Sunday, 16 February 2020

Alternate Best Actor 1973: Sean Connery in The Offence

Sean Connery did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Detective Sergeant Johnson in The Offence.

The Offence is a non-too pleasant though not ineffective film following a policeman losing a grip on his sanity.

Sean Connery is an actor who is more so known as a star than an actor, however the latter element is something that while could be forgotten in some of his more disposable commercial fair, is something that should not be when looking at his overall abilities as a talent. One director that seemed to see the potential of Connery was Sidney Lumet who cast him twice in two roles that were, while not entirely against type, pushed Connery past a comfort zone of the "man's man" presence of James Bond, to something far more notable, while working within the idea of a man partially defined by his masculinity, however not so simply. In The Hill, Connery showed an imprisoned soldier who individuality and cynicism led him towards a power struggle in a military prison. We once again return to a potentially more typical Connery role as a police detective who who get his men, even violently, however this is not treated in the way of your standard action film. We find Connery here as Detective Sergeant Johnson, a man who perhaps at one time lived for more romantic ideas of heroics, however as we enter the film we see something quite different, and in turn we see something quite different within the work of Sean Connery. Connery being an actor who thrives on his confident cool, here completely disposes of that here, to portray from the outset just this sense of anxiety within his eyes as we see the man just approaching the scene of a likely brutal crime in the opening of the film.

Connery does speak to his fellow officers with a ferocity of a former hard-boiled cop, although the anger within this seems even more severe than that in Connery's delivery. An anger alluding to something that has been festering within him for sometime. It is fascinating to see Connery here as his performance manages to create the surface of the tough police officer, but subtly within his eyes evokes a desperation within the man. This is something that brings itself to the surface as Johnson finds the latest victim of a pedophile. Connery's performance within the search is that of fear but also something a bit more uneasy as he finds the victim. Connery's performance in this scene is amazing, and such a different side to himself as a performer. This portraying this demented moment in his work that portrays a mental breakdown within his attempts to comfort the girl, making it any thing but comforting to the viewer. Connery manages to depict this strange fascination within the moment as he eases the girl into some sense of security. It isn't heartwarming, in Connery's performance that while does project an attempt at a sincere solace, also manages within his eyes this near insanity of the man as though he is living out in some detached state of fantasy. This brilliantly alluding to some deep seeded wound within Johnson's psyche that goes beyond this single instance of a such a horrible sight.

Outside of this more intimate scenario Connery returns Johnson seemingly to his fashioned state of the dogged detective, however even this is not Connery on auto-pilot, but rather depicting a man going on auto-pilot. Connery playing within the idea of a sledge hammer for the law, something that Connery is obviously able to support with his fierce presence as a performer, however once again here it is something far less pleasant than his usual heroes, and Connery in his own way even makes these moments carry this unpleasant intensity that make them their own strange act of desperation. His state is eventually tested as they seem to find the likely culprit Kenneth Baxter (Ian Bannen). Although we initially see glimpses of his interrogation of the man, this as Connery brings the violent imposing rage of the interrogator, however only glimpses as he attacks the man before being sent away for his actions. We our to return to that moment, but before that we see Johnson attempting to live out his night. We see him return home where Connery is simply incredible in delivering years of discontentment, along with the wounds of the night as he yells at his wife. Again Connery's performance is unrelenting, and effectively so, in showing a man who bordering on a complete mental breakdown, only living through violence of a certain kind.

Connery is outstanding in the moment as he proudly speaks initially of attacking the man, which Connery delivers as though it is this official recitation, and a long labored monologue to defending his actions. This as he continues the words it is with again a mania that creates a sense of complete derangement that Connery conveys before returning to a sense of clarity for a moment. This before when asked of the victim herself that the pains of the man return again to Connery's performance. His work is truly remarkable as he delivers an unexpected vulnerability as he speaks towards this pain regarding seeing so many horrible victims. Connery though goes further in showing the cracked state of mind as he keeps speaking as Connery's expression delivers this state that goes beyond pain, but rather this fundamental chaos of his mind that cannot fully comprehend how what he's gone through has changed him. Connery's performance not only expresses the strange situation of the mind of Johnson within the scenario, a man twisted within his work, and shows a completely different side of himself as a performer. This is not by going entirely against his type, but rather rather garnering a different type of depth to a potentially more typical Connery role. This part pushes Connery, and he goes along with it to show his greater potential as an actor.

