Small Roles Big Performances: Don Cheadle in Devil in a Blue Dress (1995)


Greetings, all and sundry. Allow me a few moments to entertain and possibly elucidate in an arena that all actors and actresses dream of. To be given a secondary role in a film with a strong lead, a better than decent story and a budget and director worthy of telling a story well.

In this case, a film based on the Walter Mosely’s post WWII, hard boiled private eye novel Devil in a Blue Dress. I’d read the paper back a few years later and started putting together its cast in my head. Denzel Washington was a shoo-in for the recently, possibly unfairly laid off Champion Aviation’s defense plant employee, Ezekiel (Easy) Rawlins. Though I couldn’t come up for a suitable actor to play Easy’s polite, possibly psychotic, sadistic back up man, ‘Mouse’ Alexander.

I need have bothered. Carl Franklin and others of higher wisdom made that seamless decision for me. Casting an actor who I’d never seen before, Don Cheadle; to do some of Easy’s heavy lifting. Loyal and prompt when it comes to answering a call from Easy, who is in way over his head. Investigating a missing and elusive Daphne, Jennifer Beals. Who may or may not be involved
with an up and coming powerful politician. Mouse is also dapper, quick and knowledgeable when it comes to saving Easy’s bacon when confronted by a knife wielding henchman. Deftly breaking up the fracas and seating the thug in a chair for a few questions.

Don Cheadle’s Mouse is incredibly polite when asking. And uses slightly more than equal force when his questions are rebuffed. In the form of a formidable, slightly smaller than a Horse Pistol, Webley Mk VI revolver. Which he uses to focus the thug’s waning, erratic attention. By blowing a dime sized hole in his right thigh before asking again.

That, elegantly smooth action and follow up put Denzel in the back seat for much of the remainder of the film. As Easy and Mouse glean information and clues and follow them deeper and deeper down the rabbit’s hole of vagaries, lies, good intentions gone bad and double crosses. As the final pieces come together with the rescue aid of Daphne and the recovery of a large chunk of blackmail money. Aided by slimy, sweaty, bent as barbed wire ‘Joppy’ (Mel Winkler), who is constantly trying to live beyond his means. Easy, Mouse and Joppy drive out to the Hollywood Hills to set up a final ambush with the politician’s uncouth front man, DeWitt Albright (Tom Sizemore) and some crooked protectors. Easy leaves Joppy with Mouse, who loans Easy a .32 Colt Hammerless Automatic. Easy give Mouse a warning not to shoot Joppy as Easy disappeared in shadows. Distance is traveled. Shots are fired and Easy returns to find Joppy dead as Mouse answers, “You said don’t shoot him, right? Well I didn’t; I choked… If you didn’t want me to kill him, why did you leave me alone with him?”.

Creating a fine introduction to a talent to watch. Before adding to his repertoire with the role of recurring D.A. John Littleton opposite Tom Skerritt and Kathy Bates in Picket Fences from CBS between 1993 and 95. Then as a poor black man with his back against the wall in 1923 Jim Crow Florida in John Singleton’s Rosewood in 1997. Before playing second string porn star, Buck Swope in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Boogie Nights the same year.

Then adding his very personal, believable take on Sammy Davis Jr. in HBO’s The Rat Pack with Ray Liotta and Joe Mantegna. Building up credibility while honing his skills in ensemble, genre films through 2000 and 2001. Before latching onto the role of group psychologist, Dr. David Monroe opposite Joseph Gordon-Levitt in Jordan Melamed’s independent, Manic. Where the
harried and pressured doctor tries many ways to get through to and make progress with self loathing, destructive, head banging,cutting teens. And surrender is not an option.

Clockwise: Cheadle in The Rat PackBoogie Nights and Hotel Rwanda

Creating a better than decent body of work for Steve Soderbergh’s opening Ocean’s Eleven franchise. When dividing his times Detective Graham Waters in Paul Haggis’ star heavy, Crash in 2004. Then turning in a fine performance battling Hutus and the bureaucracy to save innocent lives in Terry George’s Hotel Rwanda. Then knocking it out of the park as 1960s Washington, DC disc jockey, talk show host and activist, Petey Green in Kasi Lemmon’s Talk to Me in 2007.


