Friday, June 25, 2010



1. Stranger Than Paradise (1984)
-In the year of 1982 when Jim Jarmusch was 29-years-old, he wrote and directed a 30 minute short film entitled Stranger Than Paradise. It was later edited into his motion picture also called Stranger Than Paradise. Technically, Jarmusch's first feature film was Permanent Vacation in 1980 which starred all unknown actors including Chris Parker and Lelia Gastil. The experimental film was ultra low budget and revolved around a young man named Allie (Parker) who is oddly enough obsessed with Charlie Parker. He spends the day wandering around the streets of New York City and meeting various colorful characters along the way that begin to shape his life. The film is not at all up to the caliber of Jarmusch's future films, but you definitely saw some foreshadowing for some brilliance to follow. If you can get past the low budget, it's not half bad. Anyway, back to Stranger Than Paradise. The full length feature film was finally released in 1984 and was financed by Jarmusch's usual production company, Cinesthesia Productions. The film was shot in glorious black and white (as most of his films are) with excellent cinematography by Tom DiCillo (Coffee and Cigarettes, Permanent Vacation). The film centers on big time pre-slacker named Willie (Jarmusch veteran actor, John Lurie of the Lounge Lizards), who gets paid a visit from his Hungarian cousin, Eva (Eszter Balint). She spends several days with him and then moves to Cleveland to stay with her Aunt Lotte. A year passes by, and Willie and his friend, Eddie (Richard Edson), take a road trip to Cleveland to visit her. However, there are many bumps along the way. The film, in my eyes, was an absolute masterpiece. One of many masterpieces to follow. The rhythm of Jarmusch's writing is so cool and hip that it almost feels like jazz music. I would consider Jarmusch to be one of the most original filmmakers out there today. He makes us remember what true filmmaking is all about. Stranger Than Paradise is definitely considered Jarmusch's Mean Streets. It catapulted him into filmmaking stardom. Really launching his career and kick started his long on going collaboration with musician/actor John Lurie. John Lurie was never really much of an actor until Jarmusch threw him into this film and man, does he have quite the presence on screen! He sure can carry a film. Him and Jarmusch work almost as well as De Niro and Scorsese in my opinion. Don't be alarmed by the title of this film or think just because it's in black and white it will be very slow. Couldn't be further from the truth. This film is very entertaining but is also brilliant. This film also made me fall in love with Screamin' Jay Hawkins' I Put a Spell on You. Stranger Than Paradise influenced many filmmakers to go out and produce their own film on a tight budget. A practical "What the fuck? Just do it!" kind of attitude. I feel like Spike Lee may have waited longer to make She's Gotta Have It if it wasn't for this film. One of Jarmusch's all time best. A true classic. 

2. Down By Law (1986)
-This is by far one of my all time favorite films. I remember when my friend, Pete, was raving to me about it (he's a huge Jarmusch fan), and I thought to myself, "Okay. I'll give it a try." I got it on my netflix and I was completely hooked onto Jarmusch from then on. It was this particular film that made me a official Jim Jarmusch fan. I truly think his work in the 80s was his strongest and rawest (much like Woody Allen, I think). Released on September 20th, 1986, this film revolved around three very different men who are held up in a Louisiana prison and start to form an unlikely bond. Eventually leading to them escaping the prison and making a run for it in what becomes an unpredictable journey of friendship. The three prisoners included Jarmusch veterans John Lurie, Roberto Benigni, and of course the man with the golden voice, Tom Waits. The film doesn't drag at all. As soon as it opens, it goes right to the characters and throws them together right away. We are immediately introduced to each character and how they come about getting thrown in prison. Except for Roberto's character, simply named... Roberto, who is brought into the cell once Lurie and Waits are already in there. His confession scene on why he was in imprisoned is one of the finest pieces of acting on Benigni's part. The chemistry the three of them have is incredible. Real dialogue, real situations, real characters. If you are a Jarmusch fan and have not yet seen this film, then do yourself a favor and buy it, rent it, or steal it... and WATCH IT! You will not be disappointed. I consider this Jarmusch's true masterpiece. Finest piece of work. 

