The VHS Stack - Johnny Handsome

(1990) Walter Hill.

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Mickey Rourke portrays a small-time New Orleans bank robber blessed with a saint's soul but disavowed by the congenital facial deformity of a warlock – even surpassing as an iconograph that which the actor in "real life" would later wreak both surgically and pugilistically upon his own countenance. The ironic “Johnny Handsome” is double-crossed on a bank job and ends up in prison, where an ambitious pointdexter surgeon (Forest Whitaker) attempts to perform radical Face-Off-esque treatment to restore Johnny with a humanable face – which turns out to be that of Mickey Rourke post-9½ Weeks. Johnny then returns to society, and though his face reforms his soul does not: he fails at innocent romance and takes revenge on those who betrayed him – scuzzbag maestro LanceJohnny Handsome 2.jpg Henrickson and marvelous pulp-bitch Ellen Barkin. Morgan Freeman plays a dapper folksy Bayou-cosmopolite detective, the one character who knows that Johnny ain’t really so Handsome. Walter Hill draws his metaphysics from the French but his colors from brute American precedents. And where to begin placing Johnny Handsome in the current hagiography of Mickey in The Wrestler? Johnny shows a man bounding back his new face into the old universe; Randy The Ram seizes an old face in an old place and causes it to transmogrify.

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