Doubt

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Postby Movielover » Sat Jan 31, 2009 5:24 pm

Well the best choice would have been Brian F. O'Byrne...


But if they HAD to go with a movie star I thought Greg Kinnear would have done well in the role... I also thought Sissy Spacek would have made a wonderful Sister Aloysius.

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Postby flipp525 » Sat Jan 31, 2009 9:59 am

Uri wrote:
flipp525 wrote:I heard someone on another site mention that John Garfield in his heyday would've been ideal for the role of Father Flynn.

But wouldn't a Jewish priest (or a pastor, or a minister – what do I knew about it) look suspicious to begin with too?

If you're of a mind that a Jewish actor can only play Jewish on flim, I suppose so, yes.




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Postby Uri » Sat Jan 31, 2009 3:32 am

flipp525 wrote:I heard someone on another site mention that John Garfield in his heyday would've been ideal for the role of Father Flynn.

But wouldn't a Jewish priest (or a pastor, or a minister – what do I knew about it) look suspicious to begin with too?

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Postby barrybrooks8 » Fri Jan 30, 2009 5:18 pm

Mark Ruffalo I could see. Meryl Streep would have eaten Michael Sheen for lunch.

Oddly enough, maybe Michael Shannon? Or that guy from Damages...something with a Z and a J...he was in Dancer in the Dark, too....
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Postby OscarGuy » Fri Jan 30, 2009 5:09 pm

What about Daniel Craig, or is his Bond reputation too distracting?

What about someone like Mark Ruffalo, Michael Sheen or Ryan Gosling?

They could each create characters that are not only sympathetic, thus encouraging a desire for trust, but could also create believable characters that might seem a bit slimy under the exterior and thus capable of doing it.
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Postby flipp525 » Fri Jan 30, 2009 4:08 pm

I heard someone on another site mention that John Garfield in his heyday would've been ideal for the role of Father Flynn. For modern times, the role really needed another actor. I can't think of anyone specifically at the moment -- would a Greg Kinnear (who's got charisma in spades) not have fit the role better?

While I feel like PSH did a capable job, I'm with the rest of you in thinking he was miscast. And the shoehorning of his performance into the supporting category (at the expense of several deserving nominees) just grates. He was deservedly cited last year for Charlie Wilson's War and was excellent in The Savages (agreed, Sabin), but I'm just really not feeling his nod this year.

Upon seeing it, I was quite impressed with the range Amy Adams covered in her performance, one that I was honestly prepared to not like for some reason. Although, I would've replaced her in the final line-up (most likely with Samantha Morton for Synecdoche, New York), I don't begrudge her a nomination here at all.




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Postby Sabin » Wed Jan 28, 2009 11:13 pm

Slight side point...

I thought Philip Seymour Hoffman was interesting if not terribly successful as Truman Capote if only because I never entirely believed I was watching a diminutive homosexual. Not entirely his fault but if I wholeheartedly disagreed with the Academy's choice, it was mainly because 2005 saw the best lineup for male actors in maybe my lifetime and Philip Seymour Hoffman was outclasses. I never disliked the actor until Before the Devil Knows You're Dead a film in which the planets were aligned for my repulsion. He and Hawke are not credible as brothers because they don't seem to exist in the same planet, but really the implausibilities only start there. It's EVERY student's Screenwriting 1 film and just an ugly piece of work. That it begins with Philip Seymour Hoffman having doggy-style sex with Marisa Tomei strengthened my opinion that I never wanted to see anything more from the actor again...

Then came The Savages and his uncommonly gracious performance, perhaps his most best screen performance to date, one in which he is forced to INTERACT with someone and not blow them out of the water with hamminess. He is scatterbrained, and conveys a lifetime of evasiveness towards Linney's character that cannot be faked. He is very much an older brother in The Savages and it's lovely performance. Then one month later, he sliced his best ham to date in Charlie Wilson's War. It's easy to knock out of the park but this is essentially what he does in every movie - but called for at long last. It's a hilarious, scene-stealing performance.

Then comes Synecdoche, New York, which Damien should avoid like the plague. As an ardent Kaufman-ite (I should say), I was able to suspend the repulsiveness of the latest incarnation of Charlie Kaufman and focus on the entirety of the project which I found so daunting, ambitious, and ultimately moving that I can forgive the fact that we are to learn from inaction rather than the other way around. Hoffman gives a bravely unsympathetic performance as an pretentiously hypochondriac obsessive and really only those who like the movie will enjoy what he does. As someone who thinks it's one of the best movies of the year, I'm rather blown away by it because in the hands of anybody else it would be utterly inconceivable.

