Sunday, March 22, 2009

Flight of Joaquin Phoenix

The wife and I just took in Two Lovers, a film written and directed by James Gray and starring Joaquin Phoenix in what could prove to be his final role as an actor.

Okay, I'm not falling for Phoenix's publicity stunt--that he's given up his acting career--one bit.

The film is very good at being both sad and strangely happy. I won't give away the ending or spoil the plot in any way, but it left me happily depressed. Or, sadly happy. It's an interesting film thematically, at times a romantic comedy but more an exploration of what love really is. The film manages to strip away any sense of sentimentality and presents love in its crudest, ugliest, messiest forms.

I'm really starting to dig James Gray as a director. He impressed me with We Own The Night, a film I had dismissed unfairly when it hit the theaters. Two Lovers has a lot of style to it, but in an unobtrusive sort of way. The effect, while understated, is still felt.

So will this be Phoenix's swan song? Or will he rise from the ashes like a...oh god I can't even write it.

18 comments:

seanag said...

You know, if anyone colorblind was reading this, they would read that opening statement as, "The wife and I just took in Two Lovers". Whether they would continue reading would depend a lot on how voyeuristic they were.

I don't know what is going on with Joaquin, but it is still very sad to think about River. I wish we had a full career to view. That guy was very talented.

Brian O'Rourke said...

Seana,

Yeah, that sentence does read a little strange, doesn't it? That's my subconscious still trying to capture the erotica market, apparently.

I'm still sad about River as well. And while we're on the subject, Heath Ledger's untimely death is still a huge downer. That guy could act.

Phil Stiefel said...

Joaquin Phoenix is going to act again I do not know what all the crazieness is all about. His hip hop drama will end ass quickly as it started. He is screwing his career that is all right now. While he has had some good roles he still has yet to make me think he deserves the ranks among the best. The only way I would care if an actor called it quits is if it was a "great" actor not a good actor. I do not think he qualifies as great yet.

Brian O'Rourke said...

Philly,

For me, he falls into the "great" category. He was fantastic in Gladiator and just as good in Walk The Line.

Still though, I have little patience for ridiculous antics like this that seem all about garnering attention.

seanag said...

I'm right there with you on Ledger.
I really haven't been following Joaquin's antics closely enough to comment on them.

Brian O'Rourke said...

Seana,

I'm at work, otherwise I'd post a youtube link or two to Phoenix's appearance on Letterman about a month or so ago. It's hysterical, in a kind of "this is so awkward I can't even watch it" kind of way. Bizarre.

Rita Vetere said...

Hey, Brian,

I thought Joaquin was fantastic in Gladiator as well, and he turned in a great performance in Walk the Line. Haven't seen Two Lovers yet--it'll go on my watch list after Nicholas Cage's latest, "Knowing", which I've been waiting for.

I agree wholeheartedly about Heath Ledger, too--tragic loss of a great talent.

Brian O'Rourke said...

Hey Rita,

Be prepared for Two Lovers. It has its lighter moments, but all in all it's very heavy and kind of a downer.

Let me know what you think of Knowing. I read on IMDb that it was getting panned by all the critics, except by Ebert who gave it four stars.

Brian O'Rourke said...

PS - There are a lot of excellent discussions going on about the thought-provoking ending to this movie over on its IMDb page.

Phil Stiefel said...

I do not mean to take away from what he has done... Gladiator is a great movie (one of Russell Crowes best) and I even liked Ladder 49 with Travolta... I didnt see Walk the Line but know that it has gotten great reviews... I feel I have to see at least a few awesome movies from the same person to get that great title and so far JP is not there yet in my book.

Brian O'Rourke said...

Philly,

I hear you, brother.

So when can we expect the next post on your blog? I love Random Thoughts on Random Thoughts.

Phil Stiefel said...

Thanks for the plug I got two or three things on tap this week plus now with this JP blog I have to now talk about my top two or three actors and why so I got a few this week and I got to thank you for the plug of my blog.

Brian O'Rourke said...

No need to thank me, pal. I look forward to reading some more.

adrian mckinty said...

I met Joaquin at the Loews in Columbus Circle. He was waiting for someone and so was I, so I bugged him. It was like that scene in Annie Hall when the teamsters are hassling Woody while he's waiting for Diane Keaton.

I read in Entertainment Weekly that JP is being filmed during this whole thing by Roman Copolla for a movie they're making. In other words the whole thing is a Borat style goof.

adrian mckinty said...

Nice pun BTW. Did you see the original Jimmy Stewart/Richard Attenborough movie? A crazy classic.

Brian O'Rourke said...

Adrian,

That's crazy. What was JP like?

Nice reference to Annie Hall btw. One of my favorite parts in that movie is when Allen grabs (insert name of the author I forget here) to tell some blathering idiot in line behind him that he's dead wrong about some book he's discussing.

I've seen both the original, and unfortunately, the remake of Flight of the Phoenix. Loved the Stewart/Attenborough version, of course, but not so much the newer one.

adrian mckinty said...

JP was very friendly and happy. I think he was waiting for a girl and must have been in love with her something because he was bubbling with joy. The only thing I'd seen him in was To Die For so I asked him what Nicole Kidman was like and he said she was cool.

Marshall McLuhan was the guy you were thinking about. You should watch that clip again its a bloody classic.

Brian O'Rourke said...

Adrian -

That's pretty cool about your meeting with Commodus. (BTW, I can't believe Gladiator is 9 years old. I still remember going to see it in the theater in college.)

I love Annie Hall. Great film. Though the Star Wars fan in me gets all riled up when I think about how AH was awarded Best Pic over A New Hope.