The Iceman

Screened at the 2012 Telluride Film Festival

Michael Shannon makes an incomparable psychopath. Playing true-life contract killer Richard Kuklinski, he is a concentrated ball of pent-up malevolent energy, his every motion and shift of the eyes threatening an explosion, his distinctive lumber becoming the implacable gait of a slasher. At one point, The Iceman gives him an immaculate stenciled mustache that, on Shannon, is a more terrifying facial appendage than Bane’s mask. It’s a ferocious performance, rendering “over the top” into a meaningless platitude: he’s so committed and palpably intense that it’s impossible to figure where “the top” would even be in relation to him.

Shannon is the only reason that The Iceman is playing major festivals like Telluride and Venice. The film has precisely two ideas in which it attempts to frame Kuklinski’s ultra-violent and not terribly interesting saga: first, that in addition to being a cold-blooded killer, he was also a committed family man; and second, that his ability to murder without a second thought has roots in his abusive childhood. The latter notion isn’t worth the three pages on which the two scenes addressing it were printed, and the former isn’t explored beyond “well, isn’t that an interesting contrast.” What’s left is a drab, remedial gangster film, peppered with lame screenwriter’s notions of what constitutes “colorful” supporting characters. The reference to Goodfellas in the festival program is a firing offense.

-- Eugene Novikov

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Screening Log


Ric Roman Waugh, 2013

Score: C

Side Effects

Steven Soderbergh, 2013

Score: C+

10 Years

Jamie Linden, 2012

Score: B-

The Place Beyond the Pines

Derek Cianfrance, 2013

Score: B+

Warm Bodies

Jonathan Levine, 2013

Score: C

Beautiful Creatures

Richard LaGravanese, 2013

Score: B-

The Window

Ted Tetzlaff, 1949

Score: B+

The Chase

Arthur Ripley, 1946

Score: B

Street of Chance

Jack Hively, 1942

Score: C

The Taste of Money

Im Sang-Soo, 2013

Score: C+

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