Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Alternate Best Actor 2018: Marcello Fonte in Dogman

Marcello Fonte did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite winning Cannes, for portraying Marcello in Dogman.

Dogman is a decent enough film about a full time dog groomer who is dragged down by being a part time criminal in association with a bully former boxer. This is an instance of a film where while the film is not at all bad, the potential of the story does seem to suggest a far greater film could have been from the idea than what we see here.

The central conceit after all is a pretty fascinating one. In that the film essentially focuses on that weird guy usually in the corner of things of a crime film. The guy with some side business who dabbles in the criminal enterprise and is on the extreme fringe of the underworld typically as a nameless lackey. The man though does have a name here, the terribly creatively named, Marcello who we first meet in better conditions as he runs the local dog groomers, fittingly named Dogman. Fonte exudes an unabashed joy in these scenes of dog grooming as he portrays a man wholly in his element. There is nothing but affection for every moment he interacts with the dogs. Fonte delivers just this absolute unconditional love the man has towards dogs, and in turn how much he likes performing his job. Although we will find he has much outside of this life, in these moments Fonte brings an unquestioned contentment of his existence, that he theoretically should be fine with. We also have a few scenes where we see Marcello interact with his daughter. Again Fonte portrays a man who has nothing to give other than life towards his daughter. Fonte brings such a bright smile, and such welcoming physical presence of someone who really just wants to be a great dad. Again in these moments there is this joy of a man really being what should be his life. There is nothing but a simple pleasantness in these moments that Fonte portrays as exactly where Marcello belongs.

Those scenes of pleasantries though are the in-between as the outside world frequently comes in, and not just to have their dog serviced by his gentle hand. This force is essentially personified by Simone, a small time thug, who demands frequently the coke Marcello trades in. In these scenes we see a different side of his existence from the likable enough average man seemingly living a simple life. In this idea though lies the atypical approach of this film. In that typically speaking such a character would be entirely the victim. It would be easy enough even to assume that here as we see the scenes of Simone brow beating Marcello as his "friend". Fonte's reactions in these moments are particularly effective in assuming this submissive pose, not unlike a dog, with his head turned downward, and his wide eyes filled with sadness. He delivers any attempt to not do as the large man command, with the most timid fashion with such little confidence. Fonte expresses though how this bullying does not only push Marcello down, but also creates his one sense of unease within the life. The unease though being directly connected to the treatment of him, which sometimes is even in front of his daughter. Fonte shows a man essentially stuck under the man's thumb in these scenes without any real fortitude to do anything about it.

Again though the actual sympathy for Marcello can be limited by the fact that the character is wholly culpable in the criminal acts. This is further supported by Fonte's performance that portrays no hesitations whatsoever when engages in much of the amoral behavior, when he is just part of the group. Fonte doesn't hesitate in showing frankly a joy, a far less humble or endearing joy than when treating dogs, when taking part in the spoils of such a life. The only scene of any hesitation is after he and the other criminals rob a house, he has to return when one of them puts a dog in a freezer to keep it quiet. Marcello goes back to the place to rescue the dog and even nurse it back to health before leaving. It is a sweet scene where Fonte does bring an that same affection towards the dog, even in this more problematic situation. Immediately before treating the dog though is the only time we see the real regret in the actions themselves, rather the situation, but again it relates to how it effects something he loves again rather than any personal regarding the morality of the action. This might sound like some criticism on my part towards Fonte, and while showing more regrets might have made a more likable protagonists,  this is actually the right approach for the character. The reason being because this film isn't about the downfall of a good man, it is rather the lashing out of a deeply flawed one.

Marcello finds himself the one facing criminal charges and does not give up Simone for a robbery. He accepts his prison sentence then the film commits a time jump. We actually don't get to see what happens to Marcello though, but we find a rather different man on the outside. When he is attempting to interact with his old friends, and his daughter Fonte portrays the attempt of the man to still bring that same affection personality. Fonte though changes this just a touch to illustrate a little more strain of the act suggesting the appropriate loss of spirit that defined the man outside of the criminal world. Where there is a greater change is in his interactions where Marcello demands a payment from Simone, who in turn continues to try to browbeat the "dogman". Fonte though now brings a certain confidence, which is rather brilliantly performed as again in the criminal side of things, he does not portray this is as a positive change. He rather reveals again that more grotesque side of the man who took pleasure in the criminal world, as he depicts this confidence as a striking, and rather off-putting portrayal of a sinister assurance of self. As he demands money from Simone, there is now a control in Marcello, a control defined by a malicious hate by Fonte's performance though rather than a growing internalized sense of self-worth. Fonte's work is unnerving as he reveals this near psychopathy as Marcello gets his revenge by capturing Simone in his shop, then attempting to torture him.

Again the vindictiveness that Fonte brings reflects the pent up hatred of Marcello for the man, but it is also something more. There is a venom and even a glee in the act suggesting that Marcello has gone beyond the pale. This is only shortly before he ends up killing Simone (I'd write spoiler but this is given away by the film's poster rather oddly), in technically an act of self-defense, however in Fonte's eyes there is a clear sense of satisfaction. The ending of the film, which is also the strongest sequence in the film, involves Marcello trying to dispose of the body. It is an incredible scene for Fonte's work as in the moment of this physical struggle he also exposes the mental decay of the man, as in his expression we see a man mentally breaking even as he relieves himself of his greatest tormentor. There's a moment, while disposing of the body, Marcello sees his old friends and begins trying to call them to him. This is obviously an insane act given the situation, however Fonte makes this moment not only convincing for the character but rather heartbreaking. This is as he portrays as this confused outburst of need of something, anything, as he tries to find any sense of the moment. When they do not come he is instead just left with disposing the body, and Fonte depicts a moment of clarity. This has such an impact as in this scene Fonte shows the merge between the killer and that old off-beat, though lovable enough dog groomer as somber understanding of his action sweeps over his face. We finally see that humble dogman see what he's become, and it is harrowing. This is a memorable turn by Marcello Fonte, as he delivers such an off-beat yet magnetic portrayal of a man who slowly falls victim to the negative influences around him and in his own mind.

Monday, 18 February 2019

Alternate Best Actor 2018: Jakob Cedergren in The Guilty

Jakob Cedergren did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Asger Holm in The Guilty.

The Guilty is a brilliant thriller following a disgraced police officer, having been regulated to the police emergency call center, who attempts to save a woman who he believes has been kidnapped. 