With Doubt, I could see a slew of other actors doing the same. At first, I blamed Shanley for his screenplay. Now, I simply think no one is to blame, that he just doesn't belong in the film. We're going to be seeing a lot of this to come as Philip Seymour Hoffman ingratiates himself as first choice for any "actor-y" role in years to come. In his efforts to become charismatic, I just do not believe him a child molester. I felt the opposite as Damien; although I know which way the new wind will blow by the film's end, I did not believe that the film telegraphed his crime successfully, nor did he as an actor. He's just all wrong. It's an interesting performance and the moments preceding Sister Aloysius's accusations are very fine indeed, but beyond that it's something of a miscalculation of casting. Because it's Philip Seymour Hoffman, we KNOW he is capable of molestation, and the filmmakers know that and so strenuous a job of concealing it that it becomes for me at least quite garbled. They should have taken a charismatic actor and subverted his performance, rather than taken a somewhat repulsive actor and tried to subvert him twice over within the span of a single film.

I actually like Philip Seymour Hoffman these days and I didn't use to, even back in the late nineties. I always found him quite forced and a presence I had a rather adverse reaction to. He's making very good choices and I certainly don't blame him for taking this role. The filmmakers should have had the foresight to say no. That being said: a lot of people don't seem to be bothered. Unlike Tom Wilkinson last year, Hoffman's miscasting isn't quite as egregious an eyesore in an otherwise stellar Best Supporting Actor lineup.
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Postby Damien » Wed Jan 28, 2009 10:03 pm

Just saw this tonight. Like the play, the movie's narrative is complete nonsense, but the movie is still great fun in a way the dreary stage piece never was. This is partially because of Shanley's goofy mise-en-scene -- all those tilted camera angles! clearly he's seen The Third Man too many times -- and risible use of weather elements to portray inner turmoil, as well as Streep's nervy performance in creating a character who manages to be simultaneous terrifying and quite funny (and Sister Aloysius know it too). Amy Adams -- an actress whom I've never liked and downright abhorred in June Bug -- is splendid, too -- she'd be my vote for the win.

On the other hand, Viola Davis I didn't like so much. Seemed like she was emoting written lines and the so-called Big Scene had no payoff for me. (I felt the same way about the play and couldn't figured out how the actress playing the role snared a Tony.) In 1964, a mother's revealing to a nun that her 12-year-old son was a SIster Boy would not have occurred. Not even remotely. Period. And back then, it wouldn't have occurred to working class parents that their boy was queer.

And then there is The Blob. A terrible piece of miscasting, he is utterly charmless and lacking in charisma -- more Pope Benedict than Father O'Malley. And in the showdowns with Streep, he failed to convey any vulnerability or spirituality, just anger. His presence upended the dynamic of the work -- on stage, my sympathies were with Father Flynn, here I couldn't wait to see him go down.

I don't think Shanley's set-up is accompliished enough for one to be able to get too concerned with the meaning of the ending or Did He or Didn't he? I think Sabin makes a great point about this being essentially Platoon in a different setting for much of its running time, but then it abruptly abandons Sister James, Shanley having gotten what he needs out of her character. And I feel exactly as Tee does in terms of the improvement in Sr. James's characterization in Adams's hands and in Hoffman's giving up too easily.

Like Tee and Big -- my fellow veterans of parochial schools -- I loved the ambience of the film -- it really brought back a lot of memories.

5/10




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Postby Sabin » Wed Jan 28, 2009 7:16 pm

I find the final scene between Sister Aloysius and Fr. Flynn to be confusing as hell but my biggest problem is that Amy Adams' Sister James is set up as the emotional heart of the film and then quickly discarded. This is not right. Her struggle against doubt is outwardly inconclusive. She just leaves and comes back. I think that her dynamic with the rest of the class after she becomes more like Sister Aloysius is set-up for an intriguing B-storyline where she must mirror their struggle and make her own decision. Right now, she is a very passive character and the film does not start her off as such.

The scene with Viola Davis doesn't really change anything other than our knowledge that Donald Miller might be gay. This may give Sister Aloysius doubt in the impetus of the events but certainly not in their gravity and Fr. Flynn's culpability. What I am saying is that because the structure of the narrative is set-up such that Sister James' story goes a separate way "infected" (as it were) by Sister Aloysius's influence while Sister Aloysius becomes enlightened by Donald's mother and neither one of them really change the stakes or further the narrative in any impacting fashion later on, then one of these storylines needed an overhaul. Because everything between Meryl Streep and Viola Davis and then later one with Philip Seymour Hoffman "works" (which is to say is dramatically satisfying if not perfect), I say it is in the Amy Adams story that something needed to occur. This is a fledgling idea that goes nowhere. Resultant of her actions with the classroom, it's conceivable that Sister James could set into motion her own personal crisis not unlike Fr. Flynn's and be forced to conceal it or make her own decision paralleling the story that is going on.

