I have two young kids, so the closest I usually get to a night on the town is a skate and a movie. Truth be told, this is as fun and fruitful as anything I used to do after work in my 20s. When I am rolling about town on a skateboard, on my way to a movie, my mind goes to a quiet place where choices are reflected upon, the future is given ample consideration and ideas are born. I also usually have a little love affair with my skateboard, my shoes and whatever functional stuff I am wearing or carrying. It is all very emotional, and by the time I am sitting in the darkened theater, I am putty, ready to be moved by a piece of moving art.

Photography by selectism.com

Read about my skateboard ride to see the new Woody Harrelson vehicle, Rampart, after the jump.

My buddy wanted to see Rampart, too. We agreed to meet at the movie theater in one of Denver’s fanciest malls. I work all the way across town, but couldn’t fucking wait to skateboard the seven miles after wrapping up at my desk. I had packed a laptop and a sixer into my Chrome roll-top backpack and had some Adidas Immotile skate shoes on my feet. These are an update on an old cycling shoe from their archives by professional skateboarder Mark Gonzales and my steed was also of his design—a Krooked Zip Zinger. This is a classically shaped deck with quick bearings and big soft wheels, making it perfect for rolling fast over even the roughest surfaces.

I bombed the hill from the Highlands into downtown and picked up the Cherry Creek Trail. I paused troll-like under an overpass to sip a beer and thought about heavy stuff. Then, I pressed onward.

Nothing of huge significance happened along the way, though as I rolled over one of the many bridges that crisscross the creek, another troll-like being emerged from underneath—this one extraordinarily grimy. The way he staggered up the grassy bank provided a sharp contrast to the many joggers and cyclists who kept their distance as they whisked past in all of their fit and clean glory.

About fifty yards away, I noticed some ducks holding fast upstream to avoid the spot he had crawled away from. It was a moment of real truth.

“Truth” was perhaps the defining word of the evening, because for as many amazing performances as I have seen Woody Harrelson deliver in as many amazing movies, Rampart was his salted caramel. There are few actors of his caliber working in film today, but the thing I keep coming back to: his teeth. He is one of a handful his peers who doesn’t have silly veneers and does not even appear to go so far as whitening his chompers. His mouth is really put to the test in this film. where he plays Dave “Date Rape” Brown, a chain-smoking, toe-sucking, dirty LAPD officer who is on a collision course with consequences.

This is as complex and searing a performance as I can think of. I’ve heard the movie described as “the one where Woody Harrelson plays the racist cop,” but that is a cop-out. Brown is a character with staggering levels of depth and intelligence matched by methodical belligerence, brutish sexuality and plain old rage. There is a lot going on in this meaty character study, but the storytelling is patient and subdued, and Harrelson never lets this slimy creation slip from his grasp. It is like Bad Lieutenant with an audible heartbeat. I could go on, but do not need to. See Rampart. Skate to the theater as fast as you can.

—Josh Tyson

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