Wednesday, 29 December 2010

“Oh, Jude”

"I have an eye for talent."
I’m a big fan of Jude Law. That in itself feels like a gross understatement. Next to Ralph Fiennes he’s my favourite living actor. And it’s weird, I’m always wailing about consistency, but Jude doesn’t have an impeccable track record. Like any good actor he stars in less than in interesting projects I often wonder if Jude sincerely believes in the films he promotes – maybe he’s self deluded like Errol Flynn, remember his line in The Aviator “I have an eye for talent”, considering the times he's been great - you'd think so. Then, considering things like Sherlock Holmes, Repo Men, The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus – not bloody likely.
Oh, but I do love him – even if my worth as a fan is incredibly precarious when I consider the Jude Law films I haven’tI Heart Huckabees, which with its eclectic must be seen one day; or Breaking & Entering, which as a staunch Anthony Minghella fan I have no excuse for not seeing; or AI: Artificial Intelligence, which I’ve seen showing often but never bothered to watch. And yet, I’ve still got five performances of his that I especially love.

Jerome Eugene Morrow in Gattaca (1997) - REVIEWED
If at first you don’t succeed...try, try again.
What is it about Jude playing moguls of perfection? I like to remember this movie for Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman, the former especially who's never revered as much as he ought to be, but Jude steals the show playing the perfect man, who's not so perfect. Jerome is a bit of a dick, okay a lot of a dick - but that's the thing about Jude, even when you hate can't. Even though Niccol's Gattaca didn't take off as well as it should have, does anyone (besides me) remember it anymore?

Dickie Greenleaf in The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999) - REVIEWED
Everybody should have one talent, what’s yours?
And he moves from the somewhat sympathetic epitome of past perfection, to a full blown cad who's know for his (you guessed it) perfection. Dickie Greenleaf is still my favourite Jude's one of my favourite supporting performances period, he just has those line-readings down pat. And when he says everyone has one talent, you kind of think that his is playing perfect - and being a pretentious douchebag, that we still can't help wishing we were friends with.
(Somewhere in between this he played another epitome of perfection in AI: Artificial Intelligence)
Harlen Maguire in Road to Perdition (2002)
I’m something of a rarity.
He's nowhere near perfection (inside or out) in Road to Perdition, for heaven sakes he takes photos of the dead - and forgive me if I can't help feeling a bit of necrophilia here. And yet he's sort of right, Jude is a bit of a rarity. When he's playing perfect, he seems made for it but he's absolutely disgusting in Road to Perdition, and not even in an over-the-top look-at-me way, it's as if he really was made for the role in an eerie way. I'll never understood why the performance, why the entire film actually, was shafted that year.

Inman in Cold Mountain (2003) - REVIEWED
You are all that keeps me from sliding into some dark place.
As it is, though, I do find something beautiful in the fact that Jude earned his two Oscar nominations (thus far) for Anthony Minghella projects. Truth be told, I might have given him the Oscar this year - it's so tough for me to choose between him and Sean Penn. He's every bit as awkward as you'd expect his hillbilly character to be. Inman is probably my favourite character of him, which is surprising since he's the most introverted. You don't expect him to be a good introvert, but the extroversion in Cold Mountain is left to Renee Zellweger and Phillip Seymour Hoffman. Jude handles his role beautifully, though I admit I spent an undue amount of time waiting for him and Nicole to umm...get it on...and they were apart for sooooooo much of the movie. (I  demand a rematch.)

Dan in Closer (2004) - Performance REVIEW
Deception is brutal, I’m not pretending otherwise.
Is it because Dan is such a stealth meanie that this performance didn't catch on? Yeah, I'd have probably Oscar-ed him for this one too. He is my best-in-show, and I LOVE this movie. 2004 was supposed to be his year, he was downright impossible to avoid - I did love him in Sky Captain & the World of Tomorrow, that one's delightful amidst all the madness and woefully underrated.
The recent drought of any substantial Jude roles feels a bit like a broken promise, he's supposed to be getting more work by now. I'm hoping that Contagion and Hugo Cabret (with SCORSESE) take off, I'm a bit tired of waiting on this train to arrive. But, then again, it's Jude and his moments of perfection outweigh the current drought. I were to rank the five it'd be #5: Jerome, #4: Harlan, #3: Inman, #2: Dan and #1: Dickie.
What's your favourite Jude moment?


MovieNut14 said...

I've seen all these movies except Gattaca. He was awesome in The Aviator, creepy in Road to Perdition and sexy in everything else.

My favorite Jude moment has to be the bathtub scene in The Talented Mr. Ripley. Never looked at him the same way again after that. But still, yowza.

The Kid In The Front Row said...

I thought he was cool in Closer. And Love, Honour & Obey. And Final Cut, too, of course.

Nicholas Prigge said...

I remember Gattaca. I love Gattaca. It's on my DVD shelf and that's a sacred place.

Candice Frederick said...

really really liked him in Road to perdition and talented mr. ripley.

M. Hufstader said...

Gattaca and Road to Perdition are definitely the best Jude Law roles ever. I Heart Huckabees is also a great one, in the same way his Gattaca role is. He makes a great asshole.

CrazyCris said...

Excellent choices! I can't think of a favourite Jude moment right now... but if he's in a movie I'm guaranteed to give it a shot!!!

Btw, I've been a bit absent from my blog lately, particularly movie-related (although making up for it right now), but I've got a post up on my new travel blog that's got something for movie fans with sharp eyes... a "guess what movie this landscape was in" kind of thing, and there will be more to come since I'm in New Zealand and plan to visit plenty of movie locations! ;o)

rtm said...

He was compelling in Road to Perdition and Mr. Ripley. I even like him in The Holiday, but you're right he's not exactly a consistent actor.

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

oh, anna you sure that wasn't just the hormones? damon was so creepy in that scene, though. damn, i love that movie.

kid in the front row the latter two, which i have not seen. (shame on me.)

nicholas well, you sir have good taste. gattaca is awesome.

candice good choices both.

m. hufstader but he's not really an douchey asshole, he's so charming. damn, i want that charm.

cris i shall check that out directly.

ruth i'm not sure if he's consistent - i always like him. but some of his movie, oy!

MovieNut14 said...

@Andrew LOL, maybe. And yes, Damon was creepy in that scene (as well as the whole movie).

TomS said...

I really fell in love with him in "Talented Mr. Ripley." Ditto on the bathtub scene, but also his scene in the nightclub with Matt Damon, being pals, seducing everyone including yours truly.

And "Closer" was amazing too.

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

anna but you're excused. come on! it's jude. (on damon, YES)

tom the scene that always gets me with jude is when he tells tom "without the glasses, you're not even ugly." such a mean-spirited line and jude plays it so well, you don't even SEE dickie being mean. he's just a natural meanie, but you can't help but like him.