The setup to the film is a daring one as it takes place in a single location. Although this is nothing new in thrillers, however typically there is still a strong visual element in such films, and the actual dangerous elements do take place in the one location. That is not the case for this film as our police officer Asger Holm is all in the one place, and technically entirely safe where he is. The film then to create its tension depends on two especially important elements, one being its taut screenplay, the other being in their lead of Jakob Cedergren. In many ways Cedergren is the film, as if his performance did not bring you into the story, than the film would falter no matter how well written the scenario may be. Cedergren's work of course isn't just as this blank slate watching the event, as it must grow to mean much more. Cedergren is great then in the earliest scenes of the film handling the routine work of the emergency center. He exudes just the right sort of dismissive smug attitude of a man who believes he's above the job. He conveys an annoyance at following the policies of the position, and just a joking bit of self-satisfaction as he brings this sort small bit of humor in his face showing very little concern towards his callers. Although to be fair these initially are not overly concerning, and Cedergren is great in creating this distance in his eyes, of a man very much thinking of something other than his job as he waits. We only briefly hear a possibility of what it might be when a reporter tries to talk to him, but more than anything this is conveyed within the sense of weight on  Asger's mind so well realized through Cedergren's performance.

This state of indifference towards his job though changes when receives a call from a distressed woman Iben. A call he initially takes a drunkard with that same indifference however when it becomes clear there is something wrong Cedergren's excellent in bringing this sudden conviction within the moment. In this instance Cedergren is fantastic in a way he shows sort of the proper police officer gear chime into the man as he takes this call far more seriously. Cedergren's delivery brings the right urgency and concern as he tries to talk her through finding her location as it appears she is being held hostage. Cedergren becomes absolutely captivating as he tries to find more information through call as we see him so chimed into the conversation as he tries to speak to her, while pretending to be her daughter to her potential kidnapper. Cedergren brings out the true professional in this moment try to cover any information he can, and in his reserved intensity as he calls the local officers to try to find the woman.. Cedergren's brilliant in the way he shows the man now truly pulled into this situation, and in turn pulls us right in with him. There is not a single bit of information that passes unnoticed within his performance. Cedergren is in the moment in every single word as his reactions do create that pivotal sense of tension. This is as he shows the man knowing the longer the situations lasts the worse it could become, and he brings a considerable sense of  the growing gravity of the situation through his performance.

As it is not quickly resolved Asger attempts to become an investigator himself within his limited resources to try to figure out the situation. He's excellent then in changes his work as he calls to the home of Ibsen to find her young daughter on the phone. Cedergren brings the right sort of quieter approach in this moment with a warmer tone in his voice. This is with his eyes still conveying the need in Asger to try to find out the information, but with the right careful concern evoked within his performance that shows the officer's attempt to keep the daughter calm. Again Cedergren excels in the way his performance grants the sense of Asger taking in everything he hears. In the cries of the daughter Cedergren is moving as he shows such a palatable sympathy in the man, showing the right natural humanity in the man as well as the ever rising personal connection with this situation. Cedergren's brings such earnestness in the moment where he tries to tell her that everything is going to be alright, and as he speaks the words there is such a sense of sincerity as he tries to assure her. Cedergren is fantastic by so naturally showing the best side of the man as he portrays him truly trying to do the right thing as the situation escalates. This includes though with that the frustrations of his limited power, and Cedergren is equally remarkable in expressing this growing tension right within his physical work. I love the way he brings that bubbling anger as Asger throws away his headset, not once but twice, as the local authorities somewhat dismiss his attempts to do more.

As the night goes on we are given a bit more of the sense of Asger's life before this time, in the time he speaks to his former boss and his partner over the phone attempting to resolve the matter. The moments with his boss are brief but very effectively realized by Cedergren in giving the sense of sort of a cocky jerk that he likely was before this time. Cedergren brings the right sort of the overly chummy attitude of two who are perhaps just a little casual in their attitude towards police work. His moment with his partner though Cedergren finds the complexity of the man perhaps trying to be better than his previous actions might have suggested. As his partner asks him if his desire to handle the current situation has anything to do with a legal inquest he'll be facing tomorrow, Cedergren's reaction is outstanding as it conveys this moment of introspection as he grants the sense of this connection in this emotional unease. It is just a moment of staring forward yet it says so much due to Cedergren's performance. His work is this effortlessly dynamic turn as again as it so deeply intertwines with every revelation of the situation, as well as his own past. Again the physical work can be something overlooked, however it shouldn't be, as the tightening of his hands, his forward posture and his often pinching lips all convey the personal investment of Asger only growing stronger as it appears the situation is becoming worse.

Cedergren's performance realizes this idea on every front, as this connection only grows. This is in his calls to the assumed kidnapper/husband of Iben Michael, where Cedergren brings such a venomous hatred in his voice. This showing perhaps the attitude of his former days as his anger towards the man, though understandable, Cedergren makes that of a self-appointed crusader more so than of a concerned law officer. Cedergren's terrific in the way he conducts this morality towards immorality as we see in the scene where he calls his partner to break into Michael's home. Asger is breaking the law himself, which Cedergren in the moment, as Asger pushes his partner injects the moment with the real passion of a man absolutely believing he is doing the right thing, even though it leads him to poor decisions. Cedergren, without focusing on it, reveals the man who in the past probably overextended his authority towards the idea of justice, through his convictions and his belief of who was guilty.  In this instance though it appears he's on the right track as he encourages Iben to fight against her captors, and there is an absolutely wonderful moment in his performance as he tries to get her to calm down. Cedergren brings the appropriate relaxing tone to his voice, but what is so notable about the scene is the quiet somberness that slowly engulfs his expression. It shows this poignant little moment of the man struggling to separate himself from his burdens in this calming moment, but still clearly with too much of a burden to remove himself entirely in the moment. Everything is turned on its head though when it is revealed that *SPOILERS* Iben is technically the one "guilty" as she is mentally ill, having killed one of her children, and her husband was merely trying to bring her to get help at a mental institution.

Cedergren's portrayal of the moment of realization is outstanding work as he creates such a sense of the sheer dejection from the constructed truth he's created for himself, and exudes this sadness through his misjudgment. There is nothing lost though in terms of the investment within the situation, it is all though of a calmer more understanding approach that Cedergren depicts. In the end Asger takes the final call from Iben as she's about to commit suicide. Cedergren's rough voice is perfection as everything he's been through in the night is in his delivery. He brings such a power as he delivers still this conviction, though with his eyes filled with such a sense of his own guilt, as he tries to speak her towards survival. Cedergren is downright heartbreaking in his hesitant way of finally speaking of his own crime of having killed a suspect. A revelation that feels wholly earned through that burden he brought throughout the film. When he finally brings it forth here though Cedergren's performance is absolutely harrowing as his eyes are a man looking into the past, and haunted by his failure to be a better man. As he tries to speak her down, his voice is only of this utter conviction towards her with an absolute sympathy if not empathy, with such a quiet yet devoted approach of a man without ego just an absolute concern for the well being of the woman. What is as powerful as that moment though is just his silent reaction as he waits to know what happened to her. The weight of his burden being at its greatest which Cedergren's wears so poignantly. What I love most though is his final reaction to hearing that he was successful. Cedergren's reaction actually is extremely subtle, yet so potent, as it expresses the intense relief, but also this sense of understanding of the man having become a far better man by the end of his experience. This is a great performance by Jakob Cedergren. His work manages to create the central tension of the film flawlessly, ratcheting the tension so naturally in the way he embodies the situation in every part of his being, while at the same time weaving within that  such a remarkable portrait of man realizing his own failures.