3. Coffee and Cigarettes (2003)
-A pet project Jarmusch started to create dating all the way back in 1986 if you could believe it. A lovely collection of short stories told in different diners, restaurants, office lobbies, that all have coffee and cigarettes in common. He directed the first segment, Strange to Meet You, with Jarmusch veteran, Roberto Benigni and the hilarious Steven Wright. Which centered on a couple of random guys sharing coffee and cigarettes in a sketchy diner and Wright tells Roberto that he has to go to the dentist but is absolutely dreading it. Roberto offers to take his place in the dentist's chair and goes to the dentist instead. It's a lot more funny than it may sound. The second segment Jarmusch shot was three years later in 1989 which was called Twins which starred Spike Lee's younger siblings, Joie Lee and Cinque Lee, as identical twins who spend the afternoon bickering about whose idea it was to come to Memphis and which cigarette tastes fresher. Steve Buscemi plays the waiter who sheds some light on their little conversation and their health choices. And then finally in 1990, we were introduced to Somewhere in California with Iggy Pop and one my favorite musicians (as well as another Jarmusch veteran, Tom Waits) playing themselves and discuss random acts of life. The segment was of my favorites among the multiple segments in this film. Finally in 2003, Jarmusch scraped up all three of the past segments and shot a bunch of new shorts as well and combined all of them together to make one whole feature film. It was sheer success. Shot all in black and white. Every single one of the vignettes is a touching tale and keeps you engaged from beginning to end. Practically every indy actor is able to give their two cents in this film. Including Cate Blanchett (in a delightful double role), Alfred Molina, Steve Coogan, Steve Buscemi, Roberto Benigni, Isaach De Bankole, etc. The list goes on of acting geniuses. What I truly loved about this film is how it's all about the acting and the idea. Such a simple film to put together and it goes to show you that even in tiny settings with a light budget and a bunch of talented actors, you can make a hell of a film. Be sure to not confuse this film with Paul Thomas Anderson's short film from 1993 called Cigarettes & Coffee. They have absolutely no connection whatsoever. I kid you not, Jim Jarmusch's Coffee and Cigarettes is a indy cult classic and a surefire home run. It will make you burst out laughing as well as shed tears before the picture is finished. 

