Saturday, 10 March 2018

Alternate Best Actor 2008: Vincent Cassel in Mesrine

Vincent Cassel did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Jacques Mesrine in Mesrine.

Mesrine breaks its story into two parts. The first part of the film depict the early life and the beginnings of the real gangster Jacques Mesrine's "career". The first part of this story is particularly uneven, for a reason I'll get to in a moment, leaving much of it up to Vincent Cassel in the titular role. Cassel is an actor I will say has not made the greatest impact in terms of his English language work, partially due to being pigeonholed into roles as creeps, so it is interesting to see him take on a part in his native tongue, which usually helps. This role though is a strange challenge in this first part of the film in particular as it depicts the rise of the gangster so to speak. Now why this is strange is through the film's bizarre pacing which jumps in time more often than a Christopher Nolan film, except this is almost always linear. Now it makes sense to cut out the boring parts of a man's life however this is a strange instance where it seems like it is just skipping right over potentially engrossing material in order to hit the next point in the man's biography. It is bizarrely rapid fire in this approach leaving Cassel as the man to try to keep everything together through his portrayal of Mesrine which needs to give understanding to these extreme jumps.

This starts right from the outset of the film where we briefly get the man's time in Algiers in the French military where he brutally kills a few Algerian rebels. The moment seems important enough as he is pushed into doing it and Cassel successfully carries the scene in conveying the hesitation through a sense of fear in his eyes before going through with the killing itself. The killing though which Cassel brings a certain sense of thrill in the action, even if it is still raw with the pain of the uncertainty of it. It is the first killing though as Cassel makes it appropriately unpleasant though creating the sense of the potential comfort the man will eventually have with such behavior. The film quickly jumps away from this story which seems like it should have a had a bit more time to, and brings him right into his life back in France. This too is rushed as his friend offers him life in the French underworld rather quickly. One cannot fault Cassel in these scenes particularly not in an early moment where Mesrine covers being caught in burglary by pretending to be an investigating detective. Cassel brings this real energy to the moment with a notable charisma that comes from this sense of daring he exudes so well as he puts on the performance as the detective. Cassel is convincing in that he not only convinces within the film that Mesrine would pull off this act, but also is convincing in creating the idea of a man who try to pull off such a trick.

His sort of more daring attitude though is soon tempered by veteran gangster Guido (Gerard Depardieu). Although this is only slightly again as the film continues to move without stopping. Again Cassel is certainly good in his moment of losing sort of that bluster as Guido attempts to teach him a few lessons, while also naturally having him committing more crimes. This is interlaced with Mesrine also avenging his prostitute/pseudo gangster who is mutilated by another gangster. Cassel himself portrays effectively this whole action being one more of pride in himself than wholly genuine sympathy to the woman. In the killing itself though Cassel delivers the proper brutality in portraying the intensity of the man's sadism in the moment though this whole facet of the story was in a bit too much of a hurry. Of course this quickly supplanted by his relationship with his first wife a relative innocent in the world. Cassel is terrific in his initial scenes by delivering such a genuine charm as he wins her over, and bringing an earnestness as he offers the words of a better man. Cassel portrays well that these words while true in the moment are reactionary in the moment than a genuine change. Mesrine is imprisoned though for his life and released just as quickly in the film's timeline to the point he temporarily goes straight. Again nothing against Cassel who in the two brief scenes of going straight we get, he depicts well a man now filled with modesty after being rid of any confidence due to his incarceration.

Of course even that is only given a moment, a moment Cassel sells, until it's back to being a hard bitten criminal again. Although the film doesn't make this at all a well paced transition Cassel makes it natural by portraying Mesrine as an ordinary worker more as a wounded dog, rather than an honest man, a wounded dog ready to strike out again when given the chance. A chance he is given as he rushes head first into crime again and now his relationship with his wife has completely deteriorated. It would have been nice if we got to see this with a bit more nuance, but the film just sends itself right to this point. Cassel's work is remarkable in that it doesn't seem disjointed at all by just showing the scene of Mesrine abusing his wife as the man's worst nature, which we saw in pieces including in those opening executions, come out again. She leaves him just as quickly leading him to strike up a new relationship with a woman, Jeanne (Cecile de France) with whom he goes on a crime spree with. This relationship is comical, both intentional and unintentionally, through how quickly it escalates from the two first speaking, to the two robbing together, to the two running to Canada to avoid the wrath of fellow gangsters, to the two kidnapping a millionaire in Canada, to the two getting caught in Canada. Now it might seem like I'm rushing through these plot points but the film spends about a brief scene each on them itself. Now the idea of this Bonnie and Clyde idea would seem potent enough for a whole film but the film devotes almost no time to it.

