How the mighty have fallen...
Ian McKellen. Salieri in Amadeus; James Whale in Gods and Monsters. His performance in Gods and Monsters, in particular, was one of the best of the last twenty years. The man is really one of the great actors working today. Or, so I thought.
Then, these silly "X-Men" movies came along out of, seemingly, nowhere. Sweet Mary. As someone who spends time thinking about composers like Wagner and Mahler, artists like Kandinsky, and authors like (T.S.) Eliot, comic books have never been a function in my cultural grammar. It is utterly absurd to me that people would actually go see movies like these when there are so many really great movies that get little press.
What confuses me more is that a really great actor allows himself to be taken in by the allure of lots of cash. McKellen has all the artistic credibility he needs; he has taken on difficult roles before, and roles that are not exactly American fare (e.g., Whale). Seeing the schlocky commercials for the newest X-Men movie makes me sick. It's a shame they pulled Thalidomide off the market. I suppose Tennstedt's Beethoven 9th from the '85 Proms will have to do.