Small Roles … Big Performances Blogathon



Thoughts on Don Cheadle? What’s your favorite role(s) from the 47-year-old thespian?

Small Roles Big Performances – James Purefoy + James Marsden

For this blogathon, somehow both Becky and I settled on the actor with the first name James… and both playing a Prince! It’s pure coincidence by the way, but it works out great that they’re two very different actors, one Brit and one American, but both are not only easy on the eye but very talented yet massively underrated.

Visit the main blogathon post to see the full list of participants by clicking the banner above.

James Purefoy – A Knight’s Tale  (2001) 

Genre: adventure comic fantasy romance
Character(s): Sir Thomas Colville / Edward, the Black Prince of Wales

Every time I think of A Knight’s Tale (2001), I giggle, pinch myself, then remind myself (again) that my two favorite actors, Rufus Sewell and James Purefoy, (who both happen to be English, and who both happen to have attended the same drama school in London) are actually TOGETHER in the same film. So dreams really CAN come true! Rufus has a prominent role as antagonist Count Adhemar, whereas James appears only briefly in three short, but significant scenes.
The story (from Wikipedia): 
The film follows the story of William Thatcher (Heath Ledger), a peasant masquerading as a knight, along with his companions in the world of medieval jousting. William poses as a knight and competes in tournaments, winning accolades and acquiring friendships with such historical figures as Edward, the Black Prince of Wales and Geoffrey Chaucer. The story, concisely, in just 12 words (from an IMDb review): It’s like Top Gun, but with horses and lances instead of jets.
First scene (from Wikipedia):
In this joust, William faces Sir Thomas Colville, who withdraws from the tournament after being injured by William, though they exchange a ceremonial pass so that Colville might retain the honor of never having failed to complete a match.
Second scene: 
In their next tournament together, William realizes the knight calling himself Sir Thomas Colville is actually Edward, Prince of Wales, also known (affectionately) as the Black Prince. The film implies there is a custom encouraging knights to withdraw from competition against royalty in order to cause no harm. Count Adhemar quickly withdraws as he receives confirmation that Colville is really the prince. You can see the immediate disappointment in Edward’s face as he realizes he may not be jousting this day. William is expected to withdraw also. But he has come lance to lance with Edward before and senses his eagerness to engage and doesn’t withdraw, which earns him great respect from Edward. Their match is a draw. Before leaving the field, they both recognize each other from their first meeting, and William acknowledges him as prince. Edward: “You knew me? And still you rode?” William: “It’s not in me to withdraw.”  Edward: “Nor me.”
Interestingly, Prince Edward is not a fictional character. He lived from 1330 to 1376. He was an exceptional military leader, and his victories over the French at the Battles of Crécy and Poitiers made him very popular during his lifetime. He died before his father, Edward III, which makes him the only English Prince of Wales never to be King of England. His throne passed instead to his son Richard II.
Third scene (towards the end of the film):
William is arrested for forging papers claiming he was a knight. Prince Edward seeks him out. Here, James is regal, assertive and authoritative, yet deeply compassionate. He orders William to be released from the stocks. The prince draws his sword, touches it to William’s shoulders, and thereby bestows knighthood upon him. He is now Sir William. This leaves him totally free to pursue his goal: winning the jousting championship against Count Adhemar and earning the hand of his desired Jocelyn. It is in this last scene where the noble Prince Edward (and James’ superb acting skills) shines:

I LOVE the costume designer who cloaked James in that subtly embroidered, fur-lined, full length earth-colored coat over a white, deep V-collar shirt that shows off just the right amount of… ummm, well, I think you know what I mean 😉 … I could easily get carried away here (smile). It surely helps that James is tall, dark, and alarmingly handsome.
James has had leading roles in film, but a vast amount of his work has been in television, both here in the US and the UK. His exceptional, standout role was playing Marc Antony in the HBO series Rome (2005-2007, appearing in all 22 episodes). Beginning January 2013 (in the US), he is co-staring with Kevin Bacon in the new Fox criminal thriller TV series The Following.
Spending so much time with James while writing this has left me almost breathless, and … well, you know, yes, never mind, again. But hey, I’m just taking one for the team… team FlixChatter, that is.
So, have you seen A Knight’s Tale? If so, did James’ performance stand out for you too? Let us know!