This as Connery creates a different portrait of the brutal detective, here as we see Johnson slowly unravel himself in front of us. This as in the final scenes of the film where he himself is interrogated by a superior Trevor Howard, where Connery certainty in his initial candor slowly breaks down to just a sorrow of his state of a man. This as we see the interrogator interrogated, and Connery depicts a brilliant mess of sorts as he delivers this attempt at this stake of that confidence, however always falls towards this harrowing vulnerability. Connery making this grotesque, yet still natural state of the man attempting to be one thing, yet in a way torn down into another, by that attempt. We see this even more so in the final scene of the film where we flashback to his one on one interrogation of Baxter. This as Connery begins as the "good cop" however this act as he speaks to the man, it is with a false bravado of a man speaking towards his own pains even as his words are a man supposedly easing the man into the interrogation. Baxter's lack of relaxation quickly resorts to Johnson manhandling Baxter, however even this physical act is a stroke of brilliance on the part of Connery's performance. This as he handles certainly with violent intensity, as you'd expect, however it is less striking, and almost sexual as this act of control and dominance, rather than of just harm. Baxter though strikes back, not through violence himself, but rather words as he speaks towards Johnson's broken mind through his growing state of becoming like the men he has been tracking for so long. In this moment Connery brings back the forceful detective, however even this is still of this wretched act, of a searing emotion. This as his eyes of a blind demented state before himself breaking down which Connery depicts with a sincerity of the man giving into those demons that have been underneath the surface throughout. This before returning to violence where Connery's state is not one of cool emotion, but a emotional mess of a man filled with both a strange sadism and masochism wrapped within the act. Connery delivers a great performance here as he manages to create the real complexity of this man being broken by the vices he himself attempts to destroy. Connery makes this a convincing descent and in doing so, also provides a striking reminder of his talent that goes beyond that of his star persona.

44 comments:

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Saw this the other day. Terrific review of a great performance by Connery.

Louis: Has Bannen gone up?

Luke Higham said...

Happy that he got his 5th five. :)

Bryan L. said...

1. Laydu
2. Hurt
3. Pacino
4. Williamson
5. Connery

Calvin Law said...

Not that crazy about this performance (though I'm definitely less passionate about Connery in general than most on here). But certainly a strong one.

Luke Higham said...

1. Pacino
2. Laydu
3. Hurt
4. Williamson
5. Connery

Bryan L. said...

Luke: Your Top Ten Sean Connery performances?

Luke Higham said...

1. The Last Crusade
2. The Man Who Would Be King
3. The Offence
4. The Hill
5. From Russia With Love
6. In The Name Of The Rose
7. Goldfinger
8. Robin And Marian
9. The Molly Maguires (I thought Harris was the standout)
10. Dr. No

Bryan L. said...

Luke: Top Ten for Richard Harris as well? You said you had wanted to see The Molly Maguires before making that list when I first asked you.

Luke Higham said...

1. This Sporting Life
2. Major Dundee
3. The Molly Maguires
4. Cry, The Beloved Country
5. Juggernaut (A strong top 5)
6. Unforgiven
7. Abraham
8. A Man Called Horse
9. Man In The Wilderness
10. The Field (Can't deny this should've been his greatest performance with a far better screenplay)

Anonymous said...

Louis: Your thoughts on the score of Road to Perdition and A History of Violence.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Is Malcolm McDowell in O Lucky Man! the last unseen performance you'll likely do a review from 1973.

Anonymous said...

Louis, your 90s, 00s and 10s choice for Ron Kovic from Born On The Fourth Of July.

Luke Higham said...

Calvin: Your rating and thoughts on John Hurt in 1984.

Bryan L. said...

Anonymous: For 00s, I think Ben Foster could work. 10s, maybe Jack O’Connell.

Louis Morgan said...

Tahmeed:

No.

