Sunday, 20 May 2018

Alternate Best Actor 1991: River Phoenix in Dogfight

River Phoenix did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Eddie Birdlace in Dogfight.

Dogfight despite its cruel opening premise of a group of marines rounding up a group of women for a contest involving who can find the ugliest date becomes a rather sweet romance between one of the marines and his date.

River Phoenix's tragically brief career was rather different than say a James Dean who had three major films, iconic to their era, although also in roles who all begin their films as rebellious young men against whatever system they are within. Phoenix's career perhaps resulted in fewer classics, although that may differ based on one's specific definition of a classics, his output was fairly prolific even within its brevity. Phoenix in his eight year long career made 13 (and half to include Dark Blood) films within a variety of genres, and importantly a variety of roles for Phoenix. This included within 1991 itself where he played the physically troubled prostitute in My Own Private Idaho, and here as Eddie Birdlace a marine on leave just before he is set to go over sea to Vietnam. Phoenix as he was believable in realizing the meekness Mike in that film, Phoenix captures the problematic machismo of Eddie here. Phoenix offers that certain swagger of both his personality and physicality as Eddie and his fellow "B" men, based upon their names, come into town looking for women. Phoenix delivers the complimentary hollow intensity as he portrays this inherent tension with every delivery really every movement that works in tandem as the other men hard bent on convincing they are all really fighting men, even though none of them have yet to feel the sting of battle.

Phoenix's performance wisely though brings enough of subtle nuance even within these moments that are properly overt as intended showing perhaps there is maybe a bit more substance to Eddie than his cohorts even if it is rather hidden. Eddie nonetheless goes about his task to find a "dog" for the dogfight coming across a local music loving waitress Rose (Lili Taylor). Phoenix is great in the initial pick up scene which involves obviously showing more interest than is honest towards Rose by Eddie. Phoenix though actually though sets up the potential for more in their relationship even in the troublesome initial setup there. Phoenix is great in the way he delivers that certain leading man charisma he was capable, though sadly was not able to show off frequently enough, though he brings though in somewhat overly forceful way. He cools the intensity of before though to reveal that charisma within it but in his initial pursuit Phoenix rather is able to establish the act Eddie is performing, while being believable that he would indeed be charismatic in Rose's eyes. When he shows interest in Rose's music though Phoenix subtly delivers more a genuine charm in line with these moments, and quieter attitude that effectively alludes to something more even as Eddie is still just propositioning her for a humiliating situation. 

Phoenix finds the right approach within the dogfight sequence itself, which to the film's benefit is fairly early on in the story. In that again he creates the right sense of the circumstances that define Eddie's behavior against what is perhaps truer to Eddie's real nature. He still brings the moments directly with the other marines withe all the excessive bluster and absurd confidence needed. He subverts though in his moments with Taylor where he depicts a slowly growing unease as the two reach the titular event. Phoenix during the event itself shows Eddie only comfortable in the moments of complete blind support by his fellow marines within their deplorable behavior, and in turn Phoenix gradually in turn portrays this as a more difficult act to perpetuate. Phoenix naturally creates the complete loss of this attitude by in turn delivering such an earnest, if hesitant, warning towards Rose as she unknowing engages in parts of the "show". Phoenix properly shows not a hint of joy except in the most direct interactions with Rose, however even these Phoenix makes only the faintest fitting towards the compromise of the situation. When Rose discovers the truth and lashes out at Eddie, Phoenix powerfully delivers the vulnerability, not so much as classic Phoenix vulnerability, but more fitting to the character that Eddie is. He's moving though in so honestly creating this moment of full realization of actions through every word of Rose's. Phoenix says very little in the moment, but in his eyes conveys wholly Eddie's understanding of his wrongdoing.