Sunday, 17 February 2019

Alternate Best Actor 2018: Ben Foster in Leave No Trace

Ben Foster did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Will in Leave No Trace.

Leave No Trace follows a war veteran and his daughter, Tom (Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie) as they try to live off away from society.

Apparently once Ben Foster was cast in this film he worked with writer/director Debra Granik to remove a large portion of the film's dialogue. This reminds of a story about Hoosiers, where after Gene Hackman was cast he gave that film's director a marked up script with exercised bits of dialogue from that film. Hackman's explanation for the removal was that he could simply convey what had been written through his acting. Foster seems to have engaged in a similar activity which makes sense as I would not be one to hesitate to compare to Hackman. Both actors are favorites of mine, however there is similarity in performance style often, as their work very much strives to exist within the material, and a consistency in terms of the intense devotion of their work. The strength of this comparison only seems to grow as Foster gets older. The idea for both seems to just get the right to the truth of their role, though in turn they are rather underrated within the general public, Hackman, wrongly, not being seen on the level of the other "radical" leading actors of the seventies like Pacino and De Niro, and Foster still failing to receive the sort of recognition so many of his contemporaries have found at this point. His work in Leave No Trace, is very much almost a refinement of a raw talent as that removal of material, leaves almost the entirety of the character to Foster.

Although I will say they perhaps pared down the script perhaps just a bit more than they needed to, I do like the film quite a great deal but I don't think a little additional information would necessarily have been detrimental to the narrative. Foster's work however is more than up to essentially taking upon the task of covering everything that is missing from the dialogue to try to explain to us the man that is Will. The man who in the opening of the film we find him in a little shelter with his daughter within a national park, illegally. Foster has become known for his intense characters and this is another one of these characters. As I've often written though, a great actor is as much defined by how they can make a similar characters distinct just as they can handle very different roles. Foster proves his measure here in portraying a different type of intense man, which is notable since Foster even has already portrayed a war veteran in The Messenger. Where there though Foster portrayed more so the controlled rawness of a recent experience, here Foster is able to convincingly portray a man the years removed from the war. His Will is a man who more than anything would like to forget. In that we see this in his interactions with his daughter. He portrays just a genuine father's warmth with McKenzie, and the two have an unassuming yet lovely chemistry together. They clearly love each other however this is never portrayed as a simplistic idea.

Foster shows the right sort of father's concern and teaching spirit in his interactions. He finds just the right middle ground in a firm delivery but always with this undercurrent of warmth within it of a man who unquestionably loves his daughter. In this approach Foster finds the man who has been caring for his daughter since he lost his wife as well as has been training with her to survive in an atypical living experience. There is the right bluntness in his manner with her as the idea of their circumstances is always present even in their most earnest moments of affection. Foster realizes the two sides and in that as he manages to bring to life the idea of that he's been nothing but a good father to Tom, but also that there has certainly been a burden within this existence all the same. Foster is able to convey what likely brought both of them there in this approach. As there is the articulation of concern for the outsiders finding them but within these quiet moments of calm. In these moments Foster is able to grant us a man who is hiding away from this all with the one person that he seems as though he can connect to. This person being his daughter where both McKenzie and Foster are able to create this unquestioned connection between the two. Their love for one another is made to be a constant, and there are not a lot of words to this, but rather just in their moments of interaction, which in this instance say more than enough.

We are granted just a bit more to Will when the two are caught and brought to be evaluated by social workers. Foster has a downright amazing scene where Will is asked to answer a series of true or false questions that gauge his mental state. Foster's performance is subtle, and absolutely brilliant in the way he conveys the thoughts going through his head. This being when initially the questions of a more overt potentially deranged person there is a confusion in him, that slowly falls into a severe discontent as some of the questions relating to having some severe trauma, that he has not recovered from, and quickly relate towards his subdued distress. Foster shows a man being forced to really evaluate himself in the moment and is haunting in creating the sense of pain in a man who has to be forced to face, at least in some way, the horrors of his mind. His performance is wholly haunting in the moment because we get two separate senses of the man that Foster is able to realize who Will was and currently now is. In just the way he says he "used to" to work well as a team, Foster is able to show that at one time Will was a healthy man, unlike many of the on edge characters Foster typically plays. Foster is powerful then by showing how terrible the struggle in the man is. Foster portrays that the intensity here is something Will is burdened by, not even as the man he truly is, but rather created through whatever horrors he may have faced in the war.

Again the film still doesn't take long to speak what Will is going through, as he and Tom are given a home and Will is given a job, as well as a chance to renter society.  Foster is great in these settlement scenes as initially in his interactions with others we see a subdued man, still troubled, but at least with the sense of the attempt to try to exist in the world. In a short amount of time, within the idea of dealing with any of the random nonsense of basic society, Foster is again fantastic in showing the immediately growing discontent. There's an especially important moment where Tom comes to Will with her concerns of what others will think of her when they go to school. In this moment Foster does not portray a loving father, but rather a man on edge as his face expresses this strict hatred to even the speaking of the idea. Foster properly doesn't portray this as something towards Tom, but rather in this delivery just Foster is able to convey the idea of how anything from society, that are beyond just basic survival, is this horrible struggle for him to deal with. Foster in his reactions conveys this growing unease not of a man who feels he's above it all, but rather is able to show a man who mentally is just simply unable to take what it means to be part of society. Although it is not explained in words, Foster is able to express entirely what it is that pushes Will to wish to hide away, both in the way he reacts with such internalized distress in his eyes in the moments that reminds him of his old wounds, but also just the way the sort of BS/disinterest of society is no longer something he can tolerate.

 It is then just a natural reaction as Will forces Tom, who was settling into society, to move again. The two continue their trek and again Foster is create in conveying the paranoia in these sequences as Will is completely unstable in what is essentially the "open" area of society. Eventually, with Will almost dying, they find a shelter again, though once again in society even if it is a very secluded one. Foster again realizes powerfully the state of hollowness in Will's eyes as though he is trying so desperately to separate himself from his demons but again being in such a place still keeps his mind painfully occupied. Will again wishes to leave, but now Tom refuses to go on recognizing that she is not broken in the way her father is. Their final scene together is the most expressive moment in the film, and not at all wasted in this sense. Every moment that we've seen them together builds to this scene, and it feels wholly earned as the daughter decides to leave her father. Foster's performance in this scene is absolutely heartbreaking as in the moment he unleashes in his breakdown a moment not defined by the horrors of his mind, but rather the sense of losing his daughter. It is a reaction of pure love, rather than any sort of desperation, as he conveys, again nearly without words fully this moment of understanding between father and daughter as they say goodbye. This is an outstanding turn by Ben Foster, and I'll fully accept my broken recordness when it comes to his work. This is a unique challenge and in turn achievement by him though as he is able to vividly create this portrait of a wounded war veteran, with so few words, and even an often distant perspective, almost entirely through his considerable ability as a performer.

