Thursday, 16 April 2020

Alternate Best Supporting 1978: Scott Reiniger in Dawn of the Dead

Scott Reiniger did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Roger "Trooper" DeMarco in Dawn of the Dead.

Dawn of the Dead is perhaps one of the best "cheap" movies ever made about four people who try to survive the zombie apocalypse.

Now I don't refer to "cheap" as the cost, as for the time anyways it wasn't all that low budget of a film. George Romero's work as director though doesn't have, we'll say, the typical expertise when it comes to the sound design which is a bit a shoddy, the cinematography kind of whatever it is, and even the makeup effects show an an inconsistency. This as while there are some very impressive ones, there's also times where we get some obvious dummies, and some terrible "zombie" looks that look like people just have a bit of blue paint on their face. I am I'll admit more directly critical with the less technical imperfections, that being Romero's attempts at social satire get a little obnoxious when the characters speak them by either saying the most on the nose lines possible, or BY YELLING EVERY LINE BECAUSE HUMANITY CAN'T GET ALONG, GET IT! I say all that though, because I do rather like this film overall despite all its flaws. One of the reasons being the moments in which it seems to take a strangely down to earth approach as we follow the four survivors, who just try to hole up in the mall, and follow the appropriate problems and joys they'll get in this endeavor. This is also helped by following squarely on four characters, a pilot, his girlfriend and two swat officers.

Although I'll say, much like the rest of the film, the acting does carry a certain amateurish quality, particularly the bit players, which thankfully we don't spend too much with. The most confident being I'd say is the Afghan prince himself, Scott Reiniger as one of the two sway officers. This is to the point that I actually think his performance is one of the most interesting things in the film, as he is neither the panicky idiot we find in zombie films, like David Emgee as the pilot Steve "Flyboy" Andrews or the stoic heroic type like Ken Foree as the other swat member Peter. Reiniger's realizes his more unique arc from the outset of the film where we initially witness his fear as he and the swat team engage government housing filled with zombies. This as Reiniger portrays a bit of the horror of killing other humans, however we see a bit of change as he we see him start to kill the zombies. There is no horror in this and Reiniger portrays what is most interesting about his characterization which is this certain sense of cool that develops from his performance. It's more remarkable that it is not immediately evident in his performance but rather develops as we proceed through the story, and Roger gets to do something important, which is kill a lot of zombies. Reiniger doesn't portray this as a necessary act, but rather this becoming this certain sport for Roger. The more the situation becomes like a horror film, the more he portrays it as a game for Roger, almost like a life calling. I especially love the joy that Reiniger exudes in his performance in the moments when Roger does his specific aim to knock the heads off the zombies, one would assume for maximum points. Reiniger's riff though works well though in making Roger stand out more than just the "extra" guy, in fact early on you might think he'd be the sole survivor, as we see a man who seems absolutely in his element in killing zombies. Reiniger brings a real thrill in it as they go about securing the mall to become their shelter, bringing such a life in his expression of a man who is basically living his best life as someone who has found his true calling. This in his physical ease in the part, and really the cool that he projects of a guy who has found an environment that supports his skills. Reiniger builds this effectively in his work by making him more and more carefree in each successive sequence. Doing it in a way, that he doesn't become pompous, rather you come to quite like Roger through this approach. Also worth mentioning in that though is his chemistry with Foree, where we do get a sense of camaraderie and warmth in the interaction between the two. Granting a sense of the mutual minds to part, with some nice moments of ribbing and mutual enthusiasm that create a good sense of the friendship between Roger and Peter. As they are further prepping the mall by using truck as barriers to the mall, Reiniger shows someone having way too much fun as he goes about it, and in a way creates the danger in someone with over confidence. This comes to a head when one of the zombies almost gets him. This we see a snap that Reiniger portrays well as this even greater energy in the man, but now as some kind of derangement. This as a manic energy, with his eyes as someone quite losing it to this adrenaline rush. His delivery of "perfect baby, perect" as calm as it is, it is anything but sane as this detachment from his situation. This naturally leading to even riskier behavior that leads Roger to be bitten. Turning what in way made Roger so engaging, his downfall quite remarkably. That thankfully isn't the end of Reiniger's performance, as he nicely segues this towards showing a return to modesty again, as he still manages to help the other even when disabled. This though with a sense within his eyes, of a man hit with more than humility. There is then a real poignancy we do find in his final moments of a drugged, almost zombified Roger, asking Peter to make sure not to kill him until he "comes back". His insistence that he'll "try not to come back" is moving as Reiniger having lost all that confidence and cool, but a bit genuine tenderness in the moment with Foree. I won't say this performance completely loses itself from that Romero "quality" in the acting, but this is a good performance that offers a lot more to this film than just being a typical zombie victim.