4. Night on Earth (1991)
-A, what I think, is a Jim Jarmusch classic that unfortunately most people to not know of. Night on Earth was released in the New York Film Festival in 1992 and is yet another collection of short stories. This time centering on taxi cabs and their fares. We follow five cab drivers in five different parts of the world as well as their fascinating passengers. Jarmusch takes us through New York, Los Angeles, Paris, Rome and we end with Helsinki. What's really done well in this film is that each time we enter a new story, we zoom in on a close up of the globe and it spins around at full speed and then it stops abruptly. Wherever it stops is the next part of the world we will be taken into. It is quite cool how it is done. We open up with the story in Los Angeles where Winona Ryder is the cab driver who is also an aspiring mechanic. A major tom boy if you will. Wearing filthy clothes, chewing gum, sucking down cigarette after cigarette. Gena Rowlands enters the cab from the airport. Now Rowlands is a big time talent agent from Los Angeles and is bickering back and forth with a producer on her cell, while she is in the cab, about trying to find the perfect actress for this film she's working on. Eventually Rowlands, as she gets to know Ryder's character more and more, offers her the chance to play the character. Ryder rejects the offer and says she enjoys what she does and wants to run her own auto shop one day. What I loved about this scenario is that it goes to show you that not everybody wants to be a movie star and have tons of fame and fortune. Some people just want to be normal people with a normal life. It really was cool to watch. Next up we are taken into the Big Apple where an immigrant cab driver named Helmut Grokenberger (played by the always incredible Armin Mueller-Stahl). By the way, in regards to Stahl, if you haven't seen Scott Hicks' biographic film on David Helfgott, Shine, WATCH IT IMMEDIATELY! Stahl is terrific as Helfgott's father, Peter. Anyway, Helmut is not a very good driver in the American cab. He eventually passes by YoYo (Giancarlo Esposito), who has been trying to flag down a cab for quite sometime with no luck. When YoYo discovers Helmut can barely speak English or drive, he is about to get out of the cab, but Helmut begs him to stay repeating to him, "I need this. This is very important for me to do this." YoYo gives in and starts to direct Helmut all the way to Brooklyn! From there on they form an unlikely bond together that you would never expect from the beginning. YoYo is a wise cracking African-American. Helmut is a soft spoken German. But throughout this cab ride, they create this very beautiful friendship. Next we are thrown into Paris with the cab driver being the always fantastic Jarmusch veteran, Isaach De Bankole. Who, after throwing out a bunch of obnoxious business men from his cab for making jokes at Isaach's expense, he picks up a mysterious blind French woman with a real bad chip on her shoulder, who in some ways, sees more than he can. What proceeds is a very fiery and philisophical discussion on life and blindness. It starts off rather slow but picks up immediately after she gets into the cab. The bickering they have back and forth is absolutely brilliant. And the chemistry is fantastic. We then are in Rome with the ever so crazy and hilarious Roberto Benigni as the nutty cab driver who picks up an ailing man who he literally talks to death. He then has to haul ass to find a place to leave his body. It is absolutely hysterical and is in non stop motion. Benigni is perfectly cast as this crazy cab driver who does nothing but talk, talk, talk. It was surely one of my favorite segments in this picture. Finally we are shifted into a much deeper segment into Helsinki. It revolves around a soft spoken cab driver who picks up four drunk guys. One of them is an industrial worker who has just been laid off and is passed out. While his friends bicker about the bleakness of life and death. Having the cabbie throw in his two cents as well. The segment is very deep and dark, but is a brilliant way to wrap up the film. What I loved about this picture is that Jarmusch does an excellent job portraying each city and the culture within it. In a way, all these stories are all in the same place in the world. A little cab. 

5. Mystery Train (1989)
-This was, in fact, the final film of Jim Jarmusch that I saw, which was recently, considering it was just released on DVD. I was blown away on how fascinating and original it was. Now when I found out this was another multiple story line picture, I was a wee bit hesitant. Then I slapped myself across the face (not literally) and realized to myself, "Hey, the other two multiple story line Jarmusch films were wonderful. So why the hell wouldn't this one be?!" And it sure was. It revolves around three stories that all take place in Memphis and are connected with the spirit of the King of Rock 'N Roll himself... Elvis Presley. The first story being a Japanese couple who are obsessed with Elvis and are dying to see Graceland (even though the male in the couple prefers Carl Perkins). They stay at the Memphis Arcade Hotel. She is very cheery and he is very morbid. But somehow they never stop loving each other. This story unfolds two more stories in the most bizarre and unique fashion. Consisting of a little crime and a little dark humor. All taking place in and around the legendary Arcade Hotel in Memphis. What I loved about this film is that Jarmusch takes the most cliche things we know from most typical American films and flips them on their ass. A couple obsessed with 1950s America and Elvis Presley? Extremely common, no? A Japanese couple obsessed with Elvis? Not so common. Jarmusch takes his originality to a whole new level with this picture and it's a shame it took so long for it to be released on DVD, but I am sure glad it finally did because everyone you should immediately rent this film. The music is excellent, the acting is superb, and the characters make the film. This one may be a rather unknown film in Jarmusch's resume, but is surely not a weak film. Has something for everyone. 