Once again I won't fault Cassel as he actually effectively strikes up his chemistry with de France as the two together effectively portray this mutual affection intertwined with their thrill while committing crimes. The two capture this lustful quality both towards each other and towards larceny. It seems like the film could have explored this in far greater detail but it seems ever in a hurry. The film finally seems to reach where it always wanted to be once Mesrine and Jeanne are arrested for their kidnapping. It is here that the first part finally settles down enough to have a truly cohesive sequence, but this also marks the transition to the second part of the story as well as the major transition for the character. The transition being fitting to the title of the second part of the film Public Enemy No. 1. This is where Mesrine essentially embraces his role as a gangster to the fullest with no delusions in terms of believing he'll ever settle down to a normal life. This change in the man really is best shown in the moment where Mesrine and Jeanne are brought back to Canada to be tried with the press waiting for them. Cassel owns the scene as he should in bringing out the flamboyance in Mesrine as he embraces the spotlight. Cassel brings such a proper unbridled as he shows Mesrine playing to the camera. Cassel brings in the moment the real needed swagger and magnetism even as he purposefully entertains the crowd. In this moment he properly gives us the first step of Mesrine taking upon a different role for himself, and portraying the man as though he were some sort of legend in the making.

This is briefly put down when he undergoes brutal treatment by the maximum security prison in Canada. Cassel delivers properly in terms of creating the sense of the physical brutality of the scene by being in the moment within everyone of the various "treatments" they deliver Mesrine. Cassel realizes the natural exhaustion of both the mind and body, of even a strong willed man, from constant punishment. This is only really though acts as an encouragement to escape and become all the more of criminal for doing so. The escape, as well as the subsequent attempted mass breakout of the prison, mark the full change in Mesrine from any old criminal to more of a Scarface type. Cassel's performance in both the escape and the attack portrays this far more overtly stylized turn. Now this is very well handled by him because he does make it natural that Mesrine reaches that point. It also is not ill-fitting to the film, as he shows a man who purposefully is being a showman while he is being a a criminal. In that sense he is particularly effective as in the moments of "presentation" through Cassel showing such exuberance on the surface, though while also creating the right undercurrent of intensity fitting to a killer. This is where the second part takes him, which is the superior part as its pacing is far more refined. Cassel in part two in a way gets to relax a bit in comparison in that while Mesrine does have an arc of sorts it is far less extreme than the rushed one featured in the first part.

What Cassel portrays in the second part is this constant escalation of what is already a man at such an extreme. Cassel is interesting in that he finds places to go even when it would seem there is no where to go. In that he essentially finds the way the longer Mesrine keeps the act up the more grotesque it becomes. In the initial scenes of the second part Cassel creates the public's anti-hero through the zeal he finds in the role, and that sheer euphoria he exudes whenever the man commits his ill-deeds. The longer this goes on the more and more Cassel makes it less and less appealing. This is not in his own performance but rather in the realization of the man trying to keep this image going no matter how ugly it is becoming. Cassel is remarkable in becoming tired in the act within the act by expressing how uncomfortable it is for Mesrine as he tries to be more than he is. Cassel goes further in this once Mesrine attempts to find some halfhearted causes he acts as though he is fighting for them and tries to pretend to have some sort of philosophy in his criminal activities. Cassel is properly not convincing in these scenes of lending the philosophy. In that he shows well the false bluster of a man who is less absolutely convinced of his views, but rather is absolutely convinced he must convince himself to attempt to give his life any meaning. It is a fascinating idea that I wish the film delved more into although Cassel does explore it as well as he can in his portrayal. Now in terms of Cassel finding the hidden man within the act of Mesrine I will say is perhaps the most powerful moments throughout both films, though they are only brief scenes are those were he interacts with his immediate family. I will say these don't feel rushed actually but are rather effectively interspersed as the few times we can see the man out of the criminal life. One of these moments comes when he visits his dying father in the hospital and Cassel is moving by completely dropping the Mesrine act in this scene just to show a son trying to connect with his father one more time. He's great at revealing the man behind all the bluster in his kind delivery of his last words to his father. The other most important scene in this vein is when his grown daughter comes to visit him in prison. Cassel again leaves all the delusions of grandeur out the door instead just offering this most tender instance of a father attempting to express his love for his daughter. It is genuinely affecting as Cassel convincingly finds perhaps the bit goodness in the man deep within his act of being the world's most infamous criminal. Cassel's work here is consistently compelling even when the film falters. I will say more probably could have come from it if the arc of the man had been better established through the writing of the film in the first part, though Cassel's work is admirable by finding cohesion within that frantic pace. The performance is the best part of both films, and he delivers as the titular criminal even when the films sometimes fall short.

