Saturday, 16 June 2018

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1991: Kevin Bacon, John Candy, Jack Lemmon, Joe Pesci, Michael Rooker and Donald Sutherland in JFK

Kevin Bacon, John Candy and Jack Lemmon did not receive Oscar nomination for portraying Willie O'Keefe, Dean Andrews, and Jack Martin respectively in JFK.

One of the great assets of JFK is its large ensemble. A technically star studded cast, however what is important here is this is less towards making cameos, and instead is about  granting importance to every individual within the film no matter how small the role. The performances back this up in terms of giving the film this certain vibrancy within the characters, even though the plot is the central thrust of the film. This is to every minor character, even the most brief of witness. Three notable witnesses within the film are of very different men that lead New Orleans DA Jim Garrison (Kevin Costner) onto the trail of a mysterious man Clay Shaw (Tommy Lee Jones), who he eventually attempts to prosecute for the assassination of the president. All three are played by notable actors of the time, with two being potential distractions, but never as such due to the strengths of the work of the actors. The first being Jack Lemmon who appears as a low grade private eye Jack Martin who claims to have been pistol whipped by his partner, and former FBI man Guy Banister (Ed Asner) shortly after the JFK assassination. Lemmon's performance is a proper representation of the strength of the ensemble though through a specific type of approach. In one part Lemmon's natural presence offers a sense of who is Jack Martin is even beyond the small perspective we see him in. Lemmon brings the right bafflement and general awkward demeanor not only of perhaps a bit of sous, but even more so a man of no importance who is bearing witness to something very important. Lemmon's simple reaction in the flashback scenes are notable of a man completely out of his element if not a little scared. His essential scene though is his words to Garrison which Lemmon delivers so effectively in this paranoid, and hesitating delivery, not of an insane man, but rather coming to understand what he was indirectly part of. Lemmon's work vividly recalls these moments, but also importantly delivers this growing sense of dread through this witness.

Now a rather different witness though comes into play with Kevin Bacon Willie O'Keefe a male prostitute who Garrison visits in prison, and who also claims to be able to connect various men within the conspiracy. Again what is remarkable here is that what is offered in the character, and Bacon's performance is not just this bland slate there to deliver some important information. There is so much more there even though most of what he says is important for the plot. Bacon though fashions his own personal style as Willie brandishing a certain level of flamboyance fitting for such a man who openly brags about his life choices. The swagger that Bacon brings though is only a facet that naturally realizes the man who ostensibly wants to show off a bit towards the government men who have come to visit him. This is a bit different from the Willie Bacon plays in the flashbacks where he is more or less a "boy toy" for Clay Shaw. Bacon actually creates this minor, very subtle, arc within these scenes as we see him very much put up this overt pleasantries and lustful attitude in these interactions. He plays the man trying obviously just to please his John in a way, but there is more when the conversations turn towards the assassination/philosophy. In these moments Bacon effectively breaks that showing this very naive curiosity in his reactions of someone who really doesn't fully understand what he is listening to, but wants to be part of it. This in turn gives a logic towards his explanation for his motivations for coming forward not to expose the truth for justice, but rather to allow the world to know why Kennedy was killed in his mind. Bacon recites this speech as a true fervent zealot, but that of the simple student who believes he's learned something from his master.

Another performance in service of kicking off the case comes with John Candy as New Orleans lawyer Dean Andrews who claimed to have been hired by a man named Clay Bertrand to represent Lee Harvey Oswald. This casting is perfect actually in terms of Candy as Andrews, however it is very much out of the type of roles Candy typically played especially at that time in his career. It was a bit of a departure, but also a sad reminder of the under appreciation of the star's dramatic talents before his untimely death. This is a dramatic character role that Candy excels with in his two major scenes. The real Andrews had a style all his own, very much steeped in New Orleans, and Candy realizes this beautifully. He brings the right tempered style within his accent but his whole demeanor as sort of this southern dandy lawyer. Candy makes him properly a strange character though with a definite charisma who either might just be part of a vast conspiracy or just be willing to make up a phone call. Either way Candy is a proper "character" in the best sense of the word bringing to life such a strange sort of man, yet in a convincing fashion. Candy particularly excels with Andrews's somewhat more stylized dialogue. He does wonders with it first outlining it with this breeziness of a man just enjoying his own eccentricities until Garrison continues to pester him for more concrete information. There Candy brilliantly segues to bringing this serious emphasis by dropping just a bit of the more surface flamboyance. Candy conveys so effectively the severity of the real knowledge Andrews has in this shifting of tone, and reveals the man terrified for his own well being underneath all the false bravado. Candy proves his talent beyond what he knows for and this performance is another sad testament of the lack of appreciation for that talent while he was alive. Candy, Bacon and Lemmon, other than all being all named after delicious foods, show the strength of the ensemble. Not one of them has a lot of screentime yet in each they offer a distinct and memorable witness who live beyond the conspiracy, while also adding their own important contribution to the central thrust of that element of the film.
Michael Rooker did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying New Orleans Assistant District Attorney Bill Broussard in JFK.

