A Better Life Through Anger


When you search for Brian Cox’s name on Google, the first name rolls out of the engine, like some sort of binary die, is a British particle physicist of unknown importance. How does this joker get top billing on the marquee of life when there is only room for one Brian Cox – and some toddling English professor is not the one I’m talking about (especially when he looks like Chris Walla of Death Cab for Cutie). The Brian Cox I’m talking about doesn’t have Bieber-bangs or hackneyed theories about protons, he has the hair of a receding wave and the voice of a lion that got punched in the larynx. There was an academic study done years ago, calculated by me, that was celebrated by roughly two people and a hapless canine that happened to be in an earshot of my findings. The gathering of information found that any movie, no matter what subject matter was tethered to its name, became instantly better once Brian Cox began yelling, swearing or spitting. No actor commands an audience with his acrid tongue quite like Cox (I’ll accept Joe Pesci as option B, but since he doesn’t make movies anymore, Cox gets the vote by a quiet default). If you’ve seen any of Cox’s films, you know his voice is as rough and ornery as barrel aged whiskey; cackles like a fire in the wilderness; and, sometimes when he loses steam, putters out like the dented blades of an old motorboat. The Cliff’s Notes are that this actor’s portly, oafish looking posture carries an attitude as volatile as an H-bomb.

Cox shucks any tenuousness that a person may have by spurting out his words as if they were chewing tobacco aimed at a spittoon. Even when he is in awful movies, such as “The Good Heart”, Cox is so slimy and irritable that he makes Archie Bunker look like Eleanor Roosevelt. The thespian rumbles around, the lines in his face resembling the rings of a tree, as he pounds so much alcohol that the walls of his stomach become a makeshift distillery. Trust me: making a film as bad as “The Good Heart” tolerable is a miracle, especially when waif-like Paul Dano is slinking around in the background causing your mind to implode. In my favorite Brian Cox film, “Trick ‘r Treat”, the actor sports a prosthetic nose and gets bitten by a dwarf while yelling at his neighbors. And who can forget his second film ever, “Manhunter”, where he plays the face-munching Hannibal Lector. In the aforementioned film, Cox finds the time to be tastefully angry while demeaning Gil Grissom of CSI – or “that one guy with the beard on that detective show,” as I like to call him.

In closing, Brian Cox should be in every movie, drinking and swearing like an alcoholic sailor with Tourette syndrome, from the first frame of a movie until the last. Take for instance the anemic “Jersey Girl”: the movie would have been one-hundred times better with a sweaty, agitated Brian Cox courting Liv Tyler. “Dear John” would have been the “Citizen Kane” of the 2000s if Cox had played Channing Tatum’s character. And “Date Night” would have been good if Cox didn’t star in the film, but instead broke beer bottles over the entire production team’s heads. My studies have proven that Brian Cox is the sheet music to life. To quote him, I give you a line from “25th Hour.”

“Eat your goddamn steak.”

Author: Rob Patrick

The program director of the Olympia Film Society, Rob is also a former San Diego Film Critics Society member. He has written for The East County Californian, The Alpine Sun, The East County Herald, The San Diego Entertainer, and the San Diego Reader. When he isn't curating a film festival, he is drinking rosé out of a plastic cup in Seattle or getting tattoos from Jenn Champion.

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