Thursday, 5 February 2015

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 2014: Josh Brolin in Inherent Vice

Josh Brolin did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite being nominated for BFCA, for portraying Lt. Det. Christian "Bigfoot" Bjornsen in Inherent Vice.

Doc Sportello (Joaquin Phoenix) comes across some peculiar characters in his investigation to find a missing millionaire along with his mistress Shasta who also happens to be Doc's ex-girlfriend. The most memorable of these is perhaps Bigfoot Bjorsen. Although Bigfoot is technically working the same exact case as Doc, although for the police rather than independently, he is sorta the antagonist for Doc although not for the reasons one would expect. Bigfoot is the polar opposite of Doc in many ways and Brolin is great in playing up this fact. In his physical performance, rather than the laid back ways presented by Phoenix for Doc, Brolin stands and sits with a specific posture, as though he's trying to be imposing to anyone he may speaking to. He walks with an excessively distinct step just as a super detective should, unlike the wandering step of Doc. Even their physical humor are on opposing ends, although just as funny, with doc's crazy pratfalls, against the incredibly structured way in which Bigfoot reigns down his blows against Doc, or the awkward way in which he must pick up Doc who is cradled up into the fetal position.

Brolin is hilariously hateful in his portrayal of Bigfoot's disdain for Doc's who is a bit of a personification of the hippies he despises so much. In there initial trade of information Brolin infuses a bit underlying delight as he uses some obscene hand gestures to mock Doc as he relates that Shasta and the millionaire were lovers. Brolin brings such a funny calmness to his casual harassment of Doc as he makes accusations against Doc, that Bigfoot probably does not believe himself, but gives him some pleasure to abuse Doc's rights a bit. Brolin and Phoenix have such a great way with the words in their scenes together as Bigfoot kinda talks over Doc while Doc kinda talks under Bigfoot yet they do have some sort of understanding nevertheless. The off-beat dialogue of the film really comes to life in their scenes together as Brolin and Phoenix create two unique wavelengths in terms of their methods of delivery that is rather wonderful to watch, and is incredibly effective in the way it shows the very different mindsets and views of the two characters.

Of course Brolin is great fun whenever he is messing with Doc. I particularly the scene where Bigfoot far too slowly and with far too much of a pained voice goes to inform Doc over the phone that Shasta disappeared because he'd rather let him think she died for as long as he possibly can. In fact any scene where Doc and Bigfoot talk over the phone is something special. Phoenix playing up Doc's confusion while Brolin being so funny, in playing up the extreme nature of Bigfoot's humorlessness as he speaks to Doc. Brolin plays every scene in interrogation mode as though Bigfoot really can't act in any other way even if he's telling his kid to go to bed. Brolin just is on here as there is just something really funny about him yelling for more pancakes in Japanese as well as stating so matter of fact that what he likes most is the respect he gets in the restaurant. One of my favorite scenes of old Bigfoot though is when he is actually the one being berated for once, and not by Doc, but rather his wife. Brolin is outstanding in the way he keeps Bigfoot still keeping his composure, yet he is so obviously defeated as his wife speaks for him.

Like Phoenix in the film his performance is not purely comic, although he mostly is. Brolin does not leave Bigfoot wholly one note, despite the brilliance of that one to begin with. Well there is the fact that he's a very small time actor where Brolin enjoyably shows Bigfoot very much out of his element whether it is expressing a far too much unease in his appearance on Adam-12 or the least natural delivery of "groovy" ever given. Again this is just different type of funny for Brolin to be involved with but that's not all though as Brolin does quietly exude a certain sadness about Bigfoot which he subtly grows as the case becomes thicker. Brolin artfully slowly suggests that the case does indeed have a personal connection for Bigfoot itself, and that his growing distress seems to reflect how close Doc is to closing in on the target that Bigfoot wants taken out. Brolin is particularly good at this because he never compromises just how entertaining Bigfoot is as a character, yet entirely finds the needed dramatic weight to the side of Bigfoot that shows he's more than just a detective with a big ego.

