Inky Film

It’s no secret that I love a man with lots of ink. It’s not much of a secret that I love women covered in tattoos too. So. Fucking. Sexy.

But movies rarely feature tattoos as sex appeal. Tattoos in movies often serve one of two purposes. Either they help us identify the bad guy or it helps “transform” a soft Hollywood heartthrob into a dude with edge (Jared Leto’s The Joker seems to be taking pages from both of these books). In fact, I’d bet Hollywood spends more time erasing the existing tattoos of its stars than inking some in. Too bad.

Ryan Gosling, I’m sorry to say, is one such softie. He’s got such a babyface that he’s more PLACE BEYOND THE PINESMouseketeer than badass so it’s no surprise that in The Place Beyond The Pines he gets painted into character as a motorcycle stunt rider turned bank robber. Gosling and his friend Ben Shields designed the temporary tattoos that adorn his arms, torso, neck, back, and even his face in the movie. The tattoos represent a history of bad decision making for his character, and they also make him a literally marked man – when he walks into a packed church full of people in their Sunday finest, the contrast is unsettling.

Tom Hardy, on the other hand, doesn’t need much help to look like a beast, as he does in screenhunter_66-jan-20-10-08Warrior. Dude was fucking ripped. Like many MMA fighters, Hardy sported lots of ink in the movie, but the truth is, every last one of them was his own. And if you check out a shirtless pic of him more recently (and I suggest you do) you’ll see that his inked space has nearly doubled and he has no plans to stop the growing artistry across his chest, only to avoid getting any on his neck, because that would mean he’s “checked out.”

 

The tattoos on Guy Pearce in Momento are not his own. If you’ve seen the movie, then you mementoknow how integral to the plot they are: a man with no short term memory keeps helpful information tattooed on his body in his quest to find his wife’s murderer. The tattoos are complex and the makeup artists needed to get them precisely right each and every time. ”The tattoo outlines were put on transfer paper and then onto my body,” remembers Pearce. Each outline transfer would last about a week, and at the beginning of each shooting day, makeup would paint them in.

 

Brad Pitt in Snatch is another pretty boy that needs to be roughed up with some ink – and somebradp terrible ink at that. Single-needle, homemade looking stuff with greenish ink, his religious-themed tattoos identify him and are the image of poverty itself. But hat’s off to the makeup artist who did them because they never run NO MATTER HOW SWEATY HE GETS.

 

 

georgecBrad’s pal George Clooney sported some ink in a movie from 1996. In From Dusk Till Dawn, he plays a criminal, and we all know that criminals helpfully identify themselves with evil-signifying tattoos. For most of the movie, we see a bold piece of tribal tattoo snaking up from the collar of George’s shirt. Only toward the end do we get the payoff of seeing (almost) the whole glorious piece.  If you think sitting still for tattoo application every day before shooting must be an ordeal, consider the removal: George’s work had to be removed with gasoline and a blow dryer at the end of each day.

The Night of the Hunter may feature the most famous movie tattoos of all time. Robert the-night-of-the-hunterMitchum plays a religious fanatic who marries a widow to gain access to her children, who know where their father’s misbegotten fortune is buried. Mitchum’s genius LOVE and HATE knuckle tattoos are used as props in his sermons and are a good representation of this unforgettable villain. This wonderful film The-Night-of-the-Hunter-005is filled with rich symbolism, but it doesn’t take much to figure out what’s happening when the LOVE hand embraces and the HATE hand brandishes weapons. These tattoos belong in the hall of fame.

You can only have one favourite though, and I’ve saved the best for last. The Broken Circle Breakdown was one of, if not my favourite movie in 2012. It’s a powerful, fucked up film about a couple trying to survive the throes of grief. The woman just happens to be a tattoo artist and she wears her livelihood, and also her heart, all over her body. Veerle Baetens underwent extensive work in the makeup chair to perfect her character’s look and the director sought the help of a real-life tattoo artist to inspire and design all of the elements. The designs were tailored to fit the actor’s body and then laser printed on a special transferable paper that stayed in place for up to four days at a time. I love how the character uses her tattoos as a road map to her body, and her life. I love how she shows him all the names of ex-lovers she’s had covered up – beauty and realism all in one humble little spot.

the_broken_circle_breakdown_pubs

And it fucking destroys me how hot she is.

What’s your favourite tattoo? Got any yourself? Ever seen a tattoo tribute to a movie?

***NEW ENTRY!***

Guess who just saw Southpaw this weekend!

Ladies and gentlemen, may I present for your consideration:

3044397-poster-p-1-the-southpaw-trailer-hits-you-with-a-ridiculously-cut-jake-gyllenhaal-and-new-eminem-musicI particularly thought his forearm tattoos were sexy.

