Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 2012: Tom Hanks, Jim Broadbent, Ben Whishaw and Hugo Weaving in Cloud Atlas

Tom Hanks did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Dr. Henry Goose, Hotel Manger, Isaac Sachs, Dermot Hoggins, Timothy Cavendish look-a-like actor, and Zachary in Cloud Atlas.

Cloud Atlas is another film this year like Les Miserables, or The Master where you tap into its wavelength, or you do not, and if you do not you are in for a long watch. For me personally Cloud Atlas really works and I was thoroughly entertained and intrigued by it.

Cloud Atlas is not a perfect film, and there are questionable choices in it. One being the few actors cast who are decidedly not chameleon. Tom Hanks is one of them and looking at this performance can easily be done by thinking what would Gary Oldman do. Hanks plays six roles and it is really best to look at each of the roles separately and see Hanks's attempts in each role. The first chronologically is that of Dr. Henry Goose who pretends to help an American Lawyer Adam Ewing (Jim Sturgess) recover from a parasitic worm, where in fact Goose is slowly poisoning the man and intends to kill him to rob him of his gold. This is a unique role for Hanks doing an accent as well as playing a villain.

It would seem this sort of role is not for Hanks as he is not very menacing nor as enjoyable as the greedy Goose probably could have been in say the hands of Gary Oldman. Hanks seems a little silly in the role actually, and the makeup never seems to fit him. It does not help that Hanks never seems all that comfortable with the accent either leaving him rather uninteresting to say the least. Honestly there was a great deal of potential for Goose to really be a great turn, but Hanks just really does not have the command of the role that is really required for an excellent villianous turn.

Well we can skip the Hotel Manager as he is basically just Goose again just with less screen time. Next he comes as Isaac Sachs a Nuclear scientist who attempts to help journalist Luisa Rey (Halle Berry). Hanks is far more comfortable in this role brings out his best qualities as just an average role. He is good at showing the decency of his character, and naturally brings about the connection Sacs feels with Rey. It is a very short role though, and he really is only in one scene as Sacs leaving the good qualities of this performance fairly easy to forget.

Next is a double display of lacking as he plays Dermot Hoggins as the actor playing Timothy Cavendish. Hoggins is quick scene of a deranged gangster who kills a critic for dissing his book. Again a sort like Gary Oldman could have knocked this scene out of the park and turned the rage of Hoggins into a hilarious overstatement. Hanks though lacks the punch in his performance and just seems silly in the get up as well as with his heavy accent. The same is true as the actor reenacting Jim Broadbent's story. Another actors could had a lot of fun in the brief scenes, but Hanks plays it oddly straight and does not make much of an impact. 

The last segment as Zachary in a post apocalyptic land as a tribesman Zachary plagued by guilt due to not acting when his brother and nephew were killed by roaming cannibals. Now even this segment has problems with the future speak used which almost none of the actors are comfortable with. All filmmakers who decide to do something like this should always remember there are things called Shakespearean actors for a reason, even if you make up a derivative of English actors still need to be comfortable with it, but when the actors speak here they always seem somewhat rehearsed.

Hanks though does have good moments in his silent reactions in these scenes as Zachary, and he has powerful moments showing the painful struggle he is facing due to his loss as well as his feelings of guilt. For the most part this is a fairly effective piece of work by Tom Hanks in these scenes even if he never makes the words entirely natural. He has quite a bit power in his scenes particularly when Zachary see his entire village destroyed, and brings the weight to these scenes as he should. So the final tally goes like this Goose -2, Manager-2, Sachs-2.5, Hoggins-1.5, Cavendish-1.5, Zachary-3.5 leaving him as a:
Jim Broadbent  did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Captain Molyneux, Vyvyan Ayrs, Timothy Cavendish, Korean Musician, Prescient 2 in Cloud Atlas.

Jim Broadbent is certainly an actor more capable of various characterization than the fairly limited Hanks, but he honestly only plays three roles the first three. The last two are null as you'd be hard pressed to notice him in those roles. So really I only need to examine his performances in the other three. The first two which are Captain Molyneux and Vyvyan Ayrs are can really be spoken together as they are similar with Ayrs basically being a more complex version of Molyneux. As both Broadbent plays arrogant men who are filled with their own sense of skill and power. 

Broadbent does well in both roles and gets the cruel pompousness of these characters out. As Molyneux he is particularly good and Broadbent shows the brutal nature of the composer who makes Molyneux as the societal injustice he should be. Importantly though Broadbent does show a quieter nature to the man in a few scenes that helps establish the idea that this man does have some brilliance behind his less positive features. He makes this role completely suiting its needs which is to put the lead of this story, ambitious young composer Robert Frobisher, through hell and set the man on the course of dread and despair.

Now the most important role of Jim Broadbent in the film is that of Timothy Cavendish the only story in the film that is a straight out comedy. It details a book publisher who must go into hiding when one of his writers demands payment that he does not have. He is in fact the lead of this story he is still supporting though of the film, as everyone is supporting the film here and not one actor leads the film. Broadbent fills a very important role in the story of Timothy Cavendish as he must bring a lighter touch to the film that alleviates some of the heavier elements of the film expressed in all of the other stories.

