Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Jamie Foxx - Oscar Fishing?

Do Hollywood stars attend each others’ movies? And if they do, do they play close attention? An immanent new release, The Soloist, suggests that this is exactly what they do.

The Soloist looks quite awful, judging by the trailer currently in the cinemas. Based on true story, the movie stars Jamie Foxx as a gifted musician who doesn’t play and lives rough in Los Angeles because he’s crazy as a bag of hammers. He’s discovered by Robert Downey, Jr’s cynical journalist, they two men go on a journey together to discover the beauty within.

Wretched, I know. But watching Downey talking to Foxx in the trailer, Foxx all shrugs and twitches and rolling of limbs, your correspondent’s mind flashed back to the last movie Robert Downey, Jr was in, and An Spailpín Fánach couldn’t help but wonder if Foxx had been to see it. And brought a notebook.

The last movie Robert Downey, Jr, was in was Tropic Thunder. Downey played an Australian actor, Kirk Lazarus, who is so into the method school of acting that he becomes black to play a black man in a war movie. Downey is utterly politically correct, truly inspired and would have been a worthy winner of this year’s Best Supporting Actor Award – even the fact he was nominated was a victory of sorts.

But what makes Tropic Thunder germane to the current discussion is a scene between Kirk Lazarus and Tugg Speedman, an action hero movie star played by Ben Stiller. Speedman had been in a movie called Simple Jack, which was his shot at making his bones as a legit actor, rather than an action hero. It bombed, and Downey's character explains to Speedman why he was never going to win an Oscar for it.

"Check it out. Dustin Hoffman, Rain Man. Looks retarded, acts retarded, not retarded. Counted toothpicks, cheated cards. Autistic, sho'. Not retarded. You know Tom Hanks, Forrest Gump. Slow, yes. Retarded, maybe. Braces on his legs. But he charmed the pants off Nixon and won a ping-pong competition. That ain't retarded. Peter Sellers, Being There. Infantile, yes. Retarded, no. You went full retard, man. Never go full retard. You don't buy that? Ask Sean Penn, 2001, I Am Sam. Remember? Went full retard, went home empty handed."

And now, one year on, here’s Jamie Foxx sawing away on his cello under the Los Angeles flyovers, doing his best for another Oscar. Looks retarded, acts retarded, not retarded. Still. Suits him better than picking on schoolgirls I suppose.

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