Well changing gears a bit in terms of performances we have the very talented Michael Rooker who plays one of Garrison's team of investigators who are trying to make the case. The role of Bill is a composite character and is technically there to serve a purpose that actually feels expanded upon because of Rooker's performance. At first though Bill seems to be just one of the team working with the other members in an attempt to trying to unlock the secrets of the conspiracy. Rooker though is effective as such in essentially presenting a blunter aspect within these scenes who is not quite as squarely in line with Garrisons's thinking as the rest. Rooker's interactions and reactions say a lot more than just merely being part of the scenes. He firstly properly shows the genuine weight of certain moments to create the right sense of the investigators motivation from moment to moment as he tries to understand the plot himself. There is an overarching difference though where Bill is often a voice of dissent, and some would say reason, even in the early stages of the investigation such as even pointing out the lack of credibility of some of the witnesses he has found. Now this is key in Rooker's performance because there was a chance, particularly with Oliver Stone at the helm (though he's particularly on point as a director with this film), for a simplification of this character.

What I mean by that is the specific delivery of the objections, and points of reality brought on by Bill as the "devil's advocate" for many of the early scenes, even as he is shown still to be pretty dogged investigator. Rooker does not for a moment allow Bill to be some simple straw man by providing such straight forward quality within his delivery of his objections and concerns. Rooker doesn't show them as this perpetually naysayer, but rather provides the right substance of consideration just for the facts when he does so. He creates that right basic ability for doubt, but Rooker wisely portrays this as Bill just being less fervent in his belief in the conspiracy rather than in support for Garrison. Rooker creates the right dynamic as this force of dissent in the scenes of Garrison's group discussions. He offers the alternate viewpoint as this convincing perspective by making every initial frustration and reaction of disbelief as something wholly genuine. Rooker by taking this approach makes the pivotal choice in terms of Bill's transition as he is approached to essentially spy on Garrison lest his own law career be sacrificed. Rooker is great in this offer scene as he does not present as this the easy choice of a weasel. Rooker instead finds in the emotional intensity of the moment the right conflict as he speaks. He delivers the sense of a real unease with considering the offer as it mean betraying his boss, but also a frustration knowing that he doesn't want to sacrifice his own career for an investigation he doesn't fully believe in. Although it is a somewhat brief moment Rooker captures so effectively the conflict in Bill in that moment, and again offers more substance within the role than there may have been otherwise.

Bill stays on a spy however Rooker thankfully does not immediately become this villainous force. When espousing on his new discoveries though there is this slight half-hearted quality within Rooker's delivery that properly alludes to his state of mind. He also brings this when he is questioned about his devotion, where Rooker brings the right extreme snap back at any accusations that isn't over the top rather the expected reaction of a man with a guilty conscience. Rooker's best moment comes though as Bill launches into his own alternative theory that involves the mob rather than the entire U.S. government as Garrison proposes. Rooker is great in this scene though as he passionately advocates Bill's view in two frames of mind. One being a genuine passion towards the idea but also this unease towards accepting such a nihilistic view of the government. Rooker fashions another layer though even beyond that to show this certain desperation in his delivery not in terms of selling his idea, but rather towards Garrison's own safety. Rooker does not make it this selfish diversion, but rather shows some better side to Bill making the alternate conspiracy as much of a plea as anything else. Rooker in this way does not make Bill's turn this simple revelation of a bad guy in the wings. Rooker instead offers a real humanity in the changes by showing Bill painfully taking each step from the doubting Thomas before becoming the full blown Judas. It's a terrific performance as Rooker realizes this arc so well within essentially the margins of the film.
Joe Pesci did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying David Ferrie in JFK.

