Sunday, 16 December 2018

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1987: Robert Downey Jr. in Less Than Zero

Robert Downey Jr. did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Julian Wells in Less Than Zero.

Less Than Zero follows a college freshman, Clay (Andrew McCarthy), returning to Los Angeles during his holiday to discover his old high school friends have fallen into a world of drugs and depravity.

Less Than Zero does not come together as a film mostly depicting its material without cohering a proper thematic understanding in the drama. This in part comes from the miscasting of two of the most central figures particularly Andrew McCarthy in the lead who largely gives a distant performance. I'll admit it is not helped that it seems they took off so many edges off of the character of Clay that he eventually became two-dimensional. The film is not entirely bereft of merit though largely due to the, sadly, perfectly cast Robert Downey Jr. as Clay's old high school friend Julian. This is though before we even brave towards the prophetic material as even within the opening scene of the main character's high school graduation, Downey delivers that dynamic presence that helped to launch his initial stardom. We get the young actor/young man, seemingly with his whole life in front him. Downey just exudes that grand charisma of someone who should only go up from there, with that ease and grace to his very existence that just makes him so immensely likable. The scene itself evidently added to help sympathize with the characters, but it is not wasted by Downey who establishes essentially Julian's potential before we find his future some months later.

We catch back with him as Clay returns to L.A. with already some bad blood preexisting as Julian slept with Clay's girlfriend Blair (Jami Gertz). Nonetheless things do seem excessively off as he finds the two enjoying high life in more ways than one. Downey of course brings with that one of a kind energy of his fitting to a make one who is high on more things than life. Downey's excellent though as the breaks in this become evident rather quickly. A great moment for him comes earl yon as he takes a car ride in Clay's convertible with both him and Blair. It all seems fun briefly as he dances and sings around in the car. Downey is without a doubt charming even in these troublesome antics, however his near slip out of the car, within his antics alludes to something far more problematic. His apology afterwards having this considerable unease that realizes that this us quite the literally a high wire act. Something that quickly expands itself as we see Julian trying to find success as he goes deeper in debt with his old classmate/drug dealer Rip (James Spader, also perfectly cast). Downey though almost convinces the viewer as well as he tries to work the deal as there is such a sincerity in that thrill he brings that adds towards his persuasive attitude.

The unfortunately prophetic elements begin to quickly express themselves as though as, like Downey himself, Julian is an out of control drug addict. Like Downey again, Julian seems as though he can control his life as a talented young man. Downey properly tempers his work even as he has this certain physical stress within his eyes conveying the drug addled state even when a bit more sober. Downey is excellent in the way he does not pigeonhole Julian immediately showing that even as he's in the thick of it, he still has it in a way. When talking to Clay of the good old days there such an assured sense of nostalgia as he ponders their old popularity, when he makes a deal with his Uncle the sincerity of his sales pitch is unquestioned. Downey realizes the facade of respectability even with the big cracks evident, there is that strained confidence that just allows one to believe Julian will somehow make it all work. There is still this undercurrent of desperation that only seems to fester as the way Downey makes it this constant, making it essential part of the eventual grotesque enthusiasm that tries to hold the man through each night living his life. In every morning, no matter where Julian ends up, we see a similar state that Downey realizes so vividly. The night itself with every drug and every bit of exasperation wearing on him.

That desperation now worn so directly in his very being as Downey shows a man simply spent right down to the charisma as Downey so quietly plays these moments as the man would rather hide away this state. The meekness he brings being so powerful in terms of showing the weight of his lifestyle. This only exacerbates as Julian takes more drugs while finding himself deeper and deeper in debt to Rip. Eventually going to Clay and Blair nearly in a broken state due to his abuse. Downey's work is absolutely harrowing as he does not hold back, and does not strike single false note in portraying the blunt physical decay. There is no charm, no potential, just a man festering away as he vomits his life out, and Downey makes every moment of this exceedingly visceral and honest. This is shortly followed by one of the best acted scenes of Downey's career where Julian begs his father for a second chance. Downey is wholly heartbreaking in delivery such pain in his eyes from his physical exhaustion, and the betrayal of his father's trust. That history of his life is all there, even if it was never depicted we know what it is that Julian has been through. The weight of every second of this is utterly heartbreaking as Downey is so brutally vulnerable in the moment in expressing the man's desperate need for help. Robert Downey's work is painful to witness at times, especially knowing the man's own trials that only became worse after this film. Downey's amazing performance so effortlessly captures this tragedy of a misspent youth and its descent through a short life of "pleasures" and failures. Although the film itself never realizes the potential of the material, Downey's work unquestionably does as he delivers a heart wrenching depiction of drug addiction that gives a real emotional poignancy to the film, that is only earned through Downey's unforgettable portrayal of Julian.

87 comments:

Matt Cofrancesco said...

Yes! What are your thoughts and rating for Spader?

Robert MacFarlane said...

What did you think of the Bangles cover of Hazy Shade of Winter?

Also, I saw Into the Spider-Verse and The Favourite and loved both.

Matt Mustin said...

I just want to take a moment to appreciate how wonderful it is that Downey was able to beat his demons and become the superstar he is today.