James Marsden – Enchanted (2007)


Genre: fairy tale romantic comedy
Character: Prince Edward
I don’t exactly know when I first beheld James Marsden, but I’ve always liked the guy. Not only is he drop-dead gorgeous with to-die-for cheekbones, the Oklahoma native can sing! You might’ve seen an episode where he sang You’re Always On My Mind on Ally McBeal,  and of course in the musical Hairspray. I always notice him in various supporting roles he did in The Notebook, Superman Returns and X-Men. On Superman Returns, I found myself rooting for his character, Richard White, as the nice guy who has to deal with his fiancee’s ex coming back into her life. He could’ve easily been written as a jerk but I’m glad they didn’t and Marsden sympathetic portrayal makes him a memorable character in that movie.
He’s obviously quite a versatile actor who can jump from genre to genre, doing an animated feature like Hop to dark thrillers like the Straw Dog remake in the same year! The youthful-looking 29-year-old also has wonderful comic chops that makes him perfect to play Prince Edward in Enchanted! I thought he was well, enchanting as the fish-out-of-water character from fairytale land stranded in modern day New York City. The second he popped out of the manhole complete in his royal attire, I knew he’d be the scene stealer of the whole movie! Lethargic Patrick Dempsey can’t hold a candle to Marsden’s vibrant and amusing performance, he’s just delightfully oblivious!
I love the scene in the hotel room where he mistakes the TV for being the magic mirror, ahah, and of course the whole singing thing in Dempsey’s apartment. Every time the daft prince shows up, the movie just hits a high note for me. I mean, just the scene of him walking with Giselle on the Brooklyn bridge with the Liberty statue hat is a hoot. I really don’t remember much about Dempsey’s character in this movie, but I definitely remember Prince Edward!
Here’s a clip of all Prince Edward scenes from the movie. Enjoy!


Small Roles … Big Performances Blogathon



Thoughts on Purefoy or Marsden’s performances? Well let’s hear it!

Small Roles Big Performances: Stephen Graham & Stacy Edwards

Thanks to Dave Whiddon aka Daveackackattack for his excellent contribution to the blogathon. Visit the main blogathon post to see the full list of participants by clicking the banner above.


Stephen Graham in This Is England

Stephen Graham’s big break came in Guy Ritchie’s gritty, gangster movie Snatch. The British actor’s tough guy exterior landed him supporting roles in Public Enemies as Baby Face Nelson and on Boardwalk Empire as Al Capone but nowhere was he better than as Combo in Shane Meadows’s semi-autobiographical This Is England.

It’s the story of Shaun (Thomas Turgoose), a shy, 12 year old boy, growing up in England under Margaret Thatcher’s rule in ’84. His father having been killed in the Falklands War he is raised by his doting mother Cynthia. Bullied at school Shaun feels alienated from the other kids. He soon befriends a group of skinheads who initiate him into their group.

(These skinheads aren’t the neo-Nazi, white power skinheads that you know today. See the Skinhead wiki page.) His mother is not too sure about the group at first. They dress him up in typical skinhead garb (shaved head, Dr. Martens, suspenders, button-down shirt, rolled up jeans) much to her dismay but they do protect him from some bullies at school so his she is grateful for that. Everything is going good until Combo, an older skin from the group, comes home from prison. He enters the screen with the ferocity of a rabid pit bull.

Charismatic but volatile … he’s the kind of dangerous guy who you just never know when he might turn on you. Combo soon makes a derogatory remark about the Falklands War and young Shaun takes a swing at him defending his father who died for that war. Impressed at Shaun’s fearlessness Combo takes him under his wing. Unfortunately Combo introduces Shaun to his racist side which leads Shaun to take part in what is known as Paki bashing. A bit later.

