Guilty of a past and woebegone penchant for Bad Boys of all description, I could not help but lust after Mickey Rourke when he rose to stardom in the 80s.
Dangerous, rugged, sexy, tough and yet vulnerable in some way… he sent my teenaged hormones raging. In celebration of Rourke's recent Hollywood comeback (with an Oscar nod and Golden Globe win for best actor no less) for his role as Randy 'The Ram' Robinson in The Wrestler (2008) I decided to cover one of his earlier films.
Seemed easy enough with so many goodies to choose from, but in the end I was unable to narrow it down. And I'm still suffering from a nostalgia overdose. I suggest you pick a weekend and host your own, private Mickey Rourke Revival Film Festival and enjoy the following:
Diner (1982), directed by Barry Levinson
Rourke portrays Robert "Boogie" Sheftell, a gamblin' ladies' man who brings intrigue, style, charisma and cool to his tight-knit posse of buddies. Cleaving to their youthful halcyon days in the 1950s, they grapple with the realities of looming adulthood over cigarettes and coffee in their beloved Baltimore diner. Terrific performances by Kevin Bacon an Ellen Barkin. For this fun-loving romp of a film, I chose Wildass Rosé 2006 ($18.95 CDN) by Stratus winery, a relative newcomer to Ontario's Niagara Peninsula. Cheerful and upbeat in dark pink, this wine is not your typical rosé. It's got explosive fruit forwardness, nice balance and is made mostly from Gamay grapes. An excellent quaffer.
The Pope of Greenwich Village (1984), directed by Stuart Rosenberg
Brazen, gutsy, vain and street-smart, Rourke's character Charlie inadvertently takes on the mob with his unruly cousin Paulie (Eric Roberts) in this nostalgic take on life and love in gritty New York City. Funny, rough and ultimately poignant, it's a must-see. A great match for this mobster flick is Ruffino's Il Ducale Toscana 2005 ($19.85 CDN, $15.99 USD). The Ruffino house has been making wine in Tuscany since 1877. The Il Ducale 2005 is a great example of a Tuscan blended wine with 60 per cent Sangiovese, 25 per cent Merlot and 15 per cent Syrah. The nose is fruity with a hint of Tuscan dust. The palate is layered with cedar, tobacco and cherries. It's just delicious. Buy it.
91/2 Weeks (1986), directed by Adrian Lyne
Where do I start? The explicit and raunchy sex scenes between Rourke's character, John, and Kim Basinger's Elizabeth stunned my tender, teenaged sensibilities. This film tells the tale of a dirty weekend gone wrong and lasting way too long. Rourke seethes with depraved sexuality. And for an erotic, racy movie, please try this exotic, racy little number from Argentina called Flor de Torrontes 2007 ($13.95 CDN, $15.95 USD), made by Bodega J&F Lurton. The Torrontes grape is planted widely in Argentina but the Spanish claim ownership, so the debate rages on. Very inviting, the nose is floral, yet spicy with a trace of tropical fruit. The palate has great acidity, perfect for this film. It will refresh you during the really naughty bits.
Angel Heart (1987), directed by Alan Parker
If you like a gory, creepy, dark thriller, you'll love this film, in which Rourke plays Harry Angel, a private detective hired by, yes, Louis Cypher (Robert De Niro) for what Angel thinks is a routine missing-person gig… until everything goes horribly, horribly wrong. As deep and dark as Angel Heart, try Chile's Terranoble Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 ($18.75 CDN, $14.95 USD). Deep and rich, this Cab will have you at its mercy. A lovely nose, this wine will seduce you with cassis, chocolate and raspberry. When the viewing gets tough, and it will, just close your eyes, sip and enjoy!
Barfly (1987), directed by Barbet Schroeder, written by Charles Bukowski
Rouke gives a tour de force performance as Henry Chinaski (read Charles Bukowski), a reckless and obsessed alcoholic poet-cum-novelist who embraces madness, chaos and non-conformity. We watch Chinaski stagger though life, finding love in the arms of bleary-eyed Wanda (Faye Dunaway), his new partner in drink and crime.
For this film, folks, drink anything. Anything with alcohol, save for bitters and mouthwash. And raise a glass to Bukowski, while you're at it. And to the inimitable Mickey Rourke. Good luck February 22nd from a big fan! If you need a date to the Oscars, just let me know…
Jill Vanderkooy, Sommelier and certifiable bon vivant, has worked in the wine industry for over 10 years, has been drinking wine for 25 years and is a true devotee of film across all genres. Her liver thanks you for reading.