57 comments:

Robert MacFarlane said...

Louis: See Thoroughbreds whenever you can, I actually think you’ll be into this one. Sort of like Refn by way of Saulnier.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Thoughts on the rest of the cast.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Is Cassel's performance still going to be put into 2 ranking places or just the 1 for his work as a whole.

david kelly said...

I love your blog and I am fascinated by the unique concept. But one thing hits me is just how few quality roles there are for black actors and how few there are to nominate for something like this. As a black actor myself it frustrates me to no end. Because of the dearth of roles; black actors aren't given the chances to showcase their talents. I see many actors you nominate multiple times and most black actors only get nominated once(with one exception). Which points to the aforementioned fact. I bet you there are actors of color who have talent to equal Daniel Day Lewis or Meryl Streep but with none of the opportunities to ever showcase their talent. It depresses me as an actor to realize that I might not fulfill my artistic potential. I pray that future generations might have better fortunes.

Bryan L said...

Louis: Out of curiosity, who would you use for ratings instead of Day-Lewis, Mifune, Brennan and Shaw if you reviewed performances by actresses instead of actors? I'd imagine Sissy Spacek being one of them.

Anonymous said...

Louis: Your thoughts on Dean Cundey and Owen Roizman as cinematographers.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Louis: What do you think are the top ten performances by actors in nice guy roles, ie Hurt in The Elephant Man, Garfield in Hacksaw.

Anonymous said...

Louis: Your thoughts on Catch-22 as a missed opportunity.

Anonymous said...

Louis: How do you feel Matthias Schoenaerts would fare in the following roles:

Johnny (My Beautiful Laundrette)
Terry Malloy
Frank Booth
Pat Jr (Silver Linings Playbook)

Also, top ten best opening shots of the decade?

Anonymous said...

Louis: Tom Cruise's best scenes in Minority Report, War of the Worlds and Edge of Tomorrow?

moviefilm said...

Bryan: On my blog I have Mo'Nique, but I guess Meryl Streep (an obvious choice for Sophie's Choice), Cate Blanchett, Elizabeth Taylor, or Jessica Lange would come into consideration, as well

Luke Higham said...

Bryan L: Right now, He would use Liv Ullmann for Lead and Shelley Winters for Supporting. Katherine Hepburn (4 wins) for the Lead nominees and Dianne Wiest (2 Wins) for the Supporting Nominees.

Luke Higham said...

Cameron Diaz has retired.

Louis Morgan said...

Robert:

I'll certainly check it once I have the chance to.

Luke:

Depardieu - 3.5(This probably the most I've liked him from what I've seen so far from him. Depardieu actually is quite good here in creating the sort of casual menace of the seasoned mob boss who is quite comfortable in his violence. He however exudes a natural warmth in his interactions with Cassel portraying the man trying to be a father figure even if he's not the best man for a job. He's particularly good in the scene in portraying the man's own unease at Mesrine's treatment of his wife.)

De France - 3.5(She's quite good given that she really isn't given a lot of time to establish her character. She however does effectively strike up the chemistry with Cassel above, and she helps to convincingly create the relationship despite it being so rushed.)

Sagnier - 2.5(She really doesn't make too much of an impact. She's perfectly fine though as sort of a less extreme version of what De France is doing.)

Anaya - 2.5(She's fine as the innocent who slowly get broken however there just isn't much time for her to make any more of an impact.)

Amalric - 3(A bit wasted as he's pretty good in creating an effective chemistry with Cassel as well in being so low key, as this calmer type of criminal which stands well as a contrast to the flamboyancy of Mesrine. This idea is not exploited enough though.)

Cassel's performances will be separated.

Bryan:

Luke is right, although I probably would just use Winters for both supporting since she was a two time winner as well.

