. . . Hopkins exhibited strange tendencies long before he unleashed the inexplicable hodgepodge of sound, image, cuts, and self-indulgence that comprises Slipstream. Heralded for performances ranging from the profoundly subtle (his butler Stevens, in James Ivory’s The Remains of the Day, remains among the most heart-wrenching characters in not-so-recent memory) to the peculiarly creepy (his star-making, Oscar-winning work in The Silence of the Lambs), he nevertheless regularly appears in supreme stinkers (The Road to Wellville, Instinct, Hannibal, Bad Company, et al.) and too often proves willing to play the doddering fool (Legends of the Fall, Bobby, etc.). Achieving a status as iconic as that of Hopkins is a blessing and a curse—the capital-A actor enjoys a level of freedom that the workday actor wouldn’t dream of, but along with that freedom comes an attendant responsibility. Hopkins’s (or perhaps his agents’) lack of discretion has resulted in his veering ever nearer to the butt-end of a pop culture joke. He still offers sufficient strong and convincing performances to maintain a veneer of respectable dignity, but if Slipstream indicates how he intends to spend his cultural capital, he (and we) might be in trouble.
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