Friday, January 18, 2008

2007 Was The Year Of The Russell

I know I'm late with a 2007 post and just late with a post in general, but I've been busy. Not bizzzzay. Just busy. If I were bizzzay, then I would have been having fun. But I've just been busy.

But do I post to air my grievances with you all? No. So let me get to the point.

Josh Brolin has received accolades for an incredible year. And rightly so. His performances have completely erased the talk of "isn't that the guy from Goonies?." And of course, there's lots of talk about Javier Bardem as Anton Chigurh. And again, rightly so. He played a perfect psychotic that had strange reasoning to go along with cold demeanor . But in looking back, I would have to say the year really belongs to Kurt Russell who rose above some recent bad movies to deliver a performance I personally didn't think he was capable of. I of course speak of Stuntman Mike from the film Death Proof. I got a chance to watch it again the other day and once again, I was amazed by Russell's complex performance. The way I see it, there are many scarred faces to Stuntman Mike. Four in fact.


1. The Washed-Up Stuntman. At first glance, Stuntman Mike seems harmless enough. There may have been a day when he was something, but now with his big hair and his Icy Hot jacket, he's just the butt of every Stroker Ace joke ever told. This Stuntman Mike seems a sad sap. A wannabe who will befriend anyone who gives him the chance to bend their ear about an old story or two.


2. The Assertive Stuntman. This Stuntman Mike is more aggressive. Actively seeking out his victims and engaging in a little sick foreplay. He is aware of his out-datedness, but his tone quickly changes, suggesting there's more to him than originally thought. He is able to hold his own in a conversation with the girls on the bar porch and you can see the switch in his character as he corrects Jungle Julia (Sydney Poitier) about his name. It's darker and more in charge.


3. The Cold-Blooded Stuntman. This Stuntman Mike is psychotic and takes glee in the tension created in the moments before he tortures Pam (Rose McGowan). Not unlike the film Christine, the death proof car seems to hold power over Stuntman Mike taking over once he is in the driver's seat.


4. The Puss Stuntman. This Stuntman Mike seems to be attracted to stronger females, but is completely unable to defend himself against them. Unlike other serial killers who are ready for some fight, in fact expecting it, Stuntman Mike must be in control, or the wheels start falling off, so to speak. For me, this was an unexpected turn and a good one at that. One can't help but wonder if he weren't shot in the shoulder how the rest of the story might have gone. Would he have driven off and waited for another chance at the girls, or just driven off in search of some other victims? This Stuntman Mike is only able to handle things on his terms. I doubt he screamed like a pussy when he ran into his first victims and sent himself to the hospital. Those were self-inflicted wounds. Wounds he expected. Almost welcomed as trophies for the kill. It’s not abnormal for serial killers to be control-freaks, but it’s unusual that Stuntman Mike relinquishes control so quickly when things go south.

I guess it would have been easy for Russell to play this guy as straight sinister, but he didn't. It's strange to think that within an homage to a series of bad movies, lies a performance that transcends all genres. But that's Kurt Russell acting like Stuntman Mike. Just when you want to pawn him off as a joke, he surprises you.

5 comments:

soundtrackgeek said...

I love kurt! I don't know, he's not a great actor or anything, but there's something about Kurt. Wish they made Tango & Cash 2 now that Sly is making all these sequels :D

Piper said...

I would say that because his scope of films are so random and with some performances better than others, it's hard to say whether Kurt Russell is a great actor or not. But Death Proof proved he's still got some chops. And not of the sideburn kind.

Vertigo's Psycho said...

Thganks for posting this. I thought Russell's work in Death Proof was Oscar caliber when I saw it last spring, and I still think so. Not the kind of role critics or voters go for, unfortunately.

brian said...

If there were a sixth spot available for the Oscars, then Kurt should get it.

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