Sunday, April 02, 2006

Filmmakers I adore… Tim Robbins.

Having had the privilege of re-watching my dear favourite The Shawshank Redemption this week, I have decided to continue my roll of (seeming) loathing of females, as this is the forth entry, and the forth male. Next week will be a woman, I promise.

Tim Robbins came to my attention as the goofy and adorable Norville Barnes in The Hudsucker Proxy. In this Capra pastiche, that happens to be loathed by everyone by me, Robbins played a wide-eyed, naïve proxy to Hudsucker industries, who is hired for his stupidity, but wins against them with his own secret weapons. In his role, Robbins is absolutely hilarious, bearing the grin endlessly but also subtly injecting vulnerability into his much-humoured role.

That was the performance that I noticed from him for a long time, before came the masterpiece from the same year that was The Shawshank Redemption. But more on that later.

Robbins has had a few collaborations with Robert Altman, and his best work with him is in the mult-storylined Short Cuts, especially at that earthquake bit. However, as the slimy movie producer in The Player, Robbins introduces charisma to a largely slimy character. A few other notable performances of the 90s include his sloppy but enjoyable comedic work in Nothing to Lose, as well as slimy (again) Bob Roberts in political comedy Bob Roberts.

For the most part, Robbins is a very talented actor, but what he must do is shy away from some of the crappy MTV movies that he has appeared in. The Truth About Charlie gave me nightmares, Human Nature was unfunny and dull and AntiTrust was a total embarrassment. To see such an accomplished actor edge his way around material that is so below him is almost as difficult as it is to watch Scarlett Johansson or Dakota Fanning act. Basically, they shouldn’t do it.

If Robbins were to have a “trademark” character, I suppose his would be the disturbed, potentially dangerous man with a secret. He exhibited this was appropriate freakiness in Arlington Rd. and Jacob’s Ladder, both nothing special, but Robbins displayed an Oscar-winning performance in Mystic River in this type of role, and it was an Oscar well won. As the troubled Dave Boyle, he overcame his own tall frame to create the image that he was as small as his character was when young, and rocked the movie.

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Post-River, his output has been less impressive. Code 46 was an intriguing effort, but not totally easy to get, War of the Worlds was enjoyable but Tim overacted somewhat and the less said about Zathura, the better. I hope Hotstuff shows the talent that we all know he has.

I may as well say something about his directing too. So far, I have seen all the movies he has directed (two produced by Working Title, I smugly add), and their grades are A-, B and C- (for Dead Man Walking, Bob Roberts and Cradle will Rock). The latter had a nice premise but essentially got carried away by pomp and self indulgence. Dead Man Walking, however, where he directed his partner Susan Sarandon and friend Sean Penn, is one of the most subtle and beautiful movies of all time. Tim ought to have won the Oscar.
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According to me, he should have three by now, and the one that he deserves it for the most didn’t even merit a nomination. I speak of course of his turn as Andy in The Shawshank Redemption. It helps that I love the film to pieces, but that love couldn’t exist without Tim’s performance, a quiet tour-de-force in acting. As Andy, he shows an enigmatic hint of delight, some stoicness and meticulous self assurance. This all comes together perfectly as he creates one of the most brave and noble film characters of all time, and though none of us have ever been in prison, by the time the film has finished, we really feel like we have experienced the trials and tribulations of Shawshank with him. He should also be noted on his easy, authentic and genuine chemistry with Freeman. Two men searching for redemption, only to find friendship could do a lot worse. And, though it’s not really relevant, Morgan Freeman won a much-deserved Oscar a year after him. Both men were under the direction of Clint Eastwood. Shawshank redeemed, and my URL explained.
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So basically, a talented director but an excellent actor. Keep up the good work, Tim!

Best Performances
01. As Andy in The Shawshank Redemption
02. As Dave Boyle in Mystic River
03. As Norville Barnes in The Hudsucker Proxy
04. As in “Nuke” LaLoosh Bull Durham
05. As Bob Roberts in Bob Roberts

Best Films
01. The Shawshank Redemption (my favourite film of all time)
02. Dead Man Walking (director)
03. Mystic River
04. Short Cuts
05. The Hudsucker Proxy


laura said...

I've seen Zathura!

steven said...

Too much gushing over too much mediocrity.

*backs away* Please don't hurt me.

MysticFist said...

Shawshank redeemed, and my URL explained.

Interesting. Very interesting.

I don't know, some of his delivery in your favourite film just felt so awkwardly strained to me, especially when he (telegraphically) tells Red about Zihuatanejo and tries so obviously to act like someone who wants to appear calm when they're actually disturbed.

I wasn't supposed to be bashing him, was I? Sorry! It was a great performance, anyway, just not on par with his phenomenal work in Cool's Mystico. And then we have his compelling turn in The Player... yeah, he's very good.

Oh and great job directing Dead Man Walking too.

Emma said...

Tim Robbins is a great actor. Anybody who disagrees can be prepared to get castrated.

MysticFist said...

Just to make things clear, yes, he is great. Er.

matt said...

Tim Robbins is a great actor. Anybody who disagrees can be prepared to get castrated.

Bit of sour grapes, aren't you?

Emma said...

Matt: Bit of a twat, aren't you?

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