“A friend is a gift you give yourself,” Lou Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal) to Nina (Rene Russo)
As a creepily compelling bottom feeding newshound sociopath, Jake Gyllenhaal excels. Gaunt, eyes bulging, conscience-less Lou Bloom is the stuff of nightmares, if he wasn’t so crazily charismatic. Our initial intro is the protagonist stealing fencing from an industrial yard. Caught in the act by a security guard, the whippet sharp Bloom is no weakling and overwhelms his opponent. What state the guard is left in is up to our imaginations; the only clue: Lou wears the security man’s expensive-looking watch. Hawking the fencing at a metal works, Bloom asks the owner for a job. Shot down brusquely with an observation, “I’m not hiring a f**king thief,” Lou immediately reassesses career prospects. Mind constantly ticking away for advancement, in every situation, not through honourable methods but through ends-justify-means ruthlessness, is how Gyllenhaal skilfully plays the lead.
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“This family is a f***king Picasso painting,” Henry “Hank” Palmer (Robert Downey Jr.) to brother Glenn (Vincent D’Onofrio)
Undoubtedly THE JUDGE is the Robert Downey Jr. show. Given the choicest lines, playing to his entertaining glib faux-misanthropic thinly veiled heart-of-gold strengths, the rest of the classy cast are unfortunately relegated to wallow in TV-movie-of-the-week drivel. Robert Duvall was Tom Hagen in THE GODFATHER, Frank Hackett in NETWORK and Lieutenant Colonel Bill Kilgore in APOCALYPSE NOW (to name a few); how has he been allowed to be reduced to literally sh*tting himself in a scene here? Note: Duvall’s last legal eagle drama had him eviscerating the screen in A CIVIL ACTION.
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The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman
“I sure didn’t mean for you to be running out on death scenes,” His mother to Charlie
A jolting first image: Shia LaBeouf’s titular protagonist is bruised and bloody, hanging upside down like the Joker in THE DARK KNIGHT. Mads Mikkelsen’s Nigel is pointing a gun at him. John Hurt as narrator is talking over proceedings. The latter is one of the bum notes, along with the title. Hurt is too ubiquitous as a rent-a-voice-over. As mellifluous as his tones are, enough already. Also, the sub-poetic platitudes he is forced to read out add nothing to what we are watching, and just grate. Same again goes for the title. Anyway, the start intrigued. And for any non-fan of Shia, his battered mug may please. He has got a lot of sh*t for the TRANSFORMERS franchise and KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL, but LaBeouf has great timing, and I personally enjoy his shtick – see A GUIDE TO RECOGNISING YOUR SAINTS and SURF’S UP.
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