Joe Pesci plays one of the most pivotal roles in the film, technically as important as Jones's Clay Shaw, as one of the men alleged to be part of the cabal who helped to execute Kennedy's assassination. His first appearance though is when he is brought into Garrison's office, long before he begins his formal investigation, stemming from a vague clue about the man David Ferrie for having taken a trip to Dallas the day Kennedy was killed. Pesci in a way has a challenge from the outset with the rather, different, appearance of Dave Ferrie with eye brows of an odd sort, and his ill-fitting blonde wig. Pesci of course is more than up to the task being rather idiosyncratic himself. Pesci is a unique quantity as an actor, indispensable when it comes to comparison, as there is no one who can deliver what Pesci delivers quite like Pesci. This is essential for the role of Ferrie who is suppose to stick out like a sore thumb both in terms of appearance but also really everything about the man. Pesci doesn't just play into this but owns it with his New Orleans accent he uses to only amplify the jarring style of the man. Pesci makes Ferrie very much a man who not only might be part of an assassination plot, but also would probably be the easiest to identify due to his personal style which is anything other than subtle. This is clear from his first scene which Pesci is sheer perfection in every stumbled delivery, and nervous reaction, or false interaction, setting up as a man with clearly something to hide though just smart enough not to fully blurt it out.

After that scene though we see Ferrie in two distinct lenses though those of the past from the recollections of Garrison's witnesses, and the present with Garrison's few interactions with the man. In the flashback scenes we get quite a lot of classic Pesci in his realization of Dave Ferrie as the homosexual "bon vivant" and a military conspirator. Pesci portrays this in an interesting way as this mess of a man though in his mind yet somehow comforted within his place in his world. As the "bon vivant" Pesci actually elicits this overt comfort in the life projecting as a peacock showing Ferrie essentially where he seems most at home wholly being himself in the homosexual underground of New Orleans, rather than the awkward man we meet in Garrison's office. As the military conspirator Pesci is fantastic in delivery that trademark intensity of his of course in the moments of Ferrie going on his long flights of mental fancy that both take him towards killing Castro and eventually Kennedy. Pesci brings this extreme zealotry that he also plays with a certain intriguing duality. Pesci offers this clear conviction within his vicious words of anger and distress over being pulled from his anti-Castro efforts, but when it turns to Kennedy there is an even more obtuse quality Pesci infuses. It is this madness that Pesci finds of a man speaking words with a belief to be sure, but steeped in this insanity that suggests Ferrie doesn't even quite understand the full ramifications himself.

Those past scenes essentially are the seeds to the Ferrie we find in the present that Pesci gives us a proper paranoid mess when he contacts Garrison's men after their investigation, including his name, has leaked to the press. This leads to a stunning scene for Pesci's performance where he brings sort of that same visceral power to his work that was so remarkable in his Oscar winning performance, though translated here for a very different role and purpose. Pesci instead of using that for such an imposing figure, he instead brings that unpredictable violent energy in creating the extreme vulnerability of Ferrie in the moment. Everything about Pesci from his hastened tone of voice to his manic movements echo a man burdened by many things. We see the fear in his eyes in every reaction from every unknown that Pesci makes fitting to a man on the brink of some death, but within that we also have that burden of the past. Pesci creates this increased agitation within his physical portrayal of Ferrie as he begins seemingly to speak of his connection to the assassination. Pesci is astonishing in the way he captures this though as this stream of consciousness of a man neither healthy of body or mind. He constantly changes in these moments from second to second so naturally from moments seemingly of mania, to others of only of terror, and occasionally these wholly lucid moments that seem to reveal some of the secrets he holds. Pesci though always makes him the madness we saw before but amplified ten fold as he reveals the full weight of the assassination on Ferrie as he shows us a man struggling with both what he became a part of and his own actions. The most powerful moment of Pesci's incredible work though comes when Ferrie finally seems to come to calm with an instance of clarity. Pesci delivers this moment as Ferrie reflecting on his own guilt while seeming to look towards some other path he could have taken in his life. Pesci is downright heartbreaking in the moment by so quietly portraying this moment as this brief sobriety in an insane man, as he ponders on his desire to become a priest which never could have been. What makes the moment so poignant though is how naturally Pesci finds it through his vivid tragedy he creates of a man who essentially lost himself through the conspiracy.
Donald Sutherland did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying X in JFK.

