Tag Archives: Tom Cruise

Scary Movie Alien Countdown #5: “No one would have believed that our world was being watched….”

By Tom Kapr

“No one would have believed in the early years of the 21st century that our world was being watched by intelligences greater than our own; that as men busied themselves about their various concerns, they observed and studied, the way a man with a microscope might scrutinize the creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water. With infinite complacency, men went to and fro about the globe, confident of our empire over this world. Yet across the gulf of space, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic regarded our planet with envious eyes and slowly, and surely, drew their plans against us.”

These are the words of the opening voice-over narration of Steven Spielberg’s War of the Worlds, taken almost word for word from the opening paragraph of H.G. Wells’ classic 1898 novel. (The bit about the 21st century is, of course, the major difference.) Although it has been updated to take place more or less in the year of its release, 2005, and even though the protagonist has been changed from a nameless first-person narrator looking for his wife to a divorced man trying to hold on to his ever more distant children, Spielberg and company’s adaptation is surprisingly faithful to the book.

This version of War of the Worlds is nearly a perfect film for the first two acts. As with so many big-budget thrillers lately (and with so many Spielberg films lately), it derails in its third act: it becomes cliché, with Spielberg even stealing a bit from one of his own previous films (and not one of his good ones, either); characters start making decisions that make no sense except to set up the next mediocre scene; it ramps up the action aspect too much by having Tom Cruise’s character essentially go commando on an alien ship; and it wraps things up in the end too tidily, giving itself a happy ending it did not earn.

To be honest, the aliens themselves are not even that scary, though they are much more menacing than their description in the novel (in which they are essentially unable to move around in our gravity on their own power). But they have some amazing technology, and that technology is designed solely for the purposes of the worldwide genocide of humanity. As in Battle Los Angeles, the film that got this list going, the invasion and subsequent extermination is much more gritty and in-your-face than in most films in the alien-invasion genre. Whereas Battle Los Angeles spent most of its time at street level in L.A., the extermination process in War of the Worlds has a far more epic feel to it. It is the scenes of the unseen aliens in their tripods, obliterating every human in sight, that earns this film a spot on this list.

And as if monstrous alien machines casually exterminating human beings isn’t scary enough, leave it to Steven Spielberg to pepper his film with visual references to the Holocaust. The first scene in which the tripods attack is one of the most heart-pounding sequences ever filmed: Cruise’s character runs through the streets as people left and right are caught in the alien death ray and literally disintegrated into ash. When he makes it back home and sees himself in the mirror, sees what was recently his neighbors caked all over his face and body, we feel his revulsion as he freaks out. This and a later scene in which the clothes of disintegrated people rain from the sky, as well as a handful of other scenes including a burning train speeding by and a bunch of bodies floating down a river, are reminiscent of Spielberg’s work in Schindler’s List. The director is taking the subtle anti-war themes of Wells’ novel and expanding on them in a powerful way. These echoes of the consequences of Nazism, terrorism, and systematic violence in general, make the invasion of War of the Worlds one of the scariest in film.

They decide to settle it with a staring contest.

(Read Nate’s article on loose adaptations for a slightly less enthusiastic look at Spielberg’s War of the Worlds.)

Next on the countdown: “Nobody trusts anybody now, and we’re all very tired… there’s nothing more I can do, just wait….”

Loose Adaptations: Children of Men & War of the Worlds

By Nathanael Griffis

A loose adaptation is simply when the source material, a novel normally, is used only as a conceptual basis for a story. Sometimes characters are kept, themes may remain, but the overall plot is basically rewritten. Loose adaptations are tricky. On the one hand you allow for a more creative take on a story. On the other you may offend the loyal fan base of a book. Deciding to adapt a novel loosely is always interesting and for the most part relies on the talent surrounding it, so when you have Alfonso Cuarón, Clive Owen, Michael Caine, Julianne Moore, and Chiwetel Ejiofer on a film one can produce one of the best films ever made. Talent isn’t everything though, because Tim Robbins, Steven Spielberg, Dakota Fanning, and Tom Cruise should spell success, but it didn’t. So here’s my look at why these two loose adaptations succeeded and failed respectively.

