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Entries in monologue (27)

Monday
Mar312014

Monologue: Christopher Walken x 2

Happy birthday to one of cinema's all time greatest nutjobs, Christopher Walken. The Oscar-winner is 71 today. Do you forget he was in Annie Hall (1977) ? I always do until I'm watching it and he shows up in that utterly classic passage when Alvy Singer goes to meet Annie's family.

Alvy, this is my room. Can I confess something?

I tell you this because, as an artist, I think you'll understand. Sometimes when I'm driving on the road at night I see two headlights coming toward me fast, I have this sudden impulse to turn the wheel quickly head on into the oncoming car.

I can anticipate the explosion, the sound of shattering glass, the flames rising out of the flowing gasoline.

LOL. And back out of the room quickly!

Of course that's hardly Walken's only classic movie speech. I'm sure they're numerous but the other one I forget about for the same reason as Annie Hall, in that the movie is so rich that who can remember every passage, is Pulp Fiction (1994). Quentin Tarantino's breakthrough turns 20 this year and I often forget about that Gold Watch sequence. My memories of Pulp Fiction tend to revolve around Pumpkin and Honeybunny (my college roommate and I were obsessed with them) and Vincent Vega & Mia Wallace because I loved the Oscar nominated performances by Uma & Travolta so much.

Though Pulp Fiction's narrative is famously circular rather than linear, Walken's segment exists outside of even that loop in a flashback to Butch's (Bruce Willis) youth halfway through. He literally monologues for 3 minutes (which is a lot for a movie, trust) - a highly appropriate speech for a little boy who's in the middle of watching cartoons.

...so he hid it in the one place he knew he could hide something. His ass. Five long years, he wore this watch up his ass. Then he died of dysentery, he gave me the watch. 

What's your favorite Christopher Walken moment in a movie? 

Monday
Mar242014

Monologue: Sterling Archer, Burt Reynolds & Dead Bodies

Have you ever watched Archer? I had tuned in here or there but hadn't ever committed. This weekend I binge watched about 10 episodes and now I'm madly in love. I'm beginning to think it's one of the great sitcoms, each character is so fully defined and there are jokes of so many varieties, not just verbal but visual and physical and recurring and always true to character. One of my favorite recurring gags is Archer's obsession with Burt Reynolds. In the Season 2 episode "Pipeline Fever" he keeps talking about Gator (1976) since he and his ex-girlfriend/coworker are going to the swamp. They're arguing about the element of surprise when Archer gets distracted.

Which is why mobility is key. And how will we achieve mobility, huh? An airboat, Lana. Just like Burt Reynolds in White Lightning. Not to mention Gator! Which... even though it's a sequel I think it's the stronger of the two films.

Remember Jerry Reed's character in Gator? McCall? No? Well, whatever. Check this out, I stol--borrowed it from Woodhouse? RIGHT! It's just like in Gator.

Archer has blown their cover by pulling a gun and an air marshall is now pointing a gun at them. Later in the episode he shows up in an outfit that read suspiciously like Burt's insanely memorable rubber vest from Deliverance (1972) though it's not remarked upon.

Which brings us to a Burt Reynolds speech from that great 70s picture

What to do with a dead body... what to do? That's always a (movie) question. Fifty-three minutes into the classic Deliverance (1972), the shit has hit the fan or, rather, the men have already squealed like pigs. Four increasingly unhinged friends are now freaking out over the fresh corpse in their midst. Drew (Ronny Cox) in particular wants to be done with their time in the woods and turn things over to the law. Burt Reynolds has the answer in his greatest pre-Boogie Nights role (the one he was famously Oscar snubbed for).

 

You let me worry about that, Drew. You let me take care of that. You know what's going to be here, right here? A Lake! Far as you can see. Hundreds of feet deep. Hundreds of feet deep!

Did you ever look out over a lake? Think about something buried underneath it. Buried underneath it!

Man, that's about as buried as you can get.


It must have been tempting to film Burt's take-charge moment entirely in tight sweaty closeup. That's exactly what a modern filmmaker would do, beholden as they now all are to constant closeups and the TV-centric emphasis on the dead center of each frame, as if stardom can't be grasped if more than one person inhabits any frame. Thankfully, director John Boorman, his Oscar nominated editor Tom Priestley and the great cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond trust that alpha male star Burt Reynolds doesn't need any help in seizing a scene.

Instead we get a riveting and creepy mix of longshots, closeups, and slow pans which never let's us forget any of the players, their specific relationships to one another ...and especially the unsettling constant presence of that intruding dead body, draped inelegantly across a tree branch.

 

previous monologues

 

Friday
Mar072014

Monologue Special: Four Acceptance Speeches

In the Monologue series (usually on Mondays, oops) we opine on those rare onscreen moments when an actor gets a whole chunk of lines to run with. It's rarer than you'd think unless you're dealing with a stage adaptation that they haven't worried about "opening up".

Not so on Oscar night where each winner gets to speak without interruption unless the "stick man" grows impatient. Thankfully, at the 86th Oscars, they didn't play people off. The Academy producers rarely show common sense in this regard so this was a special treat. For years they've misunderstood the entire appeal of their broadcast. But think of it: What is an awards show without the spectacle of ego, wit, nerves, emotion, gratitude and body language of the acceptance speech? The acceptance speech is to awards shows, what setpieces are to action films, love scenes are to romantic drama, and what song & dance is to musicals. Without the speeches, you'd be left with haphazard montages celebrating random themes, context free fashion parades the likes of which we haven't seen since they stopped interjecting them into movies, and an Ellen DeGeneres comedy show. And nobody wants those things. Or, okay we do but maybe not together and definitely not without context!  So all praise the acceptance speech.

I would like to salute three people and chastise a fourth as quickly as I can -- which is not quickly, I know. shut up! -- after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Monday
Feb172014

Monologue: Kate Hepburn Jabbers Away in "Alice Adams"

It's actually difficult to find speeches for our monologue series which accounts for its haphazard appearance at The Film Experience. With Anne Marie's brilliant chronological "A Year With Kate" hitting the Oscar nominated Alice Adams (1935) in two days time, I thought it was time to revive an old episode of this series.

Screenwriters generally favor single sentence utterances and the ole trusty shot / reverse shot conversation, leaving the bulk of monologue-writing to playwrights. But watching Alice Adams (1935), it's easy to think of virtually every scene as a Katharine Hepburn monologue. Occasionally her co-stars will start a sentence in response but Kate as Alice rarely lets them finish a thought. She spends the whole movie jabbering away as if she's the only character...

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Monday
Nov112013

Happy Birthday, Leo! (And a Monologue)

Andrew here  to join the Wheeler clan in wishing Leonardo DiCaprio a happy birthday…

…although, he doesn’t seem especially delighted at the well-wishes.

Is that image from Revolutionary Road a dismal birthday scene or what, though? Sometimes I imagine if I had a bloggers' party to celebrate Leo's actorly talents the soiree would be just as dismally attended. Am I wrong?

As odd as it may sound, I often find myself feeling sorry for Leonardo DiCaprio. Sure he's got good-looks, money and the perceived love of millions of fans, yes, but of the actors in his demographic he always seems the least likely to be considered a good actor. If I were to say that he’s my favourite actor under forty, I always expect raised eyebrows in response, and they are generally forthcoming. DiCaprio is not the most diverse actor in his demographic, but I'm often suspicious of attaching quality necessarily to variation. He has specific gifts and even more specific flaws. Many actors are at their best when they exploit their gifts but considering my favourite performance of his for today's monologue, I find I like Leo best when he exploits his flaws.

Click to read more ...