Of all the figures in a film filled with mysterious figures the most elusive maybe Donald Sutherland's character who merely goes by the name of X. He differs though then the named of the mystery men as he is a deep state deep source ally to Garrison offering him his own insight on the assassination on one long walk around the grounds of Washington D.C. He is essentially the film's "Deep Throat" who is another real life figure unnamed in the film there to offer the most secret information however while refusing to offer himself as a witness for the investigation. The difference between Hal Holbrook's Deep Throat from All The President's Men and X, other than meeting in broad daylight, is that X delivers all of his information in a single scene. The scene one could argue and simplify as the biggest exposition dump of all time, however it never comes off as such due to the film's brilliant use of editing and Donald Sutherland's performance. Donald Sutherland's performance is explaining, a whole lot of explaining, but some of the most captivating talking one will witness in any film. X is essentially there to give a deeper insight into more a black ops perspective that Garrison is not privy to. This leads Sutherland to give a most fascinating performance on every front. First of all that great voice of his has never been better used as he rattles off detail after detail with such eloquent, and precise delivery.

I could frankly listen to Sutherland break down every single detail of the assassination by how well he phrases every single word. Sutherland brings more to the role than that, and I'm not just referring to his few flashback scenes where we get a more of the moment X as he reacts in confusion towards first being sent on a wild goose chase then later fear at discovering the assassination. Sutherland creates such varied demeanor that grants us a sense of X even as he never for a moment loses that dramatic thrust of his monologue that remain effortlessly compelling in his hands. There is a fascinating combination of tones that Sutherland realizes as this certain blithe quality within his work, suggesting properly a man long within the black ops, but somehow still the sense of severity of his words within this. Sutherland delivers this very controlled passion of a man adamant to let the right information out to Garrison while also still having just the right shred of indifference as though it is X's way of coping with the coup d'etat that he could do nothing to prevent. Sutherland brings this bluntness through this approach as both a man clearly concerned for what happened, but also with the sense to know there is very little he can do about what happened given the forces against him. Sutherland's work here is immaculate in not only just making every bit of exposition meaningful, but even still managing to make X more than a mere exposition machine. It is outstanding work from Sutherland as he leaves such an undeniable impression on the film in such short order. Sutherland again creates the sense of the greatness of this ensemble because he doesn't just serve his purpose within the film by making his scene fascinating, but also in turn makes X as fascinating as this mysterious presence within the film. His work creates a highlight within a film filled with highlights, and is one of Sutherland's best performances.

Monday, 11 June 2018

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1991: Robert Patrick in Terminator 2: Judgment Day

Robert Patrick did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying the T-1000 in Terminator 2: Judgment Day.

Terminator 2 is the effective follow up, though I still don't view in quite as highly as most seem to, to the first film about a machine designed for death being sent back to kill the future leader of mankind.

The difference this time around is the machine is this time sent to kill the boy John Connor (Edward Furlong) rather than his mother Sarah (Linda Hamilton), and that the original type of terminator the T-800 (Arnold Schwarzenegger) has been sent back also to protect the boy. In this we have the advancement of the villain, but also the advance of the performance of the murderous android. An early instance of that being Yul Brynner in Westworld which was a heavy influence on Arnold Schwarzenegger's performance in the first film. In both of those instances they were playing personifications of bulky brute force who were more intended to intimidate rather than blend in. Notably the performances of both mostly stressed though the idea that these were machines acting the role of a human not a mix of the two, again other than a few minor hints to the contrary. Robert Patrick is allowed to continue this tradition, though in a very different way as the T-1000. What is continued in the tradition is that idea of the machine being the overarching characteristic, which Patrick also uses in his performance, but the thin Patrick, a far cry from the bulky Schwarzenegger, requires a rather different approach to create a menace within the machine.

Now one form of this is the ability of the T-1000 blend in not only in terms of taking the form of some of his victims as a disguise but also to pretend to be a normal human being. This is shown initially within the film when we are first introduced to the character, which I believe was even an intended twist ruined by marketing, that there are no early indications that the T-1000 is a machine as we see him operate looking for John Connor as a police officer. Patrick is terrific in terms of realizing this sort off strange style of T-1000 as he assumes human interaction which portrays as good enough, but not quite. In that he shows that while you'd probably accept the T-1000 as human in a quick conversation things would seem a little off once you spend a bit more time with him. Patrick though does some careful here within his physical performance, which is a major facet of his work here, which a lack of aggression. He moves and speaks with almost too much ease and calm to the point it is unnerving knowing he is an evil machine, though it wouldn't immediately raise any flags for a normal human. Patrick efficiently creates a disturbing illusion as it isn't quite right, a machine assumption of what a human want to see rather than the genuine article. The highlight of this side being his horribly off-putting yet soft delivery of "Say, that's a nice Bike" to a police officer he's likely going to rob and murder.

