Ten: The Contender, Politics, and The Matter of Character

You hear the word “character” pop up often when it comes to major elections in the US. It’s a weighty word, and if you choose to use it there’s an awful lot of unpacking that must occur, especially in a political context. You run into questions such as how is it defined? Can “character” mean something different to opposing parties? Does it mean something different to every individual? Does it signal something aside from its typical use when applied to the government? How, exactly, do we demonstrate “good character” vs. “bad character”– can you have either and exhibit behavior associated with the opposite? Finally, and vitally, does character matter, and should it matter at all to leaders and voters?

  • The Contender’s ranking on the Oldometer: 8/10
  • Gary Oldman character quality: There’s so much to say about Runyon, the forceful Republican Senator that Gary portrays here. On the one hand, he is utterly the villain to the idealized Democratic Hero of the story, but on the other hand he is far, far from being one-dimensional. Runyon believes in his course of action and his definition of integrity as fervently as his opposition does, and I imagine if the story were flipped Runyon could be perceived as the hero who sticks to his guns. That said, in the finale of the film the screenwriting falls short and Runyon practically starts stroking his mustache and cackling, which is unfortunate, but he’s still highly memorable, and one of Gary’s most formidable roles.
  • Does Gary die in this one? No.

Continue reading “Ten: The Contender, Politics, and The Matter of Character”

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Nine: Air Force One, The American Dream President, and Nostalgic Patriotism

Welcome to 1997! Bill Clinton is the real-life president, Hillary is dutifully performing her First Lady tasks, we have yet to experience the era of Marvel’s 500 Avengers flicks, The Matrix will not be released for another two years, Julia Roberts and Harrison Ford are our highest-paid movie stars, and the world is rocking its pre-9/11 vibe. Enter modern action-classic Air Force One.

  • Air Force One’s ranking on the Oldometer: 6/10
  • Gary Oldman character quality: Well, Ivan Kurshonov is a Heavy, in the style of many James Bond villains, and his aspirations are high (take down America!). He has no qualms about threatening the lives of little girls, either. Still, while the script doesn’t attempt to humanize Ivan, exactly, he’s hardly a one-note bad guy, and Oldman is mesmerizing enough to help support Ford in shouldering the movie, which is unusual for a baddie in a movie of this scale.
  • Does Gary die in this one? Yes! And how! Die, Ivan! Die!!

There’s almost too much to say about this masterpiece of a thriller, so I’m going to break it down.

Continue reading “Nine: Air Force One, The American Dream President, and Nostalgic Patriotism”

Eight: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, Grief, and Goodbyes

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Confession: I watched Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II a few months ago, and have been putting off blogging about the film.

Of course, there’s plenty of material to feast on in Deathly Hallows, Harry’s final chapter, where it All Goes Down: the near destruction of Harry, his pals, and the institution of Hogwarts at the hands (or wand) of the evil Voldemort, who looms large and powerful. This is the film in which Severus Snape– arguably the most interesting and compelling character of the entire Potter saga– shows his true colors (and they are beautiful. Like a rainbow). Mrs. Weasely curses (so effectively), lots of characters that we love bite the dust.

  • Harry Potter and the Death Hollows: Part II’s ranking on the Oldometer: 7/10
  • Gary Oldman character quality: Gary reprises his role– if just for a few moments– of Sirius Black, Harry Potter’s godfather. Sirius is a very resonant character to many (myself included), and one of JK Rowling’s best creations.
  • Does Gary die in this one? Well, he already died a few movies ago, so… no?

Continue reading “Eight: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, Grief, and Goodbyes”

Seven: The Backwoods, Depression, and The Manliness of Carrying Your Own Shotgun

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I was feeling a little depressed last week when I settled in for my screening of The Backwoods on my laptop. I know, I know, watching movies on one’s laptop is not primo, not if you’re a REAL CINEMA fan, but as I said I was feeling low and liked the idea of holding off on leaving my bed for as long as possible.

  • The Backwood’s ranking on the Oldometer: 4 and a half/10
  • Gary Oldman character quality: Paul isn’t a good guy in the slightest, and thus I don’t think we’re supposed to like him as much as I did, but he is a forceful, active character who is wrapped up in his ideas about what Manliness is, and that’s interesting. Paul is an intriguing break in between Jim Gordon roles for Oldman (he still sports the signature stache, even), and is a nice reminder of the powerful characters Oldman can take charge of. He’s pretty darn magnetic in the role.
  • Does Gary die in this one? Yeah, and then it’s all downhill from there.

Continue reading “Seven: The Backwoods, Depression, and The Manliness of Carrying Your Own Shotgun”

Tiny Gary is exhausted.

As you may have noticed, I skipped a week of Gary-blogging. Tiny Gary and I were in California, collecting sea glass together. Here he is, organizing his personal haul and remembering better times. Both TG and myself are having a hard time resuming our regular lives.

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“And you, you’re my favorite.”

Also, I’ve noticed that the traffic for this blog has really picked up, so I thank you all. I thank everyone. EVERRRRYYYYYOOOOONE. Remember, if you’re interested in future blog posts, there is a handy-dandy little box to your right where you can enter your email address and receive My Year With Gary posts in your inbox.

Six: Lost in Space, the horrors of ’98, villainous career advice, and life lessons from Vincent Price

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And here we have it! The first truly, truly terrible movie from Gary Oldman’s oeuvre that I’ve hit this year. When I say this movie is heinous, I’m not joking. Just when you think the cinematic dust has settled (and there’s a lot of literal dust in this movie. Space dust?), just when you start hoping that this hunk of sci-fi flotsam might at least coast to a passable ending, it surprises you by getting even worse.

