walkenchronicles

Think of this as a guide through each of Christopher Walken's films, starting with his first and moving forward. Each review will provide analysis, factoids and opinion on the ninety-plus films in his career.

Search and Destroy (1995)

searchdestroycoverGenre: Dark Comedy

Walken in Short: Chris plays a slightly unhinged but vaguely successful businessman named Kim Ulander. Kim is one of my all-time favorite roles of Walken’s. Every line of his is gold. Goooooooold.

Movie in a Sentence: Martin (Griffin Dunne) is a failed businessman who will not take his looming bankruptcy lying down, no, he’ll attempt to make a film, and not just any film but a film based on a self-help book written by the eccentric self-help-guru Dr. Waxler (Dennis Hopper), and to do that he will ask for help from his new secretary (Illiana Douglas), a new friend (Christopher Walken) and that friend’s friend (John Turturro).

vlcsnap-2015-05-29-00h14m05s39

The lost Reservoir Dog, Mr. Purple. jk

Director: David Salle — This is his only film. He’s actually earned previous fame as a pretty-big-deal New York postmodern painter in the ’80s and ’90s.

Screenwriter: Michael Almereyda – based on a play by the same name by Howard Korder. Almereyda went on to write and direct ‘The Eternal (1998), a supernatural horror film that Walken later appears in.

For More Pictures of the Film: Click HERE

vlcsnap-2015-05-29-00h00m18s229MPAA Rating: It’s rated ‘R’, mostly for the abundance of swearing. And okay so a rabbit gets skinned, and also some people get shot. Oh, and you see Walken snorting coke. Not to mention there is a little bit of nudity, full on female nips and bush. But that’s all. And honestly, it’s all really quite tame by today’s standards.

Duration: one hour and 30 minutes

Actors Other Than Walken:

  • Griffin Dunne plays ‘Martin’, bankrupt, bad marriage, more than a bit of a flake, but he’s got a dream of turning his favorite book into a film. This is a great role for Griffin, he’s such a complicated and endearing blowhard in this, a real fool. Terrific performance.
  • Illiana Douglas plays ‘Marie’, a quirky and adorable Annie Hall-type with a dream of making it as a screenwriter. I adore her in everything she does, but she has an especially great part in this and she has wonderfully nervous chemistry with Griffin Dunne.
  • Dennis Hopper (True Romance 1993, Basquiat 1996) is the eccentric Dr. Waxler, the author of the book, and an ex of Marie. For fans of Hopper and Walken’s “Sicilian” scene in True Romance, I feel I should mention that Hopper and Walken do NOT share a scene in this, nor in Basquiat. Sad face.
  • John Turturro (Illuminata 1998, Romance & Cigarettes 2005, Gods Behaving Badly 2013) plays ‘Ron’. Ron is an old friend of Kim’s. They’re both crazy, only Ron is manic and frenzied, while Kim is cool as a cuckoo cucumber.
  • Rosanna Arquette (Pulp Fiction 1994, Joe Dirt 2001) plays Martin’s ex-wife, basically a single scene, and she’s kind of ehh in it. I mean, she’s never really impressed me as an actor, but I don’t hate her. She’s fine, really.
  • Ethan Hawke plays ‘Roger’, an assistant to Dr. Waxler. Small role, just a scene or two. The role is for a smug son of a bitch, so of course Ethan Hawke nailed it.
  • Martin Scorsese has just a single scene in the beginning as the tax auditor informing Martin that he owes big. And he’s perfect for it. I don’t know why he doesn’t act in films more often. Oh, right, probably too busy making them. Whatever, he’s funny in it.

vlcsnap-2015-05-29-00h23m44s174Available to Own: Only on DVD, no blu-ray yet. I would get this on blu-ray in a heartbeat if it were available. C’mon Criterion!

Similar Films: Smalltime Crooks (2000), Fargo (1996), Touch (has Walken in it, 1997), Broken Flowers (2005), The Big White (2005)

Walken Content: He is introduced early, often, and every time he reappears he threatens to steal the show away from Griffin Dunne. He is simultaneously kooky AND mundane. He sings a bit, little ditties, not even counting his must-see karaoke performance. Every line he says is quotable. His chemistry with Turturro is fantastic. Yes, this is essential Walken viewing.

Walken Quote: I’m providing two quotes on this one because this short one:

“Yada yada … Warden … Boom.”

…doesn’t make much sense. And yet, I feel I would be remiss if I wrote about the quotes in this film without mentioning that moment.

And you know what, I’m going to give you some of the context because it doesn’t even matter, there are no wardens. So he’s standing in front of a mirror spinning a pistol around his finger like he was a twelve-year old cowboy, and he growls it out like he’s counting one-two-three: yada yada. warden. boom. It’s his little (seemingly improvisational) moment by himself before the scene “begins” and he starts talking with people. Another director might have cut it out of the film. It’s just this little throwaway moment in that space before a scene would have usually begun, but I find myself absolutely enthralled with this line and his delivery of it.  It doesn’t make any sense and yet I find it entrancing. It’s like he’s glossing over an already glib synopsis of some random prison-escape plan in some other film.vlcsnap-2015-05-29-00h27m40s10

Walken is in fine form here, his dialogue is so sharp and his delivery so playful. Wonderful stuff.

The other quote is just a great little moment that I won’t ruin by giving you context:

“It doesn’t matter. Y’know I’ve been afraid. I say it now afraid to be tested, that I wouldn’t be strong, but I was. You saw that. I was ready! I stood there!! *bang* Look how this hand is shaking. Look how this hand is steady.”

 

vlcsnap-2015-05-28-23h50m14s40Should You Watch This? Yes, yes. A thousand times: yes! One of my favorite films of his, made all the better because nobody knows about it. A quirky, dark comedy with a unique voice and a lot of talent.

***

Next Walken Film? Up next is an edgy erotic business/crime-thriller with Walken taking the crazy and rich businessman role to new heights, oh and also with Anne Heche and the superlovely Joan Chen all kissing and loving on each other something awful.

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