Anonymous:

It must be said one masterstroke of Peter Jackson was seeing the potential of Howard Shore to do a melodic epic score, when previously he was best known for low key more ambient scores, like A History of Violence, which is sparsely used by Cronenberg, as is usually the case. As typical, he uses it to really usually as an exclamation mark for scene, as he so often uses silence for scenes. That is largely the case here, however the few moments he does bring Shore in are notable, for his score here that has that ambient dread to be expected, but with this curious melancholy yet heroic theme, that in many ways reflects his
more noted LOTR work in an interesting way. This as he grants a bent hero theme to "Tom", it is heroic, yet at the same time something off-putting in the instrumentation used to bring it to life. Fantastic work.

Road to Perdition is one of Newman's best scores and just is a gorgeous piece in terms of helping to realize a more grandiose tone for Mendes's gangster epic that is more akin to a samurai film than The Godfather. This in his score that is wonderful in its striking, and of course grand scare orchestral melody, that delivers this Irish influenced energy, along with a certain combined sorrow. As with his best scores, there are multiple amazing pieces, but the greatest being "Ghosts", which is astonishing as it is soaked with emotion of the scene in just the gentle and beautiful piano which is underlined with a more foreboding ambient echoes within, before building to the orchestral climax that matches the devastating nature of the scene. That piece highlights that amazing scene perfectly, but also just show the tremendous nature of the score. Although I'll say it is a tough call between Newman and Shore for Two Towers (who somehow wasn't even nominated that year), he unquestionably should've taken the win out of the Oscar lineup.

Anonymous:

90's: Peter Sarsgaard
00's: Ben Foster
10's: Joe Cole

Luke:

No probably will do Anderson and Newman eventually, hence backlog vol. 1.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: No matter what your opinion is going to be, which 5/10 performances from 2020 are you most intrigued by.

Louis Morgan said...

Luke:

Well here are some that sound like they might have potential or seem potentially interesting.

Gary Oldman (Mank)
John Amos (Coming 2 America)
Michael Fassbender (Next Goal Wins)
Ana de Armas (Blonde)
Adam Driver (The Last Duel)
Anya Taylor-Joy & Thomasin McKenzie (Last Night in Soho)
Lance Henriksen (Falling)
Anthony Hopkins & Olivia Colman (The Father)
Jesse Plemons & Jessie Buckley (I'm thinking of Ending Things)
Whoever is playing Feyd-Rautha in Dune (I mean it better be good as they are taking so long to reveal it)

Anonymous said...

Louis what would be your top 20 scenes of the past decade?

Calvin Law said...

My guess is that Feyd-Rautha will have a bit less of a presence in this instalment. For my money the Dune performances I’m most looking forward are Ferguson and Chang.

Calvin Law said...

Like: a strong 4.5 but will need to re-watch.

And my top 10 anticipated performances are pretty much the same as Louis, with the additions of Yeun, Denzel/McDormand (if Macebth comes out), McDormand in Nomadland, and Rylance in Waiting for the Barbarians.

Louis Morgan said...

Anonymous:

To avoid going insane in no particular order:

Brother's in Arm - Mad Max: Fury Road
Birthday gone wrong - Parasite
Church - The Hunt
Confession - The Immigrant
Crater - First Man
Crossing depositions - The Social Network
Dance - The Favourite
Dinner unexpectedly - Phantom Thread
Elevator - Drive
Ending - Hell or High Water
Ending - I Saw the Devil
Ending - Parasite
Ending - La La Land
Fare thee well - Inside Llewyn Davis
Final Run - 1917
Flight of Fancy - Birdman
La Mer - Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
McConaughey Lunch - The Wolf of Wall Street
Memory is real - Blade Runner 2049
Night Club - John Wick
Opening - Drive
Performance - Whiplash
Processing - The Master
Pink Joi - Blade Runner 2049
Quaaludes - The Wolf of Wall Street
Sandstorm - Mad Max: Fury Road
Seaside crucifixion - Silence
This'll tell the tale - The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
Two Rats - Skyfall
When a Cowboy Trades his Spurs for Wings - The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

And 30 due to it being hard enough already to reduce the list down.

Calvin:

I'd imagine Feyd must be in it though, at the very least in a teasing way, so they might be keeping whoever it is as a reveal (if it is the brief, probably incorrect, imdb listing of Tye Sheridan, may the good lord have mercy on all of our souls).

Definitely McDormand and Washington if Joel Coen's Macbeth comes out this year (though the lack of Ethan is still concerning me in a strangely fundamental way).

Anonymous said...

