Mickey Rourke, Todd Solondz, and one-dollar oysters


After his towering performance in 2008’s The Wrestler, Mickey Rourke’s acting career took off once again as it did in the mid-1980’s. He’s landed roles as the villain in this summer’s Iron Man 2, and is currently on screen in the testosterone-filled The Expendables with almost every action star from the 1980s. So, back to the 1980s: Rourke was a recognizable and bankable actor starring in challenging roles that few actors could have pulled off as effortlessly as Rourke did. Everything from Rumble Fish, The Pope of Greenwich Village, Angel Heart, Barfly, and let’s not forget the skin flick 9½ Weeks, with Kim Basinger—and now there is another one that was just released on Blu-Ray, and is worth picking up, 1989’s Johnny Handsome.

Rourke plays deformed thug Johnny Sedley, a.k.a. “Johnny Handsome,” who is double-crossed in a robbery and left for dead by his crew—including feisty 80s staple Ellen Barkin. When Johnny is recovering in the hospital, he is given the opportunity to have his face reconstructed by a young doctor played by Forest Whitaker, who believes that giving Johnny a new face will help him start a new life. This also gives Johnny the opportunity to get revenge on his crew who killed his partner and left him for dead. Morgan Freeman plays a cop who is suspicious of the procedure, knowing Johnny better than anyone. The work of director Walter Hill (The Warriors, 48 Hours, Red Heat) is only average and at times a bit dated, but Rourke really shines in this underrated crime film.

Opening this Friday at the Uptown Theatre is writer/director Todd Solondz’s Life During Wartime, a quasi-sequel to his frightening 1998 masterpiece Happiness. Having played well at prestigious film festivals last fall, Life During Wartime deals with difficult subject matter, which is nothing new for Solondz; the film boasts strong performances from Ciaran Hinds and Allison Janney. The Minnesota-based production company Werc Werk Works produced the film. Producers will be present for the 7:15 p.m. screening and will be on hand for a Q&A following the screening. Advance tickets for the screening will be available through the Landmark website. Tickets are $9; $7 seniors. The post-screening party will be at Stella’s Fish Café in Uptown at 9:30 p.m. Ticket holders will enjoy a free glass of Crispin Cider Honeycrisp (while supplies last) and a free sample of Crispin’s all-new cider called Lansdowne, 2-for-1 prices on tap beer, wine, and rail drinks, $5 appetizers, and $1 oysters.