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Anger Management: Mel Gibson and The Beaver

Claude Brodesser-Akner has a funny piece about the daunting task of selling Jodie Foster's The Beaver starring Mel Gibson, whose telephone rants I find too frightening and pitiful to joke about. I have a great deal of respect for Vulture's mission and for the level of wit and originality in virtually every post, yet I do feel a constant need to repeat: What matters in the end is the quality of the film. Mel Gibson gave his best performance as a brainwashed loon in Conspiracy Theory, the first half of which is my idea of a perfect paranoid thriller. (The second half is spotty and the coda an embarrassment.) As an actor, Gibson is capable of tapping into an artery of rage that seems (and apparently is) scarily real--a rage that unbalances his characters and takes on a life of its own. I used to have a lot of fun whenever a new Gibson movie came out repeating the standard formula, MMM, Make Mel Mad: Kill or kidnap his wife or girlfriend or kid and watch him rip people to pieces with a ferocity you don't see in other preening vigilante heroes. Along with that comes a vein of masochism--and not the kind you get from, say, the typical Stallone wet dream. Gibson wants to be hurt so he can destroy. And it is apparently easier to hurt him offscreen than anyone suspected: He's an insult collector. He's also a hell of a filmmaker, a true visionary--however loathsome that vision--and an actor still capable of astonishing us. No, The Beaver will not be an easy sell, but I'll thump the tub loud and long if Gibson succeeds in putting some of his many demons on the screen.

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