Monday, May 16, 2011

The Greatest Movie Character of 1990-1999 003 - Round 1, Heat 1

Mia Wallace Division - Heat 1 


Andy Dufresne, The Shawshank Redemption

Dear Will,

If you're reading this, you've gotten out of South Boston. And if you've come this far, maybe you're willing to come a little further. The name of the town here is Zihautenejo. I could use a good man to help my friend Red and I with a project. Remember Will -- hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.

I always liked the smart guys who have some fight in them. It always seemed to me that you and Chuckie had something good. Seeing you two made me think of the old days and the time I spent with my good friend Red. One thing I like about you, Will, is that it seems like there are always people looking out for you. I didn't have too many people I could count on in my life, and I hope you appreciate your best friend and your psychologist -- finding people who truly care for you is difficult in this world.

Red was a good friend to me, but if I had a friend like Sean or Chuckie, things might have been easier. One thing that bothered me about you is that it seemed like you lost your hope for a while. I you had a rough childhood, but I really hated seeing you so close to giving up hope.

Even during the worst of times at Shawshank -- the Sisters, the Warden's tyranny, Tommy getting shot -- I always had hope. Without it, I would have been a dead man a long time ago.

Another thing -- can't you come up with some better lines? "How do you like them apples?" Seems like a smart guy like you could come up with something a little more poetic. I always thought that if I was in a movie, I'd have some pretty good lines. One thing I always say is "Get busy livin or get busy dying." That seems like something people could remember.

Your friend,


Will Hunting
, Good Will Hunting:

When we started drafting these characters it was during a weekend. I was picking and via the Iphone because I have a social life and was out and about NOT in front of a computer. Will Hunting was my very last pick and frankly didn’t even realize that he was available. Andy Dufresne was the very first pick of the draft if I recall (which was quite honestly a bit of a shocker to me). I think Will hunting was wrongly overlooked by all of us to have fallen to the last pick and frankly, was really even lucky to be picked at all if someone hadn’t reminded me about the movie.

Who doesn’t like Andy Dufresne? Really, who doesn’t like Shawshank as a top movie of all time? Good Will Hunting was a spectacular movie that made a huge splash in part because of the circumstances surrounding its success and such. Oscar awards, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck – both virtually unknowns, and a character based on some punk thug who happens to be the smartest person on the planet and happens to like apples. Great story line, although I think Psycho therapy is a crock of shit. Any who… oh right, I’m supposed to make a case as to why Will Hunting is a better choice over Andy Dufresne.

The only thing I have in that regard is that the circumstances of how and when they were picked in the draft should be brought to JUSTICE! No way Dufresne deserved a #1 pick and NO way Will deserved a last pick. Other than that… I got nothin’! So have at it and vote.



Captain Jim Miller, Saving Private Ryan:

This one I actually have something to write about. Saving Private Ryan is about the Character, albeit not the title character, more than the movie. The director does a lot to distract you from the point that the real value of this film, carried out by Capt. Miller’s character, is to take you inside of the war and its intended and known objectives and show you personal redemption. I mean we all loved the bombs and the brains and the guts. The special effects were so realistic and such a large part of the story. For the first time in Cinematic history, they had the ability to show the horror and gore of war as it really was. Not sensationalistic like movies tend to do but believable carnage. Captain Miller, a firm, disciplined soldier who does nothing to deviate from obtaining his objectives and to rally his men to stay focused on the same tasks, shows often why he prefers to be such a warrior. It’s not his training. It’s not blood lust. He’s not a career soldier. He’s a school teacher who is doing his job to the best of his abilities if for any other reason than to distract himself from the horror or insanity of why they are even there in the first place. He uses that tactic to focus on getting home as quick as possible and as sane as possible. He’s not in it to just blow shit up. He’s in it because he has to be. He finds the task of taking on the objective of saving one soldier, while risking the lives of his own men redeeming. Especially if it rewards him the opportunity to get home himself to see his family and return to normal life. In the end, he proves that his discipline in completing the objective outweighs his own desire to get home. A discipline born out of a desire to earn his way home from somewhere he had to be, not wanted to be. Truly a fantastic caricature of your not so average man accepting the fact that this is the world he lives in and will stop short of nothing to complete his objectives despite the consequences. No matter how dire they are.
Barton fink? Riiiiiiight…


Barton Fink, Barton Fink:

Pragmatist: Really, you picked Barton Fink as your 9 seed?

Idealist: Yeah, I guess I could have gotten him later, but for some reason I thought somebody might pick him.

Pragmatist: I thought you knew how to draft, you played fantasy sports and stuff!

