Man-crush Extravoganza!!!

I’m not ashamed to admit this at all. I have man-crushes – we all do (those of us who are men), and the ones that don’t admit it must have some deep seeded homosexual tendencies. Look, just because you have a man-crush, doesn’t make you any less of a man, and I’ll argue depending on who your man crushes are makes you even more of a man. Let us count down. Just because these men get me wet, doesn’t mean I’d have sex with them – or does it?

10) Rock Hudson

Yes Rock Hudson was gay. BUT!!! The roles he played, especially in the Douglas Sirk films and his role in “Giant” shoes us what a man should be. He is the embodiment of the archetypal man who influenced a generation of men into a mold of strength, honor and integrity. His role in “Far From Heaven” remains to be one of the finest performances that I’ll always resort back to when I want to see a man on screen. When I see performances like Til Schwigger’s in “Inglorious Basterds” I correlate his performance in that film, to the performances of Rock Hudson’s in the 1950’s.

9) Ken Watanabe

I had to get a little international here, didn’t I? The guy was sweet as the phony Ra’s Al Ghul and pretty nifty in “The Last Samurai” and broke my heart in “Letters from Iwo Jima” but when I saw “Inception” I just saw this man with an incredible moral compass of honor. Perhaps it’s the American stereotype of the Japanese at its finest, but I loved his character and I think he did the finest job in the film. The guy is just hott (yes, with two T’s, at least I didn’t say cool and spell it “kool”).

8) Billy Dee Williams

The “Old Smoothie” stole my heart in “The Empire Strikes Back” and in “Nighthawks” I feared him. On one side we have the slick jerri curled man in all blue with a cape that makes me scream at Carrie Fisher to at least make out with him (I know she was in love with Han Solo – but gaaarrrrsssshhhh!) or at least give him a little wink. In “Nighthawks” he played the partner of Stallone and was on the edge. He screamed fuck a lot and pointed his gun at the bad guys with an eerie state of bloodlust in his eyes. He had the crazy eye for sure, way before Steve Zissou.

7) Matthew Goode

Okay, I understand that Ozymandias is supposed to be slightly homoerotic since his character is eluded to being gay (there is a slight, slight, slight reference in the movie – when Nigh Owl II is on his computer, there is a folder titled “Boys” and there is also the scene in the opening credits where he’s at Studio 54 and is hanging out with the Village People and goes to shake Ziggy Stardust’s hand. And he pals around with Andy Warhol and Truman Copote). He plays Colin Firth’s departed lover in “A Single Man” but what really, really, really did it is when Castor posted his review for “Leap Year” (which I haven’t seen) and he put up an image of Matthew Goode and I couldn’t help but stare into his eyes.

6) Harvey Keitel

Yes I’m man enough to admit I’ve seen Harvey Keitel’s penis. Those of you who are brave enough to endure “Bad Lieutenant” (the original NC-17 version) not only got to see Keitel’s penis, but also him freebasing crack, shaking down drug dealers and jerking off while making two teenage girls simulate a blow job. That’s pretty rough stuff. Where my love for Keitel originated was not “Bad Lieutenant” – that movie makes me sick to my stomach – but when I first saw “Reservoir Dogs”. Mr. White is such a one dimensional character that we’ve seen before yet you really, really, really like him. He smokes, carries and big gun and talks a lot of shit that he can back up.

5) Roy Scheider

I do love him in “Jaws”; he’s got some cool lines. He’s pretty sweet in “The Punisher” as the patriarch Frank Castle, Sr. and pretty badass in “52 Pick-Up”. As Buddy Russo in “The French Connection” he’s so young and so awesome, and in “Marathon Man” a part of my cries every time he walks into Dustin Hoffman’s apartment bleeding and dies in Hoffman’s arms. What sealed the deal was Joe Gideon in “All That Jazz”. He is the fucking man! Whereas Hudson played the honorable man, Scheider plays the stereotypical womanizer, drinker and pill popper who wears his life down to a nub where he didn’t just walk the line, he held the line down and beat it to a pulp. Joe Gideon is one of those characters that once I’ve seen him, I’ll never forget him. He’s so memorable, and he’s such a piece of shit – but you do truly love him and you want him to survive – even though he hurts everyone around him, deep down inside of him, when you can pry his ego away and you catch a glimpse of his heart, you’ll see that Joe Gideon has a heart of gold.

