Monday, February 23, 2009

Mickey Rourke: He Needed The Money

Although The Bastard is generally averse to hats, it finds one to tip in honor of Mickey Rourke’s acceptance speech at the Independent Spirit Awards. Casting aside the sycophantic mania which oozes along Hollywood Boulevard – that bedazzled plastic strip of stars – Rourke played it direct, truthful, and smooth. That’s “smooth” in an ass grabbing, cattle calling, sideways grinning manner; certainly not in deference to the contours of his face, repeatedly bludgeoned in a destructive boxing comeback then reconstructed by “the wrong guy,” as the performer claims.

Without warning, Rourke emerges from the discount bin as the star to shotgun a beer with; your ideal wingman, the ultimate loose canon, yet amusing enough to keep the seats adjacent to him occupied (assuming he kennels his yapping chihuahuas). In this lowbrow setting, safe from predictable celebrity diatribes on hybrid automobiles, global warming, or the perfection of Venezuela under Chavez, it’d be fascinating to pick the man’s brain over his “Elvis On Acid” mansion, or the 45 minutes spent administering mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on his late dog, Beau Jack. Yet behind the awesomely bad facial surgery is an actor’s actor free of self-aggrandizement, a man who scraped through the trenches after a quick cup of coffee in the studio machine of the mid-80’s. By dismissing all confetti-strewn movie glamorama, not to mention declining the lead roles in ‘Pulp Fiction,’ ‘Rain Man,’ and ‘The Untouchables,’ Rourke engineered a perfect downward spiral, proving that absolute rejection of any system – whether out of principle or arrogance – is a career death knell. The rough-hewn artist discovers quickly the link between success and compromise. He quickly adapts or he fails magnificently. Rourke chose the latter route, mixing a destructive lifestyle with all the trappings of early fame and disproportionate wealth. Respecting second chances, today we salute Mickey Rourke, not for his acting abilities (or social disabilities), but for being, well, Mickey Rourke; bluffing the last hand in a browbeaten poker game and remarkably winning the pot. And isn’t that sometimes enough?

So thank you, Mickey, for your uncompromising permanence. Cutting aside prissy niceties was your better forte, and we applaud your candid acknowledgement of the motion picture system that’s received you back, Prodigal Son style. Never one to pussyfoot in the politically correct arena, your “thanks for the money” closer is the most refreshing swath of honesty and agnosticism to grace an awards ceremony in years. By now it’s assumed you’ve moved out of that $500 a month shoebox and re-routed your life with a new set of toy dogs and STD-clear prostitutes. In closing, we raise our champagne glass and chug the bottle in admiration, in spite of the bridges you burned, in spite of everything. Somehow, that principled arrogance claimed a rare triumph. And it must feel good. After all, the food orgy in ‘9 ½ Weeks’ was one hell of a long time ago. No matter the future, you’re always welcome here.

* * * * *
Applause is equally warranted for Rourke’s name-check to Eric Roberts, brother of Julia, and banger of countless women in low-budget direct-to-video atrocities. In all manner of roles, Roberts’ gusto for over-acting and extreme coitus was a magnetizing facet of late night cable during my impressionable undergraduate years. Whether playing vengeful fencers, moronic crooks, or cocky radio DJ’s, the actor's work is punctuated by such commanding machismo that it not only suspends belief, but lends itself to titanic locker room chortles. It also nabs him an official entry in the Urban Dictionary. Namely, as the trite but telling “Eric Roberts Fuck.” And is there a better punctuation of sly masculinity than the checker-playing lothario from the “Mr. Brightside” video? Rhetorical question. Of course not. If Mr. Roberts is trolling your neighborhood, you put your wife under house arrest. Immediately. Don’t be stupid.


Suldog said...

I saw "The Wrestler" for the first time just last week, actually. Rourke was magnificent.

MVD said...

Hey Suldog - "The Wrestler" is in my (growing) queue of flicks to watch. If Rourke gives speeches like this as a general rule, it'd be worthwhile to cast the guy in anything, regardless of ability.

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