Monday, December 29, 2014

The Judge & nostalgia

When The Judge came out, I wanted to see it in theaters, but circumstances prevented me. I wanted to see it because I have been an admirer of Robert Downey, Jr. (RDJ as he is referred to nowadays) for decades before he was Iron inconsequential ways since Weird Science, but not really until Chances Are. I watched him become better and more discovered. Then came Chaplin and it was clear, that here was someone special. Phrases like ‘the best actor of this generation” were justifiably bandied about. He played with a variety of roles from the fun to the sardonic, exploring every aspect of a variety of characters. Then came “the troubles”...the drugs, the bad decisions because of the drugs....but, eventually, he kicked it and began to re-build himself.

Jon Favreau saw something in him and he became Iron Man and his journey into mega-stardom began. And, I enjoyed his Tony Stark, although I knew it was probably the beginning of the end of the Downey that I had so much admired. The Downey whose album I had purchased because I loved the bits he had done in Ally McBeal. I’ve watched Tony and Sherlock (and Kirk and the all the roles since) and he was fun in them, but still I missed the the old RDJ.

I wound up not seeing The Judge in the theaters sometimes happens. But, honestly, the reviews made it sound like a variant on recent themes, so I figured I’d catch it on cable when it turned up.

But, thanks to my relatively recent membership as a member of SAG-AFTRA, I received a screener for the film becuase Robert Duval was nominated for Best Supporting Actor in a Film. So, I watched it...never doubting that Mr. Duval would very much be worthy of the nomination, as, indeed, he was. It's not a great movie...has a bunch of cliched moments and a few unexpected points, but it was a good couple of hours.

However, as I watched, I found myself drawn more towards Mr. Downey. He was always been one of those actors whose eyes could express more in a glance than many actors in 2 hours. And, there it was. And there. And there. Certainly, it was punctuated with the character that many have come to expect and that the reviers talked about. But, in between was the brilliance of the actor who might have been.

I went back and re-read the reviews that came out when The Judge was released. I’m not sure if the reviewers were too young to remember Mr. Downey’s promise and the performances that were the basis for it. I don’t know if they are fans of Short Attention Span theater and what is new is better than what is old. Maybe they do remember and are spiteful that he managed to arise from the ashes, grab that second chance and run with it. I don’t know. I do know that there were moments that made me cry.

Should he have been nominated for Best Actor? I haven’t watched all the nominated performances yet, but my inclination is to say “not now”. If his Team Downey finds more roles like this for him and directors who are willing to trust the actor that he was, the actor he has grown into (because the new movies *have* let him expand many aspects of his talent) and the actor he needs to become to ventually get past the “action hero”, then yes. I think Robert Downey, Jr. will be up there accepting a well-deserved statue from someone.