4) James Ven Der Beek

I’ve never seen an episode of “Dawson’s Creek” in my life. I saw “Varsity Blues” when I was in High School and thought it was pathetic. Wasn’t there some movie called “Texas Rangers” that was like the shitty cousin of “Young Guns”? Never saw that either. So you might be asking yourself, how could I possibly have a crush on Dawson without actually ever seeing “Dawson’s Creek” (he was Dawson right?)? It’s a rather simple explanation. Are you ready? Is the suspense built up enough? Are you sure? “Rules of Attraction” where he played the emotional vampire Sean Bateman (yes – that Bateman), the motorcycle riding, unshaven, evil stare giving, jerking off to broadband speed internet porn, guitar playing, womanizing but can’t cum when he’s sober, lying, drug dealing AWESOMENESS (I don’t like the word “awesome” but in this case, Sean Bateman to me does inspire awe).

3) Warren Beatty

You walked into the party

Like you were walking onto a yacht

Your hair strategically dipped below one eye

Your scarf was apricot

You had one eye in the mirror

As you watched yourself gavotte

And all the girl’s dreamed that they’d be your partner

They’d be your partner, and

You’re so vain

You probably think this song is about you

You’re so vain

I’ll bet you think this song is about you

Don’t you, Don’t you?

You had me several years ago

When I was still quiet naïve

Well, you said we made such a pretty pair

And that you would never leave,

But you gave away the things you loved

And one of them was me *

*I realize that Carly Simon came out and said who the song was about, and sadly it wasn’t about Warren Beatty – but to me, whenever I hear this song, I can only envision Warren Beatty strutting around and not giving a fuck because he knows, he’s the man.

2) Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale)

I’m sitting at Dorsia with Evelyn Williams, she’s on one or more psychiatric drugs. I’m not too sure what it was tonight, but whatever it was transformed here into this dormant state where she’s almost crawled into the fetal position in the plush chair she resides in. I sit to handsome to move. My mind wanders past the patheticness of all the empty faces that sit around us and I think of earlier in the afternoon. I went to Tower Records on the boardwalk after my squash match and late lunch with Timothy Bryce to obtain the new Talking Heads album. While in the store, the Liberal Arts majors’ home from Camden scurried around the store, in search of Duran Duran’s “Rio”. While there, in the same row of compact discs was this guy. His ears were perfect, they sat straight and flat on the side of his head. He had sideburns that were out of vogue but yet he wore them with this arrogance that you would find in Burt Reynolds. He uses aftershave with too much alcohol; his skin makes him look older than he is. He masked his overweight frame with an extra large Lacoste polo shirt. It was pink and hung below his belt where I could almost, just almost, make out a Marlboro belt buckle. He smokes. Disgusting. I thought nothing of him at first, though I kept glancing over at him. He was holding “Fore!” by Huey Lewis and the News in his hand and his Ray-Bans mirrored that of Huey’s. He likes Huey Lewis and the News. While mainstream pop had taken over the radio waves, polluting this country, polluting the foundation of our moral values and while this encroaches on our way of life, Huey Lewis is the bedrock of contemporary rock and roll proving to us, with each album, that we to can achieve the American Dream.

He’s someone that Luis Caruthers would stop and talk to.

“Hey, you’re Julian right?” he says as he interrupts me mid thought. Julian?

“No I am not,” I say with a cold tone.

“It’s Frankie. Frankie Mengarelli.”

“You are mistaken,” I start to feel a panic rush over me. The caged animal inside of me begins to scream. I start to sweat, my forehead feels wet, and my feet are becoming uncomfortable in my shoes. My hand holding the Talking Heads compact disc begins to slightly tremble, I hold my breath.

