Posts Tagged ‘FAIR GAME’

Metro Canada “In Focus”: Penning a list of Sean’s great roles!

Screen Shot 2015-03-17 at 4.59.37 PMBy Richard Crouse – Metro In Focus

Sean Penn is back on the big screen this weekend in The Gunman, his first leading role in almost four years. It can’t rightly be called a comeback because he never really went away. Supporting roles in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and Gangster Squad have generated column inches, but in the last five years he has devoted more energy to raising money for earthquake relief in Haiti than to being a movie star.

In the film he plays Special Forces military contractor Jim Terrier. By day he protects foreign workers in the Democratic Republic of Congo but he moonlights as a hired gunman for big corporations. His assassination of the Congolese Mining Minister forces him to flee the country and changes the course of his entire life.

It’s what Penn jokingly calls “geriaction,” an action movie starring a middle-aged actor. Other than that, don’t expect to hear him speak a great deal about his new film. “Honestly within a week after I’ve finished shooting a film I’ve almost forgotten it,” he said recently.

In February he was honoured with an honorary Cesar Award for “choosing his films with sensitivity and commitment.” At the ceremony the “legend in his lifetime” watched a clip reel spanning the width and breadth of his career, including excerpts from Dead Men Walking, Mystic River and Milk.

Later the actor said, “I remember playing none of those scenes. I remembered the movies [but] I saw myself in scenes with actors I didn’t even know I’d ever worked with!”

To jog Mr. Penn’s memory here’s a “compenndium” of some of his memorable roles:

1. In Milk Penn won a Best Actor Oscar playing the real-life Harvey Milk, a native New Yorker who became America’s first openly gay man to be elected to public office. Penn fully embraces Milk, from the thick New York accent that characterized his speech to the goofy grin that endeared the real-life activist to his supporters, both gay and straight.

2. This Must be the Place is a rare thing. I speak of that elusive beast Pennigma Seanun comoedia—the Sean Penn comedy. He plays a retired and world-weary American rock star living with his wife (Frances McDormand) in Ireland. This is Sean Penn like we’ve never seen him before. With poufy hair, black toenail polish and affected vocal cadence—like Andy Warhol on Quaaludes—he creates an intriguing, strange character.

3. In Hollywood dramedy Hurly Burly Penn played against type as Eddie, the hyperactive casting agent. It’s an emotionally raw performance—witness Eddie try and use cocaine to snort away his troubles—but one without the studied glumness that he frequently brings to the screen.

4. Fair Game could be re-titled One Hundred Minutes of Sean Penn Yelling ‘If We Don’t Tell the Truth No One Will!’ He’s Joseph Wilson the real-life whistleblower who claimed the Bush administration falsified information about the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Penn is passionate, crafting a performance so big it has it’s own gravitational pull.

5. Finally there’s All the King’s Men, a movie memorable for all the wrong reasons. Penn is a fine actor, but as Willie Stark, (loosely based on Louisiana governor Huey P. Long) he is so over-the-top it’s as if he’s acting in a different movie than the rest of the cast. It’s a vein-popping, arm-waving performance that suggests that maybe he should lay-off the Red Bull.


fair_game_ver7_xlg“Fair Game” could be re-titled “One Hundred Minutes of Sean Penn Yelling ‘If We Don’t Tell the Truth No One Will!’” The retelling of the ripped-from-the-headlines tale of Valerie Plame (Naomi Watts), whose job as an undercover CIA agent was exposed by White House officials in an attempt to discredit her husband Joseph Wilson’s (Penn)  claim that the Bush administration had falsified information about the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, is a different kind of spy story. There are no guns, no gadgets, just words—many of the yelled by Penn—classified documents and furtive meetings on lonely park benches. It does a nice job of recreating Bush era paranoia—“We don’t want this smoking gun to turn into a mushroom cloud!”—and exploring the chasm between truth and policy, but as a drama takes way too long to get to the meat of the story. Three quarters of the movie whips past before the central event, Plame’s unceremonious unveiling as a spy, happens.

The build-up is filled with nice details, like Scooter Libby’s (David Andrews) self satisfied smirk when he puts the plan to get revenge on Plame and her husband in motion, and the insight into the life of a spy who juggles a home life with international intrigue, but it feels padded. Also, director Doug Liman has made some very strange and almost unwatchable choices in regard to the camera work. His camera is a little too restless, constantly roaming, which, I suppose, is meant to give us a “you-are-there” feeling, but instead induces motion sickness, particularly in the boardroom scenes.

Performance wise, however, the movie is top notch. Watt works as Plame, and Penn is passionate, crafting an a performance so big it has it’s own gravitational pull that asks whether Wilson was really a truth seeker or simply a self aggrandizing opportunist.

“Fair Game” is a mostly interesting look at our recent past, too bad director Liman takes too long to develop the important part of the story.