Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Top 5 Movie Guide: Jude Law

For the latest edition of the Top 5 Movie Guide, thanks to this weekend's "Side Effects", we decided to take a look at some of our favorite Jude Law films. Born and raised in London, Law got his start in acting at age 15. He attended Guildhall School of Music and Drama, but eventually dropped out to pursue a full-time acting gig, working for the National Youth Music Theatre. He worked for the company until 1995, when a musical on Broadway, "Indiscretions", stole his attention and even earned him a Tony nomination for his work. From there he dabbled in a variety of small television roles until landing a couple of big breaks in the late 90's.


After appearing in successful films "Gattaca" (1997) and "The Talented Mr. Ripley" (1999), he had arrived as a Hollywood actor. He followed up both performances with equally strong roles in "Enemy at the Gates" (2001) and "Road to Perdition" (2002), making him one of the more intriguing young actors coming out of the U.K. at the time.

Law, who has been nominated for two Academy Awards for his work in the films "The Talented Mr. Ripley" and "Could Mountain", has maintained impressive success in his continued acting career. And with his work recently as Dr. Watson in the Sherlock Holmes films alongside Robert Downey, Jr., for the first time in his career, he's a major blockbuster success (both films have out-grossed any of his previous films by roughly $100MM in the theaters).

Finally, before we dig in, we wanted to take this time to introduce our newest contributor to this post, Tracy Allison. I know things have been a bit sporadic recently with this post's membership, but there is hope here that we have finally found a fifth member that can provide consistent, insightful contributions. Besides the fact that she provides a slightly different perspective on film than the rest of us, she is a welcomed female addition to the crew that fills a much needed voice for the site. And for those of you concerned about this direction, do not worry. To answer the only pressing question that we know you all have, yes, she does love Star Wars.

If all goes well, we'll stick with this group of five moving forward. Hopefully you'll enjoy her opinions as much as we do.


Hit the jump for her first list, along with some thoughts from the rest of us!

Alex Schopp -
Jude Law is never an actor that comes to mind when thinking about some of my favorites, but when reviewing his filmography I realized that he's taken on very few roles which I dislike, and appeared in a variety of films that overall I like quite a bit. He still might not be one of my favorites, but the guy is consistent.

     1. Gattaca (1997)

This sci-fi flick does not get the attention it deserves! I loved this movie when I was younger, and I still consider it a staple of my sci-fi movie collection today. It's a brilliant look at dystopian society and the extremization of the same class issues we've dealt with in this country since its birth. Also, I dig the visual style in this film.
     2. A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)
I re-watched this film recently and it was so much more powerful than I originally remembered. Again, we're looking at another dystopian sci-fi future of sorts (I'm a sucker for those themes), this time bringing a few more robots into the mix. This has an ending that will sit in the gut of your stomach, and if you don't feel something with it then you're not watching movies right.
     3. The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)
A very unsettling film about a couple of characters with some major issues. Matt Damon and Jude Law play perfectly off of each other, and both provide performances to where you're not sure if you want/should root for or against them. And while I'm not finding great words to describe it, the film has a great overall style that I find pretty unique.
     4. Cold Mountain (2003)
I'm not sure why I enjoy this film quite so much, but I just do. There's a lot of great scenery, and solid supporting performances by a handful of quality actors. I love Kidman and Zellweger's team-up, as they both become very strong women fending for themselves for so long. While the film is long and dense at times, I feel like it's also very easy for me to turn on and enjoy. A great rainy Sunday afternoon watch.
     5. Contagion (2011)
Very new, I know. And I don't actually even like Law's character in this very much - but I know I'm not supposed to; there's always gotta be that guy during any crisis that tries to profit and illicit panic. Overall, I just loved the film though. Great cast, great vibe, great soundtrack.

Ben Foutch -
I don't have any problems with Law as an actor, but I'm not completely in love with his filmography. Having said that, I still enjoy the following films:

     1. Road to Perdition (2002)

I'm a sucker for this type of story. Besides the fact that it is an expertly crafted thriller, Law gives a strong performance with facial expressions and body language that say more than words ever can.
     2. Gattaca (1997)
This is an example of thought provoking sci-fi done right and often gets overlooked for more of the action-packed variety.
     3. eXistenZ (1999)
Most of Cronenberg's work definitely straddles the line of watchability, and this one isn't an exception. There are certainly flaws, but the effective setup/payoff is well worth its shortcomings. If you're a fan of the surreal side of Cronenberg, than this is a must-see.
     4. Closer (2004)
I enjoy dramas that aren't sugar coated, and believe me when I say there isn't anything sweet about this one. It gives credence to the saying that love is complicated.
     5. Enemy at the Gates (2001)
If you're a history buff, it might be best to stay away from this one. Regardless of the inaccuracies, it's a tense and enjoyable flick.

