Thursday, February 5, 2009
A Top-Ten Walken List.
Lest my few, and very patient readers think all I do is run my mouth off about books, writing, paintings and other high-minded pursuits all day long, I think it should be known that one of my defining passions in life are Christopher Walken movies. Maybe just Christopher Walken in general. He's also a fine dancer too and a very affective storyteller. And the Man will be in pretty much anything as long as he can have a good time doing it.
In his fifty years in the business he's brought to each project, no matter how questionable (i.e. The Country Bears) the same dead-pan surreal earnestness, the same hysteria-inducing vocal delivery and the same scene-stealing MENACE that is by turns hilarious, spine-tingling and thought-provoking. But mostly just hilarious. In some ways, the man is a latter-day Dadaist, unconcerned so much with content as long as the form is f-ing AMAZING.
A deep appreciation for Walken might seem IRONIC except for the fact that he doesn't represent some outmoded, laughably anachronistic time and place or ethos; NO, in fact, the Weirdness of Walken is timeless and as relevant today as it was fifty years ago.
This passion for Walken films was most keen in college when I was living in run-down houses and needed few excuses to have beer-fueled movie marathons in the evenings.
Now, I'm trying to piece together what a definitive Christopher Walken Film Festival might be (and what kind of food and booze would be most appropriate to accompany these screenings), knowing however that there are some gems in his ouevre I have yet to see, so perhaps my patient readers can fill me on my lapses.
However, at the risk of offending certain sensibilities, I offer for your edification a highly subjective Top Ten Christopher Walken Film List. I'm going to go from Necessary to Indispensable. And without further delay, Here are my tentative
Top Ten Christopher Walken Films
10. Nick Of Time. A pretty good action thriller shot in real time with Johnny Depp and crazy villainous Walken talking about love and mutilation. "I loved this man. I LOVED HIM but I had to rip his @#$@#$#@$ off. . ."
9. The Prophecy. A really bad date movie, I discovered. But awesome just because Walken plays a fallen angel. I think this is the one where he consigns an enemy to a "dirt nap" but my memory is foggy. Spawned a couple heinous sequels about various tiresome wars in heaven.
8. The Rundown. A surprisingly hilarious and smart action movie where Walken plays crazed villain to The Rock and Rosario Dawson. Includes the amazingly out-of-left-field Walken tooth fairy speech as well as The Rock being funny and killing everyone at the same time.
7. The Addiction. Low on my list only because Walken isn't in it much, BUT this is perhaps the best Abel Ferrera movie ever and a GREAT movie in general. A vampire satire on higher education, Walken is a Nietzsche quoting vampire and Lily Taylor is astonishing as a PhD student who gets THE ADDICTION! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. Especially for all you grad school types. . .
6. The Deer Hunter. This is an exhausting, needlessly long Vietnam melodrama that features a very young DeNiro and and an extremely young and dashing Walken as a soldier who's gone meshuggah and becomes addicted to Russian Roulette. Not really funny. Like, at all. But perhaps the most highly-praised Walken performance ever, aside from his brief appearances in a couple Woody Allen films. He's convincing here as a suicidal maniac who's lost his mind to the war. Imagine that...
5. McBain. Walken plays the avenging Lietenant McBain in this cheesy, nearly unwatchable mercenary-assembles-desperado-army-goes-to-Columbia-combats-El Presidente B-movie piece of genius. The fact remains that if you need someone to assemble a crew of avenging mercenaries it probably has to be Walken. Worth watching in tandem with another movie I will soon describe...
4. King Of New York. Another Ferrara film, and although not a good film like The Addiction, it is worth watching Walken play the "good criminal" or the "sympathetic mobster" against the tedious, annoying do-gooder David Caruso (something about him: you just want him to fail, he's so smug and wooden.) Plus, Walken plays the head of a largely African American gang, including the wonderful Laurence Fishburne and their banter is priceless. It's a watchable ethics/crime drama with a ridiculous premise but damn if Walken doesn't steal almost every scene! Especially when he's inquiring about his planned "hospital for the needy"....
OOOH! TOP THREE!
3. The Dead Zone. Walken in a Cronenberg movie! There needs to be more of those! Basically, this is just essential viewing. And the spawn for the classic SNL "Trivial Psychic" bit...
2. The Dogs Of War. This man was born for this. "Cry havoc, and let slip the dogs of war..." One thing we've learned from cinema is that the only soldier of fortune, or avenging mercenary, or lunatic desperado with his own secret agenda you want to hire to foment chaos in your corrupt country is a man who's first initial is C and who's last is W. This movie is like a much better McBain and worth watching in tandem with it. Also essential if you want to see Walken pretending to be a zoologist before he takes over a country by brute, irrational force. Watch while drinking whiskey...and be INSPIRED!
OH MY GOD! NUMBER ONE WALKEN FILM!
1. Communion. Oh man. Words fail me here. I mean, you really HAVE TO WATCH THIS to understand its sheer naked phantasmagoric brilliance. Some scenes, to this day, I'll never forget. Aliens. Walken. Abduction. Complications ensue you say? Really? It's hard to reason with aliens even if you're Walken? Interesting. . .And what is this weird extended museum sequence I seem to recall? And what is this thing coming out of the spaceship wall?! OH MY GOD! ESSENTIAL VIEWING. Requires a sober audience...
And now, you, my patient Readers. . . Any suggestions. Or ideas for other Film/Food Festivals.