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Ken's Wonderful Winter of Walken 
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Post Re: Ken's Wonderful Winter of Walken
I've been neglecting my thread! Here's a couple nuggets I've been sitting on.

-

The Deer Hunter

This is a strange one, mainly because of its tendency to be counted among the Vietnam War films of the 1970s and '80s. The Deer Hunter has a few scenes that take place in Vietnam, but it's largely about a circle of friends whose quiet small town lives are shaken apart by random forces. (The vivid imagery of Russian Roulette figures throughout.) De Niro dominates the film, as well he should. He was in the midst of carving his formidable reputation into movie history. But it's Walken's film, too--
[Reveal] Spoiler:
it's his eyes, which, by the end of the film, have gone beyond despair and achieved a soulless, dead look that says more about what has happened to these characters than any line in the script ever could.
The film's deliberate, pastoral mood not only gives the characters their sense of emotional reality, but also provides a counterpoint to its disturbing point of view.

-

At Close Range

Well, Christopher Walken's not the weirdest person in the movie, despite being at his most charismatic and unpredictable. The Walkenisms are present and accounted for--the congenial smile paired with the wild stare, the vacillations between drawling conversational speech and gravelly whisper, the strange cadences. As an actor playing a thoroughly dangerous man, Walken is well-cast, but he's outweirded by Crispin Glover, who appears in only a couple scenes. Short though Glover's screentime may be, it's enough to make you wonder--just one year removed from Back To The Future--how in the hell Robert Zemeckis ever managed to handle him.

This is mainly Sean Penn's movie, with a welcome assist from his warmer brother Chris. Sean Penn is James Dean-esque here, starting as a bad seed and getting worse. The tragedy isn't that his ne'er-do-well character is corrupted by the easy world of crime, but that the worst he likely ever would have been was a fuckup with a chip on his shoulder if he hadn't been family to the wrong people.

The story is almost too simple to resonate, but the meticulous direction of this picture is what gives it a sense of compulsion. At Close Range is deliriously romanticized with its images and drowned in abrupt bursts of brutality. In fact, it reminds me of Drive for the way it pairs a reticent hero with a style that feels more dreamlike than realistic. And like Drive, At Close Range treats its characters like animals. Some are dumb, headed for the slaughter, and some are ready to leap for the throat at a moment's notice. Not the most pleasant film, but it's a decent enough plot (inspired, apparently, by true events) wrapped up very carefully by strong craftsmen. Get good actors together, make them look good, and get them something to chew on. That's the attitude here.

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Sat Jan 25, 2014 8:12 am
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Post Re: Ken's Wonderful Winter of Walken
Ken wrote:
I've been neglecting my thread! Here's a couple nuggets I've been sitting on.

-

The Deer Hunter

This is a strange one, mainly because of its tendency to be counted among the Vietnam War films of the 1970s and '80s. The Deer Hunter has a few scenes that take place in Vietnam, but it's largely about a circle of friends whose quiet small town lives are shaken apart by random forces. (The vivid imagery of Russian Roulette figures throughout.) De Niro dominates the film, as well he should. He was in the midst of carving his formidable reputation into movie history. But it's Walken's film, too--
[Reveal] Spoiler:
it's his eyes, which, by the end of the film, have gone beyond despair and achieved a soulless, dead look that says more about what has happened to these characters than any line in the script ever could.
The film's deliberate, pastoral mood not only gives the characters their sense of emotional reality, but also provides a counterpoint to its disturbing point of view.


You neglected to mention how the film's wedding sequence is just so, so short. They really rush through it, you know?

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Sat Jan 25, 2014 10:03 am
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Post Re: Ken's Wonderful Winter of Walken
I didn't mind. Set an episode of Breaking Bad at a wedding and it's the same length. It has a good symbolic significance, and it evolves as a story should. That it is a chunk of movie that occurs in the same geographic setting over time is largely incidental. They could have taken the same story beats over the same length of time and spread them out into other locations, but why?

It would be a different story if the time was padded out by dwelling on everything without any sense of time passing. Think of Herzog's Nosferatu, for example--another lengthy film from around the same time. The problem isn't that any one sequence is long, but that it gets stuck over and over and over and

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Sat Jan 25, 2014 2:03 pm
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Post Re: Ken's Wonderful Winter of Walken
The Comfort of Strangers

It's hard to say what this movie is about. It's filmed in Venice. It's beautifully shot. The performances are good. Yet every scene feels like the beginning of a scene, as though it ends before it has a chance to develop. There's no sense of logical progression from the previous scene--just non-sequitur starts and stops. It doesn't function as a whole piece and it doesn't function as a set of loosely connected vignettes, because it's incomplete either way. The ending, which should have been the product of a movie-long buildup of discovery and suspense, feels wedged in. It's as if the movie had been going nowhere for so long that ending it with a surprise transgression was as good as any other solution.

This is a film written by Harold Pinter and directed by Paul Schrader, based on a novel by Ian McEwan. It stars Christopher Walken, Helen Mirren, Natasha Richardson, and Hunk McHardbody. With an artistic pedigree like that, this movie should be marvelous, but it's merely a curiosity.

I found myself wishing that Schrader had written the screenplay himself in addition to directing it. As a writer, he has a knack for finding logical threads that yoke together the various elements of a story. It would have been very helpful to this movie.

