probably enjoys being a star more than being an actor – something that his Ocean’s Eleven co-star Julia Roberts has been accused of frequently also – he has a habit of playing it less straight occasionally, and attaching himself to braver, stranger roles like his grotesquely humorous lead in the Coen Brothers’ beautifully odd O Brother, Where Art Thou?
On similar form to his curious performance in The Men Who Stare At Goats, McGill is a ludicrous caricature for Clooney, with perversely personal undertones – or at least some reflecting the typical image he commands on film. McGill is the extreme end of the same scale as Danny Ocean and Seth Gecko – a luridly charming, definitely snake-like bad guy with a heart, but still driven by greed, and unable to cast off his criminal leanings. Pushed through the quaint, but still dark Coens filter, the character is a self-imagined lothario, believing himself to be the brains of the outfit, and unable to read the obvious sign that intellect only by comparison is not always intellect.
Clooney picked up the Golden Globe for Best Actor in A Comedy or Musical Performance for the ridiculous performance, commanding as much attention as he had smouldering in straighter roles to date, but also announcing himself firmly as an actor capable of such comic turns. It’s a hugely under-rated performance, and one that would have been lauded more highly had it been committed by a more traditional method actor like Daniel Day-Lewis.
2. Ryan Bingham – Up In The Air (2009)
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As the world slowly dripped through the depressing net into recession, depression and disaster, Clooney offered one of his most critically lauded performances as a corporate downsizer, employed specifically to terminate superfluous staff members, as well as giving motivational speeches.
Yet again, Clooney soars in a role that shouldn’t be likable. He’s acting on behalf of a deeply troubling machine, destroying lives, which we see snippets of, very smartly populated by recognisable actors so we know exactly how much we should care about them being cut loose. His pink-slip carrier – Ryan Bingham – has no real life, though he has business success, because the downsizing business is booming, and his company keeps him perpetually on the move, and it takes both the introduction of a young upstart rival, and the chance for romance for him to realise the error in his ways.
The film crucially is never over-sentimental about Bingham, and nor does it go out to overtly demonise corporate America, or romanticise the victims too much (though there are touching moments,) and instead it stays committed to a gentle black humour, wrapped in a tender character story about a man trying to save his job, and to save himself from his job at the same time.
Clooney is utterly sympathetic – which is impressive given the character’s story – and his mix of charisma and comedy is the perfect answer to the heavier subject matter.
1. Matt King – The Descendants (2011)
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Up In The Air is widely considered to be Clooney’s best role, because of how masterfully he commands the material, and how well the character sits on his shoulders, but it is his performance two years later in the equally darkly humorous The Descandants from Alexander Payne that wins by a nose here.
It’s difficult not to offer gushing hyperbole, or to sound cliched when discussing The Descendants: it is, after all, a perfectly pitched portrait of grief and of loss, as harm-hearted and endearing as it is ultimately devastating, and important in its presentation of love and loss and life and family.
Occasionally accused of being ambulatory – as all of Payne’s films seem to be – some of the criticism the mostly adored film attracted almost entirely misses the entire point: this is a removed story, telling of others, and exotics who still live within the borders of America, but who are as alien to the excess of Hollywood and California as if they lived on another planet entirely. There is slower purpose, but no less direction, and though at times Clooney’s performance might feel slow, his is one of loss and of being lost, so the tone is entirely right.
The film, and Clooney’s performance succeed because of their attention to detail, and his slowly unravelling persona is both morbidly fascinating and emotionally devastating.

And now on to the roles where Clooney was far less successful…
5 That Sucked
5. Matt Stevens – Return Of The Killer Tomatoes (1988)