FILMBOY - Chris von Hoffmann

"Cinema can fill in the empty spaces of your life and loneliness." - Pedro Almodovar

Thursday, June 24, 2010


The Brave (1997)
- Johnny Depp took the director's chair in this fascinating character study which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 1997 to positive acclaim. However, Depp was so insecure from the negative reviews from the American critics, that he refused to release the film in the United States. I had the pleasure of watching this film recently on youtube. The film was adapted from a novel by Gregory McDonald, who also wrote the novels for the films, Fletch and Running Scared. Depp not only directed it, but he also co-wrote the script with Paul McCudden (In the Name of the Father), and his maternal half-brother, D.P. Depp. D.P. Depp was the son of Johnny's mother's first marriage. Anyway, the film centered on a down on his luck alcoholic American Indian (Depp) named Raphael, who is recently released from prison and has to take care of his poverty stricken family (a wife and 2 kids). They live in a filthy trailer park and struggle every day to make ends meet. Raphael later discovers a sketchy flyer for a mysterious job listing and decides to head to the location where he finds McCarthy (great cameo by Marlon Brando) who is the leader of the job and gives him all the information. The job being Raphael taking part as a "victim" of a snuff film. To be beaten and tortured by a gang of rednecks. The reward being a price of $50,000 which would greatly help his family. He is given half up front and then is told to come back to the factory a week from then for the actual job. The film then takes a very slow turn as the rest of it revolves around the days leading up to "the day." Raphael continues to contemplate if this is really what's right for him to do. I don't want to give away too much, so I will not reveal how it ends. The major problem I had with this film is that it really started out excellent with some of the most intense opening credits I have ever seen on screen! And then once he leaves McCarthy's factory and everything leading up to the finale, it just dragged quite a bit. The story seemed to be going absolutely nowhere. There are fascinating elements here and there but for the most part, the film lacked a lot of action. Too many segments of Raphael pondering this decision. However, the acting on the other hand is impeccable. Depp is fantastic as Raphael and Brando's cameo is priceless. And the supporting actors are excellent too in their small roles. The rest of the film's cast include Max Perlich, Luis Guzman, Frederic Forest, Clarence Williams III, and Marshall Bell as the scumbag who pops up every now and then in the film to make sure Raphael is really going to show up. The main stand out, next to Depp of course, is Spanish actress Elpidia Carrillo, who plays Raphael's wife, Rita. She is absolutely fantastic. The scene that really caught my eye was when Raphael used the $25,000 McCarthy gives him up front in the beginning of the film, to set up a private amusement park in their backyard for his children. And the kids love it and everyones laughing and smiling, except for Rita. Rita slowly walks up to him and then immediately smacks him across the face, knocking him to the ground. The entire back to back acting between the two is magnificent. I need to see more of this actress. She really was incredible in this picture. This all being said, the film is certainly pretty damn good for a directing debut on Depp's part. I'll definitely give him superb credit and admire what he tried to do, cause there are definitely some great elements of filmmaking in this film. I just think the script needed more work. Way too slow. The story is there, I just think there was a lot more material that was burying the main idea and could have been trimmed down. Anyway, I do, however, recommend this film. Even just for Depp's performance, but if you really love Johnny Depp, find this film and give it a try. It's a shame he refused to release it in the states, because it really could have been a cult classic.

FILMBOY - Chris von Hoffmann

"I was once described by one of my critics as an aesthetic fascist." - Alan Parker

Wednesday, June 23, 2010



(underrated master mind)

Most likely one of the most brilliant, original, visionary and most of all, underrated filmmakers working in independent cinema today. I have always been a huge fan of Alexander Payne and I truly do not think he gets any of the credit he really deserves.

I first got turned onto Payne with his second feature film in 1999 called Election, starring Matthew Broderick in a very different role than most of his characters. And a tremendous young rising Reese Witherspoon as extreme over achiever, Tracy Flick, who will do anything to get ahead in life. The film centered on Jim McAllister (Broderick) who has a pretty good life. He has a caring wife, a job he loves, and an all around positive attitude. However, his life starts to get quite complicated once the school's election starts to come up. The film was based on a novel by Tom Perotta, who also wrote the novel for 2006's Little Children, directed by Todd Field.

Now many screenwriters seem to find working with someone else a challenge when creating a story, however, Payne always seems to impress us and work beautifully with his writing partner of 14 years, Jim Taylor.

Their first collaboration was 1996's Citizen Ruth, starring Laura Dern in an excellent performance as a drug addict who is going on her fourth abortion. Citizen Ruth was also the first and only film that Payne and Taylor DID NOT adapt from a novel.