The actual romance of the film begins when Eddie seeks to track down Rose to apologize for his actions while also taking her out on an actual date. Phoenix excels though as he shows still this struggle between his learnt expectation against his more genuine self. Eddie's initial apology is a beautifully realized moment by Phoenix by again so naturally purging the bluster, to show the more genuine individual in the moment. Eddie though once the new date starts puts it again as he shows her around town while trying to mock a maitre di. Phoenix once brings that same excessive unearned confidence in the moment throwing himself into every venom and profanity laced insult. What Phoenix does so well though is to portray this with such a extreme edge that is more fitting to it as almost an automatic reaction from his "education" in the marines. He pushes this as a blind rush into the type of man he's established himself with which Phoenix shows is still thin even when Eddie uses it for a less overtly problematic purpose. Rose calls him on this behavior again, though more gently than before, and Eddie finally lets it go. From there on Phoenix reveals really the real man that is beneath all that posturing and poignant portrays the far gentler soul within. From then on what we get instead is just this wonderfully realized romance between Eddie and Rose. Phoenix and Taylor have amazing chemistry with one another.

Their romance reminded a lot of the romance in Marty, which is always a good thing, in that while there is some underlying tension from the cause of their initial meeting, the two find such a beauty in their unassuming yet so very warm interactions with each other. The two just slowly build these ease from each subsequent scene, and the two are so genuine together that is so delightful just to watch the two interact with each other. What they even do for the most part isn't even that dramatic yet it doesn't matter because of how special yet still understated they make the relationship. Each step isn't this major act, but just this ingenious coming together two people. I love how simple yet special their final moments are that just seem right by how effectively Phoenix and Taylor realized the developing love between the two. That ends on a great note, but the film keeps going. The film then gets its second chance for a good ending where Eddie has a sobering talk with one of his fellow marines where he reveals his real self, as does his comrade. The film keeps going to cover the Kennedy assassination, Eddie's traumatic time in Vietnam then finally his return to Rose. Although I don't think these scenes are at needed to the overall story Phoenix's performance manages to give them at least some purpose by at least portraying Eddie's continuing down his path to becoming a more mature man even through his suffering. His final scenes back from the war Phoenix is moving in realizing the losses in his eyes, creating the right haunted quality within them, which in turn does make his return embrace with Rose rather moving even if paced strangely. Of course this is all just good film going on longer than it should, and at the very least we are granted more time with Phoenix's charismatic turn here. A performance that not only carries that extra time, it also just creates a fascinating and affecting portrait of a man finding himself while also finding love, and is a testament to the talent that was lost in River Phoenix. 

72 comments:

Calvin Law said...

Thoughts and rating for Taylor? I'm really interested in this now.

Calvin Law said...

And I'm guessing Will Poulter in this role for a 2010s version?

Anonymous said...

Louis: Your choices for a 60's version of Drive and a 2000's version of IT?

Bryan L said...

Calvin: He even looks like Poulter in that picture haha. Sans the latters' trademark eyebrows of course.

Anonymous: McQueen HAS to be The Driver for the 60s.

Anonymous said...

Louis: Toughts on this episode of Westworld

Omar Franini said...

Louis: I'm going to use one of my past winning predictions and request Marcello Fonte for Dogman.

Anonymous said...

Louis: How do you feel Joaquin Phoenix would fare as Sonny Wortzik?

And who do you think would be a better fit for Freddie Quell in the 70s; Al Pacino, Robert De Niro or James Caan?

Calvin Law said...

Anonymous: Dolores storyline was terrible. Shogūn World started off really interestingly but I don't quite like the direction it turned into. I honestly would consider it one of the weakest episodes to date, but Thanks Newton was as expected fantastic, even though she wasn't working with great material.

Calvin Law said...

*Thandie

Louis Morgan said...

Calvin:

Taylor - 4.5(Keeping on the Marty comparison Taylor's work reminded me a great deal of Betsy Blair's performance in that film. In that she creates the same overarching sense of desperation as an inherent element within her performance yet she does not allow it to define her character as desperate. She makes it certainly nearly a constant but not the only facet of the character. Taylor is incredibly endearing in the role by bringing such a genuine warmth within her presence, and so effectively making this naturally good natured person. In addition she brings such a strong passion in every moment where Rose speaks of her own that is simply wonderful. She then though does well in realizing her own changes through the night as does Phoenix as Eddie though in less extreme circumstances. In her moment of realizing the frustrations after the discovering is such a great and cathartic moment, as Taylor delivers it not as this attack of a firebrand, but rather something far more raw and honest that is so fitting to Rose's nature making it all the more powerful. In addition though she shows the way the relationship brings her out of her shell a bit so gently and naturally throughout without compromising her nature at any point. I especially love her moment of swearing like Eddie to show his own ridiculousness, that could have been an artificial moment. Taylor though makes it work by emphasizing the way Rose is using to make a joke out of Eddie's behavior, and keeping the right knowing glint in her eye showing it as the act it is. Again though what makes her performance is her chemistry with Phoenix that makes the film.)

