Friday, 19 February 2010

Bradley Whitford films: a shamelessly subjective viewpoint

I'm not sure how, but word has somehow got around that I am something of a Bradley Whitford fan.

Having decided that since, sniff, the West Wing only continues to exist in the hearts and minds of fan fic writers... (I plead guilty), I should get my Brad/Aaron fix from Studio 60, I thought I would try and wean myself onto the idea of watching Brad on other things with Little Manhattan. Since that was such a thoroughly positive experience, I shall now be regularly indulging in the Friday-night treat that is watching a film I would never have heard about were it not for him.

Him, and my fellow tweeters, that is, who have been a very useful source of information for such things. And today "Laura in Washington" asked me to rank BW movies by amount of screen time that he gets, so she knows what to watch first.

So in the spirit of world-wide friendship, altruism, and self sacrifice (ahem), here goes. Though I don't fancy getting the stopwatch out so I'm going to use a throughly subjective complex mathematical equation along the lines of:

wonderfulness of Brad's character x screen time x greatness of film in general x enjoyment of said film by a girl whose favourite genre (apart from political dramas by Aaron Sorkin) is the (intelligent) chick-flick

Number One - and this should, by now, come as no surprise: the West Wing. The West Wing. The West Wing. (I get so excited that I have to say it multiple times.)

- well, what can I say? If you really (really?) want to hear me enthuse more about this, check out this blogpost, or this one, or this one.

To be absolutely fair, I will let Aaron Sorkin take some of the credit for Josh Lyman's attractiveness, and also Rahm Emanuel for being his inspiration. (Funny, though - I've felt a little cheated since realising Josh is not 100% creation... I knew no good could come out of leaving the world of fiction to find out about reality.) Oh, and because I have to mention her in every post, also Janel Moloney. I think that Brad once said that so much of who he was on the West Wing was a product of his interaction with her. Or maybe it was the other way round. But either way...

It's a no-brainer, though, really: who doesn't love a vulnerable, impossibly bright, world-changing hero? With those dimples and those eyes? Come on.

Number Two: Inevitable

Yet to be made, this one, but essentially a film version of the novel I am currently working on. Oh, and he and I are going to write the screenplay together. (He just doesn't know it yet.)

He finally gets a lead role, as a frustrated musician masquerading as a diplomat in Brussels, (assuming we can make him look thirty-five) and both he and his character are thoroughly lovable. Also, Janel Moloney gets a cameo. A must-see. Now if I could just get the flippin' thing written...

For more on my delusions of grandeur, click here...

Number Three: Little Manhattan

Funny, sweet, endearing. Hats off to Josh Hutcherson who I think has a great future ahead of him, though I've heard something about vampires and the like... (Not really down with the kids these days, not that I ever was...) Lots of New York City in it. These are all good things, aside from the vampires part.

Brad's character, a fab dad, needs a hug throughout the film, and that certainly works on me.

It makes me sad, though, that he is playing a character going through a divorce... A little too close to real life.

Screen time is substantial for a non-lead character, and in any case it is a film I would have loved even without Brad. Perfect for a girls' night in. Go out and buy it. Now.

Eight out of ten (I rarely give 9s, and 10s are reserved for the West Wing).

Number Four: Studio Sixty on the Sunset Strip

Well, how could I not like this? It's not just Brad, but Matt Perry as well - and he is fantastic (and not entirely unattractive) in this. It's also Aaron Sorkin's writing, plenty of romantic tension, and a lot of depth to a series that could essentially have been about unimportant fluff. Still, it's no West Wing. Maybe because there was no Janel. Or maybe because it was only allowed to last one season - it may well have needed longer to come into its own, or allow some of the storylines to benefit from the kind of Josh/Donna tension that only comes with long, long waits.

Eight out of ten as well.

Number Five: Burn Up

Can I give this one eight of ten too?

This did not sound like the kind of thing I would enjoy, and yet I'm very glad following the Brad trail led me to this. It's a two-part TV drama, three hours in total, that charts the run up to a Kyoto 2/Copenhagen conference. If global warming sounds like a dull premise, then think again - passions and self-interest run very deep in a such a powerful place as the oil industry, and there are plenty of unexpected twists and turns that will have you gasping, and wondering throughout where exactly your sympathies are supposed to lie. Brad's hair is way too short, but that's perhaps the only criticism I could level at him, or Burn Up in general. Really worth the watch. Neve Campbell and Rupert Penley-Jones are great too, and it's always fun for me to watch Brit/American dynamics play out against this kind of backdrop.

Number Six: Scent of a Woman

Thanks must once again go to Brad for introducing me to many films I would otherwise not have touched, or, to my shame, even been aware of. Among many great things about this film, which other people have no doubt reviewed and discussed much more eloquently and intelligently that I can in the context of this blog, is possibly the world's greatest chat-up line: "want to get together and talk politics sometime?".

I don't feel I can do the intelligence or subtlety or fantastic acting of this film justice here. (I will, however, be checking out more of Chris O'Donnell.) The sweet ending I wasn't sure quite fitted with the rest of the plot, but hey, it did fulfill the major criterion of a Bradley Whitford film, which appears to be making me cry.