Beginning with Election, every film Payne has directed was adapted from a novel, including his next anticipated film, The Descendants, with George Clooney and Matthew Lilliard, set to be released sometime in 2011.

Payne is an incredible visionary and is constantly overlooked by other indy tycoons such as Wes Anderson and Noah Baumbach. However, I strongly believe that Payne is far better than both of them combined. People are only brainwashed to automatically believe that Baumbach and Anderson are far better only because they throw out a film almost every year and their films are marketed like crazy. And not all of them are very good. Payne, on the other hand, gives birth to a sheer masterpiece everytime he shoots a picture. He also makes a film every few years, much to the style of Adrian Lyne or Terry Malick.

Sideways was the next film I watched several years after I saw Election, and this film just absolutely blew me away. I even marked it as the best film of 2004 in my 'Best of the Last Decade' blog entry. I was able to catch it in the theatres at this local cinema near my fathers house in Chatham, New Jersey. The cinema only played one film a month, and at the time, the film was Sideways. Based on the novel by Rex Pickett, the film revolved around two middle aged men. One, a successful commercial/soap opera actor named Jack, the other a lonely, depressed wine aficionado divorcee named Miles, who take a road trip to wine country in California for one last hurrah before Jack gets married. The film was so beautifully shot (cinematography by Phedon Papamichael, who is also working on The Descendants). There is one specific scene, however, that really reaches out to you. That is the picnic scene between Jack, Miles, Maya, and Jack's new chick on the side, Stephanie (played by Payne's ex-wife, Sandra Oh). It is literally like watching art on screen. It is like one giant portrait. Very similar to Woody Allen's Manhattan, where practically every frame of the film is like a photograph. Election and Sideways are hands down, I think, his most incredible work.

Finally, there is 2002's About Schmidt, with screen legend, Jack Nicholson as Warren Schmidt. A elderly man who recently retires from his job and then have his wife pass away shortly after. He then decides to take a road trip to his daughter's (Hope Davis) wedding and try to convince her not to marry her fiancee (played hysterically by Dermot Mulraney). A character we really have not seen Nicholson ever play. He seems to be always playing these foul mouthed crazies or mobsters, but this was really something special for him to sink his teeth into. It seemed like it could have been Paul Giamatti's character from Sideways in his mid 60s.

What I like about Payne so much is that he takes these actors, that are so used to playing these typical roles and getting typecasted and then throws them into his oddball story and forces them to go an entirely different direction. It's done so nicely that when we finish watching the film, we think to ourselves, "Wow, this actor or actress is really underrated! I can't believe I haven't noticed this person before."

For example, Laura Dern and Burt Reynolds in Citizen Ruth (1996), Matthew Broderick in Election (1999), Hope Davis in About Schmidt (2002), Thomas Hayden Church and Virginia Madsen in Sideways (2004), and hopefully... George Clooney and Matthew Lilliard in The Descendants (2011).

Not many film goers know who Alexander Payne is, but they will someday. He is a true visionary with an original mind and an intense passion for cinema. Its films like Election and Sideways that make me even more passionate for films. I mean, just simple things he does that are just so original and are obvious homages to old classics and are then integrated into a contemporary world we live in today.

For example, the scene in Election, where Broderick automatically feels like he's on top of the world, and all of a sudden he's driving with sunglasses and a cigarette in a convertible shouting "Cao" to ladies behind him. Something right out of a Fellini film. We are then shifted into his perspective in the car driving into the mundane school's parking lot, but the mood is still there of being in an Italian paradise. He pulls into the parking space, the door opens, his foot gets out to stomp on the ground, and then the music shuts off abruptly and we are right back into the real world, as his plain brown shoe hits the pavement. I may not be describing this well, but trust me, this scene is brilliant. That's just one of many examples of how Payne cuts his films.

If you have never heard of Alexander Payne, sign up for netflix, or go to your local DVD store and pick up all of his films!!! You will not be disappointed. He is this underground sensation who is very private, but his films are magnificent. I mean, Chris Klein's first film was Election!

