This is not a preemptive expression of disrespect, but yesterday’s announcement about Ryan Gosling being cast in Peter Jackson‘s The Lovely Bones produced an involuntary twitching sensation. (Not a literal twitch of the neck or facial muscles, but a faint internal shuddering by way of a psychological spasm.) Both of these guys are renowned for making sure that the movies they make/create are always about them before anyone or anything else, which suggests that a huge battle of the egos will commence when filming begins.
Jackson will insist on turning Alice Sebold‘s best-selling novel into a movie about his miraculous directorial eye and relentless visual energy first, and the celestial story of the murdered Susie Salmon second. Gosling, in turn, will come on set and do all he can to make his character of Jack, Susie’s dad, about the endlessly fascinating currents raging within his own person (as opposed to those within Jack), and that’s a recipe for a movie at cross purposes.
Each and every Gosling performance (including the one in Half Nelson) is about his peculiar internal-ness, which is always about Gosling’s insistence on delivering a “Ryan Gosling performance” — a lot of chuckling to himself, those frosty-blue beady little eyes doing the old hard-stare, internal-shock thing, the nerd wardrobe and the nerd haircuts, tucking himself into emotional fetal balls, that little half-twitter of a laugh.
As I said two or three weeks ago, there’s no stopping (i.e., containing) Peter Jackson now. He’s where Federico Fellini was in the early ’70s, which is to say totally unbound and unable to make any film that isn’t exclusively about the wonderful (and extremely profitable, let’s not forget!) world of his own psychology and imaginings. Whenever he comes to mind I think of Ray Harryhausen‘s “Kraken” in Clash of the Titans.