Thursday, October 31, 2013

Five Great Villains You've Probably Never Heard Of

Is this the face of evil?

Darth Vader. Norman Bates. Hannibal Lecter. We all know the great movie villains. Our love/hate relationship with these guys - and sometimes gals - is pretty much unending, as we continuously embrace these freaks generation after generation. I'm sure there's a thousand studies out there explaining exactly WHY we find these characters so fascinating.What I want to focus on here, though, is a handful of completely kick ass movie villains you may have never heard of. These characters are not only well-written, they're also well-played.

Let's take a look, shall we?

  • Uncle Charlie: If you've never seen Hitchcock's Shadow Of A Doubt, check it out as soon as you can. It's the story of Uncle Charlie, who's played by Jospeh Cotton and who moves in with the most all-American family you've ever seen. Problem is, Uncle Charlie is a sick son of a bitch. He gets his kicks killing people, you see...but his niece just might be on to him. Cotton really brings this character to life. Remembered mainly  today as a likable everyman (the one who didn't get the girl in The Third Man), Cotton uses his nice guy persona here to make Uncle Charlie a truly chilling character. Seriously...this is the kind of person you could easily imagine entering your own mundane world. That's what makes him so memorable.  

  • The Jackal: Without doubt, one of my all time favorite films is Fred Zimmerman's The Day Of The Jackal. It's one of those what if  stories that focuses on a high end paid assassin whose latest assignment is to kill famed World War Two hero and French President, Charles DeGaulle. Thing is, De Gaulle has the tightest security in the world. That doesn't deter the assassin, however, who goes about meticulously planning and putting into motion a single action which will rock the world. We never learn the assassin's name, by the way. He goes only by The Jackal. As brilliantly portrayed by  British actor Edward Fox, the Jackal is well-bred, well dressed, polite, charming, and deadly as hell. The guy is pure ice. 

  • Jobert: Truth be told, Three Days Of The Condor is, with the exception of Patton, my single favorite film of all time. This Robert Redford flick is so paranoid, so smart and, yes, so thoughtful that I'd highly recommend it to anyone who really appreciates movies. It's a true rarity - art and entertainment rolled into one, a popcorn flick that makes you want to read a whole bunch of books after seeing it. What elevates this New York City 70s film to such heights? The acting of Max von Sydow.  As contract killer Jobert, Von Sydow in this movie seems more like a warm., brainy Eurpoean grandfather than he does an assassin - and that's what makes both he and the film he occupies so captivating. 

  • The Dane: If you like gangster movies, then you pretty much have no choice other than to check out the Coen Brother's 1990 masterpiece, Miller's Crossing. A hyper-stylized prohibition era tale of Irish and Italian hoodlums battling for control of a major city, the movie is punctuated by brilliant, sometimes over-the-top performances (if you don't think over-the-top can equal quality, then you really need to check it out). In a cinematic field of hard cases, though, no one in the flick is harder, or more brutal, than Eddie Dane, henchman to Italian mob boss Johnny Casper. Played, awesomely by  J.E.Freeman (if "awesomely" isn't a word, it should be), the Dane is smart, completely (and I mean completely) ruthless, and mean as hell. The guy is as cold and powerful as the .44 Revolver he uses with such deadly efficiency. You wouldn't want to meet him on the street, much less piss him off. 

  • Victor: Sure, you may have seen Jean Reno play this character (more or less) in Luc Besson's The Professional, but you've never seen him like he is in Besson's French Action flick Le Femme Nikita. Victor shows up at the end of the film to, well, clean up...and man, can he clean up. Some things you just have to see to believe, so feel free to check out Victor in action right here. Don't worry that no one's speaking English. The time for words ends very quickly. But be warned - this clip is disturbing and EXTREMELY violent. Definitely not for the kids.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

More Things To Be Offended By!

Fun activity: try picking out all the offensive things in this picture!

Surfing the net today (does anyone still use the term "surfing the net?), I came across an article at Madame Noire titled 14 Nice Things Men Do That Are Lowkey Creepy. That's right, women of America, there are now 14 more things for you to potentially be offended by, including having lunch dropped off at your workplace.

Not to worry guys, there's plenty of more stuff out there for you to be offended by, too. In fact, there's plenty for everyone to be offended by. So, in keeping with my theory that we've become a nation of nutcases, lets investigate!

Offended yet? If not, why not? Because you've got more important things to do? Because you only wish to be offended when a particular situation warrants your being offended? If so, then you're clearly not joining in the craze that's sweeping America. Of course, that might be a good thing...

...if it weren't so offensive. 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

America Has Become A Nation Of Nutcases

When offended, the World's Greatest Cat keeps it to herself.

I offended someone last night. I'm not sure how, since what I said was completely innocuous - or so I thought. Still, I offended someone. Perhaps profoundly. Now, I'm not going to bother getting into the details of the situation. Suffice to say it occurred at a public gathering and was the result of a compliment I made to third parties.

