>Aaaaaand we’re back.
Did not mean to take a month long hiatus, but that’s sort of what happened, just the same, I suppose. I ran out of ideas and took some time to find me you know? I took up yoga and the ancient art of tai-chi. Got way into the music of Cat Stevens and read this great book on the organic food movement that I’d like to discuss with you guys today.
|I exclusively wear these now.
Kidding. Here’s a list of movies that are pretty good, but have some truly badass characters right in the background that just don’t get the screen time they deserve.
These aren’t your Boba Fetts or your Witch King of Angmars – those guys had their screen time and their incompetence is plainly seen. The characters on this list, are waaay better than whoever the filmmakers elected to follow instead. With these guys running the show, things would run a lot smoother and murder mystery after vengeance plot after intense political drama would be wrapped up inside of about twenty minutes.
Marky Mark – The Departed
The other night, speaking to some friends, I actually realized what I’d already secretly suspected: I’m a huge Mark Wahlberg fan. At some point after dinner, the conversation turned towards stupid actors we hate and I brought up Marky Mark – for a few minutes, I bemoaned his “acting” ability in his “films”. My argument was that he completely sucks in absolutely everything. The exceptions of course, being The Departed… and The Fighter… and The Other Guys… and Four Brothers… and The Italian Job… and I Heart Huckabess… oh and Three Kings – did you see that shit? That was fucking boss, when dude was all in the desert with the guns and he was all like –
And there it was. I could no longer deny it. “This is who I am,” I thought to myself. I still don’t know how I’m going to tell my family.
In each of those movies listed, Marky Mark plays the lead. Except for the Departed. In that movie, he has a total of, I don’t know, seven minutes of screen time? Maybe eight? But in those precious few moments, he completely eats the scenery around everyone. Including – no, especially, Leonardo DiCaprio. Wahlberg plays the ultimate dick cop, Sgt. Dignam. In one scene, he not only makes Leo’s character so angry he starts to cry, he mimes farting on his head before he gets bored and walks away.
But that’s nothing compared to this:
Dignam: This is unbelievable. Who put the fuckin’ cameras in this place?
Police Camera Tech: Who the fuck are you?
Dignam: I’m the guy who does his job. YOU MUST BE THE OTHER GUY.
With Dignam in charge, Frank Costello would be in a federal pen before the credits finished rolling. I’d just be “IMMA A SAILOR PEG AND I LOST MYYY-” jump cut to Jack Nicholson getting hand-cuffed on the hood of a cop car . Matt Demon just bleeding out in the background and Martin Sheen totally still alive, off to the side, giving Mark Wahlberg a thumbs up.
Steve McQueen – The Great Escape
Here’s a beloved film that, in the decades since it’s release, has really wanted you to forget the fact that Steve McQueen is not really the main character. No, this is an ensemble of the purest sort – with some incredible acting from McQueen, for sure – but he is not pulling the lead, here.
|Despite the fact that he’s on the poster twice.
In this classic, you’ve got James Garner. Charles Bronson. Richard Attenborough. James Coburn. Then, towards the back for 78% of the movie, is McQueen. But seemingly, the only person who knew how fucking awesome Steve McQueen is was Steve McQueen.
McQueen took the role on two conditions: 1.) he be given the same amount of lines as James Garner and then 2.) they work motorcycles in somehow to their WW2 POW camp period piece. Which they did. Based on Steve McQueen’s ego, we get one of the coolest freaking scenes of all time.
At the end of the movie, when the Escape is crumbling and the freed men are being captured or executed all around, McQueen steals a Nazi’s Triumph Bonneville (which gearheads will note is totally not a German bike in any way, shape or form) and rides for fucking freedom. It is one of the most iconic scenes in cinema history – the downed American airman leaping over the walls of a Nazi POW camp.
It’s a real triumph (pun intended) of the human spirit type moment. By the time it comes around, you are rooting for Steve McQueen harder than you’ve ever rooted for anything in your entire life. The music is swelling, the mountains swoon majestically in the background (mountains swoon, right?) and amid a hail of German gunfire, he clears the fuck out of that wall. He makes that wall his bitch. That wall was owned so hard, you guys. But again, that guy is not the lead. He does not get away either, he’s not special – instead, he promptly crashes into some other barbed wire. Then is captured. And sent back to the camp.
