Entries in Road to Perdition (5)
Here's abstew on one of TFE's very favorite actors
This past Wednesday saw the limited release of the British film Dom Hemingway about a safecracker that is recently released from prison after serving 12 years. The marketing material is also quick to point out that he's played by Jude Law because it's not immediately apparent.(The film also stars The Mother of Dragons herself, Emilia Clarke, as his...daughter! Well, at least she's not the love interest. At least, I hope not.)
Sporting a couple gold teeth, the craziest mutton chops not normally seen outside of a Civil War reenactor, and more girth than usual (Law gained 30 pounds for the role and it's not even Oscar bait!), the role is certainly a departure for the man that was once Dickie Greenleaf. (Although he's still kinda sexy as Dom. Am I crazy?)
Even in his early roles it was often noted that Law was a character actor trapped in the body of a movie star. Although he's been named People Magazine's Sexiest Man Alive before, he's hardly an actor to rely solely on his good looks. Throughout his career he's been allowed to embrace the character actor aspect of his roles and experiment with his appearance along the way.
Let's take a look back at some of his most memorable looks!
75th Annual Oscars ~ 10th Anniversary Special
On this very day 10 years ago, one of only two posthumous Oscars for the past decade in film was handed out. It went to Conrad Hall for his lensing of Road to Perdition (the other was Heath Ledger's). So here's one from the vaults since we did a Hit Me With Your Best Shot on it just last year. If you click on these shots, deemed best by our 'hit me' club and arranged here in narrative order, you can read more about them and why they were chosen.
It's a strange symmetry that a film as funereal as Road to Perdition would be a member of the Posthumous Oscar wins club. Here's a list of all 13 of them:
- Sidney Howard, Adapted Screenplay - Gone With the Wind (1939)
- William A Horning, Art Direction - Gigi (1958)
- William A Horning, Art Direction - Ben Hurt (1959)
- Sam Zimbalist, Best Picture - Ben Hur (1959)
- Eric Orborn, Art Direction - Spartacus (1960)
- Walt Disney, Animated Short - Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day (1968)
- Raymond Rasch & Larry Russell, Best Score - Limelight (1972)
- Peter Finch, Actor - Network (1976)
- Geoffrey Unsworth, Cinematography - Tess (1980)
- Howard Ashman, Best Song - "Beauty & the Beast" from Beauty & The Beast (1991)
- Thomas Goodwin, Documentary Short - Educating Peter (1992)
- Conrad Hall, Cinematography - Road to Perdition (2002)
- Heath Ledger, Supporting Actor - The Dark Knight (2008)
Art director William A Horning is the only double posthumous winner though acting legend James Dean and Disney's brilliant comeback-making composer Howard Ashman both received more than one posthumous nomination.
For this edition of Hit Me With Your Best Shot, TFE's signature series in which everyone playing along must choose one shot from a selected movie that they define as best, we're looking at Sam Mendes Oscar-winning Road to Perdition (2002) on the eve of its 10th anniversary.
The film's sole Oscar win was a posthumous statue for the great cinematographer Conrad L Hall. He died in early January of 2003, just a few weeks before his tenth Oscar nomination was announced. Hall didn't have anything to prove this late in his career but Mendes sure did, given that it was his follow up to his Oscar winning debut American Beauty (1999). This crime drama is filled with frameable frames. It's majestic looking really, veritably dripping with prestige for better and worse, usually on account of both the lighting (one shudders to think how long Hall spent on each set up) and the intricate staging and compositions.
The bulk of the film's narrative spins dangerously from this eyewitness shot, a perfectly excellent choice for Best Shot -- I'm sure someone will choose it! -- if not (quite) mine.
Michael Sullivan Jr (Tyler Hoechlin nine years prior to Teen Wolf fame) is our narrator and he's about to witness a murder that his father (Tom Hanks) has a hand in though it's the unstable Connor Rooney (Daniel Craig) pulling the trigger. Road to Perdition's title suggests that the movie is about irredeemable souls and it is to some degree. Mob boss John Rooney (Oscar nominated Paul Newman) says as much when he's screaming at Michael Sullivan Sr. (Tom Hanks) in the basement of a church -- "There are only murderers here" -- predicting that none of them will see heaven. But the truer topic is fathers and sons. There are three sets of them in this movie: The Sullivans, The Rooneys, and the closest of the lot, the non biological edition - the Sullivan/Rooney.
Sullivan Jr. and Sr as well as the Rooney Jr and Sr are often separated by great distances in the frame but note how Sullivan Sr and Rooney Sr are all tight in one of the film's most tender moments, a little piano duet at a wake.
