Hollywood screwed up on this one (as it usually does); Tim Roth was the MAN in 1996. Rob Roy was his diamond encrusted role of a lifetime (unless you consider his role as Ted the Bellhop in the hilarious 1995 comedy ‘Four Rooms’), and the guy was literally on point from start to finish. Don’t get me wrong, Liam Neeson did a stand up job as 18th century brigand Robert Roy MacGregor, but you literally end up hating Tim Roth by the end of the movie. I didn’t just hate Tim Roth’s villainously villainous villain Archibald Cunningham, I hated Tim Roth the actor. It was that effective. I hated him, and I hated his face. That’s how you know a guy has nailed the role to a wall. The calm, yet deceptively evil crooked grin, the ease at which he dispatched and outwitted his enemies, and the ruthlessness at which he exacted his hatred were incredibly and deliciously detestable. Which, in all honesty, makes you love the crap out of his performance. The awesomeness of his abilities didn’t go unnoticed by the powers that be, as he was nominated for an Oscar in 1996, but somehow lost to Kevin Spacey (who surprisingly won for his role as Verbal Kint in ‘The Usual Suspects‘). But let me tell you, the dude was robbed. I could go on and on, but watch this action and judge the coldheartedness for yourself.
In the vein of magnificent but severely under-recognized pictures that emerge from the bowels of Hollywood, here’s another iconic performance that was more than worthy of the industry’s top honor. A Soldier’s Story was based on a pulitzer prize winning play by Charles Fuller, about the investigation into the death of a black sergeant in the WWII era south. The film’s antagonist was Sergeant Waters, splendidly played by the late Adolph Caesar; he was in fact nominated for a best supporting actor Oscar for the role, but lost out to Haing S. Ngor (The Killing Fields). At any rate, his hauntingly conflicted role of the gruff, abrasive Sergeant Waters is indeed one for the record books, in one of cinema’s finest masterpieces.
Shooting the shit on this episode with Dustin and Jenius as we discuss some of the darker roles (and everything in between) of the great Denzel Washington’s legendary career. Thanks for taking the time to check it out; give it a listen, and enjoy!
Stanley Kubrick, a legendary filmmaker of great renown, has been at the helm of some of cinema’s most well-known and iconic pictures; who can forget Lolita (1962), Spartacus (1960), Dr. Strangelove (1964), 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), A Clockwork Orange (1971), The Shining (1980), and Full Metal Jacket (1987)? His resume reads like a greatest hits list, the multitude of his work being critically acclaimed and pioneering in their own right. Quite possibly my all-time favorite Kubrick flick, though, is the utter masterwork that is Paths of Glory. Set in WWI, the film’s focus involves the trial of three men accused of cowardice in the face of the enemy after a failed assault on the enemy German positions. Kirk Douglas, a personal favorite, plays the role of French Colonel Dax, a visceral portrayal of a man tasked with defending the accused soldiers, who all face death by firing squad. His character faces the daunting task of proving the unwavering character of his men, while facing the impossible brutality that was WWI.
The film itself is wrought with a tension befitting the backdrop of one of the world’s most brutal conflicts, with themes of honor, duty, nationalistic pride, greed, betrayal, family, and idealism laced tightly within. The stark realism on display in the raw and gritty set pieces and the intricately placed details add to the brilliant performances of the actors. The grand scale of the set captured the sheer scope and intensity of the conflict, and the dramatic, solemn tension vividly captured the perilous plight of the condemned men. An outstanding achievement in film from a director and cast known for their remarkable performances.
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