Sunday, 19 October 2014
REVIEW: THE JUDGE
142 Minutes. Starring: Robert Downey Jnr, Robert Duvall, Vera Farmiga, Vincent D'Onofrio, Dax Shepard, Jeremy Strong & Billy Bob Thornton. Director: David Dobkin.
Judgement day! Okay Robert. Or should I address you as Downey? Or Mr. Jnr? It's time to face a jury of your peers. Or as they are otherwise known as, 'movie critics'. With your 'Due Date' in court, you're making your 'Sherlock Holmes' case (and I move to recess for another one of those) that you are more of an Academy Actor looking to bring order to the gold statues than just the man in the iron mask. Sure 'Iron Man' and this new superhero phase of 'Avengers' and Marvel in this 'Age Of Ultron' is more than just R.D.J's career calling card, it's his ace in the hole saviour. Plus with news only this week that he will be in the 'Captain America 3' sequel (or should we say 'Iron Man 4') in a superhero, comic-book turning page that will lead to a 'Civil War', it's clear that Stark has many more marks to come. Still more than Tony, more than Oscar, Downey wants to show you he's still a real actor inbetween the Happy, Favreau assisted 'Chef' cameos to tide us over. I mean have we forgotten how beautiful he played in 'The Soloist' with a duet with the electric, eclectic Jamie Foxx? This is a man who overcome the dark depths of a drug depression and added the real and the raw to his trademark, evergreen, no matter the light, cocksure charisma and charm. All this and still the juries out as critics want to judge, 'The Judge'!?
Objection! One that will not be overruled. This all seems ironic...it may just be ignorance. Sure even if this is more Oscar bait than material, we still get the hook. Script, line and sinker. This law and family disorder is more than just Robert popping up in 'Ally McBeal', playing piano, showing he can sing like his subtly strong solo album...yeah just like the Black Widow Scarlett Johansson's super singing career, you didn't know, did you? This is the realest thing he's done since walking barefoot around an empty house singing along to Elton John's 'I Want Love' better than Justin Timberlake did impersonated the star specs for 'This Train Don't Stop Here Anymore'. Right now in this science fiction, superhero age, following the red hot Summer blockbuster season of Marvel, Oscar season is going 'Interstellar' in full 'Fury' force. It has been ever since 'Amazing Amy' went missing and everyone blamed Batman like Harvey Dent was murdered again. Why are superheroes getting even more serious? From Wolverine getting his claws and chords into the 'Les Miserables' stage and even more Academy 'Prisoners' bars, to even another X-Men in co-star Jake Gylenhaal...oh wait...wrong 'Nightcrawler'. Still, even in this geek generation there's got to be more circumstance behind this pomp and the man who hides behind his cockiness is about to show more shades of himself than Grey. Staying forever young and successful like Dorian, Downey paints an almost perfect picture with this performance. Almost in the sense that this master of the poker face, finally wears his heart on his sleeve and shows us his vulnerabilities. He's only human...and what a quality that really is. Give him a hand, because he's played a great one. In 'The Judge', Downey is the greatest executioner. And the winner is...
Another Robert! Duvall perhaps. What more can we say about this iconic legend? What in another case would be a man heading for retirement is actually one sustained, reigniting that fire. In a league or lake of his own, sitting in his trademark fishing boat showing us more to tackle with like that minute and a half he proved he could sing in 'Crazy Heart'. Here playing a legendary judge, with more family fond integrity than Phillip Banks (Rest Peacefully James Avery) he's on trial for his life, but will he accept the counsel of his lawyer son Robert? A son who passed the bar but also the 'Welcome To Hoosier Country' sign as he left a fractured father son dynamic in the state of Indiana to the winds of big city change in Chicago. This deep drama is more than a simple story of family values or reflective metaphor. It's a yellow legal pad, by the book scripts of moral and mortality tales that brings a new firm to those law dramas of the past. Forget a gavel...this hits you like a jackhammer. If you cant handle this truth like the small town, small falls beauty of Carlinville, Indiana, then there's plenty more holding court. From strong, albeit almost stealing performances from Vera Farmiga an Vincent D'Onofrio. As well as a moving one from Jeremy Strong and a puking one from 'Punk'd's' Dax Shepard. If this wasn't enough your 'also starring, and' in this Dobkin directed piece leaves us with the great Billy Bob-Thornton. Clearly attending the same 'Darrow' law school as Kevin Spacey did for 'A Time To Kill' and having one swish metal drinking cup that he puts away with a slice to any opponents imaginations jugular, this man plays prosecution with conviction. Still, at the core of this courtroom drama is a father and son one that shows no matter how many disillusioned decades of ignorant pride and mislead and fired anger there can be a hope of resolution and redemption if things are worked on and through together. From toilets to tornados, dignity and desperation and for better or worse these two R's and Roberts, funny and forthright, work together for that gold. The verdict? Sure this film is guilty of appealing to this Oscars like this article is to cliches, but its still all genuine. Amongst all the hate it's that heart that matters. Some stories are just as simple and soulful as that. No further question your honour. The defence rests. TIM DAVID HARVEY.