Plain and simple, one of the greatest moments in film.

Children of Men: If at all possible, let’s forget the revolutionary cinematography, the haunting performances, and the sharp editing of the film, and focus on the story. Theo Faron is asked by his ex-wife Julian to acquire a pass to the coast for a young woman whom we later discover is pregnant in a world where there has not been a pregnancy in 18 years. This is the basic plot of the movie, but it is slightly different from P.D. James’ novel. Theo was never married to Julian, and is significantly older; Julian merely wants an audience with the Warden of England; oh, and Julian is the pregnant woman. So, besides keeping characters’ names and the overall concept of an infertile human race, the differences are significant.

The novel is quieter and more slowly paced, exploring the political side of power structures controlling a population. The government executes the elderly in a mass drowning off the coast of England. The powers that be then use these events to maintain a sense of order through indirect threats, while also satisfying a dying population’s desire for release from the torment of the end of humanity. They dictate what pleasurable activities are allowed and round up foreigners and miscreants (which is kept in the movie). The book is also concerned, as most books are, with being more subjective. We stay with Theo, and his inner struggle is more the story than anything else. Director Alfonso Cuarón keeps this concept in Children of Men, as the camera never really sees what Theo can’t, but we don’t spend time meandering around his brain reminiscing. The book is brilliant and has wonderful characters and descriptions. I have to say the film and the novel are even; neither outshines the other, which is rare.

The film takes the concept of infertility and runs with it, adding ideas of racism and social revolution, which are in the book but not major themes. The decision to connect Julian and Theo is brilliant–it adds another layer to the characters. Both versions have a bleak tone with hopeful endings amidst death and suffering. What is different is that Cuarón understands that his medium is a visual one. He needs the visuals to enhance his thematic ideas. The setting becomes as desolate as the situation. I think of the scene of Theo and the mid-wife, played by Pam Ferris, waiting in an abandoned school. It’s subtle because Cuarón doesn’t meditate on it, but unforgettable as we see the pregnant Kee (played by Clare-Hope Ashitey) stolen through rotting playground equipment.  The book relies on description and dialogue to show us man’s reliance on order and power despite a decaying future. The long single takes throughout the film heighten the tension, increase the reality, and provide a more subjective sense for the audience. Cuts give film a sense of fabrication, which is not necessarily a negative thing, but a long single shot of a car being attacked or an entire neighborhood at war places the viewer inside the situation. P.D. James wants us involved in the discussion. Cuarón provides us with an experience. Children of Men is the ultimate example of how to successfully loosely adapt a novel.

War of the Worlds: There are several loose adaptations of H.G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds, but I am only going to mention two: the infamous Orson Welles radio adaptation that sent America into a panic, and the middling action flick that Spielberg offered us in 2005. H.G Wells’ novel is tough to adapt, as any classic is, but especially since it is a science fiction period piece. How does one do futuristic 1898? Well, you have to modernize it, which almost always means a loose adaptation of sorts. What Orson Welles did was brilliant. He took the concept of the alien invasion and its themes of science, warfare, and the ineffectiveness of Victorian mores, and used it to scare the bejeezus out of the country. That is how you loosely adapt something. I can’t speak to much to that performance as I’ve never heard it, but its impact alone is legendary, so we can assume it’s good.

Tom Cruise coming to terms with the film.

Steven Spielberg, we should be able to assume is good too. After Minority Report, a good adaption of a Philip K. Dick short story, the pairing of Cruise and Spielberg should have been welcome, and it was, but the product was underwhelming. Wells’ novel is a cautionary tale at heart. It warns man of the dangers of science for the advancement of warfare. The aliens metaphorically are not some outside force, but a superpower gone wrong. They destroy without any warning, any forethought, out of nothing but a sense of greed and desire to conquer. The novel is frighteningly prophetic when one considers that two world wars followed it and were started, at the basest of levels, out of humanity’s desire to conquer others. These concepts could be taken and placed into a modern day context to warn a growing scientific community that is becoming heavily reliant on government defense contracts to take heed. Instead we are served up with what eventually becomes a run-of-the-mill sci-fi action flick.

Spielberg’s film keeps the concept of a cylinder burying itself in the ground. It keeps the death of the aliens by the common cold, which should signify that humanity/science will ultimately not be able to combat nature in a warfare setting, but here feels like a lame cop-out ending. They add an interesting reference to Harlan Ogilvy, one of the few named characters in the novel, in Tim Robbins. I can’t help but feel though that a lot of this is wasted potential. The beginning has some haunting Holocaust imagery. Tom Cruise as Ray Ferrier shaking the ashes of victims from his hair sets a frightening tone. The bodies floating down a river as Ray’s daughter Rachel (played by Dakota Fanning) watches leaves us startled. The blood-drenched trees and landscapes that Ray walks out into horrifies. All these images seem like wasted art, bad abstraction without a directed substance or meaning. They symbolize things and matter within the scene and build character, but they don’t hold weight in the overall story.

Run! No, don't stare at the alien tripod, run, Ru...uh too late.

What both Orson and H.G. did in their stories by keeping the narrator anonymous, was provide the sense of subjectivity we got from Cuarón’s Children of Men. The protagonist becomes an everyman of sorts and we place ourselves in his role, asking what reaction we should have. In the case of Orson Welles, it was such an effective subjectivity as to transcend the line of fiction and lead the masses in the expected reaction of a panic.

There is nothing wrong with building characters in a film. In fact, a film adaptation would require it. Spielberg attempts this with Ferrier as a single father trying to connect with and raise his kids. Initially it works, but there are two problems: First, Tom Cruise is not an everyman. He’s a character actor who portrays an intensely specific persona. I’ve  never seen a performance of his and felt I could relate to it; several times I’ve been impressed, but relate, no. He’s not Jimmy Stewart or, dare I say, Matt Damon.

The second problem is the lack of a consistent theme, along with egregious plot holes. Spielberg’s penchant for tying things up in a bow in his blockbuster films falls flat here and leaves the viewer confused. Why does the son survive and randomly show up with perfect timing? If all it takes is a few grenades, how are the aliens still fearsome? The action becomes the focus in the second half of the film, and the death of the aliens at the hands of the common cold doesn’t resonate. It feels like another unnecessary bow on a muddled package.

So if you’re going to adapt something loosely, make sure it has good themes, and make sure you utilize them. Having the title of the novel, a star actor and director, and good special effects is not enough. It takes innovation, a great script, and an overall sense of purpose to garner success. You don’t have to be unrepentantly loyal to a source material to make a successful story–but what would happen if you were? We’ll see next time when I discuss straight adaptations with The Road and The Da Vinci Code.

Korean Cinema #8: My Sassy Girl

By Nathanael Griffis

I, in stereotypical male fashion, avoid romantic comedies, but I’ll get to that in a moment. My Sassy Girl is not your typical romantic comedy. It follows several tropes of the genre, while eluding the pitfalls. In some ways it’s almost a satire of romantic comedies. I found myself surprised how much I liked this film. My expectations were to walk away from it with my suspicions confirmed that rom-coms can entertain and do little more. I do want to shed some light on the problems I have with rom-coms, but first let me say that My Sassy Girl is not one that should be avoided.

