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04 December 2012 @ 11:18 am
Reviews List of Martin Freeman Works I’ve Seen  
Having pretty much exhausted a large chunk of Benedict Cumberbatch’s filmography, I found myself almost unconsciously gravitating to the other half of the Sherlock duo, Martin Freeman, and watching works in which he stars. Obviously I haven’t seen as many of his roles as I have BC’s, but I’ve seen enough that I’d like to keep track of them in a list. Um, please rec me your favorites that I haven’t watched yet?


::: Film :::

  • Ali G Indahouse: “Is there any reason why there should be an absurdly dressed, half-naked man chained to a fence, being tossed off by an old blind council worker?” In this irreverent comedy, Sasha Baron Cohen plays Ali G, a bizarre wannabe gangster convinced he’s a rap star and is constantly in pursuit of being a badass. Somehow he gets involved in campaigning to be a member of parliament (yup, that’s right, “da house” refers to the House of Parliament). Michael Gambon and Charles Dance add class and very gamely play along as the Prime Minister and his scheming deputy, respectively. Martin plays Ali G’s supportive best friend, Ricky C, and gets to wear a frankly ridiculous costume (overalls and bandanas are involved). Together, they cruise around in their tiny “decked out” car, smoke weed, watch porn, and even dance and do some beatboxing together. (Also, Anderson from Sherlock makes a brief cameo!) Watching Ali G being wildly inappropriate in such staid British institutions is very amusing, though now some of the elements are a bit dated.

  • Breaking and Entering: Jude Law, Robin Wright, and Juliette Binoche co-star in this film about a business that keeps being broken into by a young Bosnian boy who excels in acrobatics and all the people whose lives he inadvertently touches. Martin plays Jude Law’s character’s business partner who has quite a thing for a member of the cleaning crew. Martin has a beard! It makes him look very distinguished, actually.

  • Captain America: Civil War: In this highly enjoyable addition to the Avengers universe, Martin has a brief role as no-nonsense American interrogator Everett K. Ross. More about the movie, which I really liked, here!

  • The Debt: In this comedy-drama with an ensemble cast and told in flashbacks and voiceovers, Martin plays an inept, lowlife father and husband who sets the plot in motion by becoming indebted 20,000 pounds to some very bad people and forces his father-in-law (played by Warren Clarke) to try to get him out of trouble. A relevant point is that in the show he is married and has a son with Amanda Abbington—his real-life partner with whom he has two kids! :) There’s a great scene where they scream at each other. Amanda is particularly loveable in this role. Martin takes a lot of abuse in this movie, getting punched and beaten up—but his character usually deserves it! Also stars Lee Williams, a real heartthrob, as an anxiety-ridden inexperienced lawyer.

  • Dedication: Billy Crudup and Mandy Moore star in this quirky romantic drama about a dysfunctional children’s author and a broke illustrator who are forced to work together. Martin plays Jeremy, Mandy Moore’s character’s academic author ex-boyfriend, ex-thesis advisor who can’t choose between two women (he’s kind of a douche). Martin’s intense author headshot was totally sexy, though.

  • The Girl is Mime: Both absurd and emotionally affecting, this is an engrossing five-minute silent film in which Martin plays (you guessed it) a mime accused of murder. The silence is a perfect vehicle to showcase Martin’s astounding physical acting—every action is so exact and so natural that in the interrogation I almost forgot that he had no props. Unfortunately the film raises more questions than it can answer in such a short amount of time. You can see it right now on Youtube here.

  • The Good Night: Working with Simon Pegg again, but this time he and Martin have significant time onscreen together as former bandmates who have relationship troubles. Martin plays a musician who now scores lousy commercials. After he has a vivid dream with a beautiful woman (Penélope Cruz), he becomes obsessed with perfecting his lucid dreaming skills in an attempt to further his dream relationship with her, neglecting his real life relationship (with his partner played by Gwyneth Paltrow). Slow and dreamy but with surprising twists. Since Martin wears sweaters similar to John Watson’s in the movie, I think footage from this film could be good to use on sad post-Reichenbach vids. :)

  • The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: Martin is the perfect Arthur Dent—the last surviving human after the earth is blown up to make way for an intergalactic bypass—in this zany rendition of Douglas Adams’ beloved cult novel (which I adore). I really liked the chemistry between Martin and Mos Def (playing Ford Prefect, my favorite character from the books), but not so much Sam Rockwell’s portrayal of the two-headed Zaphod Beeblebrox. Martin gets to wander round in his dressing gown the whole time, which must have been fun.