Nearly the rest of his performance though is defined even more fully about this machine with the one purpose to kill his target with no regard for anyone or anything in its way. Patrick's physical performance brilliantly embodies this idea in every aspect. He creates an artificiality, however notable as this unique artificiality against say the more bulky machine movement previously seen in Schwarzenegger, and Brynner's performances. Patrick develops this idiosyncratic style within the entirety of his physical work that rather fascinating. He moves not efficiently though as human would move, but in his own way. This right within his running in particular that Patrick makes it seem appropriately swift yet wholly unnatural within how precise his movements are, but also how they are not of a typical runner either. This of course amplified by his complete lack of fatigue, but the very motions help to create the menace of the run that is unnerving. My favorite aspect of this though is probably the consistent face that Patrick bears. Patrick fashion a terrifying grimace that feels that of a bird of prey, and again is perfectly inhumane. He makes it this horrible creation of a machine fashioning this expression to put terror in his targets, and how he keeps it with only this singular emotion of a distant hate makes both his work remarkable but also likely contributed towards the iconic nature of the character. Of course this is not a great deal of variation beyond that, but nor should there be as Patrick is playing a machine with a singular purpose.  There is perhaps one moment that suggests otherwise at the very end of his performance where has been repeatedly shot by Sarah Conner and nearly killed until she runs out of bullets. This leaves his one action one could argue has some sentience as he does not simply go to kill again but first wags his finger seemingly to indicate his dislike of what she did. An outlier, though perhaps Patrick's greatest moment. It not only is creepy as Patrick maintains his unique expression, but even the finger wag is actually a great bit of acting by him strangely enough. He doesn't wag it only using the finger as human would, but rather more machinesque using the entirety off his hand to give the menacing gesture. I'll admit that's a lot on a single moment but I adore that moment. This performance, despite being in a bit less of the film than I remembered, I find it more impressive the more I think about it. Patrick completely reinvents this type of villain into a brand new original form, that uses ideas of his predecessors however in a brand new and wholly distinct villain.

Thursday, 7 June 2018

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1991: William Sadler in Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey

William Sadler did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying death aka the grim reaper in Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey.

Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey though certainly isn't a great film is perhaps the somewhat underappreciated sequel to the original film about two dofus wannabe rockers as pivotal as John Conner to the future of mankind. Or to be more fitting to the movie it's a totally tubular romp back with the dudes, dude.

Now a great deal of affection for the film comes with the creativity of the sequel which in no way rehashes the original, despite also being a designation of travel in the title. The very idea that they literally kill the protagonists in the first half hour alone is hardly the choice you'll find in the "two dumb guys" genre of films. Now another one of these choices is the inclusion of death in the film, specifically referencing the Bengt Ekerot's version of the character from Ingmar Bergman's The Seventh Seal. The part here being played by William Sadler then probably best known for playing villain in Die Hard 2. Sadler first appears in the film after Bill and Ted (Alex Winter, Keanu Reeves) have been murdered by their evilrobotusis, a common ailment we all may face one day. Sadler initially actually appears as though he is replicating Ekerot's performance more or less with his dark and solemn stare, even some generalized Norwegian accent. A man of little to no emotion, but there is something ominous within the presence that he exudes. Of course this is quickly broken when the boys, to get away from death, give him a "Melvin", aka a forward aimed weaponized wedgie. Sadler's impeccably delivered comical cry of anguish at this assault though rather shatters such an image as he is briefly taken out of the picture.

Death returns when Bill and Ted try to escape hell by challenging the Reaper to game. A game initially it seems may have just a bit of that slightly more intense style to it as Sadler initially reappears again with that same ominous style, though perhaps a bit less effective in this attempt now we've seen him melvined. Of course it isn't one game, but several children's board games they play to challenge death to which Sadler is hilarious in very trying to stay somewhat in the realm of Ekerot, while also playing battleship. Sadler's approach is especially entertaining because he brings so much conviction within death being completely within a wholly inappropriate situation, and speaking rather inappropriate phrases. One being after his loss at battleship demanding another game to which the boys say "No way", then Sadler is comedic gold by delivering with such intensity in his eyes and his voice as retorts "yes way". The game sequence is honestly probably my favorite in the film as it focuses so closely on Sadler. Whether it be his timing of "I said plumb" when claiming to have guessed the right answer to Clue, or his frustrations as he attempts to contort impossibly while playing twister. Sadler is an absolute delight in being completely silly, yet still with the sense of some rather deeply hidden gravitas at this point.