Yes, and perhaps Mae Whitman as Rose.

Drive 1960's:

The Driver: Steve McQueen
Irene: Lee Remick
Shannon: Clark Gable
Standard: Don Gordon
Blanche: Lee Grant
Nino: Brian Donlevy
Bernie: William Demarest

It 2000's:

Bill: Josh Hutcherson
Beverly: Saoirse Ronan
Ben: Brett Kelly
Stan: Cameron Bright
Richie: Austin Crim
Eddie: Cameron Bowen
Mike: Denzel Whittaker
Henry Bowers: Jesse Plemons
Pennywise: Jake Gyllenhaal (For Skarsgard style)
Toby Jones (For Curry style)

Anonymous:

Pacino quite easily. De Niro could work but it would be a VERY different Freddie. Caan would come off as too unlikable even as Quill is concerned. Phoenix would be a great Sonny, based on his work as Quill as he could bring that messiness and the carnage in trying to work the robbery but with that soulful core as related to his motivation.

Omar:

Noted, hopefully it will get a decent release.

Anonymous:

I'll have to agree with Calvin here. The Dolores story line is going nowhere very quickly and rather poorly. I could admire the Maeve story for the technical elements and the acting from Newton, however it too felt pretty rote all things considered. It's nearing to the point that one could just watch the even episodes, aka the ones with William, given the gap in quality between the story lines.

Calvin Law said...

Jake Gyllenhaal as Mysterio apparently. I'm very intrigued.

Calvin Law said...

1960s Drive set in England
The Driver: Terrence Stamp
Irene: Sylvia Syms
Shannon: Trevor Howard
Standard: Richard Harris
Blanche: Julie Christie
Nino: Jack Watson
Bernie: Peter Sellers

Anonymous said...

Louis: I don't know if I've asked you this before, but what are your thoughts on The Godfather Part III as a missed opportunity?

Louis Morgan said...

Anonymous:

Well there was quite a lot missed about it. It could've been a potential third masterpiece but fell far short of that. Sophia Coppola is a problem, but she isn't THE problem. Replace her with Ryder and you have a better film but not a great one. The film itself is one where you can see the potential but also the failure of it. It needed more passion from Coppola, a more dynamic story that acted more as a proper climax to the trilogy as a whole rather than just another foe for Michael. A side note on that Joe Spinell's Willie Cicci was going to be the original nemesis, before Spinell's death, which also would have been far more interesting as this ground thug of the Corleone's turned mob boss nearly takes over than the random character of Joey Zasa. It needed Robert Duvall, and perhaps with him, and the original idea of the focus being the divide between Michael and Tom, might have delivered that gravity needed for a proper topper to the series, which is far from realized in what we got.

Anonymous said...

Louis: For a 40's Phantom Thread, think Colman could work in DDL's role?

Louis Morgan said...

Anonymous:

Colman probably would, however Claude Rains would be THE choice in my mind.

Robert MacFarlane said...

On the topic of wasted potential, do you think The Dark Knight rises could have worked better if Bane wasn't the villain? Because the more I think about it it, the more I feel Bane was too high-concept and broad strokes of a villain for Nolan's world. I think they should have went with Black Mask with elements of Hush thrown in. It would have been fitting if Batman's final foe for the Nolan trilogy was ultimately a gangster version of what he could have turned out like.

Louis Morgan said...

Robert:

I think you're definitely onto something there as I think a more unassuming, less broad, villain also could have helped to avoid the problem they ran into in terms of trying to raise the stakes beyond The Dark Knight, which was already apex for the tone Nolan was going for.

Michael McCarthy said...

I think the reason I love this turn by Phoenix is that his performance is really what keeps the film from being really mean-spirited. Taylor is great too, but Phoenix is the one who makes this movie as enjoyable as it is for me.

I’m looking forward to Rickman’s review a lot, but is anyone else not totally sure whether or not to put him in lead? Either way, he’s great.

Robert MacFarlane said...