  • The Hobbit trilogy: Oh my God, Martin Freeman was born to play this role; you see why Peter Jackson & co. decided to delay filming on this $250 million project in order to wait for him to become available. His Bilbo Baggins is both complicated and oh so simple, brave and loveable but with some inner darkness that makes him fascinating. I’ve done full reviews of the movies here: (part 1), (part 2), (part 3).

  • Hot Fuzz: Martin is a corrupt police sergeant in this comedy with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost (the second of a collaboration of three with director Edgar Wright). It had many of the elements of Shaun of the Dead—comedic narration, fast edits with quick cutaways, amusing explosions, Pegg as the main character and Frost as his sidekick—but to me, it wasn’t as funny. And it was rather creepier.

  • Love Actually: As one of a huge ensemble cast of veteran British actors, Martin plays, and I am not kidding, a porn stand-in (for blocking/lighting purposes)…who is cripplingly shy. He finds love with his female stand-in partner, who is also rather shy. They are adorable together. He spends most of this movie unclothed and dry humping her, so…yeah!

  • Nativity!: Aren’t British kids adorable?! This heartwarming movie showcases Martin doing comedy just effortlessly. He’s hysterical starring as failed actor-turned-grumpy primary school teacher Paul Maddens, who is forced to take responsibility for directing the school Nativity play with his enthusiastic assistant Mr. Poppy (played by Marc Wootton). He gets in over his head when he is overheard in a lie that the play will be filmed by a Hollywood production company. Martin’s increasing incredulity as his frustration mounts was so incredibly funny. Also, he has a dog!, and his relationship with his dog (and its former owner, Jennifer, Paul’s ex who moved to Hollywood) is very sweet. I also liked Pam Ferris (who played Aunt Marge from Harry Potter), the headmistress and also Mr. Poppy’s aunt. You must check out the great Sherlock AU of this movie, The Baker Street Nativity by swissmarg, in which Sherlock takes Martin’s role as the cranky teacher and John is his assistant.

  • Nightwatching: Before Benedict Cumberbatch portrayed Van Gogh, Martin also played a famous Dutch painter: Rembrandt. This longer film is shot so that each scene resembles a Rembrandt painting, which makes the film beautiful but darkly mysterious. The Amsterdam of 1640 was shown as a dirty, rather nasty den of vice—particularly for women, whose serious problems are focused on in the film. The premise is that Rembrandt’s painting The Militia Company of Captain Frans Banning Cocq (a.k.a. The Night Watch) was actually a condemnation of many of the various members of the militia, some of whom were involved in murder, child rape, child abuse, outrageous neglect, incest, and a number of other evil and disturbing acts. I found the film moving but rather difficult to follow at times with all the offscreen characters whose faces were only rarely shown in closeups. Definitely check out if you want to see Martin completely naked, though. While learning about Dutch Golden Age painting, of course. :)

  • The Pirates! Band of Misfits: In this Aardman claymation film, Martin voices the pirate with a scarf, the supportive first mate to Hugh Grant’s pirate captain. While I had some issues with the movie itself, Martin is…basically John Watson on a pirate ship, and he’s awesome. I wrote a full review of this movie at this link.