Brolin only has a handful scenes in the almost two and half hour film, with plenty of other performances that could steal a bit of his thunder, but that certainly never happens. Every single one of Brolin's scenes is a gem. This is a great dead pan performance by Brolin and almost everything he does is a bit humorous whether it's his particular way of eating a frozen Banana, or just some his perfectly timed reactionary lines such as saying that resurrections are usually left to the bunko squad with such a straight face. Honestly I could just name every single line Brolin delivers in the film as an example because of just how good of a grasp he has on his material. His best scene though may be his final scene where he gives Doc a most unexpected visit. Brolin is again really funny yet surprisingly affecting as he portrays a very disenchanted Bigfoot, who's melancholia has finally gotten the best of him, as he just breaks down first smoking then eating Doc's marijuana, but then finally fully connecting with Doc as they apologize to one another at the same exact time with the same exact words. That whole setup could have seemed a bit much the chemistry Phoenix and Brolin have make it into a natural end point for the two character's relationship. What can one really say other than Brolin gives a performance worthy of the name Bigfoot Bjornsen.

17 comments:

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

"Motto Panukeiku!"

Michael McCarthy said...

Having now seen Joe, I think if someone has to beat Simmons I'd rather see it be Brolin than Poulter.

Psifonian said...

Definitely should've been nominated. Brolin has a skill for comedy that is hardly utilized, and this proved that he should work with PTA again.

JamDenTel said...

I think Brolin was absolutely brilliant and should've been up for the Oscar. In fact, as great as Norton and Simmons were, he'd probably be my vote.

luke higham said...

He was terrific, My personal favourite moment of his performance is 'Motto Panukeiku'.

RatedRStar said...

=D Speaking of Inherent Vice, what was everyones number 9 of their top ten? mines was ..drum roll......

INHERENT VICE

luke higham said...

RatedRStar: Interstellar

luke higham said...

Louis: Can I have your thoughts on The Amazing Spider-Man 2 as a whole.

JackiBoyz said...

@RatedRStar: Your thoughts on the recent HK film award nominations?

Michael McCarthy said...

Daniel: A Most Violent Year

RatedRStar said...

@JackiBoyz: OMG I am so happy with them, I predicted quite a lot of them, I am so happy to see Alex Fong (4 failed previous nominations) and Lam Suet (first nomination since 1999s The Mission) returning after such a long time, plus Lau Ching Wan getting recognized once again for like the 11th consecutive time is always great, its also great to see 2 nominees from last year, Huang Bo and Eddie Peng return.

Oh and Daniel Wu was nominated for the first time since 2004s double nomination for New Police Story and One Nite In Mongkok, at least he does decent work in The Demon Within.

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

@RatedRStar: Edge of Tomorrow

Louis Morgan said...

RatedRStar: A Most Wanted Man

Luke:

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is one of those strange films where there may be a whole lot of plot points, but it feels like nothing happens since they never build much emotional investment into the story.

It's tonally very wrong with some of the goofiest moments ever in a Spider-Man movie (yes goofier than the dance scene in 3) involving Electro, The Rhino and the mad scientist, I mean it's Batman & Robin goofy. Yet it tries very hard to be serious in some of the scenes involving Harry, the stuff about Peter's parents, and the Gwen and Peter relationship.

Of course the serious elements get either too little development or technically too much. Too little would be Harry, who I guess was good friends with Peter although that was rushed, but not as rushed as his relationship with his father. It does not stop there as there's the corporate corruption that tries to oust Harry that also just kinda happens without any build up or much meaning to it.

In the too much department there is the corporate espionage elements involved with Peter's Parents that just seem so unnecessary. The film keeps acting like it's important but it's not, and I did not know way too much back story, that no one cares about mind you, was what was missing in the Sam Raimi films. Even the romance is problematic since the writing is so repetitive, "Stay Away it's dangerous" Ghost Leary "Stay Away it's dangerous" Ghost Leary "Stay Away it's dangerous" Ghost Leary "Stay Away it's dangerous" "Stay Away it's dangerous" "It's my Choice" DEAD.

It technically shares the same problems of many of the third sequels, although this one only is the second sequel, in that it for some reason wants to cram so much into one film, rather than maybe, I don't know, just keeping it somewhat simple, you know one villain one main plot, and make an enjoyable super-hero film.

