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Dissecting Kevin Bacon!

05.10.2016by: Jake Dee
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KEVIN BACON!

Who doesn't love Bacon? Kevin Bacon. Real shite, ever since getting savagely paddled in the ass in ANIMAL HOUSE and then lethally gouged through the throat with an arrow in FRIDAY THE 13TH, this dude has won our heartfelt sympathy. Has he not? 35 years later and the sympathy has grown into adoration, if not total adulation. No doubt about it, this dude is a f*cking tremendous actor! Think of all the man has done just in the genre world alone. He's shown up in everything from FRIDAY THE 13TH, THE DEMON MURDER CASE, QUICKSILVER, WHITE WATER SUMMER, CRIMINAL LAW, TREMORS, FLATLINERS, to more mature and nuanced turns in THE RIVER WILD, APOLLO 13, MURDER IN THE FIRST, SLEEPERS, WILD THINGS, STIR OF ECHOES, HOLLOWMAN, TRAPPED, MYSTIC RIVER, THE WOODSMAN, COP CAR, THE FOLLOWING, and surely others.

Now, as Bacon braves THE DARKNESS later this week, we feel we owe to a towering heavyweight like himself the limelight he deserves. That's right y'all, we're slicing, dicing, deep frying and serving up the Bacon on a platter. Extra crispy. Hell, f*ck six, we may even carve deep enough in the man's connective tissue to achieve multiple degrees of separation. You dig? You know what's up. Let's Dissect the genre career of Kevin Bacon at long last!

BEST WORK

GET TREMORS HERE

This one is pretty difficult. With such an impressive slate of movies made since 1978, more than 80 of them, what would you say is Bacon's most accomplished big screen performance? Feel free to opine below. I certainly know which of his movies rank among my favorite, TREMORS being one, FLATLINERS another. Hell, FRIDAY THE 13TH is probably my favorite of all, but really, how much of that is because of Bacon's performance? A marginal amount at best. Don't get it twisted, I love his role as Valentine and the breezy, almost cartoonish humor he and Fred Ward bring to TREMORS. Can't get enough of it! I love how evil and abusive he is to little Sean Astin in WHITE WATER SUMMER. Dude's frightening! And I'll always dig the perverted seediness he lends to WILD THINGS, whacking off in the bushes to that Neve-Denise girl-on-girl pool action. Even recently, Bacon's icy cold turn in a corrupt officer in COP CAR was truly a sight to behold. That mustache was mortifying! But his best work? Tough to say.

So, it's with the consideration that his character Ryan Hardy in The Following was so deeply plumbed, so well fleshed out, so shaded and nuanced, that, despite being on a TV show, we think it Bacon's most comprehensive, if not the most accomplished. You'd agree with that, right?!

GET THE FOLLOWING HERE

Of course, it all starts with fellow Dissection victim Kevin Williamson (SCREAM) on the keys. With his series The Following, he tasks Bacon with essaying the complex role of a washed up former FBI agent with a deeply troubled past. Hardy's pitted against, or working in tandem with, James Purefoy as a cult-leading serial killer with more blood on his hands than Carrie in the locker-room. Purefoy was given the flashier role, no doubt, but Bacon was saddled with the more difficult one to aptly portray. But that he does in spades, as only Bacon could, arcing a deeply layered role over a 45 hour canvas.

Look, The Following may not be the best project Bacon has ever been a part of, but as a in terms of sheer dramaturgy, he's never been given more room and time to sculpt a fully developed, multidimensional performance. Trust us, we know that the show has garnered a love it or hate it reception from viewers, but as a wholly inhabited role, Bacon acquitted himself more than admirably. You've heard of Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers, right? The talk about putting in your 10,000 hours in order to hone or perfect your craft. Well, in The Following, Bacon's lifetime of moviemaking culminated in a 45-hour tour de force!

WORST WORK

Oh my. THE AIR UP THERE notwithstanding, I think it's no stretch of the qualitative taste buds to chew up and spit out HOLLOW MAN as Bacon's most misguided genre joint to date. What the hell was our man thinking? Oh right, he entrusted Paul Verhoeven's usually reliable vision, but perhaps forgot the crazy Dutchman had, only a few years earlier, directed the infamous debacle known as SHOWGIRLS. Or, who knows, maybe that's exactly why Bacon chose to headline a movie that turned out as vacuous as its title would suggest.

See, HOLLOW MAN is better left unseen. The nasty nature of the character himself, the uncorked and uncouth language and overly mean-spirited mien did no favors for Bacon, particularly since his face was completely shrouded throughout. Ugly, that's sort of the best way to describe the look and overarching demeanor of the movie. A shame really, because the FX in the movie were good enough to land an Oscar nomination, and the story about a team of scientists creating an invisibility cloak, only to have their subject show his truly deranged and psychotic colors, is quite an intriguing one. Alas, the execution of such is pretty weak. Pellucid plotting, formulaic structuring, a deeply detestable character, with no real semblance of Kevin Bacon's talents as an actor. Nope, with a paltry 24 "Metascore" (out of 100), HOLLOW MAN is as faint and fallow as it sounds.

