There was this guy that I used to date back in the day, Thomas Monagham (very Irish, right?). I use his real name, cause if he ever happens upon this blog I would be very glad to see/hear from him.
Anyway, Thomas and I met on the subway in New York. Actually he just really mashed on me and charmed me to death in just 5 minutes (till my stop), so I just had to see him at least one more time. He was an actor, and on our first date we went to a Greta Garbo Festival. I wasn't really into it at all at first, but then I actually really enjoyed it.
Thomas was always showing me new things in film, and he was very much the actor in style and looks in the vein of the holy covenant of the Mickey Rourke (when he was hot), Gary Oldman (when he was hot), Eric Roberts (when he was hot), and Sean Penn (when he was hot) mold, and he really exposed me to the works of all four actors. So when I saw 3 movies starring each one of them over the weekend, it led me to think of him and compelled me to post about them.
First up was "State Of Grace", which I had always mistakenly thought was a military film. Not at all. It's Penn as a deep undercover cop from Hell's Kitchen who comes back to his old neighborhood, with his old gangster cronies (including Gary Oldman), and basically has to be a rat fink.
Man, Sean used to be hot to death--I could see why Madonna married him. He wasn't handsome in the traditional sense, but the way he wore his hair, the way he dressed, even the way he smoked; his bad boy swagger was off the meters. The movie was pretty much a by numbers crime story, but Oldman and Penn are so charismatic it keeps you transfixed. There is a beautiful juxtaposition at the end between NY's famous St. Patrick's Day Parade, and Penn's bad ass high-noon style showdown, all in slo-mo. Rent it just to see that sequence alone.
I also rewatched "The Pope Of Greenwich Village", which I hadn't seen in years, starring Mickey Rourke and Eric Roberts. For those of you that don't know, there was actually a time when Eric Roberts was a much bigger star than his sister, Julia Roberts. How the mighty have fallen. It was a bit distracting to look at him sometimes, cause they look so much alike, but I digress.
Rourke and Roberts are cousins that get fired from a restaurant for Roberts' stealing. Roberts, though a complete and total airhead, comes up with a scheme to rob a safe, which they find out (too late) belongs to a mobster.
This movie has been a fave for many cause the characters are so memorable, and it is a real slice of New York life in the 80's. I say see it if you like films about New York, mobsters, and lovable losers.
I saved the best for last, which is Mickey Rourke as "The Wrestler". Holee sh*t this man can act. If you didn't know it was Mickey, you would swear you were watching someone's life. Since this is a Black Cinema blog, I won't go on and on the way I'd like to about this film.
Suffice it to say that between Darren Aronofsky and Rourke, there can't help to be some amazing sh*t. There is a scene where Rourke begins work as a deli worker in a supermarket, and for the couple of minutes before he starts his very first shift, it is just as taught, anxiety ridden, and fraught with anticipation as when he goes into a ring for a match. If a movie can convey that linear polarity, you know you have something very special before you on the screen.
The commonality of these films was that in the working class tribes of the Irish and Italians hoods and the Wrestling World, being loyal and working together came first and foremost. Before anything. And having dreams, and seeing them slowly die, and coming to the harsh realization that you may actually live out your days as a loser, compels people to do extraordinary and desperate things--some good, but a lot of it...not so much.
Here is the trailer for State Of Grace:
And for "The Pope Of Greenwich Village":
ps: if you don't know the term "palookaville", ask an old new yorker