MOVIE STARS: THEN AND NOW.

What annoys me most about today is that we live in a world when “movie star” and “celebrities” are mistaken for one another. It isn’t like the good ole days anymore when a young lead is casted in a high profile motion picture and gives us a career that lasts for decades and decades. Of course we have the usual stands outs that give us movie performances that are out of this world, but when we look back and compare to the likes of let’s say Gene Kelly, Al Pacino and Marilyn Monroe, it seems like no one’s career nowadays can really compare to the movie stars of the Hollywood that is long dead.

Of course, living in this age may be something that’s against me. In 50 years I don’t know how the future generations would look at the careers of our now famous XY generation “movie stars” (celebrities). Will Kirsten Stewart’s career be compared to Meryl Streep’s early works? Is James Franco as brilliant as James Dean, even if he had such a small body of work? Don’t get me wrong, I’ve enjoyed performances (one or two tops) from these performers but it kills me to know that I think the breed of the “movie star” is now endangered.

Let’s look back a little bit and compare some modern movie stars with who I think their personal modern counterpart is. I’m not going to mention any “celebrities” who have gained recent success in movies. I won’t be biased and let’s really look at actors who I think are REAL MOVIE STARS (in their own right) now and those from the best. I want to just look a little bit at their career and compare a bit on the brilliant performances that they have produced.

First up with have Brad Pitt who can easily be compared with 1970s big screen movie star Robert Redford. Lately, Pitt has been producing a body of work that surpasses his work when he began in the industry. He defines movie star and Robert Redford is more or less just as big as he was when we very active in the movie industry from late 1960s to the early 80s. Apart from their very common look and persona, Redford and Pitt have starred in their equal fair of romantic dramas, long epics and subtle character performances. One thing that comes to mind is Pitt in “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (2008) compared to Redford in “The Great Gatsby” (1974), both very subtle performances and long movies. We also have the “Ocean’s Eleven” series and Redford’s Best Picture winning “The Sting” (1973). Both con-artist comedic romps, but Redford has the complete edge on this one. “The Sting” is probably one of his great turns in cinema. To round up the rest of Pitt’s great career, we’ve got movies like “The Tree of Life” (2011), “Burn After Reading” (2008), “The Assassination of Jessie James” (2008) and my personal favorite “Fight Club” (1999). At the end of the day, Redford still holds some classics like “Butch Cassidy” (1968), “The Way We Were” (1973) and “All the President’s Men” (1976). Versatility wise, I admit Pitt outdoes Redford a mile away. But you be the judge on whose body of work is much more impressive.

Next up we have Nicole Kidman. I’m doing my comparison of Nicole with the late Princess Grace Kelly of Monaco (I know that’s a lot to be compared to, but come on she decided to play her in the upcoming “Grace of Monaco” so how can I help it)? The funny thing is, I won’t be bias at all in this comparison because I for one am a bigger fan of Kidman then I am with Kelly. But it’s really hard to battle Hitchcock’s muse in terms of body of work. Kidman was already a well-known actress but really boomed when her 2001 musical “Moulin Rouge!” hit the silver screen. Kidman takes the cake in the musical department when we look at Kelly’s so-so performance in Cole Porter’s musical comedy “High Society” (1956). However, she did look stunning. The sad thing is, Kidman can and will never compare to Kelly’s roles in suspense thrillers. But she did have the king of suspense on her side. Though “The Others” (2001) and “Birth” (2004) are really very good performances, can we really say they are superior to the likes of “To Catch a Thief” (1954), “Dial M for Murder” (1954) and “Rear Window” (1954)? I really don’t think so…and they were all in one year too! When it comes to their Oscar winning performances, I wouldn’t have voted for them on their respected years if I were part of the Academy but wow…”The Hours” (2002) is no where near Kelly’s estranged wife in “The Country Girl” (1954).

In a little more contemporary part of motion picture, let’s compare Martin Scorsese’s muses in the forms of Robert De Niro and Leonardo DiCaprio. Leo and Robert De Niro rest as some of my favorite actors of all time. And Martin Scorsese is my favorite director of all time, but the sad truth is Scorsese’s work truly flourished in terms of cinema when De Niro was his leading man. Don’t get me wrong, DiCaprio is brilliant and I will die if he stopped making movies but let’s look at the Scorsese movies. Let’s disregard “Cape Fear” (1991) and “Mean Streets” (1973) though. The one’s about singular men: “Taxi Driver” (1976) vs. “The Aviator” (2004). I’m sure plenty of you think that “Taxi Driver” is superior in all aspects. Then we have “Gangs of New York” (2002) and let’s say (hmmm something about gang-sters), “Goodfellas” (1990). No competition there. And how about “The Departed” (2006) and “Raging Bull” (1980)? I’m running on, but you get the point.

There’s many more I can name from the top of my head. I may be jumping from time era to time era but we can really see the difference from those movie stars that lived prior to their “so called counterparts”.  I’d like to think that these actors inspire and influence each other’s works. Which in fact is a good thing, but I’m just a bit worried about the star power we are producing now. Pitt, Kidman and DiCaprio are well-deserved movie stars and very brilliant artist, but looking back in the past we can really see the big difference in the cinema repertoires of past performers. That’s why I’m worried, if such big movie stars are having a hard time comparing to the past famous then what about the teeny boppers and other celebrities who have no chance in hell in getting such careers as these individuals?

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