Tahmeed:

1. James Stewart - It's a Wonderful Life
2. John Hurt - The Elephant Man
3. Ernest Borgnine - Marty
4. Christopher Walken - The Dead Zone
5. Conrad Veidt - The Man Who Laughs
6. Omar Sharif - Doctor Zhivago
7. James Stewart - Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
8. Andrew Garfield - Hacksaw Ridge
9. Jeremy Irons - The Mission
10. Sidney Poitier - A Patch of Blue

Louis Morgan said...

Anonymous:

Catch-22 unfortunately was just the wrong match for Mike Nichols who is far too literal for the more overt satire that is Catch-22. What Kubrick did in Strangelove is more akin to what the film's style should have been. Nichols's work just doesn't have control over the film making some scenes too serious frankly, while others seem too ridiculous in comparison. It just doesn't find the right consistent tone. If it were to be remade today I'd say Armando Iannucci would be the man for the job.

Anonymous:

Johnny - (I could see him being great in that he can easily evoke that naturalistic low key charisma essential for the role.)

Malloy - (Perfect given that many of his performances have shades of Malloy in one way or another so taking that on directly would be a great fit.)

Booth - (Wouldn't be the first name that comes to mind however his work in The Drop suggests he can pretty effectively change his typical presence.)

Pat Jr. - (Again probably would be great, as I've yet to see Schoenaerts genuinely come up short as he has such an incredible range.)

Opening Shots of 2010's:

1. Gravity
2. Dunkirk
3. Mad Max: Fury Road
4. Silence
5. The Neon Demon
6. Drive
7. Spectre
8. True Grit
9. Blade Runner 2049
10. Skyfall

Anonymous:

Minority Report - The hotel Room.
War of the Worlds - Probably the silencing scene in the basement.
Edge of Tomorrow - The you don't go further moment. Although I also love his final reaction and his first scene with Gleeson.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Is it possible for Cunningham to go up to a 4 for Hunger.

Louis Morgan said...

Luke:

He already is.

Robert MacFarlane said...

See any 2018 releases lately?

Matt Mustin said...

Saw The Post. It's subtle as a brick, which is certainly not helped by John Williams' score, but I still enjoyed it, although I'll freely admit to being a sucker for journalism films. It has clear flaws, but I though I still liked it.

Streep-4.5(I'm really glad she underplayed this one, especially considering what her co-star is doing. She's terrific in really bringing the character's struggle to life beautifully. Particular note should go to the scene where she decides to publish, which I thought was a brilliantly handled moment.)

Hanks-2.5(This is a really frustrating performance, because he has more than a few good moments and he still has that innate Tom Hanks charm that can be found in all of his performances. The problem is, Hanks plays the part as basically just an impression of Jason Robards, and it never really feels natural.)

Odenkirk-4(He brings a nice comic touch to his part that I thought worked well, but the best part of his performance are the dramatic bits, which he excels in.)

Greenwood-3.5(He's a consitently solid actor, and he's a perfect fit for McNamara. I liked his portraying the politician, but his best moments are his personal ones with Streep.)

Letts-3.5(Don't really have any thoughts, but I liked what he did.)

Whitford-3(Not much of a part, but he's good.)

Plemons-3(Same as Whitford)

Stuhlbarg-3(He tends to add a bit of character in everything he's in, this is no exception.)

Rhys-2(I feel like this performance should've really hit hard, but Rhys just doesn't deliver that at all.)

Paulson-2.5(She's there to be Tom Hanks' wife, and that's it. She does it fine, but really, that's all there is to this character.)

Brie-2.5(Well, first off, I should mention that I didn't recognize her even in the slightest, so kudos for that. That said, like Paulson, she's there for one purpose, in this case to be Meryl Streep's daughter. Nothing more.)

Alex Marqués said...

David: I hope the situation changes for the better over the years. Keep on trying, and don't worry about this blog: despite how many people takes Louis opinion as the ultimate signal of approval, it's all a matter of subjectivity at the end of the day. You might not star in a movie that gets you a nom here, but I'm sure you'll get far and live doing what you love if you work hard enough, that's what is important.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Louis: Could Duvall become your win for '83 Lead.

Anonymous said...

Louis: Your updated top twenty Gary Oldman acting moments?

Also, your cast and director for a 2000s and 2010s The Entertainer?

