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#227. Christopher Walken

What happens when you have an actor who won’t turn down any roles? Well, you’ll end up finding them in more movies than you had originally thought. Often, you’ll see them in bit parts and say to yourself, “Isn’t that so-and-so?” Some actors merely blend into the scenery and are harder to pick out, but not Christopher Walken. Especially in his more recent roles, Walken has embraced his look and his unique way of speaking, making him pretty easy to spot in the 100+ movies in which he has acted. Considering his career started in the mid-1960’s, this prolific amount of acting is quite a feat in itself, mainly due to the fact that he won’t turn down a role unless he’s too busy. With some years touting seven Christopher Walken films, it becomes apparent that he is never too busy to act. This week’s two films focus on the recent and retro roles of Christopher Walken.

Seven PsychopathsSeven Psychopaths
Year: 2012
Rating: R
Length: 110 minutes / 1.83 hours

Perhaps one of the most imitated voices, Christopher Walken has found himself in plenty of comedies as of late. This is partly due to the comedic timing that lends itself to the erratic pauses made when he speaks. Now, it’s difficult to tell if he’s merely playing up this aspect of his popular culture appeal, but needless to say most comedies he has appeared in have highlighted this trait. Although, the unintended consequence of being cast in a lot of comedies is that he is then associated with a lot of terrible movies. That being said, not all comedies have to be terrible. Sometimes they can be smart and clever, which Walken is still adept at portraying, regardless of some of the other movies in his filmography. One such comedy was Seven Psychopaths (2012), which gives Christopher Walken a chance to portray a well-rounded character, instead of merely a nod to popular culture.

Hans Kieslowski (Christopher Walken) has resorted to stealing dogs and returning them to their owners for a reward. Despite his religious beliefs, this is the only way he can find enough money to help pay for his wife’s cancer treatments. Providing assistance in this endeavor is Billy Bickle (Sam Rockwell), who steals a Shih Tzu by the name of Bonny. This dog belongs to just one of the eponymous “Seven Psychopaths”, Charlie Costello (Woody Harrelson). Billy and Hans’ friend, Marty Faranan (Colin Farrell) is struggling to write this titular screenplay, having only a few of the psychopath stories figured out. After telling Hans one of the stories, the “Quaker” reveals that he was in fact the psychopath in question, but now his wife has been killed and the three have been chased into the desert for a final shootout with Charlie and his men.

The Deer HunterThe Deer Hunter
Year: 1978
Rating: R
Length: 183 minutes / 3.05 hours

With a career that’s been so long and filled with performances, it’s often forgotten that Christopher Walken has actually won an Academy Award for Acting. He was nominated for the Best Supporting Actor twice in his career: recently for his role in Catch Me if You Can (2002) and initially for his performance in The Deer Hunter (1978). This first nomination led to his eventual win of the Oscar, which means that every trailer from then on out could use “Oscar-winning” next to their inclusion of Christopher Walken. The fact that he’s also been in a few Best Picture nominees and winners does give credence to his ability as an actor, and not merely as a comic foil. If anything, the Oscar win early in his career allowed Walken to pursue any type of movie he would want to do, mainly because the pressure to win an Oscar has since been relieved.

In a small town in Pennsylvania, three friends are living their lives in their inevitable march toward matrimony and military. Mike (Robert DeNiro), Nick (Christopher Walken), and Steven (John Savage) are in the midst of celebrating Steven’s marriage and Nick’s engagement when they run across a Green Beret in a bar who has become disillusioned with the Vietnam War. With one last hunting trip, Mike holds to his “one shot” mantra before the three are sent off to war. Years later, the three are trapped in a prisoner-of-war camp and forced to play Russian roulette for their captors’ amusement. In a risky move, Mike plays with three bullets and manages to take out all of the guards. Unfortunately, they get separated during their escape and it takes years for Mike to find everyone, all in varying states of mental and physical decay.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 wonderful Walken performances

Bacon #: 2 (Homeboy / Mickey Rourke -> Diner / Kevin Bacon)

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2 responses to “#227. Christopher Walken

  1. Pingback: End of Act Five | Cinema Connections

  2. Pingback: #304. Burn Victims | Cinema Connections

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