Ah, that moment where everybody took a second to write down Edward Norton’s name so they don’t forget it. It’s pretty amazing to think that this was his first movie (the first one that counted at least). His career literally started in freaking 1996 – weird huh? It feels like he’s been around forever at this point, but the guy was like 27 when he made his debut in this film. Boy did it stick.
What this scene did was bring a disturbing level of futility to the whole dynamic of the character, who up until that moment was plagued with a split personality. Finding out that he was faking it the whole time and was really just a cold blooded, senseless lunatic suddenly gave the brutal killing no rhyme or reason. Nothing mattered – there was no riddle. It’s truly a horror moment in a non-horror movie.
4. Evelyn Mulwray – Chinatown
We’re getting into the big dogs here.
It’s funny how OK it is for the good guy to slap the hell out of women in the noir genre, and it’s almost celebrated in this film. I’m not complaining; Jack Nicholson really does know how to whack a dame in this scene, which is of course the famous one where Evelyn (Faye Dunaway) admits the abusive relationship her father had with her – the result of which being her sister/daughter who she is trying to protect. It’s pretty complicated, and completely unnecessary to the plot. But of course, that’s the whole point.
What is great about this film is that it takes into account the unrelated and random variables one might expect to run into as a private detective. Everything is a clue, and yet nothing is a clue. That’s why people love this film – it really embodies the stereotypes of the film noir genre, or technically the neo-noir genre if you want to get picky about it.
3. Col. Nathan R. Jessup – A Few Good Men
So, same guy as before – only he’s on the other side of the confession… also he’s old and angrier.
Jessup is the ultimate boss fantasy. It’s that prick attitude and the overly confident condescension that is most common in hated employers, and like all hated employers it’s extremely satisfying to see those traits turned against him. It’s everyone’s daydream isn’t it? Your boss, red in the face, screaming about pissing in your eye sockets while being hauled off to oblivion, successfully exposed for the arrogant bastard that his is. That’s worker heaven.
Of course he isn’t really their boss in the film, but he represents all that is horrible about authority and that’s what matters most. It’s also just fun to watch Jack Nicholson scream obscene threats at people, as is it also fun to watch Tom Cruise be publicly debased by obscene threats – so putting those two things together is just bliss.
2. Patrick Bateman – American Psycho
It’s the iconic Christian Bale role that doesn’t involve the letter E. This monologue, an amazing monologue, is probably the quickest way to make a person respect Bale as an actor. It’s also a great way to show just how funny and twisted this movie is – it’s a perfect sample.
Now, feel free to correct me if I’m wrong here – and I’ve read the book and know that the answer is much more defined than in the film – but I never thought the point of this story was whether or not this confession, the entire narration, was true. Did he kill these people or didn’t he? Who cares? The moral here, to me at least, seemed to be that this society of people were so diluted to begin with that a complete lunatic could walk amongst them and never be noticed.
It’s an Inception ending in that the whole point of the ending was that it didn’t have a conclusive yes or no answer – it’s the doubt that’s real. People hate that shit because they want answers, but sometimes life isn’t that simple.
1. Dr. Roberto Miranda – Death and the Maiden
“I loved it… I was sorry it ended… I was very sorry it ended.”
Seriously, Ben… Mr. Kingsley… holy shit you really know how to do that thing where you pretend to be someone you’re not while being recorded by a camera… I can’t think of the word at the moment because I’m too busy staring at the floor, but you know that word I’m talking about.
Sigourney Weaver, Ben Kingsley, and Stuart Wilson together at a single location acting out one of the most exhausting emotional and psychological battles to take place in a single night since Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf. This film is freaking intense from beginning to end, and all of it from the acting and acting alone.
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