Review: Of Madmen, Movie Stars And Math

The charisma that a lot of contemporary actors have is the threat of madness. A cockeyed glint, a sudden shout, a shift of body weight--these tricks keep you watching, like a doting pathologist, to catch the moment an actor goes edifyingly nuts. It's sexy, this promise to grab viewers and lead them down a treacherous path. It's also the surest route to an Oscar.

Gwyneth Paltrow is different. She has, in her genes, the supra-domestic glamour of the movie star her actress mother, Blythe Danner, should have been. The cultivated voice and confident posture suggest an easy regality. Her Oscar,...

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