Payne brings something for everyone. Great homages to classic American and Foreign filmmakers, original material, relatable characters, authentic performances, and even something for a younger generation. MTV produced Election, so there you go.

Payne is an outstanding artist and is really someone aspiring filmmakers, such as I, should study up on.

KUHINJA: Interview with Payne


1. Fork in the Road (pre-production)
2. The Descendants (post-production)
3. Paris, je t'aime (2006)
(segment: 14e arrondissement)
3. Sideways (2004)
4. About Schmidt (2002)
5. Election (1999)
6. Citizen Ruth (1996)
7. The Passion of Martin (1991)
8. Carmen (1985)


- Chris von Hoffmann


"I believe that perfection handicaps cinema." - Jean Renoir

Monday, June 21, 2010



1. The Wrestler (2008)
-Now when I first saw this film at the Toronto International Film Festival back in 2008, I was completely blown away. I had always known of Rourke and been a pretty big fan, however, this film took the cake for me. It immediately made me want to see every one of his films, good and bad. Every thing Rourke had done in the past was leading up to his performance as Randy 'The Ram' Robinson in The Wrestler. He WAS this character. If you don't already know the story of this film, it centers on a middle aged wrestler (Rourke) named Randy 'The Ram' Robinson, who was once a wrestling super star back in the 80s, but has now ruined his career and now doing local wrestling matches in shit holes in New Jersey. Living in a trailer park, working behind a deli at a grocery store, and practically broke. The only real friend he has is aging stripper Cassidy (played beautifully by Marisa Tomei). She is the stripper at the local bar he hangs out at. Randy finally decides to retire and get his life back on track by tracking down his daughter, who he hasn't seen in ages (Evan Rachel Wood). Everything seems to go nicely until everything crashes down on him. Randy later on realizes that his daughter doesn't want him, Cassidy doesn't need him, but the only people that truly matter in his life is the fans of his at the wrestling matches. All he can do now is jump back into the ring. It is a beautifully told story with a winning script by Robert D. Siegel, who recently marked his directing debut with the Sundance film, Big Fan, starring Patton Oswalt and Kevin Corrigan. Now I absolutely love Darren Aronofsky's work ever since Requiem for a Dream. I think he is slowly but surely becoming a legend. However, this film was so out of his reach and you would never in a million years think of Aronofsky as director when you see the film, but that just shows you how brilliant and versatile he really is. He pulled out away from his bizarre noir thrillers, and settled down with a simple human story. This film is the film that really inspired me to write the blog entry on Mickey Rourke. He was the new James Dean in the 80s, and I think people continue to look down on him, considering he is black balled in Hollywood. Rourke may have done a lot of total crap in the 90s and may just continue to do more crap, however, watch this film and you'll understand what I am talking about. That he is by far one of the best, rawest actors of his generation. 

2. 9 1/2 Weeks (1986)
-In my opinion, this is by far, one of the sexiest, seductive films of all time. Screw Basic Instinct! This film is absolutely marvelous. I do love Basic Instinct, however... Anyway, this film starred a young up and coming Mickey Rourke as John, a seductive, fearless wealthy businessman who is heavily into erotica and sex games. He starts an intense relationship with a vulnerable art assistant, Elizabeth (played by Kim Basinger). Probably her best performance. And is probably her sexiest in this film. A performance that made me fall head over heels in love with Kim Basinger, and still to this day, believe she is a fantastic actress, just does not get the right roles. Anyway, back to the film. Once John and Elizabeth start dating, he introduces her to his sexual fantasies and sort of unleashes this animal inside her that has been dying to be released. Their relationship is fiery, sexy, and even dangerous, as it eventually causes her to leave him, because she just can't do it anymore. John plays games with her that practically humiliate her, including throwing food in her face, forcing her to run around on all fours like a dog and even dressing her up like a man and putting her in a public restaurant. Next to Fatal Attraction, this is Adrian Lyne's best work. It's a shame he has not directed a film since 2002's Unfaithful, cause he really is very original. With an excellent script by Sarah Kemochan, Zalman King (director of a similar sexy erotic Rourke film, Wild Orchid), and Patricia Louisianna Knop. And based on the novel by Elizabeth McNeill. Now unfortunately Jones Films and The Carousel Picture Company decided to produce two sequels to 9 1/2 Weeks. Which were complete and utter disasters. The first sequel called Another 9 1/2 Weeks was released in 1997 and starred a returning Rourke (definitely just needed the money) and a new love interest, Angie Everhart (from Tales From the Crypt's Bordello of Blood). Then the final sequel, or should I say, prequel, was The First 9 1/2 Weeks with the only honorable name in the film, Malcolm McDowell and starred Adrenalin Junkies' Paul Mercurio and the love interest was French actress Clara Bellar. I do not recommend either of these films. There total garbage and just simple ways to make a buck. Only watch the original! It definitely had a major influence on sexual films to follow, including Red Shoe Diaries (which was created by Zalman King, co-writer of  9 1/2 Weeks). 

