Ariel Vromen

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Michael Shannon has explored a great deal of history in the past few years: he got rowdy as Kim Fowley in The Runaways; stern as hell for Boardwalk Empire; and, who could forgot, supplied comic relief for Michael Bay in Pearl Harbor. He once again plays period in The Iceman, based on family man contract killer Richard Kuklinski, a.k.a. “The Iceman.” Shannon can be seen donning old man sweaters, thick mustaches, and, best of all, dancing to a Blondie song. If there were any reason for a period piece to exist, it’s for Michael Shannon to groove to “Heart of Glass.” Besides showing off some moves on the dance floor, Shannon infuses a surprising amount of empathy into a man who takes lives for a living. The movie and performance never approve or sensationalize his actions, but, for a guy who killed over 100 people, Shannon’s portrayal paints a portrait of a guy who isn’t pure evil at his core. He’s human, and a genuinely good family man. That dichotomy is the heart of The Iceman, and according to Shannon, that’s what convinced him to sign on. Here’s what else Shannon had to say about the film’s focused narrative, invoking period, and why us talking in our underwear wouldn’t make for a different conversation:


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When you see in a film synopsis that Michael Shannon is going to play a serial killer/hitman, it’s safe to assume that you are poised to see an amazing performance. And, yes, in Ariel Vromen’s The Iceman (Vromen co-wrote with Morgan Land), Shannon more than fulfills your hopes and dreams as real-life serial killer turned mob hitman Richard “The Iceman” Kuklinski. He claims to have killed over 100 men over the course of his killing career while at the same time being a fiercely devoted husband and father to his wife Deborah (Winona Ryder) and their daughters. The film perhaps suffers from some structuring issues, making Kuklinski’s story somewhat fuzzy at times, but on the whole, it delivers with its amazing performances from Shannon and the stellar ensemble cast, as well as with its beautiful, unrelentingly dark cinematography.


The Iceman TIFF

Writer/director Ariel Vromen (Rx) has chosen an interesting subject for his latest film, The Iceman; a New Jersey native named Richard Kuklinski who served as a mob hitman and killed somewhere between 100 and 250 people between the mid 50s and mid 80s, all without his wife and kids having any idea how he put food on the table. Vromen’s film follows Kuklinski from the point where he met his lady love and first got into organized crime back in the 50s, all the way to his capture and incarceration in 1986. It explores his psyche, his methods, and the way New Jersey fashions have gotten increasingly more ridiculous as the decades have gone on. Oh yeah, and one more thing… it’s got Michael Shannon playing the title role. Given what an intense, captivating actor Shannon has developed into over the years, any movie that puts him in a starring role is pretty explicitly setting up his performance as being its main attraction, so it feels necessary to spend a lot of time talking about how he does. Unsurprisingly, he’s good. Kuklinski was best known for being merciless and unflappable, and Shannon gets that across by doing a silent, stone-faced, De Niro type thing that feels authentic in its competence and menace. As his turn in Take Shelter proved, Shannon is best when he’s got repressed emotions boiling just beneath the surface of his skin, and the role of the dangerous killer playing wholesome family man gives him multiple chances […]

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published: 01.29.2015
published: 01.28.2015
published: 01.28.2015
published: 01.28.2015

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