Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Alternate Best Actor 2007: John C. Reilly in Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story

John C. Reilly did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite being nominated for a Golden Globe, for portraying Dewey Cox in Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story.

Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story tells the story of a Johnny Cash like musician throughout the years. As a film I enjoyed it in parts, but I have to admit more than once I felt like it should just about being wrapped up instead it just keeps going.

John C. Reilly gets to play the lead here whereas he's usually regulated to the supporting roles in both comedies and dramas actually. Here he gets the main role as the musician who is literally haunted by his past which entailed accidentally chopping his older brother in half. Reilly plays the initial scenes a bit like his other comedies and actually not too far off from his Oscar nominated performance in Chicago. That being kinda as the naive country bumpkin who seems has a consistent bit of optimism in his disposition. Reilly's method does work rather well in terms of playing around the absurdest humor found in the film which always goes for some over the top gag or another visually, or just thrown into the dialogue. Reilly's approach is kinda interesting since he's neither the straight man but he does not exactly go as the obvious funny man either. Obviously his whole set up character is a tad comical to begin with but the way Reilly reacts to the gags is generally in a particularly unassuming way that is funny, and as well allows him to act as though he's really playing a musician with ambition in his heart.

Now the key to this performance is that Reilly attempts to portray the whole life of musician Dewey Cox therefore he can't be a constant because a musician must have phases. Well these can be seen in pretty much every modern musical biopic or just musical such as Ray, Walk the Line or even Dreamgirls. First out he begins as that man with a dream, which Reilly gives all the enthusiasm to with the eyes of a dreamer of things even as everyone tells him there's no reason to pursue his dream. Then we get his early period as a success which Reilly keeps with a great degree of humility and nervousness as though he is in disbelief of his position. This of course naturally leads to the problematic elements of the life such as loose women to keep him away from his wife, and plenty of drugs. Reilly is particularly enjoyable as he keeps that same stupid trusting demeanor as indulges in every drug he's told not to take, as well as has sex with everyone whose something or other he picks up for them. Reilly really is not seductive at all, but that's actually what makes it amusing.

Of course the hedonistic lifestyle leaves to unhappiness as his wife leaves him as well as his new wife leaving Dewey in considerable distress. It is rather enjoyable to see Reilly as the suffering musician overwhelmed by the pain of his life and quite obviously artist endeavor, as always personified by his ghost brother. He even goes to that phase of the shell of a man just going through the motions of nothingness until that intense rehab scene. Reilly's particularly entertaining here because he bothers to go through each of the phases, that Joaquin Phoenix and Jamie Foxx attempted to portray in a serious fashion, but here with a humorous bent to the whole thing. The rehab works though gaining back the love of his second wife leaving him no where to go but be a the musician who transcends all to a higher form of being. Well this is obviously where everything thing should wrap up, as it did in Ray and Walk the Line, but it decides not to. Where those films ended technically speaking mid-career (since obviously they'd never have another crisis), this keeps following Cox as he has a relapse as well as even has to sink into becoming a has been hack while doing a variety show.

Although oddly enough this in a weird way might be more realistic in portraying the full journey of a popular singer, but unfortunately it does feel a bit repetitive in terms of the gags used by the film. Reilly to his credit though does not just merely go back to the similar phase in terms of his performance. Reilly bothers to have a whole new form of depression for Dewey, this time more fitting of an aged man who must wither away in a new whole of nothingness. Of course this all sounds serious but that's never the intention but there is something so great about Reilly keeping Cox in this personal journey despite how silly some of scenes he's involved with can be. The best part of the journey for me has to be the end as Reilly gets his A Beautiful Mind moment where he gets to be caked in makeup and reflect on his life in an overly dramatic moment fitting for the end of an overly dramatic biopic. It's an especially funny end for Reilly because he brings so much convictions for those final seconds as you see Dewey Cox finally reaching the point of self-actualization just before his death a few seconds later.