Mitchell Murray said...

Robert: Thoughts on the film itself, and of course Colman, Weisz and Stone?

Matt: Downey's is, without question, one of the most inspiring comebacks of any contemporary celebrity. I hold so much respect for his ability to escape that dark lifestyle, even after a lot of the damage was done; To have the discipline and perseverance in order to rescue his career, but more importantly his own personal and social health. Personally, while I'm thrilled as a movie fan to see his mercurial screen presence being put to use, I'm just as pleased to have seen Downey avoid the pitfall so many young people unfortunately fall into.

Anonymous said...

Louis: What are your rating and thoughts on tommy lee jones and beverly d'angelo in coal miner's daughter

Bryan L. said...

Matt: I'm grateful he has.

Mitchell: Couldn't have said it better myself. And who knows? Maybe we'll get to see him expand his range if he leaves Marvel. And maybe even down the road...an Oscar. Though it seems theyre still finding new things for him to do as Stark as revealed in the Endgame trailer, so that's good.

Louis: Speaking of Downey, do you think he'd be a good fit for Pike Bishop? He is friends with Gibson after all, and he might be thinking of Downey in mind for the part. Although he's probably gonna cast himself if the movies a go.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Louis: Ratings and thoughts on the rest of the cast.

Anonymous said...

Louis: what are your rating and thoughts on moNique in precious

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Mitchell: I just noticed your comment on the last post.

Nighy- 4.5 (He was the best part of Curtis's Love Actually, where I'd always wished he had more to do, and he gets his due here. He is effortlessly charming as a very fun father, and it has to be said that he and Gleeson have terrific chemistry. It is that father and son dynamic that elevates the film above the already well done romantic comedy that it is, and Nighy really succeeds in bringing that pathos with his work here.)
McAdams-4 (One of the best uses of her onscreen persona to be honest. She and Gleeson are just lovely to watch together, and when there's more for her to do, she is quite up to the task. L

Luke Higham said...

I'm relieved he managed to overcome his addictions. A truly great talent and an amazing performance.

I hope his potentially last performance as Tony Stark will be his best in the role.

John Smith said...

i KNEW IT!!! So happy that he got a 5.

Louis, what did you think of 'the car scene' in Barry. Where he has an 'argument' with his his friend that does not end with wine and roses. I think its one of the beast acted moments from this year so far.

Bryan L. said...

Louis: Also, to kind of hop on Johns question, your thoughts on the "Shakespeare" scene in Barry, from the same episode.

Emi Grant said...

Vice is at 62% at RT...I don't know what to think.

Anonymous said...

Louis: Your thoughts on the direction and screenplay of Mrs. Miniver.

Anonymous said...

Louis Morgan: Your top ten tv episodes of 2018

Michael McCarthy said...

I know this is late, but my ratings for The Favourite cast:

Colman: 4.5/5
Weisz: 5
Stone: 5
Hoult: 4.5 (I guess he does his best work when he has white makeup on his face.)

Also I saw Into the Spider-Verse a couple days ago, and like Robert I adored it. It will almost definitely be my favorite animated film of the year. Hell, it might even be my favorite Spider-Man movie.

Michael McCarthy said...

One more thing, I saw The Mule today, and it honestly kind of sucked. The core story could have been quite powerful, but I think Eastwood decided he wanted to make half of the film an angry letter to GenX and millennials instead.

Calvin Law said...

Michael: not going to lie, that sounds pretty hilarious. Haven’t been able to catch Into the Spiderverse yet but I did watch Life Itself, which is terrible but unfortunately nowhere near as entertaining as say, Collateral Beauty.

Isaac: 0
Wilde: 1
Patinkin: 2.5/3 (agreed Louis)
Jackson: 1
Izzo: 1
Costa: 1.5
Peris-Mencheta: 1.5
Banderas: 2
Cooke: 1
Monner: 1
Bening: 0

Michael McCarthy said...

Calvin: I wish I could agree with you, but it really just comes off as sad and condescending.

Robert MacFarlane said...

My ratings of The Favourite would be the same as Michael's, but I'm leaning towards a 5 for Hoult.

Calvin Law said...

I hear Vice has a post-credits sequence, by the way. And apparently it’s somewhat reverential in tone to Cheney. We’ll see how that plays out...

Louis Morgan said...

Saw Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, really enjoyed it, have some minor quibbles, but at the very least its the best animated superhero film of the year. Could be more, but I'll give it more time to let it settle.

Matt:

Spader - 3.5(A little underused overall however he does sleaze like no one else. He just does it so well and I love how slowly grows the menace naturally segueing from classmate to a genuinely scary guy. This is as he slowly loses any friendliness and the manipulative viciousness comes out which Spader does so well. I wish he had been more a main character though, he really only stands out because he's played by Spader.)

Robert:

Well that's a killer cover to say the least, 80's but not too eighties, in ripping forward such an intensity into a more low key song.

