Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Praising Michael C. Hall

Recently, I have been watching a DVD set of Six Feet Under (I know, I know, I'm way behind on my quality TV watching...but a lot of such shows were unavailable to me until recently. Before now, I was only left with network TV, with my beloved Lost, House, and now-cancelled Pushing Daisies. Forgive me.). I'm only on season one so far, but I'm loving the fantastic blend of reality and surreality, dark humor and drama. This is coming straight off of watching the first two seasons of Dexter, which, by the way, is perhaps one of the greatest shows currently on TV, I have become amazed and enraptured by the wonderful Michael C. Hall. I first became aware of Hall through Dexter. I had always wanted to check out the show, but without a Showtime subscription, I was never able to watch it. However, in discovering the joys of watch instantly on Netflix, I decided to give the show a try. I finished the first two seasons within two weeks. The show, though incredibly well-written with a fantastic supporting cast, at it's heart is all about Dexter and, more specifically, Hall's masterfully charismatic performance. Hall nails exactly what you expect from a serial killer of Dexter's level: he's unbelievably likable, carrying an aura of innocence underscored by a sinister wickedness (or is it the other way around?). He's a CSI- more specifically, a blood spatter analyst- and a family man- his girlfriend's kids love him- and a gentleman, but when he kills he unleashes a viciousness that is surprisingly....relatable. In Dexter, the audience can feel the release of all the stresses and bottled emotions that we hide, and through his kills we get to live our own dark (metaphorical, I hope) fantasies. And Hall becomes that Everyman for us, and gives a performance that has the hallmark of all great performance: the line between character and actor disappears to the point that they are indistinguishable; the actor becomes the character. After watching Dexter, I decided to pick up Six Feet Under, where, I later discovered, Hall made his screen debut (this same research also resulted in my discovering that he is a Raleigh, North Carolina native and that he is a Ravenscroft graduate, a school that I have several friends at). His character in SFU, David Fischer, shares several characteristics with Dexter: he is tightly wound, with a lot of pint-up feelings in need of a release. He is also very business-oriented, this with a funeral home rather than killing (though the death theme seems to follow him), and he isn't exactly an expert at handling relationships. The major differences here, though, is that Dave is much more open about some of his feelings, and his big secret that he tries to hide from his loved ones is not that he's a serial killer, but that he is gay. And Hall takes that role on full-force. His portrayal of an older closeted gay man is brilliant, never relying on gay sterotypes. He's not a gay man; he's a man who happens to be gay. Though the show makes a big deal out of the fact that Dave is gay, Hall never plays it as if its too major of an issue; Dave is uncomfortable with certain people knowing, but he is comfortable with himself (to an extent) and with his boyfriends. It takes a true gift to bring such a layered gay character to such vibrant life, and Hall truly has that gift. For my last remark, I would like to say that I'm going to return to my Six Feet Under, pray that season 3 of Dexter will start streaming soon, and wonder why Hall's movie career has to start with a movie like Gamer, in which I'm sure he will be the only thing worth watching.

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