Slate's Bryan Curtis sums up recently deceased director Sydney Pollack's career quite well:
He can take any scenario—from the ridiculous to the horrific, from Streep to strife—and mold it into benign mush. This is the source of Pollack's enduring popularity and why some of us find his recent pictures so maddening.
One of the reasons Pollack's films feel so reassuring is that they pander to our basest moviegoing instinct: "Well, if it's a turkey, at least it's got…" That this is also the base instinct of studio executives explains a bit about why Pollack is a Hollywood treasure.
Pollack's later work rarely betrays the notion that his leading men have been given any direction at all. How else to account for Redford's All-American gauziness in Out of Africa—he "looks as if he'd been blow-dried away," quipped Pauline Kael—or Ford's low-decibel mumbling in Sabrina? As Pollack has retreated as a director, he seems to bring out the very worst in Redford and Ford and Cruise. They revert to their virgin states: elusive, grinning blanks.
Labels: Sydney Pollack