Saturday, 16 February 2019

Alternate Best Actor 2018: Paddy Considine in Journeyman

Paddy Considine did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Matty Burton in Journeyman.

Journeyman is a strong sophomore effort from Considine about a champion boxer suffering from a traumatic brain injury.

Paddy Considine is an actor who I feel I've probably often mentioned my affection for here, but somehow I never found myself actually reviewing one of his performances. Well thankfully I have the opportunity to do so here, in a performance entirely realized by Considine. This is as the film is his directorial followup from his impressive debut in Tyrannosaur, in addition to writing the script this he did not defer the leading responsibilities to another, and instead plays the lead role himself this time around. The lanky Considine is a one of a kind character actor how has this very idiosyncratic presence that he brings to his roles. A variety of roles mind you as Considine is an actor who while you will instantly identify him in a given role he has a great deal of range in terms of the types of roles he plays and the tone needed for them. It is then just a pleasure to see another leading turn by him again here, in playing really one of the actor's old favorite, that being the bruiser boxer. Although this film, by being set in the modern day, avoids any of the typical tropes of such a part,  and we are given a fairly different perspective in the life of a champion level boxer. Of course this is right in the opening of the film itself which begins with his Matty Burton already on the top of the world, despite the death of his father, as the champion of his boxing league, and happily married with a new child.

Considine simply has the chance to deliver a charismatic turn here as we see him in his press conference for his first title defense against the brash Andre Bryte (Anthony Welsh). Considine though is charismatic in his own cleverly wily sort of way that just adds a little bit of a different spice to the seemingly well worn part, that is wonderful to see here. It is a a basic enough scene in conception as the challenger tries to provoke Matty and makes a show by putting down even the death of his father as this way of playing the extreme heel. Considine is terrific in the scene though in portraying a man who is not phased by the brash words of his opponent but rather a man just on a certain cloud 9. His reactions though to the words are great as in his eyes he creates the right sense of the grief associated with his father but he is able convey this in a way that shows it entirely attached to remembering his love for his father rather than any anger towards his opponent. We continue to see this man who just seems happy in his life in his moments at home with his wife Emma (Jodie Whittaker), and his child. Considine and Whittaker are wonderful together just striking such an unassuming yet wholly believable chemistry with each other. Their early scenes are not big moments of romanticism, but still rather so potent in just creating this sense of deep rooted affection between the two people.

This is essentially the seed planted though of the great guy that Matty is initially where the world seems to be his oyster. Now Considine, the director and the actor, doesn't over do this mind you making just a very unassuming happy life that feels so authentic in its quiet state. Now normally this where the champion boxer would lose then have to pick himself up after losing, but that's not the case as he wins the fight. This shown in a relatively brief sequence where Considine reveals essentially a reasoned technical fighter, with a enough ferocity in there, but more than anything conveys the wears of the punches even as he ends up triumphing. His little moment afterwards of sharing this with his wife, is brilliantly performed by Considine because he underplays it so much. It is just with the resounding personally internalized yes, as he shows it more of something he wants to share with her than glory in his own success at any point. This sense of accomplishment is short lived though as the full brunt of the injuries of the fight hit him afterwards and he suffers a serious brain injury. This leaves a full shift in the narrative and most importantly in Considine's performance that goes from the quietly confident boxer to the near amnesiac just struggling to function normally as a person. I'll admit at hearing about this revelation in the film I had my concerns as this could lead to some rather bad and obvious acting, but then again I should've remembered the part was being played by Paddy Considine.

Considine's performance is completely devoted to this task of creating this man in a state of brokenness mentally and how that corresponds to his physical state. This in his muted way of speaking and his constantly guarded and gradual method of moving. Considine's brings nearly a child's timidness, not in a overt gimmicky way, but rather in a illustration of the man's stunted place mentally. Considine finds this natural detachment of confusion along with this physically awkward, stilted and repetitive movements of a man whose various parts of his body are essentially not within the same wavelength of each other. Considine manages to make this feel wholly natural and importantly avoids a lot of the broad posturing that can come with a performance like this. Considine rather is able to create the sense of a lived ailment, even if it is new for the man. The thing is though this is a Paddy Considine film not a standard tearjerker so this does not stop there. This is, as was the case of his previous film, it does not shy away from the darkest elements of such an injury. This is as Considine portrays the stunted emotional connection of the man, this to then translates to Matty no longer being able to interact properly with others. This is as he suddenly has violent outbursts against his wife. Considine is frankly terrifying in these moments because he manages to show these moments as coming from that disconnect and as these random violent outbursts of his brain simply not working correctly anymore. This is in extreme violent reactions to any conflict that are this sharp and rather disturbing outbursts as they are more akin to the tantrum of an infant mind, than of a vile man. 

This dangerous behavior causes Emma to leave him leaving Matty to be treated by others. In the slowly growing recovery of his memories Considine's work grants all the more of the emotional impact in creating the sense of depression that initially breaks the man to near suicide. His survival leads towards an attempt at a continued recovery as he begins to gain back his mental abilities. Considine's is fantastic as he never skips a step making still every movement such a painful difficult act. A man still constricted seemingly within his own body and his mind only slowly finding any sense of maturity. This even in Considine's limited delivery that he gradually expands, but never feels as though he rushes this sense. He finds this state of limited recovery only, with the most notable growth being in the emotional understanding of his condition. Considine is quite heartbreaking in his moments of realizing his losses, as he illustrates in just the slightest shake of the voice, and just such a potent somberness in the man. The one more direct outburst when there is an event to trigger the fight, where Considine captures the visceral intensity of the man's writhing in his pains within both the mental and the physical. Even as the film moves towards more familiar territory, Considine manages to bring a real power to it, in part due to the unflinching earlier moments he depicted as director, but also because of his performance.

Considine even in his moments of speaking in his slurred speech he manages to make feel honest, which is quite the achievement in itself. He goes far further than just the surface mannerisms of it though as he also manages to be so heartbreaking in depicting the man's quiet way of trying to reach back to his memories and his wife. One scene in particular Considine is amazing in is when he calls Emma to come to home to him, who is reluctant for obvious reasons. Considine is astonishing in able to convey the devastation in the man. Considine manages to show the man struggling to keep it together emotionally, but also even physically continue the conversation in such a moment that resonates powerfully. I also though want to mention a different, less familiar, scene that also has its own striking power to it when his former opponent comes to actually see him to apologize for his current circumstances and his former behavior. It's a subdued moment yet Considine's subtle portrayal of Matty slowly coming to realize who the man is, while also sharing moments of his past with a former opponent, manages to deliver such a genuine poignancy. Considine never shows the man suddenly fixed by a single act but rather shows the full struggle of the man here. This is a great performance as he never falls into excessive showy mannerisms, instead just quietly finds the truth of the man's journey. This is in every detail both the hopeful moments of humanity, but also within the dark struggles within. His physical work is of course mannered technically speaking, however Considine's performance avoids ever becoming about the performance, keeping within creating the sense of the character and his journey. This is opposed to just the focus on, look at my way of speaking, that some similar performances fall into . It is remarkable work that is an expression of Considine's considerable talent, however this is always within realizing every minor and major moment of Matty's struggle, in such striking detail.