Combo feels it’s time to introduce Shaun to his friends aligned with the white-only nationalist National Front party. In reality Combo’s a lonely and insecure man covered by his tough guy exterior. Later on in an intimate scene we see Combo as he breaks down in front of a girl, whom he has misplaced feelings for, who rejects him coldly. Scorned by the girl he felt for he lets loose his rage on a friend of the group. Shaun, a witness to Combo’s actions, must decide for himself if this is the path he wants to go down. Stephen Graham skillfully shows a sympathetic side to what would normally be a one dimensional character. His explosive performance is electric, tense and oddly touching. Artfully directed, perfectly scored and realistically acted this small film about a boy growing up in Thatcher’s England struck a chord with me even though I myself grew up in America in the 80’s. This is one of my very favorite films.

I highly recommend anyone who is planning on seeing the movie skipping the fan made montage clip below. Ludovico Einaudi’s “Fuori Dal Mondo” from the film plays over the montage. Enjoy.

Stacy Edwards in In The Company of Men

You might remember Stacy Edwards as Michael Cera’s big breasted mom in one of the opening scenes in Superbad. Sadly she probably was seen by more people for that than for her role in Neil Labute’s film adaptation of his scathing take on white, male dominated, corporate America in In the Company of Men. In the film Stacy plays a deaf woman who’s just another worker in a secretarial pool in some nameless, average, everyday company.

The story starts when two middle management types, Chad (Aaron Eckhart in a breakout role) and Howard (Matt Malloy), are temporarily assigned to her branch office for six weeks. Chad devises a ploy with Howard to get back at all the women who have ever wronged them while they are there. Chad decides to pick out an average woman whom they will simultaneously ask out, date, shower with attention and then dump unceremoniously when their business there is over. Howard reluctantly goes along after some convincing by Chad. Chad soon picks out Christine after learning she is deaf thinking she’ll more than welcome the attention from the two men. As the plan progresses things fall apart when one of the men falls for the genuinely sweet Christine.

What happens from here I won’t say but it’s devastatingly heart wrenching to watch. Chad is a clearly a sociopath and Howard is just another schlep following the herd so it’s Stacy’s performance (she’s not deaf in real life) that gives the film its weight and real emotional punch. It’s hard enough to pull off a character with a hearing impairment let alone making you really feel like you know what she’s going through.

The film was considered controversial because of the absolute brutality of the misogynistic dialogue and plot. In the Company of Men was even named to Premiere Magazine’s “The 25 Most Dangerous Movies Ever Made”. It’s one of those films that, if you can get past the low budget indie feel of it, you won’t shake easily thanks in part to Stacy Edwards’ heartbreaking performance. Highly recommended but not for the faint of heart. You may not like it but you won’t be able to ignore it.


Small Roles … Big Performances Blogathon


Thoughts on either one of these performances? Well let’s hear it!

Monthly Roundup: September Movie Watching Recap

I didn’t realize Autumnal Equinox was eight days ago. The best part of this season for me is the gorgeous fall foliage. I love driving past all the colorful trees, the mix of warm colors are just absolutely beautiful! I wish we could just have the next six months be Autumn and skip Winter altogether until April! 😀

Well, you could say I wasn’t as prolific this past month with just 20 posts in 30 days (compared to 25 last month). I deliberately took most of the weekends off as it’s been quite a hectic month for me.

There’s no blogathon I’m participating this past month, but I’ve been busy prepping for the Small Roles… Big Performances. It’s scheduled to go LIVE on Monday at NOON US Central Time, along with a couple of separate posts from FC’s contributors. Thanks to those of you who have submitted their entry. For those who haven’t I’ll still be taking submissions all next week, so just email it to me or leave it in the comments and I’ll add it to the main post.

Well, here are some of the posts you might’ve missed from September:

Well, what did I manage to watch this month?

