On the day I arrived at college for my freshman orientation (many moons ago) I promptly unpacked my clothes, set up my stereo, positioned a photo of my girlfriend next to my bed, and arranged my school supplies in an orderly fashion around my desk. My new roommate arrived just as I was finishing. Up until that moment I had only known his name and home address, information the college supplied in case the two strangers they were shoving together had any interest in speaking prior to the first day of school (neither one of us did).
His name was as apple pie as the face that walked up and shook my hand. Standing no taller than 5 foot 6 inches and sporting a boy-band haircut, my new roommate was the definition of unassuming. This didnt bother me and, in fact, left me somewhat relieved. I had prepared myself for the worst, thinking that the guy I ended up rooming with would probably be a sociopath. I sensed his relief as well, figuring he undoubtedly harbored the same initial fears.
After talking briefly we both concluded that things were off to an acceptable start and that this whole living together experiment might just work out. At this point my new roommate did something I have never forgotten. Instead of unpacking his clothes or arranging his desk, he hastily dug through his belongings before finally pulling out a long cardboard tube. After extracting the rolled up poster from inside, he then carefully adhered a full-sized movie print of Marlon Brando from The Godfather to our door.
I watched as he methodically lined tape around all four edges, leaving no room for foreign fingers to pry the poster off. When he finished he stood back and admired his work. Perfect, he said as he gently closed the door. That poster is going to work wonders for us.
Initially I chuckled but after a few minutes I had to inquire. How exactly is that poster going to work wonders for us? I asked. The smile on his face made it obvious that he hoped I was going to ask the question.
As it turned out, my new roommates cousin had given him a valuable tip prior to his departure to college: Put a gangster poster on your door and the other guys in the dorm will instantly respect you. He also stated that any girls walking by would be immediately intrigued due to their innate desire for danger. All of this made sense to me on some weird level except for the fact that my roommate looked more like Buster Brown than Vito Corleone.
Nevertheless, I went along with the hypothesis. And while I doubt that any dates I went on during freshman year resulted from Marlon Brando being taped to my door, I will admit that no one every stole anything out of our room while he stood watch.
The fact is movie gangsters have always provided a specific allure. Walk around college campuses today and youll still find hundreds of gangster posters hanging in dorm rooms, from Scarfaces Tony Montoya to Pulp Fictions Vincent and Jules. But now its time to add another tough guy to the list. In this weeks feature, Eastern Promises, actor Viggo Mortensen portrays a Russian mobster named Nikolai. Mortensens turn as a ruthless gangster is so good that he may be the next famous face to grace collegiate walls.
Eastern Promises is the story of one mans quest to rise to the top of an organized crime ring based in London. The group is very old with far reaching loyalties but as Nikolai quickly learns, there is always a place for a newcomer with a corrupted soul and little fear.
I cant say enough about Mortensens portrayal of Nikolai. He was as dangerous as Tony Montana, as cool as Sam Rothstein, and as sympathetic as Tony Soprano. And like all great movie gangsters of the past, Nikolai expresses a broad range of emotion while uttering very little dialogue.
If you like gangster movies, definitely give Eastern Promises a try. Mortensens portrayal alone is worth the admission price, but a strong showing by the other cast members plus an intriguing storyline made this one a winner on many fronts. While it fails to reach the level of The Godfather or Casino, it does provide ample entertainment for the crime-genre enthusiast. An intense B+ for Eastern Promises.
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