Anonymous:

http://actoroscar.blogspot.com/2014/07/alternate-best-actor-1942-results.html

Jones - 4(And before anyone asks yes I need to edit Lancaster in Atlantic City. Jones though gives a good, sort of secondary lead to Spacek portraying a proper good old boy charm in his early scenes. He segues this naturally to a struggle with this once the hardships begin, though does so earnestly even when depicting the character's worst tendencies. Jones makes a proper foolishness that never simplifies the character down making him a proper pathetic sort, but still not wholly bereft of charm. He also is particularly good in the enthusiasm he portrays towards pushing his wife's career that he brings a genuine warmth in even while never hiding the character's flaws.)

Anonymous:

I'm fairly sure I've covered her before.

Tahmeed:

McCarthy/Gertz - 2.5(Neither are awful by any means. In fact their scenes with Downey they are decent, though it seems like he alleviates them to a certain degree. Much of the time though they seem fairly adrift in their parts. McCarthy I'll admit is saddled with basically a non-character. Gertz has a bit more to work with though and just seems too timid in the part to really convincingly portray the lifestyle. This is especially evident when comparing her work to Downey's directly.)

Louis Morgan said...

John Smith:

A scene that honestly seems out of something like Breaking Bad, and I mean that as the best compliment. Hader's gives such an absolutely convincing portrayal of Barry's intensity as he struggles with the idea, and is both terrifying and heartbreaking in his depiction of the moment where his friend essentially "forces" his hand.

Bryan:

Another scene that I suppose makes me wish Hader was going to play Eddie rather than Richie in IT, since to put it simply "he's got the goods". Hader portrayal of the grief in the character in the moment is absolutely striking, and actually earns the idea of delivering the great performance in that moment.

Anonymous:

Mrs. Miniver's screenplay isn't anything to write home about (ahh Wocka Wocka). In that it is essentially a series of standard melodrama vignettes that aren't too notable. This thrown in with the WWII, then current, setting which plays directly for Dunkirk, the ending, and the enemy soldier. Each plays much more like a propaganda piece, that is written without a lot of nuance, and even as propaganda pieces of the time go this is a lesser one. Around that though is just some standard drama with the slightly colorful character. Nothing terrible but not particularly notable at any point. It just sort of goes along, and frankly feels a bit glib in the way it uses it to show us, by suddenly dispatching a few of the characters, sort of the evil of the enemy in the ending.

Wyler's direction though does elevate this a bit, as he knew better than most how to film a standard scene, and make it a little particularly for the time. He certainly tries to find the emotion in it, and it is far more vibrant that many similar dramas, as per Wyler's talent. When he has a little more to work with he certainly doesn't waste it either as he certainly creates a real tension in every attack sequence, particularly the final one on the road. His way of capturing the crowd is remarkable, and though I find the story often static, Wyler's work behind the camera really isn't. I don't think it is to the point it makes a truly compelling film, but it is far more striking for it. Take that final sermon for example, which is really brilliantly done in the setup, and the use of the broken roof to reveal the fighting planes, even if the writing itself is of course very heavy handed. This is of course a minor warm up act to what he did with his post-war film.

Anonymous:

1. "Loud, Fast and Keep Going" - Barry
2. "Winner" - Better Call Saul
3. "Chapter 14" - Legion
4. "Kiksuya" - Westworld
5. Episode 6 - Little Drummer Girl
6. "Time's Up for the Gang" - It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia
7. "Some Hope" - Patrick Melrose
8. "The Gang Gets New Wheels" It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia
9. "Know your Truth" - Barry
10. "White Car in a Snowstorm" - Trust

Louis Morgan said...

Oh and here are the shortlists we were promised.

Documentary
“Charm City”
“Communion”
“Crime + Punishment”
“Dark Money”
“The Distant Barking of Dogs”
“Free Solo”
“Hale County This Morning, This Evening”
“Minding the Gap”
“Of Fathers and Sons”
“On Her Shoulders”
“RBG”
“Shirkers”
“The Silence of Others”
“Three Identical Strangers”
“Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”

FOREIGN FILM:
Colombia, “Birds of Passage”
Denmark, “The Guilty”
Germany, “Never Look Away”
Japan, “Shoplifters”
Kazakhstan, “Ayka”
Lebanon, “Capernaum”
Mexico, “Roma”
Poland, “Cold War”
South Korea, “Burning”

MAKEUP:
“Black Panther”
“Bohemian Rhapsody”
“Border”
“Mary Queen of Scots”
“Stan & Ollie”
“Suspiria”
“Vice”

VFX:
“Ant-Man and the Wasp”
“Avengers: Infinity War”
“Black Panther”
“Christopher Robin”
“First Man”
“Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom”
“Mary Poppins Returns”
“Ready Player One”
“Solo: A Star Wars Story”
“Welcome to Marwen”

SCORE:
“Annihilation”
“Avengers: Infinity War”
“The Ballad of Buster Scruggs”
“Black Panther”
“BlacKkKlansman”
“Crazy Rich Asians”
“The Death of Stalin”
“Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald”
“First Man”
“If Beale Street Could Talk”
“Isle of Dogs”
“Mary Poppins Returns”
“A Quiet Place”
“Ready Player One”
“Vice”