Broadbent makes the story of Timothy Cavendish enjoyable one through his various reactions as Cavendish faces various bouts of bad luck. Broadbent is an effective comedic actor in that he is able to express the emotions honestly in each scene well making them amusing at the same time. Broadbent makes the ride of Cavendish an enjoyable one as he goes from running from the gangster to trying to escape from a jail like retirement home. Broadbent has a lot of fun in the role a he makes every comedic scene as entertaining as they should be. Broadbent is charming and likable as Cavendish, and makes The Ghastly Tale of Timothy Cavendish an easy story to watch play out.

Broadbent adds well to the film in a way that Tom Hanks does not. Although he is certianly recognizable as Jim Broadbent in all of his important roles he differentiate them properly, and they work well in the nature of the film rather than seem distracting as it did for Hanks. Broadbent is particularly effective in giving entirely opposing performances as a fiendish composer, and a likable publisher. Frankly Broadbent's performance only helps in showing exactly what is wrong with Hanks's characterizations.
Ben Whishaw did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Robert Frobisher in Cloud Atlas.

Ben Whishaw actually plays five roles but they do not really matter in that they are very short and unnoticeable. To his credit though he is not distracting in the moments, and fulfills these roles as he should. They just do not amount to much which is fine though because he plays the meatier role of Robert Frobisher who is the main character of his story. His story being that of a young bi-sexual musician who goes to work with a forgotten but talented composer Vyvyan Ayrs (Jim Broadbent). Whishaw leads which is probably the weightiest story of the film, and the one that depends probably the most on the lead performance.

Whishaw at the beginning of Frobisher's story shows him to be a young man with a great deal of energy who is enthusiastic at the prospect of composing a masterwork with Ayrs's help. Whishaw is quite good in emphasizes the ambitious qualities within Forbisher and makes his urge to create something remarkable something worthwhile. Frobisher's story easily could have been excessively uninteresting, or seem the story of just a selfish man. Whishaw though succeeds incredibly well by being very genuine with the feelings that Forbisher's feels that compels him to such a task.

There are several narrations competing throughout the film each which make varying impacts. Whishaw's honestly adds the most to the film and there is something particularly compelling about his delivery. He infuses a tremendous amount of life to each and poignancy. every moment that Frobisher's the one we here on screen. There are a great deal of lines in the film about the interconnected nature of everyone and everything. Perhaps they don't leave these sort of lines for Tom Hanks for a reason as they really require a great deal of conviction to make them seem more than pretentious babble, Whishaw manages to bring this conviction.

Whishaw adds a power to all of his scene through his turn as Frobisher. He is very effective later on as it seems less and less likely that he will achieve his dreams he falls into despair only holding on to finish his masterpiece. It is a moving performance by Whishaw because he never does overwhelm with the depression of the character. Instead there is something particularly special about his portrayal of this man's suicide because of the final moments of happiness before regulating himself to his fate. They are short subtle reactions by Whishaw but they beautifully show the complexity of the man as well as what Frobisher really has lost by committing suicide. Ben Whishaw gives a very strong performance here and despite only having one role of note actually is one of the most memorable portrayals in the film. The nature of the film that weaves in and out of each story and Whishaw always holds the proper amount of attention, and brings to life the story Robert Frobisher in a powerful fashion.
Hugo Weaving did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Haskell Moore, Tadeusz Kesselring, Bill Smoke, Nurse Noakes, Boardman Mephi, and Old Georgie in Cloud Atlas.

Hugo Weaving is best known for playing villains so they took this as reason to cast him as villianous character in five of his six characters. His only character who is not a villain can be quickly forgotten as he is only seen briefly and makes almost no impact on the film. Weaving basically takes a similar approach for three of the five villains so I might as well just look at the two most prevalent. Bill Smoke a hit man who is the purest of his villains here and the other three similar ones are only slight deviations from him. His other villain that is the most dissimilar is that of Nurse Noakes as Weaving in that role plays a female character. 

As Bill Smoke shows signs of his role as Agent Smith in The Matrix, which is a good thing. Weaving is quite good at the evil maniacal stare, as well as the imposing delivery that brings to life the fierce some nature of his character well. Weaving knows how to deliver with a character like this as well as the other similar ones. He oozes menace with an ease and oddly enough a certain grace. He makes looking evil seem easy, and even though Bill Smoke is not given much time he makes him the proper threat from his very first scene. Weaving is perfectly cast in these roles because he knows exactly how to play them and brings out the evil of these characters quickly without effort even seeming required.

It is a real shame though that Weaving's strengths shown with the other villains is rather wasted in the role of Nurse Noakes. Noakes is basically the Nurse Ratched of the retirement home that imprisons Timothy Cavendish. Weaving is not very good here basically doing the stereotypical voice that any man does to imitate a woman when they are not trying at all to believable. Noakes is indeed in the comedic section of the film so really he would not exactly have to be the most believable woman of all time, but Weaving performance is rather embarrassing instead. Frankly someone, like maybe Gary Oldman for example, could have brought out more menace in these scenes well being funny at the same time. Weaving is neither menacing or funny as Noakes.