Plus, have you given your thoughts and ranking on Emmanuelle Riva in Amour? If not, can you give them?

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Louis: Your updated top 10 acting moments of the 2010s decade.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Louis: If Elwes might go up for The Princess Bride, I'd request him for a review.

Luke Higham said...

Tahmeed: The performances I plan on requesting in future are:
Ralph Fiennes in Sunshine (1999 will be coming soon)
Nicol Williamson in The Reckoning (1970)
Jeremy Renner in Dahmer (2002)
David Bowie and Tom Conti in Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence (1983)
Yves Montand in Jean De Florette/Manon Des Sources (1986)
John Hurt in Love And Death On Long Island (1998)
Karl Markovics in The Counterfeiters and Mathieu Amalric in The Diving Bell And The Butterfly (2007)

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Guys: What TV show/anime do you think had the best ever original music or score.
My pick is Fullmetal Alchemist (2003 and Brotherhood). Each and every single song in both shows is just masterful.

Anonymous said...

Louis: Your thoughts on the voices of Jeffrey Combs, Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Gilbert Gottfried and Dustin Hoffman.

Mitchell Murray said...

(Luke) Just responding to your earlier comment on Diaz - I'd normally be disappointed when an actor retires but considering Diaz hasn't been in a movie for 3 years - and more importantly, hasn't been in a good movie for at least a decade - and even more importantly hasn't put in a decent performance in god knows how long - well, I can't say I'm surprised.

(David) Don't give up on what you want, man. These blogs are all written in good fun and never with the intention of holding someone back from their dreams. If you want get into films then by all means do everything you need too - we can't stop you.

(Matt) We're pretty much in agreement on "The Post".

(Tahmeed) Well without giving to much away for the future, I'll say these:

Processing - The Master
Final scene - Captain Philips (It still gets to me, honestly)
Waking up after amputation - Rust And Bone
I am nothing - Two Days, One Night
Out damned Spot - Macbeth
Really the last 30 minutes of I, Tonya just for Robbie's stunning work
Its got water - Logan





Giuseppe Fadda said...

Louis can you give your thoughts on the female cast of Blade Runner 2049? Especially interested in Hoeks since you raised her to a 5.

Calvin Law said...

Tahmeed: I don't even watch Game of Thrones but the main theme is just so wonderful to listen to. But to answer your question, it's a tie between Westworld's various arrangements and the UK House of Cards.

And as for my top 10 acting moments of the decade,

1. The twist - Arrival
2. Church - The Hunt
3. Karla - Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
4. Reynolds complaining about Alma to Cyril - Phantom Thread
5. Confronting Rocky about his cancer - Creed
6. 'You Smile' - Lucky
7. Breakfast - Moonlight
8. Kichijiro's confession - Silence
9. I can't hear you - Hacksaw Ridge
10. Love scene - Carol
HM: Hypnosis - Get Out

Mostly left in scenes where it's almost entirely about the performance (otherwise Phantom Thread would be on here more)

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

My own top ten would be:
1. The Church- The Hunt
2. Garupe's test- Silence
3. The Elevator- Drive
4. Final Confrontation- I Saw the Devil
5. 'Same rules apply' - Filth
6. The cellar- Take Shelter
7. Filming Rick- Nightcrawler
9. The Police Station- Manchester by the Sea
10. Argument at Dinner- La La Land

Calvin Law said...

Louis: thoughts on Eric Godon in In Bruges?

Matt Mustin said...

Calvin: Is that the guy who sells Ralph Fiennes the guns?

Michael McCarthy said...

Matt: Yeah, he’s the Alcoves Guy

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Is Mulligan still a 4 for Mudbound.

Luke Higham said...

And your thoughts on the Crimes Of Grindelwald trailer.

Calvin Law said...

I'm glad Law isn't trying some overt Richard Harris or Michael Gambon impression.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: It's now official, Margot Robbie's playing Sharon Tate in Once Upon A Time In Hollywood. Who would you cast as Roman Polanski.

Bryan L said...

Louis: Any 2010s roles that you could see Robert Shaw being great for back in his time? I could see him as John Fitzgerald.

Mitchell Murray said...

(Luke) While I can't speak for everyone else obviously, I for one am thrilled to see Robbie and DiCaprio pair up again.

As for Polanski, it would ideally be a french actor in his early to mid 40s - so perhaps Roman Duris, or Jean Dujardin.

