The Walken-Effect

What is the Walken-Effect (WE)? Basically, the WE is when anyone, anywhere can describe a movie to you and no matter how bad the movie sounds or how much you think you won’t like it, all that person has to do is name that one actor/actress. Suddenly, you respond with a “I’ll see it”. This Effect is named after the master of bizarre movie roles, Christopher Walken

“Yeah, but Walken’s in it.”

That’s all it takes for me to want to go see a movie. 5 simple words. ( Alright, technically 6 words, you damn english freaks ) Anytime I hear anything about a movie, if this phrase it uttered, I will be there first in line. There is no actor that personifies strange, awkward, but downright engaging characters than Mr. Walken.

Case in point: Around the Bend. This is Walken’s most recent role. Now, if I described this movie to you, it would sound unappealing:

Four generations of men, brought together to find family and love lost. Son reunited with estranged father. Aging grandfather reunited with estranged son. Loving grandson who doesn’t know what going on, just that now there are three old men in his life instead of two.

Yeah, but Walken’s in it.

I went to go see this movie at the start of the Chicago International Film Festival. Now I had wanted to see this movie anyway, but at this showing, I was provided a extra incentive: Walken would be there in person to introduce the screening.

He appears out of nowhere, walking down the stairs of the auditorium, hair askew, looking like he could fly down just like in the Fatboy Slim video. Needless to say, it was a great night. To see him in person was magical.

But, this article isn’t just about the man, it’s about what he has started and what he represents to movies. Look at the list:

* Pulp Fiction
* Deer Hunter
* True Romance
* Catch Me If You Can
* Man on Fire
* The Prophecy Movies
* Pool-hall Junkies
* Batman Returns
* Sleepy Hollow

*Antz

*Mouse Hunt

*Suicide Kings

*This to do in Denver when you are dead.
* etc…

Now, many of these movies only contain small parts by Walken. But that’s what he brings. The whole movie, you are sitting there, waiting for his appearance. Once he appears, he works his magic, and then leaves, just as quickly as he came.

Now matter how bad a movie is, you can always point to his scenes and they ” yeah, it was bad, but how about that Walken?”

Now just in-case you are wondering, there are other stars that also possess this quality for me. These are the people that I have on my Tivo keyword wish list. I will watch anything with them. So, without further adou, here is my Top-10 Walken Effect stars:

1. Walken
duh.

2. Brad Pitt
WAIT! Don’t click back yet. Before you quickly dismiss this rant, let me say 5 things:
* Snatch
* Seven
* Ocean’s Eleven
* Fight Club
* 12 Monkeys

Nuff said. These movies are some of the finest male movies ever made, so don’t dismiss Pitt just because you think he’s a pretty boy. Pitt’s WE is less pronounced because his appearance usually produces stellar movies, regardless of his actual performance. Other favorite movies:
* Interview with a Vampire
* True Romance

3. George Clooney
I know, I know. I am not really raising my testostorone flag here with my first two choices, but hear me out. Good looking guys like this usually make you want to smash their faces in ( see: Tom Cruise ), but there is something about Clooney that exudes confidence. The kind of confidence that says ” I would play James Bond, but he’s too geeky for me”. Anyway, before I get all weepy, my favorite movies:
* Out of Sight
* Ocean’s Eleven
* The Perfect Storm
* From Dusk Till Dawn
* Three Kings
* South Park: Bigger Longer, Uncut

4. John Turturro
A geek’s cool man, John is usually found within indie movies, although he has the same jarring effect that Walken does. You just aren’t sure when he is gonna snap and kill someone. But, like Walken, he has a talent for comedy. Favorite movies:
* Brain Donors
* The Luzhin Defense
* Do The Right Thing
* Rounders
* Barton Fink
* Secret Window
* The Big Lebowski

5. Don Cheadle
There’s just something about this guy. He gets attached to entertaining movies. Favorite Movies:
* Boogie Nights
* Rosewood
* Ocean’s Eleven
* Out of Sight
* Rush Hour 2
* Traffic
* Rebound: The Legend of Earl ‘ The Goat ‘ Manigault
* Things To Do In Denver When You Are Dead

