Friday, June 08, 2007

Spy Game

In Tony Scott's Spy Game (2001), characters in several instances talk about calling people from their "cells." The film is set in 1991--well before the "cellular phone" became simply a "cell" in American terminology, no? (And just when along this line did "cell phone" become the common nomenclature?)

An anonymous commenter suggested for me to watch this film for its "two aging pretty boys Brad Pitt and Robert Redford as time separated images of each other -- you can't get any more fuckin' Markerian than that!!" I was under the impression that Spy Game was literally some kind of a time travel espionage techno-thriller (along the lines of Scott's later movie Deja Vu). When I scanned the Netflix envelope summary I realized I was in for something a bit more conceptually conventional. But to see Pitt and Redford playing basically the same character (in more than a metaphorical or symbolic sense) could have made for a fascinating trip down the rabbit's hole.

6 comments:

Tram said...

"An anonymous commenter suggested for me to watch this film for its "two aging pretty boys Brad Pitt and Robert Redford as time separated images of each other -- you can't get any more fuckin' Markerian than that!!" I was under the impression that Spy Game was literally some kind of a time travel espionage techno-thriller (along the lines of Scott's later movie Deja Vu)."

Lmfao.

Although I agree with the general consensus that Brad Pitt bears a striking resemblance to the young Robert Redford, I think any further comparisons would be unfair to the latter. The young Redford always had this mischievous wink in his eye (see The Candidate, if you wanna check out Redford at his ironic best). Pitt, on the other hand ...

Zach Campbell said...

I wouldn't make great claims for him as an actor, but I actually like Brad Pitt as a screen presence--probably my favorite of the standard male heartthrobs of the past 10-15 years (depending on how one defines the heartthrobs in question). I haven't watched The Candidate; will put it on my impossibly long Netflix queue; have you seen Legends of the Fall, Tram? I liked it a lot as a younger teenager; it totally got to my predilection for romantic, sweeping historical epics at the time--when I watched it again with my girlfriend last year (she thinks Pitt is super-sexy but astonishingly hadn't seen the film), I was surprised at how good--within limits--I still thought it was ...

Ryland Walker Knight said...

I think Pitt is an underrated actor, actually. I never really get the sense he's acting "that much" but he helps the illusion of whatever film he's in. And I would agree: he's easy to look at onscreen.

Still have never seen Legends of the Fall, and am a little afraid of it, to be honest, but I really dig, and really dig him in, Redford's adaptation of A River Runs Through It. Pitt, like Redford, has enough weather in his near-perfect face to have a dashing screen personality, even in an earlier film like this one. He's always kind of dissatisfied, which I like. He rolls his eyes and smiles well. But, you know, I'd still rather look at Naomi Watts or Gong Li or Juliet Berto or Cate Blanchett or Anna Karina or Rosario Dawson or Monica Vitti or Beatrice Dalle or Zhang Ziyi or Catherine McCormack (Pitt's love interest in Spy Game) or...

Zach Campbell said...

Ryland, that's a great observation--he does always seem to coast but manages to get by in any number of projects. I've seen Pitt performances that made me think he wasn't a good actor, but I can't think of one that made me think he ever hurt the film itself.

Tram said...

"have you seen Legends of the Fall, Tram? I liked it a lot as a younger teenager; it totally got to my predilection for romantic, sweeping historical epics at the time--when I watched it again with my girlfriend last year (she thinks Pitt is super-sexy but astonishingly hadn't seen the film), I was surprised at how good--within limits--I still thought it was ..."

Legends of the Fall is a guilty pleasure of mine. (In fact, a few months ago, I had intended to write about it for Lucid as such.)

One of my pet peeves with Legends is that the appeal of Tristan - Pitt's character - rests upon his "Indianness". Yeah, he could've been a boring white man, but his predilection for the Great Wilderness (look at him... ride 'em horses! voyage out to the great sea! grow out his beautiful mane! walk around shirtless!) has made him an honorary Native American, amongst a neighboring Cheyenne family. Tristan lives and dies as an "Indian". It's shameless cultural appropriation. But considering that Legends is a Ed Zwick film, it's of no surprise.

For me, Legends works best as an exercise in oogling the three Ludlow brothers :) There's Samuel, the youngest son, who's too innocent and idealistic for his own good. He's dorky (he even saves his virginity for fiancee Julia Ormond!), alright, but endearing in his dorkiness. Then, there's Tristan, stubborn, Indian-ish, and one with nature. That he has a six-pack does not hurt. And finally, there's Alfred, the cold, calculating, and ultimately, successful businessman - the anti-thesis of Tristan. Oh sure, Alfred could use a sensitivity chip or two, but he's rich and has Aidan Quinn's gorgeous icy-blue eyes!

In short: I lived through Julia Ormond's character. She got to shag all three brothers.

Zach Campbell said...

Yeah, the "wild heart," at one with nature--it's over-the-top, definitely. (He's like a 'Cowboy and Indian.') When I rewatched the film, I still got a charge from that moment when Pitt beats up the bartender who won't serve One Stab a drink.

Hopkins' patriarch is split in two among his elder sons--half of him became Alfred, the other half Tristan.