TRADEMARKS

GET FLATLINERS HERE

It's no secret Bacon has turned his industry ties into a charitable cause based on his own Six Degrees Of Separation fame. And really, that could only be achieved by partaking in one star-studded ensemble after another. In that regard, we can surmise that Bacon is one hell of a team player. To quote the man himself, who once said on record before that "there are two types of actors: performers and personalities." Well, in the best sense of the word, Bacon is a bona fide performer. A man less concerned about personal glory and more about the overall product of the piece he's partaking in. There's no coincidence that Bacon has appeared in 5 Best Picture nominees over the years, often playing a key cog - a supporting part - that bolsters the entire film. I think of movies like FRIDAY THE 13TH, FLATLINERS, APOLLO 13, SLEEPERS, WILD THINGS, MYSTIC RIVER, and others...where Bacon functions as a pure performer meant to serve the story, not his own personal fame and fortune. Take MYSTIC RIVER for further example, Sean Penn won the Oscar for overacting, Bacon outshined everyone (Robins included) and went largely unnoticed. But make no mistake, it's actors like Bacon - with the talent to practically play any part in any genre of film - that serves as the glue to the acting community. Being one hell of a storyteller ought to be Bacon's lasting performative marker!

HIDDEN GEMS

GET DEATH SENTENCE HERE

For every marvelous studio tentpole he's camped under, Bacon also has one below the radar indie to his name. I think of the somewhat asinine 2002 kidnap thriller TRAPPED, costarring my girl Charlize, as a not so great movie that features an above par Bacon performance. As for a starring role, his Charlie Bronson impersonation in James Wan's DEATH SENTENCE is a pretty solid one, if, again, the movie isn't all that great. Seeing Bacon toe the line between vengeful victim and maniacal madman is an interesting one, and somewhat informs what he was capable of proving to far greater lengths in his TV show The Following. But for the confluence of an underappreciated Bacon turn in a quality Bacon flick, look no further than the 1999 thriller STIR OF ECHOES!

Based on the great Richard Matheson's novel of the same name, adapted by David Koepp before SECRET WINDOW exposed him for the semi-hack he's become, STIR OF ECHOES is a tautly gripping, wonderfully realized supernatural puzzle-piece. Bacon plays Tom Witzky in the film, a blue-collar Chicagoan so wracked by hypnosis that he starts seeing harrowingly ghastly visions. His son too can see such dread, yet remains far calmer than his dad. As the visions persist, Tom starts putting the pieces together of a young woman's grisly murder. As he closes further in on the truth, his family is placed in grave danger. It becomes a ticking clock scenario, a race to solve what happened before any further damage is incurred on his wife and son.

GET STIR OF ECHOES HERE

STIR OF ECHOES is a very good movie, highlighted an equally aplomb Bacon performance. I don't why exactly, I have a sneaking suspicion it may be due to the success of THE SIXTH SENSE the same year, which also dealt with communicating with the dead, but STIR OF ECHOES seemed to go quietly into the night. This despite making nearly double its money at the domestic box-office in what many consider to be one of the all time great years for moviemaking (1999). Whatever the case, I love the puzzling nature of the film, how it comes full circle, offers scant clues and bits of info that all tie together and afford a more than satisfying resolution. Bacon, who dominates almost every frame of the film, has a lot to do with not tipping his hand too much, and giving the audience just enough emotion and narrative clues to keep us both entertained and off balance. Seriously, see this movie if for whatever reason you haven't already!

NEXT PROJECTS

Although his superb televisual run ended last year, Bacon continues to sizzle. He has a new genre piece out next week (May 13th), THE DARKNESS, which coincidentally reunites him with his STIR OF ECHOES costar Jennifer Morrison. The flick is one I know we're anticipating quite hotly, despite being rated PG-13, and primarily due to the solid cast and the fact that Aussie filmmaker Greg McLean is at the helm. Remember, this dude delivered to us both WOLF CREEK tributaries as well as the sick killer-croc flick ROGUE. In THE DARKNESS, he brings his twisted down-under sensibility to the United States. Peep the simple yet effective logline for the flick, in which our man Bacon stars as the matriarch:

A family returns from a Grand Canyon vacation with a supernatural presence in tow.

Radha Mitchell, Matt Walsh, Paul Reiser and a whole host of young tykes, namely Lucy Fry and David Mazouz, also star in the flick. Beyond that one, Bacon is also poised to be a part of the ensemble for PATRIOT'S DAY, which is a dramatized account of what happened in Boston on April 15th, 2013. If that day doesn't stir up some sense of inner-horror, I don't what could. Not quite a horror film per se, but a terrorism thriller crawls awfully close to one...and the fact it's based on recent real life events makes it all the more vexing. Check out a more detailed synopsis below:

An account of Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis's actions in the events leading up to the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing and the aftermath, which includes the city-wide manhunt to find the terrorists behind it.

PATRIOTS DAY is currently filming ahead of an unknown 2016 release. Stay up!

OVERALL

GET FRIDAY THE 13TH HERE

Really, how can we thank a guy like Kevin Bacon for all that he's done for movies the past four decades? Impossible. Better yet, how can this guy never have been nominated for an Oscar? Not once. What a gross oversight! I suppose all we can do is salute the dude for not just being a true professional, but for being as dependable an actor - star or supporting, big movie or small - as we've ever had the pleasure of watching during the last 40 years. FRIDAY THE 13TH, QUICKSILVER, WHITE WATER SUMMER, CRIMINAL LAW, TREMORS, FLATLINERS, THE RIVER WILD, APOLLO 13, MURDER IN THE FIRST, SLEEPERS, WILD THINGS, STIR OF ECHOES, HOLLOWMAN, TRAPPED, MYSTIC RIVER, THE WOODSMAN, COP CAR, THE FOLLOWING, and now THE DARKNESS and PATRIOT'S DAY...I'll ask once more, what really is not to like about Bacon?

Extra Tidbit: What's your favorite Bacon flick? Performance?
Source: AITH

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1:04AM on 05/11/2016
Tremors is one my favorite. But Stir of Echos is criminally underrated.
Tremors is one my favorite. But Stir of Echos is criminally underrated.
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