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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

First Impression: The Iceman

Autumn means three things: Halloween, pumpkin everything, and film festival season. So many amazing films are being screened right now, which means that so many brilliant trailers are now hitting the web. My personal favorite trailer preview is for the hitman thriller The Iceman (directed by Ariel Vromen) starring Michael Shannon, Winona Ryder, Chris Evans, Ray Liotta, and James Franco. As usual, my buddy Stephanie of Classified Cinema Club joins me to discuss the trailer.
Jess: What intrigues me about The Iceman is that it seems to deal with mobs in a very serious way. Gangsters have been so sexy in the past few years (Sopranos, Mob Wives, etc.) that it's refreshing to see a truly terrifying take on gangs.

Stephanie: I completely agree with that, and it's what I find interesting about it too. It's not too slick and Hollywoodized, which is refreshing because it would have been so easy for them to go that route.
Jess: It's also really, really difficult to make a hitman sympathetic without romanticizing his story. They took the hard route by eliminating the sex appeal.
Stephanie: Absolutely. I'm really interested in seeing how they handle the family story lines. That is what sparks my interest the most. We've all seen mob movies millions of times, but showing the family life more would keep my attention.
Jess: In that regard, it reminds me of Abel Ferrara's The Funeral, which deals with close family ties, death, and gangs. The tone is also very similar: sad, sinister, and quiet while building to something greater.
Stephanie: Wow, nice reference. It's been a while since I've seen The Funeral, but I just think that diving into the man behind the hit man will make The Iceman stand out. Also, who doesn't love Michael Shannon?
Jess: There's something very haunting about his portrayal, something that beckons for repeat viewing. I've probably watched the trailer 5 times already because his characters are always so nuanced.
Stephanie: So nuanced. He is so utterly believable in this role, like all his roles, that you can't turn away from him onscreen. I'm interested to see Chris Evans pull off a grittier role, too. Hopefully he can pull it off well.
Jess: It's an absolute transformation to see him look like a gross 70's porn star, and I applaud him for it. It would be so easy to ride the Captain America wave, but he's really rebelling.
Stephanie: Agreed. He's taking a risk, and hopefully it pays off.
Jess: I'm also excited to see Mr. Goodfellas himself, Ray Liotta.
Stephanie: Totally. How do you feel about Winona and Franco?
Jess: Winona looks fantastic, but Franco is a real sticky wicket for me.
Stephanie: We've just been so oversaturated with Franco. I have a hard time taking him seriously anymore.
Jess: Absolutely. He's a caricature of himself at this point, so he really downgrades the film. If this were in the future when we've had more distance, that'd be a different story. It just makes me hope that Michael Shannon gets to kill him quickly.
Stephanie: I agree. I think he needs to take a break, completely focus on doing one thing really well. It's like he's always just phoning everything in.
Jess: There's also a smugness that's saturated his performances. It's like he's smirking all the time.
Stephanie: It's rather condescending. Like this is all a big joke, but we're not in on the joke.
Jess: Definitely agree. He hasn't taken a serious role in a while, and I'm not sure this was a great fit for him. I'd love to be proven wrong, though.
Stephanie: Me too. I'd love to see him blow it out of the water.

Needless to say, I anxiously await details of The Iceman's theatrical release. With its excellent cast, foreboding tone, and unique story, this film looks to be a much-needed addition to the gangster film dialogue. What do you think of the trailer? Are you excited to see The Iceman?

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