Tag Archives: Gabriel Byrne

The Set of 400: #12 – My Favorite Artist With a Thompson

Today! Because, hell, I ain’t embarrassed to use the word. I’m talkin’ about ethics –

Miller’s Crossing (1990)

Directed by Joel Coen and Ethan Coen (x6)

Starring Gabriel Byrne (x2), Albert Finney (x5), John Turturro (x5), Marcia Gay Harden, J. E. Freeman (x3), Jon Polito (x2), Steve Buscemi (x4), Mike Starr (x3), Al Mancini, Tom Toner, Michael Jeter (x4), Mario Todisco, Richard Woods, Michael Badalucco (x4), Sam Raimi, Frances McDormand (x4)

My favorite Coen brothers movie, their earliest effort on this list, with one of the best screenplays ever written, Miller’s Crossing is a gangster movie, unquestionably, but it is really so much more. Its twisty plot of continually shifting loyalties and multi-directional romances can be a bit bewildering at first, as the whole thing is given a very light touch and seems the breeziest of crime chronicles. It adopts a comical old-timey vernacular right from the jump, and showcases character quirks and extremes so rapidly and immediately that you might suspect you’re in for a decidedly light-hearted movie. At first.

Back when the main topic of the film appears to be Ethics

But quickly the story drills down into the group’s complex, internecine strife and we’re off to the races. It’s a film I saw too young to fully comprehend, to be sure, to the point that it literally took decades of sporadic rewatching for me to pick up on everything. Not that it’s all that complicated, but to a ten-year-old it seemed just a lot of hokey turns of phrase, over-the-top shouting, and operatic violence – entertaining, but not necessarily in depth. Thanks for the early primer, early ’90s HBO! Like many of the top, top films on my list, Miller’s Crossing is something I can rewatch endlessly, but it is the rare one that fits the old saw often floated about great works of art – every time I see it I find something new.

Are we all actually Tom’s hat??

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The Set of 400: #260 – My Favorite Coffee Mug

Today! Because I believe in God, and the only thing that scares me is Keyser Soze –

The Usual Suspects (1995)

Directed by Bryan Singer (x2)

Starring Gabriel Byrne, Kevin Spacey, Chazz Palminteri, Stephen Baldwin, Kevin Pollak, Benicio Del Toro, Pete Postlethwaite, Giancarlo Esposito, Suzy Amis (x2), Dan Hedaya (x2), Clark Gregg, Louis Lombardi

A cast and crew simply bursting with purported monsters, The Usual Suspects is nonetheless an amazing movie, if you can get past its baggage. Dazzling, Oscar winning screenplay by apparent Tom Cruise captive Christopher McQuarrie (seriously, his resume over the last 15 years is almost exclusively writing and/or directing Cruise pictures), breakout movie for director Singer (accused of much, the most mild of which being on-set difficulty), and Oscar winning role from subsequent huge movie star Kevin Spacey (who did his level best to top Harvey Weinstein as Biggest Scumbag of 2017 – verdict still out, as of this writing! Who won? None of us, right?).

So with all that – not to mention fervent Trump supporter Stephen Baldwin – can you still wrap your arms around The Usual Suspects and praise it to the heavens like this was 1995? Again, in putting together this list, I’ve tried to be honest with myself. How much does actor/director off-screen drama affect my enjoyment of their films? And the answer is – probably some? Probably less than it should? I mean, I’m not going to run out and see a new Kevin Spacey film, but ones previously existing and beloved? Movies cement themselves for me basically when I first see them – my estimation might rise or fall over time, but that’s still based on film criteria almost exclusively. I might not agree with Clint Eastwood’s politics, but that doesn’t change how much I like In the Line of Fire, get me? I can stay out of my own way in that regard. Pretty much.

The 2012 RNC convention was equally as crazy as Every Which Way But Loose, I’m just saying

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