Derek Clem -

     1. Enemy at the Gates (2001)

Out of all of his movies, I think this is the one I've seen the most. It's a really easy watch. The whole idea of turning a soldier into propaganda is interesting territory.
     2. Road To Perdition (2002)
Law adds such a creepy vibe to this movie. Once Nolan started his Batman franchise I was really hoping he'd cast Jude Law to play The Riddler similar to this.
     3. A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)
This is probably my favorite movie on this list. Jude Law plays quite the convincing robot.
     4. Could Mountain (2003)
I just love using this as a background movie. If you pay attention it'll get you all sad and depressed, but if you just look at the pretty colors, cinematography, and listen to the music, you have a nice Autumn day on your hands.
     5. Gattaca (1997)
This might be my second favorite movie on this list. Jude Law isn't necessarily what you walk away from this movie remembering. It's the look. It has such a sharp visual style. I love that whole deco-future look it has going for itself.

Nathan Hinds -
Jude Law should be a bigger name than he is. If only he'd played The Riddler in a Nolan Batman film.

     1. Road to Perdition (2002)

The guy is downright terrifying in this movie.
     2. A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)
This gets better every time I watch it.
     3. Sherlock Holmes (2009)
This is a great "Sunday afternoon" movie as Alex like's to say.
     4. Contagion (2011)
Was not into this movie the first time I saw it, now I love it.
     5. Repo Men (2010)
I liked the style of this film, and thought it was a easy watch.

Tracy Allison -

     1. The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)

Matt Damon’s screen time may outweigh that of Jude Law’s in this film, but that didn't seem to hinder my latent admiration of Law’s portrayal of the young, spoiled expatriate. In my opinion, this was a near perfect depiction of charisma, selfishness, and self-involvement. He shines most as he grows more and more suspicious of Damon’s character, teasing him mercilessly, thereby setting off a chain reaction of events that impacts each character from that point on.
     2. Closer (2004)
While certainly not an uplifting story, Jude Law fits in well with this eclectic, yet well matched group of actors. In a scene between Law and Julia Roberts that will never leave my mind, he painfully resists kissing her even though he so wants to. The look on his face is a mixture of desire, contempt, and restraint. His vulnerability in this film is the draw for me here and he’s obsessive in such a real way. This depiction of a dysfunctional love quadrangle garnered great performances from each actor.
     3. Gattaca (1997)
In the "The Talented Mr. Ripley", Jude Law is the victim of identity theft, but in "Gattaca", he proves to be a willing participant. Law’s character is introduced essentially as a ‘perfect human specimen’ save for one flaw – he is paralyzed from the waist down. You can almost feel his internal struggle throughout this thoughtful science fiction film, thanks to his brooding, haunting eyes. His eyes made him unpredictable throughout the movie, and I was never sure what his angle was, what he was involved in, or how he would end up.
     4. Alfie (2004)
The movie itself doesn't hold up amazingly well for me, but Jude Law’s character in it does. This role seems like it was written for him. He shines in this remake as a playboy that you can’t help feeling for as his life turns to shambles. His transformation from the carefree, charismatic lothario into an emotional loner is what makes this movie worth seeing.
     5. I Heart Huckabees (2004)
Jude Law’s character in "I Heart Huckabees" is a pandering corporate man who eventually meets his match in that of Jason Schwartzman’s character. As the movie progresses, his exquisite breakdown culminates in the comedy laden understanding of two previously opposing forces in that of Jason and Jude.

There we have it, folks. Thirteen total films mentioned this week, so more than enough variety to go around. Eight films appeared on more than one list, and four different films earned a number one pick. We'll start with the most represented film though, which was "Gattaca", appearing on four of the five lists and grabbing one first-place vote. This early sci-fi film is well detailed in the above writings, and was arguably the film that launched Law's career. The entire cast in this one is great, and if you like your sci-fi films to work in a slow simmer, then this is the flick for you.

Two different films appeared on three lists: "Road to Perdition" and "A.I. Artificial Intelligence". "Road to Perdition", by the way, was the only film to earn multiple top picks this week, scoring two. Both are quality films, with "Road to Perdition" being the more distinguished film of the two; but if you like Steven Spielberg science fiction, then you're going to want to give A.I. a viewing as well.

Rounding things out, that leaves five films which hit on two lists apiece: "The Talented Mr. Ripley", "Enemy at the Gates", "Cold Mountain", "Closer", and "Contagion". There's too much here to note in detail, but there is good reason why each of these films appeared on multiple lists. Each of these should be included in your early rounds of viewing, as you sift your way through Law's filmography. There's a lot of great stuff in this small block alone that should include something appeasing to fans of most any genre.

As always, we hope that each of these selections helps you to expand your knowledge and appreciation of some of the best films that Jude Law has provided over the years, and guides you to better and more enjoyable all-around viewing experiences.

Happy watching!