Friday, 21 August 2020

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 2002: Brendan Fraser in The Quiet American

Brendan Fraser did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Alden Pyle in The Quiet American.

I must admit I always liked Brendan Fraser. One of the very the era specific leading men of the late 90's and early 2000's. Now he's an actor who wasn't always in the best roles, in fact many of his roles are quite silly, but I have to admit I liked him even in those often silly roles. Fraser, despite being disparaged by some perhaps for this very reason, I felt really had an old school earnest quality in his presence as an actor. This making him seems perhaps odd, though in fact ideal, casting for one of his strictly dramatic roles in this film. Although overall the film focuses on the British journalist Thomas Fowler (Michael Caine), within Vietnam during the war though while France tried to maintain the power structure there, the real focal point in a way is Brendan Fraser's Pyle who is the titular character, though not the leading character. We open with the film actually finding out Pyle has been murdered, and from there we are then following basically Fowler's relationship with Pyle as we uncover who this "quiet American" is. This though in the initial meeting we see the intelligence of this casting as Fraser could be any ole' Fraser role as Caine's Fowler meets a somewhat silly looking American sticking out like a sore thumb within Vietnam.

Fraser's typical eagerness is found here and is ideal in painting our perspective of Pyle, just as it does Fowler's, as this generally affable if unassuming man. Fraser brings a very low key charm and seeming naivety towards the role early on. This with a believable earnest quality as he speaks to Fowler with sincerity and is surprised to hear a grenade explosion soon afterwards. Fraser creates an easy likability to Pyle even if he seems ill-fitting to his placement within Vietnam, though one seemingly shouldn't be concerned as he claims to be there for medical purposes only. This to the point that early on as Pyle to Fowler's Vietnamese mistress Phuong, one can believe Fowler's initial near lack of reaction as Fraser presents a distinct purity of interest through that specific charm of his. Fraser makes Pyle more than anything seemingly just a perhaps slightly out of his element yet just generally charming fellow who one shouldn't worry too much about. His chemistry with Caine in this is particularly important as he always does greet him with an honest smile as just a genuine friend. There are important moments though that Fraser effectively uses early on to really give us the truth of Pyle earlier though painting in a way that you don't really give him a second thought. This as he speaks to the philosophy of a third force in Vietnam to essentially take power. Fraser delivers these words though of just a school boys sort of interest in a fascinating concept, and doesn't raise any alarms in Fowler, nor the viewer.

The nature of the man reveals itself more after Fowler visits a Vietnamese General, who may be making a 3rd force, and on his way home Pyle takes a ride with him. The two avoid a seeming assassination attempt and within that sequence Fraser is terrific as there is a snap switch in his performance that creates an instant different agency within the man, but also an intensity. The intensity he brings the moment that is a bit startling initially as the affable Fraser naturally performs this switch to seemingly allude to another nature to Pyle. Again though we see Pyle essential reset himself and the constant state of the man Fraser presents is as the "quiet American". This just with that low key charm, even as the two men eventually battle over Phuong, Fraser's presents Pyle's manner even in this as courteous and gentlemanly with that overt sincerity once again. What Fraser does here is honestly realize proper operator and essentially a spy in Alden Pyle. This as one watching Fraser in his typical manner doesn't take second note other than an overly eager yet unassuming man. What is so remarkable is the revelation that Fraser realizes. Again as related to that philosophy of the third force that Pyle takes any action to support, even if it means support civilian bombings to create a public fervor. Fraser's work is terrific as he successfully rips off the cloak with such an ease. This in revealing a much darker figure in manner and again that intensity seen in the earlier scene coming fully out as a man with determined and violent purpose. Fraser's performance utilizes his own presence to create the false image of Pyle, yet makes a notable impact by subverting that presence by effectively revealing the darker side of the character. Although most coming into the film initially might've second guessed casting Fraser in this role, I'd say this is just about perfect casting as he truly embodies both the falsehood and the truth of his character.

77 comments:

Luke Higham said...

I have a confession to make, I love Bedazzled and did enjoy him in George Of The Jungle.

Calvin Law said...

I need to rewatch this. Graham Greene is one of my favourite writers so I definitely was a bit disappointed by the adaptation but I remember Fraser being good.