I lay the blame on the fact that the emotional heart of the story (Adams) is treated like a theatrical device and not a cinematic one.


...also, am I the only one who finds Sister Aloysius's declaration of being plagued with doubt as a statement of her life instead of this particular situation? I didn't read it as anything regarding Fr. Flynn. She played her cards shrewdly and there's no reason for her to believe that a dog that bites is anything less than a dog that bites. I think she's talking about her life.




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Postby Mister Tee » Tue Jan 27, 2009 10:36 pm

Sabin, you get at something I was groping for when I suggested the final confrontation between Sr. Aloysius and Fr. Flynn might have gone on over the course of several scenes. I don't recall this so much from the play, but I had a strong feeling that the latter portion of the conflict was rushed -- not just in the fact that Fr. Flynn crumbles so quickly, but that, rhythmically, like you I felt prepared for a third act and all I got was an epilogue (the opposite of what I felt in The Dark Knight). I can't believe no one associated with the project felt this.

I think the encounter with Davis, powerful though it is, may hurt the work a little, because, as you say, it introduces elements that go beyond the stakes of the central conflict, but doesn't make anything of them. And then, as if embarrassed by his failure to take this strong material anyplace further, it's as if Shanley hustles to wrap up the evening.

I'm thinking that, were I in a playwriting class with Shanley, I suggest he make the Davis scene change Sr. Aloysius' trajectory in some tangible way. Merely being fiercer about her opposition to Flynn wouldn't be enough, because she already had it dialed up to 10. But what if talking with Davis made her feel time-pressure she hadn't felt before -- that every day the boy was left around the priest could be corrupting, and she was the only one on earth who cared to stop it -- and this motivated her to use some truly devious, beneath-her tactic to push Flynn out. That's vaguely what she claims to do, but that lie about the other nun doesn't seem specifically motivated by urgency, which I'd have liked to see her show in that moment. And maybe her final regret could then be over that, rather than the phony pretense she suddenly has doubt when she hadn't at any moment prior and nothing in Flynn's behavior would have inspired it.

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Postby Sabin » Tue Jan 27, 2009 5:37 pm

Personally, I find it difficult to place more stock in Meryl Streep winning again than she does herself. I think only one who genuinely cares as little for winning can be as charmingly ruffled as the actress is while accepting awards. It's not an act. She knows she's Meryl Streep. Winning would be fine. She would just as soon as soon see Kate Winslet or Anne Hathaway win. I think her work in The Bridges of Madison County is her best accented performance but I couldn't begin to begrudge Susan Sarandon, nor could I Elisabeth Shue, or the non-nominated Jennifer Jason Leigh or Julianne Moore (great year). Catherine Zeta-Jones is another story...

I watched my screener of Doubt again and I think I know why the film is so unfulfilling. They only make use of Amy Adams like a theatrical supporting character and what Shanley is clearly doing is setting up Amy Adams such that the film is essentially a battle for her soul. Platoon in a Parish, if you will. That's what Doubt is. That is the heart of the thing. Which way will she sway? Towards the easy niceties of Philip Seymour Hoffman or the way of the ruler with Meryl Streep. She becomes a believe of the old ways in her classroom only to immediately bail on this when she slightly hurts a child's feelings. That is the end of her arc. This needs to continue onward because as of now, her arc consists of being mildly swayed and then giving up. This film doesn't really have much of a B-Story to speak of, just an overreaching A-Story and for it to proceed as direct theatrical adaptation, it needed a more cinematic invention at the heart of it.

I actually like Amy Adams in this film. It's an incredibly difficult part to play and while she's far from revelatory, I think she's mostly successful and at times pretty funny. I wouldn't vote for her for Best Supporting Actress but by the same token I don't know who I would vote for this year.
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Postby flipp525 » Tue Jan 27, 2009 3:23 pm

Sabin wrote:Meryl Streep’s Sister Aloysius is a broad characterization but a very funny one. I cannot attest to the quality of Cherry Jones’ performance but Streep’s single-minded and very aware pursuit of the truth as an extension of her own insecurities is the actress’ strongest work since Adaptation., and if not outwardly successful in the final stretches, it’s not hers necessarily to bare the brunt but the screenplay itself.

What hurts Streep is the fact that she is now inevitably competing against herself for awards, not any of the four other nominees. Really, it happens year after year. Each year around this time, her performances are held up to her best work and, with that criteria in mind, it gives Oscar voters an excuse to cast support toward whatever nominee is the du jour choice of the moment (this year, of course, it's Kate Winslet). There are some years where this is not the case: her Music of the Heart performance clearly doesn't hold up to Hilary Swank in Boys Don't Cry; her Miranda Priestley creation in The Devil Wears Prada, while audacious and completely unique, doesn't eclipse Helen Mirren's masterful tour-de-force in The Queen.

