CINEMATIC PASSIONS’ MEMORABLE PERFORMANCES OF 2008

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I just wanted to put up a post that honours some of the great acting that I’ve seen this year. Not only is this a subject that I know something about but a lot of excellent work has a tendency to get lost in the shuffle.

So it would do me good to have a discussion for the actors’ benefit – whether they’ve won a barrelful of awards or not.
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HEATH LEDGER – THE DARK KNIGHT

Though I never liked the film, I found HEATH’S incendiary turn awe inspiring. He reminded me of Byron: mad, bad and dangerous to know.
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LEE PACE – MISS PETTIGREW LIVES FOR A DAY

LEE PACE has the looks and bearing of a 40s matinee idol. In his (all too) few scenes in MISS PETTIGREW, you can not take your eyes off of him.

Though LEE’S character MICHAEL is clearly the perfect man for her, DELYSIA LAFOSSE (AMY ADAMS) has two other lovers on the go and she’s reluctant to give them up. She is determined to be a star of stage and screen no matter what. It’s not her fault that men are just so…helpful when it comes to her career.

But MICHAEL – a passionate Brit – has been patient too long. It’s been a year. He’s not putting up with any more of this jazz. He’s mad for this wild American redhead. But he is totally and completely exasperated by her behaviour.

Enough’s enough.

After he tells her off and plunks her perky self down on a nearby piano (hot as hell), MICHAEL has no hesitation in speaking his mind.

He’s leaving London and sailing for New York tomorrow. With her or without her.

“Marry me or we’re through.”

I had never seen LEE PACE before. It was a long scene with plenty of challenging dialogue…and he was mesmerizing. That was some introduction.

I’ve heard marriage can be quite the bore. But I am a true romantic. I was hoping that DELYSIA would say yes.

If it were a mistake, DELYSIA could always be MICHAEL’S first wife.
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MATTHEW GOODE – BRIDESHEAD REVISITED

MATTHEW GOODE’S portrayal of CHARLES RYDER is utterly fascinating.

As the innocent with no spirtual concerns or religious ideals to complicate his simple existence, CHARLES falls under the powerful spell of the Marchmains, staunch Catholics of immense wealth. They are so very different from him in terms of lifestyle, class and upbringing.

He has no idea – as an idealistic adolescent – how much the Marchmains will change him and how they will ultimately leave their mark on him.

FOREVER.

MATTHEW is letter perfect. The story is CHARLES’ and you see it through his eyes. You are raw with his suffering and his inability to turn the clock back.

You identify so much with CHARLES’ situation that your heart thoroughly breaks for him at the end.

MATTHEW has a rare talent.
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BRENDAN GLEESON – IN BRUGES

BRENDAN GLEESON is brilliant. There isn’t anything he can’t play or any character that he can’t bring successfully to life.

He’s an actor’s actor.

In IN BRUGES, he’s KEN – half of the dynamic duo that drives the engine in this awesome flick. For an Irish criminal who’s spent decades living by his wits, he is far more cheerful and humane than he has to be.

KEN is a regular guy. He has some decency. He just runs on his own code of honour.

Yet another fabulous performance to add to BRENDAN’S repertoire.
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COLIN FARRELL – IN BRUGES

If BRENDAN GLEESON’S KEN is a loyal, responsible yellow lab, then COLIN FARRELL’S RAY is the vulnerable puppy dog in IN BRUGES’ dangerously twisted scenario.

RAY is hilarious. If he’s not looking for women, then he’s trying to find people to punch out. Or turning the air blue with his endless Irish cursing.

RAY’S tough exterior masks a soft heart. (Actually, RAY and KEN are two of the nicest hit men you’d ever run across in the whole of Europe.)

RAY has – for him – committed an unforgivable sin. Though it was completely accidental, RAY wonders if God will ever take pity on him now. Things being what they are, you can fully expect that incident to come into play before IN BRUGES reaches its climactic conclusion.

Does it? You’ll have to see it to believe it…

COLIN is proving himself consistently over time. He is absolutely fantastic in IN BRUGES.
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REBECCA HALL – VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA

I’ve seen VCB seven times. I couldn’t help it. It spoke to me.

I all ready resemble SCARLETT JOHANSSON (similar features, same hair, green eyes, smoky voice like hers, identical body type) but her character CRISTINA could be my twin.

Some of the dialogue that WOODY wrote for her has been said by me. Word for word. I am a spirited, independent, impulsive, free thinking romantic.

I have zero interest in a menage a trois or sleeping with any morons immediately (you’ve got to walk your talk and beg for a bit before CATWOMAN will rock your world, sweetie – if you can take it), but otherwise, it all rings very, very true…

I’m a great fan of SCARLETT. She’s very good in this picture.

I had never seen REBECCA HALL in anything else. Barely even paid attention to her the first couple of times.

But, as I commenced viewing this movie repeatedly over several months, I began to discover something. Whether anyone is aware of it or not, REBECCA’S performance is arguably the best work by a female in the film.

You start out thinking that VICKY is practically the antithesis of CRISTINA…and that she’s very happy with her boyfriend. She’s getting married soon. Everything is coming up roses.

Except it’s not.

VICKY is much more complicated than you immediately understand. She may seem outwardly conservative, tight and a bit dull. She’s anything but.

Her degree is centred around the Catalan lifestyle. There is a free spirit – as well as a fiery passion – burning inside this woman. It’s just aching to get out.

When the sparks start to fly and she impulsively sleeps with JUAN ANTONIO before the weekend is out, it doesn’t come as a complete surprise. You can see that, with this girl, there is much, much more than you would ever expect.

When JUAN ANTONIO begins to pursue CRISTINA in earnest even after being intimate with VICKY, you feel her pain completely. But even marrying Doug doesn’t help matters.

It’s all going to hit the fan. No matter what.

REBECCA HALL is an exciting presence with a exceptional future in front of her.
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SALLY HAWKINS – HAPPY GO LUCKY

SALLY HAWKINS in HGL is sheer acting genius. From minute one, she’s excellent and magnificently engaging. But there are many subtleties that she has built into POPPY’S personality.

POPPY isn’t just cheerful and bubbly. There’s endless depth to her. She easily comprehends people’s sadness and grief. POPPY feels deeply for other individuals and, with enormous empathy, she tries to help whenever she can.

But the big splash comes at the end. When her driving instructor (who has a wicked crush on her) attempts to bully her and then smooth it over, she’s having none of it. He crossed the line. There is no turning back and she wants nothing more to do with him.

Not even in a professional sense.

So this giggling sprite who appeared to take nothing in her life seriously (not even herself) actually was a determined young woman with an iron will.

When she was done, that was it.

And she was done…

I bow to SALLY. She is a goddess of the highest order….

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