SONG:
“When A Cowboy Trades His Spurs For Wings” from “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs”
“Treasure” from “Beautiful Boy”
“All The Stars” from “Black Panther”
“Revelation” from “Boy Erased”
“Girl In The Movies” from “Dumplin’”
“We Won’t Move” from “The Hate U Give”
“The Place Where Lost Things Go” from “Mary Poppins Returns”
“Trip A Little Light Fantastic” from “Mary Poppins Returns”
“Keep Reachin’” from “Quincy”
“I’ll Fight” from “RBG”
“A Place Called Slaughter Race” from “Ralph Breaks the Internet”
“OYAHYTT” from “Sorry to Bother You”
“Shallow” from “A Star Is Born”
“Suspirium” from “Suspiria”
“The Big Unknown” from “Widows”

HEY SCRUGGS! (though I doubt either are going to make it in the top five). Surprised also that "Shallow" was the only Star is Born song to make it.

Louis Morgan said...

In regards to Vice it is a little weird how the reviews are contrasting the initial twitter reactions by so much, though the score is improving a bit as it did for the Big Short, which also started rotten.

Some of the comparisons to JFK (even in a negative sense) have me intrigued due to my love of that film, which when you break that film down it is technically the drooling ravings of a conspiracy nut. If this film is the same way, I hope it is as artfully done.

Calvin Law said...

I’m finding it incredible difficult to decide my favourite episode of 2018 between Kiksuya and Winner. And yeah, agreed - though I didn’t care much for this season of Legion overall, Chapter 14 was a phenomenal showcase for Dan Stevens.

Calvin Law said...

And yay for Scruggs - and honestly I could also see Burwell possibly getting in.

Louis Morgan said...

Calvin:

I'll admit Kiksuya would probably easily be my number one if it did not waste time with the William stuff, and I have to confess it did get a bit tarnished by how they bungled the story line by rushing so much in the finale.

Calvin Law said...

Fair enough - I kind of agree with you on that actually. Looking at it as almost a film in itself though, I can one could look past that.

Matt Mustin said...

Also saw Into the Spider-Verse which I loved beyond words. If I had a nitpick it would be that there wasn't nearly enough Nicolas Cage (and maybe a little too much slapstick early on) but overall I adored it.

The voice cast is all good, everyone's perfectly cast, Jake Johnson is MVP.

Anonymous said...

Louis: Your thoughts on the score and sound design in The Devil and Daniel Webster.

Bryan L. said...

Matt: Glad to hear that Nicolas Cage got to be in two (2) good movies this year at least. Hope he gets better projects headed his way.

Michael: Ol' Clint has made his dislike of millennials well-known so I'm not surprised at all haha.

Calvin: Never thought I'd see a score that low next to Isaac :/ I hope his brief hiatus from acting means we'll see him in a great film down the line, though Triple Frontier sounds promising.

Bryan L. said...

Louis: Chris Farley was set to star as Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle in a biopic written by David Mamet. Mamet only got as far as a first draft before Farley unfortunately passed away though, so no director was attached. Thoughts on this lost project?


Oh and would it be safe to expect "The rest of the cast of Life Itself" in the Overall ranking? :D Much below Patinkin's spot of course

Charles H said...

I agree with everyone on Downey Jr. It's great he overcame his demons. For the future of his career it's time he leaves Marvel after Endgame so he can finally explore his range even more.

Saw Into the Spider-Verse and i don't love it like most people seem to but it's really good. The voice actors were on point.

Calvin Law said...

Louis: your thoughts on Amanda Seyfried, Philip Ettinger, and Cedric Kyles in First Reformed? And also, your thoughts on the work of Bob Odenkirk, Rhea Seehorn, Dan Stevens, Glenn Howerton and Kaitlin Olson in their respective shows this year (feel free to split it up, I know it's a lot to ask in one go).

Incidentally, I've been watching A.P. Bio on the side and it really isn't too shabby.

Giuseppe Fadda said...

I loved Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. The biggest surprise of the year for me. As for Vice, I'm afraid I pretty much hated everything outside of Bale's performance which is indeed quite strong.

Anonymous said...

Giuseppe: What about the other performances besides Bale? And did you see the post credits scene? I hear it's pretty cringy lol.

Giuseppe Fadda said...

The other performances are not necessarily bad but most of the cast is wasted. Adams is fine, but it's not an especially rich character and she is sidelined throughout most of the second half. It would be awful if this ended up being her Oscar winning performance. Rockwell is okay and I like how he plays Bush as an incompetent, manipulated puppet but he gets next to nothing to do. Carell, save for one decent scene towards the end, is full-blown caricature.

But the performances are not really the problem for the past (Jesse Plemons is dreadfully annoying but it's mostly a writing issue). It's just an utterly self-conscious, heavy-handed film from start to finish, one that thinks of itself as incredibly smart while having absolutely nothing to say. And the same goes for the post credits scene.

Giuseppe Fadda said...

*for the most part, not for the past.

Matt Mustin said...

Giueseppe: See that's all the stuff that made me hate The Big Short so much.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

I actually have a feeling McKay's last two films got significant awards traction primarily due to their subject matter and the actors he cast. And when it comes to films about the housing crisis of 2008, I'll take 99 Homes over The Big Short any day of the week.

