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Written By: Mike Schulz
Why do Sydney Pollack’s movies so rarely have the snap and directness of his acting? Pollack doesn’t appear onscreen nearly enough, and when he does, it’s usually only for a scene or two. (His intellectual lout in Husbands & Wives was a rare, marvelous exception.) But these extended cameos – in Tootsie (which he also directed), Death Becomes Her, and Changing Lanes, especially – show Pollack the Actor to be a quick-witted utility player with focus and drive; without the slightest apparent effort, he can steal scenes from Dustin Hoffman or Tom Cruise, and any movie he’s in gains in intensity and sharpness when he’s around. Pollack the Director is another matter entirely. In the years since 1982’s Tootsie, he has churned out one logy, shapeless, middlebrow time-waster after another: Havana, The Firm, Sabrina, Random Hearts … they all wear their “prestige” on their sleeves, mistake inertia for depth, and are painfully overlong. (It’s the Out of Africa Syndrome.)
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