Don’t You Recognize Me: Andrew Lincoln

Don’t You Recognize Me? will be a sporadically posted theme wherein I briefly highlight an early role of a now well-known actor. Typically, it will be one where I didn’t immediately make the connection, hence the title.

This one wasn’t a realization I came upon unassisted, thanks to a tweet by Richard Roeper for that assist, but first a little back story.

As of this writing, I have now read, through trades, the equivalent of the first 102 issues of The Walking Dead in comic book form. When I do read it, it’s been in binge mode. So I held off on starting the TV series until this year. I started watching the series in early January and am now current.

With such a heavy watching schedule, I didn’t look everyone up on the IMDb, but Andrew Lincoln, who plays Rick, did seem to have a familiar face.

Love, Actually (2003, Universal)

Then late the other night Richard Roeper tweeted a reference to where I knew him from. He was the guy desperately in love with Keira Knightley in Love Actually. Funny thing is now that I did check his IMDb, I see why I missed the connection.

It was literally the last thing I saw him in. Since then there were a few movies I knew of, but didn’t see, and many TV series that are unfamiliar to me. Love Actually was one of my favorite films in 2003 and one I viewed repeatedly, but it’s one film I had to reacquire as it seems to have vanished from my collection. I’ve not revisited it in some time so, in the haze of memory and all the other faces in that film I already knew, he got lost in the shuffle.

So the next time I pop in Love Actually, probably around Christmas, the “Where are they now?” game will be quite the interesting sidebar: Knightley, Nighy, Firth and Rickman have since won BAMs for other works; Thomas Sangster, believe it or not is the voice of Ferb on Phineas and Ferb, Liam Neeson has since developed his badass persona, and of course, Lincoln is on The Walking Dead just to name a few.

It was quite the sudden realization because as soon as I read the tweet I knew the scene in Love Actually referenced and I could see his face, and it crystallized. In the end, the interpretation of Rick on the show is a different one both physically and in some other small aspects. They’re not identical by any means, but they’re both Rick Grimes, which is a testament to both series staying true to their form.

10 Keys to a Better Life as a Fanboy: 6. The Perils and Merits of Series

Vista Library

This series of articles is designed to help you, the fan, try and divorce yourself from your attachment to source material and judge a film on its own merits and not in comparison to another work. These tips come from my own experience. I hope they are helpful.

The aforementioned tips are all well and good when you are the fan of a standalone piece in another medium and it is being adapted into a standalone, for the time being, film. Things get more complicated when your book or comic or what have you is part of a series. Any series will have its own arc and structure in its greater tale aside from just the structure of the single volume.

This is where you might have to breathe deep and learn some relaxation techniques. If an element, say Hermione’s quest to end the enslavement of House elves, is left out of one film it will be left out of each subsequent film until it becomes absolutely, positively crucial to the structuring of the story. So some of the subplots that enrich a book will invariably fall by the wayside, which is why comparing mediums is dangerous.

I don’t want a novel that reads like a screenplay. I want detail, inner monologue, I want it to be possible to take two pages to describe five seconds of a character’s life. Each medium has its strengths and to expect a film to be a pictographic facsimile of a book is unrealistic. Sticking to the Harry Potter theme The Deathly Hallows is 759 pages long. If those pages were screenplay pages you’d be looking at a 12 and 1/2 hour movie. So even with two films telling the tale of one book you’re looking at roughly 40% of the material in the book covered.

So it’s a fact of life that the movie by necessity can and will leave things out and change things.

Conversely, you need to look at the film within the context of the series. You can compare it to past films but also bear in mind: how did it advance the story, did it up the stakes, is it leaving the table set nicely for a subsequent edition should there be one?

10 Keys to a Better Life as a Fanboy: 1. A Book is a Book (A Question of Form)

1. A Book is a Book (A Question of Form)

Star Wars- Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (Lucasfilm)

This series of articles is designed to help you, the fan, try and divorce yourself from your attachment to source material and judge a film on its own merits and not in comparison to another work. These tips come from my own experience. I hope they are helpful.

The first and most important thing to keep in mind if you are hoping to have a happy existence as a fanboy is that medium matters. A book is a book, a comic is a comic and so on and so forth. Each medium has its own rules and limitations and conversely benefits. If something achieves perfection within its form it is therefore referred to as a masterpiece.

It is very difficult but not impossible for a story to be that well told in more than one medium. Now how to gauge whether or not a film has achieved such a lofty height cannot and should not be decided based on a comparative analysis.

There is merit to examining the decisions made in adding and omitting and transforming material from other mediums to film but such discussions are typically more adept to academic scenarios and not germane to analyzing the quality of a film.

I will even have occasion to describe a film I saw and cite that I thought it should’ve done X when it does Y, Case 39 is a prime example of that, however, that should not influence one’s overall opinion of a film. You must look at what is presented you and then decide if it works based on what is there not what you wish is there. That should apply to films as well.

Another illustration would be Star Wars: Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. I was hoping against hope that amidst the bloodshed would be the headless corpse of Jar Jar Binks, alas it was not to be. Yet that didn’t color my entire view of the film. It still would’ve been bitchin’ though.