I really hope Phoenix gets reviewed for 1986 Lead.

Robert MacFarlane said...

Is there any chance Ford could go up for 1977 Supporting Actor? Because I still think his first impression as Hans was his best.

Matt Mustin said...

Robert: I don't know if I agree that that's his best turn as the character, but I will say it was his performance and not the writing that made Han Solo my favourite character.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Ford is a 4.5 for me for A New Hope as well. I prefer Guinness just ever so slightly.
Louis: Your top ten favorite performances from the Star Wars films.

Luke Higham said...

Robert & Tahmeed: Louis upgraded Ford for A New Hope awhile back as well as Carrie Fisher in The Empire Strikes Back.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Louis: Could I have your ratings and thoughts on Pat Morita in The Karate Kid Part II?

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Robert and everyone else: Your top 10 favorite moments in anime/manga. Mine would be-

1. The final attendance- Assassination Classroom
2. The Last Transmutation- Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
3. A Promise Fulfilled- Bakuman
4. Hughes's Funeral-Fullmetal Alchemist (2003)
5. Breakfast- Boku dake ga Inai Machi/ERASED
6. Light and L's final confrontation- Death Note
7. Finding Al's Body- Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
8. "He made me what I am"- Dragon Ball Z
9. "You can be a hero"- My Hero Academia
10. Flashback- Assassination Classroom

Anonymous said...

Louis: Even though you chose Carey and March for Duvall and Costner's roles for a 40's Open Range, think the elder Huston and Gable could also work? Also your top 10 cinematographers working today.

Bryan L said...

Anyone: The images of a guy riding horseback in the jungle, a guy with a gun in winter and the one in the railroad in the background of the blog: what movies are they from? Just curious.

Luke Higham said...

Bryan L: The railroad is Bridge On The River Kwai, the man with a gun is actually Mads Mikkelsen with an axe in Valhalla Rising and I'm not exactly sure about the first one you mentioned. It's from 1965, yet I don't recall it coming from For A Few Dollars More but it certainly looks like a Western.

Bryan L said...

Luke: I meant to say the tunnel one, where a guy is feeding a dog or something. Bridge on the River Kwai is one of my favorite films so I recognized that one instantly haha.

Thanks!

Luke Higham said...

Bryan L: It's Memories Of Murder.

Anonymous said...

Louis: What are your toughts on Adam West as Batman? Because I think after Kevin Conroy he is the best Batman ever.

Anonymous said...

Demarest as Bernie is an inspired choice.
Louis: Your 30's and 40's Drive casts.

Louis Morgan said...

Tahmeed:

1. Alec Guinness - Star Wars
2. Mark Hamill - The Last Jedi
3. Harrison Ford - The Empire Strikes Back
4. Harrison Ford - Star Wars
5. Carrie Fisher - The Empire Strikes Back
6. Daisy Ridley - The Force Awakens (re-watched it recently)
7. Adam Driver - The Force Awakens
8. Harrison Ford - The Force Awakens
9. John Boyega - The Force Awakens
10. Donnie Yen - Rogue One

Morita - 3.5(He could go up actually as watching Cobra-Kai was good reminder of just how good Morita was in the role given he has a presence there even though he's not even in it. Here though he offers a good reprise, where he is shifted to really the lead character. He doesn't reach the heights of his first performance although he still delivers in the part both in terms of that combination of warmth, humor, and that certain gracefulness as the wise mentor. He also does effectively explore a bit more in the brief romantic moments, and the moments reflecting on the rivalry with his friend turned enemy. Although the film doesn't explore either facet too much Morita is good in realizing a little bit more to Miyagi, while still respecting his original portrayal by avoiding becoming a caricature of that portrayal.)

Anonymous:

Certainly they could've.

1. Roger Deakins
2. Emmanuel Lubezki
3. Vittorio Storaro
4. Robert Elswit
5. Hoyte van Hoytema
6. Edward Lachman
7. Larry Smith
8. Rodrigo Prieto
9. Dick Pope
10. Bradford Young

Note: I didn't include Wally Pfister since he is no longer working as a cinematographer. I need to see more from Mihai Malaimare Jr, and Natasha Braier or else they could easily make the list.

Bryan:

The man on the horse is from Doctor Zhivago.