62 comments:

Matt Mustin said...

Finished up LOTR. Return of the King is obviously amazing, probably the greatest fantasy film ever made, although really it's kind of tied with the other two, honestly, because they're impossible to separate and they're all great.

Wood-4
Astin-5
McKellen-4.5
Mortensen-4
Serkis-3.5
Hill-4(Just real quick, I *loved* his "Ahhh, FUCK" moment right right before what happens to him happens.)
Boyd-3.5(*HELL* of a turn-around)
Monaghan-2(You know what, I kinda think he's just a terrible actor.)
Bloom-2.5
Rhys-Davies-3
Otto-3
Noble-2(It's unfortunate because I think this role had the potential to be GREAT, but he's really all over the place.)
Weaving-3
Holm-3(Beautiful wrap up for him)

I assume Christopher Lee is in the Extended Version.

Aidan Pittman said...

Matt: Lee has one scene in the extended cut, same for Dourif.

Robert MacFarlane said...

Matt: Yes, he is. The extended version also has a lot more Faramir, and Wenham is excellent in those extra moments. Also, Noble comes off better in the extended with a few scenes contextualizing his madness. The two scenes they cut were his best.

Michael Patison said...

Matt: Monaghan has only ever been decent in his early scenes with Emilie de Ravin in Lost. Never before and never since.

Calvin Law said...

Hot take: extended edition aside I think Wenham is great in both Two Towers and ROTK. Despite questionable writing.

Also very much agree on this performance Louis, Romero’s actors are usually a mixed bunch but he was one who excelled in it.

Louis Morgan said...

For me Denethor is one of the few, very few, adaptation missteps, as I think the idea of a competent leader destroyed by despair is more interesting, and far more unique, than just an egotistical fool.

Matt Mustin said...

Louis: OK, see, yeah, I saw that too. Noble hams it up, but I think they also fundamentally wrote him wrong.

Lucas Saavedra said...

Louis: what are your ratings and thoughts on the rest of the cast?

Tim said...

What would your cast for a modern, non-censored film Adaptation of A Cat On A Hot Tin Roof look like?

For me:

Brick Pollitt: Bradley Cooper
Maggie Pollitt: Amy Adams
Big Daddy: John Goodman
Big Mama: Lesley Manville
Gooper: Zach Galifianakis
Mae: Kim Dickens


Directed by David O. Russell

RatedRStar said...

Louis: When you first saw the film, were you a bit surprised at who the eventual survivors were? because I kinda was lol which made the film a little bit more exciting in that regard.

Anonymous said...

Louis: Hey, I've been reading your blog for a few years, and I really enjoy reading your reviews. I like so many of your choices, and one of those that I really love is the fact that you consider F. Murray Abraham's work in Amadeus the greatest performance of all time. If you don't mind my asking, is there a particular reason the performance stands out to you that much? Most critics tend to have more "conventional" choices, like Brando in On the Waterfront, or De Niro in Raging Bull, etc.

Of course, if you don't feel like answering the question, that's also fine.

Luke Higham said...

Anonymous: It's also my personal favourite performance though I can't use the term 'greatest' definitively because I haven't seen everything. It's downright extraordinary work from start to finish whether it's reading the only drafts of music scene or telling the priest his plan to cause Mozart's death.

Louis is more confident than I am in calling it the greatest because he's seen and experienced a hell of alot more than I have.

Luke Higham said...

Anonymous: I know we're not yet at the half-way point of these bonus rounds but I doubt Louis will ever change his opinion on Abraham as the greatest piece of acting he's ever seen on Film.

