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Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Politics of Casting - Plus Film Reviews - "The Ice Man" and "Pain and Gain" both boost hopes for Hollywood.

OK, so for "The Ice Man," which used the wrong source material (choosing to base the film on Anthony Bruno's book rather than Philip Carlo's) we have an interesting set of actors - all given different parts - which each of them could have played just fine (outside of giving the title character to Shannon, who performed great = even, perfecting Kuklinski's distinct speech and expression).  The use of make-up employed by the Director and Producers permitted them to give the parts to people they wanted to.  As we observe how the parts were allocated, we can see the politics come to light.
Here we go:
Stephen Dorff ( from "The Gate" fame as a kid actor), "Blade".
Robert Davi ( the villain in the Timothy Dalton bond flick), "Kill The Irishman."
Chris Evans (The Human Torch in FF films, and "Captain America")
Ray Liotta : I grimace every time I see him cast in a film I want to see - his performance in Goodfellas has yielded three infinites: 1. He will always audition for gangster films, 2. He will always get hired for gangster films, and 3. He is annoying.
Michael Shannon:  Coming a long way from the cameo in "Groundhog Day," Shannon earned a well deserved Oscar for five minutes of film time in "Revolutionary Road," he was great in "The Runaways," and many others... and he was the perfect choice to play General Zod AND The Ice Man.
David Schwimmer: Yes, from Friends
James Franco: Yes, the gay actor who is the closest living thing to Heath Ledger, outside of D. Day Lewis.

Now, we know that John Travolta is now taking roles where he is uncredited, simply because his involvement is off-putting to cah paying sets of eyes.  This is nothing new for Travolta.  Even when he was hot, he went uncredited - remember Malick's "The Thin Red Line"?  He played the general who issued hard orders to Nick Nolte on the battleship.  Most recenlty, Travolta went uncredited in Oliver Stones sub-par fantasy "Savages."  Travolats has been facing litigation lately - being sued by male massage professionals for trying to rape them.  The thing is with these actors, and we see it with DeNiro, they do not have a choice - there is a mental defect where they always have to contantly keep working. 

Take Nic Cage, for example, he has child support, and other debst that force him to dilute his effectiveness bby accepting every film script that corsses his desk.  Sometimes he does well - I enjoyed "Season of the Witch," even though the title was ripped off Moustapha Akkad's Halloween Part III film, and Cage also was fun in "The Sorcerer;s Apprentice."
Then, there are actors who will play a cameo as a favor to a producer or director, or even actor, as we've seen with Mickey Rourke being forced to play "Tool" in Expendables I after Stallone gave him roles in other films.  Stallone even convinced Chris Nolan to get Eric Roberts in "Dark Knight Rises," cementing Stallone as a player in Hollywood.  Note: Roberts and Rourke both starred in "The Pope of Greenwich Village," and Stallone played opposite Roberts in "The Specialist."  Stallone had to sacrifice his son to keep his power, unfortunately.  As the writer of the Rocky films, Stallone is no slouch - he is talented.

O.K. here we go - "The Ice Man" relied upon intnese use of make-up, fake beards and hair to cover-up the identity of many of its actors - in order to avoide a negative response from the eyes that pay for tickets.

Chris Evans as "Mr. SOftee/Freezie," the maniac killer of the exotic kind who drove around a Mr. Softee ice cream truck.  Evans was covered in make-up - making him completely in disuise.  This role could have gone to Franco, but it appears that Franco just wanted to put in a cameo. His role in the film lasts two minutes.  Dorff could have played this rol as well, since his own character, Joe Kuklinski was also plastered with a beard and made indistinguishable.  I could not even call him out - had to check wiki to learn about this.  So, why did Evans get the big role?

Rovert Davi and Ray Liotta - each of them could have played Roy DeMeo.  DeMeo, in reali life, was probably one of the worst killers in Mafia history - even he and John Gotti did not get along - and they both wanted to kill each other.  DeMeo is probabaly the only mobster who Gotti di not want to have to take on - since he was sick, and trouble.  While Tommy "Karate" Pitera used to get nude and slice his victims up into six pieces and bury them in bird reserves and parks, DeMeo was less creative.  DeMeo would drain them in his tub - above the social club he called home.  Stories describe about 1,000 bodies having run through DeMeo's drain factory. A funny-looking, goofy type gangster, DeMEo was found dead in the back of his cadillac.  Carlo;s book "The Ice Man," even includes a confession from Kuklinski that he was involved.  Kuklinksi also stated he was involved in the hit on Hoffa, Carmine Galante, and Paul Castellano at Sparks.

Known as "The Polacl," Kuklinksi was a contract killer for all five families.  His pirce began at 30 then went up to 80k when he was in his prime.  He used to take a knife, and stab a tire of the soon-to-be victim.  Then, when the victim realized he had a flat, by bedning down to check out the tire, The Ice man would emerge and use a wrench or knife to clock the guy and take him away.  He would use the mountains in PA to tie victims up , slice them to draw blood, and watch the rats come to eat them alive.  He also froze his victims, for years, so that the police could not pinpoint a date of death.

So they gave Davi the role of Leo Marks- I guess because Davi's appearance has seen better days.  He played a similar small role in "Kill The Irishman" with Walken and Stevenson- another low budget, low box office film.

I applause the film for not using so many pyramids, the black and white illuminati scene ( every film has one that includes a black and white set, shirt, or club) comes when Shannon is outside at a pay phone making a call.  Behind him is a piano style wall.  In "Pain and Gain" it is the themse of the Gold Strip Club.

The Ice Man score:  6.3952  :  Knowing the story, I was disappointed at the execution.  The only thing that saved trhis film was Shannon's acting. He is great.

Pain and Gain:  Score:   7.599
The Rock is hilarious in this film, another true story.  I read the source material fdor this film, too ( Pete Collins' articles bearing the same name in the Miami Herald).  Funny stuff. 

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