Anonymous:

Adam West's Batman is the perfect Batman for his series/film. West plays it so straight to the point of absurdity which is marvelous to watch. The intensity he brings to his caped crusader, which he defines as a man absolutely convicted to his conviction (repetition purposeful) no matter what. It is gloriously over the top, yet in a way that never mocks the material either which is quite the balance to find. As he effectively stands in contrast to the villain by being this pillar of a man in every sense of the word, and giving a hilarious performance without a single wink to any one. Now I know some have claimed this was unintentional however I would disagree with that as there is clear difference between West's performance as Batman than his earnest work as the Grey Ghost, or even his contemporary work in things like Bonanza and The Young Philadelphians.

Anonymous:

30's:

The Driver: Robert Montgomery
Irene: Madeleine Caroll
Shannon: Samuel S. Hinds
Standard: Wallace Ford
Blanche: Jean Harlow
Nino: Lionel Barrymore
Bernie: Louis Wolheim

40's:

The Driver: Dana Andrews
Irene: Teresa Wright
Shannon: Walter Huston
Standard: Richard Conte
Blanche: Kay Francis
Nino: Victor McLaglen
Bernie: W.C. Fields

Robert MacFarlane said...

I actually was just asked about my top 10 Star Wars performances yesterday.

1. Mark Hamill in The Last Jedi
2. Daisy Ridley in The Force Awakens
3. Harrison Ford in A New Hope
4. Adam Driver in The Force Awakens
5 & 6. Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher in The Empire Strikes Back
7. Alec Guinness in A New Hope
8. John Boyega in The Force Awakens
9. Harrison Ford in The Force Awakens
10. Ian McDiarmid in Revenge of the Sith (I can explain this one if you want)

Calvin Law said...

Is Cobra Kai any good Louis?

Louis Morgan said...

Calvin:

Yes, surprisingly so.

Calvin Law said...

Robert: Would be interested in hearing your pitch for McDiarmid.

For me,

1. Mark Hamill, The Last Jedi
2. John Boyega, The Force Awakens
3. Harrison Ford, The Empire Strikes Back
4. Alec Guinness, Star Wars
5. Carrie Fisher, The Empire Strikes Back
6. Daisy Ridley, The Force Awakens
7. Adam Driver, The Force Awakens
8. Mark Hamill, Return of the Jedi
9. Donnie Yen, Rogue One
10. Billy Dee Williams, Empire Strikes Back

Calvin Law said...

Louis: I'll ask for extended thoughts at a later date.

Robert MacFarlane said...

Calvin: Okay, so here's the thing; I like Revenge of the Sith. Yes, the dialogue and most of the acting are largely terrible, but it has a visual language and operatic scope that oddly compensated for it. McDiarmid is the one who succeeds the most, but he also is giving two performances. One is unnerving Machiavellian, and the other is... Jim Carrey. The former performance has an almost Shakespearean quality to the way he plays it, especially the opera scene. The latter performance... okay, I admit I just had fun with it. There really isn't any other way to put it. He was a fun ham.

Matt Mustin said...

Funny that we're talking about Star Wars performance, because I literally just got done rewatching The Last Jedi. This would probably be my ranking:

1. Mark Hamill in The Last Jedi
2. Adam Driver in The Last Jedi (he only got better for me on rewatch)
3. Harrison Ford in The Force Awakens
4. Daisy Ridley in The Force Awakens
5. Adam Driver in The Force Awakens
6. Harrison Ford in The Empire Strikes Back
7. Alec Guiness in Star Wars
8. John Boyega in The Force Awakens
9. Harrison Ford in Star Wars
10. Daisy Ridley in The Last Jedi

Matt Mustin said...

(Honorable mentions to Carrie Fisher and Billy Dee Williams in Empire)

Emi Grant said...

Louis: Thoughts on Barton Fink's direction and screenplay?

Anonymous said...

Louis: Your thoughts on the cinematography of The Man Who Wasn't There and Good Night, and Good Luck.

Calvin Law said...

Your MVPs for each episode of Westworld so far this season? For me,

1 - Thandie Newton
2 - Ed Harris
3 - Louis Hethrum/Jeffrey Wright
4 - Peter Mullan
5 - Thandie Newton

Bryan L said...