John Smith said...

Louis, have you seen the show Atlanta?

Anonymous said...

Louis: Your ratings and thoughts on the cast of Naked Lunch, as well as the score of the film?

Mitchell Murray said...

So I just watched "Good Morning, Vietnam" for the first time, and honestly...I thought it was okay. As a message movie of the 80s, it's perhaps guilty of oversimplification, and painting the antagonists as too one dimensional. As a comedy of the 80s, its also a bit dated in some of its writing, along with some rather strange choices in terms of editing/music. Still, for what the movie sets out to do, it's effective enough.

Williams - 4 (Easily my favourite of his oscar nominated turns)
Whitaker - 3
Walsh - 3
Willingham - 3
Wuhl - 3
Tran - 3
Sukapatana - 2.5

Louis Morgan said...

Lucas:

Ross - 3(Her performance early on does border a bit on the melodramatic and again does have that imperfect qualities. It also doesn't help though that she is saddled with some of those absurdly on the nose lines regarding Romero's satire. As the character becomes more confident though her performance in turn does become more comfortable seemingly with the role, in portraying the more quiet perseverance is more remarkable.)

Tim:

Cooper I could see working. Manville, Goodman, Dickens Galifianakis most definitely. O. Russell most definitely not. Adams, while obviously very attractive, I've never seen her do sexy well, so I would look elsewhere there as that is an essential part to Maggie.

RaterRStar:

No only because this was one of those films that I saw, while already, for whatever reason, knowing what in general happens.

Anonymous:

Well thank you. You can read my review on Abraham for why I love his performance. I will say I don't think there is a definitive greatest performance of all time. As while I do think there are more objective traits one can often find in what I'd consider great performances, what makes a performance reach that pinnacle should differ from person to person, and I say that most sincerely. This as a great film, a great performance, should strike a personal chord, and how that works is going to be different from the individual, and it should be.

John Smith:

No.

Anonymous:

I believe I've covered both of those previously.

Anonymous said...

Louis: Thoughts on the sound design, the editing and the cinematography of The Driver?

Luke Higham said...

Louis: I wholly agree with you on that statement.

Have you seen Damien: Omen II. Your thoughts on it and ratings/thoughts on the cast.

Anonymous said...

Louis: I could only find thoughts via Google on several aspects of the film (direction, screenplay, production design) but no one from the cast.

Calvin Law said...

Louis: could I have your thoughts on some of these Bond dream castings if you don’t mind?

https://reelandroll.blogspot.com/2020/04/20-bond-ideas.html?m=1

Calvin Law said...

And also thoughts and ratings for Dean Stockwell and Aurore Clément in Paris, Texas? I realised on rewatch that I do feel pretty bad for their characters in a way.

Louis Morgan said...

Anonymous:

Well I'm pretty sure I covered Davis.

Weller - 4(Weller is a strange performer in a way in that I'd describe his strength is a bit of an anti-thesis, as he makes bland work in a strange way. There is something compelling about him being robotic and here he is that in the writer with his dazed pseudo straight man performance, that stands as this pillar within the madness.)

Scheider - 4(A memorable bit from him in just I think two scenes, though the first with his slightly shifty psychiatrist who is probably hiding a bit more than he claims to be. The second being though a delicious slice of madness in the reveal, and one who actually makes the tone work quite well in the madness of it.)

Holm - 3.5(An effective bit of weirdness from him as well as he manages to balance this certain maniacal energy within the character, that carries at the same time this certain lusty affability.)

The score is typical to Cronenberg in it is quite sparse, to the point, that I ponder how Peter Jackson had the foresight for Shore's great skill for the epic but I digress. It is an effective score in conveying the tone of the piece, as you have the dread filled undertones, with the random jazzy qualities on top, that kind of gives you a sense of the madness/debauchery one will find in the film.

Anonymous:

The Driver's sound design is fantastic work in every gun shot, wheel spin, engine rev, scratch, gash, or full on crash, sounds both real but also gives it that visceral quality you want. As great as the editing of the sound is, it is backed up, by the brilliant mixing, that is so immersive in the chase scenes, in building the sound very much within each moment of the scenes brilliantly.