Tim said...

Who here has watched Scrubs? Because he is essential to the very best episode with the very best ending you will find in that show.

Louis Morgan said...

Calvin:

I'm really not overly enthusiastic about the film overall, as I'd qualify it as a classic "it's fine..." film.

Tim said...

i also once watched Blast from the Past just for the sake of itbecause nothing else was on and ended up liking it a lot more than expected

Anonymous said...

Louis how would you rank the films adapted from Graham Greene's writing?

Anonymous said...

I've always liked Fraser. I can't imagine anyone else playing Rick O'Connell better than him. He's so charming and charismatic in the part.

Louis Morgan said...

Anonymous:

1. Brighton Rock
2. The Fallen Idol
3. Our Man in Havana
4. Ministry of Fear
5. The End of the Affair
6. This Gun For Hire
7. The Quiet American
8. Across the Bridge
9. The Honorary Consul
10. The Comedians

Note: The Third Man was an original screenplay, where he wrote a novella to help him write the screenplay.

Calvin Law said...

And the funny thing about The Third Man’s novella is that it’s still a pretty great work in itself. Though it’s funny that Greene was so insistent on a happy ending in it but realised Reed had the right idea for the final product.

Mitchell Murray said...

Hmm...perhaps I need to give this performance another chance, as when I first watched the film, I was admittedly more focused on Caine's work than Fraser's.

As for Fraser himself, I never felt he was as bad as some of his critics claimed. Sure, he could be rather goofy sometimes (Cough* Cough* "The Mummy" Cough* Cough*), but even those sillier turns generally fell on the side of enjoyable rather than annoying. Also, lets face it...the guy's had it rough for a long time now, so I genuinely wish him the best if he wants to walk back into the spotlight.

Michael McCarthy said...

Tim: Fraser was EASILY the best guest performance on Scrubs.

Matt Mustin said...

I like him too, although one of his other purely dramatic roles, Gods and Monsters, I thought he was horrible in, although that's also largely due to the script which somehow won an Oscar?

Anonymous said...

Louis what your thoughts on Sheryl Lees second performance on Twin Peaks as Maddy?

Shaggy Rogers said...

1. Firmino
2. Plummer
3. Fraser
4. Spall
5. Iures

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Your thoughts on the Tenet reviews. I think we can all agree whether it's good or great, it won't be a major contender.

Matt Mustin said...

Luke: Like all of Nolan's films it will get in for tech stuff definitely.

Mitchell Murray said...

I'd also like to mention that I watched "The Drop" for the first time in 5 years. I had forgotten just how good the film was, and Hardy, Gandolfini and Schoenaerts are all great.

Louis Morgan said...

Anonymous:

Lee's performance as Maddy is a good one, and I'm glad Lynch gave her the chance to show off her skill, after randomly being so remarkable in the near silent role of Laura. The character though in a way feels like a bit of an audition for Walk With Me, as Maddy who is the more stable, yet less alluring version of Laura. In that though Lee still shows off her certain charm though she she makes it more subdued fittingly. Overall though I think she mostly makes up for Boyle and Marshall, who I don't hate as much as some, but I do feel she definitely is more than a notch above in terms of natural talent. Her most notable scene as Maddy is probably her final not lodge one, where she certainly helps to bring home the horror, with her particular skills there in terms of portraying visceral reaction that rivals the very best.

Luke:

I mean it could still be, if the Academy maintains their eligibility as is, it will be a pretty shallow year.

Anyway though, I did not read any of the reviews, refuse to, especially for a film like this. Honestly many of my favorite films in more recent years have been more in the 80% range, though there are exceptions, as sometimes that range shows a willingness to take the risks to achieve greatness, whereas just goodness can sometimes easily achieve high 90's. So honestly I'm anticipating it just as much as I was before.

Robert MacFarlane said...

Fraser is also pretty underrated in School Ties, which is better than the other boarding school movies from that era (not a high bar, admittedly). Fuck the HPFA president who assaulted him and screwing him out of a better career.

Luke Higham said...

Robert: Agreed. That AOL interview was downright heartbreaking to watch.

Mitchell Murray said...

Robert: Agreed.