My Sassy Girl is an adapation of a novel that the author, Ho-sik Kim, pulled from his own life, no doubt taking liberties as writers do. (Side note: the actual title Yeopgijeogin geunyeo translates to The Bizarre Girl not My Sassy Girl, but My Sassy Girl is a more marketable title.) It’s about a boy named Kyun-woo, played by Tae-hyun Cha, who falls for “The Girl,” played Ji-hyun Jun. The Girl, who surpisingly is never named, has a low tolerence for alcohol, a penchant for ordering others around, and a sadness buried beneath an whitewashed exterior. The film follows the growing relationship between Kyun-woo and the Girl. At times it’s hilarious and poignant, and director Jae-young Kwak shows a deft ability to balance the two.

Thematically it reminded me a lot of the recent film (500) Days of Summer. Unlike that film, though, My Sassy Girl went on to become a massive hit; it is the highest grossing Korean comedy of all time. It deserves the accolades. The characters are distinctly unique but still relatable. Kyun-woo can show strength and confidence, but also a soft fragility and unwilliness to use his smarts and talent. The Girl’s bizarre behavior is rooted in some deep scar from her past, and beneath it all we see her grow and mature. The beauty of the film is in seeing these two flawed characters grow and fall in love and really examine what it means to be in a relationship.

Oh right, I forgot, the standing-under-a-tree-reading-a-letter cliche.

Jae-young Kwak understood he was making a romantic comedy and allows his film to operate within the boundaries of the that genre. We get classic staples, such as the lead male as a struggling writer, a group of comic relief buddies around Kyun-woo, overbearing parents, chin-pinching aunts, meeting in the rain; all the classics are here, and they’re all used to a purpose. The director does unique things with our expectations though. On a few occasions the film flashes forward to when the relationship is at a point of possibly ending. The film will cut from an image of Kyun-woo to an older man with a resemblence to Kyun-woo. Within seconds, though, we see either The Girl or someone else un-aged and are reminded that only a short amount of time has passed. This flash-forward moment is not uncommon in romances (see The Notebook for example) and has been used for ages. Kwak recognizes this and uses it as a way to signal that while we are watching a romantic comedy, we should not expect it to bend to the rules of that genre.

The film is full of wonderful comedic moments. It satirizes samurai films and Hong Kong action movies. The editing style is fresh, and the music isn’t overbearing. It’s an example of how to make a romantic comedy right. Too often romantic-comedies objectify romance itself and in the grander scheme the concept of love becomes objectified as well. My Sassy Girl presents the real struggle and pain of a relationship while showing how our expectations and perceptions of romance can get in the way.

I’ve been bothered by romantic-comedies for the same reason I imagine people are bothered by action films: they take their subject matter too lightly. Now, who wants to sit down and watch a droll discussion of the nature of love? No one (except maybe Ingmar Bergman). Romances should be happy and funny. Shakespeare’s comedies end in marriage. They’re happy, but they don’t assume that happiness is achieved through some magical whimsy. I’m bothered by the perception in romantic comedies that the words “I love you” or “I’m sorry” have some magically redeeming effect and signal the end to all unhappiness in life. It frequently seems that little needs to happen between two people except the exchange of a few words for all wrongs to be righted. Little attention is paid to the persons themselves and the way they relate to each other. In other words they miss the relationship and objectify love as something that can be earned or some mystical gift that can’t be explained.

Goofy faces = love.

Here’s an example: In Leap Year, Amy Adams plays what amounts to a self-absorbed New York socialite bigot. From the moment her character arrives in Ireland she sees their culture as stupid and openly mocks and abuses the people. This naturally causes the rustic Irish male lead played by Matthew Goode to fall in love with her. In the end neither character changes and Matthew Goode naturally accepts Amy Adams for who she is and all is well. Loving people despite their flaws is a good thing; it shows love is more powerful. What typically happens though is that people just tumble into love in some mysitical sense: at first they don’t relate, they fight all the time and then their eyes lock and, voila, love conquers all while rain mats hair to their face and hides the tears that have been buried in thier hearts.