  • Shaun of the Dead: Martin is hardly in this amusing British zombie comedy, but he does have a little cameo as part of an alternate group of survivors. As well as Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, the movie also stars Lucy Davis, who was with Martin in The Office (UK) as Dawn. :)

  • Whiskey Tango Foxtrot: Tina Fey is wonderful in this adaptation of the book The Taliban Shuffle by Kim Barker, which I read beforehand in preparation for the movie, about a war correspondent in Kabul. The movie unfortunately loses much of the nuance and gallows humor of the book (including cutting Pakistan out entirely to focus on Afghanistan), while also failing to show the evolution of Afghanistan and how foreign intervention into the country has caused untold damage without producing any positive results. However, it does capture the humanity of the Afghan people, the callousness and shallow nature of media companies, and how being in a warzone can cause adrenaline junkies. Fey really shines in her role (as Kim Baker, instead of Barker), instantly charming and helming the intelligent social commentaries. And yay, Martin Freeman has a big role—third billing and the romantic lead, as such. He dons an over-the-top Scottish accent (!) to play a flirtatious asshole character, Iain MacKelpie, who is morally grey, like many of the other war correspondents in the movie. Another standout for me was Christopher Abbott as Kim’s translator, Fahim Ahmadzai. While it is depressing that an Afghan was not cast in the role, Abbott did bring out the spirit of the character from the books. And Billy Bob Thornton and Margot Robbie slip naturally into their roles as a U.S. Marine general and fellow war correspondent, respectively. So even though it can’t match the book, I’d definitely recommended the movie!

  • Wild Target: Martin plays an assassin in this quirky, amusing, British film. I watched this because it has Rupert Grint (Ron in Harry Potter) in it, but Bill Nighy really stole the show as the fastidious, rather boring assassin Victor Maynard, who finds that the woman he was supposed to kill (Emily Blunt) and the young man he takes along as an accidental apprentice (Rupert Grint) actually add a lot of color to his dull, sterile world. Martin has a supporting role as the more sensible of two hitmen who are after the runaway trio. The main standout are his awful, fake teeth in this—he’s constantly smiling in this terribly phony way, and it makes his character more menacing.

  • The World’s End: The last in Simon Pegg and Nick Frost’s collaboration trilogy with director Edgar Wright is about an unbalanced man (played by Simon Pegg) stuck in the past and determined to relive the best night of his young adulthood by visiting twelve pubs in one night—a goal that is interrupted by the apocalypse via blue-blooded robots. Martin plays one of his five friends who’s a technology-driven, successful real estate agent (his catchphrase is “WTF?!”). I found the movie to be the funniest of the trilogy (which includes Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz), with the second act being the best. The movie starts off a bit slowly and isn’t as funny once it basically devolves into the cast fighting robots, but that second act is particularly hilarious, letting Martin exercise his comedy chops again. But I kind of wanted the sci-fi elements to go away so I could watch the story of these five friends doing a pub crawl, which was really entertaining.


::: TV / Drama :::

  • Bruiser: Olivia Colman, Robert Webb, and David Mitchell star with Martin in this comedy sketch TV show. Martin plays a variety of recurring roles, changing accents frequently. In one sketch, he is a giggly pimp, and in others he even puts on an American accent, and in others he’s James Bond! I very much enjoyed That Mitchell and Webb Look by the same creators, which ended with a ridiculously sad and lovely sketch about Sherlock Holmes. Thank you to the_hobbet for letting me know about this one! :)

  • The Office (UK): Full disclosure, I saw the copycat American version first and fell so in love with it that not even the original could take its place in my heart. But I believe this is the role that made everyone realize what a fantastic everyman Martin could be. His character here, the aimless practical joker Tim Canterbury, I felt was actually kind of mean—and certainly not a good worker. But his deadpan stare into the camera at the insanity of his working environment under his obnoxious manager David Brent (played by Ricky Gervais) was really very funny. I loved his flirtations with Dawn Tinsley (played by Lucy Davis).

  • The Robinsons: This short comedy TV show focuses on three grown-up siblings and their parents in all their misadventures—chiefly relationship troubles, at which their family appears to excel. Imagine if John Watson worked in insurance and also had Mycroft as an older brother (played brilliantly by Hugh Bonneville). I found this show to be just hysterically funny. Other than Martin, who is very natural in his role, Abigail Cruttenden is a stand-out as his perfectionist older sister who’s…almost sociopathically self-interested; she’s so funny. Roger Allam (who’s worked with Benedict Cumberbatch a lot before) guest stars in the third episode, and Clive Mantle (Dr. Frankland from Sherlock) is in the sixth! There is also a running gag about beekeeping, for you Sherlockians keeping count.

