Our Five Favorite Val Kilmer Films, In Honor of Today's Dallas Visit
He shaved his head onstage at Fun Fun Fun Fest, so Kilmer should look extra aerodynamic while snatching up his Dallas Star Award this evening at The Art of Film, the Dallas Film Society's annual Fall fundraiser. The night goes all out, with red carpet arrivals leading into the Hall of State followed by a night of intimate conversation and dinner.
Tomorrow (Saturday, November 17), DFS keeps the party rolling with a special screening of two Kilmer classics, The Doors and Batman Forever at the Angelika. (Go here for details.) But I never cared for Batman Forever. Yes, it's Burton and Schumacher, but it felt gimmicky without going far enough to veer into satire. Plus, it came at a time of Jim Carey over-saturation. I suppose I just like my Dark Knight a little darker.
It got me thinking about Kilmer's lifetime of work and of all the films engrained in me that he played a hand in bringing to life. Here's my five favorites. Cheers, Val. We love ya.
(Have a favorite Val Kilmer film? Of course you do. Stick it in the comments.)
5. Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (2009) -- This weirdo sibling film to Ferrara's just kinda did it for me. I was captivated enough by Herzog's bizarro take on seedy morality to watch this one in the theater, twice. Plus: NICHOLAS CAGE AT HIS CAGE-IEST. But the characters that really steal the show aren't Kilmer, Cage or Mendez, it's the surreal alligator that Herzog lets linger on the screen uncomfortably long and these hallucinatory iguanas.
4. Willow -- It was an early Ron Howard directing gig, and it fell into that interesting time in the '80s where oddly creepy folkloric tales were being packaged up and sold to a Betamax generation of kids. And you know what? It worked. Labyrinth, The Princess Bride, The Dark Crystal, Willow -- we loved these films, which is interesting looking back, since they were fairly dark subject matter for their target audience. Also, Kilmer looks hot it in.
3. Top Secret! I love Kilmer in this slapstick ode to espionage. Yeah, it's pure camp, complete with Elvis-inspired song and dance numbers, Airplane-like physical gags and most of all: this underwater fight scene that was actually filmed underwater.
2. Tombstone -- To date, no actor playing a cowboy has looked sexier while withering away with TB than Val Kilmer did in this early '90s western. He's pale and dying before our eyes, and still he gives Doc Holiday such a heavy dose of charm that we brace ourselves for the vapors.
1. Real Genius -- This movie represents everything that was great about the '80s. It was the height of geek culture, as told through film. First we had Revenge of the Nerds , followed by Weird Science and then Real Genius entered our lives, completing us.
Playing the plucky Chris Knight, Kilmer's character resides in the inner sanctum of dork haven, the top secret laser program at Pacific Tech. There's a fella named Laslo living in the closet, amateur prank dentistry and more novelty tee shirts than you can find at Urban Outfitters. It's perfection. A hangover classic, Real Genius gives us a loveable look at young Kilmer.
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