Friday, 15 February 2019

Alternate Best Actor 2018: Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly in Stan & Ollie

Steve Coogan did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite being nominated for a BAFTA, and John C. Reilly did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite being nominated for a Golden Globe, for portraying Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy respectively in Stan & Ollie.

Stan & Ollie is a delightful film following the later years of the comedy duo as they embark on a European tour.

As a longtime fan of Laurel & Hardy, I'll admit I had a keen interest in seeing an eventual film to be made about the duo. Although I was well aware that there wasn't anything too "dramatic" within their lives, there was some potential within their later years of falling into semi-obscurity to only still found a resounding love of the public. In turn I'll admit I did try to imagine a dream casting for the pair, Stan was not one I could foresee easily but I never had anyone else in mind other than John C. Reilly in the role of Ollie. So naturally I was overjoyed to hear the frankly perfect casting choice come to fruition. I'll fully admit though I was less impressed initially at hearing Steve Coogan casting as Stan, feeling originally that it was a lazy choice merely based upon Stan & Ollie's director Jon S. Baird's previous collaboration with Coogan, Philomena. I'll admit I still wasn't quite convinced after seeing the trailer for the film, but things changed during the opening minutes of the film, where we see the pair in the prime, on the set of Way Out West, as they go through their personal lives and the slight tension between them, particularly Stan, and producer Hal Roach. Although the pair of Reilly and Coogan made two brief cameos on the awards trail, they were overlooked, meanwhile one performance also as a real person, also based around the imitation of a real person, has been reaping all of the awards glory. Well Coogan and Reilly's embodiment of these comedy legends frankly makes that awards winning performance look like a rank amateur.

Well in this opening scene the first thing that happened was that Reilly lives up to the promise of his casting quite immediately. He has a bit of help with some makeup, that he actually wears far better than most actors, as it seems so naturally part of his face, where he always did resemble Ollie to a certain degree. Well here he just simply becomes Ollie. Yes, yes one can always make this claim but honestly I just forgot I was watching Reilly here almost immediately. This is as he captures every aspect of Ollie so naturally and with such ease. This is with his so very specific voice of that slightly high pitched timbre yet with that sort of hidden deeply southern gentlemen bravado within it. It is such a specific that Ollie had that Reilly realizes not just as this surface imitation, but the fully textured voice of a person. It is so precise in just how accurate it is, yet so effortless in this approach. You just seem to meet the man, as even the way he greets his future wife the script girl Lucille (Shirley Henderson), with his oh so light and charming delivery of a "a sweet for my sweet" as he hands her a donut, I could only say "that's Oliver Hardy!". His physicality even in the role is simply of Hardy, which is a very specific, that frankly most other *ahem* husky comedians have tried to replicate. This being this lightness in movement and step despite heaviness of the personage. Reilly has this down pat in every little gesture of the hands, and even his walk is of this swim rather than a stomp. It is an amazing transformation that simply is Ollie.

Now how about Steve Coogan, who I had a my doubts about? Well he already has a bit of a tougher road in a certain sense in that he has no additional "help" so to speak in that his appearance isn't really altered in any great way. Coogan also is far less who I initially think of Stan Laurel at any point as his usual presence is typically far more cynical and harsh than would fit ole Stannie. Well, any doubts of mine for Coogan were dashed just as my hopes for Reilly were realized. Coogan too becomes Stan, which is particularly outstanding as it becomes almost impossible to describe exactly how. Coogan just tweaks himself in such a slight way to find the specific mannerisms of Stan, that it is absolutely fascinating. There is an even greater aspect of this that I will get to in a moment, but just every minor physical gesture too Coogan finds is just as Stan was. His voice even just is Stan's again, and again it is amazing. In that his accent just finds that certain lightness that evokes Stan's very airy English accent. Again though it is that physicality that is so specific to the once silent comedian that is so essential to portraying him, that again Coogan masters. This is as his walk and demeanor is just of that almost scarecrow esque manner, and a purposeful broad manner of his movements. It again just simply is the man in Coogan's hands, and like Reilly it is stunning how authentic it all feels. It never feels like an act as soon as this scene begins and both just are our Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy for the duration of the film.

Of course that is just step one in a sense, as both actors even manage to bring slight variations in this between their first scenes, and few flashbacks, against the older versions of the actors, where both, particularly Reilly, convey the wear of the years on the men. Not to some extreme degree, but with the right sense that reflects the age of the men properly as they embark on the tour. Of course the embodiment doesn't end there as the men are not the men as they were as the characters of Stan & Ollie. Stan being obviously much smarter, and also more introverted than the character of Stannie, against Ollie who was a whole lot less grumpy in reality, and technically was perhaps not leader of the two, as was the case in the films. The team of Reilly and Coogan, are also brilliant in creating the distinctions of the characters between the real people against the film versions of themselves. Reilly again masters this with the slight, though oh so hilarious, intensity found in the character of Ollie right down to the flustered breaking the fourth wall stare. That moment, where we see a fantastical creation of a never made film of Robin Good, with Coogan and Reilly, I'll be honest you could have told me it was lost real footage, as Reilly's moment as pure film Ollie, is absolute perfection of the recreation of a screen presence. The same is true for Coogan, who also masters that slightly changed manner of delivery of that of the simpleton with that sort lip smacking method of the dumb man slowly finding his words.

Now the film has the two specifically recreate the style of the performers in a several different scenes. This could have easily become tiresome if the two were not on point, and not believable as the duo. I'll admit I might have been okay with the understudy version of them, but I have to admit, as a giant fan of the two, Coogan and Reilly become the real deal. They have every bit of the physical comedy down pat, with that exact comedic timing in between the two that made them legends of the form. Also unlike some recreations from 2018, these two boys do their own singing, except for one instance where even the real Stan Laurel did not do his own singing. Their version of the "The Trail of the Lonesome Pine" is something I was quite looking forward to I'll admit since one of the reasons I knew Reilly would be great for the role is his magnificent singing voice. Thankfully we were granted Reilly singing again and once again it is wonderful to hear him belt out a tune. Although with the eloquence of Ollie, while Coogan offers some fine support, just as Stan did, the two are again a delight, though I will leave the note that we NEED Reilly to be put into a proper musical, that man's musical talents are underused, however I digress. Each recreation though carries that some splendid wonder as it does feel like a cheap imitation but a proper realization of the duo's comedic greatness. They do both go a bit further though as there are moments that are not one for one, and Coogan and Reilly still find the timing, and the spirit of the men. They are absolutely and consistently entertaining to the point I frankly want the two just simply fully Laurel & Hardy feature, they're that good.