The editing is fantastic work. This with the the action scenes all being paced supremely well, while being cohesive compelling, and finding a build within them. This also in jumbling so well, Hill's different sort of "angles' of the chase to make it something truly kinetic. Beyond that though the film just moves at a snappy pace that keeps to the minimalist tone, as we get the essentials then move on. My favorite of this being the instant payoff, of the driver being "caught" at the end of the film.

Louis Morgan said...

The cinematography by Philip H. Lathrop I would have to say must have had a great deal of influence on Michael Mann, as you see that aesthetic that would be found in most of his films beautifully realized here. This being the naturalistic lighting, and doing it with such pristine beauty. In that no a single shot looks traditionally stylized, but it is always so stylish. This in capturing the colors of the night, particularly its use of green, that is so captivating, while also just seeming what the night life should look like. In addition it is just pristine work in terms of artful composition and framing of shots that are essential in the action scenes.

Luke:

MMm, besides Goldsmith's contribution, I thought it was a largely lame followup, not terrible, but didn't really have anything to it, other than "what creative kill will be next". This particularly since instead of us discovering the information as Peck does in the first film, where are instead just waiting for Holden to catch up.

Holden - 3(I'll give him credit for not really having great material to work with Holden does bother to sell it. This delivering just an actual emotional intensity in trying to reevaluate his brother's son, and showing the extreme nature of the emotions from the death. Not a great character, but Holden delivers.)

Grant - 2.5(I mean not much of her, other than the twist, which is told in her performance, although I definitely view that as a script thing rather on her.)

Scott-Taylor - 2(Eh, felt he was more annoying than scary, and just came off as a punk rather than evil incarnate.)

Henriksen - 3(I mean as expected him doing a bit of evil indeed is sold well by him.)

McKern - 3(For having a brief cameo, he does his best to sell the titular dread quite well.)

Sidney and Ayres quite wasted.

Calvin:

Favorites:

Madden/Bigelow/Lee/Debicki - (I think as a new riff, most definitely and based on the Bodyguard I think Madden could pull off Bond, as perhaps a bit more suave than Craig, but potentially as troubled)

Ejiofor/Refn - (Yes to both, as the former I'll repeatedly stand as far more fitting to the role if they want a non-white Bond than Elba, and Refn aesthetic at least is Bond ideal, even if I don't think he'd ever play ball.)

Steven/Herzog - (I mean Herzog as a Bond villian is already a great idea, Stevens I think could also be a fresh Bond in the right way.)

HM: Mackay/Jarmusch, I mean I'll always take it, and hey a secret agent on vacation sound like a great idea for a Jarmusch film honestly, he should make it to make up for The Dead Don't Die. I could actually see a clever subversion even of maybe having the theoretical scenes of a Bond movie, but in a very different way (E.g. instead of entirely a villain's layer, goes down to his basement pub).

Stockwell - 3.5(His performance I think is good in creating a real sense of the relationship of the brothers' simply through the way he shows concern. This in that there is a genuine warmth in there, but also a certain distance of not knowing quite what to make of his brother at this point.)

Clement - 4(She gives an effective performance in creating a real sense of the sympathy yet concern in basically losing what became her son. Clement realizes it well as an honest, and well earned sense of anxiety from it, to the point you wish she could've had some epilogue of also getting in contact with Kinski. Her performance though just brings a strong sense of the supportive parent that was there before Travis walked back into their lives.)

Calvin Law said...

Louis: just based on how the whole film played out for me this time around I’m very certain that Kinski’s Jane would’ve definitely gotten back in contact with Walt and Anne. It definitely stands as one of the reasons why Travis felt he had to leave their lives. And glad you dug the Madden and Jarmusch. I think Jarmusch should definitely try another genre soon, as meh as The Dead Don’t Die was I’m always hoping he’ll try new genres.

Tim said...

Louis why exactly do you think Russell would not work? and who would you say should Play Maggie?

Bryan L. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Luke Higham said...