Louis and everyone: Thoughts on this retroactive remake?

The Dark Knight trilogy, directed by John McTiernan

1985
Bruce Wayne- Mel Gibson
Ra's al Ghul- Peter O'Toole
Alfred Pennyworth- Alec Guinness
Commissioner Gordon- Dustin Hoffman
Scarecrow- James Spader
Rachel- Holly Hunter
Lucius Fox- Ossie Davis

1988
Joker- Val Kilmer
Harvey Dent- Jeff Bridges
Maroni- Danny Aiello

1992
Bane- Ray Winstone
Catwoman- Diane Lane

Anonymous said...

Louis: Who do you think would be the best director to handle a 1940's Gangs of New York: Curtiz, Ford or Walsh?

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Your thoughts on the Wildlife trailer. I think Mulligan could finally get her second nomination.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Louis: Your thoughts on Lionel Richie's "Say You, Say Me" from White Nights.

Stefan Klein said...

Just came home from seeing Solo. Didn't much care about it. The first hour or so was pretty terrible imo. No Star Wars vibe whatsoever. The Han-Chewie bonding part at least was okay(ish). Howard is decent at doing friendship stories, I guess. And yes, he's a skilled craftsman. Whatever that's worth.
For the cast... I felt Ehrenreich did a good job. Clarke was... well, Clarke. Can't really give an opinion on Harrelson or Glover. Bettany, whom I usually like, was underutilised and underdeveloped. Same as Newton (was that her? I think so).

@Robert: I like your reasoning on McDiarmid. A lot. Mirrors my thoughts. Though I don't exactly love Revenge of the Sith.

Also, I re-watched The Last Jedi. Liked it much more than the first time when I saw it in the theatre (at 12.30 am totally tired).

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Are there any roles post-2014 that you feel would've been perfect for Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Bryan L said...

Luke: Gordo (The Gift)
Marty Baron (Spotlight)
Mr. Perlman (Call Me by Your Name)

Louis Morgan said...

Emi Grant:

Well starting with the screenplay which I think is one of the greatest original screenplays ever written. It is brilliantly layered work, but as with any great work there is the surface that stands on its own, while also being the core in a way. In that the screenplay establishes at its simplest form the story of Barton and his writer's block, and the character study of him as he navigates through the studio system as well as the strange world of Earle. That creates a captivating and powerful story all in its own of this almost a purgatory that Barton endures in some attempt towards a self-discovery. Although even that is not so simple as every element of this "surface" is so rich in itself. That isn't just the dialogue, well let's not forget the dialogue though because it is some of the best ever written. Everything Lipnick says, "that Barton Fink Feeling", "You're not a writer you're a goddamn write-off", everything Lou says "Blood Sweat and Canvas!" everything Giesler says "he knows how to write on his paycheck every week", "writer's come and go; We always need Indians", even just about everything the detectives "you see how he's not writing it down" say is comic gold.

The dialogue even goes beyond that in creating the insight into the character, whether it be the more overt men of Hollywood, or the apparently quieter sort of Charlie and his own pondering of the "life of the mind", and Barton himself particularly at his most somber such as trying to explain his screenplay "I wanted to show you something beautiful". Not a single line feels wasted in terms of being so effective in terms of realizing the characters, creating the vibrant world, and being so enjoyable or insightful in themselves. I love the ability though within all of that though to have those genuine moments in there particularly in the friendship between Barton and Charlie that is genuine even as it turns out not quite the way one would expect. That's only a part of the film though as the screenplay is a treasure trove in terms of the deeper meaning within the film. Now there are simpler aspects of that such as just the idea of the allusion of Clifford Odets and the experience of such a writer in Hollywood. That is such a fascinating start also within the subtext it realizes within the character's struggle. I love how there is nothing simple in its exploration of Barton's personal experience, and the creative process. There is the hesitation of accepting his success, even while there is pride of its acclaim. We see the struggle to find the inspiration, but also the jubilation of his accomplishment. The screenplay so well develops the contradiction that is Barton, yet makes him an honest three dimensional character, as he rambles about the common man, while not listening to the common man that is Charlie, and speaks of the theater for them, while disregarding film despite it being an art form all could see. The examination of such a man is never simplified as there is such richness through Coens exploring the both the truths and the contradictions that create an artist or a person.