Anonymous said...

Louis: Your thoughts on "Blame It On Lisa".

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Any other vewings lately.

And are there any saves you've decided to get rid of or waiting until the alternate lineups.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Do you intend on seeing Deadwood soon. The feature length film is coming as early as next spring.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Louis: Your top twenty Marlon Brando acting moments.

John Smith said...

Louis, thoughts on Little Drummer Girl and its cast.

Louis Morgan said...

Anonymous:

One Herrmann's best scores, and an extremely deserving win (and yes it was the right choice over Kane for himself, although that is also a terrific score). The score is simply brimming with character and that sort of Herrmann pathos that is so powerful. The use of melancholy strings, and the ominous crescendos creates a real proper fire and brimstone feeling. This beautifully supplements the monster that is Old Scratch, creating such a marvelously evil force within the film. I'd say it is possible to argue its influence on future horror scores as Herrmann creates a real anxiety within his choices, that are unnerving though never truly off-putting. I love the combination of the grand evil, with some extremely quiet, yet equally potent pieces. The tempering moments are perhaps the most powerful in a certain sense, such as the somber piece when Scratch shows off his jury. It also features a notable use of brilliant arrangements that ought to be considered part of it, as how altered it is, and how incredibly well it used. That being the dance music, where Herrmann takes a simple tune and expands to this gloriously grotesque demonic experience. Though it won the Oscar, I'd say it is one of the most underrated film scores of all time.

The sound design is equally remarkable for its time in granting again a proper atmosphere through it alone. Of course this is most common in every scene with Scratch where the sound design has a life of its own. The cries of the animals when he approaches, the echoes and hollowness of the trial scene, and Stone's house party. It is engrossing work at a time when so much was flat, as it gives a real life to every element to appropriately evoke the unnatural.

Bryan:

An Arbuckle film is a worthy subject to be sure, and Mamet (screenplay only) has a definite potential for such a dark story.

Oh I can separate them, but they'll all be hanging out together for the most part.

Calvin:

Seyfried - 3.5(As a Seyfried anti-hater in general, I will say I thought she was just good here. Not to dismiss her performance at all though in that she does well in conveying sort the low key state of kind of an understood depression towards her husband that remains a natural constant even as the turn takes place. She does well in making this convincing constant as though she's been going through this for some time.)

Ettinger - 3(I'll admit this isn't the easiest role to pull off given we only see the character at an extreme wits end. On that point he is neither terrible, nor great, and I think both might have been possible with this particular role because of that. He has his scenes, he's fine but I quickly forget about this performance. I think in better hands this could have been a haunting turn, but then again in worse hands it could've been some histrionic nonsense.)

Louis Morgan said...

Cedric not trying to entertain - 3.5(I rather liked his performance in that he brings a nice natural warmth in the performance. This is even in his scenes where he is directly confronting Hawke's character over the idea of compromise. I like how he depicts it as a more earnest determination, and creates the right sympathy for that perspective without becoming a straw man in the moment.)

Odenkirk - (Well a continuation of the saga as we see Jimmy at his most amoral yet but also potentially his most frustrated. Again Odenkirk excels in this journey of a different sort of descent of a man who becomes worse with the brightest smile on his face. Odenkirk is again great in the part because of honestly how human he makes Jimmy. Yes for sure he's great when doing the con man Saul side of it to be sure, but what's amazing is showing that drive within the frustrations with Jimmy over his paste. He makes that need for some sort of accepted sincere appreciation so very vivid, and wholly convincing in terms of making it understandable that a man would rather lose all credibility than come to understand his personal faults. His most notable aspects being his scenes with Seehorn in this regard where we just get such raw, and wholly honest emotion between the two. And on that point.)

Seehorn - (She and Odenkirk are honestly perfect together in making such a convincing relationship between the two that is so very unique. I love how neither plays it as a pure good or evil, making it such a natural mix between the two of an actual sincere love, with all the self-doubt and intensity of conflict that exists in-between the two. Seehorn is fantastic in that every moment in which we see sort of the conflict in Kim of loving really the scoundrel, while wishing he was better, seem wholly natural. She never simplifies this conflict making this convincing mix between almost the disconnect between emotion and logic that compels in this atypical combination of affection and disappointment. In addition though she is equally compelling in her portrayal of sort of this conflict between that of a genuine passion towards the law, against the broad false determination of the seasoned lawyer for her less noble causes.)

Luke:

Well it's next on the TV docket for me so to speak. So we'll see.

Tahmeed:

Brando:

1. "I could've been a contender" - On the Waterfront
2. Telling Edie the truth - On the Waterfront
3. Rape - A Streetcar Named Desire
4. Honorable Men All - Julius Caesar
5. Learning about Sonny - The Godfather
6. Confronting Friendly - On the Waterfront
7. Finding Charlie - On the Waterfront
8. "An errand Boy" - Apocalypse Now
9. dead pigeons - On the Waterfront
10. "Stella" - A Streetcar Named Desire
11. Final talk with Michael - The Godfather
12. The one Honorable Man - Julius Caesar
13. They massacred my boy - The Godfather
14. The bar - On the Waterfront
15. Confronting corruption - Viva Zapata
16. Learning who did the hit - The Godfather
17. "The horror, the horror" - Apocalypse Now
18. Opening - The Godfather
19. Napoleonic Code - A Streetcar Named Desire
20. Ending - Last Tango in Paris

Louis Morgan said...

