March 4, 2005
Hey, everybody! I'm finally back! And thanks for your patience -- I'm sure it was annoying to have your favorite web site of all time go off the air for a whole MONTH. Let me tell you, it was annoying for me as well. There's nothing more frustrating than having your hobbies be dictated by physical limitations. Frickin' body. I'm SO ready for an upgrade! The good news, though, is that I just read the book "Stiff" (see review below), and there was a chapter in which scientists transplanted one dog's head onto the body of another, completely different dog. Successfully! You know that means head transplants for humans are just around the corner. Bring it on, I say! And, for the record, when it's my turn, I'd like to have my head transplanted onto the body of Colin Firth (his head can stay -- we'll just add mine smooching-distance away from it). I recognize this would have an extraordinarily unfortunate effect on his career in Hollywood -- however, I'd sure die happy. And people, we have got to start putting the happiness of others above our own selfish desires for success. You know what I mean?
That said, it's time to move on to the new Boyfriend of the Week! What's funny about this write-up is that over the last four weeks, I've changed Boyfriends about eight times in my head. I was nearly done with one a month ago before the Great Hand Debacle of 2005, but that guy is just SO old news now! And the guy after that, four days later, also found himself heaped onto the Old News pile. And the guy after that, ditto. And the guy after that. And the guy after that. Until now, the guy after THAT, who finally sat his ass down on my brain (figuratively speaking, of course -- there was no chapter in "Stiff" on ass transplants) and refused to budge.
What brought about this turn of events? It too is funny (strange, I mean). Because I had looked up John Hawkes a really long time ago thinking he would make great Boyfriend material. And by "a really long time ago," I mean around 2000, when "The Perfect Storm" came out. Which may SEEM like it was only a mere five years ago, but please keep in mind that, to a two-headed dog, it was really more like twenty.
Anyway oddly, it was John's role as the greasy, stinky fisherman in "Storm" that first intrigued me. I say "oddly" because if you knew me very well, you never in a million years would've thought a role like that would appeal to me. Why? Because I'm famous for having a VERY sensitive nose. It's so sensitive, in fact, that I sometimes smell things that aren't even THERE. And stinky people, such as unbathed fishermen stuck on boats for six weeks at a time -- well, they're the worst, no offense. I mean, at least if your garbage smells, you can tie it up in plastic and chuck it out the front door. Do that with your friendly neighborhood fisherman and, well, let's just say it sounds like a "recipe for frog soup" (name that movie, if you dare reveal yourself to know it so well).
The thing about John's role in "Storm," though, is that it's not really about Bugsy being a cocky fisherman who reeks of stale saltwater and swordfish guts. I mean, there's probably no getting past that at least initially, but ultimately, it's more that his character is such an unbearably vulnerable underdog! This is, as you well know, an aspect of any man's character that can immediately make me overlook a variety of physical problems, such as stinky pits or excessive back hair (although "excessive back hair" is actually redundant, now that I think about it, because in this world of waxing salons on every corner, even one back hair becomes excessive in my book).
But take, for example, the scene in the bar the night before the gang all ship out for their final voyage (not to blow the ending for you, but THEY ALL DIE) (oops, that kind of blew the ending for you, didn't it? I'd apologize, but at this point, 20 two-headed-dog-years after the movie came out, you really have no excuse for not having seen it yet). There at bar are all the George Clooneys and Marky Marks scamming on their hot chicks and having a rollicking good time in the bunk rooms upstairs. And then there's Bugsy -- skinny, stinky, little, unshaven, unkempt, and unsung. He's hit on every girl and been rejected at every turn. Until he hits on the last chick in the place -- a large woman with an even larger nose who is, nevertheless, well worthy of some attention if only for her rockin' attitude (which is, in a nutshell, "bite me"). Sure, at first he's kind of "settling" for her, and maybe that makes him a jerk. But in reality, he's just such a painfully sad character. So desperate for any kind of closeness with anyone. Frankly, his vulnerability in that scene made me want to pick him up and take him home with me, which, now that I think about it, I'm pretty sure I could literally do because he's a wee 5 feet, 7 inches tall.
So, anyway, that was years ago, and after an initial burst of underdoggery, I kind of forgot all about him. What then brought him back to the forefront of my heavenly Boyfriend ether? In a word: "Deadwood."
