In recognition of the recent passing of Senator Fred Thompson, Turner Classic Movies aired Roger Donaldson's 1985 feature, Marie. Now, Fred Thompson usually played the same gruff, no-nonsense character in each movie he appeared in, but Marie is the only time where he actually played himself, as attorney for embattled public servant Marie Ragghianti. A personally and professionally satisfying role for him, as he got to take down the corrupt Democratic governor of Tennessee Ray Blanton.
For me, Donaldson's body of work is a bit uneven. On the one hand, you've got rather solid dramas like Marie and Thirteen Days about the 1962 Cuban missile crisis (without the X-Men). Then you've got Dante's Peak, which is nothing if not a camp classic, and you've got 1994's The Getaway, or Hollywood's quick response to Pulp Fiction... and then you've got Species 1. I guess he was trying to outdo Paul Verhoeven on that one or something: how to combine Basic Instinct and Showgirls... but with a sci-fi twist? Hmmm...
So clearly the '90s were a more expressive period for Donaldson, and during the '80s he was more inclined to just let the cameras roll and stay out of the actors' way, as with Marie. Of course, I have a hard time accepting Jeff Daniels as a bad guy, and not just because of the Dumb and Dumber saga. Then again, I didn't see all of Blood Work. But arguably, here in Marie, his character's a more casual villain, at least at first.
But we do get a few of the more average days in Marie's life, and a glimpse back at the dark days when trachiotomy had a more, um... hands-on approach to it, as in, get your hands off this tube sticking out of my neck! Good Lord. There's a lot less tubing involved now.
As with all these older movies, my viewing companions had a slight case of Who's-That-Guy-itis. In this case, it was a tall, blond actor fella who played a rape-crazy prisoner that got out early for cash... I forget who put up the money for that bad investment, but never mind. Now, they never did figure out who the guy was, but I remembered him for his one crucial scene with Sigourney Weaver in Ghost Busters 1, and of course as the semi-villainous campaign manager in the Chris Farley 1996 comedy Black Sheep. His name was Robert Paulson... I mean, his name is Timothy Carhart, and I think my viewing companions might have remembered him from an episode of Mad Men, but they binge-watched the entire series, and one episode doesn't stick out so good when you do that. As for me, I couldn't help but watch the scene where Carhart's spying on that one game of tennis and... ah yes, a brief flash of Donaldson's '90s work yet to come. It also informed his thinking when he directed the music video for "Calabria." If there's a skankier music video than that, I just don't want to know about it... WITHOUT RON JEREMY. (Incidentally, text ENUR1 to 71777 for the ringtone!)
Good double bill with: ..well, for a Morgan Freeman '80s night, watch this and Brubaker. Morgan's actor friends still give him sh... a tough time over that one!
-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan