Highlights from Michael Madsen’s magical 2009.

Highlights from Michael Madsen’s magical 2009. (photo)

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There’s a hilarious account in the Guardian of everything went wrong during the shooting of “The Big I Am,” an upcoming British gangster drama.

The best parts involve one of its big name stars, Michael Madsen, who arrived “insisting all costume department mannequins be turned to the wall lest he be spooked by the wigs,” then refused to do his big death scene properly. Instead, he “made up a poem… about the nature of true love,” sang “Green, Green Grass of Home” on the next take, and on the final take screamed into the camera “Am I fucking dead enough for you now?”

Ever wonder what happened to Madsen since his critically acclaimed comeback turn in the “Kill Bill”? Well, a man can’t collect too many paychecks, especially if he’s not picky about where the funds are coming from — IMDb lists a staggering 18 credits from this year alone. Here are seven of my favorites from Madsen’s 2009.

12092009_lostinthewoods4.jpg“Lost In The Woods”
Michael Madsen is… Stuart Bunka
Tagline: “Just When You Thought It Was Safe To Go Back In The Forest!”
Plot: Seemingly inspired by Barry Levinson’s 1992 flop “Toys,” this family film stars Madsen as the self-proclaimed “greatest toymaker in the world.” His key invention: “The Facilitator,” which apparently includes miniature grenade launchers and little UFOs that place exploding cigars in the mouths of your opponents. When his daughter is kidnapped and the criminals demand two million dollars for her release, some kids wage war against the “Home Alone”-dumb criminals, presumably using Bunka toys. Also, laxatives lead a kidnapper looking for relief to get bit in the ass by a snake. And they put fireworks in the bad guy’s pants.
Key Madsen Line: “No matter who your enemies are or what the odds against you, with the Facilitator you’re gonna win or I’m not Stuart Bunka. Bunka Toys.”

12092009_mightaswelllive4.jpg“You Might As Well Live”
Michael Madsen is… Clinton Manitoba
Tagline: “Robert Mutt is not a douche bag.”
Plot: Robert Mutt (Joshua Peace) has tried to kill himself multiple times and leaves the mental asylum after beating his doctor at air hockey. The community thinks he’s a pedophile and loser, so he sets out to prove himself with help from his hallucinated friend, Clinton Manitoba, former farm-league baseball great. A Canadian comedy that was well-reviewed in Canada, this one seems to drink heavily from the “Napoleon Dynamite” well.
Key Madsen Line: “Fuck the internet.” Response: “Right in the face.”

12092009_thekillingjar4.jpg“The Killing Jar”
Michael Madsen is… Doe
Tagline: N/A
Plot: Sheriff, ominously: “There’s been some murders over in Union County.” Waitress: “What kind of person kills a child?” Enter Madsen, who takes the diner’s occupants hostage and begins getting some seriously violent action going, shooting folks point blank with deer-killing-caliber bullets. His hostages, incidentally, include some serious direct-to-video bait: Danny Trejo (who deserves better) and Jake “son of Gary” Busey (who doesn’t). This is one of like 30 movies starring Madsen as a raspy-voiced psychopath, and certainly not the last on this list; it’s what he does best.
Key Madsen Line: “You’ve got to separate the wheat from the chaff.”

12092009_theportal4.jpg“The Portal”
Michael Madsen is… Dr. Azirra
Tagline: “Dare to face your inner child…”
Plot: A super-evil painting isn’t just bad abstract art but the portal to another world, where couples make out against floaty blue-screened cosmoses and from which emerge spooky, flaxen-haired children who giggle innocently before turning into cheap-looking, gray-skinned demons. This generic horror trailer could pass for just another J-horror rip-off until the minute mark, at which point screaming zombie types emerge, blood flows down toilet-stall walls and amputations ensue. It’s kind of unbelievable how much blood is just casually flowing around; this is worth a NSFW look. Madsen seems to be playing the skeptical doctor investigating.
Key Madsen Line: “A portal. You really expect me to believe that?”

Michael Madsen is… Farragute
Tagline: N/A
Plot: A Christian woman and her puddle-jumper plane either crash or are taken down (unclear) by a group of redneck hillbillies (including one deliberately Ted Kaczynski-looking dude) who proceed to get all “The Most Dangerous Game” on them, chasing them through the woods. Madsen isn’t the centerpiece here — that would be the part of the trailer where a dude’s struck by lightening, then there’s a shot of his soul exiting his body. Also, everyone runs around on glorified sit-down lawnmowers, someone gets chopped up by a plane propeller and someone else loses a foot to a bear-trap. Co-starring Natasha Lyonne.
Key Madsen Line: “In this life, you’re either the hunter or the hunted.”

12092009_brazelbull4.jpg“The Brazen Bull”
Michael Madsen is… “The Man”
Tagline: N/A
Plot: You know you’re in good hands from the trailer’s second shot, of Madsen walking up to the camera, cigarette in hand, with someone strapped-down to a rather-unpleasant-looking surgical table in the background. In this slasher-type movie (which Madsen saw fit to produce), folks checking out a property for development quickly realize there’s something wrong (“This wasn’t locked when we came in!”). Yeah it is — for whatever reason, Madsen wants to capture everyone and torture them while lighting his smokes with a blowtorch. Fair enough.
Key Madsen Line: “Pain. Is truth.”

12092009_thebleeding4.jpg“The Bleeding”
Michael Madsen is… Father Roy
Tagline: N/A
Plot: Somehing about evil vampires who want to destroy the world; Shawn Black (Matthew Matthias) isn’t going to let that happen. Getting his spiritual/tactical back is Madsen as the kind of priest who seems a bit more fixated on firearms and booze than your average clergymen. Co-stars: Vinnie Jones, Armand Assante, DMX, Kat von D.
Key Madsen Line: “What I do think [takes a sip of beer] is that you’re the kind of guy who only shows up when the shit’s about to hit the fan.”

[Top photo: Madsen in “Kill Bill: Vol. 2,” Miramax, 2004]

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Documentary Now! Robert Evans Mansion

The Reel Deal

Everything You Need To Know About “Mr. Runner Up” Inspiration Robert Evans

Watch the two-part finale of Documentary Now! this Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection

In its upcoming two-part finale, Documentary Now! spoofs the crown jewel of docs: The Kid Stays In The Picture. It’s the autobiographical documentary about Robert Evans, the unlikely Hollywood mogul whose mix of self-aggrandizing bravado, classic good looks and extremely circumstantial good luck took him from being a salesman to an actor to the head of Paramount Pictures.

If you’ve never seen the film, it’s totally worth it. Rotten Tomatoes agrees, with a staggeringly-high approval rating. Watch it before, or watch it after — doesn’t matter. You’ll appreciate it whenever.

In the meantime, here’s a bit of background that will come in handy…

Robert Loves Robert

Robert Evans desk

USA Films/Everett Collection

Robert Evans is the ultimate Robert Evans fan. The movie was written, produced, directed and narrated by Robert Evans. It is totally unbiased.

He’s Kind Of A Big Deal

Robert Evans, Chinatown
Paramount Pictures

Evans produced some of Hollywood’s true classics: Chinatown, Rosemary’s Baby, The Godfather, Love Story…the list goes on. Totally legit and amazing movies.

He’s Also Kind Of A Joke

Wag The Dog
New Line Cinema

Evans has been parodied in TV shows and movies like Entourage and Wag The Dog. He is the quintessential “producer” you already have in your head.

So Wrong He’s Right

Robert Evans Slap
20th Century Film Corp

Robert Evans is a notorious narcissist whose love of self is so blind and sincere that it’s actually adorable.

There’s Something Missing

via Giphy

Entire sections of Robert Evans’ life are left out of the documentary. Maybe it’s because of timing. Maybe it’s because real life isn’t a tidy narrative. Who knows.

He Blew It

Spider coke

Evans had a pretty spectacular fall from grace. He was convicted of cocaine trafficking in the early 80’s, and was connected to a contract killing during the production of The Cotton Club. Oops.

Losing Is For Losers

Everett Collection
Everett Collection

In the Robert Evans mythology, all tragedies are just triumphs in disguise, and every story has a happy ending…for Robert Evans.

Bill Hader Jerry Wallach

With these simple facts in hand you are now prepared to thoroughly enjoy the two-part finale of Documentary Now! starting this Wednesday at 10/9c on IFC.

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Weird Roles

Anthony Michael Hall’s Most Rotten Movies

Catch Anthony Michael Hall in Weird Science on Friday at 8P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Universal/Everett Collection

Anthony Michael Hall was the quintessential ’80s nerd. We love him in classics like The Breakfast Club and National Lampoon’s Vacation. But even the brainiest among us has his weak spots. In honor of Weird Science airing this Rotten Friday, we analyze Hall’s worst movies.

Weird Science (1985) 56%

A low point for John Hughes, Weird Science is way too wacky for its own good. Anthony Michael Hall’s Gary and his pal Wyatt (Ilan Mitchell-Smith) create the “perfect woman.” Supernatural chaos ensues. The film costars a young Bill Paxton, floppy disks, and a general disconnect from all reality.

The Caveman’s Valentine (2001) 46%

This ambitious drama starring Samuel L. Jackson couldn’t live up to its rich premise. Jackson plays Romulus, a Juilliard-educated, paranoid schizophrenic who lives in a cave. Hall co-stars as Bob, a rich man, who wants to see Romulus play the piano. The plot centers around Romulus investigating a murder, but with so much going on, the movie never quite finds its rhythm.

All About the Benjamins (2002) 30%

Ice Cube plays a bounty hunter who teams up with Mike Epps’ con man to catch diamond thieves. Hall plays Lil J, a small-time drug dealer. It’s definitely a role we’ve never seen Hall in, but overall the movie isn’t funny or original enough to justify its violence.

Freddy Got Fingered (2001) 11%

This showcase for Tom Green’s goofy gross-out comedy is often hailed as one of the worst films of all time. Green plays Gord, a 20-something slacker, who dreams of having his own animated series. Hall is Dave Davidson, a CEO of an animation studio who eventually helps Gord find success. Too bad Tom Green wasn’t so lucky.

Johnny Be Good (1988) 0%

Hall plays against type as Johnny Walker, a star quarterback. Robert Downey Jr. is his best friend and Uma Thurman plays his devoted girlfriend. Despite the support of a future A-list cast, the movie lacks central conflict and charm. Or, as TV Guide put it, “Johnny be worthless.” Ouch.

Catch the “Too Rotten to Miss” Weird Science this Friday at 8P on IFC.

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Season 6: Episode 1: Pickathon

Binge Fest

Portlandia Season 6 Now Available On DVD

The perfect addition to your locally-sourced, artisanal DVD collection.

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End of summer got you feeling like:

Portlandia Toni Screaming GIF

Ease into fall with Portlandia‘s sixth season. Relive the latest exploits of Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein’s cast of characters, including Doug and Claire’s poignant breakup, Lance’s foray into intellectual society, and the terrifying rampage of a tsukemen Noodle Monster! Plus, guest stars The Flaming Lips, Glenn Danzig, Louis C.K., Kevin Corrigan, Zoë Kravitz, and more stop by to experience what Portlandia is all about.

Pick up a copy of the DVD today, or watch full episodes and series extras now on IFC.com and the IFC app.

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