Idealist: Fine, it was a stupid pick, he would have gone last in the draft, are you happy now?

Pragmatist: Yes.

Idealist: But you know, I'm a wanna be writer who hates LA, tries not to be pretentious, and Turturro is great! How many movies have a writer as the main character facing off against John Goodman as the devil??? Fuck Tom Hanks!

Pragmatist: Yeah I am sure everyone will vote for you with that line of thinking.

Idealist: Anyway, how do you think I should approach it? He's got some great quotes... I could focus on those... Whatever I do I have to get this in somehow:

"It just doesn't seem to me that Los Angeles is the place to lead the life of mind."

Pragmatist: Man, all you do is quotes!

Idealist: Yeah you're right. Got any better ideas?

Pragmatist: He's got some great scenes. Maybe you could pick some youtube clips and break them down?

Idealist: Yeah, I thought of that but it seems kind of like cheating. We're assuming people have seen these movies already and--

Pragmatist: Why didn't you pick Goodman's character? That would be a lot more fun.

Idealist: Look I made my pick already, can we just move on here?

Pragmatist: Just trying to help.

Idealist: How about the wrestling scene? I mean you have Goodman suplexing Turturro in a wrestling demonstration, I have to put that in there.

Pragmatist: What, as an example of how a writer suffers for his craft?

Idealist: Why the hell did I pick this guy? Ok, forget the wrestling. Is it worth mentioning that Faulkner wrote a wrestling script and inspired the movie?

Pragmatist: Ummm...
Idealist: Ok forget it. I'm going with the youtube clips. Without showing Turturro's face there is just no way I can explain how awesome Barton Fink is.

Pragmatist: Good luck.


I'm A Writer, You Monsters!

That "Barton Fink" Feeling

I'll Show You The Life of the Mind!

I Got Respect For Working Guys Like You

Barton's World


Ghost Dog, Ghost Dog, The Way of the Samurai:

Category: Nickname
Trent Walker: Double Down
Ghost Dog: Ghost Dog
Verdict: One applies to "what you should always do with an 11 except against an Ace", the other describes a Samurai who moves through Jersey City invisibly and with fierce determination.

Category: Job
Trent Walker: Aspiring Actor
Ghost Dog: Samurai Hit man
Verdict: I don't think I even need to comment here.

Category: Best Line
Trent Walker: "Vegas baby! Vegas!" and "You're so money and you don't even know it!"
Ghost Dog: "You know, in ancient cultures, bears were considered equal with men."
Hunter: "This ain't no ancient culture here, mister"
Ghost Dog: "Sometimes it is."

Verdict: I have heard both of Trent's lines about 1000 times in my life, so even though Ghost Dog has a better line, I have to give this one to Trent.

Category: Theme Music
Trent Walker: Jaws (while trying to pick up women at a bar)
Ghost Dog: Wu Tang's RZA
Verdict: The use of Jaws is witty, but Ghost Dog's theme, created by RZA for the movie, is one of the baddest theme songs for any character in any movie.

Category: Skills
Trent Walker: Understands Blackjack basic strategy, Decent Driver, Knows how to utilize Jeremy Roenick in EA's NHL Hockey on Genesis
Ghost Dog: Master of Samurai swordsmanship, Sharpshooter, Pigeon Whisperer, Inability to feel fear
Verdict: I love blackjack and I was also an expert with Roenick, but come on.

Category: Clothing
Trent Walker: Old school (slim) Vince Vaughn looked good in a black tie. Shark skin jacket.
Ghost Dog: All black leather jacket over a hoodie. Also rocks a blue suit with a black shirt.
Verdict: Although Trent's shark skin jacket is memorable, Ghost Dog's look is original, unique, and has resonance.

Category: Hair
Trent Walker: White man's high top fade
Ghost Dog: Corn rows
Verdict: Push

Category: Favorite Book
Trent Walker: Stanford Wong's "Winning without Counting"
Ghost Dog: Hagakure
Verdict: "Our bodies are given life from the midst of nothingness. Existing where there is nothing is the meaning of the phrase "Form is emptiness." That all things are provided for by nothingness is the meaning of the phrase "Emptiness is form." One should not think that these are two separate things." Nuff said.

Category: Favorite food
Trent Walker: Comped Treasure Island Lox platter
Ghost Dog: Ice cream
Verdict: Free Lox? Point for Double Down Walker.

Final score:
Ghost Dog 6, Trent Walker 2

There may be another character like Trent Walker someday, but I would vote for the only Jersey City Samurai Hitman you'll ever see.