Now again I must give credit to the film for its creativity, which doesn't only have death as a character, but then decides to keep him on as an ally of the boys after they best him just one too many times. This thankfully gives us more of Sadler as he goes along with the boys to support them in their quest to destroy their evilrobotusis, and of course make it to the battle of the bands. I will say on re-watch I don't think the film used that as much as it could have in terms of making death part of the action however Sadler's little moments throughout the last act of the film are typically the highlights of the scenes. I thoroughly enjoy the way he plays death begrudgingly losing his more stern manner both in these amusing moments of frustrations at the boys, but also eventually in getting enjoyment out of their adventure as well. Although nothing is really made of it within the story, other than death Melvining the main villain, Sadler actually does create an arc for death in that he naturally portrays death finding his smile, and enjoying himself along with the boys. Most importantly though his realization of this is actually just funny. I also would be remiss if I didn't mention though the little gems sprinkled of Sadler throughout that are just hilarious little bit so well delivered by Sadler. My favorites being his over eagerness when guessing "Butch and Sundance: The Early Year" before switching to shame for having mentioned that film, or his so perfectly blunt yet casual way of saying "see you really soon" to a smoker he passes by. This is just an altogether, for the lack of a better word, fun performance that adds a needed extra element to this bodacious sequel. Hopefully Sadler will also "face the music" along with the boys if that third film is actually getting made.

Monday, 4 June 2018

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1991: Alan Rickman in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves

Alan Rickman did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite winning BAFTA, for portraying George aka the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.

Robin Hood: Princes of Thieves struggles as it is far too timid in embracing a more flamboyant, if not even a bit more goofy, tone leaving a severe inconsistency between some extremely dark, and some extremely absurd moments.

One man who is not at all confused by what the tone of the film needs though is Alan Rickman who to quote his BAFTA winning speech gives "a healthy reminder to me that subtlety isn't everything". Alan Rickman's performance is his very own personal example of "watch me act" a potentially dangerous idea, however used in the right circumstance can be a true gem of the partially absurd. There needs to be a few ingredients for this recipe for it to come out just right, and not a pile of overcooked Terl shaped nonsense. One is a legitimate actor, which we have in Alan Rickman who proved himself quite capable of a more subtle turns from 1991 whether it be the romantic ghost, the manipulative interrogator, or a cuckolded husband. Rickman acquitted himself properly in each role despite their differences, though this is treated by many as his crown jewel from this year. Well that brings me the next ingredient to this difficult recipe. This is such a film that just won't accept itself as a fun adventure, despite so many silly elements, so Rickman chooses to provide the entertainment. This performance also needs the right character for this approach, which we have in this film's Sheriff of Nottingham. Of course all those element are for naught though if one is missing the final key element, which is the proper execution of a "watch me act" performance.

Well thankfully all those ingredients are all found in this honey glazed prime slice of ham that just tastes so very good. Rickman's performance has a keen awareness that the Sheriff of Nottingham isn't just a villain, but an absolute fiend without a hint of a redeeming element as written. He seems to take this as a cue then to make up for such potential simplicity in the character by absolutely owning every moment of the character's villainy. Take even his opening scene where he invites Robin Hood (Kevin Costner)'s father (Brian Blessed) to join his ranks. Despite the white robes Rickman in no way wishes to hide Nottingham's black heart as his eyes are overflowing with a maniacal intensity, and he bears a sneer that only a proper vicious psychopath could wear. This murder of Robin's father though is but a diabolical preview of the madness that is to come. A madness that is of a certain sort, that Rickman grants to we the audience, that we should be more than eager to accept with humble gratitude as Raul Julia would say as M. Bison, a spiritual brother of this performance in many ways.

There is the idea of the villain, the start of an idea and only that. What Rickman demands is that the audience get so much more than that. Rickman delivers the requisite villainy. He has the menace, he has that intensity, but really those are not the true focus of this performance. They are just an underlying aspect because Rickman knew that just being a good villain would not be good enough for this film. This film needed a bit more spice than that, it needed something a bit more "hamtastic" shall we say. Rickman delivers that with aplomb in his way of playing the Sheriff not only pure evil, but pure evil in a way that couldn't be more enjoyable. Everything about what Rickman does is an actor giving it his all, and is such a glorious fashion. Rickman even physically embodies this, as I love the way he rarely seems to sit still portraying it as though the Sheriff is just constantly annoyed by everything and everyone around him. Rickman delivers this great unpredictability through that physicality. He goes beyond any limits of any scene to properly chew, but in a way that is something so wonderful. The way he stomps and storms around is a marvelous display that one could argue grants the Sheriff a certain petulance that is rather enjoyable, also it just incredibly entertaining to watch Rickman do it even beyond that. 