Brad's role (let's face it, that's why you've read this far) is in a relatively short scene, quite near the beginning. He's great, though, and you get to see him speaking his mind and pinned against a wall. The Brits among you will also chuckle with me when I tell you his character's name is Randy.

6.5/10, according once again to my subjective equation, not to any objective Great Movies Of All Time league: Al Pacino got his first Best Actor Oscar for this.

As it says on the DVD, heart-wrenching, and heart-warming.

Number Seven: Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 1

I've blogged about this elsewhere, but essentially, it's another great girlie film, though be warned that if you have any painful issues in your past or even just a modicum of sensitivity, you will be getting through a lot of tissues.

Screen time, though, is minimal, and painful - his character is an idiot through most of it and does not do what he really should have done in the scene where he vaguely redeems himself (bending over backwards not to spoil the plot here). But heck, he is still very attractive.

Six out of ten, but could've been more if I hadn't spent so much of it crying and therefore unable to see him properly.

Number Eight: Kate and Leopold

At sixteen, I would probably have loved this, but at - oh my goodness, I hadn't quite done the maths before - very nearly twice that, I kept myself sane by tweeting throughout (sorry, tweeps) and reminding myself that this was a Brad film. I would have stopped watching after twenty minutes were it not for him.

Remember that ridiculous drama on BBC last year about a girl who finds herself trapped in Jane Austen's times? Cross that with Bridget Jones. Don't think it would quite work? My point, exactly.

Also, I have a philosophical problem with films where Brad is not the one I am meant to be in love with. He is the baddie a la Hugh Grant in Bridget Jones, though one with a heart. (I remember having similar issues with not being allowed to fall for Hugh Grant, but that was then.)

And oh, the cheese.

Four out of ten. Even though this is Brad at his physically most attractive - 2001, so season 2/3 of WW.

Number Nine: the Client

Now before you all start attacking me for my lack of taste, I refer you to the aforementioned equation. This is absolutely not my kind of film. There is a lot, however, that is great about it, including Mary Louise Parker - amazing. Also, suspense and plot twists and even sweet moments that - damn it - made me well up. More crying! Bradley Whitford, please stop it!

Also, Brad is one of many "supporting" characters (not quite minor, he has a couple of moments of glory), so screen time is limited - and who knew that he would not be sexy in glasses. I mean, not sexy for Brad. And it's kind of weird, but even though this film is way old, he looks older than Josh Lyman did. Maybe it's those glasses Or the haircut. Or the braces. (Suspenders, to you Americans.) As a Brit, I'm not really qualified to comment on his Southern accent but it seemed to me that it wasn't the best (which is just as well, because, I'm sorry to say, I don't find that very attractive either). But let's face it, he still has the dimples. And the man can most definitely act.

So don't rush out and buy this if, like me, you like sweet, romantic Little Manhattan type films. But if you like thrillers and John Grishams, then it's a good one. And if you're a fan of Susan Sarandon and/or Brad Renfro and/or Mary Louise Parker (which you can't fail to be if you've seen the West Wing, and I'm guessing the West Wing is the reason most of you are on this website in the first place) - definitely one for the collection.

Enjoyment factor: three and a half out of ten.

So that's that for now. Watch this space for the next installment... Recommendations welcome. More than welcome, in fact. Actively encouraged, you could say.


Anonymous said...

My very first livejournal entry, years ago, may help you decide on which Brad movies and episodes are worth while.

I never updated it, so be wary of An American Crime if you're bugged by torture.

Anonymous said...

OK..Have U seen Burn Up?? It is a major role for BW. He has really short hair and it's not his most attractive look..but hey.. It's still Brad! ~ Rosemary

Anonymous said...

"My Life". The porn 'tasche is in evidence (blah) but the scene where he dances at a family wedding shows how flexible he is and his 'come hither' move had me re winding...and re winding...and re winding... even though I was a little pile of goo:)

I also recently watched Fathers and Sons which was okay:)

Anonymous said...

Like Rosemary, you and Rosemary, I have a longtime love for Brad (and Josh). I watch old episodes of WW on Bravo all the time. Hoping someday to get the complete DVD set.

And I always enjoy a Brad sighting or two in an old movie or tv show. I was watching the Loves Labor Lost ER episode on You Tube not long ago. Swoon

Nice to hear I'm not alone.


mrsmodcs said...

Burn Up is great!
Bottle Shock is a short 3 minutes long part but he's in shorts!
Philadelphia is an excellent role
He's very young and very cute in Young Guns 2. He was great in An American Crime!

Rastone said...

Hey Claire...Have you seen Cloned? It sounds like a tearjerker...I haven't watched it..but am hoping it shows up on one of my many satelite channels someday. (Rosemary)

Claire said...

Think it might be time to invest in the multi region DVD player! (Or move to the US, but the former seems slightly easier, if less fun!)

Sue C said...

I saw Cloned a few years ago on one of the digital channels in the UK. The story is a little crazy (but hey, what's wrong with a little suspension of disbelief?), but there's quite a bit of Brad time and he does look mighty fine!