Sunday, January 18, 2009
The Mickey Rourke Rundown
As regards Senator Dockery's musings on Mickey Rourke yesterday, I'd like to throw my two cents in.
For me, it all began with Rumble Fish, which is in my top five films of all time, largely on the strength of Mickey's mumbling/whispering tough guy/soft guy performance that managed to do it without invoking James Dean, Elvis or any other prior archetype. This movie was Coppola's greatest "fuck you" prank to the world, sneaking a French-style avant-garde art film into the mainstream and tricking the public into going to see it because they thought it was the sequel to The Outsiders. It had a huge influence on me regarding how I think about fiction and drama (so if you hated Toulouse-inations, well, now you know who to blame.)
Angel Heart is, for my money, the finest modern film noir (unless you count the exaggerated pose of the deliberately self-conscious The Man Who Wasn't There) and was fan-fuckin-tastic as a private detective who finds himself in New Orleans and increasing embroiled in intrigue, conspiracies, the occult, and missing time. Which is pretty much what I was going through in New Orleans around the very same time.
Those two movies alone are so personally defining for me, that Mickey could be forgiven if he never made another good movie. But he did loads of great work in the 80s: Diner, The Pope of Greenwich Village, A Prayer for the Dying, Johnny Handsome, Desperate Hours, 9 1/2 Weeks, Year of the Dragon, Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man, Barfly, Homeboy, Wild Orchid, and Heaven's Gate. (Okay, I don't actually like Heaven's Gate but it's just nice to see Mickey Rourke, Isabelle Huppert, Jeff Bridges and Christopher Walken all in the same picture.)
After White Sands in 1992, I sort of fell off the Mickey boat and he went to do a decade and a half of movies that not only have I never seen, but when I look at the IMDB it occurs to me I've never even heard of most of them: The Last Outlaw, F.T.W., Fall Time, Bullet, Exit in Red, Double Team, Buffalo '66, Point Blank, Thursday, Cousin Joey, Shergar, Thicker Than Blood, Out in Fifty, Animal Factory, Shades, The Follow, Picture Claire, Spun, Masked and Anonymous, Stormbreaker, etc. Someday I'll have me one hell of a video-store weekend and rent a stack of these and immerse myself in Mickey's wild years.
It may well be the dawning of a new era for Mickey, but even if it's not, nothing can take away the inherent glory of Rumble Fish and Angel Heart. These productions earned him an indulgence.
- - JSH