Monday, March 7, 2011

Movie Web Monday: Ron Perlman

Movie Web Monday: Each week, I'll look at a specific actor's roles across three good movies. The third movie will in turn tie into the first movie of the next week's actor, whose third movie will continue the pattern. I will go through actors and movies at this rate, with the following limitations in mind: every movie(or television show) invoked will be one I either own, or wish to own; no movie or actor will be invoked twice. So sit back and enjoy as you fall into the nerdery's movie web. (Oh, and I'll try to keep spoilers to a minimum, telling you just enough to know if you'll enjoy the movie)

On occasion, I'll be watching a movie and say, "oh, Tim Roth...he's a fun bad guy in Rob Roy. And in the Incredible Hulk, too. And he's just awesome in Lie to Me. I should watch those next." Then, in the course of watching those movies, I'll notice another prolific actor whose movies I enjoy, sparking another chain of viewing. In this way, I'll often watch movies in an entangled web, where one actor's set of inspirations lead to another. One of those most notorious instigators for these movie selections is Ron Perlman.

Ron Perlman: too awesome

Movie: Hellboy (Own it, and own the limited European-release special edition. Boo yah.)

At 6'1", with a chiseled jaw and mischievous eyes, Ron Perlman is ideally suited towards acting through a prohibitive amount of makeup. Even at sixty, he has the physical presence to exude charisma through cinematic prosthetics and the wily subtlety to pierce disfiguring makeup to still portray depth.

I like Ron Perlman.

And he is perfect for the role of Hellboy. Ron brings a sort of adolescent-but-zen quality to his portrayal of Big Red that reminds me of my brother's yellow lab--absolutely enthusiastic, strong, and yet with an endearing sort of thick-headedness that is completely irresistible. That quality is totally summed up when Abe tells him, "Liz left us, Red. Take the hint." To which the irascible hero replies:

Aw yeah. I mean, there's a lot to the movie, but you can see one of the core elements right there: a love-story between an unmensch and his really big gun.

Movie: Cronos (Own it)

Cronos is a relatively unknown gem directed by Guillermo del Toro. It's an eccentric, small production that gives a new, philosophical approach to a classic monster tale. Set in Mexico and following a kindly grandfather and his staid granddaughter, Cronos employs Ron(complete with massive prosthetic schnoz) as the towering American villain, named Angel. In a movie with a strong artistic vein, Angel grounds Cronos with selfish cruelty and mundane megalomania. It takes a special kind of sadist to beat an old man with his bare hands, and it takes a very special actor to still be interesting even when he is being that very bad guy. Because Ron is just that cool. Even his uncle doesn't escape Angel's congenial malice, as he utters the fabulous line amidst hilarious laughter:

Movie: Alien Resurrection (Own it)

In what is probably the most mixed entry in the Alien series, Ron Perlman as the rat-bastard Johner provides a scoundrel sort of levity to a generally scummy movie. The apparent contradiction of that last statement is part of Johner's charm--a charm that in many ways mirrors Jayne Cobb from Firefly. (Being written by Joss Whedon a couple of years before he made Firefly, a lot of the characters in Alien Resurrection feel like prototypes of Mal and the rest.) I mean, we are introduced to him mocking a paraplegic by dropping a knife into his leg for crying out loud. Now no one is under the delusion that Johner's going to be a nice guy, but in a movie and a series that is filled with so many unrealistically d-bag characters, Johner is one of the more relatable characters. That's thoroughly established when Ellen Ripley loses it and goes on a rampage on the experiments that yielded her. Johner's reply: what a waste of ammo...

Oh yeah. If ever there was one series you wouldn't expect to drop such a piercingly typical bro-ism in the middle of an over-blown Frankenstein moment, this would be it. And you'd expect such a line to drop like a lead turd into a tub of jell-o. But Ron pulls it off. Because Ron Perlman is too awesome.

Movie Web Monday will continue next week with a new actor, picking up with some other prolific player from the last movie listed above.

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