“Hey man, are you alright?” he says, with a deep and gritty voice that makes him sound almost like a Robert Mitchum/Lee Marvin hybrid. My hand begins to tremble a little more, this time it’s more apparent. I look up at him, helpless and weak. My mouth opens slightly but no words come out. I am filled with rage and distain, and I can barely utter out in a desperate plea:

“I need to return some videotapes.”

I am not alone.

1) Scott Glenn

Dawn has come; the sunlight has snuck its way past the tattered blinds that hang lazily on the window. The only sound in the room is of the ceiling fan that turns at a strategic pace. The clock to the left of me clicks with each second that passes. I lost count somewhere between midnight and now. The sheet that he allowed me to keep on my body has now imbedded itself into me. I can no longer sweat anymore. My mouth hasn’t had saliva in it for what feels like days. I’m worn out, done over – I feel like Courtney Love. In the ashtray on the desk adjacent from me, but between the bathroom lays an unfiltered Chesterfield. The smoke dances between the beams of light that shows me salvation. The door is cracked to the bathroom. He is in there, he sounds like a sound trying not make a sound. Fear is no longer an option, only the will to live is slightly inside of me. As he walks (closer to the bathroom door) his boots make an echoing sound that not only pierce my ears, but cover me with nothing less than a cold, numb feeling. He made me watch him do 2500 pushups (at one time). The bathroom door is open. I close my eyes as tight as they’ll go. The boots sound louder, louder, louder. If the Incredible Hulk was stomping down a corridor that had great acoustics – this is what it would sound like. The hulking boot steps stop. I keep my eyes closed for what feels like an eternity. I slowly, just slowly, open my eyes. I see his tight rock washed blue jeans. They’re Wranglers – no Lee – no, I was right the first time, Wranglers. As I look up, his fine tuned body I see the scratch marks on his chest, his neck. I finally make eye contact with him. With those cold, truthful eyes, he doesn’t have a scowl, or a grimace – he wears a look that can only be described as “don’t fuck with me”. He reaches for his worn out cowboy hat, and rests it upon his head without breaking his gaze at me. He put that fucking hat on his head perfectly on the first try. He bends his waist slightly towards the bed as I scuddle my feet up closer to me. He doesn’t flinch; still staring at me he grabs his perfectly white wife beater shirt and leans back into a perfectly straight stance. He holds the shirt in his right hand, and brings it across his body and wipes the blood off of his busted knuckle on his left hand (yes he’s left handed). He finishes wiping the blood off, and then slowly tosses the shirt onto me like it’s a used condom. He takes a step towards the door turning his back to me. He opens the door and turns before he exits. As he tips his hat to me and with the same expression on his face, all he says is this:

“I love you Bumpkin.”


Finally My Top Ten Films of the Decade

10. “Gangs of New York” – 2002 . Dir. Martin Scorsese. With Daniel Day-Lewis, Leonardo DiCaprio, Cameron Diaz, John C. Reilly, Brendan Gleeson and Liam Neeson.

“I took the father, now I’ll take the son.”

I consider “Gangs” to be one of Martin Scorsese’s masterpieces. It is a tremendously flawed film with DiCaprio miscast (I have always said Colin Farrell would have been perfect in the role) and a horrid performance by Diaz. What saves this film from the utter nightmare it could have been is Daniel Day-Lewis who gives a performance that competes with his portrayal of Daniel Plainview in “There Will Be Blood”. The fact that Day-Lewis lost to Adrian Brody for “The Pianist” still befuddles me. Day-Lewis carries this entire film, and the way he relentlessly delivers his lines of dialogue is perfect. Some of the lines Bill the Butcher Cutting says have stuck with me since I saw the film the day it was released (Christmas ’02).

The opening battle on the streets of New York is a remarkable display of Scorsese’s vision. The bulk of the battle was shot at 12fps which created this jarringly unsettling view. Peter Gabriel’s “Signal to Noise” is playing during this scene, and it screeches and tears your eardrums apart while you hear the clashing of rusty weapons and blood curdling screams.