Also, I'm assuming Louis is referring to Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic with those 80-90% figures....and if that's the case, let me just say I've lost faith in both sites. Case in point: As of right now, RT has "American Hustle" at a 92% and "Alien 3" at a 44%.

Mitchell Murray said...

Luke: Honestly, seeing videos of Fraser now really makes me hope for his well being, and that he's getting whatever help he needs.

Bryan L. said...

Louis: Do you plan on watching the first Bourne film before this round ends? A tad surprised you haven’t seen any of them.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: You definitely need to see both Identity and Supremacy before Ultimatum.

Anonymous said...

Luke, Who do you think will be reviewed next.

Luke Higham said...

Anonymous: I really hope it's Firmino because usually the 4th/Penultimate review in a lineup either results in a 5 or winning the lineup itself and want Plummer in that position.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Is this Fraser's best work or Trust.

Lucas Saavedra said...

Louis: your ratings and thoughts on the rest of the cast of The Quiet American

ruthiehenshallfan99 said...

I saw Elmer Gantry for the first time a bit ago. Incredible movie with a strong script. As for the cast

Burt Lancaster: 5
Jean Simmons: 5 (Amazing year for her based on this and Spartacus)
Shirley Jones: 4/4.5
Arthur Kennedy: 4
Dean Jagger: 3/3.5

Calvin Law said...

Elmer Gantry is brilliant.

Louis: your ranking of Isabelle Huppert’s top 5 perfoamcnes.

Louis Morgan said...

Bryan:

I've seen Identity.

Luke:

Trust is his best work, and honestly the one thing from that miniseries that stayed with me in anyway.

Lucas:

Well I reviewed Caine...a problem with the film is really it fails to develop the world outside of Fowler and Pyle.

Calvin:

1. Elle
2. 8 Women
3. The Piano Teacher
4. Things to Come
5. Madame Bovary

Robert MacFarlane said...

My first exposure to Huppert was the single worst episode of Law and Order: SVU, and I don’t think I can ever forgive the show for that.

Calvin Law said...

Mine was I Heart Huckabees, she was fine in it though. Shame my first exposure to foreign language actors usually comes in Hollywood productions where they don't get the best kind of roles.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: If you intend to review all the successful Hamlets like you've done with the Macbeths, could you do a writeup of Mel Gibson (1990). Or I may have to request him at some point.

Anonymous said...

Louis: Your ranking of the Hamlets you've seen so far.

Luke Higham said...

Anonymous:
1. Olivier
2. Branagh
3. Gibson

He's yet to see Smoktunovsky, Williamson and Hawke. The last of which I very much doubt will be reviewed.

Anonymous said...

Luke, your rating and thoughts on Fraser in Bedazzled.

Luke Higham said...

Anonymous: A 3.5. I think he gave a rather sweet, enjoyable turn here and I really can't fault his investment in the role whether it's a Columbian Drug Lord or a basketball player with low intelligence. I also enjoyed Hurley as well.

Anonymous said...

Louis, Do you think Denzel Washington was rather misfortunate as an actor where some of his nominated performances (Malcolm X, The Hurricane and Training Day for instance) could've been greater under different circumstances.

Anonymous said...

*Unfortunate

Bryan L. said...

Anyone here think Fraser would be a good fit for a role in the MCU?

Luke Higham said...

Bryan: I've heard he's pretty good in Doom Patrol.

Doctor Octopus would be most intriguing.

Luke Higham said...

Or even The Thing when they introduce F4 into the MCU.

Bryan L. said...

Luke: How about as an old rival of Peter Quill? I know for sure Fraser would’ve played that part if the first Guardians had come out in the 2000s.

Luke Higham said...

Bryan: Agreed.

Luke Higham said...

Anonymous: I forgot about Kapoor in Haider, he's 4th.

Anonymous said...

Luke, If Plummer does get a 5 for Nicholas Nickleby, where do you think he'll rank.

Luke Higham said...

Anonymous: He'll be no higher than 5th I think.

Michael McCarthy said...

What the hell, here’s my ranking of the Hamlets and Claudiuses I’ve seen.

Hamlet:

1. Branagh
2. Olivier
3. Williamson
4. Hawke
5. Kapoor
6. Gibson

Claudius:

1. MacLachlan (whoaaaa plot twist)
2. Jacobi
3. Hopkins
4. Menon
5. Bates & Sydney (equally forgettable to me)

Luke Higham said...

