The top 5 performances of Ralph Fiennes

Somehow, I’ve not written about the living legend that is Ralph Fiennes before. And, these days, he’s just getting better with age. Well it’s high time we address that and look at my pick of his best performances.

So here they are, my favourite five. Do you agree? What would yours be?

Voldemort
Harry Potter (2005-2011)
A twisted, reptilian serpent of a villain, stealing every scene as poor Daniel Radcliffe tried to keep up. His take on Rowling’s primary bad guy was just as you’d want it to be – melodramatic, flamboyant, tortured, deliciously evil and highly watchable.

the-lost-story-of-how-tom-riddle-became-lord-voldemort-is-as-epic-and-insane-as-you-would-833734

Harry
In Bruges (2008)
Where did this performance come from? Who knew Fiennes was so funny? Obviously it helps to have a dark comedy penned by ‘the Irish Tarantino’ Martin McDonagh with zingers aplenty to get stuck into, but Fiennes’ performance was deadpan genius.

In Bruges

M. Gustave
The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)
In probably the quirkiest Wes Anderson film yet, Fiennes ran the show as enigmatic Hotel Manager M. Gustave, thoroughly embracing scenes with casual shootouts, jailbreaks and geriatric loving; as if it was the easiest thing in the world to pull off.

Gareth Mallory
Skyfall (2012)
Filling Judi Dench’s boots as M is a hell of a tall order, yet Fiennes effortlessly slotted into Sam Mendes’ world of Bond as if he’d been there all along. Initially we’re unsure of his motives (in terms of Bond) yet they come to earn each other’s respect.

skyfallreduced-0017

Lenny Nero
Strange Days (1995)
Directed by Kathryn Bigelow and written by James Cameron, this gritty sci-fi thriller was a favourite of mine growing up. Largely due to Fiennes’ committed performance as former LAPD cop turned bootlegger. Worth seeking out if you’ve not seen it.

RF Strange Days

RIP Robin Williams

Dead at 63. So sad. A look on IMDb shows Williams had over 100 acting roles listed on his filmography. That’s some output.

Whilst his work varied from genre to genre he was best known for comedy. And being a genuinely sweet human being (as the tributes to him on Twitter recently showed).Good-Morning-Vietnam-robin-williams-25340806-2560-1731

Also, if you think about it, how many other actors led such a varied career in terms of roles? This was a guy who in recent years has played President Teddy Roosevelt in Night at the Museum (twice), and President Dwight D. Eisenhower in Lee Daniels’ The Butler. One role serious, straight and to the letter, the other as off the wall as you can get.

I’m 31 and, for me growing up, Williams was more significant than I care to admit. Here’s a selection of some of his work that’s impacted me the most:

  • Good Morning, Vietnam (1987) – Adrian Cronauer
  • Hook (1991) – Peter Banning
  • Aladdin (1992) – Genie
  • Jumanji (1995) – Alan Parrish
  • The Birdcage (1996) – Armand Goldman

A lot of these are children’s films, but that’s in no way a disparaging comment. He exuded a sense of enthusiasm, playfulness and wonder that really spoke to kids. There was also an inherent sadness to him at times. And therein was his appeal. Joy and sadness. Light and dark. All the best actors have it and draw from it for their performances.
bird

And now, in the world of comedy, there’s a void. One that will be immensely hard to fill. The best tribute we can all pay him is to revisit his work. Go and discover his films and performances you may have forgotten and share them with others. (For me I’ve got Dead Poets Society, The Fisher King, Awakenings and Good Will Hunting to watch.)

RIP Robin. Thank you for your contribution to cinema, entertainment and putting a smile on people’s faces wherever you went.

We’ll miss you.

Has Colin Farrell lost his way?

london-boulevard-movie-1I watched London Boulevard on TV at the weekend. The best way I can describe it is… You know those times when you’re feeling lonely and your phone buzzes? ‘Ah ha!’ you think, ‘I’ve got a text. Someone loves me’. Your chubby little fingers scramble to bring your device to life; only to discover it’s some automated message about which you couldn’t care less. You’re left feeling deflated, dejected, and slightly used. So there it is. London Boulevard.

On paper it had promise. A good cast: Keira Knightley, Ray Winstone, David Thewlis, Anna Friel and Colin Farrell. Celebrated screenwriter William Monahan (The Departed) was directing although, based on results, perhaps he should stick to writing. To be fair the film is passable, albeit unmemorable. Whilst it’s hardly The Departed (I mean, what is? Before you say it I’m aware of Infernal Affairs) it is still a decent effort for a debut director.

However, Monahan is not on trial here. Back to Farrell.

Since he burst onto the scene with Tigerland (2000) I’d argue he’s done precious little to justify his continued career – bar a few exceptions. Phone Booth (2002) really made me sit up and take notice. phone-booth-2002-01This guy has talent. And then, having shown what he can do, he ducked his head below the parapet for about six years, before catching everyone off guard with a brilliant turn in the darkly comic In Bruges (2008).

There it is! I hadn’t seen Farrell’s comedy chops since Ordinary Decent Criminal (2000). And that was way back in the day, practically Ballykissangel (1998) era where it all began. Now I’m not saying comedy should be his de facto genre of choice. But it would be good to see more of it. That said, Farrell does like to dabble in a variety of genres. Perhaps that’s his problem. What’s his strength? What does he stand for? Now I know actors don’t like to be pigeonholed but… If you were given the task of explaining the type of actor Colin Farrell is, what would you say?

Is he intense? Is he funny? Would you say he’s an A-list pretender punching above his weight? Or is he a true talent? For example, since the action heydays of the ’80s, Hollywood has always been searching round for the next leading action manFilm Title: In Bruges. They’ve toyed with Farrell a few times: Daredevil (2003), S.W.A.T. (2003), Miami Vice (2006), Total Recall (2012). But I just don’t buy it. Again, he’s passable. Solid. Gets the job done. But it’s just not enough. Not nearly enough.

With some actors you can tell, you can sense it. He’s got talent I know it. Detractors would say it’s hidden talent, lurking beneath the surface at best. That still counts. I just don’t know what he needs to bring it out. Not that it’s my job to bring it out, but we all need hope.

As Christopher Walken says in Seven Psychopaths (another passable Farrell film), ‘Dream sequences are for fags, but we all gotta dream, don’t we?’