On the opposite side there are other films like Adam starring Rose Byrne who is in a relationship with a man who has Asperger’s syndrome. The usual climax occurs where Rose Byrne’s character confronts the man and demands he tell her why she should be with him. He responds with “I need you,” which some of you might note is not “I love you,” so naturally their relationship will be a failure.

In Jerry Maguire when Renée Zellweger says “You had me it hello,” she’s not discounting Tom Cruise’s speech of love, but showing us that the speech isn’t the focus. It’s everything that’s come before it, and you don’t need some stirring, teary-eyed blubbering to confirm that. (It helps, but you don’t need it.) Knocked Up handles this concept nicely as well. Seth Rogan’s character, upon entering the delivery room, is screamed at and threatened by Katherine Heigel, but he doesn’t waste time on a stirring speech. He asserts that he’s here and that he thinks this relationship is going somewhere. At no time does the psuedo-Hollywood “I love you” moment happen. The proof is in his commitment to her. They may not even be in love (I contend they aren’t), but the relationship is given strength through their mutual struggling and enjoyment of life together.

Of course the greatest of them all, When Harry Met Sally, has all the cliches, a climactic speech of love, several dinner scenes gone wrong, and kissing. The difference is that it’s discussing and exploring the difference between friendship and relationship. To top it all off it also explores the effect of sex, and it doesn’t sugarcoat anything. If you go even farther back, in films like Roman Holiday or The Philadelphia Story romance is treated as a complex theme and what it means to be in love is examined, not merely presented.

Love is not some toggle switch hidden behind a person’s pupils that a phrase or the perfect environment will set off. My Sassy Girl understands this. In the film, the Girl tries to replicate all the right “romantic” moments that she’s had in a previous relationship. She forces Kyun-woo to become the dream boyfriend, which he is not. Kyun-woo, though, in a beautiful show of humility, goes along with it, and throughout learns who the Girl is, and falls in love with her. The Girl, upon realizing what she loves about Kyun-woo, is drawn to who he is in reality and not who she’s been shaping him into. They still have that magical destiny-drawing-them-together moment, but by that time we’ve seen their love materialize.

I don’t pretend to fully understand the nature of love, and I don’t begrudge people the enjoyment of a light-hearted romantic comedy, but I can’t help but be bothered everytime I see a concept so rich and exciting as love between two people encapsulated in a phrase, expressed in a bouquet, experienced in a single moment between bed sheets. Love is many brilliant things, and it’s refreshing to find films like My Sassy Girl that understand this. The film is a must-see for everyone: it’d make a great date movie, or group movie, or even a lonely-Tuesday-night-and-I-want-a-pick-me-up movie.

 

Also if you want a samurai fight scene.

Next I’ll be watching Boon-ho Jong’s Memories of Murder (which may have a different tone.)

On Trial: Case #001 – Tom Cruise

The Defense, presented by Nathanael Griffis

There is a viewpoint floating out in the ether that Tom Cruise is a bad actor, that he doesn’t make good movies, that he’s annoying, that he’s a crazy goofball. I respectfully and forcefully disagree (though I may not be able to argue against the last point). His ridiculous running style aside, Tom Cruise is a fantastic actor. He’s been nominated for three Oscars and seven Golden Globes (of which he’s won three), and numerous other accolades. He’s shown range in comedies, dramas, and genre films. Most of the criticism of his acting is that he’s too passionate–that he doesn’t have subtlety or the ability to lose himself in a role. Basically, he yells a lot, and this is all people remember. The reason they remember it, though, is because he is amazing at playing a character that lets his emotions build up and then explode. If anything, he has probably been typecast in these roles, but he wrote the book on releasing emotion on screen (not literally). He does take roles that require more subtle touches: Rain Man, Eyes Wide Shut, & Interview with the Vampire come to mind.

