Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Villains "That Guy" list - A Beginning

I appreciate a good villain and I really think that the best ones aren't the usual strawmen that are built up so our cardboard heroes can smite them with impunity. The guys I want to mention here are creations of both the actors and the screenwriters who created and developed these guys as our most loathed foils and to be honest, we KNOW these people and that is what makes them so delicious. I want to give a shout out to those folks that have done such a great job of giving us someone to hate that is so personal, which in turn, lends our heroes a bit more credibility. This list is totally subjective and exists merely as a way to allow others to contribute if they so choose.

Paul Gleason

He tops my list because he had two incredible performances in the 80's. First as the ass kissing local LAPD officer in Die Hard, a clueless, by-the-book plodder who immediately disregards anything coming from beneath his paygrade. Secondly as the burned out detention teacher from The Breakfast Club. Two incredible performances, you have no issues at all with loathing him and cheering for anyone who is in conflict with him. Also delightfully slimy in Trading Places and countless other roles. He's at the top of my list of guys you love to hate.

William Atherton

What can you say about this guy that hasn't already been said? Die Hard I and 2, Real Genius and Ghostbusters? Forever known as the "Man with no dick", thanks to Ghostbusters, he's got slimy down to an art. I could have listed him first, but Gleason does such a great job being a petty tyrant that I had to move Big Bill down a notch. Was there anyone in the audience who didn't smile when Bonnie Bedilia punched him in Die Hard? Didn't think so.

Bob Gunton

Bob does sinister extraordinarily well. In Shawshank redemption, as the warden, his malevolence and phoniness shine right on through without any glimmer of redeeming qualities. For those of you that aren't well acquainted with his talents, check out his turn as agent provocateur in Matewan. Bob has that gift of tone that sounds like a velvet glove with the fist of cruelty contained within.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Random musings from the navel

I miss America... or at least the America I thought I knew and admired. It used to be that our country used to offer hope to the regular individual to prove their own exceptionalism. Namely you had the promise of opportunity to make something of yourself or if you had an idea, a possibility of being able to develop it and create something from it. Those days appear to be gone. When did it all become such a caustic end game?

I don't want to simply blame conservatives, although there is plenty of blame to lay at their feet, because I do believe that the problems go deeper than simple idiology. I understand that certain people are hardwired to handle the concept of workers and management and that you belong in one class or the other. The problem is that there appears to be another class, the "ownership" class that used to be somewhat benevolent in past generations but appears to be in a "screw you" cycle these days. It's not to say that we haven't seen this cycle before. I believe that America from the 1850's thru the 1880's went through a similar stage when the wealthy did such a great job of accumulating wealth that they stopped seeing people that were not of their status as somehow not being people anymore. Granted, its all self delusion, if they were cut, they would bleed, they had bowel movements, they burped yet somehow they felt and conveyed this point of view to others that money matters and as such, it somehow made them better. They then sold this same concept to religious leaders who then started implying that others outside their faith were somehow less than human. Why? When did this need to be "better" or "exceptional" become such a carrot to drive our society?

I can understand the need for proficiency, attention to detail, or even taking a slice of life and turning it into an art form, yet how does that make us better as people? I get that hedge fund managers might not have the same skills than a plumber, but why is it that one has more value than another? If we talk about Teachers as being vitally important in the lives of our children, then why do we resent paying them a comprehensive salary? Do we no longer buy into the concept that education is the one mechanism that allows us to transition through our self imposed social strata? Does this mean that we're seeing a hardening in the social strata in that one now must stumble into extreme good fortune in order to move from one level to the next. The upward mobility appears to be restricted because the wealthy appear to be happy with the current size of their club and no others need apply.