Louis Morgan said...

Robert:

Annihilation, which was sadly underwhelming in almost every respect.

Mitchell & Alex:

I believe what David Kelly was referring to, correct me if I'm mistaken David, was the general problem in Hollywood in terms of offering good roles for black actors in general. I would agree with that, just look at Don Cheadle, a great actor, yet he's mostly been playing War Machine for the past few years, which is rather a waste of his considerable talent.

Tahmeed:

Yes.

And he might.

Anonymous:

1. "Karla" - Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
2. Air strip - Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
3. EVVVVERRRRYONNNNNNEEEEEEE - The Professional
4. Preparing for the hit - State of Grace
5. The coin flip - The Dark Knight
6. Recreation of the Day - JFK
7. "My way" - Sid and Nancy
8. Killing the Family - The Professional
9. Beethoven on his Death Bed - Immortal Beloved
10. Old Dracula's cackle - Bram Stoker's Dracula
11. "What are you then Bill?" - Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
12. Paying respects - State of Grace
13. Breaking down the plan - Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
14. Murder? - Sid and Nancy
15. Bathroom - The Professional
16. Meeting Drexl - True Romance
17. "Ode to Joy" - Immortal Beloved
18. Promise to Ricki - Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
19. Taking the lead - Prick Up Your Ears
20. Nephew's Suicide Attempt - Immortal Beloved

I believe I have however brief so expand a bit. I will say that while Riva is very good in the role it is a bit baffling that Trintignant was almost completely ignored given his performance is the one that captures the emotional journey of the film. Again that is nothing against Riva who does well with a more constricted role. A lot of her work is her physical performance whether that be in portraying he exact states of physical paralysis of moments of dementia, which feel very authentic in her work. It goes beyond that though in that even as she becomes basically mute later on in her performance she still is able to convey essentially the decaying will to live as well. She also is good in her brief scenes earlier on where she is able to show basically the woman that was. She portrays effectively, even within the portrayal of the paralysis, sort of the incisive strong willed nature of the character even in such a state. An idea that she does use even in the moments of just trying to accept death which she effectively shows in an unusual yet captivating fashion by portraying this sense of almost determination towards the idea. Although it is not my favorite performance of the duo it is a very good performance on its own.

Louis Morgan said...

The Entertainer 2000's directed by

Archie Rice: David Bowie
Billy Rice: Bernard Fox
Phoebe Rice: Lindsay Duncan
Jean Rice: Jennifer Ehle
Frank Rice: Matthew Macfadyen
Mick Rice: Tom Hardy

The Entertainer 2010's directed by Lenny Abramson:

Archie Rice: Brendan Gleeson
Billy Rice: Albert Finney
Phoebe Rice: Fiona Shaw
Jean Rice: Kelly Reilly
Frank Rice: Domhnall Gleeson
Mick Rice: Brian Gleeson

Anonymous:

Jeffrey Combs - (A strangely disarming creep voice which is rather interesting juxtaposition, yet it works for him.)

Al Pacino - (It's funny as his voice went so extremely different from high pitched younger years to his gravely voice of today. I actually probably prefer his younger voice as it was somehow more distinctive in how commanding it could be in his intensity, then again with gravely voice he doesn't always seem to be trying as hard in general. Actually interestingly in his better performances he usually ease up on sort of the easy to imitate Al Pacino sound.)

Robert De Niro - (Funny as he's got a strangely unique yet somehow not distinctive, in that it is extremely hard to imitate most just imitate his facial expressions. His voice is fine of course, but I wouldn't really have ever described it as one of his assets as an actor.)

Gilbert Gottfried - (A vocal representation of obnoxiousness or annoyance. It works for both. Although that's not really even his own voice.)

Dustin Hoffman - (Uhhh uhhh kind of a less distinct version of the Goldblum style of anti-smooth, smooth, although it works in his own way.)

Calvin:

He's hilarious. His performance is a pitch perfect deadpan as he delivers every line just about the same way with the same expression on his face that is what makes it so special. Makes every second of his time gold whether he is talking about those alcoves, telling Harry about his insight into Ken's inability to kill Ray while also talking about the alcoves, or warning Eirik about Harry's potential wraith.

Bryan L.:

Smiley or Control from Tinker Tailor
Zhukov from Death of Stalin
Ottway from The Grey

Luke:

No, 3.5.