Michael: Your ratings for Williamson, Hawke, Gibson, MacLachlan and Hopkins.

I may have to backtrack on Hawke.

Michael McCarthy said...

Williamson: 4.5
Hawke: 4
Gibson: 3
MacLachlan: 5
Hopkins: 4

Anonymous said...

Luke, Your 2006 lineups.

Luke Higham said...

Timothy Spall - Pierrepoint
Joseph Gordon Levitt - Brick
Ben Whishaw - Perfume: The Story Of A Murderer
Mads Mikkelsen - After The Wedding
Vin Diesel - Find Me Guilty (Must review out of sheer curiosity)

Bonus: Sacha Baron Cohen - Borat (Same with Diesel as well as just for fun)

I wouldn't mind Jones in Infamous but I'm more interested in the five I went with.

(If anyone could help me with Supporting, I'd greatly appreciate it)

Atul Kulkarni - Rang De Basanti
Daniel Craig - Infamous
Justin Theroux/Harry Dean Stanton - Inland Empire
Lukas Haas - Brick
Peter Dinklage - Find Me Guilty
Alt. Adam Beach - Flags Of Our Fathers

Bonus: David Bowie - The Prestige

Luke Higham said...

Louis: How would you rank the LOTR trilogy in terms of their scores.

RatedRStar said...

Luke: I will say Liu Ye gives the one and only good HK nominated supporting performance that year.

Louis Morgan said...

Luke:

Well I didn't do it intentionally with the Macbeths so to speak, so we'll see. I'd prefer to see what 1990 has potentially in store first.

Anonymous:

Well I'll say this, for me Washington, despite his obvious notoriety, I don't think has appeared in many truly "great" films, though he has appeared in many good ones. Partially as he's worked with a variety of directors but not so many of the premiere ones of his time...though I'm in turn very much looking forward to Joel Coen's Macbeth (even if that lack of Ethan still concerns me on some strange fundamental level).

Bryan:

Definitely, honestly he could've been the ideal 90's Captain America,

Luke:

1. Fellowship
2. Towers
3. King

Honestly they're basically interchangeable to me, that ranking is mostly based on the Fellowship setting the tone, along with bringing the now classic motif of the Fellowship theme, and Towers having my favorite individual motif in the series in the Rohan theme.

Matthew Montada said...

Just watched the Batman (2021) trailer. Folks... i think we have a masterpiece in the making. What do you guys think?

Matt Mustin said...

Matthew: Well, I'm not gonna say masterpiece but it does look really amazing.

Bryan L. said...

I honestly had no idea THAT was Colin Farrell as The Penguin.

Louis Morgan said...

Seven: Batman edition...I'm intrigued at least.

Calvin Law said...

Is that Paul Dano's voice? Because if so then damn.

And Pattinson looks great, I even dig the suit now. Aesthetic looks gorgeous.

Robert MacFarlane said...

What strikes me is that Reeves seems to be going for a combination of Nolan’s faux-realism and Burton’s gothic stylization with a lot of Fincher thrown in. No clue how this will turn out. But I’m interested. Actually, I also liked The Suicide Squad’s trailer more than I thought I would. Same with Wonder Woman 1984 (I have a good feeling about Wiig).

Do not say the words “Snyder Cut” to me at any time. Censor it with asterisks if you must. I do not want to remember that it’s happening.

Matt Mustin said...

Calvin: That was definitely Paul Dano's voice.

Calvin Law said...

Robert: I like how Suicide Squad looks too, and agreed on Wiig, Robert. It actually seems like a perfect role for her. And I feel your pain Robert - social media is a nightmare with that two lettered curse word.

Robert MacFarlane said...

Calvin: It doesn’t help that he’s egging on his toxic fanbase now. He knows his fans are rabid zealots, and now he’s weaponizing them on Twitter. It won’t be long before he starts are one-sided flame war with Rian Johnson because he wanted Luke to kill more people in The Last Jedi or something.

Mitchell Murray said...

Just wanted to give my two cents on these new film trailers...

