Recently, the incomparably intelligent Stevee at Cinematic Paradox wrote a clever post about movie characters who share similar personality traits to her. The idea struck me as such a brilliant one that I had to do one of my own, but before you read mine, I highly recommend you read hers.
Great. So now you get what this is all about, and without further ado, here is my list of characters:
Jim Kurring (John C. Reilly), Magnolia (1999):
One of Paul Thomas Anderson’s great abilities as a writer/director is the wide range of characters he is able to fluently write and create. Kurring is definitely the most sympathetic in the whole movie, and is a driving force for innocence, naivety and an obsession for the job. I can’t say that I’m innocent, or naive, but when I pursue something I do it with the same gusto and energy as Kurring. If only I could have half as many awesome monologues.
Antonius Block (Max von Sydow), The Seventh Seal (1957):
Most of the great Bergman characters are female, but a hefty percentage of the notable protagonists are male, too. And if there was one I had to compare myself to, it would probably be Block. I’m a halfway decent Chess player, I’m not confident in the existence of a deity (in fact, I’m probably atheist) and in at least a few senses of the word, I’m disillusioned, though reasonably happy with the world.
Jeffrey Beaumont (Kyle MacLachlan), Blue Velvet (1986):
We all like to have a bit of detective in us, and while I’m certainly no Sherlock Holmes or Hercule Poirot, MacLachlan’s determined self-made detective in the ruthless David Lynch thriller resembles my own stoic personality somewhat, though it’s hard to really analyse yourself and compare yourself to a movie character. But I’m like Beaumont, I suppose. Why? Because I’d really dig dating a young Laura Dern. And it’d be awesome to see Dean Stockwell singing Roy Orbison in a creepy voice.
Jerry Lundegaard (William H. Macy), Fargo (1996):
I would never commit any of the second-hand atrocities that Lundegaard does, but in other terms, I feel an eerie connection. “I’m cooperatin’ here!” is one of a few personal slogans I sport in public some times, and other things he says not only make me laugh but awkwardly remind me of my own stupidity sometimes.
Harry Goldfarb (Jared Leto), Requiem for a Dream (2000):
I don’t do drugs, let me get that clear, but in almost all other aspects of Goldfarb’s personality, it’s a tick for me. I always want the best for everyone, but find at times it’s difficult to provide that. The only real difference is that I don’t give up as easily as him.
Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale), American Psycho (2000):
Although I can never prove this to you, I do not have homocidal tendencies, sick sexual preferences or any of the night-time evils that Bateman commits. I am not a narcissist, unlike him, either. I guess the only real similarity is our tastes in pop culture, which are shared by few other characters in recent memory in a manner as darkly comic as Bateman’s.
I hope the above list hasn’t weirded you out too much, but I guess what I’m trying to say can’t really be said without using idiotic cliches, but I’ll say it anyway: My personality, like everyone’s, is unique, and parts of the above six people can be put together to resemble something similar, but nothing can be exactly the same.
So what about you? Any movie characters that remind you (even minorly) of yourself? Leave a comment below. Thanks.
It’s Paul Thomas Anderson’s birthday today, so I’ve decided to honour the greatest living American film director (that’s right, I said it!) by presenting us with a look into his amazing mind and five crazy, unique characters that only he could have created.
1: Rahad Jackson, Boogie Nights (1997)
Even more astoundingly memorable than Mark Wahlberg’s Dirk Diggler or Burt Reynolds’s Jack Horner is Alfred Molina’s Rahad Jackson, who appears in only one scene, but one of the best scenes Anderson ever directed. His great tastes in American music and fiery rage with a gun are only two of the great reasons he’s on this list. Anderson created a character that any director or writer could easily have taken overboard, but has the right amount of great comedic value and genuinely chilling attitude.
2: Officer Jim Kurring, Magnolia (1999)
A warm source of naive empathy and contrasting experienced wisdom that is naturally necessary for a film like this, John C. Reilly delivers perhaps the most convicted and developed performance of his career as a young cop who falls in love with a drug addict, just one of various storylines in Anderson’s epic Boogie Nights follow-up. Delivering empowered Cops-style monologues to an imagined camera, and suffering for his job in the name of a God he’s forced to believe in following the death of his wife, Kurring is one of the most easily relatable and intricately accurate portrayals of hilarious naivety and saddening realization. Tough part of the job. Tough part of walking down the street.