Scorsese had been trying to make this film since the 1970’s and it’s apparent when the script was written. The film deals with racism and the opposition of war (Vietnam). The opposition of the draft, and the rage and contempt that Bill the Butcher holds against the “blackies” or “darkies” deals with the racial challenges America still has today.

This is a very personal project of Scorsese’s (much unlike his latest “Shutter Island”). I feel that this is his most personal work in recent years, and his follow-ups “The Departed” and “Shutter Island” lack the authenticity and personal feel that he is so respected for. “Aviator” came extremely close, but at times it feels like Scorsese is trying a little too hard.

The performances the supporting cast gives is phenomenal. Brendan Gleeson and Liam Neeson deliver solidly as usual. John C. Reilly (who was in three best picture nominees that year, “Gangs”, “The Hours” and “Chicago” and was nominated for Best Supporting for “Chicago”) gives his last good performance. I understand that he’s riding the gravy train right now with “Dewy Cox” and “Step Brothers”, but I hope that he gets back to his acting roots like he displayed in PT Anderson films.

Martin Scorsese is the greatest living director, and one of the best directors who have ever sat behind the camera. His personal films are touching and heartfelt, and they are films that I cannot live without. I absolutely love “Gangs of New York” and defend its flawed honor for the rest of my life.

9. “A History of Violence” – 2005. Dir. David Cronenberg. With Viggo Mortenson, Maria Bello, Ed Harris and William Hurt.

“You were always a problem for me Joey. When Mom brought you home from the hospital – I tried to strangle you in your crib – she wacked the daylights out of me.”

After seeing this film in theaters, I was rendered speechless. I was so taken by the film. This film is David Cronenberg’s masterpiece. The film is broken up into amazing segments with great transitions. The film starts off with chaotic violence, and transitions to a peaceful homestead of the Stalls. It’s a melodramatic feel as we see Tom Stall (Mortienson) run his small diner. It isn’t until the bad men from the opening wander into Stall’s Diner and are about to kill everyone in there – then Tom Stall springs to action in a heroic yet over the top execution of the two men.

What strikes me about this film is that what Cronenberg is trying to tell us is that you can never change who you actually are. You can mask it, hide it, keep it in remission but you cannot change your primal urges, and for Tom Stall (Joey Cussak) it is to kill. Tom/Joey started a new life, got married and had a family, and it was only a matter of time before his deep soaked past caught up with him.

William Hurt gives the second best performance of his career and one of the best performances of the decade as Tom/Joey’s older brother Richie. He is the final trial that Tom/Joey has to overcome before he can try and return home, and pick up the pieces of his shattered life. Hurt is sadistically evil in the film, and the way Cronenberg shoots the scene is phenomenal. The eye light that Hurt’s character displays gives him this menacing sparkle and his delivery of lines are monumental. He is the triumph of the film, and I equate his part of the film to that of Martin Sheen finally meeting Marlon Brando in “Apocalypse Now”. This film is remarkable and flawless.

8. “A Serious Man” – 2009. Dir. Joel and Ethan Coen. With Michael Stuhlbarg, Fred Melamed and Richard Kind.

“I’m a serious man, Larry.”

This is one of the most mind boggling films I have ever seen. It affected me as deeply as “Antichrist” did with the films themes and symbolism that I still have a hard time grasping. I have watched the film a couple of times since I had originally seen it, and one thing is for certain, it is the Coen’s masterpiece. What they display and what they try and achieve in this film is so mind bending that I can’t get the film out of my head.

The film has a basic plot. Larry is a simple man who is a teacher, husband and father trying to raise his family according to his Jewish faith. His wife then leaves him for his best friend, his doctor has urgent news for him, his jobless brother is wanted by the police, his son is a pot head, and his daughter wants a nose job. This all sounds funny, and it is. It’s hysterical in a very dark and disturbing manor. Everything that will go wrong in Larry’s life does – triple fold.