Anonymous said...

Louis what are your ratings and thoughts on Carey Mulligan in both Shame and Drive and Octavia Spencer, Emma Stone and Cicely Tyson in The Help?

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

I may be alone in this but Raimi's Spider-Man films have actually grown on me so much since Webb's two horrendous efforts. Whatever little merit found in those films hinges solely on Garfield and Stone.

And I think Maguire is too often unduly chastitised. Have a go at me all you want but he nails Peter Parker, which in my opinion is much more important than nailing Spider-Man which he never really quite did, but hey I liked him except for 3, where I think he was victim of the script more than anything.

What are everyone's ratings for each Spider-Man film to date?

Spider-Man:
Maguire-3
Dunst-2.5
Dafoe-3
Franco-2
Robertson-4
Harris-3
Simmons-4

Spider-Man 2:
Maguire-4
Dunst-3
Molina-4
Franco-2
Harris-3
Dafoe-3.5
Simmons-4

Spider-Man 3:
Maguire-1.5
Dunst-1.5
Franco-3
Grace-1
Haden Church-3.5
Dallas Howard-2
Cromwell-2.5
Simmons-3.5

The Amazing Spider-Man
Garfield-3 (verging on a 3.5, I love his Spider-Man but found his Peter Parker side rather annoying, frankly)
Stone-3.5
Ifans-2.5 (sort of like Dafoe, most of the character's problems reside with the horrible appearance of the alter-ego and the script.)
Leary-2
Sheen-2.5
Field-2

The Amazing Spider-Man 2:
Garfield-2.5
Stone-3.5
Foxx-1
DeHaan-1
Giamatti-1
Jones-2
Field-2
Cooper-1
Csokas-2 Wiseaus

Louis Morgan said...

Anonymous:

Mulligan - Shame - 3(Her performance always feels like an afterthought in this film as I always kinda forget that she's even in it. Not that I felt she was bad, but I never felt she made too much of an impact one way or another)

Drive - 4(Sometimes simplicity is bliss, and that's the case here. Her part is only simply the love interest but that's all she needs to be really. She's lovely in the part and does well just to portray wholly honest reactions to what happens in the plot. She's particularly great in the elevator scene with Gosling)

Spencer - 3.5(Her part is perhaps a little too much all about sass but she does it well. There's the scenes of her abusive husband thrown in there as well, which he also handles well enough. I don't love this performance but it is a fine work nevertheless)

Stone - 3(Stone does kinda have enough personal charm just to carry a part to a certain extent no matter what, and that's the case here. Her role though is a bit pigeonholed in that despite being the true lead she's mostly reactionary whether it's being moved by the tales of the women or being disgusted by her "friends". As those roles go though she's not quite Richard Frank in Amadeus and he had a lot less material to work with)

Tyson - 3(She's good in her one scene, but it was not one of those one scene wonders that manages to be one of the memorable elements of a film though)

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar:

I completely agree you about Raimi films actually. The films, the first two at least, actually maintain a tone, and there just seems to be a much more genuine passion involved in those films. The only thing the Amazing series really has over them is Stone, and we all know what happened there. In regards to Maguire, although really should re-watch one of them first, I can't help but feel he made a much more likable hero than Garfield's two cool for school routine.

Spider-Man:

Maguire - 2.5
Dafoe - 3
Dunst - 2
Franco - 2
Robertson - 3.5
Harris - 2.5
Simmons - 3.5

2:

Maguire - 2.5
Dunst - 2
Franco - 2
Molina - 3.5
Harris - 2.5
Simmons - 3.5
Dafoe - 3.5

3:

Maguire - 1
Dunst - 1.5
Franco - 2
Church - 3
Grace - 2
Howard - 1.5
Harris - 2.5
Simmons - 3.5

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

Maguire WAS better in the role. YEs, he had that awkwardness, but it was used well in the first two films and made Parker likable and endearing enough so that we could root for him. Whereas Garfield's sort of a prick in the role (mostly due to the writing, to be fair). He was a better Peter Parker in The Social Network when you think about it.