Louis: Your thoughts on the score from Omen II. And what would you've preferred to see from a sequel to the original. I've said before that I wish they brought back David Warner (I'm sorry but he's such a compelling performer) as Keith's twin brother or something as the main protagonist trying to find the truth. Also, it would actually give us more of an emotional connection from the original. Or they could've had McKern last to the end. (It was so dumb to kill him off early because he's the one character you'd think can go toe to toe with the antichrist).

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Louis: Your tentative top 5 for 2016 Original Screenplay?

Luke Higham said...

Decided to watch Omen II again and yeah, I'm gonna have to take a point off Scott-Taylor. Don't know why I overrated him.

Louis: I know you're not going to watch III but Sam Neill is much better.

Louis Morgan said...

Tim:

Russell typically tries to undercut most things with comedy of some kind. That would be ill-fitting to Tennessee Williams, which while isn't bereft of comedy, if tonally inconsistent at all, would completely shatter. Eva Green, Scarlett Johnasson or Kirsten Dunst I'd say would be more suited.

Luke:

Agree they should've kept McKern around. Goldsmith's score is a terrific part 2, in using the overtures of his first scores again, that with the Gregorian style chanting along with the most dread filled orchestrations one could conjure, and just have more of that. A natural and effective expansion on that style.

Tahmeed:

1. Hell or High Water
2. Your Name
3. Paterson
4. The Salesman
5. Captain Fantastic

Although I would say the order in particulary is not definitive.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Where would Goldsmith's work rank in your top 5.

Louis Morgan said...

Luke:

Honestly he'd knock himself off for Boys from Brazil.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Louis: Really hope Your Name takes the top spot when you revisit 2016 :)

Luke Higham said...

Louis: What decisions would you've made to make Moulin Rouge! a far better film.

Calvin Law said...

I'm hoping Paterson will take it, or The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Maki if you watch it when revisiting 2016 :)

Mitchell Murray said...

So, is anyone here watching the third season of Ozark? I'm 2 episodes in, and its already getting pretty dense. I'm intrigued, don't get me wrong, but I'm also sort of worried the season will bite off more than it can chew ultimately.

Mitchell Murray said...

Also, I have a more random question for everyone here; I presume that a lot of the people on this blog are American, South American, European and pretty much everything besides Canadian. So as a Canadian myself, generally speaking, what are the features of our accent? I know we have one, but I've never been able to pin point what makes our generalized accent distinct. I'm honestly quite curious on the matter..

And just for clarification, I'm leaving out Quebecois and Maritimes dialects for the sake of this individual question.

Luke Higham said...

Mitchell: Matt Mustin's from Canada.

I suppose Ulster Scot or Mid-Ulster English but it's not exactly a strong one.

Mitchell Murray said...

Oh...I forgot about the comments on Elliott Gould's review. Sorry Matt.

Luke Higham said...

I've spent some time in Wales as well which may've had a slight effect.

Luke Higham said...

Mitchell: Well, I don't want to come off as a snob or anything but I tried to refine my accent to be abit more anglicised because I sure as hell didn't want to pronounce Northern Ireland as Norn Iron.

Bryan L. said...

Louis: Your choice of director for the 2010s Silent Partner and Blue Collar casts?

Michael Patison said...

Mitchell: I find perhaps the most prevalent to be the insertion of "oh" in place of most "ow" and some "ah" syllables, most notably in "sore-y". A lot is made of "about" being "aboot" in parodies of the accent, but from my experience it's almost always more "aboat". Generally speaking, there's a more closed and nasal quality to some of the vowel sounds.

I'm from Dallas, which is very cosmopolitan in composition, so my accent is pretty much as "American" as you can get. That said, I pretty much exclusively say "y'all" and can get a bit of a lilt when I'm tired or had a bit too much to drink.

Anonymous said...

Luke, are there any British/Irish versions of words you'd like to share.

Luke Higham said...

Anonymous: I'll stick to Irish (North and South) in general.
Norn Iron (Northern Ireland, this is more of an Ulster Scot saying)
Feck (Fuck)
Eejit (Idiot)
Fleg (Flag)
Boke (Vomit)
Bout Ye (How are you)
Boggin' (Disgusting)
Catch Yourself On (Pull Yourself Together)

If anyone ever decided to watch an Irish comedy series, Father Ted is the one I'd most recommend.