Louis Morgan said...

Of course there is so much more too with the juxtaposition of the Earle and Hollywood, that make up Barton's purgatory. The Earle run down underbelly, with the wrong side of warmth resulting in humidity leading to illness and mosquitoes, against Hollywood arid, clean, yet hollow. Fink finds his true inspiration, and any real connection within the rundown Earle, against Hollywood where he only finds his dreams shattered even to the point of meeting his idol, that soon becomes a fallen idol. There is so much to that as the screenplay again alludes to William Faulkner, and Louis B. Mayer so effectively, while making the corresponding characters still stand on there own. There is the sense of paranoia both in Barton's alienation, Charlie's story, and the idea of the upcoming war that is just another facet so naturally realized within the screenplay. I could even further in terms of the potential symbolism created through the screenplay, but I'll stop with my own interpretations, as I could go on all day, feel free to say "too late", about the film and how much is in there through its writing. It is simply a screenplay at another level my mind.

Of course no Coen brother film would be a Coen brother film without their direction which is always as important as their writing, since they try to leave nothing to chance. Fink is perhaps the apex of their work in this regard. There is the technical achievement as The Coens do not waste a single aspect in terms of using the production design, cinematography, and even the sound to create such distinct idiosyncratic environments even within the world itself. Again what is already written they amplify the more in terms of the differences between Hollywood and the Earle. They though within that create that distinct sense of isolation and paranoia through their particular careful, and always captivating camerawork and editing. The melding of tones though is perhaps the highlight which again is a trademark of the Coens. Here in they so effectively make a hilarious film, a dramatic film, even a terrifying one. They excel in each aspect of that, but perhaps more importantly is how they so flawlessly maneuver between each. This is largely through their overarching style of that heightened reality. Something realized within the technical elements, but also the direction of the acting that carefully creates this more overt world around the grounded central turn John Turturro. It's brilliant work by the Coens that supplements, and amplifies their already brilliant writing to make such a wholly original exploration of seemingly a simple idea at its core.

By the way I love Barton Fink...in case that wasn't clear.

Louis Morgan said...

Anonymous:

The Man Who Wasn't There is already incredibly impressive work just from the starting technical point in that Deakins shot it in color, yet lit in a way that would make it work in Black and White. It doesn't just work though, but rather is one of the best shot black and white films, almost like it is Deakins saying "yep I can do that too". The film is simply gorgeous to look at both in terms of the extremely dynamic noir shots that perpetuate throughout the film with purposeful and astonishing homage shots such as the Citizen Kaneesque prison shot, or the dead person beneath the water clearly invoking Night of the Hunter. Of course no shot is truly pristine as the framing, and exact lighting of every shot in the film is so beautifully realized in creating a noir that is almost beyond a noir. It is this effortlessness though of the work that is gorgeous, yet there is a certain anxiety through the work that manages to evoke something mundane even as stunning looking as the film is.

Good Night, and Good Luck is Robert Elswit's turn at the black and white bat, and he proves his own measure as well. His work is less of the more overtly stylistic films of the past, as Deakins was, and more of the great looking pristine dramas like Sweet Smell of Success for example. Rarely does Elswit's work present itself openly, that would be ill-fitting to the material, rather it evokes the similarly minded films of the period the film takes place in. The best shot films that don't emphasize contrasts the same way a noir did, but instead just realizes such a immaculate use of whites, blacks and the all important greys in such wonderful tandem. Of course that is also ignoring the incredible work in terms of the framing and composition which also suggests the best work of the b&w cinema scope work in its careful use of every set as well as everyone person in each shot.

Anonymous:

Actually I'd go William Dietrele based on the excellence of the technical elements of his films, particularly in terms of production design which is essential for Gangs. Out your three though I'd say Walsh.

Luke:

Can't take too much from that trailer other than I rather like the look of Dano's aesthetic, and the performances look promising particularly Mulligan.

Mr. Bruner (The Edge of Seventeen)
Khrushchev or Beria (The Death of Stalin)
Churchill (Churchill or Darkest Hour)

Tahmeed:

Although I can't say to its context is a pretty wonderful ballad, for the most part, for much of the song making rather powerful use of the 80's synth especially in the way that rhythmic beat coheres with Richie's passionate vocals as the two seem to build upon each other with the two breaking together as the instrumentation becomes richer before segueing back into the chorus. The one problem is the random late verse that feels completely jarring with such the song, and breaks the flow horribly with the change in tempo and style. it just feels messy, but other than that I do rather like the song.