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Sun Feb 02, 2014 8:43 am
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Post Re: Ken's Wonderful Winter of Walken
I also want to point out that nobody, not even James Kunz, picked up the ball when I very deliberately said I was sitting on my nuggets.

Shame, ReelViews.

Shame.

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Sun Feb 02, 2014 8:56 am
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Post Re: Ken's Wonderful Winter of Walken
Walken is in the 2003 masterpiece, Gigli.

I expect to see a review, real soon!

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Mon Feb 03, 2014 8:16 am
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Post Re: Ken's Wonderful Winter of Walken
Keep waiting on that, buddy.

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Mon Feb 03, 2014 8:29 am
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Post Re: Ken's Wonderful Winter of Walken
The Funeral

I appreciated the structure of this one. As the title implies, the story concerns a funeral, but that's more of a framing device for a series of flashbacks that delves into the lives of the family of the deceased. (Yeah, okay, it's basically Citizen Kane's structure. It's still cool.) They're criminals--Italian gangsters, doing smalltime crimes and murders during the Depression. Walken is one of the brothers, but, being the eldest, he's more of a patriarch figure, whose violent lifestyle is less of a "crazy Walken" thing and more of a grudging obligation. It's a nice, low-key performance that still maintains a threatening element.

There are several other majors, but I'll single out Chris Penn. The film has a penchant for getting a little too melodramatic at times, and while Penn's performance contains a streak of sadness and subtlety, it also has its moments that go way over the top, and the film goes over the top with him. Nowhere is this more egregious than the ending, which is a fairly Big moment with a capital B. It's a jackhammer resolution to the film's theme about men who've locked themselves into their lifestyles. I suppose I can retroactively see that the film was going there, but I'm not sure it earned the moment. He's clearly a troubled character, and maybe the film could have let us know him better before bringing him where it did.

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Tue Feb 11, 2014 2:39 pm
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Post Re: Ken's Wonderful Winter of Walken
The King of New York

This gangster thriller works hard in the beginning to establish a textural seductiveness that really works. But a movie cannot stand on textural seductiveness alone. The King of New York gradually reveals itself to be long on style and short on intelligence.

There's good news, though: what might have been a pointless exercise in mood and sketchy plotting is energized by a tremendous Christopher Walken performance. Purely through the careful modulation of his acting, Walken is able to graft an emotional arc onto his character that may not have been there at the script level--one of initial reluctance, then of renewed commitment to his lifestyle. This is Walken cast to type. He's a heavy with a cool veneer, which hides a rabid sense of violence. He plays it better here than ever before. Good thing, too. Without him, there's not much relatable or likable about this film.

The gunplay, pretty girls, drug intrigue, and chase sequences in The King of New York are most effective earlier on, when they appear in short bursts. The extended sequences of these moments multiply fast as the movie steams ahead, shouldering aside the lower-key stuff that made such good use of the lovely atmosphere. Oddly enough, the film recovers its footing toward the end, once the number of available supporting players has become so reduced that the film's opportunities to indulge become reduced also.

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Wed Feb 19, 2014 5:58 am
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Post Re: Ken's Wonderful Winter of Walken
Yes, it's hard to immediately think of a movie that requires a 3D actor to give those extra dimensions to a 1D character ... Frank, the career criminal who likes a good jive.

I think the King of New York is an excellent (if crude) example of personality above substance.

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Wed Feb 19, 2014 6:14 am
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Post Re: Ken's Wonderful Winter of Walken
Ken wrote:
The King of New York

This gangster thriller works hard in the beginning to establish a textural seductiveness that really works. But a movie cannot stand on textural seductiveness alone. The King of New York gradually reveals itself to be long on style and short on intelligence.

There's good news, though: what might have been a pointless exercise in mood and sketchy plotting is energized by a tremendous Christopher Walken performance. Purely through the careful modulation of his acting, Walken is able to graft an emotional arc onto his character that may not have been there at the script level--one of initial reluctance, then of renewed commitment to his lifestyle. This is Walken cast to type. He's a heavy with a cool veneer, which hides a rabid sense of violence. He plays it better here than ever before. Good thing, too. Without him, there's not much relatable or likable about this film.

The gunplay, pretty girls, drug intrigue, and chase sequences in The King of New York are most effective earlier on, when they appear in short bursts. The extended sequences of these moments multiply fast as the movie steams ahead, shouldering aside the lower-key stuff that made such good use of the lovely atmosphere. Oddly enough, the film recovers its footing toward the end, once the number of available supporting players has become so reduced that the film's opportunities to indulge become reduced also.


Hm, I never "got" Walken's character or believed in him, but that's more the fault of the screenplay. I liked the party scene towards the ending, though, when Walken dances to a (quite good) cover version of Billy Paul's 70ies Soul classic "Am I Black enough for ya?". All through the movie, I was wondering how Walken's character became the leader of an all Black gang, and that was the answer (or rather, counter question).


Wed Feb 19, 2014 8:32 am
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Post Re: Ken's Wonderful Winter of Walken
Three minutes into Touch. It's already awesome.

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Thu Feb 27, 2014 12:14 am
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Post Re: Ken's Wonderful Winter of Walken
Kicking this thread to the top.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=pl ... Naau2uPFqI

Can't help but smile.

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Wed Mar 19, 2014 1:48 pm
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Post Re: Ken's Wonderful Winter of Walken
Quick question, would The Deer Hunter be a trilogy if released today?

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Thu Mar 20, 2014 8:41 am
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