His casting does sort of play the movie's hand right away, undercutting any sense of ambiguity that one might have at the outset. Even if you've never seen a Jack Nicholson performance or even heard of the actor, it's hard not to read him as crazy almost as soon as he's introduced.
29. Walker (A)
: Alex Cox's 1987 film, which is (tenuously) a bio-pic about US imperialist William Walker's time in Nicaragua during the 1850s, was the beginning of the end of his Hollywood career, but what a way to go out. In actuality, this film isn't much of a historical bio-pic at all. Instead, it's a rather idiosyncratic, at times hilarious, and often bizarre treatment of US Imperialism in Central American in the 1980s as seen through the lens of Walker's own intervention in Central America in the 1850s. It's deliberately filled with anachronisms, over-the-top performances, totally unreliable narration, slapstick humor -- essentially, nothing that you would expect from a film funded by a Hollywood studio (in this case, Universal). It's easy to see why critics savaged it so relentlessly upon release, and even easier to see why it's been re-evaluated as a classic 25 years later. Ed Harris' lead performance as Walker (who is quite definitely insane) is magnetic, and Peter Boyle delivers an excellent supporting role as Cornelius Vanderbilt in two memorable scenes.
Not an easy film to explain, but definitely worth seeing. And the print (shown for the films' 25th anniversary) I saw was beautiful, too!
Theatres: 12 +1
Home Video: 16