Of course as much as this film is a nice trip down cinematic legacy lane the film does have some dramatic elements. I actually love this aspect of the film that it focuses upon, it doesn't treat it as a trite element. Now mind you there was not truly great tragedy about the men, yet what they do include here is a whole lot more pointed than that far more awarded biopic puff piece. This is in the way that the two men were very different in personality and perspective. Ollie being just a loving generous man, of perhaps too great of appetites but not in a way that alienated others. Reilly brings this to life with such immense charm but with the right balance as he conveys the sense of darkness only within the frustrations that naturally come from his life, and the results of his weight. Reilly finds the right balance in the interpersonal personality of the man being so warm and endearing, that is his basic setting. I love one moment where we see his frustration at losing money on one of his bets as he tosses away a paper in anger, before see a group of kids watching him. Reilly's switch to a oh so pleasant little wave of his tie with big bright smile. Reilly doesn't play this as a jump into a facade, but rather the way of the man falling upon really his inherent nature. This is opposed to Coogan as Stan who shows that he certainly has a certain charm, but this is within a certain intense driven manner. Coogan finds really the right incisiveness of the man fitting to a man with a fixed artistic vision. There is the right passion in it, that is properly internalized by Coogan's work that shows it as something that creates a frigid quality at times though as side effect of that need to bring his ideas to the world.

The two then develop this very specific chemistry between the two. I love Coogan and Reilly together as Stan and Ollie, being the people they were off stage. The two find a low key loving quality that is given the right understated quality to the point you could forget about it. The years of working and really being together just are exuded in every understanding interaction. They in the same though realize the right tension, of course in the end the type of tension that can exist in any great friendship, with Reilly finding that passive attitude in Ollie that contrasts against the intensity Coogan brings with Stan. We finds something similar when we see the two with their wives, Ollie with the openly affectionate Lucille, and Stan with the rather direct Ida (Nina Arianda). Both women firmly love each men, just the two go about it with very different personalities. Again Reilly and Coogan are great in realizing these separate relationships. This with Reilly having such a sweet chemistry with Henderson in this nearly uncompromising care the two share that is so convincing and wonderful. Meanwhile with Stan, Coogan and Arianda show a newer relationship, and again fitting to his personality, a rawer more intense infatuation between the two. Both though just create a vivid understanding of each relationship and just show that little more of each man. Now the major conflict then comes in their personalities clashing, which again is not a dramatic break up but a fight that really a proper friends will have at one time or another. This coming just from earned pent up frustrations of the years that Reilly and Coogan bring such an honesty to. Their fight scene is absolutely fantastic as they each play it as these earned anger of old wounds. Stan for Ollie having worked with another partner in an undermining move against Stan by Hal Roach, and Ollie against Stan for Stan always seeming more occupied with their legacy as performers than their friendship. Their fight simply feels real as the two call upon the personalities with such a sadness evoked in Reilly in his expression of the heartbreak in the colder Stan, against the anger that Coogan brings out of a man feeling burdened by the lack of ambition of his partner. I especially adore the heartbreaking little face of betrayal in Reilly as he turns around, after Stan throws bread at him at the end of their fight. Again though this is not earth shattering for them but rather more release. It does take a bit of recovery which again feels genuine. I especially adore the moment where Coogan plays Stan, playing the character of Stan, trying to build the bridge back between the two. Coogan effectively showing that he puts on a facade of the act, thought trying to use it to to be more outgoing in the moment. After Hardy falls ill though the two do come together again such a tender moment as they forget their differences and share their very real mutual love. Both in the moment again earn by just calling upon this sense of understanding even in their difference as each so quietly deliver their apologies so authentic to two life long friends. I can't praise these performances enough, because they did something I didn't think could be done. They brought back the great duo and did so with such loving detail. They capture it all in their timing, their specific mannerisms, their banter, their physical comedy, and even in that certain of joy performance you could always sense from the duo. Although this film isn't the Amadeus, of comedians, it doesn't need to be, as the two express what was great about the duo as cinematic performers, well giving the chance to meet them as people. Coogan and Reilly both did the legends proud and there's no more I could ask for. 

Thursday, 14 February 2019

Alternate Best Actor 2018: John Huston in The Other Side of the Wind

John Huston did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Jake Hanneford in The Other Side of the Wind.

John Huston as a director in a film by Orson Welles about a director making a film he cannot finish in a film that was never finished is a setup enough to make one's head spin. I'll admit Orson Welles's final film is more fascinating in an outward examination of all that went in around it, than the film itself, though I should story is more fascinating than a great deal of films so that is no major criticism. The casting of Huston, rather than Welles playing the part of the director, is one of the more potent aspects of the material. Of course the two's connection actually began when the two became directors. Both premiered their first films in 1941, both making legitimate classics, Welles with his groundbreaking Citizen Kane, and Huston with exceptionally entertaining The Maltese Falcon. The two's connection went beyond that with their matching multifaceted talents as writers and eventually actors as well. A third connection though is also their schism in a sense as the two despite making two of the most influential and acclaimed directorial debuts of all time, had far different careers. Welles having a troubled history in Hollywood for the rest of his career in his difficulty in finding consistent funding for projects, and also his own personal choices that frequently edged towards self-sabotage. Huston on the other hand found consistent success throughout his career seemingly through his ability to play the game, knowing when to sacrifice in order to fulfill his passion projects. Of course this is fascinating in that despite his success Huston was never seen as the studio's pageboy but also as maverick, just a far more successful one.

This leads to this most bizarre of projects that Welles called upon his fellow actor/director to play the part of the maverick director. Of course both men were that yet very different. Welles essentially framing his whole life as one big con or magic trick that he performed on the public. The legend of Huston, that by all accounts he was without the frequent alienation of others unlike Welles, was that of essentially the ultimate man's man. The casting then here is perhaps one more trick it seems that Welles wanted to play, though he perhaps struggled to pull it off on the worthiest of opponents that was Huston. This is as many have figured that Hanneford is a stand in for Welles, perhaps that it is true, though maybe Welles wished it to be a stand in for Huston, and accidentally made it about himself. But before I get too much into theories I probably should introduce this performance a bit. Huston as an actor was essentially a guarantee. Huston didn't seek roles, roles looked to find Huston as he was guaranteed to give that impressive if not oppressive presence to any film he would appear. One could not seemingly ask for a better choice then for the godlike, in the eyes of his legions of followers and fans, director that is Jake Hanneford. One would like to assume the voice of God might approach Huston's in its ease of force and gravitas that is evoked from a single word from his mouth.

