08 January 2009

Mr. Noir

The first DVD movie we played on the new TV was Vice (2008). The week before we had an old-TV-VHS-fest and watched Trouble Bound (1993). The link, of course, is Michael Madsen. Nobody channels Robert Mitchum better than Madsen, and thus he gets my nod for this century's "Mr. Noir." It was ten years ago when we were hooked on Madsen's character "Mr. Chapel" in Vengeance Unlimited, an ABC show that lasted only 16 episodes in 1998-99. Madsen's fame rests, perhaps, on the success of Reservoir Dogs, and his terrifying performance as Mr. Blonde. But Mr. Madsen is at his best playing likeable tough guys, menacing fellows who manage to maintain their humanity, and thus the audience's sympathy. He has this weird tommy-gun laugh that makes you wonder what he really thinks is funny, and a gravelly voice that sounds like a smoker's cough. But his brooding, wincing, squinting, and grimacing project a surprising depth and warmth, and he's got a sort of worn-down-but-still-handsome quality that's easy to watch. Here's hoping "Mr. Noir" can keep making noir.

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