Anonymous:

An episode that very much signifies the downfall of the series given how messy the story telling is with each plot development just kind of happening. There is no logic to it, and there is no sense of character at this point. The gags themselves being far less complex than the old ones, and whole let less amusing. No sense of character again in them, with moments just sort of happening "cuz its wacky" rather than being truly funny. Instead it is really just a series of cheap shots randomly at Brazil that add up to very little actual humor.

Anonymous said...

Louis: I'm curious: which film would you give the production design award to in 1941? Citizen Kane or The Devil and Daniel Webster?

Emi Grant said...

Oh, man...Welcome to Marwen has pretty bad reviews...

Bryan L. said...

Whatever happened to Robert Zemeckis?

John Smith said...

Louis, thoughts on Little Drummer Girl and its cast.

Luke Higham said...

John Smith:

The Little Drummer Girl I'll admit probably takes less for me to like it as I'm simply in for le Carre adaptations from the outset. This though righting an adaptation of that tepid 80's version, but again this time getting the casting right while also bringing in Park Chan-wook of all people to direct it. Carrre/Park does not seem the most obvious choice but I found it to be an often fascinating pairing in creating a sort of seething emotionalism within the cold world of espionage. Although I wouldn't say there are no missteps I found it a largely gripping adaptation, with some particularly powerful and unique moments as fashioned by Park's vision.

Pugh - (Well the series itself greatly benefits from a properly cast actress, unlike Diane Keaton who was in her later 30's in the original film. Pugh thankfully is the proper age which is essential to finding the right place for the character this being this maturity in manner, yet still naivety in spirit. Pugh finds the right place for the actress who is very strong willed, but breaks this down effectively when her view of the world is destroyed by the harsh if not deranged realities of the world of international terrorism. Pugh is excellent in finding the balance in her performance in creating this incisiveness as her Charlie is able to essentially apply her trade and works within the spy world, against the growing discontent and unease to the ends that it brings. She's fantastic in finding this combination that realizes a real conflict within the material, a far more palatable journey than the one in the rather tepid original film. Although there are several things better about this adaptation, Pugh is perhaps the greatest improvement creating such a compelling character at the center of it all.)

Shannon - (I will say I am extremely happy to have seen this performance, as we get Shannon to show off his range a bit rather than just being called to be deranged. Don't get me wrong he's great at being deranged, but he can do more. That side isn't seen here, except one scene where his character is testing sound proofing almost to give the audience one proper Shannon scream. I will say though I also noticed here though that Shannon's laugh as a bit of a Ray Liottaesque idiosyncrasy to it. Anyways beyond that though this is a very reserved yet incredibly compelling portrayal by Shannon as this quiet operator. Shannon realizes though such a force of personality within his quiet, demeanor, that also has this certain haunted quality within it that so brilliantly suggests that character's past and motivation. It is quietly remarkable work as he makes such a unique character within his oeuvre in particular and is wholly convincing in this realization of a man who does anything but fly off the handle. Instead Shannon works with his eyes, and a more subtle expression to realize the precision, but also the very reserved emotion that defines the man.)

John Smith said...

Louis, have you given your thoughts on SkarsgÄrd in Little Drummer girl

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Louis: On what season do you think The Simpson and South Park should have ended.

Bryan L. said...

Louis: How do you think the following...uhh...comedic actors would do as Harry Stoner in a 2010s version of Save the Tiger? And who would be your choice, if not any of these?

Jim Carrey
Steve Carrell
Adam Sandler
Ben Stiller

Louis Morgan said...

Saw Mary Poppins Returns, a pretty thin story mainly there to set up the musical vignettes, which just barely build up towards a climax. I will say I really enjoyed several of them though, but the film could've easily cut a few (especially Streep's laborious scene).

Anonymous:

Kane, Webster's design is great too, though heavily amplified by the cinematography. Kane also, but just has so many fantastic iconic sets hard to deny it.

John Smith:

Skarsgard - (It is an interesting performance in a certain sense as it breaks down sort of this international man of mystery performance. In that he conducts himself with that general precise allure though he plays it with this certain hollowness that naturally reveals itself to be an act. He effectively though reveals this as almost the cushion to the very sad man beneath it all who is acting with the most precise sympathetic passions as he works with Pugh's Charlie. Skarsgard's performance is very specific but it wholly works in creating the right dynamic in the series. This as he draws a real pathos within the character, even as he essentially conducts Charlie further and further into darkness, showing though a sincerity in the reality of the characer's motivation.)

Tahmeed:

Simpsons - Homer's Enemy (The last GREAT episode of the series, and a meta commentary that could've worked as a proper sendoff. I like more than a few episodes that came afterwards, but this was really the end of the old Simpsons genius.)

South Park - 200/201(South Park had already become very inconsistent at that point, however that could've worked as a proper culmination finale.)