If one examines this performance simply as the all powerful director, well one could not ask for a greater force of presence than that is Huston. Huston is only really glanced at for the first half hour of the film yet one takes note of every word from the man. There is that conviction of one's own aura essentially that is remarkable, and frankly only possible for someone like Huston in the role. The idea of the man supposedly in his element is upon the film set where he is the word of God. We witness Hanneford's film within a film, called fittingly the other side of the wind, where the film is series of observation and slowly growing interaction of a young man played by a young star, with the enigmatic femme fatale played by the enigmatic actress played by the enigmatic Oja Kodar. One scene of the film still features the voice of Hanneford during a sex scene where he continually implores the actress to emasculate the actor as much as possible. The voice in this scene is striking as performed by Huston's deep baritone. The sense of control though is certainly evident in the moment of course, as almost this ghastly unseen monster though trying to inflict a humiliation upon his victim. Again that is a given but what is so notable is how unpleasant the situation becomes in the way there is this lustful need within even the voice, a sense of a god wishing to destroy his creation, or at least abuse it as he pleases.

Back to my theory though as this film is not about the greatness of a director, but rather the downfall of one. As we follow the director on a very long night of his birthday party where his friends, followers, fanatics and collaborators gather to screen his film, and supposedly for a night of celebration. Although ostensibly Huston is the lead of the film, everything must takes second place to the designs of Welles, as the perspective of Hanneford is often a distant one. Hanneford is not obviously a Welles stand in precisely as we find him to not be a trickster Welles, but rather the macho force, that has drawn comparisons to John Ford and William Wellman, but I'd argue is perhaps closest to Huston. After all Huston, like Hanneford, did attempt to stay relevant within the new wave of his directors in many of his later efforts, much we see Hanneford in his impossible to decipher piece. Of course a film like Huston's Wise Blood was not impossible to decipher, and the titular film in the end is naturally far more akin to Welles's later work in the end. Of course why not be Hanneford it seems in the early party scenes where Huston makes for quite the man of the hour. When Hanneford speaks within the platitudes of art, and his visions of power, Huston could not speak with a greater charisma or satisfaction. This is a man wholly within his element, even as he screams to high heavens of his own godhood while also explaining the womanhood of god all the same time, to which Huston delivers a devious glee of satisfaction. A pure unadulterated ego so fitting to a legend.

One criticism that has been lobbied against this film is that it is misogynistic, which couldn't be more wrong for multitude of reasons, the least of them being that Kodar co-wrote the film. Of course anyone lobbing the complaint to me shows a surface examination upon the film, as there is clear distinction between the view of women in Hanneford's film, against Welles's film. In Hanneford's film the women are objectified, though actually everyone is, Welles's film on the other hand focuses on the destruction of the male ego. The main target being Hanneford that seems to be peeled away at both the loving theories of his success, and the pointed critiques of the auteur. Huston's performance, though distantly framed, is a compelling one where that fierce presence becomes all the more intense as he seems to soak in every moment of it. Huston plays this in part with a snide passive aggressive venom to his onlookers, but also growing discontent in his eyes as he seems to wish the death of all those around him. This becomes all the more evident as Hanneford partakes in a bit of gun play to shoot off the heads of all his friends, in mannequin, form. This is the one moment where we see Hanneford in his greatest joy, as Huston exudes a delighted sneer upon his face as "kills" every single one of his pawns. His destruction of his creation perhaps being his greatest love. A compulsion that again feels far closer to Welles, than Huston, who by nearly all accounts was simply a legitimate legend, rather than the frustrating one that was Welles. Now this whole film again seemed a bit of a trick, that probably never even gave Huston a second thought as he found a resurgence if anything after the filming, as Welles attempts to destroy the macho director in Hanneford. Huston fails to fit the bill of Welles's criticism as a man and a director, however he is more than game to realize a personification of Welles's own self-destruction.

A self-destruction that is different from the anguish that stems from Hanneford's latent homosexuality that he tries to hide through sheer machismo, but in a similar painful state of mind within Welles who almost seemed as though he could never leave the idea that his initial success in the world of art that involved, according himself, conning himself into a theater group. Huston realizes though this as quite potent through the bruised ego that he depicts in such a violent display of hate as he lashes out at his most ardent critic, a female one, who seems to know exactly how to strike towards the heart of him. Huston's thrashing of the man's masculinity being destroyed is earth shattering as a reveals the desperate man being all the bravado with all his insecurities on full display. The final thread of the man's sanity though comes at a quieter place, just as Welles's downfall was not that of a thunderstorm of excess but rather whimpers of fulfilling roles and duties that seemed far below his talent. Both men though seem to succumb some truth they seem to believe in themselves that they hate, Welles as the fake magician where all his sleight of hand became too well known, that he was left with only the cheapest tricks to get by. Hanneford's on the other hand is left greeting his final guest, his leading man who quit his film, just before he will go to die in a car accident most likely a suicide. In this moment though Hanneford tries to come onto the actor failing miserably, as Huston portrays this as this most unnerving display of a man not embracing his true nature, but rather giving up on the illusion he had crafted for himself. Huston's little slight sleazy smile, hides this horrible glint of dissatisfaction of self. A film gasp of a man who cannot live with not being a god among men. Welles claims he was giving Huston this great part, as a gift that he took away from himself. A trick one gain, perhaps to try to make Huston culpable as a target of the criticism, but in the end Huston gave up nothing, delivery just a compelling turn perfect for what seems to be some confession by Welles. Not a confession of homosexuality, but of this inability to maintain his ego. Mind you Huston without a doubt had a powerful ego, something he could wield, as even shown in this performance and in his state of mind that never seemed burdened by the troubled production. Welles perhaps was trying to destroy such an idea there, but failed with the indestructible Huston. Welles's ego on the other hand ended up being the seeds of his own destruction as a filmmaker, and this film seems to be his final testament of that belief. This is as finally seeing the film after so many years, one can find such vulnerabilities within the mind of the man that made it, meanwhile finally seeing the performance of John Huston is merely a testament of the man's immense talent.

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Alternate Best Actor 2018: Matt Dillon in The House That Jack Built

Louis: Matt Dillon did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying the titular character of The House That Jack Built.

Verne: Why did you say that?

Louis: Force of habit I suppose, probably why I'm in this current situation.

(Sounds of two people wading through unpleasant water...smells)

Louis: I have to say this is a pretty pleasant dark pit, reeks a bit, strangely blurry for a real place.

Verne: Why seems appropriate for where we are.

Louis: Hell?

Verne: No the mind of Lars van Trier, it's easy to get the two confused I know.

Louis: They do seem to go hand in hand in their general unpleasantness.

Verne: Are you sure you want to continue then, as it doesn't get brighter from here...perhaps tell me about how great Toshiro Mifune is some more...

Louis: I might have done that enough at this point, though not too much, no no but really I gotta make it through this sludge, that's why I'm here. I mean I did review Eddie Redmayne in The Danish Girl.