Then you have years such as 1995 when she gave one of the most brilliant, beautiful performances of her oeuvre: Francesca in The Bridges of Madison County. Mastering another accent (Italian, this time), she captured such longing and romanticism, swept off her feet by the traveling photographer played by a never-been-better Clint Eastwood, and ferociously conflicted in a delicate, tightrope walk of a turn. Of course, this was the year Susan Sarandon finally needed to be awarded and the Dead Man, he kept a-Walkin'.

On its own (yes, on its own; not in comparison to the Linda Hunt version or the Cherry Jones version or the Eileen Atkins version of Sister Aloysious), her work in Doubt is on par with some of her best performances, including, as Sabin points out, her superb turn in Adaptation. for which, quite honestly, she should've won, thus saving us from yet another annual rendition of "Will Meryl Finally Get Her Third?"

In Doubt, she manages to give the audience yet another wholly original, complicated, and interesting performance divorced from just about anything she's ever done before and she must suffer through accusations of "phoning it in" or "being too restrained" or, in regards to the ending, "over-emoting", when, in actuality, it's some of her best work as well as among the year's top female performances.

Something tells me that she might need to play herself playing herself, something Kaufman-esque, in order to finally net a third trophy. A performance and character so unique, so unheard of and overly ambitious (yet performed with Streepian success) that all other comparisons somehow fall dead when stood up against it.




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Postby Sabin » Tue Jan 27, 2009 2:52 pm

Barely Spoilers...really nothing actually...forget warning...

Philip Seymour Hoffman may be the most simultaneously repulsive revered actor working today. The gay mouth-breather of Boogie Nights. The tightie-whitie-clad obscence phone-caller of Happiness. The paint-huffing widower of Love Liza. He may have earned Oscar’s respect for giving the most enormous-sized Truman Capote performance in history but he’s more at home in Charlie Wilson’s War under a grotesque mustache and hairdo grumbling as if he’s on his way to a prostate exam. So why is it so hard for me to believe him as a child molester? I don’t believe the film is concretely painting him as one for it could just as surely go the other way, but this is Philip Seymour Hoffman and I must believe that he is halfway capable of touching a child for this movie to work all the way.

For most of the way, I was convinced that Doubt was a very shrewd if overly-literal theatrical adaptation of Shanley’s acclaimed play of the same name with understandable cinematic translations along the way, most notably the cast. Meryl Streep plays Sister Aloysius, the dragon nun of the parish who witch-hunts the charismatic Father Flynn (Hoffman) o Aloysius n something less than a hunch. Hoffman telegraphs his responses to rather obviously but it’s clear there is more to this story. For much of Doubt, the very act of witch-hunt is a captivating experience as both Aloysius and Flynn go head to head in a post-9/11 metaphor-off. Meryl Streep’s Sister Aloysius is a broad characterization but a very funny one. I cannot attest to the quality of Cherry Jones’ performance but Streep’s single-minded and very aware pursuit of the truth as an extension of her own insecurities is the actress’ strongest work since Adaptation., and if not outwardly successful in the final stretches, it’s not hers necessarily to bare the brunt but the screenplay itself. From the moment Viola Davis emerges with the weight of a larger world on her shoulders, the film is cast into a more “important” light and though Davis is certainly very fine in her role, whatever relish can possibly be sucked from this film vanishes.

Which would be fine and good were this the film’s third act but it’s not. It feels like the turning point in the film’s second act. This is an issue with Frost/Nixon as well. By the end of Doubt, I had seen a ninety minute play and a very good one but one that awkwardly transitions. The intrusively dramatic Howard Shore score and some theatrical metaphors that are left wanting don’t help, but mainly Doubt feels like an unsatisfactory cinematic narrative. I want the film to continue to snake forward, I want Father Flynn to fight his case, I want to feel like something worthwhile has been fought rather than the inevitability of a cog being transferred to another machine.
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Postby Eric » Sun Jan 25, 2009 1:48 pm

Mister Tee wrote:Having not seen Button, and having only vague memories of Hustle and Flow, I have no opinion on Henson -- except, I guess by inference, she couldn't have struck me as a knockout, or I'd have remembered her.

She's been made deliberately frumpy in Button, but she's sort of a knockout (or at least acts like one) in Talk To Me.




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Postby Mister Tee » Sun Jan 25, 2009 1:30 pm

Reza wrote:
Mister Tee wrote:Tomei..........she's got a "common" feel that puts me off.

Calling Tomei ''common''......would that be akin to a racist remark? Just curious......not a reflection on you, Mister Tee.

No..classist, if anything. But since I come from more or less the same class (though the Irish-American rather than Italian-American sector), I feel I have the right to make it.


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