I also like the way this film snuck its way into the main stream. The film was made after “Burn After Reading” and before their upcoming “True Grit”. It’s an extremely small and personal film by the Coen’s and you won’t recognize any actors in the film aside from Richard Kind. It is a generic and faceless template that the Coen’s lay for us – just so they can flip the universe on top of us, and make us think. This is one of the most challenging films I have ever seen.

7. “The Door in the Floor” – 2005. Dir. Tod Williams. With Jeff Bridges, Kim Basinger and Jon Foster.

“Turn off the light Eddie, the story is much better in the dark.”

“The Door in the Floor” deliverers a tour-de-force of dramatic power and is filled with rich and heartbroken characters. Jeff Bridges gives the BEST performance of his career. I know everyone loves “Crazy Heart”, but see this film. Jeff Bridges rivals my personal favorite performances of Daniel Day-Lewis in “My Left Foot”, “Gangs of New York” and “There Will Be Blood” and Roy Scheider in “All That Jazz”. This is a film that will seep into your soul and will never let you go.

It is a remarkable feat to create a film of this magnitude and still keep the audience from walking out. It is one of the most underappreciated films ever made, and the absolute raw power and beauty it holds is mind blowing.
It is an emotionally draining film, but with the delivery of Bridges and Basinger, the blows are lighter and lighter.

You don’t have a soul if “The Door in the Floor” doesn’t break your heart. Watching this film overwhelms me with so much emotion that it is hard for me to take. After watching this film, I consume myself with writing, and it allows me to channel my inner emotions that I have repressed, and allows them to flourish onto paper. Anyone who is important to me in my life, I share this film with.

6. “In the Mood for Love” – 2000. Dir. Kar Wai Wong. With Tony Leung and Maggie Cheung.

“In the old days, if someone had a secret they didn’t want to share… you know what they did?”

“No idea.”

“They went up a mountain, found a tree, carved a hole in it, and whispered the secret into the hole. Then they covered it with mud. And leave the secret there forever.”

This is the most beautiful and romantic film to come from world cinema this past decade. It is a film that transcends language and culture and brings the raw pain and beauty of love to our attention. This film hits on all cylinders with its writing, directing, acting, cinematography and editing. The narrative is linear yet non linear. The entire film is a beautiful showboat of love. The film dazzles you until the remarkable ending that leaves your floored.

This film inspires me each time that I see it. The music in this film is the best usage of music in film that I have ever seen. This entire film captivates you, and holds you in its grasp so tightly that you cannot escape, you cannot turn your head away because the film commands your attention. This film is truly beautiful and you need to see it as soon as you can.

Out of all the 10’s that I have given to films, this film breaks the grading scale and is an 11.

5. “American Psycho” – 2000. Dir. Mary Harron. With Christian Bale, Justin Theroux, Samantha Morton, Jared Leto, Reese Witherspoon and Willem Dafoe.

“I feel as if my mask of sanity is about to slip.”

This is one of the best adaptations of any novel I have ever seen. The novel is a fantastic story of an apathetic character that has no identifiable human emotions aside from disgust and greed. The film excels in its faithful adaptation of bringing one of the richest characters in fictional history to life. Christian Bale gives the performance of his career as Patrick Bateman, a self sufficient Wall Street executive that has a deep rooted blood lust. His character has no emotion but slides his mask on and completely blends into the crowd of elites he has embedded himself in.

The film greatly portrayals how self consumed we all are with money and materialistic items. Patrick Bateman is the embodiment of the American Dream, he is what our society of capitalism and MTV has constructed. There has been much speculation upon the ending of the film. Was Patrick Bateman really a killer – or did he make it all up, or was it just a dream? *SPOILER* If you do not want me to ruin it for you, skip to the next film. The producers force Harron to make the ending more ambiguous, because the fact of the matter is that Patrick Bateman did do all those terrible things that we saw him do, and hear him talk about. The punch line of the entire film is that no one cared. Everyone was so consumed with themselves that they could care less about Paul Allen, or the prostitutes that he tortures. The only thing that they cared about was themselves. Except for Detective Kimble (Willem Dafoe), who knows who Patrick Bateman is all along…

4. “Antichrist” – 2009. Dir. Lars von Trier. With Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg

“What do you think is supposed to happen in the woods?”