  • Sherlock: My favorite of his roles, obviously. He seems so real and so comfortable here as John Watson, embodying a seemingly nondescript doctor who has a cane and wears sweaters all the time but who is secretly a military badass who shoots serial killers and then giggles afterward and goes for Chinese. His face is fantastically fluid and expressive (and hysterical at times!), and my God, if you just watch his hands in each scene, they quietly do so much of the acting that it’s incredible.



If you can’t tell, I’m very, very much looking forward to the release of the first of the upcoming Hobbit trilogy in, oh, ten days. :)

(Uhhhhh, by the way, in Benedict news: the Star Trek Into Darkness teaser poster is out now. Benedict is on it. Benedict is the only one on it, looking badass and Sherlockian in front of a crumbling London. This movie is going to kill me, isn’t it…MY BOYS ARE ALL GROWN UP AND MAJOR MOVIE STARS NOW.)
 
 
 
The Elephant in the Roompennswoods on December 4th, 2012 03:59 pm (UTC)
I am so in love with this post. I look forward to watching Martin in as many of these I can get my hands on.
shadowfireflame: Sherlockshadowfireflame on December 4th, 2012 04:20 pm (UTC)
OMG, yay! Thanks for your thoughts! I will be adding more as I watch them--I have about three more of his works on hold at the library, hee. I think the TV show The Robinsons is next...

I really, really can't wait for The Hobbit. I'm almost salivating thinking about it. :D
Strictly Ornamental: sherlockdaasgrrl on December 4th, 2012 09:40 pm (UTC)
I'm going to say upfront that I'm not a huge fan of MF, in the sense that aspects of his public persona have put me off a bit BUT I think he's an amazing actor, so I enjoyed reading this and the discussion of his works. Also looking forward to The Hobbit :)

I've seen Hitchhiker's, which didn't leave a huge impression on me, but I LOVED The Office, which I saw when it was first on - now MF will always be John, but before that it did seem like he was going to be Tim for ever and ever, amen. Such a defining role for him, possibly to his disgust *g*. Did you think he was mean? That's interesting, I have to say I never got that impression! He was always like the teddy bear. But then the main draw for me was always the excruciating Brent, and to a lesser extent, Gareth. Tim was mostly just the breath of 'normality'. I've seen a little of the US version, and was quite enjoyable, but a completely different kind of comedy imo, toned down, warmer.

Must see Love, Actually properly one day - I was living overseas and saw a heavily censored version of it which completely excluded the porn actor storyline! I didn't realise it until I read reviews later and was all... what porn actors? Where? LOL.

Have not seen any of the others :)
shadowfireflame: Sherlockshadowfireflame on December 5th, 2012 02:26 am (UTC)
Haha, MF is so sarcastic in interviews; such dry humor. I like it, but at the same time it can make me slightly uncomfortable when what he says is so close to being true. But at least he's not afraid to be different, and that's very refreshing.

You've hit the nail on the head with the difference between the British and American Office--the American version is "toned down, warmer." Even the worst character has some redeeming points and is generally a good person.

With the British version, I felt that many of the characters were generally bad people with some minor redeeming points. Particularly Brent, obviously, but also Gareth a little. And I wanted to get to know more of the office members.

Tim was...how to explain...well, I guess that's just the impression I get. Of course I can't help but compare him to Jim, who is just a big stuffed teddy bear with a practical jokes streak. I felt that Tim's retaliation was occasionally a bit out of proportion to the offenses done to him.

Or Tim would do something that was just wildly unprofessional--the dildo in Brent's office while he was in a meeting, for example. Making disgusted faces at the pregnant woman. Stacking the phone books up to block out Gareth--as I recall, we didn't see the provocation on that one. From what I can tell, Tim just thought Gareth was annoying and so did that.

