Mickey Rourke: From Barfly to The Wrestler

I’m not going to go on here and declare I know Mickey Rourke’s life story, but I have seen a few of his movies, so here is a brief rundown.

Mickey Rourke is the story of one man, torn between acting and boxing, tormented by self loathing and the perils of success in two different centuries. A mans man. A ladies man. A man for all seasons. Here is a tribute to Mickey.mickeyrourke2

Barfly

Written by Charles Bukowski, about Hank Chinaski, played by Mickey Rourke. Our man spends his time wandering with a drunken stagger and deranged sniker. He’s on the fringe. Gulping down scotch and sodas faster than they can pour ’em. Pushing cars into a busy intersection. Fighting with Frank Stallone in an alley just to do it. Just to get his face beaten bloody. Just to piss off the asshole bartender who constantly thinks he’s hot shit cause he wrote the theme to Rocky.

People didn’t really like this movie at first. There is little to no plot, just a series of ever escalating situations involving booze, blood, and more booze. Rourke handles his character like a spoiled brat at times, and saintly poet at others. He sneers at life, at the cages with golden bars. He rejects life, spending his time with a jaundiced Faye Dunaway and freeloading off friends. His whole life reads zero.

So why this character is so likable is beyond me. I guess that was Bukowski’s charm all along. He lived the life most of us would cringe at yet secretly desire. A life without responsibility, without want (aside from a beer), without rules. This guy just lived-never worried, never stressed, just there enjoying the little things.

Reportedly, Bukowski didn’t care for Rourke’s performance. He writes about Rourke in his novel, Hollywood, calling him a premadonna and a hack. But I found a good deal of subtle anguish within Rourke’s eyes. He slumps along like a man well beaten down by life but never a loser. He even gets one over on Frank, belting him and walking away in silent triumph, its enough to win one every now and then.sc_barfly21

Harley Davidson & The Marlboro Man

Ok, so this one was a bit of revenge for Annie making me watch a horrible movie on Netflix the other week. I put this on as a little surprise, but really its not as bad as what I sat through.

This is like a lazy early ninties look at the mid ninties. It’s set in the future, but if you didn’t already know that, you would miss it. Because they make the most feeble attempts at a futuristic setting ever. Expensive Gas (at 4 bucks a gallon, shudder). A Concord Jet (out of business for over a decade). A Billboard for Die Hard 5 (well we are getting there, aren’t we).

I love movies so old that their distant future is a decade behind us now. Surreal. So Rourke is the titular Harley Davidson. Who is the Marlboro Man you ask? Don fuckin’ Johnson, thats who. Show some respect. don-johnson1

So the highlights of this movie are as follows. Stripper on a bike. Daniel Baldwin. Daniel Baldwin dressed like NEO from the Matrix. Daniel Baldwin shooting the shit out of everything in sight. I love Daniel Baldwin.

Sorry. This is about Mickey, so lets continue. At this point in his career, I think he must have gotten his face tenderized a bit from the ring. And maybe the surgeons knife, cause he looks totally different, more like he does today. A little worse for wear, but a face full of character. And this movie is quite a character study.

Not Really.

This movie had all kinds of crazy action. A motorcycle skids a half mile and blows a car up! These two guys jump from a TALL Vegas roof into a pool and live! Jumping out windows, dodging bullets, motorcycle chases, beating the shit out of big guys with knives. And a helicopter coming down and blasting a high rise window all to Hell. I swear the Matrix ripped this movie off so hard.harley-davidson-the-marlboro-man-wa

Sadly, Rourke has apparently said he signed on to this film purely for monetary reasons, and this is part of what fueled his descent into self-loathing in the mid-’90s, after it made him “…feel like a sell-out.” (IMDB)

Geez, sorry Mickey. Let’s just move on.

The Pledge

This one’s a quickie. Mickey has a small but memorable role in this drama, starring opposite Jack Nicholson and givnig the old boy a run for his money. Rourke plays a father of a missing girl, Jack is the detective tryingto figure it all out. Rourke is in an insane asylum at the time and his performance is nothing short of captivating, as we see his character relive his total breakdown. It’s all in the eyes Mickey, its all in the eyes.

Spun

I just quickly want to comment on one of my favorite performances ever. Mickey Rourke in Spun.

“Hey Senor El Fucking Camino”

I loved this movie, though some people think its too much. But really, it is based off the screenwriter actually driving a meth cook around for three days, just like in the film. It carries a true wieght while being hilariously funny and menacingly brutal. I loved every performance in the film, from Jason Schwartzman, to Patrick Fugit, to Peter Stormare. But Rourke was the all time best. His performance was insane, and then right at the end, he made me fucking cry. Damn Mickey, you are the man.2003_spun_003

Sin City

So we all know the deal with this one. Mickey was the best in it AGAIN. His story had the most fucked up shit, like the cannibal and Rourke’s general makeup job. No need to go into this, lets just say he better kick some more ass in Sin City 2.mickeyrourkemarv

The Wrestler

This is the one. Mickey just got a Golden Globe for his portrayal of Randy “The Ram” Robinson, and he could very well get an Oscar too. And he should. This whole movie works because of Mickey Rourke. I love director Darren Aronofsky. Love him. But he doesn’t do anything in this movie except follow Rourke around with a camera, and make him say sappy and sentimental things to Evan Rachel Wood. Anyone else in this role and the movie flops, a disaster, shameful. But Rourke carries it, embodying this character like no one else can. wrestler-aronofsky-promo-01

Maybe he identified with the over the hill/down on his luck mentality of the character. Maybe he identified with doing WHATEVER it takes to entertain, living off of your blood and sweat and for a single moment being a hero. Either way, Rourke is devastating, brilliant, absolutley at the top of his game in every way. The best moments are when he’s behind a deli counter, swallowing his pride and actually trying to enjoy the mundane existance he has to live through. Or when he’s dancing to Ratt in a bar, remeniscing about the good days, before “That Cobain guy fucked it up” or something like that. This movie was not the greatest thing on Earth (Way too much Tomei if you get my drift) but Rourke was. This man can act. Anyone who disagrees with me is gonna face the Ram Jam. 44475840

So here’s to you Mickey. All the best. You keep making them, I’ll keep watching them.

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