Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Direct Current #2/Deconstruction of Colin Farrell

ITEM! Star Trek Fan Companion - Enterprise 2x2 "Carbon Creek"
How exactly do I end up comparing "Carbon Creek" to the classic episode "City on the Edge of Forever"?  That's just one of the notable aspects of a bonding moment between T'Pol and her very human colleagues Archer and Trip...

Read more here.


PT Dilloway's A Hero's Journey has finally been released!

New transmission from Althea!


Colin Farrell has been one of my favorite actors since I watched Ballykissangel on PBS in the summer of 2000.  Ballykissangel is an Irish TV series, and Farrell popped up in the fourth and fifth seasons (originally broadcast in 1998 and 1999).  He completely stood out, and yeah, it was those signature soulful eyes of his. Joel Schumacher cast him in the 2000 film Tigerland, a film that gave Farrell one of his defining roles as a rebel who reluctantly plays within the system.  He had a bit part in Ordinary Decent Criminal, a film that starred Kevin Spacey and Linda Fiorentino, and also features a bit part for Christoph Waltz.  Hollywood claimed him with 2001's American Outlaws, in which Farrell plays Jesse James, though it's about as different from The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford as you can get.  It's more like Young Guns, or a Hollywood version of Tigerland.  In Hart's War, Farrell has the lead role in a Bruce Willis movie.  It's a knotty film about WWII, with all sorts of complicated relationships and convictions.  Minority Report, meanwhile, is Tom Cruise and Steve Spielberg subverting pretty much everything Farrell had thus far accomplished.  It wouldn't be surprising if the majority of filmgoers still subconsciously call this one to mind if they think about Colin Farrell at all.

2003 was a huge year for Farrell, however.  Phone Booth, his second collaboration with Schumacher, was finally released.  It's an existential, Twilight Zone kind of experience, and the first true acting showcase for the budding star.  He co-starred opposite Al Pacino in the CIA thriller The Recruit; appeared in another Schumacher film, Veronica Guerin; gave a gonzo performance in Daredevil; and starred in the ensemble update of S.W.A.T., based on an old TV series (not for the last time).  There's also Intermission, another bit part in a gangster flick.

2004-2005 proves to be a defining period, however, in which Farrell transitions out of the Hollywood scene and to the artist's fringe.  A Home at the End of the World is an intimate relationship drama.  Oliver Stone's Alexander is a historic epic that centers on character and completely alienates the audience looking for something flashy like Gladiator (basically dooming the genre from there on).  The New World is very similar, and helps reinvigorate Terrence Malick's career.

In 2006, Farrell appears in Ask the Dust, a combination of his new period and indy leanings.  He also stars in Miami Vice, his second film based on an old TV series.  It's the first film he's been expected to carry to box office success since 2003.  In 2007, he stars in Woody Allen's Cassandra's Dream, thereby marking a deliberate embrace of his Irish roots, something Farrell has been asked to overlook in most of his films.  He continues this with In Bruges in 2008, his first collaboration with Martin McDonagh, for which Farrell won a Golden Globe.  It's the first time in ages that critics have admitted to enjoying his work.  Pride and Glory is released later that year, a sort of collaboration between his earlier Hollywood phase and his later work.

In 2009, Farrell stars in two smaller films, Triage and Ondine, both being clear attempts to reestablish his ability to carry a movie.  He also appears in The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus and Crazy Heart, which demonstrate for audiences who don't need the Irish accent that Farrell's small parts can still be big.  He has a larger such role in The Way Back the next year, and stars in London Boulevard, a gangster movie in which the the base of the story is a romance.

2011 was Farrell's big Hollywood comeback.  Now that he'd gotten a few people to like him again, he decided to see where that would take him.  Horrible Bosses is a rare outright comedic performance, and also one of Farrell's biggest box office successes, even if he shares a lot of the credit and is dead by the end of the film, and so can't appear in a sequel (which is in the works).  Fright Night is remake, though a thoroughly enjoyable one.  This year's Total Recall is also a remake, which everyone and their mother can't seem to neglect mentioning.  It's also something of a full circle for Farrell, appearing in another movie based on Philip K. Dick, just like Minority Report, released ten years earlier.

His new movie is Seven Psychopaths, which seems to be the first indy-veined movie Farrell will have starred in that might actually be a big-sized hit.  It reteams him with McDonagh, which is no coincidence.  In Bruges was a critical hit for both of them, and building on that kind of buzz is good for everyone.

What common element unites all of Colin Farrell's films?  It's all there in his breakout experience, Tigerland, a character who's difficult to tame much less predict.  He's your best friend one minute, your worst nightmare the next.  His eyes have always been the one element everyone comments on, and it's what they're saying that truly matters.  He's ultimately the next great wild child of the movies, the new Brad Pitt, if Brad Pitt had been born in Ireland.  Hollywood quickly latched onto Farrell, and some of its most notable directors wanted a piece of him, and all that interest did not always translate to audience appeal.  He rarely does a movie that has strictly broad appeal, frequently works on projects that have a strong artistic bent.  It seems he's the go-to guy for trying to translate the appeal of an old concept in a new way, except "remake" tends to be a dirty word.  Farrell doesn't seem to care.  He went a little wild with all the Hollywood attention, but quickly settled down, figured out what was important to him.  It didn't hurt that most of the roles he selects are exactly what he should be doing, and even the ones that are iffy he never sleepwalks through.

There's a reason for every film appearance he's made.  Farrell constantly rewards.  If he has appeared in few pop culture touchstones, the fact that he keeps doing the best work in town means that he'll have plenty of opportunities for that in the future.  Seven Psychopaths is just one indication of where he's headed.  He came into the scene as a young man, not a teen star that audiences watched grow up, but rather one they've seen grow older.  That kind of career for a star is rare, and he already has longevity under his belt, and one of the most challenging catalogs in the business.

That's why I'm still a fan.

1 comment:

PT Dilloway, Superhero Author said...

Thanks for the plug!

Seven Psychopaths looks like it could be good. I mean when you have Farrell, Woody Harrellson, Christopher Walken, and Sam Rockwell in the same movie it's going to be hard to go wrong with it.

I think as far as action movies go, he's the guy to call when you can't get Matt Damon or Mark Wahlberg or someone like that, but obviously he has the range to do more than "SWAT" and "Total Recall."


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