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.
Lost in Space’s ranking on the Oldometer: 1/10
Gary Oldman character quality: Doctor Smith is no compelling or complex villain, but he does have some great lines that harken back to the classic top hat-wearing, cape-flipping scoundrels of yesteryear. What Gary does with this material, though, is stellar and highly entertaining.
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…
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.
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.
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.
Gary Oldman character quality: Dr. Norton is not the best-written character of all time, but he fares better than most of Oldman’s latest supporting roles, and turns out to be essentially the protagonist of the movie.
Does Gary die in this one? No.
Robocop is one of the few Gary Oldman movies in recent years that slipped under my radar upon its release. I recall it coming out and I believe I had intentions to see it, but I was living in a small town in North Dakota at the time, where my options were limited. It was a land devoid of multiplexes for a hundred miles in each direction, and had a good deal in common with outer space: in Dickinson, North Dakota, no one can hear you scream… about not being able to see the latest Wes Anderson movie. Also, that is the snobbiest, most ridiculous thing I’ve ever said, and I apologize. To get to the point, basically, if a movie didn’t have the privilege of making it to one of our town’s three screens, I probably wasn’t going to get around to seeing it, and unless it starred Mark Wahlberg, teen vampires, or hobbits, it wasn’t going to be rolling into town. Continue reading “Two: Robocop, Reinvention, & Nostalgia”→
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix’s ranking on the Oldometer: 5/10
Gary Oldman character quality: Sirius Black is troubled, interesting, solid. Also has great hair.
Does Gary die in this one? Yep.
I didn’t read the Harry Potter books when I was a kid. I recognize that this is weird for a millennial, but I was highly resistant to major trends because I was far too cool for that crap and I would either join the party very late (my first Britney Spears album, Baby One More Time, was purchased at the local used bookstore) or not at all. I’m not sure how Lord of the Rings figured into all of that, but we’ll just make a special exception for that one; I was a homeschooler, after all, and dressing up as a hobbit was practically a requirement for my breed. Okay, I never dressed up as a hobbit, but I did start a website with my friend called “The Hobbit Hovel” using Homestead.com (anyone remember them?) wherein you could choose your own Shire-related adventure. I lost interest in this project quickly, which is too bad, because I’m not unconvinced that it could have really taken off. I mean, come on, that classic Enya midi music that played on the homepage and caused the site to move at a snail’s pace? I could be sitting on millions right now. Anyway….
First thing’s first: Gary Oldman, probably the best actor alive with the strangest filmography, has appeared in 54 feature films, 3 TV movies, and a variety of other projects. Some of them are brilliant, and some of them are very, very bad. I am going to watch all of them in a year’s time (March 2016 to March 2017). Here’s why.
A few days ago, Gary Oldman was a trending hashtag on Facebook and Twitter, and probably some other social media outlets which I am unaware of because I am now old in social media years. It’s alarming to reach the age where you can trace online community back to AIM chatroom days; bonus points if you remember the vibrant angst of the typical AOL instant messenger away messages (mine were always, always song lyrics).
Anyway, I was pleased to see that the reason for #garyoldman circulation was due to it being the man’s birthday. As a rule, I am always proud and defensive of the people I like, and I have always liked Mr. Oldman. What’s that? An understatement, you say? Yes, okay, I have long had serious love for Gary Oldman. As a certified cinephile I have often camped on his work, in awe of his talent and knack for making himself (whoever that is) vanish into whatever he needs to be onscreen. There are many versatile, powerful actors in Hollywoodland (and out of it), but this guy is uncanny. Of course, like anyone worth studying, he has also made some very strange career choices.