And yes I do think both should have ended by now, I'll admit I haven't even finished this season of South Park given how "one joke repetition" the episodes had been so far.

Bryan:

Jim Carrey - (For some reason I can't see it at all, and I think Carrey has dramatic ability. He however would just seem miscast as this sort of career businessman.)

Steve Carrell - (Better cast I'd say in terms of general presence, and what Carrell seems to be going for as an actor. It's a flip of the coin though on whether or not he'd be able to pull it off though.)

Adam Sandler - (Don't see it as again his best performance very much had PTA play into his strengths, and again the internalized intensity of the character isn't right for the rather overt Sandler.)

Ben Stiller - (Stiller can be a good serious actor however I've never seen him be a great one. I just haven't seen him really give a proper depth to a performance. He can be good within the realm of an average man, but you need a little more for Stoner.)

Well I think the above Downey Jr. could be a great Stoner, I could also see Sam Rockwell pulling it off.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Ratings and thoughts on the cast.

Bryan L. said...

Louis: Seeing Downey Jr. play a down-on-his-luck businessman would be quite interesting after having portrayed a sardonic billionaire for the last decade.

Do you think Downey Jr. could also be a good fit for Sidney Falco (90s version) and Pike Bishop (currently)? I hope we get to see him expand his range if he leaves Marvel, although they're still finding new things for him to do as Stark.

John Smith said...

Louis, what would be your updated top 10 robert downey jr acting moments? And has his performance 'Less than zero' made you interested in his other early work? I have watched his movie where he collaborated with James Toback and i have to say that it is really interesting to see another side of the actor.

Would strongly recommend his performances in Home for the Holidays, two girls and a guy, black and white.

I have really started to reevaluate his talent as an actor. And I'm looking forward to his future work outside the marvel universe.

John Smith said...

P.S Louis and everyone else, have you seen the trailer for the movie 'The Beach Bum'. It looks like a really entertaining mind fuck (Pardon my french) and Mcounaghey seems to be 'in the moment'.

Anonymous said...

Louis: Your thoughts on Curtiz' direction in The Sea Wolf and The Unsuspected.

Bryan L. said...

John: I have. It does look like it'll be a part that plays to McConaughey's strengths, but as for the film...eh. And I didn't even hate Spring Breakers.

John Smith said...

Bryan L: I get your reservations. I think this is one of those movies that won't have an universal appeal (Which isn't a surprise since it is an Harmony Korine movie). What i like about it is that it seems to be a movies that examines that kind of self indulgence that type of stoner/hippe has.

I can't deny that the movie appeals to my stoner side. So I'm probably a bit biased when it comes to my hype for the movie.

Bryan L. said...

John: Don't get me wrong; I do want to see McConaughey in a good movie again, and I'll find it amusing if this is the one. I hope the film does dive in to what you mention regarding that lifestyle, but I'll be a bit skeptical for now.

Calvin Law said...

My ideal choice for Stoner would be Luke Wilson, or Simon Pegg.

Matt Mustin said...

Rewatch of It's A Wonderful Life has me seriously considering that maybe Jimmy Stewart gives my favourite leading actor performance of all time in that movie.

Louis Morgan said...

Luke:

Blunt - (Won't give a rating just yet, as I am definitely positive on her, but this is an interesting case of her kind of fighting against a sort of miscasting. This is strange as the role plays to her talents so to speak, however Blunt in terms of her natural presence is demure, opposed to Andrews who is naturally warm in presence. Very specific but it makes so Blunt very much has to work more in terms of turning the charm on to make Mary warm since that isn't Blunt's typical setting, though she is very capable of it. Of course Poppins herself is more of an entity than a character so this is fine in a way. Blunt though does put on the charm when she absolutely needs to and is wholly winning in every fantastical/musical scene she has. I don't know if she was the perfect choice though for her "nanny" scenes only because she has that innate intensity about it her, kind of like Edward Woodward as the ghost of Christmas present. She is actively working against that and I will say overcomes it for the most part, however it is certainly noticeable in my view.)

Miranda - 3.5(A slightly curious choice to do the Van Dyke accent. Now he like does what Van Dyke better, but it seems still intentional in its bad cockney. Which I guess take it or leave it in a way, and to Miranda's credit he does kind of own it to the point of making it work. It helps that he such a glorious entertainer whenever the music starts it is absolutely wonderful in every single musical scene. He simple lights up the screen, no-pun intended, and most of the best musical moments involve him. Out of those scenes he's certainly charming without a doubt, and could go up slightly for him.)

Mortimer - 3.5(Nicely charming and endearing work from her to be sure. To the point I ponder if in a way she might have been the better fit for Mary in a certain sense, as the warmth comes more naturally to her.)

Whishaw - 3.5/4(I mean ole paddington himself ought to do well with a bit of whimsy, which he does to be sure. Really the whole dramatic elements are basically entirely left up to him, and I'll say he does deliver on that as one would expect from the very talented, though painfully underused actor he is. Whishaw hits those notes of pathos without overplaying them, and brings out the proper wonderment as he reveals his inner paddington essentially.)