Of course what is a performance like this without some delicious line readings, and these are some of the most delicious you'll see in a film. I mean you have Rickman's already magnificent voice then you have it pumped up to eleven to garnish every scene he is in with such beautiful gems, either ad-libbed by Rickman, lines he specially had friends write for him, or just made so by what he brings to them. Now I don't know if I should even begin to state the lines because there are just so many things made so very special by the sheer monstrous absurdity that Rickman grants them, well speaking them with such beautiful relish. Eh what the hey, there's the peculiar threat "Locksley. I'll cut your heart out with a spoon." gives such fierce insanity, his especially specific time orders for his wenches "You. My room. 10:30 tonight.You. 10:45... And bring a friend" with such smarmy disregard for all decency, his quieter yet as intense instructions to make his stitches small that Rickman grants with such excessive vanity, and of course let's never forget the holiday classic line of "call off Christmas" the oh so fret less and hilarious demand as improvised by Rickman. Evidently Rickman only took on the part after being given free reign with the role, apparently correctly believing the script to be terrible, and essentially sought out to ensure the audience is entertained by him at the very least though. Rickman in a way is kind of trolling a film he knows is bad, but he is doing it in a way to make sure everyone who watches it will get something to enjoy from it. A most notable effort that he does pull off, and I'll say it the right approach. I mean take the finale of the film where we have the Sheriff's attempted rape of Maid Marian a scene that frankly shouldn't be in any fun adventure film. Rickman takes the terrible idea and decides to make work. How, well by playing it as absurdly as possible with every digression, usually of the Sheriff being exasperated by yet another interruption as though he's guy way past his deadline on some important project. Rickman very oddly makes it work because he keeps the scene from at all embracing the very dark implications, and keeping every moment as ridiculous as it should be. I especially love the way in the end how Rickman sword fights Costner in sort of this free style way. It is emblematic of his whole performance where Rickman is performing some great jazz while nearly everyone else is playing rusted some poorly written orchestral piece with rusty instruments that are out of tune. Rickman may be on a different wavelength, but he knows what he's doing to the point he makes something wholly worthwhile in what otherwise would be a completely disposable series of pictures.

Thursday, 31 May 2018

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1991

And the Nominees Were Not:

Joe Pesci in JFK

Donald Sutherland in JFK

Robert Patrick in Terminator 2: Judgment Day

Alan Rickman in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves

Patrick Swayze in Point Break

William Sadler in Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey 

For Prediction Purposes:

Pesci From JFK

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Alternate Best Actor 1991: Results

5. Christopher Eccleston in Let Him Have It - Eccleston gives a good portrayal of his mentally stunted "criminal" however the film fails to utilize the potential of his performance due to the material given to him.

Best Scene: Seeing his family the last time.
4. Wesley Snipes in New Jack City - Snipes gives a charismatic yet vicious portrayal of his drug dealer with even a touch of a pathos though his film fails to realize its value to the film.

Best Scene: Killing his partner.
3. Joe Mantegna in Homicide - Mantegna manages to make his material work by giving a properly confident portrayal of a professional detective while also effectively undercutting it in his subtle realization of a man without roots.

Best Scene: Confrontation.
2. Alan Rickman in Truly, Madly, Deeply - Rickman gives an absolutely charming yet also moving portrayal of a ghost who represents both the comfort of the past, but also what is lost in time.

Best Scene: Witnessing her moving on.
1. River Phoenix in Dogfight - Good Prediction Emi Grant. Phoenix manages to make some rather tricky material work through his charismatic and complex portrayal of a marine torn between the expectations of his peers, and his more genuine good nature.

Best Scene: Eddie's apology.
Updated Overall

Next Year: 1991 Supporting

Alternate Best Actor 1991: Gary Oldman in Rosencrantz And Guildenstern Are Dead

Gary Oldman did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Rosencrantz in Rosencrantz And Guildenstern Are Dead.

Rosencrantz And Guildenstern Are Dead actually works to a degree just due to the strength of the source material though it suffers by being too close to it for its own good, which isn't too surprising given it is directed by the original playwright. Although it is not a bad film, it is a little bit of a shame as the story could have lent itself to a more dynamic adaptation that played upon tropes of films, rather than of the theater.