3: Frank T.J. Mackey, Magnolia (1999)
In a brilliant film like Magnolia with so many characters, it’s easy to pick more than one and so here is another: an Oscar-nominated performance from a surprisingly excellent Tom Cruise as one of the most basically complex characters in the Anderson universe. Mackey is a man who is easy to despise. But he, like many of us, has been hurt, his life changed forever, by cruelty. He’s more of a victim than he is a perpetrator, and misogynistic or not, he’s a broken, unmended man, and Anderson has captured that perfectly.
4: Barry Egan, Punch-Drunk Love (2002)
It just goes to show that Paul Thomas Anderson can get a brilliant Oscar-worthy performance out of an acting failure like Adam Sandler. His performance as Egan is multilayered and filled with mental complexity, but he is written so brilliantly, so excellently, that it is easy for Sandler to rip his teeth into it and shine in the role he was born for.
5: Daniel Plainview, There Will Be Blood (2007)
Daniel Day-Lewis gives one of the best acting performances of all time in a stunning role as a man consumed by greed and sin, a man on whose face we see nothing but unrelenting age, and in whose eyes we see only brutal, unflinching hatred. I look at people and see nothing worth liking, says Plainview, and it is one of many chilling observations that are windows into the soul of a truly evil man. Sure, Day-Lewis brought him to life, but Anderson conceived him, and without him, we’d be without one of the most formidable, terrifying villains of all time, beating the hell out of Hannibal Lecter or Norman Bates by miles.
Happy Birthday, Mr. Anderson, and hopefully with The Master, there’ll be yet another character/s to add to the list.
There are films such as Step Brothers that when I hear of their release I groan and try to forget about them. And usually that’s a wise decision. But occasionally you come across a really silly and stupid comedy that’s actually relatively good (cue The 40-Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up and Superbad, among others). It was only recently I became a fan of John C. Reilly (or perhaps more aptly put, ‘It was only recently I became a fan of Reed Rothchild’) and so I felt obliged to see this outrageous film.
I was… surprised. It was good. There were genuinely funny scenes, and the dialogue is actually very humorous, if immature and overused. They are not the sort of thing you would feel comfortable laughing at, and even when you do, its in a much more comfortable climate. Step Brothers is very uncomfortable.
It is a film about a man who marries a woman. They both live with their respective sons, who are both pushing forty (or should I say ‘the sons both live with their respective parents’) and are lazy and unemployed. John C. Reilly is his son and Will Ferrell is hers. Initially they both hate each other, as in the scene when Reilly strokes his scrotum along the surface of Ferrell’s beloved drum set. But eventually the two become friends and get into some strange and often very stupid shenanigans.
There is an unmistakable level of almost unforgivable immaturity. The two middle-aged men act like they are twelve, perhaps due to a lack of communication with the outside world. The chemistry between them works on a level of brotherhood, but is slightly doubtful. They predictably manage to pit their parents against each other whilst in the midst of their own self-indulgent feuds.
In the film’s funniest scene, the boys (ask me to call them men, I shall laugh in your face) preview a music video they have secretly created. Reilly’s father is shocked to see his prized boat being used within the video as the two boys (ha-ha) rap about ‘boats and hoes’. The video ends with the boat being accidentally destroyed. Ha, ha.
It is moments like these we realize how stupid the characters are, and yet there is some mysterious intrigue and curiosity about them that draws us in. Mostly we just want to see what they will do to each other next. There are terrific moments (“I heard my son shout RAPE.” “He was gonna rape me, he had that look in his eye and he said Let’s get it on!” “I was talking about the fight, dipshit!”) all throughout and some generally amusing scenarios. But overall, there are a few disappointing things: Ferrell and Reilly have good comedy, but they just don’t know how to present it. Quickly enough, we get tired of their shenanigans and begin to think that perhaps their characters actually do have some sort of mental deficiency.
If you don’t get tired of people shouting at each other, attacking each other, burying each other alive, breaking bunk beds over each other and just generally acting nonsensical, and you like comedy, then Step Brothers may just be the movie for you. But I warn you, don’t expect too much. You might just be very disappointed.
My Rating: 6/10