This Week In Beyonce: B Acts... Like What?

Rocks Off can't argue with the fact that Beyonce Knowles is a stone-cold fox when she gets on the microphone and belts out a song, dripping in glitter and wearing a barely-there outfit. Her voice is at once menacing and thundering, but also femininely fragile. Plus she has to be super-cool behind the scenes for Jay-Z to call her his girl, because we are pretty sure he doesn't dig on crazy women as much as we do.

But sweet baby Jesus, she can't read lines or emote into a camera unless she's filming some melodramatic music video.

Since her debut turn in an MTV-produced adaptation of Bizet's Carmen, Lady B has been stinking up our DVD players and movie screens with her wooden acting. In early roles, she came off less like a silver screen ingénue than a ham-laden soap star.

In the third (and worst) Austin Powers film, 2002's Goldmember, she tried desperately to reenact the allure of blaxploitation-era Pam Grier and failed. We understand it was an Austin Powers vehicle, but that kind of role should have been easy to slam-dunk.

Don't get us started on The Fighting Temptations. Knowles was a godsend to that movie, albeit she was playing herself on a much, much smaller scale. It's not a stretch for a singer to play a singer in film role. Just as we always saw the Encino Man not so much as a hilarious Pauly Shore vehicle but a documentary about Brendan Fraser, Knowles could play a sultry R&B singer in her sleep.

Then she was in The Pink Panther remake with Steve Martin. B managed to plug two songs into the film but hey look you guys! A cloud that looks like a turtle!

In 2006's Dreamgirls, Knowles and Eddie Murphy were both upstaged by onetime American Idol finalist Jennifer Hudson. Yet again, Knowles basically played herself albeit in a different era. Oprah Winfrey herself called Hudson after a showing and deemed her performance "a religious experience." Not so much for Miss B.

This year's Obsessed saw Knowles stray away from her usual formula, with a non-musical dramatic role in the chixploitation vehicle punching a trifling white girl for trying to take her husband away. It's a start, we guess, but not quite Streepin' it just yet.

We recently caught the Leonard Chess biopic Cadillac Records, which starred Adrien Brody as the R&B label mogul and Knowles as pioneering torch singer Etta James. It's not a bad music flick all in all, and the actors playing Chess' main stable of legends (Mos Def as Chuck Berr, Jeffrey Wright as Muddy Waters) are not portrayed as caricatures of their public personas.

It's Knowles that sticks out as Lady Etta. For once, Knowles seemed comfortable in James' skin. There was no pretense to it, and she pulled off the hurt and loss in the musical material. We almost wish now that the powers that be would have made a separate movie just for Knowles to play James, which she seemed to take to, judging by her invitation to sing "At Last" at Barack Obama's inaugural gala (much to James' chagrin).

There's a strange media buzz going on now that has Knowles set to star in an film adaptation of Victorian-era lesbian love story "Tipping The Velvet," a best-selling 1998 novel. The scuttlebutt has Knowles' co-star as Eva Longoria Parker (Desperate Housewives).

We'll probably give that one a chance. What? We wanna see how well the director brings the novel to life on the big screen, not two hot Texan girls making out or anything...

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Craig Hlavaty
Contact: Craig Hlavaty