BRIAN KRAKOW SHALL HAVE HIS REVENGE
I used to scream at the TV during episodes of My So Called Life. For me, the focus of the show was not Claire Danes' character, Angela, but the character played by Devon Gummersall, Brian Krakow. Brian was the kid from across the street who was forever in love with Angela but she never noticed. This incited me to fits of verbal rage.
The character I cursed revolved around the cast. I yelled at my favorite, Brian Krakow, for not manning up and telling Angela that he loved her more than anyone else, and would love her forever. I bemoaned Angela for not noticing the boy next door. But the anger that welled up during every show was made into a necklace and worn around the neck of Jordan Catalano, played by Jared Leto.
Jordan Catalano was the avatar for every idiot that the girl I liked fell for. In my memory, with the faces fading, I see Jared Leto playing their roles. Every troubled scumbag with a misunderstood hot rod that ever kept a girl of my desire from dating me is played in my movie-mind by Jared Leto. Why do I take it so personally? Because I was none other than Brian Krakow.
Brian Krakow out-Duckied Jon Cryer. As much as Ducky defined my dating life in the '80s, Brian Krakow outdid him. At least at the end of Pretty in Pink, Ducky finds a girl. There was no salvation in Brian Krakow's dark, lonely life.
I watched Fight Club at the Red Vic some years later. As soon as Jared Leto walked on screen, I wanted to pummel him. The Brian Krakow in me had turned Travis Bickle in the intervening years. Suddenly, Edward Norton banged Leto's face on a concrete floor until it was permanently disfigured. When asked why, he said, "Because I wanted to destroy something beautiful." I heard it as "That was for Brian Krakow, asshole."
The next year brought us American Psycho. Again, I cringed when I saw Leto's name appear in the credits. I thought of walking out. But yet, I held out hope that something gruesome and horrible might happen to his character. Christian Bale, like an angel of my nerdly vengeance, axed Leto in the head. "Brian Krakow sends his regards," I said with a cheer. I noticed that other people cheered as well. Perhaps they were fans of grisly violence, but I like to think that they were other members of the Nation of Krakow. Sure, it was clearly Christian Bale, but in our minds it played as Brian Krakow splitting open the illiterate head of Jordan Catalano. There we were, sitting in the dark, alone at the movies, but united in spirit.
Being a Hubert Selby Jr. fan, and a lover of the movie Pi, I went to see Requiem for a Dream, directed by the very talented Darren Aronofsky. Having read the book, I knew what was in store for the main character. I knew he would feel the torture of addiction to the point of losing an arm to a nasty abcess. What made this an event to be looked forward to was the lead actor, played by none other than Jared Leto. "Jordan Catalano, you miserable junky, you just lost an arm," I muttered, "the one wearing Angela's promise ring." I cheered upon its amputation, but apparently the rest of Team Krakow hadn't gotten the flash mob message to go to the theater. All I got were shushes.
I assumed that the directors were all members of our lonely elite society. When they received a script, calling for a horrible maiming or painful death, they made a call to see if Leto was available. They wanted him butchered as much as I.
I thought of the advances in technology, perhaps digitizing Leto's face into famous images of pain. Leto with his head in the vise in Casino. Leto with the dentist drill in his mouth in Marathon Man. Okay, maybe that's a little harsh. After all, it's Catalano I want to see buy it, not Leto.
But after the "Jordan Gets His" trilogy, there wasn't much real action. Leto's second wave of acting roles seemed to dry up. I thought I had seen the last of the Eternal Punishment of Catalano.
So imagine my glee this week, while watching Lord of War, when I found that Jared Leto played a supporting role. By now, when Leto is cast in a film, he has the life expectancy of a red shirted no-name in the original Star Trek series. I fully expect him to take one where it hurts. Lord of War delivered.
Leto played the drug-addicted loser brother of the suave gun-trading Nicolas Cage. Throughout the second act of the film, he spirals ever downward, reaching lower and lower bottoms, until an African thug takes an AK47 to him and fills him with more holes than the movie's plot. Brian Krakow awaits Jordan Catalano around the globe.
PICK OF THE WEEK
This week's must queue film is God's Gun, one of the best westerns I'd never heard of. It was a blind pick, based on the strength of the underrated Lee Van Cleef, and the always menacing Jack Palance. The video quality was poor, but the story was strong enough to override all that. It's a classic Italian-style western, with existensial crises and a hint of the supernatural at the core.
If you haven't seen an Italian western before, it's a rich genre to explore. The famous ones are by Sergio Leone: A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More, and The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. Once Upon a Time in the West is my personal favorite.