The last villianous performance by Weaving here is as Old Georgie, the representation of the devil, who haunts Tom Hanks's Zachary. Weaving here seems to be doing his best Tom Waits impression. To be perfectly honest this works out just fine, and Weaving is fine at being this existential evil. Old Georgie is pretty limited but Weaving is just as he should be. Hugo Weaving for the most part works as the go to evil doer for the film. Nurse Noakes weighs down his performance which unfortunate as that part could have easily been the highlight if he had delivered a better performance. This rest of his roles though Weaving fulfills them quite well particularly Bill Smoke.


Robert MacFarlane said...

I swear, me and the rest of the theater burst out laughing every time "Old Georgie" was on the screen. Or as I call him, "Leperchaun Mad Hatter On More Crack Than Usual".

But yeah, Whishaw was by and far the best thing about the film. He was really the only thing that worked for me.

Anonymous said...

I hated this movie. It's ambitious, I'll give it that, and it LOOKS phenomenal, and has a great score, but I thought it was just plain boring and WAY too long. As for the performances, none of them impressed me. I would say the best was probably Whishaw, but even he was forgettable in the long run for me. I thought the entire Timothy Cavendish story could have been cut out completely, by the way.

Robert MacFarlane said...

I'd consider it an honorable failure, like Watchmen. Its high ambition unfortunately outweighs its content. That being said, the fact that people defend it (or really any film) on ambition alone upsets me. "It's so ambitious! Can't you just forgive the flaws?" No, I can't. Film criticism doesn't work like that.

Michael Patison said...

I'm pretty much in the same boat as you, koook. You can't defend a film's quality based on its ambition, but I do think a highly ambitious film is worthy of respect, even if it does fail. Now, if it fails completely, I don't think the respect argument can be made, but if it has some redeeming qualities, I think there has to be some level of respect afforded to it.

Maciej said...

Haven't seen the movie, though I was planning to.

And 4 performances (or to be more specific, 4 actors giving different performances in one movie) is quite a feat to review, not succumbing to those rigid rules the Academy has. (even when you are doing just alternate nominees). Glad to see that, Louis. I have to admit that your blog has become something very eye-opening for me, even if I personally do not agree with you on a particular performance.

Anonymous said...

I really loved this film, which is shocking considering I pretty much hate everything the Wachowskis have done before (never seen any Tykwer).

Ben Whishaw and Doona Bae were clearly the standouts in the cast. Both were quite good. Sturgess was good as well. Glad to see Hanks get a 2, he really was awful (so was Halle Berry).

RatedRStar said...

I enjoyed one thing in this movie... Ben Whishaw =) he is a huge talent, ill say one thing, this film I didnt find boring but just odd..

RatedRStar said...

also it can be tricky to play a Bisexual character correctly without making him/her too greedy or arrogant (me being Bisexual myself) I think Ben Whishaw gets the right balance in making him human.

Michael Patison said...

I'm sorry to post about this again, Louis, but I'm still having tons of trouble. I want something on my blog akin to how you have the list of years on the right side of the blog. I'd like to link them to different pages of blogs linked by the labels. I just can't figure out how to create the set-up like you have on the right side and then how to link to the pages.

Louis Morgan said...

kook160: I completely agree. In this case people who said they like Cloud Atlas should say they like because they found it compelling, entertaining or something. Not because it was ambitious, ambition is not something that is positive or negative all by itself.

Michael: Okay. First thing make sure each post has the same label.

Second go to your layout add a Text Gadget.

Third: Write what ever label you want in the text, year, name, whatever.

Fourth: Click the label below the post that you want to group them under. Once you have done that copy the address.

Fifth: Highlight the label in your text gadget then click the link button (which is the planet looking thing)

Sixth: paste the address you wrote in bar that appears. That's it just make sure you save obviously.

Michael Patison said...

Thank you so very, very much

Anonymous said...

Did everyone like Whishaw in Skyfall, I thought he was really good.

Anonymous said...

I really liked him in Skyfall, too.

Anonymous said...

What did you think of the actresses in this movie, Louis?


Robert MacFarlane said...

I thought Whishaw was very good in Skyfall. He's a damn good actor in general, even in something as laughably bad as Perfume: Story of a Murderer. I hope this year is his official "breakout". Breakouts are always tricky. For example, I'm still not sure if Joseph Gorodn-Levitt broke out yet considering I have to remind people who he is when I talk about him.

Michael Patison said...

I would definitely consider him a breakout, as I really hadn't really heard of him until I saw him in Skyfall, where I also thought he was great.

Louis Morgan said...

Whishaw was really good in Skyfall, he had great chemistry with Craig.

Mark: Doona Bae was very good in her main story, her middle role was forgettable, and her role as a European was embarrassing but that was due to the makeup. Berry was okay in the 70's story, but she was rather lacking in the last story.

Michael Patison said...

I'm glad to know what you thought of Perfume, actually, though I didn't know Whishaw was in it. I thought the novel was exceedingly interesting, but was on the border of wanting to see the movie or not, but I think I'll refrain now.