Verne: That certainly is a trial in itself, however I believe that was made by Satan.

Louis: Hey Tom Hooper isn't that bad.

Verne: Well he shall ever be known as Satan for beating David Fincher you know, and he too dwells in the dark. Care to see his adaptation of Cats?

Louis: Please no, let's avoid that.

Verne: Don't worry that's the 90th layer of hell filled cheap wallpaper. We're currently only in the 75th just halfway point towards the collective dramas of Adam McKay.

Louis: I thought we weren't in Hell?

Verne: As I said it is easy to confuse things here.

Louis: Well it certainly feels that way.

Verne: Do you not appreciate Henry: Portrait of  Serial Killer?

Louis: I'd say I do an extent, unpleasant as it, but this is more Henry by the way Monsieur Verdoux. 

Verne: Who doesn't love Chaplin?

Louis: Well we do have fast motion walking, title cards, fooling around with a cop, and just messing with props in a way one would assume you're suppose to laugh at.

Verne: You refer to Chaplin's The Circus?

Louis: No this is The House That Jack Built. Of course we see him bash people's heads in, choke women to death, and just other random acts of brutality. All in graphic gory detail....but with still that same sort of silliness as a Tramp skit.

Verne: Well what leads you to talk of this then?

Louis: Force of habit, and we are in the right place in von Trier's mind.

Verne: But title says you're talking about Matt Dillon.

Louis: Yes but it necessary to speak of one, to even broach the other.

Verne: Then you best post a picture of him, lest your more ritually minded readers become perturbed.

Louis: Very well.

Louis: There he is.

Verne: Yes and why is he here exactly?

Louis: That's a good question, watching this film is perhaps the definition of some sort of masochism. But falls into the idea of separating the elements of the film from the whole.

Verne: Why how do you feel about the whole here.

Louis: Well it's a piece of garbage, where you watch a director masturbate in front of you for over two hours. Not the pleasant experience.

Verne: Could we not just say naval gazing?

Louis:  No, for von Trier, the bit of the ribald is always needed.

Verne: You don't seem to care for the film, then why was it not on your worst of the year list?

Louis: Well that would give von Trier exactly what he desires now wouldn't it. A man who says he's sympathizes with Hitler, for the sake to be the the level of edginess near that guy in your high school who drew pictures of people with knives sticking out of their eyes.

Verne: It appears you're getting off topic.

Louis: I suppose so, as I'm suppose to be talking about Matt Dillon.

Verne: A fine actor.

Louis: I don't have a problem with him. In fact I find he does an utterly splendid job of delving out the finest bit of excrement out of his mouth. I mean it is really impressive how Dillon can espouse with such precision. I haven't seen such notable passing of mouth waste than that old atheist episode of South Park.

Verne: Is the film not a confession by von Trier that his work is excrement though, Jack does go to a fiery demise after all.

Louis: Should be a fairer point than it is. He does love to splice murders with "fine art"...much like von Trier like to combine the putrid with artistry. But I'm suppose to be talking about Matt Dillon. Who as I said does a fine job of speaking von Trier's delusions into the world. His work is devoted. He knows what he needs to do in the part, and technically become this thing in the film that one can witness an artistry, if misguided in its use.

Verne: Devotion is good is it not?

Louis: It is, and I appreciate the art of performance even in separation from any atrocious thing it may be intertwined with.

Verne: Raul Julia in Street Fighter?

Louis: No do not compare the two! Street Fighter has far more value. But I will admit Dillon's performance is an intriguing waste of time as he portrays the shades of von Trier's obnoxious treatise. Dillon is on the top of any form of creep it appears von Trier wishes to relate. This could be the sleazy charmer, Dillon is that. It could be the random creep, Dillon is that. It could be human guano with delusions of grandeur that results in more guano. Dillon is all these things, as he should be, and is convincing in making them one reprehensible act. His act though more forgivable I suppose. 

Verne: How much of this performance does he simply funnel von Trier's voice you think?

Louis: Long enough to be an impressive display of consistent detached misanthropy, to the point no one can say Matt Dillon did not do his job.

Verne: Sorry to break topic, but was that Monsieur Verdoux comparison.

Louis: Something as tiresome, in the serial killer explaining his crimes by evoking the great murderers of history, as some excuse, to which Chaplin's wrongly put forth. He did not do so with as much of a blithe disregard for good taste. That brings me back to Dillon though who does a remarkable work in realizing the same blithe, even darkly humorous, edge in his performance. Mind you it makes the film no less tolerable but within his own bubble one could easily foresee this portrayal of evil being used for good instead of evil.

Verne: You view the works of von Trier as evil do you.

Louis: Not quite, but his general, and frankly random callousness. A man with with no hardships in his existence, though with the attitude of some survivor of a massacre that never occurred. It is that approach, that amounts to no more than a guy who shoves a rotting rabbit's head in your face just to disgust you.

Verne: Again though are Jack's views not in the end proven to be untrue?

Louis: Not really, as von Trier shows his own films as these great art creations as supported by Jack's voice over, and in the end denounces nothing. He aspires to be Jack and just an attitude is more worth an eye roll, than a gasp. He is correct though in showing how obnoxious a man can be who insists upon his own brilliance. The idea that any one would have to ponder on Jack's thoughts is as laughable as it is disgusting.

Verne: Are you not here to talk of Dillon?

Louis: I'll admit I keep getting side tracked, difficult not to, as Dillon is isolation what one would explain as a compelling turn, it is the material around him that just wastes away any interest so very quickly. His performance maintains a consistent quality and elements one would typically describe as chilling.

Verne: You don't describe him as chilling here.

Louis: No, as the film is too tiresome to become chilling, even if what Dillon does in his own place should theoretically be so. Dillon is not even one note, he does find the appropriate variation within the various states of Jack's temperament. He even does convey what one would assume is a great emotion as Jack stares off into Heaven in one moment. Again who really cares, but Dillon's work is on point on his end of things. His performance is frankly more than the tiresome act that is the film. His performance although plays with that callousness does so in attempt to create a singular creation that lives in itself, rather than some lame self reflective nonsense.

Verne: It sounds as though you like his performance?

Louis: Technically I do, and it is a performance that would've been nice to witness in an actual film rather than an obnoxious exercise, that really would have been fitting if at the end of the film it cut to von Trier eating a carrot and going "Ain't I a stinker". It is a most impressive tool for a tool.

Verne: Then what rating would you give him, you know if you don't put the Mifunes up you will be asked.

Louis: A 4.5.

Verne: Where's the picture.

Louis: This film doesn't deserve it. Why are you here anyways?

Verne: Looking for work after Jim Varney died. Thought von Trier's mind is a good place as any to find work.

Louis: Eh good luck with that I'm off to write about The Other Side of the Wind, now there's some director mastur.....naval gazing one can enjoy.

Verne: But we must continue this discussion....let's watch the film again.

(Louis sees fiery pit, and jumps in.)