Mitchell Murray said...

Just as a response to your comment, Luke, I have hopes for Wild Life. From what I've seen Mulligan seems to be one of those actresses who not only understands her range, but has also honed her skill set further through every film. I'm curious to see if she reaches her peak in the film.

Omar Franini said...

Louis: your thoughts on the Sister Brothers trailer?

Luke Higham said...

Louis: What's your Ensemble winner for 1982. I'm 100% certain Fanny And Alexander will get the win whenever that year's been covered.

Anonymous said...

Aside from getting the Best Ensemble win, I'm also sure that Fanny and Alexander will win Best Cinematography.

RatedRStar said...

Luke: Maybe Diner.

Luke Higham said...

Anonymous: I think Gunn Wållgren will win Supporting Actress quite easily since there's only 2 4.5s in that category. And I think it and Fitzcarraldo are the only challengers to NIMH's picture win.

Luke Higham said...

And I hope The Plague Dogs makes the top ten for that year as well.

Luke Higham said...

RatedRStar: I think Oldman's getting a 4.5 since I'm pretty sure Louis will have seen R&G by now.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Your thoughts on the Post-Match meltdown/'I'm your brother and I love you' scene and ending from Foxcatcher.

Mitchell Murray said...

Luke: Its been a while since I saw the movie, but I remember being very moved in that scene. Its an affecting, natural moment for both Tatum and Ruffalo's performances. As for the ending, it was about where I expected them to leave things so I was ok with it.

Michael McCarthy said...

I recently rewatched Foxcatcher myself, and Ruffalo is now my Supporting win.

Anonymous said...

Louis, what would your cast and director be for a 2010's version of A Man for All Seasons?

Luke Higham said...

Saw Solo, there were parts that I liked, especially in the second act where we get the most of Glover's Lando, but the majority of it was either forgettable or incredibly unsatisfying.

I'll post ratings tomorrow.

Louis Morgan said...

Omar:

Well I enjoyed the trailer as Reilly and Phoenix make strangely intriguing pair. Funny that Gyllenhaal, and his re-team with Ahmed, is an afterthought almost, which also is very strange, but also intriguing. I'll admit I'm halfway there to begin with as it is a western, however I think it could either be great, or a mess as a whole, even though I enjoyed this small bit of it however it seemed all over the place. Foreign language directors rarely make the transition to English wholly successfully, I hope Audiard can do it.

Luke:

The Verdict

The first scene I think could just be used for any time one were to question can Channing Tatum act. The obvious answer is yes as brings such a power, and heartbreak within that physical breakdown that is so incredible to watch as he fully realized Mark's anguish. The performances are great, as is Miller's direction in the brothers scene as it takes an unassuming, even distant view, of the moment yet allows the performances together to have this intimacy that finds a real poignancy in the moment. The ending shows that Foxcatcher is one of the few sports movie to often present the sport itself as nearly meaningless, except really for the psychopathic character. This is perhaps best realized in the ending where it shows Mark succeeding in this new endeavor yet it couldn't be more hollow in the way Miller so coldly frames it with the surviving brother all alone now.

Anonymous:

A Man For All Seasons directed by Martin Scorsese:

Sir Thomas More: Mark Rylance (obvious but the only choice)
Alice More: Emily Watson
Cromwell: Stephen Dillane
Cardinal Wolsey: Timothy Spall
Henry: Tom Hardy
Margaret More: Florence Pugh
Norfolk: Tobias Menzies
Richard Rich: Domhnall Gleeson

Purposefully avoided any Wolf Hall reprises.

Anonymous said...

Louis do you plan on seeing Solo?

Mitchell Murray said...

Anyone else remember the days when Tatum was a hunky pretty boy but nothing else? Well that guy has had one of the more impressive career changes as of late - Soderbergh, Miller, Tarantino, the Coen brothers and the list will probably go on. The fact that he was all but ignored for his Foxcatcher performance is a damn shame.

Louis Morgan said...

Anonymous:

Eh....