See my gushing review of “Antichrist” by clicking this.

3. “Brokeback Mountain” – 2005. Dir. Ang Lee. With Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Williams, Anne Hathaway and Randy Quaid.

“You don’t know nothin’ about that!”

Can we get past the homophobic aura around this film? Thanks. This is a near perfect film. The cinematography is the best I had ever seen until the wham bam of “A

Single Man” and “Antichrist”

. Heath Ledger gives his best performance, and one of the best performances I have ever seen. I understand he was great as the Joker, but as Enis Delmar he was perfect. There wasn’t a thing he could have changed about his character.

This is one of the greatest love stories that I have ever seen. It’s trying and intimate film that I will hold dear to my heart forever. It is truly one of the best films I have ever seen. It’s a film about true love, and how love has zero boundaries. Love can transcend gender, race, religion – every obstacle that is thrown at us can be overcome by love. It is a vital part of our existence, and we need to hold onto it and cherish it. This is the pinnacle of art, and its beauty. This film is a landmark of perfection in cinema. If the ending doesn’t tear your heart out and bring you to your knees, you are one cold and bitter motherfucker.

2. “There Will Be Blood” – 2008. Dir. Paul Thomas Anderson. With Daniel Day-Lewis and Paul Dano.

“I want you to tell me you are a false prophet and God is a superstation.”

“Drainage Eli! Drrrraaaaaiiiinnnnaaaaggggeeee!” This film is the masterpiece of all masterpieces – ranking up there with “Citizen Kane” and “The Wild Bunch”. Paul Thomas Anderson does an unbelievable feat: directing Daniel Day-Lewis for over two and a half hours. This is the biggest tour-de-force performance that I have ever seen. Day-Lewis is in every single scene of the film (accept one or two) and he draws your attention, he grabs you and won’t let you go. Period.

The character he plays is the most evil character I have ever seen. He’s much like Patrick Bateman, but worse. Plainview would stand and watch the world burn just to insure that no one is better then him. His ambition for greed overwhelms you and it frightens you with every breath he takes.

What adds to DDL’s command performance is the shrilling original score by Radio Head’s Johnny Greenwood. The sounds of these ambient noises that are clashed together makes you jump and squirm in your seat as you watch Plainview slash and burn everything and everyone in his path.

This is the greatest performance I have ever seen. The entire film is stacked upon his shoulders. There is no way out but in, and once the gargantuan climax is over with the scream of “I’m finished!” So are we. Thank goodness.

“A Single Man” – 2009. Dir. Tom Ford. Colin Firth, Julianne Moore and Mathew Goode.

“Just get through the goddamn day.”

This film is the “Citizen Kane” of our generation. It wasn’t acknowledged at all by the Academy, aside for a Best Actor nomination for Colin Firth (who should have won, I’m sorry Mr. Bridges!). This is an extremely personal film for fashion tycoon Tom Ford. The camera movements, the flow of the film – editing, the pace – is as if it is a beautiful song that soaks up your emotions and displays them on screen.

This film has such a deep personal meaning to me – words cannot describe. Putting my bias aside, this film will become a staple of our generation. It is a true triumph of filmmaking and it is the pure essence of beauty. Tom Ford had no experience in filmmaking prior to making this film, and it is as if he’s channeling Stanley Kubrick in the way he paces the film, the way he shoots the film, the color scheme.

This film is deeply moving and thought provoking. This is the best thing that I have ever seen on film. I am truly in awe of Tom Ford and of his beautiful film.

Honorable Mentions:  “No Country for Old Men”, “The Devil’s Rejects”, “The Contender”, “Sideways”, “Watchmen”, “Insomnia” and “The Dark Knight”.