It’s a total fake-out – I’ve already suspended my disbelief to allow for the fact that there’s a motorcycle jump, you don’t have to reign it in with some realism and have Steve McQueen sent back to prison to die. The first part of the movie, we see the respect the Germans have for their Allied prisoners. But that cannot be expected after the escape. How do you think the Nazi’s are going to treat him when he’s sent back as the sole surviving architect of a colossal PR fuck up? I’m sure they just tussled his hair a bit and locked the door a bit more carefully behind him. Boys will be boys, das Fuhrer will understand.
Yeah, that’s what happened.
Peter Postlethwaite – The Town
This feels like a complete cheat because I’ve never seen a movie with Peter Postlethwaite and thought, “Jesus, I could really have used less of that guy.” The sad fact is that every movie the man was in didn’t use him enough. His penultimate film, The Town, was no exception.
Pete played the film’s villain – for lack of a better term – Fergie Colm, the brains and money behind the successful bank robberies coming out of Charlestown. Also, he runs a florist’s. Why not.
When Ben Affleck’s character is ready to give it up and settle down with a nice girl, Colm won’t let him. He recognizes that Doug MacRay is an asset and he’s not going to just let him go. Affleck gets indignant and raises his voice, threating the old man. While cutting down roses, Colm quietly explains that he castrated MacRay’s father and got his mother hooked on dope before she killed herself. A huge plot point of the movie is that Doug has been under the impression his entire life that his mother just walked out on them when we has a kid.
Son, I knew your daddy. He worked for me for years. Years. Then he wanted his own thing. You play the horses? You know they either geld the horse with a knife or with chemicals. When your Daddy said no to me, I did him the chemical way. Gave your mother a taste. Got the hook into her. Ahh, she doped up good and proper. Hung herself with a wire, on Melnea Cass. And you, running around the neighborhood looking for her. Your daddy didn’t have the heart to tell his son that he was looking for a suicide doper who was never coming home. If there’s a Heaven son, she ain’t in it.
That’s his big scene and it is absolutely chilling. This unassuming little Irish florist is presented, in about ten seconds flat, as evil incarnate. It’s like the air get sucked out of the room, the monologue is so goddamned good. But ultimately, the whole scene is just transitory – it exists to propel Affleck into accepting the film’s last heist. So he folds, says he’ll do it… and that’s it. Now, I don’t know about you, but imagining a Boston bank robber flick where Peter Postlethwaite’s character has a resonating presence that is truly felt, an undercurrent driving the main character into violence after splintering his family when he was just a boy – the idea of that movie gets me eighteen types of hard. And it’s almost there – except for the presence part. You don’t forget about Pete Postlethwaite – but the film does.
The Town is a great movie, but goddamn, what a missed opportunity, there.
Tommy Flanagan – Braveheart
|The Glasgow Smile is not makeup.
Flanagan’s character Morrison is a great parallel for Mad Max’s William Wallace. As the men reading this already know (not that women don’t like this movie, it’s just that a man will watch Braveheart more times in his life than he will utter the word “and”), the bitch-ass king of England, Edward the Longshanks, wants to keep the rowdy Scots in line amid whispers of a rebellion. So he institutes the right of Prima Nocte – allowing any nobleman the right to shack up with a lady before her husband on her wedding night.
Martin Riggs’ wife is murdered after an Englishman tries to get his Nocta Prima’d and she attacks him (Christ, that is like 19-19 for films in which Mel Gibson has a wife but she is ultimately murdered). But that’s way after Morrison’s wife gets bedded about five and a half seconds after they’re officially wed. Lord Bottoms (tehehe) just rides up on his horse, calls dibs, and takes her away.
In the ensuing chaos that Ransom delivers after his wife’s death, Morrison finds Lord Bottoms. He’s tied to a post and as Morrison stamps towards him with a knife in his hand, the nobleman whimpers, “I never did any harm! It was my right!”
To which Morrison replies, “Your right?! Well, I’m here to claim the right of a husband!” and stabs him in the motherfucking throat.
The next four hours of the film involve Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome hacking Englishmen in half, and yet it all pales in comparison to the sheer badassery of Morrison’s revenge-kill. In charge of the rebellion, I imagine he would have had London burning inside of like, a day and by now, most of the world would be speaking the gnarled, slovengingly tongue the Scots call a language.