Bryan L. said...

Luke: “Feckin Bruges” :)

Luke Higham said...

Bryan: :)

Bryan L. said...

“Green, Scarlett Johansson or...”

You know she had a great 2019 when Louis is legitimately bringing her up as an option for hypothetical remakes lol

Mitchell Murray said...

Michael: I get that, actually. There is a certain nasality in a lot of our vowel sounds, though its not to the extent of, say, a Long Island dialect.

Luke: I've heard of all of those and perhaps said them each at least once. Also, while i'm sure it's not exclusive to the UK, I do tend to use the phrase "what are you on about" instead of "what are you talking about". As someone with both English and Scottish lineage, I have a rather limited (but affectionate) understanding of such linguistic patterns.

Let me put it this way: Just from their speech, I could probably tell you if someone was from the North/South/East/West of England, but I doubt I could tell you the township.

Mitchell Murray said...

Bryan: Her's is one of the best career 180's I've seen of any recent performer. Obviously Johansson's been a mainstream star for a long time, but I still found myself questioning her true acting range.....2019 completely changed that.

Luke Higham said...

Mitchell and Bryan: She truly is a prime example of don't doubt anyone.

Mitchell Murray said...

Luke: Indeed.
Also, since you put forth some Irish slang, I might as well throw out some generalized Canadian slang. And if they aren't exclusive to Canada, please tell me.

Two-Four (Literally a 24 case of beer bottles)
Double-Double (A Tim Hortons coffee with two cream and two sugar)
Mickey (Flask sized bottle of alchohol)
Runners (Running shoes)
"Just Give'er" (Basically give it all you got)
Kerfluffle (Commotion/fuss)

The really wierd thing about Canadian slang, in my opinion, is that we sort of adopted it from the British, French and Americans (Primarily the first two). Thus, it's both its own thing and but also not its own thing at the same time.

Luke Higham said...

Mitchell: I remember Kerfuffle being used in Little Britain (BBC).

'What a Kerfuffle'.

Anonymous said...

Luke, what would you recommend to someone who hasn’t seen an Ingmar Bergman film to start with?

Luke Higham said...

Anonymous: Probably The Seventh Seal. I wouldn't say F&A as it's a large undertaking though it's one of his most accessible films.

Anonymous said...

Luke, when you say don't doubt anyone, would you give Chalamet the benefit of the doubt in Dune.

Luke Higham said...

Anonymous: Why not, Villeneuve's castings usually bring great results, however this wholly ambitious project will either make or break him.

Mitchell Murray said...

I mean in all fairness to Chalamet, while I didn't love him in CMBYN or Little Women (And he's good in both), and while I do think his legions of internet fans build him up to much - overall, he has shown himself to be a decent enough actor. I've compared his potential career trajectory to DiCaprio because I can see him going in a similar path.

For me, DiCaprio's first definitive breakthrough as a leading man wasn't "Titanic" (As many proclaim), but "Catch Me If You Can". In that movie he showed all the charm, humour and presence that continues to define his best work. Once more, he was finally able to shed that adolecent image and transition into a more matured performer (Even with that young face of his). Chalamet just needs a project of that caliber, which he already sort of got with CMBYN, admittedly, but perhaps its just a matter of repeating that now.

Side Note: Seriously, why wasn't DiCaprio nominated for "Catch Me if You Can"? I know 2002 was a strong year for best actor, but I'm sure he could've snuck in their somewhere.

Matt Mustin said...

Mitchell: Just not the type of role that gets nominated, I guess. They probably saw it as too "breezy".

Louis Morgan said...

Luke:

Make the story a bit less cliched, get performers who are good at going broad (Leguizamo and Roxburgh are not), and going easy on the editing, would've all helped.

Bryan:

I mean... Schrader is still around but not to cop out.

The Silent Partner: Davie Michod
Blue Collar: Carlos Lopez Estrada

Mitchell:

Remember, DiCaprio had not broken out with the Academy, at least not in his second phase as an actor. He was recognized as a child actor, but was ignored for both Catch Me If You Can and Titanic. It wasn't until he did his sort of transformative dramatic with The Aviator that they took him seriously.

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