Law looks like he could be good, but otherwise nothing from the trailer really excited me much.

Mathieu Amalric, he is perhaps a little old for Polanski at that point in his life, I think he could get away with it though particularly since I feel he needs to play him at some point.

Luke Higham said...

Mitchell: The ideal choice would've been Mathieu Amalric if the film were made 10 years ago and he's now in his 50s so it's difficult to come up with a convincing choice. And Polanski was 35-36 around the time of the murders so I would broaden the casting to a minimum of Mid to Late 30s..

Mitchell Murray said...

Thoughts on the cast of Annihilation, Louis? Also how has Natalie Portman's Jackie performance aged for you in retrospect, since that seemed to be the first, and maybe only time you've really taken to her.

Luke Higham said...

Mitchell: You forgot about Leon: The Professional.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: And your in depth thoughts on Annihilation.

Mitchell Murray said...

(Luke) My mistake then, and yah Polanski is a tricky choice if were going with strictly french actors.

Louis Morgan said...

Giuseppe:

de Armas - (Her performance is something rather special in the way her own work plays with the ambiguity of the character while never exactly enforcing a side. She could indeed be just everything that K wants to hear as de Armas delivers in this regard in a rather notable way. In that she evokes whatever she need be in a given moment whether that be an intense allure, in the pink Joi as well, or something far more tender or affectionate. She feels just about perfect in every way as de Armas expresses these qualities so well that one should not even second guess the idea, she must be real, or perhaps not. I love it because she is in a way both as she in fact delivers everything one would want to hear, and does so flawless. The earnestness in which she delivers the role is remarkable and perhaps makes the viewer care for her as well, though one wonders if you are being tricked as well. There are moments outside of this idea which are great as well. For example in her moment alone with Mackenzie Davis, she offers a colder delivery for the moment. Again this is brilliantly performed by de Armas as she captures the ambiguous nature perfectly. In that she allows you to think, well I guess this is Joi when she's not performing for K, or the coldness shows a true sentience that her interactions K are genuine since here she is showing a different side to her personality. Her work is fascinating as it allows either interpretation of the character, while still making a distinct impact no matter in which way one views the nature of Joi.)

Hoeks - (This is a brilliant performance as well where the more I examined it the more I saw how special her work was. Now on the surface she's just an effective villain in terms of exuding a palatable menace. That is just the surface though as I found it fascinating to look at her performance against Goslings as they are both working within a similair idea. In that she also captures that certain specific realization of the new type of replicate, with an exact duty. In that she portrays Luv's behavior as just slightly overly exact and finding that same style as Gosling in creating that form of behavior that is comfortable for humans yet you can still tell it is inhuman. She, like Gosling, though also explores the humanity of the character in a very subtle way, though her exploration is more disturbing than poignant. In that while Gosling slowly reveals what one would associate with the better side of humanity, she reveals the horrible side of humanity. In that she also delivers this striking undercurrent of genuine emotion however she reveals it in this moments of jealousy, pride and an intense lust of any kind. I love the viciousness she brings in the scenes of Luv's personal violence, as she does bring this subtle yet potent sadism in her. She too finds this sort of volcanic foundation that defines Luv which is to serve Wallace, however Hoeks shows this not as that of a mindless slave but rather of child desperately seeking approval.)

Juri - (Her performance is a proper one scene, well technically two, scene wonder, that works only the better when one is aware of the full revelations of the plot. Her performance is wonderful though in that technically all she is doing in her scene is delivery exposition around the ideas of dreams, with just bit of her own background that is fairly minor in terms of the details. Juri though infuses this with such real poignancy in terms of the emotions as she alludes to so much more without saying anything, yet once you know who she really is it all makes perfect sense. Her reaction while watching the memory is especially powerful as one could see it as just reacting to sad story, however on closer examination, once you know the truth, Juri's reaction evokes something that goes far deeper than that.)

Bryan L said...

The only European actor I can think of who I think could pass for the part and is of the right age at the moment is Sebastian Stan.

Understandably, QT is looking for an unknown Polish theatre actor for the part.

Luke Higham said...

A risky choice, despite coming from an Eastern European background but perhaps it could work.

Mitchell Murray said...

Is it bad that for all this time I thought Stan was American?

In any case, he's the right age and could definitely inhabit the moral depravity of the man based on his Jeff Gillooly.

Louis Morgan said...

