This is the first entry in an ongoing series by Parallax View contributor Jeff Shannon, written in appreciation ofÂ lesser-known films, performances, film-related achievementsÂ or other newsworthy items that haven’t received the attention they deserve.
Donâ€™t get me wrong: Red is a not great movie, or even aÂ very good one. But if youâ€™re looking for a minor gem that wonâ€™t waste your time, you might find (as I did) that Red will grab and hold your attention, and thatâ€™s a lot more than you can say aboutÂ the mostly-redundant, higher-profile crap coming out of Hollywood these days.
More to the point, Red is a worthy showcase for an exceptional actor whoâ€™s earned plenty of critical praise but relatively little public appreciation. Brian Cox first came to American critical attention for originating the role of Hannibal Lecter (then spelled â€œLecktorâ€) in Michael Mannâ€™s Manhunter (1986), by which time the burly Scot (b. Brian Denis Cox, Dundee, Scotland, June 1, 1946) had been working in U.K. television and movies for over two decades. His career boosted by his cleverly sinister performance as Lecter, Cox has been in demand ever since: Among his 141 acting credits currently listed on IMDb, my personal favorites include his memorably villainous turn in Rob Roy (he also appeared in Braveheart the same year, 1995); his complex and enigmatic portrayal of pederast â€œBig Johnâ€ Harrigan in Michael Cuestaâ€™s risky-but-rewarding L.I.E. (2001); and, more recently, his flamboyant yet melancholy turn as traveling showman Jack Langrishe in the third (and sadly final) season of HBOâ€™s Deadwood (2006).
Those were all serious roles, each blessed with the subtle humor that informs many of Coxâ€™s performances. Occasionally that humor is delightfully less than subtle: Cox is one of the better reasons to watch Super Troopers (2001); he scored an Emmy nomination for an appearance on TV’sÂ Frasier (1993); and his line deliveries in The Ringer (2005) are pee-your-pants hilarious.
Now we can add Red to the roster of Coxâ€™s finest work to date; itâ€™s â€œunder the radarâ€ because itâ€™s been little-seen beyond its Sundance premiere in January 2008. (I wouldnâ€™t be writing this if I hadnâ€™t happened upon the filmâ€™s one-night preview on HDNet Movies, on the eve of its brief U.S. theatrical release in a handful of east-coast cinemas.)