Telluride 2012: Michael Shannon scary good in ‘The Iceman’

If Michael Shannon was hoping his next film might be a romantic comedy, “The Iceman” could torpedo those plans.

After its world premiere in Venice, Italy, the actor’s violent hit man drama enjoyed its North American premiere Saturday night at the Telluride Film Festival, cementing Shannon’s reputation as one of Hollywood’s most terrifying actors.

Based on the true story of Richard Kuklinski, who was a contract killer by day and devoted family man by night, “The Iceman” is an operatically violent chronicle of a sociopath that seeks to explain one man’s unquenchable rage.


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Kuklinski struggles to lead a normal life in 1970s New Jersey, and shelter his wife (Winona Ryder) and two daughters from his occupational hazards. But when rival gangs start feuding, menace comes knocking at his front door, forcing Kuklinski to take even more drastic steps. Suffice to say the film’s budget for fake blood was about as big as its tab for polyester suits.

“This character is so extreme in his duality,” said the film’s director, Ariel Vromen. “He didn’t get satisfaction out of killing, but he did get empowerment.”

Shannon, best known for playing dark and troubled characters in “Revolutionary Road” and “Take Shelter,” brings a demeanor so forbidding to every “Iceman” scene that some people in Telluride think his performance is awards worthy.

Millennium Films, the B-movie studio that financed the film’s production, is said to be entertaining offers from other distributors who could give “The Iceman” a proper Oscar push.


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