In case you've forgotten this other key piece of information about me, I LOVE Westerns. There is no genre so cool as the Western genre. In fact, I love Westerns so much I keep on capitalizing the word "Western," even though I'm not at all sure that I need to be, grammatically speaking. There are just not enough Westerns made anymore. And the ones that make it to TV in particular keep getting cancelled (starting with the booting of Joss Whedon's space Western "Firefly" and then totally ruining my WHOLE year with the cancellation of the great series "Peacemakers" (see ex-Boyfriend Peter O'Meara, who coincidentally played a bad guy on "Alias" this season). (And while we're on the subject of old Boyfriends popping up on TV shows, let me formally announce that Eion Bailey has single-handedly saved ER for me.)
So, when I heard HBO was entering the Western biz, I had a moment of sheer joy, followed by a much longer moment of sheer cringe. Were they going to blow it? Turn it into some horrible "Sopranos" meets "Fistful of Dollars" kinda thing? And, the most important question of all, could they work the word "c***sucker" into the pilot episode 48 times? Because if they couldn't, well, what would be the point, I ask you (facetiously)?
Luckily, the answers to those questions, in order, are no, no, and YES.
"Deadwood" turned out to be great, and not just in terms of c***sucker magnitude (although, that too, to be sure). Those of you who know your history, know the story of "Deadwood" is roughly based on the true story of the real Deadwood, a li'l gold rush town in South Dakota. Not only are several plot elements based on true stories, but several of the characters are based on real people as well. First, there are the ones you've heard of, like Calamity Jane and Wild Bill Hickok. And then there's Al Swearengen, the owner of the Gem, the local brothel (whose name sounds like "swear engine," which is also a pretty accurate description of his mouth).
The people in Deadwood are of two types -- those who want to strike it rich (prospectors and businessmen), and those who want to take their money from them once they do (prostitutes, thieves, and yet more businessmen). But what's cool about the show is that it takes these two character types and turns them into interesting people. People struggling with incredibly complex and hard lives. People trying to do the right things and being foiled at every turn. People trying to do the WRONG things and making gazillions of dollars while they're at it.
And then there's John's character, Sol Star. Sol is the best friend of Seth Bullock (played by Timothy Olyphant, man of the vampire teeth), our reluctant hero. And in this relationship, Sol is essentially Seth's sidekick, the guy you can always depend on for mental support in times of trouble. He and Seth have come to Deadwood to open a hardware store. And, as two of the few people in town who have honest intentions, they are quickly sucked into roles they didn't necessarily set out to play. Seth ends up the law man, a job he had fled to Deadwood to escape. And Sol. Well, Sol ends up doing one of the worst things a man in that time, in that town, could ever do. He falls in love with a prostitute named Trixie.
Underdoggityness, indeed! Because that prostitute is the "property" and chief lover of Swearengen, and he's not about to just hand her over to Sol. Swearengen is the worst, meanest, cruelest, toughest bad dude around. And, well, you just don't fall in love with the property of a man like that. Unless you want to be pig food. Sol, my man, my buddy, my friend. This can only end badly for you.
The first season of "Deadwood," like so many HBO shows, is over way too soon. And there is just NOT enough Calamity Jane in it either -- let's hope they remedy that problem by season two, because, seriously, you can transplant Jane's head onto my body any ol' day of the week. She kicks ass.
And Sol. Sol Star. Sol Star made me realize what a fool I'd been to forget all about John Hawkes. And thus I set out to repay my debt, by running out to rent a bunch of his other movies, which I spent most of last week watching.
You'd think that after all these years, I would've learned a thing or two. But alas, you'd be wrong. Because there I was, so goo-goo-eyed about John Hawkes that I refused to believe the reviews I read about the movies I ending up renting. I mean, granted, even when I DO believe the reviews I read about movies (at Netflix.com, members can write little reviews, and the record for that film also contains links to professional reviews of it as well), I usually disregard them. Because I almost never end up feeling the same way as either the average Joe OR the average Snooty Film Critic.
However, when every member AND Ebert gives a movie less than one star, a wise person would give that selection a second thought. I was almost going to say that, in John's defense, for every bad movie in his filmography, there's a "The Perfect Storm." Except that I would actually mean that literally, because for every bad movie he's made there is ONLY "The Perfect Storm." And saying that would only bring to mind the expression "damning with faint praise," which is not an expression I like to evoke in Boyfriend write-ups.