If you simply go through his filmography, the resume he’s accumulated is staggering. The directors he’s worked with are the best: Kubrick, Scorsese, Coppola, Spielberg, both Ridley and Tony Scott, Oliver Stone, Ron Howard, Sydney Pollack, Rob Reiner, Cameron Crowe, Paul Thomas Anderson, Edward Zwick, Michael Mann; and I’ve left some out. I think a lot of the criticism of Tom Cruise comes from his off-screen activities. There also seems to be this ridiculous notion that he’s an action star, which is a sneaky way of trying to lump him in with sub-par actors. The truth is that in real life just about everyone’s a little strange. We all do and say crazy things. If you look at the things he’s done, chewing out cameramen or Matt Lauer, it’s not all that deplorable. He’s also barely an action star. Sure he’s done the Mission: Impossible movies, but that’s only a recent development. Minority Report has some action in it, but with the exception of the Mission: Impossible franchise, even his action-packed films, like Collateral, rely on strong story and characters.

What normally happens with criticism of an actor of Mr. Cruise’s caliber is that the whiny internet trolls have to begrudgingly qualify their insults with some phrase like “A Few Good Men was awesome, though.” The evidence speaks louder than the cover of the National Enquirer claiming Tom Cruise is a big meany. So, I leave you with his filmography for you to view and eventually accept that Tom Cruise makes amazing films. He’s here to stay and will be remembered. Perhaps this fact only builds a greater stubborn jealousy in his critics, but I’m willing to risk it.

Selected* films of Tom Cruise:

Taps (1981)

The Outsiders (1983)

Risky Business (1983)

Legend (1985)

Top Gun (1986)

The Color of Money (1986)

Cocktail (1988)

Rain Man (1988)

Born on the Fourth of July (1989)

Far and Away (1992)

A Few Good Men (1992)

The Firm (1993)

Interview with the Vampire (1994)

Mission: Impossible (1996)

Jerry Maguire (1996)

Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

Magnolia (1999)

Mission: Impossible II (2000)

Vanilla Sky (2001)

Minority Report (2002)

The Last Samurai (2003)

Collateral (2004)

War of the Worlds (2005)

Mission: Impossible III (2006)

Tropic Thunder (2008)

Valkyrie (2008)

Knight and Day (2010)

*Some films have been excluded from this list because of their lack of notoriety and for space concerns.

The Prosecution, presented by Steven Moore

Never mind that Tom Cruise is kind of a dick in his personal life. If an actor is a douche in real life, it has no bearing on how talented they are or how well they perform their roles. Never mind that Tom Cruise has been in some of the best movies ever made. His film canon is impressive, and he repeatedly chooses films that are amazing. (Who can forget the game-changing Legend). Never mind that Tom Cruise is one of the greatest talents in stunt work of our generation. All that’s beside the point.

Tom Cruise just sucks. That’s all. I see a trailer for a movie he’s going to be in, and I immediately have no interest in seeing it. Something about the guy just makes me want to go anywhere his face isn’t. You can argue that I’m just jealous of a five-foot-tall psychopathic control freak who constantly has to try to re-ingratiate himself to polite society, but I’m not alone. We are legion. When I’m at a function where I don’t know anyone, all I need to do is throw out an “Ugh, I hear Tom Cruise has a new movie coming out.” The ball only starts rolling from there. Soon a crowd is gathered, and we unite as brothers and sisters of humanity through our mutual disgust of Mr. Cruise.

It’s not rational. It’s not even fair. But it’s damn near universal. Ray Bradbury wrote a short story about a man who hacks his way into the heart of an unexplored jungle. There he finds creatures whose very presence trigger a flight response in him. When he tries to fight it, he begins vomiting uncontrollably. There is no reason for him to feel this way. The creatures are tiny, harmless, and benevolent. Tom Cruise is like that: tiny and harmless (not sure about the benevolent part), but something about him makes my skin, and a lot of other people’s skin, crawl. Oh, and in the story, the creatures turn out to be the real earthlings, while we are descendants from Martians. I think the conclusion is pretty obvious there. I rest my case.