I don't know the person who I set off. Not even a little. My compliment (which, again, was not directed at this individual) contained no slurs or swears. It didn't even contain any attempt at humor - which is a rarity for me. Still, what I thought was an act of kindness towards others turned out to be an act which triggered a tear filled rant.

Needless to say I considered finding an opportune time to make things right with this person. I decided not to, though, basing my decision on the fact that the individual was either: emotionally troubled, wildly immature, inebriated, or some combination of the three.

Now that I've had some time to think things over, however, I'm also considering a third option: that the person in question is merely a product of this time and place in history. After all, being offended has now replaced baseball as America's treasured pastime.

Think about it - you can't turn on the news or go on the internet without hearing about some "offensive" thing someone has uttered, tweeted or otherwise written. Problem is, half the time - at least half the time - the offensive act isn't really offensive. Or it's something so petty, it warrants nothing more than a shrug of the shoulders. Only crazy people continuously blow harmless things out of proportion, a fact which leads me to write the following, sad words:

America has become a nation of nutcases.

It's true. We have to accept this fact if we're going to move on and get our act together. We've got lives to lead, people. We can't keep wasting our time wringing our collective hands over some athlete making a locker room joke over another athlete's ethnicity. Or because someone had the audacity to light a cigarette while sitting on a park bench. Seriously, the second hand smoke isn't going to kill your child, trust me on this.

Think about it: the world is loaded with people who want to kill and enslave us. That's not hyperbole, it's the truth. If we want to have the strength to fend off that kind of evil we can't waste our time and energy endlessly mining words and actions in the hope of feeding our paranoia. Honestly, if we really want to be offended, Al Qaeda will gladly give us things to be offended over...if we survive long enough to be offended.

You may well ask what makes me the expert on these matters. Well, I myself am someone who, by nature, is easily offended by the littlest things. Truly. I can be annoying as hell. Yet I can now also say with certainty that I recognize my problem. As they say, identifying a problem is half the battle.

With that in mind, I'm perfectly aware there are genuinely offensive things being said and done out there. Mean things. Hurtful things. Yet people simply aren't going to stop being insensitive and cruel. In other words, I'm just going to have to keep on living my life, righting wrongs when I can and otherwise behaving - or at least trying to behave - like a person who has his wits about him.

Otherwise, I'll have to stock up on tissues and lozenges, since there's a lot out there for me to scream and cry about. And you don't want to see that. Seriously. It's pathetic.  

Friday, October 11, 2013

Why You Shouldn't Be Like Eddie Vedder

Like so many of our great rockers, the World's Greatest Cat is all about the long hair.

According to the Huffington Post, Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder recently gave an interview to a surfer. In said interview, Vedder, who's rabidly pro gun control, claimed he's close to hoping harm will befall those who disagree with him on the hot button issue.

Oh, and he also declared that he himself might be dangerous with a gun (if he didn't have his music, of course).

You might conclude that Vedder is crazy. Or stupid. Or both. He may indeed be those things, but I think the guy just needs to grow up.

Seriously Eddie, you're not a kid anymore. Your hipster card was revoked once your core fan base started turning gray. It's time to think before you speak in public and spew your idiocies in private like the rest of us.

Vedder is a perfect example of how you shouldn't act. His band may be good. He also has a right to his opinions. No one is going to take those opinions seriously, however, so long as he comes across like a petulant man-child.

Look at it this way: no gun control activist worth his or her weight in salt is going to want to align with Vedder's words in that interview. Not one. They're an embarrassment. And so is he.

Don't be like Eddie Vedder. Think before you deliver your heartfelt opinions on weighty matters. Remember, you want to convince people you're right, not convince them you're a joke.

Rock on.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Why Pretending To Work Hard Is Now Sadly A Better Way To Get Ahead Than Actually Working Hard

The World's Greatest Cat Can't Help But Be Herself.

Market yourself. Promote yourself. Be unique. Be original. That, my friend, is the key to being a winner in life. At least that's what I've read.

Frankly, I find it all a bit tiring. Wasn't there a time when one could get noticed solely on concrete things like accomplishments and potential? If there wasn't, there should have been. All this showy crap has gotten under my skin.

Not that life is particularly hard for me at the moment. I've just noticed that many Americans don't really work anymore - at least many of those who want to get ahead don't. Sure, they all say they work their asses off, but they don't.

Instead, they act. They create characters which are deemed appropriate for whatever jobs or environments they wish to occupy. Then they make a career out of playing those characters over and over again. Like Charlie Chaplin once did. Or like Charlie Sheen does now.

Washington is the prime example of this victory of the shallow over the concrete, of course. Yet the giant, ugly squid of superficiality has now wrapped its giant, ugly tentacles around all aspects of American life. Look about your work place and, guaranteed, you'll see at least one person getting ahead by simply playing a character who gets ahead.

And we wonder why the good 'ol US of A seems to be crumbling from within. If someone asked me why America is slowly falling like an enormous redwood, I'd answer that, while we used to be a superpower filled with productive people, we're now a waning superpower filled with people who pretend to be productive.

I've never actually witnessed a redwood falling, but I'm assuming the crash is kinda thunderous.