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It may seem rather unfair to concentrate too much on Clooney’s earliest performances, given how far he has come since ER gave him his big chance, but it is precisely for that transformation that roles like this, in disposable, silly movies are so notable.
It’s a stark reminder that Clooney was once a jobbing actor, picking up paychecks for projects like this, and his recurring role on Roseanne, before he had fully honed his craft thanks to the rigours of filming long episodes of ER in what amounted to cinematic conditions. And it’s not just that the film is terrible – that’s sort of the point of that sort of schlocky material (which Clooney had already become accustomed to a year before with Return To Horror High) – it’s how incredibly bad Clooney is as Matt Stevens.
The idea of course here is spoof, but the best spoof movies have a degree of artfulness about them (which is precisely why dross like A Haunted House and Scary Movie 5 missed their mark) – they aren’t just stupidity and fart jokes, but Return Of The Killer Tomatoes is sadly devoid of either a brain or straightly presented, well-acted lead performances, so there’s nothing to make the comedy work properly. And the result feels like some high school gore fans put together their end of term project starring that kid who lives on the corner who once said he wanted to act.
4. Devlin – Spy Kids Series
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There are two Robert Rodriguezes. The first is reknowned for making action heavy, and often silly, horror movies, with as strong a commitment to exploitation and B-Movies as Tarantino brings to his more commercial offerings, and the second is responsible for making Spy Kids a thing, and giving the world The Adventures Of Sharkboy and Lavagirl. The first one is good at times, but the second one needs to be stopped.
Because he has a foot in both worlds, Rodriguez has the ability to bring in huge stars to play in his more light-hearted releases, which lead to this cameo appearance, which reeks of a star actor owing a favour to a director hellbent on making dumb vanity projects.
Playing the President Of The United States for Rodriguez twice, Clooney might as well just appear grinning with a card bearing his name, raising his eyebrows to show how impressed we should all be that he’s there, because he doesn’t actually achieve anything with the performance. His president Devlin is utterly wasted, an ornamental trophy added by Rodriguez for the sake of boosting his star count, and it’s all typified by the memorably awful moment when Clooney decides to embarrassingly offer his best Syllvester Stallone impression, which might be goodish, but leaves you squirming horribly for the sake of a laugh from the kids.
3. Lip-Syncing Transvestite – The Harvest (1992)
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Actors have to do terrible things in the name of making a living for themselves, and that material invariably gets traded around the internet once the talent makes it big and moves away from playing such roles. Such is the case with Clooney’s “performance” in the little-seen, but now infamous The Harvest, in which he was given the auspicious cast billing of “Lip-Syncing Transvestite,” a role which probably now haunts him given how many hits its got on the net.

In a throwaway scene – which explains the character name – Clooney, sporting a glorious blonde shock wig and golden padded underwear under his leather jacket, swings chimpanzee-like towards the camera, clearing under instruction to sing along seductively.

Ignoring the ignominy of the role, it’s the artistry of the performance that’s a real issue here: Clooney clearly had one job, and he fails it miserably. Not only is he the least convincing transvestite in the history of transvestism, his attempt at seduction has completely the opposite effect as presumably intended.
2. Dodge Connelly & Director – Leatherheads (2008)
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Clooney is of course now known as much for his directing chops as he is for his work in front of the camera, but not all of his films have been quite as well received as Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind, or Good Night And Good Luck, or The Ides Of March, and while it’s a high hit rate, his miss with American football comedy Leatherheads is more notable for that fact.

The problem with the film is mostly that it feels like an attempt to make a Coens film, if the Coens made American Football movies, with the fast talking characters, and the strong looking cast – but the film fumbles badly on its premise, and is utterly forgettable. The actor/director is oddly bland and lacks his usual charisma (even from other poor roles) and though there is something admirable in how well he blends classic spirits like that of Clark Gable to his usual persona, there’s just not enough of him left.

Whether it’s because he duel roled, Clooney feels spread too thinly, and while he’s got obvious passion for his story, it feels too much like a vanity project with far too few redeeming factors.
1. Batman – Batman & Robin (1997)
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How could it have been anything else really?
Though Clooney was well cast as Bruce Wayne and Batman, he was hung out to dry horribly by a terrible script, wayward tone, and the rest of the cast seemingly forgetting that they were professionals. Joel Schumacher ran amock and rough-shod over everything that Tim Burton had done well in the name of Batman, bringing too much pantomime, and too much cartoonishness to the film, and robbing everyone involved of any credibility at all.
The film was just too close to everything that was bad about the campy, excessive 1960s TV show, which is well loved now as a cult gem, but which all but killed Batman’s legacy on TV and on the page until a revival that took the source back to the the dark tone it had previously thrived on (sound familiar?)
If any further denouncement of the film was necessary at this point, Clooney himself despises what became of his chance to be one of the most iconic characters in film history. Whenever asked about it, he openly tears it apart such in an interview with Total Film when he said, “With hindsight it’s easy to look back at this and go ‘Woah, that was really sh*t and I was really bad in it.” So at least he’s aware of what he did.
And boy, is he bad?! Given a rancid script, and a barely movable rubber suit enhanced with grotesquely over-masculine muscle tone and for no reason, nipples, it became patently obvious that Clooney was there to be leered over, as opposed to lauded: he is no more than a walking mannequin with big rubber nipples, and in that context, it’s obvious why his performance struggled.

Do you agree with this ranking? Share your own favourites and least favourites in the comments thread below.

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Sevens
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Re: George Clooney: 5 Awesome Performances And 5 That Sucked

Post by NewFanForever on Mon Mar 24 2014, 08:02

Thanks for these short bio's Sevens...will be good to look for and watch on wet days!

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Re: George Clooney: 5 Awesome Performances And 5 That Sucked

Post by LizzyNY on Tue Mar 25 2014, 00:24

Hi, Sevens - Great find! Do you know when this was written? I ask because they don't mention "Syriana" or "Michael Clayton" which are considered two of his best performances.