Movies I haven’t seen before:

  1. 2016: Obama America (2012)
  2. Robot & Frank (2012)
  3. The Crow (1994)
  4. Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story (1993)
  5. Endgame (2009)
  6. Frequency (2000)
  7. Headhunters (2011)
  8. Hysteria (2011)
  9. Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989)
  10. Looper (2012)
  11. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2011)
  12. Lumpy (2012)

Re-watch:

  • Monsters, Inc. (2001)
  • For Your Eyes Only (1981)
  • The Avengers (2012)

Favorite September Movie(s):

I haven’t got a chance to review Looper yet as I’ve been busy with the blogathon, but let me just say it’s a solid sci-fi thriller that’s as much a thrill ride as Headhunters was. I can’t choose which one I like the best, and I think I’d end up giving it the same rating of 4.5 out of 5. Interestingly, both directors of Headhunters and LooperMorten Tyldum and Rian Johnson respectively — have only got three feature films under their belt. Not only that, this marks the second collaboration with an actor they worked with previously (Tyldum with Aksel Hennie and Johnson with Joseph Gordon-Levitt).


So, what movies did you get to see in September and which one is your favorite?

Everybody’s Chattin’… TCFF news + Blogathon Reminder

Happy Friday all! Aren’t you glad the weekend is almost here? It’s another slow weekend for movies, at least where I live. The only new one I’m interested in is The Master, but it hasn’t opened anywhere near me. Hopefully next weekend when it opens in wider release. So maybe we’ll opt for watching The Dark Knight Rises a second time 😀

Before I get to the links, I just want to give an update of the upcoming Twin Cities Film Fest coming to town next week!

Just yesterday, it’s been announced that TCFF will kick off with Magnolia Pictures A Place at the Table, a powerful documentary by co-directors Kristi Jacobson and Lori Silverbush about the hunger crisis in America. Featuring Jeff Bridges and Tom Colicchio, with music by T Bone Burnett and The Civil Wars, the film debuted at this years Sundance Film Festival with the title Finding North.

If you live in the area, check out the TCFF web site on how you could take part in this event. 50% of proceeds from all hunger-related events to benefit local charities.

Stay tuned for the full line-up, I’ll definitely post it as soon as it becomes available!


Ok, now time for the link loves!

I wish I could attend TIFF again as my first experience in meeting my all time crush Gerry Butler was such a memorable one 🙂 But a few lucky people are attending, and I’ve been reading their reviews the past few days.
Apparently Terrence Malick’s movie To The Wonder that premiered at TIFF is not exactly um, wonderful.


I LOVE fashion and I LOVE movies, but for some reason I have not done a post that combine my two passions like Andina did here on The Romantics. Her blog certainly lives up to its name as I’m now inspired to do a similar post in the near future 🙂
Michael @ It Rains… You Get Wet blog has been sharing his own top 10 list on various genres in response to American Film Insitute (AFI)’s list. This time he sets his eye on his Top 10 Romantic Comedies.
There are many things to adore about Sati’s blog. One of my favorite series from Cinematic Corner is her ‘Appreciation’ posts as they’re full of gorgeous images of the actors in question, such as the two recent ones from the oh-so-hunky Idris Elba and the sublime Michelle Williams.
Dan @ Top 10 Films is no doubt the KING of all top 10 lists and this past week he looked at Top 10 1980s films that need a sequel.Now, I don’t agree with all of them but surely everyone has an opinion with the movies on his list. This one blu-ray certainly travels well. I’ve mentioned in this weekend roundup post that my pal Michael, aka Le0pard13 lent me his blu-ray of ROB ROY.Well, from my house, off it went to Dan @ Fogs Movie Review. Now check out his review AND convo with Michael as he starts his first ever Reader Recommendation series!


Last but not least, I want to remind everyone of the…

Small Roles… Big Performances blog-a-thon!

Based on the people responding in the comments section, so far we’ve got about two dozen bloggers who’ll be participating, yay! Please do invite others you think might be interested in taking part.

You can read the details by clicking the image above but just to reiterate once again, this blog-a-thon is intended to celebrate the under-appreciated actors, so preferably it’s NOT a brief performance/cameo of famous movie stars like Tom Cruise or Julia Roberts, even if their performance made a huge impression on you.

DEADLINE for submission: Friday, September 28. Please email me your link to rtmaramis@yahoo[dot]com.


That’s all folks. So what movie(s) are you planning to see this weekend?