I swear i'll be writing more in 2014

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A Tip of the Cap From the Butcher

I could try to concoct a list of great people that one would want a tip of the cap from, but I know the end result is Bill the Butcher.  Most grotesque villains are so evil they lose all consideration for this award whereas most heroes are too goody-goody that they're not all necessarily winners either.  A tip of the cap from Vito Corleone would certainly outweigh the same gesture if it came from Michael, but as pleasant as that Mafia crime syndicate is, it's no Butcher cap gesture.  Pai Mei from Kill Bill Vol. 2 fame would be another one, but he doesn't strike me as someone who would wear caps.  Part of the Butcher's cap tipping allure would be the fact that he wears much cooler hats than anyone else.  Granted, I'd stick out like a sore thumb, but if I could wear 1860's style hats today, well, my whole wardrobe would change. 

My history of Leonardo DiCaprio fannage is up and down.  He's very easy to hate, whether it's because he reminds you of Ben from his Growing Pains days because let's face it, acting next to that kid who played Ben can't go well for anyone.  It turned Kirk Cameron into a born again Christian.  Or maybe you don't like pretty boys and Leonarda is definitely that.  However, you catch this guy in The Aviator and he's amazing.  In Gangs of New York? Well, he's acting opposite of Daniel Day Lewis, so he has no chance.  It doesn't help that his main squeeze is Cameron Diaz, who probably not only sucks the life out of her real life boyfriends but probably sucks that acting ability out of her co-stars as well.  Leo is okay in this movie, but the problem is, how can anyone root against Bill the Butcher, that is, unless they're Irish?

On the 7th day, the lord rested, but before he did that he bent over the side of England and what came out of him was Ireland.  No offense. 

What I've noticed about Leo's role in this is that his acting is fine.  What makes it seem worse (aside from the forced colloquialisms of the 1860s), is his voice over.  It's not good.  Someone doing a voice over has to be loved nearly unconditionally by all, your Morgan Freeman types, your Robert DeNiro types.  These guys aren't polarizing actors (whether their careers have slipped or not).  If someone like Ben Affleck does a voice over it's going to fail because these guys know they're polarizing and seemingly lack voice over confidence and you can hear it in their voice.  Ultimately it weakens the role of their protagonist. 

Leo receiving the tip of the cap from Bill in this is a great scene because he deserves it.  He saves his life, and that's probably the only way one would receive a tip aside from maybe making the Butcher gobs of money.  It's the end of the movie that keeps this movie from being truly elite (well, that, Cameron Diaz and the fact that Scorsese went a little over board trying to do a time piece).  Whether it's shrapnel from a bomb, or being diced by Leo Di C, it's a little unclear how the Butcher meets his maker at the end, but he meets him, whereas Leo rides off into the sunset apparently having vanquished his foe completing the revenge cycle.  Why can't Scorsese have the balls to let that tale go incomplete?  If the Butcher ends up killing the father, and the son, don't we have a unique story here, or is Hollywood afraid of unique stories on a permanent basis nowadays?  I read somewhere that most filmmakers know, or studies have been done or what not that most people don't want to be surprised by the ending, or worse yet, disappointed.  Films set up a perfect linear story and the viewer wants to know that every part of the film goes the way it's supposed to.  This is probably true to a degree, but with the success Christopher Nolan has had and the brief success M. Night Shyamalan had some time ago proves this to be inaccurate.  Nolan's twists work because of some great gimmicky film making (cutting a film backwards like a Seinfeld episode or something) and Shyamalan's once worked because of shock value.  Scorsese wouldn't have been going to these extreme's here though and maybe that's what a film critic was pointing out.  The Butcher winning would've been a little shocking, but it's not like we would've found out he was Leo's true father or something like that, so basically, it wouldn't have been shocking enough, and that's probably why Scorsese couldn't do it.  Marty has to start breaking the rules again, rather than just making sure nearly everyone in his movies dies except for the protagonist.  

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