A quick note on this review that will be in lieu of Wesley Snipes in New Jack City. A good performance mind you though frustrating stuck within a film that isn't sure whether it wants to be revenge thriller, Scarface, or Boyz N The Hood. Snipes is effective in his role however his charismatic, and surprisingly emotional at times, work is too often diluted by the film that consistently steers away from him to focus on the nearly one dimensional police chasing him. So instead decided to look at a rather different performance from the great Gary Oldman. Although Rosencrantz and Guildenstern as it stands as a slightly adapted film version it at least commands a notable cast, the most important members being the titular duo, of Hamlet fame despite not being the most important in that play either. They take center stage here though purposefully while still staying to the side of the central action of Hamlet. In these "leading" roles the film features two then up and comers of Tim Roth as Guildenstern and of course Oldman as Rosencrantz. I will also mention this is purposefully not a dual review for Roth as well who well isn't bad as the more analytical Guildenstern his performance is perhaps too serious for its own good, and perhaps needed a performer with a natural comedic energy, who would then tone that down.

Now I really mention that as we have Gary Oldman who is not thought of as a comic actor, though in a way some of his more overt performances can be comedic in some sense that is usually not their central purpose. Oldman here though gives a wholly comic approach to the role of Rosencrantz who is far more just in for the ride of the strange journey that the two semi-throwaway characters find themselves in. Oldman finds the right approach within that to essentially make the most out of this strange position that is also detached from the central plot, but rather than burdened by the need for understanding as Guildenstern is that he takes what comes. Oldman plays with this certain idea of the ignorance that is bliss for a rather interesting performance from his oeuvre to begin with. In that Oldman is far more the passive individual in a way, even though he steals the film in his own way, however this is through cleverly low key take that achieves a most successful duality within the character who doesn't stand out in the story yet Oldman makes him stand out within that idea. In Oldman plays Rosencrantz as the extra who essentially has just found out that he is an extra in an ongoing film, and is just trying to work with that.

Oldman is rather delightful in the role in his way of creating this man with this certain eagerness to please in a way that is rather endearing. Oldman defines his Rosencrantz with an earnestness, that will make sense even within the technically duplicitous character as he stands within Hamlet the play, as a fairly simple man trying to deal with a rather complex issue of one's metaphysical nature. Oldman makes that certain bafflement particularly entertaining though by presenting it with such an optimistic spirit within every moment of it. This comes right down to Oldman's frequent delivery of Rosencrantz introducing the pair, often wrongly introducing himself as Guildenstern before being corrected. Oldman delivers this so spiritedly of a man somewhat in the thrall of the idea that there is some bliss to be had of their peculiar state of mind. This attempt to find joy that Oldman brings in every moment is what makes this performance work particularly well, and greatly aids the film which could otherwise get lost in its own pondering, sometimes it does. Oldman brings this sense of always befuddled sense of discovery in the moment that is always rather humorous whether it is Rosencrantz discovering their new geographic location, or the way their coin consistently lands on heads as though they are stuck within time.

Oldman's performance though goes further in every scene in a way to provide very much a bit of a cinematic edge needed to his work which remains dynamic even when just reacting towards whatever it is Rosencrantz is seeing. Oldman never wastes such a moment either to create this sense of confusion over his place in the world, or just an often hilarious moment of Rosencrantz trying to make the most of his odd circumstances through Oldman always optimistic approach to the role. His timing is simply impeccable here to bring humor to every scene, even against Roth's often too dour of an approach. Oldman's physical performance even helps to accentuate the needed humor within it by presenting Rosencrantz physically as not quite right, honestly to be an extra. Oldman nicely plays within the lines, yet still doesn't quite fit in rather splendid way, particularly his almost Stan Laurelesque  way of going to sleep with a sleeping mask, well really a blindfold. This is even right down to when the two come to decide to go along with the plan to kill Hamlet, through a false letter, though for rather different reasons. Oldman presents this determination on Rosencrantz's part one built upon fear, not of any typical action, but rather of concern of the need to take action when the "world" requires them to take action. Oldman once again finds the right comical energy even within the strangeness of the thought by even bringing almost this sweet petulant sadness within his portrayal of concern over it all. Oldman manages to make even Rosencrantz's acceptance of Hamlet's demise okay within the character, by presenting it as just again his way of cheerfully accepting his very strange lot in "life". Oldman gives a terrific performance here as he not only brings to life the stage character, but he does manage to find the right tone within the adaptation as well. His performance bridges certain gaps in a way to give a rather enjoyable turn that finds the wit within the material, but also in a way that never feels burdened by it.