Luke & Mitchell:

Annihilation faltered where I felt, as Robert I believe was alluding to, Arrival excelled. In this idea of connecting a very personal journey towards this exploration and discovering of the alien unknown. Now there are some obvious problems to take issue with such as none of the performances are all that good, and the visual effects are extremely uneven. The film though almost played like a "high brown" Alien Covenant with a protagonist, with some severe husband issues, a monster waiting to pop out at any point, a severely underdeveloped crew of red shirts, and some, perhaps malevolent, force interested in bio engineering. The film is strangely one of those films I find sets up its ideas then proceeds to do nothing interesting with them. This central idea seems intriguing enough however it does not establish compelling enough characters to properly interact with it, nor does it develop itself beyond that initial inspiration to become compelling in itself. The film was just a major disappointment for me on just about every front.

Portman - 2.5(She's not bad here in terms of what I would call her in the moment performing. In that she does at least convey some sense of fear, and anguish in the journey, although even in this she is sometime a little underwhelming. She however is at a loss in making the journey have any more meaning than that very surface interaction. Despite the abundance of flashbacks Portman, and especially not Isaac, fail to really make anything out of what should be the central relationship. There just never is anything there really as written but also as performed. They don't even develop any sort of general romantic chemistry let alone one rich with a pained or joyful history. They are frankly dull together. Portman though in the present scenes then has no real anchor and she isn't able to ever conjure a real motive for the character throughout the story. That motive should be the relationship, but that just isn't there. Having even said all that she really doesn't effectively exhibit enough change or exasperation or anything else, to give each scene in the film enough of a dramatic weight.)

Isaac - 2(I could not believe this performance honestly since Isaac usually excels in lower key roles. That's not the case here though as he too is oddly hollow, even when there isn't anything suppose to be wrong with him. Isaac oddly creates no real mystery in the character nor does he offer a real emotional investment into him either. It's excessively distant and rather lifeless work from him.)

Thompson - 2.5(Perhaps MVP because at least she just about had nothing to work with. She's okay in that she does the best she can in providing some grounded reactions to what is going on around her.)

Rodriguez - 1.5(Her performance begins a bit of overacting from her almost going for sort of Vasquez routine, though her in a film where that style is not appropriate. She continues to be a bit much in the "horror" scenes as her performance just goes way overboard in selling every scene. Then she has her final scene where she is downright terrible and most underwhelming yet still very hammy in her portrayal of paranoia.)

Leigh - 2(A horrible disappointment considering I usually like Leigh a great deal. She just seemed bored most of the time. I think perhaps that was suppose to be depression but it just come off as her being not engaged in every scene she was in. Her performance strangely came off as phoning it in, which is odd given she has given it her all in far lower minded films.)

Eh in regards to the casting I say just get Almaric some hair dye, some good makeup, and some flattering lighting.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Your thoughts on Amalric in Quantum Of Solace. I've always felt Greene was sorely underwritten as a villain.

I'm looking forward to his review for Diving Bell And The Butterfly.

Luke Higham said...

And your thoughts on the war montage from Origins: Wolverine.

Michael McCarthy said...

I actually thought Thompson and Leigh were worse than Rodriguez. At least her performance made sense and had...something to it, even if it missed the mark. I also would go higher with Portman. Even though I didn't like the film, her performance actually felt honest.

Anonymous said...

Louis: Which roles from the 60's could have you seen Bogart and Gable in?

Louis Morgan said...

Luke:

I don't hate Amalric in the role however he is not terrible threatening nor does he quite work as a weasel type villain. The writing doesn't serve him well as Greene remains pretty vague the whole time and doesn't make much of an impact either way.

It's not quite the Watchmen's opening but it is the best thing about that terrible film. It's a little bit interesting in terms of visuals, and suggests a far better film we just skipped over.

Micheal:

Well it's not much of scale either way. Yes I'd Rodriguez had more to work with, but I felt she misused it.

Anonymous:

Hard to say, I'd say John Huston's career would have likely been very different. If you look at most of the stars from their period they didn't have that notable of careers. This was part in choice as for example Cagney retired and others like Fredric March and Melvyn Douglas found success as character actors. I'm not sure they would have wanted to be supporting actors so they probably would have pushed for their own roles if they had lived longer as both were still leading their films when they died. Cary Grant another star who continued to work from their age group successfully kept a career as a leading man, I think they would have done the same.