3. Diner (1982)
-Barry Levinson (Rain Man, Wag the Dog) wrote and directed this landmark post-college film taking place in 1959 Baltimore, Maryland. It centered on a group of college buddies struggling with adulthood. The only thing they all have going for them is the local diner where they hang out to basically shoot the shit and recap. The film starred Steve Guttenberg (in one of his best roles to date), Daniel Stern, Kevin Bacon, Tim Daly, Ellen Barkin, Paul Reiser, and of course, a breakthrough performance by Mickey Rourke. The film was certainly a gearing point for practically the entire cast and unfortunately most of them never truly received another film quite as good as this. Rourke was clearly the heavy hitter and ultimate scene stealer in this picture. He played Robert Sheftell, but best known as 'Boogie' by his pals. He's the all around ladies man bachelor who can talk a girl in the sack in a matter of minutes. Well... most of the time (i.e. the popcorn scene...). Loves to eat suger right out of the container and loves to gamble and smoke. But Boogie was quite possibly the most flawed and troubled character in the film, next to Kevin Bacon's depressing lonely character, Timothy Fenwick, Jr. Rourke hadn't done much film work before Diner. Having small parts in films such as 1941, Act of Love, Body Heat, and Heaven's Gate. However, Diner was his first really powerful performance that had the most amount of screen time. I mean, don't get me wrong, his cameo in Body Heat is breathtaking. Having to act opposite William Hurt and stealing the scene from him for only two scenes! That's quite impressive. However, his performance in Diner really set the bar high for future actors in the business. Rourke simply showed us what acting is all about. He showed us this new 'balls into the wind' attitude that surely influenced much more actors to come. Not only is Rourke excellent in Diner, but the film is a true gem. I highly recommend it. 

4. Angel Heart (1987)
-Probably one of the most controversial films of Rourke's career considering the graphic lengthy sex scene between the 35-year-old Mickey Rourke and the 20-year-old Lisa Bonet. I mean, this scene is intense. Blood splashing all over the walls as well as their naked bodies while they aggressively go at it. It seems like a sex scene from a vampire film or something. Anyway, Angel Heart was released on March 6th, 1987 and was written and directed by brilliant filmmaker, Alan Parker (Midnight Express, Fame). It was adapted from William Hjortsberg. The novel being called Falling Angels. Hjortsberg is also a screenwriter. He wrote such 80s films as Ridley Scott's Legend, and Corey Allen's Thunder and Lightning. The film takes place in the 1950s and centers on private detective, Harry Angel (Rourke), who is hired by a man who calls himself Louis Cyphre (the always marvelous Robert De Niro) to track down a singer named Johnny Favourite. But the investigation takes an odd and rather twisted turn for the worse. In other words, nothing is what it seems. Rourke once again shines in every frame of this film, almost upstaging De Niro in the few scenes he has with him. Rourke does have the hardest job as an actor in this film; having to instill the terror inside you as you watch it, but still play it subtle. Rourke has these sweet, vulnerable eyes but contains such a fearless, daring, impulsive attitude in this film. You are torn between rooting for him and despising him. Alan Parker is clearly the Hitchcock of his generation and with this film, made one of the all time scariest films of the 1980s. He showed those idiotic directors behind those schlock horror disasters what terror is all about. It's not about blood and gore (though this film does have it's fair share), but about sheer terror and depth. Major investment in the characters instead of the tits and blood. Almost mirrors an 113 minute Twilight Zone episode. Or a Stephen King novel. But I don't think Parker could ever have done it without his explosive cast. Mickey, you shined once again. Bravo. 