He was definitely a breath of fresh air and funny, I just don't think he was particularly nice about it at times.
Strictly Ornamental: sherlockdaasgrrl on December 5th, 2012 03:52 am (UTC)
Hee, I do agree that even Tim has that hard-edged streak to him in comparison to the US guys - even their 'David Brent' was rather charming and klutzy (well, in the 2-3 eps I saw) rather than the pure horror of Brent. It's all relative, I guess. Or I'm just easily amused by things like Tim sticking Gareth's stapler in jelly... and it not being a euphemism. Of course then there *was* the kissing as well. Oh, dear. Yes, I did love that show :)

OH AND CABIN PRESSURE AND NARITA AIRPORT AND STAR TREK POSTERS I CAN'T EVEN STAND IT RIGHT NOW XD

Edited at 2012-12-05 03:53 am (UTC)
Bombadilthe_hobbet on December 5th, 2012 03:59 am (UTC)
Bruiser
In 2000 MF was a regular in a sketch show called Bruiser. There are a bunch of youtube excerpts, many of them featuring him. This one has Martin as a pimp. The language is rather racy and it's hysterical. I can't watch it without laughing out loud, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c5ugjtN4yTs
Bombadilthe_hobbet on December 5th, 2012 04:16 am (UTC)
Today Show
One more thing. Martin was on the Today Show in New York today, http://www.myspace.com/video/vid/109111150. With The Hobbit about to open soon I expect there will be a lot of interviews and many will be online. The Colbert Report is having a whole week devoted to The Hobbit (Colbert is a real Tolkien geek). Ian McKellen was on last night.Martin will be on tonight, Peter Jackson tomorrow, and Andy Serkis on Thursday. You will be able to see them here, http://www.colbertnation.com/full-episodes/mon-december-3-2012-ian-mckellen

Unlike Benedict, who seems very comfortable in interviews, Martin seems awkward and uncomfortable. A lot of actors are actually quite shy (I've known several personally). It could be his sarcasm is defensive, a way of dealing with discomfort - or maybe he's a bit of a jerk (though certainly pretty mild compared to a lot of them).
Bombadilthe_hobbet on December 5th, 2012 06:23 pm (UTC)
More Martin
Apologies for cluttering up your journal, but I'm so excited about this movie. Martin was on The Colbert Report and on David Letterman last night and he was looking good, also more relaxed than usual and funny. Here's the Letterman interview, http://www.metacafe.com/watch/cb-2Qe0Lvf4vf6y/david_letterman_martin_freemans_hobbit_journey_season_20_episode_3767/.

And the first review I've seen has some very nice things to say about him, http://www.empireonline.com/reviews/reviewcomplete.asp?FID=9834
shadowfireflame: Sherlockshadowfireflame on December 5th, 2012 11:08 pm (UTC)
Re: More Martin
OMG, thank you thank you thank you for all these links! I'm having a blast watching them all! *squee*

Really can't wait for the Hobbit--I'm glad you're as excited as I am!!!
Bombadilthe_hobbet on December 8th, 2012 10:39 pm (UTC)
If you are googling for Martin these days you may already have these links, http://www.accesshollywood.com/martin-freeman-talks-favorite-hobbit-toy-season-3-of-sherlock-and-meeting-lucy-liu-of-elementary_article_73519. Look at the More Content links on the right for others.

Here's an old one but interesting, http://m.stv.tv/entertainment/showbiz/316011-martin-freeman-shocked-by-sherlock/

And I'm throwing in a BC link that has content being added almost daily, http://www.scoop.it/t/benedict-cumberbatch


Edited at 2012-12-08 10:41 pm (UTC)
shadowfireflame: Sherlockshadowfireflame on December 9th, 2012 03:40 am (UTC)
Ooh, thanks very much for the links! For my BC obsession, I follow cumberbatch collection on tumblr, which has so many pretty pictures! :)

I'm getting so excited for everything coming out, omg...