6. Jack Nicholson
Jack’s been nominated for an Oscar in 5 different decades. ’nuff said. Favorite Movies:
* Batman
* A Few Good Men
* About Schmidt
* One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
* As Good As It Gets
* Hoffa
* The Shining

7. Ving Rhames
His presence usually indicates a good movie rather than a good role. Somehow, he is always regulated to a tough, but lovable black guy. But the movies are good and so is he. Favorite movies:
* Pulp Fiction
* Mission Impossible
* Rosewood
* Entrapment
* Out of Sight
* Bringing Out The Dead
* Con Air
* Bound By Honor ( One of my all time favorite movies that no one has heard of )

8. Tom Cruise
You can’t argue with the guys success. Like him or not, he is the leading man in almost 20 top grossing films, including:
* Mission Impossible
* Top Gun
* The Firm
* Rain Main
* Few Good Men
* Days of Thunder
* Minority Report
* Vanilla Sky
* Jerry Maguire
* Interview With a Vampire
* Born On the Fourth Of July

9. Edward Norton
Chilling, cold, and calculated, Ed Norton busted onto the movie scene with a frighteningly dead-on psychopath performance in Primal Fear. Since then, he has shown he can carry a movie with comedy, action, and intelligence. Again, a guy who looks like he doesn’t want to be fucked with. Favorite Movies:
* Primal Fear
* American History X
* The Italian Job
* Frida
* Death To Smoochy
* Fight Club
* Rounders
* The People Vs. Larry Flynt

10. Johnny Depp
The cool, arty guy from high school, Johnny Depp finally broke mainstream in the movie Pirate of the Caribbean, but film fanatics have long loved Depp’s wit, comedy, and delivery. Favorite Movies:
* Pirates of the Caribbean
* Secret Window
* From Hell
* Sleepy Hollow
* Blow
* Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
* Donnie Brasco

That’s it. That’s the list. Doesn’t it seem strange that many of these men have acted together? Hmm… This is what you call a pattern….

Honorable mention for the list:
* Colin Farrell
* Benicio Del Toro
* Guy Pierce

[UPDATED] A personal friend of mine is having canniptions because I left Kevin Spacey off the list. Well, now’s his name in in the blog entry.

[UPDATED 2] So, I decided to list a few more of my favs:

* Nathen Lane

* Alan Cumming

* Toshirô Mifune – Alright, so this one may not be fair. He was the favorite star of one of the greatest directors of all time, Akira Kurosawa

100 Most Overlooked Films of the 90's

OFCS: The Online Film Critics Society has released their list of the top 100 most overlooked films of the 1990’s.

Check out the list here


One of my favorite movies checked in at 99: Titus.

Titus is a great movie, filled with:
* Violence
* Adultery
* Cannibalism
* Rape
* Murder
* Patricide
* War

It’s a great movie. Check it out.

What's with the freaky frozen people on Michigan Ave?

For those of you not from Chicago, let me clue you in. There are a TON of street performers on the main shopping capital of Chicago, Michigan Ave. For the most part, I have no problem with these people. they provide a valuable service to everyone: GO TO SCHOOL. They also alleviate tourists of money. Which is fine.

BUT, a new type of street performer has emerged on the Ave and their name is freaky-ass frozen people, or FAFP’s for short. Now, what is it that these people do that solicits your cheers, jeers, and hopefully, your money?

They stand FREAKING STILL. That’s it. That’s all.

First up to bat was the strange, pale white chick in the green dress by water tower place ( old chicago water tower circa Mrs. O’Leary days ). If that wasn’t bad enough, now there is a angel, yes an ANGEL, up a little north of the hancock tower.

What’s with these people? This is why I will not feel sorry for people who do this: they are personifying the very thing most people hate about vagrants, the homeless, etc…. What is that you ask?

Laziness.

Think about it. The only thing more lazy that someone begging for change on the street is someone STANDING still begging for money.

Is this what grade school teachers are preparing children for when they say “stand still and be quiet?” Is this what we are praising people for now-a-days? If I wanted to see people stand perfectly still, I would go to a museum. In fact, that’s what I will pay to see. Street people dousing themselves with some sort of quick drying metal and turning themselves into real statues. Can you see that? Someone pouring liquid hot metal over themselves on the street corner? That will show those Buddhist monks a thing or two about commitment.

If they wanna stand still, they should get serious about it.