5. Sin City (2005)
-I can't say enough good things about this film. It's a comic book geek's wet dream. But it is also an all around terrific work of art. Robert Rodriguez, visionary behind original gems as El Mariachi and From Dusk Till Dawn, co-directed this film adapted from Frank Miller's graphic novels. Frank Miller also co-directed the film as well as guest director, Quentin Tarantino. It is done in comic book style fashion, but not at all like anything we have seen before. One of several films to be shot on a completely "digital backlot." With all the acting in front of a green screen and the settings added during post-production. I think the best term to simply describe this film is "AWESOME." I remember seeing this with my friends late one night in the cinema and I could not believe what I was watching. It was most likely similar to the feeling that my father and his friends felt when they saw Star Wars for the first time. The film centered on multiple story lines all taken from Miller's graphic novel that were in some way all connected. They all took place in Basin City, later called... Sin City. The main story that really satisfied me was The Hard Goodbye, and starred an unrecognizable beefed up Mickey Rourke as Marv. A rough and tough chain smoking grizzly man, self-conscious of his looks. And can't believe his luck when he lands a blond bombshell named Goldie (Jaime King). But then discovers her dead body the next morning and begins a mission to hunt down the killer. He eventually teams up with Goldie's twin sister to track down the psychopath (a terrifying Elijah Wood). My Uncle gave me the action figure of Marv when I was a teenager of have him strapped to the electric chair. When I saw this film, I couldn't believe how much they made Rourke look like Marv. He WAS Marv! I couldn't believe the make up job. Rourke brought so much realism and life to the character. I feel like in most comic book films, the actors feel like just because there playing a cartoony character, that they do it real over the top, and not bring any real truth to it, but Rourke definitely cleared up that mentality for us (i.e. Iron Man 2...) He was my all time favorite character in this film and I was very upset when he gets the death penalty by way of electric chair. However, his final line is priceless. "Is that all you got, you pansies?" Classic material. It was as if the illustration from Miller's graphic novel literally, by some magical force, jumped off the page and onto the screen and was given life by Mickey Rourke. Really amazing performance. Rourke kicks some serious ass in this flick. 

Now we all know the unfortunate decline Rourke went through in the 90s and most of this last decade due to telling everyone in Hollywood to simply "Fuck off," or getting into drugs and hanging with bad crowds. But no matter how weak the script may be, Rourke will always be entertaining to watch at least. And when the script is actually good?! Oh man, watch out! Cause Rourke will be coming at you like a grenade. In my opinion, he is up there with the greats. I consider him, to this day, a screen legend. Hey, look at De Niro and Pacino! They've done tons of crap in their careers, but they still give 2000% in their work no matter what the film is. Aspiring actors all over, attention please! If you really want to know what real acting is and not this bull shit that Robert Pattinson and Ashton Kutcher seem to be doing. But what real honest acting is? Watch any of Rourke's films. Even the bad ones. There's this special style of his that will never let go. Something you don't really find anymore. Whether it's a tiny part in a film like The Pledge or Body Heat, or a lead role in a bad film like Barfly or Bullett (which he co-wrote). Rourke always brings something special to the table. He's a man's man and an actor's actor. I am truly grateful that Rourke was given a second chance, which is rear, especially in the film business. But he did, and I couldn't be happier. Mickey Rourke lives on! 


1. The Pope of Greenwich Village (1984)
2. Year of the Dragon (1985)
3. Rumble Fish (1983)
4. Body Heat (1981)
5. Spun (2002) 

FILMBOY - Chris von Hoffmann


"I think that people who are famous tend to be underdeveloped in their humanity skills." - Diane Keaton