Oh man, apparently I need to find myself a lawyer who secretly looks like a boxer underneath his suit…

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27 thoughts on “Inky Film

  1. kmSalvatore

    As a matter of fact Jat I do have one ;)! I’d get another if I could only decide where to put it . I commemorated my 50th birthday by getting one. Here’s s short story.. I was a phlebotomist once upon a time and I had this couple who came in every week to have their blood drawn, we got to be pretty tight !! Well one day they came in and had the (same) perfect tat!! The guy had his between his index finger and thumb , the wife had hers on her chest.. What is it u ask??? It’s a butterfly with an eye and a heart and a tear drop coming from the eye . And I have mine on my hip.. Becuz…? It’s for me;)
    Now any Robert Mitchum movie is right up my alley but the one your talking about… Awesome !!!!!!

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  2. Wendell

    Great post. I don’t think I’ve seen another one like it. The only thing this post is really missing is any mention of either version of Lisbeth Salander of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

    Justin Timberlake sported some nice ink in Alpha Dog. Interesting story behind it, too. The make up artists had to cover up/work around his real tats to try and match the ones of the person he was playing.

    I have four of my own. My first one is still my fave – the NY Yankees logo on my chest.

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    1. Jay Post author

      I knew that I’d called out for that omission but I haven’t seen the movies so I’m in no position to comment!

      I do love that you’ve got some Yankee love though!

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  3. fragglerocking

    I too remember fondly Viggo in Eastern promises, awesome naked fight scene. I have one tat on my shoulder blade, just a boring rose. My family though have loads, I might have to do a photo shoot of them all some day. Great post Jay 🙂

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  4. Billy

    I can’t really contribute for the film thing as you mention gorgeous tattooed people and I think of Wentworth Miller in Prison Break… a Tv show so doesn’t count. I just think that seeing his tattoo meant he’d take his shirt of and yum.
    I have two tattoos, the first one is more like the ones they did on Brad: done in London at 15, in a squat, by a nice fat guy who kept offering me tea in filthy cups, while I was accompanied by a Dutch Man whom I later found was suspected of attempting to kill his girlfriend back in Holland. I didn’t go back to colour in the “Japanese swallow”‘s head, so the Dutch guy I’d dumped would find me. I’d asked for a swallow and the phrase “Come tu mi vuoi”, by Pirandello (“as you desire me”) and I got a scrawl and a “Japanese swallow” (also a scrawl really).
    My tattoo is ugly as hell, but it has a story. Though I would really love to be able to afford a proper and large tattoo, maybe even cover the old one, I can’t bring myself to. It’s there to remind me.

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  5. Brittani

    Great post! I love tattoos, and you’re right they’re way too often used to identify bad boys or rough people up. I haven’t seen Broken Circle Breakdown, it’s in my Netflix queue, but she looks gorgeous. One tattoo I always liked was Blake Lively’s butterflies going down her arm in Savages. I thought it was a nice touch for her character.

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  6. briana1010

    “It’s no secret that I love a man with lots of ink. It’s not much of a secret that I love women covered in tattoos too. So. Fucking. Sexy.”

    You and me both! Great post!

    I have an oak tree on my arm in front of a sunset that stands for a variety of things, but someone in a bar asked me if it was for Avatar, which I’ve never seen and had just come out at the time. I came close to punching him in the face for thinking that I ran out and got a 9 hours worth of ink for a movie that came out a few days earlier.

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    1. Jay Post author

      And how many times had that guy seen the movie if he’d already memorized the scenery? That’s a bit weird. But strangers who make conversation based on your tattoos are always a little weird, in my experience.

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  7. NoTrade Jack

    I was in an apprenticeship to tattoo last year and I had to quit. I did some pretty cool ones but the ratio of cool ones to complete shit ones wasn’t good. Also, I cried every time I messed up and that’s not very comforting… Tattoo artists are bad asses.

    And, I think Snatch is in my top 100 movies of all time. “Ya like degs?”

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    1. Jay Post author

      Well that’s the coolest thing I’ve heard all day!
      The image of a crying tattoo artist is funny to be right now, when I’m safely NOT being tattooed. I can see how it would be stressful though, knowing you’re making permanent modifications to someone’s body.

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  8. J.

    I liked ol’ Matthew’s tattoo get-up in Reign of Fire, but Mitchum’s are great, cause they’re nice and simple (he didn’t need loads of tattoos to look menacing, right?)

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  9. laura kilty

    Haven’t seen The Broken Circle Breakdown but I will now. And I took your advice and did some image searches for Tom Hardy, just you know, you said it was recommended and all… 🙂 I love tats as well, I have a number of them and am getting one lasered off at the moment and yet still planning my next- they are addictive, yeah?! Also love Viggo in Eastern Promises. And Ed Norton in American History X is just savage- disturbing and awesome use of ink. Cool post!

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  10. Pingback: The New Hampshire Film Festival | Assholes Watching Movies

  11. Niall McArdle

    Great piece – tattoos have become so ubiquitous, we seldom notice them, and as you say, most actors probably have to have them covered up my the make-up people. I love Hardy, but find his tats ugly as anything. Then again, I am not a huge fan of tattoos, and think that there’s a limit (how much of Angelina Jolie’s body is not inked at this point?) I know Hardy’s sporting tattoos in his new thing TABOO (not sure if they are his own or faked).

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