Davies, Seleh, Dawson - 3/2.5/2.5(All are decent enough, the boys though are tad shaky at times. Davies being much more assured for the most part, though they do well enough.)

Walters - 3(I'm quite sure she is just reprising her role from Paddington, but it is welcome enough once again.)

Firth - 3(Only makes it to 3 because of his vocal turn (which suggests why he probably shouldn't have been Paddington, yes I am trying to mention Paddington as much as possible here) which is pretty good actually. His live action turn though is mostly underwhelming, he really should have brought his inner Hugh Grant from Paddington 2.)

Streep - 2(Tiresome accent and goofiness in a tiresome scene. She should have been left out on the cutting room floor.)

Van Dyke - 3.5(Won't say too much, but I really liked his Dick Van Machina moment.)

Lansbury - 3(It was nice to see her, but I think it was a little too obvious that the role was obviously suppose to be played by Julie Andrews.)

Warner - 3(Very nice to see him in anything, and he offers bit of boisterous fun in his part.)

Louis Morgan said...

Bryan:

He'd be a perfect 90's Falco. He doesn't instantly strike me as Pike, only because I've never seen him play a "hard" man. I've never seen him not play one though, so he conceivably could pull it off. If Gibson goes forward with his remake (I'd prefer him not to, I'd rather see him either make his own western, or remake less of a impeccable film) he should just cast himself as Pike.

John Smith:

1. Dude playing a dude disguised as another dude - Tropic Thunder
2. Asking his dad for help - Less Than Zero
3. Chaplin's Audition - Chaplin
4. Physical breakdown - Less Than Zero
5. Watching the tape - Captain America: Civil War
6. The Audition - Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
7. Talking to the little girl - Less Than Zero
8. Returning home after the fire - Restoration
9. "I am Iron Man" - Iron Man
10. "Never go full retard" - Tropic Thunder

I've always been interested in Downey's work in general, as I do think he's someone whose range seems currently forgotten.

Matt:

Understandable.

Razor said...

Louis: Did you rewatch the original Mary Poppins before watching the new one?

Bryan L. said...

Louis: Didn't know Warner was in the film, so that's glad to hear. And I wonder if that remakes' going to happen, since he has other projects in the works.

And lastly, do you see RDJ winning an Oscar in, say, within ten years from now? I could easily picture him getting an "overdue" narrative around him if he lands a meaty role in the right film.

Calvin Law said...

Matt: Oh you know I can only encourage you further down that road...

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Matt: He's my #2 Lead Actor performance of all time behind Pacino in Dog Day Afternoon.

Anonymous said...

Louis: Thoughts on the "You need to lighten up" scene from Batman Begins. One thing I particularly like about it is how Crane treats his encounter with the poisoned Batman as if it is some therapy session.

Charles H said...

Matt: He's gives my 3rd favorite performance of all time. Shimura in Ikuru & O'Toole in Lawrence of Arabia are my #1 & #2

Anonymous said...

Louis: your top 10 judy davis acting moments

Matt Mustin said...

This question's for everybody: What's your favourite line that Roger Ebert used to describe a bad movie? I'm a big fan of "To call the characters cardboard is to insult a useful packing material." from his review of The Spirit. I also really liked his two word description of Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever, which was "unusually bad."

Calvin Law said...

Matt: Ebert on Freddy Got Fingered,

‘This movie doesn't scrape the bottom of the barrel. This movie isn't the bottom of the barrel. This movie isn't below the bottom of the barrel. This movie doesn't deserve to be mentioned in the same sentence with barrels.’

Mitchell Murray said...

Matt:

From "North": “I hated this movie. Hated, hated, hated, hated, hated this movie. Hated it. Hated every simpering stupid vacant audience-insulting moment of it. Hated the sensibility that thought anyone would like it. Hated the implied insult to the audience by its belief that anyone would be entertained by it.”

And oldy but a goody.

Matt Mustin said...

Does anyone have Louis' thoughts on Annihilation and the cast? I've searched for them, but I can't find them.

Razor said...

Matt:

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.)

Matt Mustin said...

Razor: Thank you.

Luke Higham said...

Saw Mary Poppins Returns last night. It was decent enough. I did love that ceramic bowl sequence.

Blunt - 4.5
Miranda - 3.5/4
Whishaw - 4
Mortimer - 3.5
Walters - 3
Firth - 2.5
Van Dyke - 3.5
Warner - 3
Lansbury - 3
The Kids - 3
Streep - 1.5

Louis Morgan said...

Razor:

No.

Anonymous:

One of my favorite scenes from that film as it gives Murphy a chance to shine in giving some real bit of villainy, while also quite effective in realizing this actual vulnerable moment for Batman. And yes, the approach of it as the quite evil psychiatrist with his word game is pretty great.

Anonymous:

Davis:

1. Last shooting game - Naked Lunch
2. Mostly Editorial - Barton Fink
3. Drug addict - Naked Lunch
4. Similar woman - Naked Lunch
5. Picnic - Barton Fink
6. Awkward conversation - Husbands and Wives
7. First Shooting Game - Naked Lunch
8. Final interview - Husbands and Wives
9. Alone time - Naked Lunch
10. Immediately after the attack - A Passage to India

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