A few days ago, cinema lost a celebrated actor when Shia LaBeouf announced his retirement from public life. Ostensibly, that includes acting performances (except for the private kind), meaning that decades of unrealized work will live on only in our hearts and imaginations. Presumably, his final performance will come in David Ayer’s forthcoming war picture with Brad Pitt and no on-set shower. If it gets a release this year, it’ll be alongside a penetrating performance for Lars von Trier’s two-part Nymphomaniac, making 2014 the final year of LaBeouf’s cinematic career. The curious element to the plagiarizing episode that has caused LaBeouf to throw his arms up in the air (and then skywrite in it) is that there’s an engine driving the absurdity. A kind of legitimacy. The mockery and derision prove that, at some level, we take LaBeouf seriously as a performer. Or at least his potential. Otherwise — and with anyone we don’t think of as genuine– this public stunt wouldn’t even register. At most it would be a day’s diversion, not stretching, seemingly endlessly, into the foreseeable future. So the question is when we started taking the little kid from Even Stevens seriously.