I agree with the choices on the "best" list, but I think it should be longer and definitely include "Out of Sight". I'm not sure "Leatherheads" should be on the worst list. It's a cute movie - not great, but not as bad IMO as "Men Who Stare At Goats" - UGH! That one is hard to watch.

I also don't think it's fair to dredge up "Killer Tomatoes" or "The Harvest", which have probably been seen by a total of two people! It's like judging Picasso by the finger-paintings he did when he was five years old!  Laughing 

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Re: George Clooney: 5 Awesome Performances And 5 That Sucked

Post by Sevens on Wed Mar 26 2014, 04:13

Hi Lizzy, this was written last month!
I believe Leatherhead was a bad directing effort, as the whole film feels loose and unbalanced.George as an actor in it is just fine, cute and hilarious !But the whole tone feels strange.
Man who stares at goat is a movie I totally cannot understand. It took me three times to watch through it. His performance in it is not impressive either until the closing stages. If I vote, Leatherheads which is fun should be a better one.

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Re: George Clooney: 5 Awesome Performances And 5 That Sucked

Post by Sevens on Wed Mar 26 2014, 04:20

And I also don't know why they didn't include the two great ones. Top 5 should definitely be the four Oscar nominated performances and OBrother. Danny Ocean is just as great as any commercial leading role, but I don't think that requires much efforts from him. He is obviously enjoying the acting party with a bunch of friends.

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Re: George Clooney: 5 Awesome Performances And 5 That Sucked

Post by Sevens on Wed Mar 26 2014, 04:28

In my opinion, the bad movies always fail at their names. We don't feel deeply for the name after the watching.
But a great movie could also have some not-that-great names...and the worst Batman movie still was named as Batman...interesting

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Re: George Clooney: 5 Awesome Performances And 5 That Sucked

Post by LizzyNY on Wed Mar 26 2014, 05:39

@Sevens - Why on earth did you sit through "Men Who Stare At Goats" THREE times?!!! Once is more than enough! It's a strange movie about a strange experiment that supposedly really took place (and for all we know is still going on in some form or another) - but it's almost as if the characters in the movie actually wrote and made the movie while they were stoned out of their minds.  Smile 

I'm not sure I understand what you mean by "the bad movies always fail at their names". Can you explain?

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Re: George Clooney: 5 Awesome Performances And 5 That Sucked

Post by Sevens on Wed Mar 26 2014, 06:28

Lizzy, I mean I gave up watching it the first two tries as I fell asleep or felt bored then paused it then weeks later I finished watching it on the third try...

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Re: George Clooney: 5 Awesome Performances And 5 That Sucked

Post by LizzyNY on Wed Mar 26 2014, 06:33

Sevens - Thank Heaven! The thought of someone sitting through that movie three times is painful. I completely understand why it took you three tries to get through it.

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Re: George Clooney: 5 Awesome Performances And 5 That Sucked

Post by Sevens on Wed Mar 26 2014, 06:41

There're obviously attempts from George to make Leatherheads like Coen brothers' work. I really love the bar fight scenes!
I mean bad movies don't let you feel for their names. You don't remember anything after the film which leaves you nothing to remember or think about their names.
Maybe I'm just talking nonsense, because great movies are great whatever the name of theirs...


Last edited by Sevens on Wed Mar 26 2014, 11:36; edited 1 time in total

Sevens
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Re: George Clooney: 5 Awesome Performances And 5 That Sucked

Post by LizzyNY on Wed Mar 26 2014, 07:04

@Sevens - Got it, I think. When a movie is bad either we don't even remember the name, or we do remember it BECAUSE it is so bad. Thanks for explaining.

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Re: George Clooney: 5 Awesome Performances And 5 That Sucked

Post by it's me on Wed Mar 26 2014, 12:48

I love  I love you Leatherheads  Like a Star @ heaven 

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Re: George Clooney: 5 Awesome Performances And 5 That Sucked

Post by Lighterside on Wed Mar 26 2014, 14:49

I liked Leatherheads...it was funny and George was hilarious in it and don't hate me but I thought MWSAG was hilarious as well. You have to understand his sense of humor and his knack for translating the absurd to the screen.

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Re: George Clooney: 5 Awesome Performances And 5 That Sucked

Post by LizzyNY on Wed Mar 26 2014, 22:10

Lighterside - Considering FDTD is one of my favorites, I certainly can't question anyone else's taste. Laughing 

I think I got the humor of MWSAG but somehow the movie never came together for me . I just couldn't get into it and that disappointed me as I like weird and wacky movies, so I was loooking forward to this one. Maybe I'll give it another try and see if I like it better the second time around.

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Re: George Clooney: 5 Awesome Performances And 5 That Sucked

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