Trent "Double Down" Walker, Swingers:

"Hey baby, what are you some kind of -- samurai gangster? That's literally So Cool, that's in right now, but not in a 'that's been done to death' sort of way, you know, more like a Wu Tang, old school, back in black sort of way, great all the babies will love it.  You're like a bear.  No, I mean it, baby, you're like a bear with these big f-- no . . . No wait, you're like the guy who KILLS the people who kill the bear, right? That's money. You've got this big sword and it's like you don't even know what to do with it, and I'm just this LA douche sitting here just BEGGING you 'cut me in half, cut me in half', and you're like, 'how? how? how can I cut you in half?' and you've got this GREAT BIG SWORD and you're like 'how do I cut him in half with this enormous fucking sword??'  Listen, baby, you know everybody's voting for me. It's not because my movie is the one more people have seen and remembered, and it's not because I'm the most memorable character from that movie, and its not because I'm Thin Vince and not Puffy Vince, and it's not because I get the best scenes, and it's not even because I made Gretzky's head bleed just for fanboy 99 over there.  Oh, wait. Yeah, it's totally because of all those things. ALL those things. You know how your code tells you to start each day with the knowledge you're already dead?  That's good advice, baby. Why don't you ask your ice cream buddy over there how to say sayonara in French? "

- Julius_Goat


Morpheus, The Matrix

It's rare to find a movie character who can believably pull off so many dimensions simultaneously.

Prophet, Mentor, Keeper of the Faith, Martial Arts expert, Hero.

As I was trying to figure out how best to show why Morpheus is a "better" character than John Malkovich, I ended up with a few approaches that all failed to capture the greatness of . So let's go straight to the source and break down my favorite quotes from one of my favorite movie characters of all time.

Morpheus: The Matrix is a system, Neo. That system is our enemy. But when you're inside, you look around, what do you see? Businessmen, teachers, lawyers, carpenters. The very minds of the people we are trying to save. But until we do, these people are still a part of that system and that makes them our enemy. You have to understand, most of these people are not ready to be unplugged. And many of them are so inured, so hopelessly dependent on the system, that they will fight to protect it.

Morpheus's first lesson to his pupil is delivered with calm intensity, and explains in simple terms the way in which the "unexamined life" and materialism can imprison us. It's something an expert painter might say to an aspiring painter who has shown early promise. The speech also illustrates the painful reality of being a caring human being: we fight to save our enemies and open their eyes to a way of living outside the system.

Morpheus: I know *exactly* what you mean. Let me tell you why you're here. You're here because you know something. What you know you can't explain, but you feel it. You've felt it your entire life, that there's something wrong with the world. You don't know what it is, but it's there, like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad. It is this feeling that has brought you to me. Do you know what I'm talking about?

The teacher continues his lecture, using a powerful simile to make his point. The "splinter" he refers to reminds us of those moments when we aspire for a more fulfilling life and a better world. In a world filled with depressing headlines, cynicism and sarcasm fill our mind with storm clouds that threaten apathy. With this speech, Morpheus offers us a ray of idealism that pierces the dark clouds.

Morpheus: Free your mind.
[Morpheus jumps from one building to another a long distance away]
Neo: Whoa

Like all great teachers, Morpheus first explains a concept, and then illustrates the concept by doing it himself. Just as Yoda lifts his pupil's ship from the swamp when Luke sees only the impossible, Morpheus forces his pupil to see beyond the limitations created by his mind. Sitting in the theater as a 22 year old, I remember sharing Neo's amazement at the sight of Morpheus's leap of faith.

How many Malkovich quotes do you remember? Do you remember his voice? Do you remember what he was wearing? Take the red pill.


John Malkovitch, Being John Malkovitch

Some characters are incredibly one-dimensional. Others have some pathetic other side that is intended to add depth. Nowadays it seems everything is going 3D. But Malkovich? He's multidimensional, he's got dimensions you can't even imagine. Accessible through a small door on the 7 1/2 floor, you too can be this broad-based auteur. Thespian, tortured soul, puppeteer and puppet both, a man controlled by the whim of petty man-gods, with direct access to the side of the New Jersey Turnpike, Malkovich fights an ultimately fruitless battle against forces he can barely understand. Man vs Army of Senior Citizens inside his own mind isn't frequently visited territory for most actors, but John Malkovich lives it in a means beyond the deepest method actors. Rare is it that one can face oneself, let alone oneself lying on a piano reciting oneself's name. Morpheus nearly broke under the "duress" of being asked some questions by an Australian with an hearing aid. John Malkovich rebelled against a man almost literally pulling his strings. Also, he's best friends with Charlie Sheen. Morpheus is best friends with some dork hacker who refuses to accept the reality of spoons.

- Astin

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