Thursday, January 07, 2010

An Expert At Dismantling

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JA from MNPP here, wishing the actor Jeremy Renner a wonderful 39th birthday. May this year be the best, most Oscar-nominated one yet!

I don't pay as much attention to the Oscars beforehand as Nat and y'all do but I am aware of the buzz that's long been around Renner's Hurt Locker performance this year (as well as the film as a whole) of course, and frankly I see it as a long, long time coming. I've been championing this chap for years! And here's a couple of the reasons why.

I think a lot of people dismissed Dahmer as one off the many redundant serial-killer exploitation flicks of the decade - post-Seven cinema's been littered with 'em after all. One of the Aughts' many somewhat questionable exploits - become a serial killer, get your own semi-sympathetic movie! It certainly worked wonders for Charlize Theron's career (not to knock Monster - I am a big-time defender of that entire film and her performance therein). But Dahmer came and went in 2002 with hardly a mention - it actually wasn't even until a couple of years later that I saw the film. But when I did, wham - Renner's take on Jeffrey Dahmer is no bull about it one of the the decade's finest performances, period. He not only makes you understand the hole at the center of Dahmer that led to such horrors, but he nails the disturbingly over-charged sexual angle as well. It's a disturbing film for a lot of reasons, but not because anyone ever lets Dahmer off the hook for the things he did - no, it's that Renner's performance is just so captivating that he burrows his way right into you from the screen. A star-making role that took seven or so years to take, I guess.

And then in 2007 he starred in another under-appreciated film, 28 Weeks Later, Juan Carlos Fresnadillo's sequel to Danny Boyle's smash zombie flick. I actually prefer the sequel to the original, for a lot of reasons, but I stand somewhat lonely on that front I do realize. I think most people took the film from too face-on a point-of-view, when it begged to be viewed from the side, as a sort of metaphorical fairy-tale - Poppa Bear's turned into the Big Bad Wolf and he's gonna gobble those kids right up. But aside from the film itself's worth, once again Renner popped off the screen to me as sort of the - if we're gonna continue looking at the film as a fairy-tale for the moment - Hunter figure that comes between Little Red Riding Hood(s) and the big mean wolf monster. It also serves as sort of a precursor to his role in The Hurt Locker in at least an exterior fashion, since he's a big serious soldier-man here too.

But all that's beside the point really, since once again, although here with a much smaller canvas to play on than in Dahmer, he's instilling his character with so much, well, character, that he just sorta reaches off the screen and smacks ya across the cheek in a playful and loving manner. He can so easily project this easy-going camaraderie to the audience, this feeling that the two of you have a secret and are in this together. Whether, as in Dahmer the secret is the monstrous sort that you'd rather not be a part of, or in 28 Weeks Later and The Hurt Locker, it's more of a fraternal bond, a you-and-me-against-the-world sens of intimacy, is up to the film surrounding him. But Jeremy Renner takes you where he's going every single second the camera's pointed at his face. He takes them, and us, apart, only to piece us together again in some new fashion afterward. Never to be the same again.
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18 comments:

Clement said...

Brilliant work. This is a performance that will remain far too forgotten.

I hope a lot of the "war buffs" that flock to multiple viewings of SPR, Platoon, Apocalypse Now, and others will take a peak at this.

Bigelow's direction, the film's editing, Renner's performance, and Mackie's performance are epic in scope.

Anonymous said...

In Brazil, The Hurt Locker was released on DVD in the first semester of 2009. Distributors here did not believe the film's buzz.
It will be released in cinemas in February but it will probably make half the money it could make.

Marcelo - Brazil.

Kyle said...

I love the first 10 minutes or so of 28 Weeks Later. That opening sequence is more intense than anything in 28 Days Later (a film I adore, Cillian Murphy + Christopher Eccleston + Brendan Gleeson = win). I think your take on the rest of 28 Weeks though is quite interesting, and enough for me to reconsider it in another light.

Stella said...

He was great in Assassination of Jesse James. His conflict with Paul Schneider's character was one of the highlights of the movie. But then again, pretty much the entire supporting cast overshadowed Brad Pitt.

NATHANIEL R said...

Stella -- i think Brad was really good in that. particularly because he was more of a symbol than a character... it made sense that the other people felt more 3 dimensional.

Kyle -- i agree that the first minutes are particularly awesome but i do prefer 'Days' to 'Weeks'

JA -- you're always making me reconsider movies which is the mark of an awesome film blogger. I have been scared to see Dahmer forever but I should probably give it a go.

Kyle said...

Gotta disagree with you on that Stella. That film was maybe my favorite of 2007 and alot of it had to do with Brad Pitt (and the incredible supporting cast, one of the best I've seen) his most dynamic performance in years...he's been quietly cranking out some pretty good ones since the "Mr. and Mrs. Smith/Ocean's" missteps; Jesse James, Burn After Reading, Inglourious Basterds (I liked him in it anyway).

Robert Hamer said...

Isn't it great when a hard working, reliable character actor gives an amazing performance and finally gets his due, sort of like what happened to Richard Jenkins and Melissa Leo last year?

Thomas. said...

I also thought Renner was very good in SWAT. I had never seen him in a movie before then but I made an effort to watch some of his movies after.

Flosh said...

Renner was also very good in Michael Cuesta's film 12 and Holding.

JA said...

I've heard good stuff about him in that film before, flosh, but haven't gotten around to seeing it yet.

I gotta agree with y'all praising Brad Pitt in Jesse James - I find him actually very moving in it. He's so still, and silent in it, knowing that both like Jesse James his own presence can speak so much all on its own. But yes the supporting cast, including Renner, is indeed really astonishing in that movie. So many actors I love in one place all at once! I really love that film.

And yes, Nat, I think you should bite the bullet and see Dahmer. It is very tough at parts but Renner makes it well worth it.

adam k. said...

39th birthday!?!? He looks 29!

And here I was totally calling him the "Ryan Gosling nomination" of this year. He has one of those sensual puppy dog faces that makes you think he should still be in his 20s, no matter how old he gets.

Anonymous said...

And he's so cute!

jake said...

I'm with Adam K on that one. The guy looks 29 !

adam k. said...

btw, for another hot 39-year-old who looks ten years younger (easily), see Michael Trucco of BSG fame.

bandwagonmelodies said...

It seems no one has seen Renner in "Take". The film was terrible but Renner was very impressive in it.

I am not a big fan of The Hurt Locker. I mean, it's technically great but I have many problems with it.

It feels nice when a good actor is recognised, though and Renner is certainly one.

JA said...

bandwagonmelodies, I have a lot of problems with The Hurt Locker too. I do think Renner's very fine in it (as well as Anthony Mackie and Brian Geraghty, who gets no love) and Bigelow certainly knows how to ratchet up some tension and shoot an action scene spectacularly and it's mostly a very smart movie which in this day and age is almost too much to ask from a film of its sort... hence all the praise I think. But it's also got some clunky bits and I didn't find it especially affecting, in the end. It left me at a distance, which sometimes is fine, but here it felt like a weakness.

Anonymous said...

You have just said what I intended to, JA.

I couldn't enjoy or care for The Hurt Locker.

Marcelo - Brazil.

NATHANIEL R said...

bandwagonmelodies -- i have actually seen TAKE. i'm the other person! ;) and yep he's good in that one too (though i didn't care for the movie).