Out of the Furnace: Five Reasons To Watch

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Yesterday I saw the latest film from director Scott Cooper, Out of the Furnace, which is worth a watch, but did not live up to the hype. I’ve read and reviewed several film critiques over at Existimatum, all of which seem to reference Bruce Springsteen and the 1978 film The Deer Hunter. Enjoy five teasers below that don’t involve The Boss or Robert DeNiro with a shotgun.

1. Forrest Whitaker’s Voice

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There is an incredibly powerful moment in Out of the Furnace when Chief Wesley Barnes (Forrest Whitaker) has to deliver some bad news to a local, but the moment is ruined by Whitaker’s character/method-acting, serial killer voice. It appears to have originated during a take in which the actor approached Christian Bale with a Batman impression and everyone decided it might be a good idea for the character. It doesn’t ruin the film, but there is one troubling scene which will make you cry with laughter, simply because of Whitaker’s aggressive vocals.

2. Woody Harrelson as A Complete Psycho

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The opening scene of Out of the Furnace will let you know exactly how crazy Harlan DeGroat (Woody Harrelson) is. First of all, the name is absolutely fantastic. I would like to see writer/director Scott Cooper’s early list of character names in order to find out if Mark Thomas or Bob Jones were possibly taken into consideration. Harrelson is frightening in the role, and it’s believable until a moment when Harlan reveals tattoos of “fuck” and “you” on each hand. The scene screams out “Look audience – he truly is a lunatic,” as if it already wasn’t obvious. The character also sucks on a lollipop, but it’s not quite as startling as Forrest Whitaker’s voice.

3. Zoe Saldana

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Look at that face. Has it been twelve years since Drumline? Saldana plays Christian Bale’s conflict-avoiding girlfriend in Out of the Furnace, but unfortunately receives little screen time. However, she does command attention in each of her scenes, most notably a heavy reunion with Russell Baze (Bale), which might be the most powerful moment of the film.

4. Willem DaFoe as The Reasonable Bookie

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You can’t go wrong with Willem Dafoe in your cast, and Scott Cooper understands this scientific fact by casting the veteran actor in Out of the Furnace. WD surprises as John Petty, a local bookie who is stern but fair with the brothers Baze. Late payments? Ahh, he’ll work something out. Need some help? Just push the guy a bit, and he’ll make it happen. Petty is a bookie with a heart of gold, and sometimes that heart makes blood spray everywhere.

5. Christian Bale’s Performance

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Christian Bale gives one of the best performances of his career in Out of the Furnace. He simply acts and doesn’t rely on quirks to make his role stand out. Russell Baze is a man straight out of a Dostoevsky novel, and has suffered much like Prince Myshkin in The Idiot. Bale does wonders with his facial expressions by harnessing the pain of the character, and maintains a consistent look of optimism, especially in a devastating scene with his ex-girlfriend.

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