This is a good comedic performance, in fact I would say I care for his performance more than I care for the film itself, as many a gag fall flat, but in no part due to Reilly's conviction to make them work best he can. What makes this performance a bit of step above just simply being good though are the songs, which are quite easily the high points of the film. Part of the reason for this is Reilly's performances of the songs. Reilly gives every delivery his all, again makes the ridiculous lyrics sing all the better since he treats them with all seriousness, pouring his heart into every ounce of it. What's so memorable about Reilly is that he tackles so many different styles. He covers the performance closely associated with Johnny Cash delivering such drive in his hard ballad about walking hard. He too does the romantic, in this case time excessively sexual, duet with all the sweetness needed. He even does a Bob Dylan in all his mumbling glory. Then he brings all home with the utmost passion of a long life in his final delivery of Dewey's last song in his final seconds. Although I can't say I loved the film as a whole, I did get a thorough kick out of Reilly's strangely devoted work.

30 comments:

luke higham said...

I'm so glad you liked Reilly.

luke higham said...

Louis: From your female top tens, your Thoughts on Cotillard, MacDonald, Staunton, Gay Harden, Christie, Dukakis and Pfeiffer.

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

Dewey Cox died three minutes after this review.

luke higham said...

Mailboxes drip like lampposts, in the twisted birth canal of the coliseum.

luke higham said...

Louis: Your Ratings & Thoughts on the cast of Stardust.

Calvin Law said...

Hopefully it'll be

1. Hoffman
2. Affleck
3. Bale
4. Reilly
5. McAvoy

But don't mind me and my selfish longings :)

luke higham said...

Calvin: My prediction's the same as yours, but it's gonna be close between Affleck and Bale for 2nd.

luke higham said...

Louis: Is Marion Cotillard in your top ten actresses list.

Calvin Law said...

Raymond J Barry is in this, hm interesting, I remember him being incredibly good in a very small role in 'Dead Man Walking'

luke higham said...

Calvin: 'The Wrong Kid Died'.

Calvin Law said...

I just watched a youtube clip of him saying that, lol this looks really funny

Luke, who are your top 10 actresses?

1. Deborah Kerr
2. Marion Cotillard
3. Joan Fontaine
4. Cate Blanchett
5. Shelley Winters
6. Maggie Smith
7. Naomi Watts
8. Celia Johnson
9. Julianne Moore
10. Sigourney Weaver

luke higham said...

Calvin:
1. Marion Cotillard (I'm being fairly biased here, but I love her too much, to not give her the top spot)
2. Sissy Spacek
3. Sigourney Weaver
4. Naomi Watts
5. Cate Blanchett
6. Joan Fontaine
7. Helen Mirren
8. Maggie Smith
9. Kathy Bates
10. Carey Mulligan (Very personal pick)
Honourable mention: Faye Dunaway

Haven't seen a great deal of Geraldine Page, Shelley Winters, Teresa Wright, Holly Hunter and others.

Calvin Law said...

I left off Carey Mulligan by accident actually, she would be in my top 10 too.

luke higham said...

Calvin: Julianne Moore would be another honourable mention.

Psifonian said...

And he never paid for drugs! NOT ONCE!

Michael McCarthy said...

I actually saw the extended cut and even though it didn't need to be as long as it was, I thought it was consistently funny and didn't mind one bit. The reason I give Reilly a 4.5 and not a 5 is I actually thought the writing and direction were a little bit stronger than Reilly's performance, I still found him very funny though.

luke higham said...

Calvin: It's pretty likely that Liv Ullmann will eventually appear in my top five, although as of now, I've only seen her in The Emigrants/The New Land and A Bridge Too Far.

luke higham said...

Michael McCarthy: The reason why I asked Louis to watch the extended version, was so that he could get the most out of Reilly's work and honestly, I felt that the theatrical version was truncated, when I saw it for the first time.

moviefilm said...

And also thoughts on Carter, please.

luke higham said...

Moviefilm: Carter - 4(The only time I think I actually liked this sort of performance from her. Her singing voice is not great but I thought she did a fine job of playing up the weird insanity of Mrs. Lovett without going too far(unlike some of her later performances as similar characters). I felt she found some needed dark humor which was far too lacking in Depp's excessively dour performance)

Michael McCarthy said...

I dunno, I thought Carter was just as lacking myself. That whole film just didn't have half the energy and wit that the stage show usually has (I'm a little biased because I was in it recently.)

Calvin Law said...

Who did you play, Michael? :)

Michael McCarthy said...

I was Pirelli.

luke higham said...

Michael: What did you think of Cohen's interpretation.

Calvin Law said...