Because can you really judge an actor by his movies? I mean, well, that sounds like an incredibly stupid question, doesn't it? And yet, it's not. Just because John has spent most of his pre-"Deadwood" career landing bit parts in bad movies doesn't mean he's a bad actor. In fact, he's a GREAT actor, as evidenced by those very same bad movies. And as evidenced by the few TV things he's done that were excellent, like one of my favorite episodes of "The X-Files" ("Milagro," in which he plays a wanna-be writer who falls for Scully), the miniseries "Taken" (which I haven't seen yet, but it's next in my Netflix queue and got hearteningly positive reviews), "Deadwood," and a couple of briefly recurring parts in "The Practice" and "24."
Ladies, the man can act. And, what's more, he's incredibly easy on the eyes. Not because he's what you might call "Hollywood handsome." But because there is something very soothing about John Hawkes's face. It's why he's so unconvincing when he plays the part of the villain (such as in the absolutely WRETCHED movie "Sand," which to my horror also starred Michael Vartan and Denis Leary -- boys, WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?!). There is something very gentle about John. You can just picture sitting across from him in a bar, having drinks and talking about life. And when you got to a poignant or difficult section of your story, he would reach over and squeeze your forearm and let his hand linger there for a while until you got past the tough part. I love John Hawkes. I just REALLY love him.
Okay, enough with the flowery sentiment. Let's bio this boy and get it over with! John Hawkes was born in Alexandria, Minnesota in 1959 with the name John Perkins (why the change to Hawkes, I haven't the faintest). He first got interested in acting while in high school, where he performed in several school plays. After high school, eager to get started on his career, he packed up and moved to Austin, Texas, that beaming beacon of theatrical culture (note: huh?). Once there, he began making a name for himself in local stage productions, eventually becoming a member of a national touring company for the play "Greater Tuna."
Over the years, he gradually made the transition from film to stage, with a little side-dabbling in music (he has a rock band called "Gangster Folk," which might be, I hate to say it, one of the lamest band names I have ever heard of) (although, coming from the girl who keeps advocating that her husband rename his own band "Renegade Dishwashers Without Hoses," that's probably not an opinion to take too seriously). If you want to hear some of the noise his band makes, check out the links below -- one or the other of the fan sites had a link to some sound files in the bio section (I was too afraid to listen -- someone report back and let me know if it's unbearably awful?).
Aside from this, there really isn't much more I can tell you about him. John's a private guy -- so private, in fact, that you can't even find out what his birthday is on-line, let alone his marital status. But hey, that's cool, man. I can dig it. It's not like I broadcast a lot of personal details about myself either. Oh wait, yes, I do. Scratch that. Suck it up, John Hawkes! Are you married or what? Would you let me transplant my head onto your torso or what? Enquiring minds want to know!
Up next for John is more "Deadwood," as season two starts this very weekend. And, after that, John is slated to appear in two more movies this year, starring first in "Me, You, and Everyone We Know," a drama about a lonely shoe salesman and a performance artist. Following that up will be a slightly smaller role in "Mogul," a comedy starring Jeff Bridges. And if you add to that his appearance on the Boyfriend site in March 2005, what you have, my friends, is a star in the making! Yee-haw! Meg does it again!
MacGyver Factor Score: 95%. Okay, so, despite what I just got finished telling you about how you can't judge an actor by his movies, I do feel compelled to deduct several points from John Hawkes for one very specific movie he made. And that movie is "Identity." Long-time readers of my site already know how I feel about that one. For you newbies, here it is in a nutshell: IT SUCKS. And I don't mean that in a objective "film critic" kind of way. That movie royally peeved me off. Because it took one of my favorite kinds of mystery stories (the "people trapped together amongst a killer" story) and then ruined it with a completely unbearably ridiculous "and then I woke up" kind of ending. So, there I was, going along for the ride and having a grand old time, when BAM! They slam their pointy boots right into my tender shins! Bastards!
So, minus exactly five points for John for being a party to that kind of lame-i-tude. And let this be a lesson to the rest of you potential Boyfriends -- you make a movie with an ending like that, YOU WILL PAY THE PRICE.