Louis: Your thoughts on CiarĂ¡n Hinds as an actor? I was seeing a movie with him the other day and I realized that he's one of those actors who always gets into his character very well but is always underutilizes/given small roles

Mitchell Murray said...

Man...I've listened to Billie Elish's "No Time To Die" a couple times now, and I'm really getting into the song, actually. I like that when compared to many other Bond themes, its not bombastic or really all that fast paced of a track. Instead its very somber in tone and really builds to those bigger notes with Elish's vocals, and the general fluidity of it all. Now this doesn't mean I'm now dying to see the film, but at least I can say I like its theme song.

To everyone here, how would you rank every Bond theme of the 21st century? Mine would be as followed:

6) Die Another Day
5) Another Way to Die
4) Writing on the Wall
3) No Time to Die
2) You Know My Name
1) Skyfall

Bryan L. said...

Mitchell: I'll agree with your ranking for the Bond songs; just switch #3 and #4, as Writing on the Walls' actually grown on me a bit.

Also, since the 2010s are now in the books...

bryansfilmandetcblog.blogspot.com/2020/02/my-top-twenty-five-films-of-decade.html

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Your rating and thoughts on Dakota Fanning in War Of The Worlds.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Louis: Could Your Name go up a few spots in your 2016 top ten with a rewatch?

Bryan L. said...

Louis: Your thoughts on the second subway scene from Joker? (Starting from “Hey Arthur!” to when Joaquin leaves the station)

Also, thoughts on “Escape from the Train” from the score?

Louis Morgan said...

Anonymous:

Hinds is a rock solid character actor who one can always rely on for a strong presence, and a performance with conviction, however in typically limited roles. He is someone who very much embodies M. Emmett Walsh's philosophy on great character acting, which is giving it as good to the "star"/"lead" as they are giving to them, if only for a few minutes. This in realizing whoever this person is, if just for a brief time, and Hinds has that quality. He's occasionally been allowed a bit more in his television work, and in Munich, where in turn he utilized what more he did have. He's someone whose abilities overall though have only be used up until a point still, despite his most valiant efforts.

Luke:

Fanning - 2.5(Been since it's come out, however the real problem with the film is the script, more than the performances of the side characters. Anyway Fanning is fine in doing her best attempt at Barrymore in E.T., I don't think she makes much of an impact in a negative or positive sense mind you. She's not terrible though, certainly better than Justin Chatwin at the very least.)

Bryan:

Escape from the Train quite frankly sounds like a mix between Joker and The Dark Knight's Joker theme. This in twisting the score into a more action/thriller style, where it does more or less work in delivering a definite intensity while evoking sort of the general chaotic nature of the character with the constant percussion and seemingly random strings. The latter which occasionally sounds slightly comical at a certain point, but it overall is an effective piece.

The scene itself is actually more William Friedkin (or perhaps most accurately Melville) than Scorsese in this instance, in attempting to create the chaos of a proper subway chase. When Phillips isn't bad, he can be okay, this is an okay scene in microcosm. It is pretty standard in a lot of choices, but not terrible choices across the board to make an okay thriller scene. There's a larger discussion to be had still how it doesn't exactly realize itself as a natural part of the overall choices of the film, but it is one of the better scenes of the film.

Tahmeed:

Probably not.

Calvin Law said...

Louis: retro directing choices for Taika Waititi, Noah Baumbach, Joel Edgerton and David Lowery?

Bryan L. said...

Calvin: I think Lowery could work for Badlands and A Perfect World.

Louis Morgan said...

Calvin:

Taika Waititi:

Home Alone
A Fish Called Wanda
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

Noah Baumbach:

Lost in America
The Days of Wine and Roses
Dodsworth

Joel Edgerton:

Witness
Wake in Fright
Seance on a Wet Afternoon

David Lowery:

Badlands
Stand By Me
East of Eden

Bryan L. said...

2010s Badlands, directed by David Lowery

Holly: Jennifer Lawrence
Kit: Ben Foster
Father: Timothy Olyphant
Cato: John C. Reilly

Anonymous said...

Louis: Thoughts on these scenes from The Damned United:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mgkT00NlYww
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dYBj_qAJtRA
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3RBvC_64rqo

Calvin Law said...

Louis: thoughts on these for starters?