I thought Cohen was AWFUL, personally, I'm sure Michael was miles better haha. Of course I've disliked him in pretty much everything I've seen him in besides Borat, so take my views with a pinch of salt.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=056FI2Pq9RY, Suffragette trailer, bit disappointed tbh:

1. Seems like it's going to be a fairly by-the-books film direction-wise.
2. Ben Whishaw appears to have another thankless role (I could be wrong though)
3. Not really impressed by what I've seen from Streep so far

On the other hand, Mulligan looks really promising, I hope Brendan Gleeson's role is as interesting as it looks potentially, and it's an interesting story overall.

Matt Mustin said...

Odd, I think Cohen's actually the best Pirelli I've seen, and I usually hate him.

luke higham said...

I actually have a soft spot for Cohen's work, especially in the contest scene.

Calvin: From the look of it, Mulligan's gonna be great at the very least, I too am looking forward to see how Gleeson's character plays within the plot and Streep 'Ughhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh' Overrated, Bitch. =)

Louis Morgan said...

Luke:

Cotillard - (Well I finally got to see what everyone was talking about and she is indeed transcendent in the part. I find it particularly something special since the film's not very good, especially the awkward way it breaks up the narrative which works really poorly. In addition she does not do her own singing. It would be easy to see how Cotillard would get lost in weaknesses of the film, as well as he lip synching but she never does. In regards to the song it is incredible how Cotillard physically portrays each one, which is summed so well in the scene where the film goes mute because you see how much Cotillard is really doing in these sequences. It's magnificent though the way she matches every age of her character. In each version she so well portrays where she is in her life mentally and physically in her voice and mannerisms yet it never feels forced. Each age has its own unique charm and personal style, yet it feels cohesive to her whole. Even with the film ineptly jumping around Cotillard still knocks every emotional moment out of the park. It's outstanding work)

MacDonald - (The only truly bright spot in the entirety of the film. MacDonald nicely plays the certain optimism about her character along with a very much needed warmth in her scenes with Brolin. She never overplays the trailer nature of character, using it to show where she comes from but always keeping her as a human being not some caricature)

Staunton - (A splendid performance to be sure. I love how she plays the part as though her character is this bright sunny person despite having a completely malicious nature. She's quite chilling by keeping that smile of hers even in the scene where she tortures Harry, as though she is still just being a good teacher. She carries a surprising amount of menace and is easily the best villain of the series)

Gay Harden - (She does a great job here by going pretty far with the religious fanatic but not going so far that she becomes simply a joke. Although her performance here is definitely entertaining she also succeeds in realizing the genuine horror that comes from her character's religious fervor)

Christie - (I have to say it's always little strange when one actor is completely ignored like this as I thought Pinsent's work left far more of an impact on me. Christie though I still thought gave a fine performance. As she moves from the optimism of someone trying avoid thinking about her condition, then effectively depicts her deterioration both physically and emotionally through the rest of the story)

Dukakis - (She mainly has one scene, cut up into different parts of the film, but I quite liked how her performance contrasted against Pinsent. She carries a more earthy quality as she clearly a less romantic type. She creates a believable roughness in the role, while being quite moving in the moments where she reveals her own vulnerabilities)

Pfeiffer - (The best part of the film as I think she best finds the sort of tone the film is looking for. She has enough fun in the role, particularly in the scenes where she goes on about her physical appearance, while still being an intimidating enough presence)

Yes in regards to Cotillard.

Stardust:

Cox - 3(He's endearing enough in the role of basically of Joe any man. Not anything too special but he brings enough charm.)

Danes - (Appealing enough just like Cox)

De Niro - 2(He's actually far more energetic here than a lot of his later performances, but that does not mean he's good here either. It's a extremely standard "gay" performance and just not particularly funny)

O'Toole - 3(Should have been more of him as he's quite enjoyably devilish in his one scene)

Strong - 3.5(Strong usually is good and I like that he has a bit of a comic twist to the role while still being properly commanding and imposing. I particularly love his reactions at the end though)

Gervais - 3(He brings a nice bit of sleaze as a con man like merchant. Also would not have minded more of him)

Calvin Law said...

My dream Sweeney Todd cast:

Sweeney Todd: Ewan McGregor
Mrs Lovett: Emily Blunt

Calvin Law said...

Louis: Pinsent being ignored, is quite odd, almost a reversal of the situation with Amour (2012)