I am old school. (Although some would say I’m just old.) I still buy my books, music, and movies in physical form. I like knowing that nobody can just take away access to my collection, the way corporations can when you buy digital. When it’s a physical thing sitting on a shelf, the only way anyone can take it away from me is by breaking into my home, which, unlike a lot of shit that goes on online, is very much illegal.
This has led me to come up with one of the more pointless endeavours in my life. I’m going to watch my entire movie collection in alphabetical order. (Well, alphabeticalish. But we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.) And, like in my Quotes series, I’m instating the rule that I can’t skip any. Which I already know I’m going to regret, because I’ve got some real turkeys in my collection.
Note: There may be spoilers!!!!
First movie in the collection is 2 Guns, with Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg. I bought it out of a cheap bin at the grocery store, of all places, mainly because for a few years, I had a bit of a thing for Wahlberg. He made a bunch of movies I really enjoyed, and this one fit into the time frame when he was doing that, and it was, like, five bucks, so why the hell not?
It was definitely worth the five bucks. I love clever dialogue, and the repartee between the two main characters is entertaining enough to be worth twice that. It’s even enough to outweigh the fact that when a group of people are running for their lives, the female character stops to grab her purse.
But watching it with an eye specifically geared towards writing an article, I was surprised to find my attention more focused on Washington than anything.
A year or two back, a meme showed up on my Facebook, asking whose of half-a-dozen actors movie catalogues you’d choose to lose. Washington was one of them, and I very nearly chose him. (I don’t remember who else was on the list, or who I chose in the long run.) My rationale was that I’d barely seen any of Washington’s work, and the only one I was terribly attached to was Glory.
Then I visited his IMDb page and discovered that of his around 50 movies at the time, I’d seen around two dozen. And I actually enjoyed a lot of them. Even the bad ones. Hell, Unstoppable is one of the absolute best heckle movies I’ve ever seen, and I will defend to the death the idea that a movie doesn’t have to be good to be good entertainment.
Rewatching 2 Guns for this article, I figured out what it is about Washington that I like. He’s so fucking stoic.
Being whipped for desertion in Glory? Stoic.
Rescuing a young prostitute from Russian gangsters in The Equalizer? Stoic.
Getting revenge in Man on Fire? Stoic.
Crashing a plane in Flight? All the stoic.
Which is why, when he stumbles just a little bit at Deb’s death in 2 Guns, it’s so damn effective. The man is a master at being understated, so when he isn’t, it’s a punch in the viewer’s stomach. I haven’t seen Glory in over 20 years, but I remember vividly that single tear when he’s being whipped. I only half-watched Flight, but I’ll never forget him telling the flight attendant to say “I love you,” to her child so the black box would pick it up. And his statement that, “Forgiveness is between them and God. It’s my job to arrange the meeting,” from Man on Fire is way more chilling than one would expect, because it’s the glimpse we get into the heart of the character that we’ve been humanizing and probably shouldn’t have been.
On due reflection, I think that, rather than giving up Washington’s catalogue, I may fill in the blanks instead.