2020s A Fish Called Wanda directed by Taika Waititi
Archie Leach: Richard Ayoade
Wanda Gershwitz: Blake Lively
Otto West: Taika Waititi
Ken Pile: Ben Whishaw
Wendy Leach: Sian Clifford

2020s The Days of Wine and Roses directed by Noah Baumbach
Joe Clay: Glenn Howerton
Kirsten Arnesen-Clay: Amanda Seyfried
Ellis Arnesen: Ray Liotta
Jim Hungerford: Luke Wilson

2020s Wake in Fright directed by Joel Edgerton
John Grant: Nicholas Hoult
Doc Tydon: Toby Jones
Jock Crawford: Joel Edgerton
Janette Hynes: Hayley Atwell

2020 Badlands directed by David Lowery
Kit Carruthers: Alden Ehrenreich
Holly Sargis: Thomasin McKenzie
Father: Walton Goggins

Matt Mustin said...

Watched Once Upon a Time in Hollywood again and I actually liked it less. I guess I just don't get why people are so in love with it. When it's good it's good, but quite honestly it doesn't really have the substance to support it's length.

Louis Morgan said...

Anonymous:

The first, man, look at the actual good production design, and shot choices that give you a sense of the place of the interview, while also amplifying the ideas, Clough being somewhat detached in his framing, against the direct shots of Revie watching. To think this was directed by the same man as Cats and The Danish Girl. Any who, a good scene though in setting up Clough sense of self-righteousness, with a passion in it, but also the sense of failure in this attitude.

Again Hooper's choices here actually add to creating an atypical staging for a "coach" speech, which helps to undercut, as does Sheen's performance, Clough's intentions, while noble technically speaking, broken by delivery method as a brow beating over the past rather than a potential future. The final clip, just being effective moment of showing Clough getting hit bluntly with the dirt he's well aware of, in the purposeful accident.

Calvin:


Fish:
Ayoade's a great choice. Not sure on Waititi as West, only because I think it helps if there's a degree of genuine intimidation, we haven't quite seen that from him, so I might opt for Rockwell there, then put Waititi as Ken. Also not sold myself on Lively, though many are, but she is the right type for the part at least. Also Rhys Darby as Darby Rhys (the head of the operation).

Days of Wine:

Great choices, may we keep willing Howerton to that dramatic lead.

Wake in Fright:

Great choices again, love Jones as Doc.

Badlands:

Not sure about Ehrenreich, only because he's done best with levity so far, and we haven't seen him do full dramatic. McKenzie's a great choice though.

Bryan L. said...

*May we keep willing Howerton to a good film role period

Louis: Thoughts on the 2010s Badlands cast as well?

Louis Morgan said...

Bryan:

Although perhaps not stretching himself, Foster would be amazing in that role. Lawrence might comes off too old at this point for the part, although the part would play to her strengths that I wish she'd return to soon.

Bryan L. said...

Louis: I was mainly keeping with the idea of a 2013/2014 Badlands, but yeah, that ship has sailed now.

Speaking of, the funny thing is that I think her age now is more appropriate for Tiffany (SLP) than when she actually played the part.

Calvin Law said...

Rockwell is a great choice, and hmm maybe the ol favourite George MacKay as Kit then.

Charles H said...

1. Laydu
2. Pacino
3. Williamson
4. Hurt
5. Connery

Luke Higham said...

Charles: Are you still into WWE, because The British Bulldog's finally going into the hall of fame.

Anonymous said...

Luke, About fucking time, his snub for this long is just as bad as Randy Savage.

Unknown said...

Do you realize there's a 12 word sentence you can speak to your partner... that will trigger deep emotions of love and impulsive appeal to you deep inside his chest?

Because deep inside these 12 words is a "secret signal" that triggers a man's impulse to love, adore and look after you with his entire heart...

====> 12 Words Will Fuel A Man's Love Response

This impulse is so built-in to a man's mind that it will make him try better than before to do his best at looking after your relationship.

Matter of fact, triggering this mighty impulse is so important to getting the best ever relationship with your man that the instance you send your man one of these "Secret Signals"...

...You will immediately find him open his heart and soul to you in such a way he's never expressed before and he will recognize you as the one and only woman in the universe who has ever truly attracted him.