Wonder Woman 1984 - The movie is one that I've been personally excited for, and both trailers have only bolstered that sentiment. I'm especially intrigued at the kind of role-reversal there doing with Diana and Steve, which should lead to some great chemistry once again from Gadot and Pine. I still have my reservations for Wiig (as well as the CGI for Cheetah), but we'll see how it goes.

Suicide Squad - Ehh....I don't have any interest in it, I'm afraid.

Batman - I still think Pattinson would've been a PERFECT Nightwing or Redhood, but he's looking pretty competent regardless, as does the film itself.

Mitchell Murray said...

Also, to Robert's and Calvin's comments about social media....

As naive as this might sound, I would simply advise everyone to ignore that nonsense as much as possible. Nothing good ever comes out of those flame wars and toxicity, regardless of the topic they may be "discussing". The way I see it, let those trolls and shills waste each other's time - not your own.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

The Batman trailer has me sold. Pattinson seems to be absolutely terrific in the role.

Robert MacFarlane said...

Mitchell: I guess you’re not on Twitter. It’s very, very hard to just ignore this shit. I muted the words “Zack Snyder” today and still got nothing but him in my feed. There’s no escaping The Discourse. It is all-consuming, like a plague, or the 1988 version of The Blob that looked like bubble gum but melted faces even grosser than The Thing.

I think I need to go to bed.

Aidan Pittman said...

Watched Inherent Vice and... that was certainly something. I think I loved it, though, not sure how much, but I'm fairly sure I loved it.

Phoenix - 5
Waterson - 4
Brolin - 5
Toro - 3.5
Wilson - 3.5
Witherspoon - 3.5

Tim: To answer your question from the last post, I thought Basinger filled her part fine enough, but she really didn't bring too much to her role like her costars did for theirs. She's fine enough but... eh.

Louis: What are your Top 15 Performances in Paul Thomas Anderson films?

Also on The Batman trailer, I was certainly intrigued. Pattinson definitely looks like a stellar Batman. Mostly looking forward to seeing Dano in action as The Riddler.

Mitchell Murray said...

Robert: Your right, I'm not on Twitter. And based on what I've seen and heard, it doesn't seem like I'm missing much.

Louis Morgan said...

Aidan:

1. Joaquin Phoenix - The Master
2. Daniel Day-Lewis - There Will Be Blood
3. Daniel Day-Lewis - Phantom Thread
4. Philip Seymour Hoffman - The Master
5. Philip Baker Hall - Hard Eight
6. Vicky Krieps - Phantom Thread
7. Melora Walters - Magnolia
8. Lesley Manville - Phantom Thread
9. John C. Reilly - Magnolia
10. Tom Cruise - Magnolia
11. Julianne Moore - Boogie Nights
12. Josh Brolin - Inherent Vice
13. Joaquin Phoenix - Inherent Vice
14. Philip Baker Hall - Magnolia
15. Adam Sandler - Punch-Drunk Love

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Louis: Where would Brolin's performance in Inherent Vice rank among your top ten supporting performances of the 2010s?

Luke Higham said...

Saw The Batman trailer. LOVEDDDDDDDD it. Definitely one of my 5 most anticipated for next year.

Luke Higham said...

Is Reilly 3rd and Cruise 4th in the 99 ranking then.

Anonymous said...

Louis: If Ledger was never nominated for The Dark Knight, do you think Phoenix would have had any chance of being nominated/winnning for Joker?

Louis Morgan said...

Luke:

Listing error...though the two are neck and neck for me.

Tahmeed:

He doesn't quite make it, despite loving the work, loved a lot of supporting turns from the decade.

Anonymous:

Probably not, but that is because one would have to take The Dark Knight out of the equation. The Dark Knight needs to be looked upon as one of the essential films in the Academy's history in the past two decades. This as its snubbing, in favor of a lineup that seemed particularly at odds with public perception, one where the public was right, and time really has bared that out as none of the films in the lineup even scratch the surface of The Dark Knight's critical and cultural impact. Its snubbing immediately lead to the expansion of Best Picture, which in turn lead to a fundamental change in what films really were even considered for certain categories. The reaction to the Dark Knight snub forced the academy to take genre films more seriously, in turn allowed for something like the Joker to happen later on.