30 Days of Madness, Day 16: The Burrowers

The Burrowers (2008) Written & directed by J.T. Petty. Starring Clancy Brown, Jocelin Donahue, Karl Geary, Doug Hutchison, William Mapother, Tatanka Means, Sean Patrick Thomas.

If Ethan Edwards was chasing graboids, it might’ve looked a little something like this. That’s a loose analogy, but it’ll give you an idea of the premise without going to much into the unfolding plot, which is better left unexpounded upon. A ranch is attacked in what appears to be a Sioux raid, most folks are killed, a few are taken, and a posse of gunhands go after them–except that the “them” they’re chasing may not be Sioux after all. Something is leaving strange holes in the ground.

2007 New Mexico fills in for 1867 Dakota Territory, and it’s passable enough not to be distracting. Old West horror is rare, and well-made Old West horror even moreso, but The Burrowers actually comes across as a decent Western and a decent horror-thriller instead of a cheap set-up for cheap scares, as one would expect from such a premise.

The cast is an interesting one, and a capable bunch of actors at that, including three of my favorite “hey, it’s that guy!” guys. And they are:

1. Clancy Brown. Chances are, you’ve seen Brown in something, and chances are even greater that you’ve heard him. He’s Sgt. Zim from Starship Troopers (the officer nobody likes who goes a little nuts and ends up getting smeared across the ground by a giant crash-landing bug); he’s Victor Kruger, a.k.a. “The Kurgen,” from the original 1986 Highlander film; he’s Kelvin Inman from Lost (the guy pushing the button before Desmond Hume comes along); he’s “Brother” Justin Crowe from Carnivale; he’s John Danziger from Earth 2 (anybody remember that show?); and perhaps most classically speaking, he’s Captain Hadley from The Shawshank Redemption (who WILL toss you off a roof unless you happen to be a tax wizard who can save him some money). He’s also the voice behind Lex Luthor on the Justice League and Superman animated series; Mr. Freeze on the more recent series The Batman; Long Feng on Avatar: The Last Airbender; Mr. Krabs on SpongeBob Squarepants; and, of course, who could forget his work on Street Sharks, Biker Mice from Mars and Super Robot Monkey Team Hyperforce Go!

2. Doug Hutchison. He usually plays creeps. He played Davros, one of the creeps from Day 8 of the real-time thriller series 24. He played Percy Wetmore, the prison guard creep in The Green Mile. He played Eugene Victor Tooms, one of the most memorable creeps from the early seasons of The X Files (he was the guy from the classic episode “Squeeze” who could squeeze into really small places–usually to steal someone’s liver so he could ingest the bile so he could build a nest and hibernate for another 30 years). But he also played Horace Goodspeed on Lost–and Horace Goodspeed wasn’t a creep. Or was he?

3. William Mapother. William Mapother is a cousin of one of the biggest movie stars of all time, Thomas Mapother, and has appeared in several of Thomas’s major blockbuster films, like Born on the Fourth of July, Magnolia, Vanilla Sky, Minority Report, and Mission: Impossible II. (You know who Thomas Mapother is.) However, he has also had a few decent roles in movies that aren’t suspect of nepotism, including World Trade Center and In the Bedroom. William Mapother also played Ethan Rom on Lost–and Ethan Rom wasn’t a creep. Or was he? Yeah, he was a bit of a creep… or was he… that Lost can be so darn inscrutable.

(For those keeping track, that makes three “that guy” guys who appeared on Lost.)

The Burrowers is a really interesting, very different kind of Western that wraps up with an unfortunately confusing climax followed by one of the biggest downers of a denouement ever. If it weren’t for the last 15 minutes or so, this would have been a great movie. As it is, I would recommend it only for hardcore Western or horror followers.

My Netflix rating: 3 stars (out of 5)

–Tom Kapr