I’m on a Viggo Mortensen kick (she says as if it’s the first time….The Prophecy? Reeeooww.) Eastern Promises was so good. My little sis Eve recommended it to me after we lunched at Russian Tea Time. (She loves all things Russian.) So I thought, what they hey? And I rented it. And I loved it.
Now, there was a slightly heavy-handed moment where the Godfatherish character dramatically lights a diary on fire and walks away leaving it to burn. C’mon…Well, but then he knew Viggo would keep an eye on it, dependable guy that he is. And yeah…I sorta called the “twist” but it doesn’t matter because that’s not what the movie is about. It’s a non-love story. And it’s pretty fabulous. And I’m gonna say it, y’all. Montgomery Clift has to move off my List, and so does Peter Sellers. Viggo is on, you guys. And let me tell you why. Now, I don’t know a lot of a foreign people…and for that I’m sorry. I wish I did. But, unlike my mother, I’m not very good at walking up to people in museums and saying, “Pardon me, but are you from the Ukraine?” However, I do have some experience with Russians. We had a Russian exchange student when I was in eighth grade. She lives outside Detroit now. I think she’s a lawyer. Anyway, we met her family and all that so I can tell you this. Viggo nails it. NAILS it. And remember how I said no one could beat the Gary Oldman Sirius Black tattoos….VIGGO NAILS it. Girl….Anyway, his performance is so subtle and so filmic. What I mean by that is that it is gentle almost, nuanced, but still powerful. That along with other performances puts him on my list. And starts a Viggo kick. I’m getting Appaloosa next (with Ed Harris…another of my faves… The only reason he’s not on my list is…huh. I don’t know. He used to be on my list. Anyhoo…)
Okay, but so as not to continue to drool over Viggo (he’s not method either. Just well-researched and…okay…I have to make one more point and then I will move on….) Look, I’m not a method actor nor am I a David Mamet True and False zealot. I see value in each. But Viggo’s performance in Eastern Promises proves why Mamet is not entirely correct. Mammery basically asserts that the writer puts everything on the page an actor needs. The thing is. No they don’t. Even Mamet. And when they do, that’s a playwright attempting to direct. A screenwriter isn’t capable of writing into the script “How to be Russian”. Viggo has to find that out for himself. The script informs him of the world of this particular character, but it doesn’t teach him how to walk, how to turn his head, how to speak (sure the playwright can write it phonetically, but c’mon…that’s 1. insulting and 2. Usually inaccurate.) So no, Viggo’s not considering becoming an honorary member of the Russian mob. But he sees the value in talking to some Russians from the Eastern part of the country and reading a few books. That informs honest acting choices and gives him something to do with his body. Now, I know that Felicity Huffman and Jesus H. Macy are of the Mamet school, and they are great actors. But if you follow the Mamet train of thought to it’s interesting but ultimately boring result, you don’t get the performances in TransAmerica and Fargo.
What was I talking about?
Okay so anyway, I also watched Frozen River. Oh my god. So effing good. Absolutely nominated to go on Betsy’s Top 100 Alternative Movie Picks (my own answer to AFI’s Top 100). Woman written and directed, marvelous performances, an original story. Characters you can sink into. Gritty. Fabulous. I loved it, and highly recommend it.
And yes, I know that in the scheme of things, both of these movies are Old News…but I do things on my own time.
1. Viggo= RRrrreeeeoww
2. David Mamet = smartypants blowhard
3. Frozen River = Fantastico…and don’t give me any of that bullshit about how it’s uncomfortable to watch stories about poor people. You know who you are.
4. Doin’ things on my own time. Alright Alright Alright.
So whad did ya think of those movies, if you saw ’em?