The Gray Area Reviews

Every year there is invariably going to be a gray area with regards to films. What I mean by that is due to the tyranny of release dates (meaning Oscar-nominated or contending films being released towards the end of the year) there will be some that slip into the following year.

Some of these films will fall into the gray area meaning they were out in say 2010, I had adequate opportunity to see them but passed for whatever reason. Some I was ignorant about their release so they retain their eligibility for the following year.

This year has an additional shade of gray, if you will, and that comes form the fact that I was transitioning from one site to another and busy archiving rather than writing new content. Some films failed to get timely reviews due to that fact, however, they still deserve them and that’s what this article hopes to do: bridge that gap.

So without further ado: The Gray Area reviews.

Rare Exports

Rar Exports (Oscilloscope Films)

There isn’t much in the way of originality coming out of American horror films these days. If you want something different you’re better off going international specifically to Europe. Rare Exports is a Finnish film that tackles the Santa Claus in horror subgenre with style, humor and intelligence much in the way the Norwiegian film Dead Snow took on the Nazi zombie subgenre.

There is a good bit of folklore re-interpreted and made to be a modern horror tale with a few intentional chuckles along the way. There is some good make-up work and some really good performances out of the cast both young and old.

The only thing that holds this film back is after a while it stops progressing its narrative and danger quotient and just sort of stagnates. It never becomes uninteresting and has a nice button at the end it just slips in the latter part of the second act into the third.

It is, however, a brisk and fun watch that you should look for on video when it comes out.

6/10

True Grit

True Grit (2010, Paramount)

This film falls into the Gray Area because I only managed to see it in January though I had chances to in December. For the record, I would not retroactively include this film in my Top 15 of 2010, however, that is one of the few things I can really fault it for. The film works and it works well I could just never get as involved with it as it wanted me to be.

The other thing that is a little bothersome is that in a rather realistic and well-spoken film you get an ending that smacks of a Hollywood cliché. The annoyance of false climax aside it’s two perils combined in one to add a little more running time and a quasi-tragic button to the whole affair.

Regardless of that the film is beautifully photographed by Roger Deakins and is played very convincingly by its cast particularly Jeff Bridges and newcomer Hailee Steinfeld. It’s a plot that’s simple enough but also intriguing enough that it naturally becomes a character study without ever being tiresome.

8/10

The King’s Speech

Colin Firth in The King's Speech (The Weinstein Company)

I have been reading some people either complain or just state how The King’s Speech is both rather bulletproof but also not mind-blowing. To re-iterate the above review if I had to go back would I slide this film in my Top 15, probably not, do I get the bulletproof comments? Yes.

There is even less to nitpick this film about, if you want to use that term than there is for True Grit. The only thing that slightly holds it back in my book is the intangible visceral reaction that I just didn’t quite get out of this film as opposed to others.

It’s not a daringly original film in terms of concept or structure it’s just very well executed, acted, edited and shot. It’s the kind of Best Picture contender that while I may not have nominated I can really get behind because it is the best film that the lowest common denominator can get behind. Seriously, who can hate this film?

Before you answer consider the fact that I may need to ask you what your problem is. This is a really easy film to get into whether it blows you away or not and is a really likable kind of story. It’s a “feel good” movie without all that “feel good” movie cheese in the mix.

9/10

The Rite

Anthony Hopkins in The Rite (Warner Bros.)

The Rite is a rather surprising entry in the possession/exorcism subgenre of horror. There’s not a lot of new ground to tread so far as this kind of tale is concerned, however, the one thing this film, does right off the bat is acknowledge the existence of the subgenre with a reflexive joke about The Exorcist.

This film, of course, is a little like that one: there’s an old priest and young priest, there is the subject of doubt and it is in turn more about the exorcist than the exorcised, as a matter of fact, the exorcised are typically rather glossed over. However, what this film does do is deal with the mundane aspects of exorcism, it deals with many possessions and brings it down to earth a little from where its been.

The examples it uses as proof are simple and well-thought out. There are very good flashbacks in this film that allow more doubt to be created about where the tale is going then you’d ever expect.

Then there’s Anthony Hopkins. Just the fact that I am mentioning his name this late is an indication that this is a quality film worth seeing. Without saying too much there are shades of Hannibal Lecter in his performance which are great. The acting overall in fact really props this film up. It is definitely worth viewing.

8/10

The Green Hornet

Seth Rogen and Jay Chou in The Green Hornet (Columbia Pictures)

I truly shudder to think at what this movie would’ve been like had it not been for the creativity and flair that Michel Gondry brings to it. Yes, there is plenty of competition between action and comedy elements of the tale and both serve the film and story well but there’s also a lot of both and the film gets a little long in the tooth. As an origin story it’s not the most gripping based on how its handled not just based on the empirical facts of the character such that the flair and verve that Gondry brings is desperately needed.

The name Seth Rogen in the same sentence as the word superhero still does seem a little funny to say, however, it does kind of work for this character because it’s not a case of his being superhuman and his sidekick, well-played by Jay Chou does contribute quite a bit to the equation.

6/10