Five: Sid & Nancy, videotapes, tragic romance, and The Artist’s Responsibility

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Gary Oldman doesn’t like Sid & Nancy. He and the director, Alex Cox, don’t seem to like one another at all, actually. Cox’s issue with his once-lead actor seem to have to do with his objections to Oldman trashing the movie, which, other than Repo Man, is Cox’s strongest film. Oldman, in response to questions about S&N has, on several occasions, stated that he dislikes the movie, he dislikes his work in it, and he strongly dislikes the subject it portrays: the downfall of Sid Vicious, a formidable member of the iconic (if you’re into punk) band The Sex Pistols, and his girlfriend, Nancy Spungen.

  • Sid & Nancy’s ranking on the Oldometer: 7/10
  • Gary Oldman character quality: Sid Vicious wasn’t a good guy, and I can’t speak as to whether or not the movie glorifies his existence. Still, despite his complaints about the movie, Oldman turns in one of his most celebrated performances here, and I think his interpretation of Vicious as pathetic and child-like is fantastic. Despite sinking into the mind-numbing representation of a guy who can’t even tell when he’s in over his head, Oldman is both hilarious and occasionally heartbreaking. (Also, he uses the phrase “noddy blinkums” which I don’t think I’ve ever heard before in my life, and I can’t stop laughing about it.)
  • Does Gary die in this one? Yep. Well, we don’t see it happen, but it happens…

Continue reading “Five: Sid & Nancy, videotapes, tragic romance, and The Artist’s Responsibility”

Four: Criminal, Limitations of Independence, and Personal Growth

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I went to go see Criminal last week on a Friday afternoon, by myself. Admittedly, 4:45PM is not necessarily when the big crowds roll in, but it still counts as the weekend, so I was surprised to find that I had the theatre all to myself. I knew the movie had pretty much bombed on its opening weekend (the death knell for all wide releases), but it’s still a big action movie with a bunch of familiar faces, so the completely empty seats seemed undeserved. Well, not so fast– Criminal is not a good movie.

  • Criminal’s ranking on the Oldometer: 3/10
  • Gary Oldman character quality: Quaker Wells is probably the lamest character Gary has ever saddled himself with. I don’t know if 80% of him ended up on the cutting room floor or something, but the final product that is Quaker is the most nonsensical part of this movie, and that’s saying ALOT.
  • Does Gary die in this one? No. That would have given him too much to do.

It’s not a BAD movie, either, for the record. It has a coherent narrative and I wouldn’t say it’s convoluted in the way that some recent thrillers have been, but despite some nice work here and there from Kevin Costner (though even that’s been contested– maybe if he didn’t grunt so much), as a depraved man (named Jericho) with the empathetic part of his brain missing until he receives a memory transplant from Dead Ryan Reynolds, Gal Godot (with not much to do, though she does what she can– also, she’s stunning),  and whoever this movie’s editor was, this one is a pretty lame excuse for a popcorn flick. I don’t require my action movies to reach great emotional depths or to have incredibly involving storylines, but I do hope for something I haven’t seen 10 times before. And maybe a character or two that give me reasons to root for them. In this film’s defense, though, the thriller is a genre that has been phased out in the past 15 years or so since its heyday in the 90’s, and, strangely, the only thriller hero we seem to accept these days is Liam Neeson, and more power to him, but I digress.

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Oh Liam. Nothing like a little reminder of Episode I to keep you humble, hm?

Continue reading “Four: Criminal, Limitations of Independence, and Personal Growth”

Three: Track 29, The Love Ladder, and the Unexpected Value of Ugliness

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  • Track 29’s ranking on the Oldometer: 6/10
  • Gary Oldman character quality: If Martin were written to be real flesh and blood, this character would not make a whit of sense, however as we are not sure how much of him is real, Oldman has the chance to get weird, and boy does he. Martin is the best aspect of the film.
  • Does Gary die in this one? No. Yes? Was he ever alive? This is up for debate.

Track 29 (1988), its title a reference to the old tune “Chattanooga Choo-Choo,” opens with an almost painfully young and wiry Gary Oldman as the very unhinged, very British Martin, who seemingly materializes on a backroad in North Carolina. He wears a pair of sunglasses in the fashion of John Lennon’s famous coke-bottle spectacles, and as he holds his thumb out for a ride, the soundtrack kicks in with Lennon himself wailing his signature song “Mother.” Suddenly, Martin throws his head back and screams “MUMMEEEEEEEEEE!” to the heavens for no apparent reason. Batten down the hatches, director Nicolas Roeg warns us. You’re about to see some weird stuff.

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Amy Schumer ain’t got nothin’ on this guy.

Unless you’re really into movies, you probably haven’t heard much about Track 29. Its appeal was probably limited from the get-go, and since its release it has, I imagine, faded into near-obscurity. After watching it, I can see why it’s not exactly celebrated, despite the fact that it boasts an early, totally go-for-broke lead performance from Baby Gary Oldman and a queasy supporting turn by Christopher Lloyd (forever Doc Brown to most of us).  Nicolas Roeg, who is also responsible for The Man Who Fell To Earth (Bowie!), Don’t Look Now (Donald Sutherland! Dwarves!), and The Witches (Anjelica Houston forever!), clearly a respectable director, seems to go out of his way to make this story unpleasant. Still, there’s something outlandishly appealing to it, in a chintzy kinda way.

Continue reading “Three: Track 29, The Love Ladder, and the Unexpected Value of Ugliness”