Intermission: I Heart Kurt Russell


A youthful Kurt Russell plays likeable Drew Stephens to Meryl Streep’s nuclear whistleblower Karen Silkwood.

I watched The Hateful Eight at the theatre a few months ago. There are a lot of things to say about that movie but I really only want to talk about how much I love Kurt Russell. I love Kurt Russell. Not in a romantic way, no, in a purely ‘he’s so cool’ kindof way. Because, he is. So very cool.

In a childhood full of movie watching I always wanted to be the hero, especially if they were a little weird. That’s what movies make you do. So it’s not surprising that I identified (and still do) with the mostly male heroes of moviedom—they get to do the fun, daring, and exciting things. The women, not so much. There a lot of things to say about the lack of female representation in film (and the film industry as a whole) but I really only want to talk about how much I love Kurt Russell. I love Kurt Russell. He’s cool.

I’m not really sure why I think he’s so great. Maybe it’s because he can play serious characters when needed, but usually plays goofy and ridiculous roles. I’m a sucker for people who make me laugh.

To celebrate all the good things about Kurt Russell, I give you this top ten movie list of some of my favourites:

10. Dark Blue (2002): Dirty cops, the Rodney King verdict, L.A. race riots. The cinema vérité-ish (emphasis on ‘ish’) style of filming gives this action movie more weight than maybe the plot calls for but overall it’s not terrible. Just don’t watch the trailer before you take on the feature.

9. Poseidon (2006): A remake of the 1972 classic The Poseidon Adventure (starring Shelley Winters and Gene Hackman). I have a particular fondness for disaster movies so this pick was a bit of a no-brainer. I’m not saying it’s better than the original. No, I would never say that, but it is still about a rogue wave capsizing a large, luxury vessel. PLUS, Kurt Russell. Movie gold? Pretty darn close.

8. Tequila Sunrise (1988): Crime + L.A. + Kurt Russell. AND Michelle Pfeiffer. Seriously, do you need more? Alright, so there’s also Mel Gibson and that’s maybe minus one point. But, Raúl Juliá definitely brings it out of a Gibson deficit. It’s not perfect—just put on your 1980s glasses and chill.

7. Escape from New York (1981): Oh John Carpenter, you have a special place in my heart (right next to Kurt Russell). The future is 1997. The island of Manhattan has been turned into one giant prison. The president is taken hostage by prisoner and crime-lord, Duke. Former U.S. Special Forces soldier and current convictee “Snake” effin’ Plissken to the rescue! The plot thickens when he’s injected with mini-detonators that will go off if he doesn’t get back with the President in 22 hours. Draaaaama!!

6. Escape from L.A. (1996): The future is 2013. “Snake” Plissken is going back to jail. This time prison means being exiled to L.A. Island. Luckily, the President needs help retrieving a weapon that has fallen into the hands of a an island revolutionary named Cuervo Jones (yes, for real). “Snake” is injected with poison that will kill him within 10 hours if he doesn’t fulfill his mission in time to get the antidote. Excellent cameo by Peter Fonda.

5. Soldier (1988): The future is 2035. Child soldier Todd 3645, has grown up to to be an emotionless thirty-nine-year-old fighting machine. New, genetically-engineered soldiers are de rigueur and Todd 3645 gets shoveled off to the waste-disposal planet, Arcadia 234. There he meets a bunch of hippies who teach him how to cry. It’s beautiful.

4. Overboard (1987): So many amazing moments in this movie. Put your ’80s glasses back on, the whole premise is eye-roll worthy: snotty rich woman (Goldie Hawn) treats lowly carpenter (Kurt Russell) badly; rich woman falls off her yacht in the middle of the night and wakes up an amnesiac; rich woman’s husband decides to party instead of rescuing his lady; lowly carpenter (and widower) seeks revenge by taking the rich lady home to take care of his four unruly children; snotty rich woman changes into a nice person and falls in love with the lowly carpenter who has also fallen in love right back. Awwwww. There’s also a mini-golf montage choreographed to the number one ’80s soundtrack go-to, Randy Newman.

3. Tango & Cash (1989): Rival LAPD narcotics detectives Sylvester Stallone as Lt. Raymond Tango, and Kurt Russell as Lt. Gabriel Cash are forced to work with each other to defeat major drug trafficker Yves Perret played by one of the best evil villain actors Jack Palance. Before they can complete their first bust together, Tango and Cash are set up as dirty cops and sent to prison. Jailbreak! This is a buddy cop movie filled to the brim with one-liners that never get old. I say this with some pretty deep nostalgia. Watch it for the action, stay for Russell killing it in drag.

2. Silkwood (1983): Meryl Streep and Cher, that’s some pretty amazing hair right there. Add in Kurt Russell and it’s a trifecta of glossy ’80s locks. This is the story of Karen Silkwood who tried to expose blatant worker safety violations at the plutonium plant where she worked. Heavy stuff but not overly sentimental—director Mike Nichols lends a deft touch to a serious subject. The scene that has stayed with me months after viewing is one where Russell’s character, Drew Stephens, tries to convince Karen (Streep) that they could start a new life and build a pueblo house together. He says to her, “You can make the rooms any shape. You can make them round. It’s not a right-angle kind of life.”

1. The Thing (1982): My all-time favourite John Carpenter and Kurt Russell film. The Thing is an alien parasite that infiltrates an Antarctic research station and takes over the bodies of the researchers one-by-one. MacReady (Russell) is a helicopter pilot who must rally the troops and determine who is human and who is alien. This movie has all the elements: secluded location, hostile climate (mega snow storm), alien killer, and cool as a cucumber KURT RUSSELL. Oh, and the ending, the ending! Without giving too much away, The Thing really appeals to the nihilist in me.


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