That's all an elaborate set up to make my choice for Best Shot really hurt, to extend a little sympathy for the devil. The devil in Daniel Craig. In one of the film's least comfortable moments Connor glibly apologizes to the mafia bigwigs gathered about that murder that gets the film rolling. His angry father humiliates him right then and there. As the meeting adjourns Mendes and Hall's camera does a slow zoom in on Connor just as he's being abandoned by everyone visually. Connor goes out of focus the closer you get to him, the better to illuminate the father (Rooney Sr) and preferred virtual son (Sullivan Sr.) all chummy directly behind him.
The focus snaps back to Connor at this perfect shot's tail end. He's about to kill two more people as payback insuring tragedy for all (including himself). No, he's not going to heaven.
Or maybe I just love this shot so much because it mirrors the sudden focus shift in Connor's introduction earlier as he lays on a couch smoking.
Or maybe I just love this shot so much because Daniel Craig is a dangerous actor and the movie desperately needs his unique kind. Jude Law as the very sick photographer "Maguire" also manages but Tom Hanks, fatally miscast, is at a complete loss to convey it. Even his furrowed brow looks friendly --physiognomy as destiny. Sorry, Tom!
Or maybe I just love this shot so much because the next sharp cut (god bless Jill Bilcock) from childish Connor seething with hate for daddy and adopted brother is to this:
"There are only murderers bloggers in this room"
Serious Film "blaze of glory"
F*** No, But There's a Poster "Meet Maguire"
Amiresque best (gun)shot
Cinesnatch past, present and no future all in one image
Film Actually a father and son reunion
Encore Entertainment "when you raise a gun you get your own blood on your hands"
Antagony & Ecstacy on one of the most beautiful pictures of the past quarter century
Pussy Goes Grrr convergent diagonals, legible horizontals, phallic guns?
Okinawa Assault biking towards damnation, wading in crowds
I'm also happy to report that Rope of Silicon has joined the "Best Shot" party this week. Brad's series "Paused" which shares gorgeous screenshots from random movies will line up with ours here when we're both in the mood for the same movie. I'm sad I didn't think to do Alien when he covered it.
Next up on 'Hit Me':
07/18 PINK NARCISSUS (1971) *for adult audiences only*
07/25 THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS (2001) Wes Anderson's masterpiece?
08/01 HOW TO MARRY A MILLIONAIRE (1953) with Marilyn Monroe, Lauren Bacall and Betty Grable.
"Hit Me With Your Best Shot" returns from its month-long hiatus in two weeks. Will you join us? I'll try to catch up soon with Possessed (1947) which had terrible timing given my father's passing. Other than a short upcoming moment with Joan Crawford, what's next?
Wednesday June 27th - THE STORY OF ADELE H. (1975)
For Isabelle Adjani's birthday (and considering that Victor Hugo madness will be heading our way at Christmas time) we'll look back at François Truffaut's Oscar nominated tale of obsessive love. Trivia: Adjani held the "youngest Best Actress nominee" record for three decades until a certain Whale Rider teared up.
*THURSDAY* July 5th -PICNIC (1955)
Technically this is a Labor Day movie as opposed to 4th of July but the point is who wants to sit at home blogging on Independence Day? I've never seen this - hence the choice - but I hear it's visually appealing (James Wong Howe on cinematography duties!) and I enjoy me some Kim Novak and William Holden. Bonus points: filling in the Oscar gaps. This one was nominated for 6 Oscars including Best Picture.
Wednesday July 11th - ROAD TO PERDITION (2002)
It's the tenth anniversary of Sam Mendes' self-consciously 'best shotty' graphic novel adaptation with Tom Hanks, Paul Newman, Jude Law, little Tyler Hoechlin before he was an alpha werewolf and the then (mostly) unknown Daniel Craig who found it all so fucking ridiculous.
Wednesday July 18th - PINK NARCISSUS (1971)
I like doing short movies for this series (since it's asking a lot to assign y'all a movie each week) and this one is only 64 minutes. Luishergio suggested a NSFW edition and why not? This influential cult classic (the debt Pierre et Gilles owe will never be paid in full) about a rent boy's fantasies was shot almost entirely inside director James Bidgood's apartment and yet it's visually ravishing (the intense color helps). It's one of those movies then that all indie filmmakers without $ resources ought to look at.
Wednesday July 25th TBA
Wednesday August 1st TBA
Wednesday August 8th TBA.. it's so hard to choose but you get the point.
Previously on "Hit Me With Your Best Shot"
in case you missed any...