6. anger management
as chuck, a member of the main character's court-ordered anger management therapy group, turturro plays a wonderful foil to adam sandler's dave buznik, and may actually be the first character to really start buznik on the path toward recovery. he is neurotic, paranoid, and overreactive--and hilarious. turturro's innate new york accent just adds to his hostility toward everyone, making him more believable though still highlighting the comedy of his character. his is a bit part though, in comparison to jack nicholson and adam sandler's roles--and because of that, it isn't his best. this movie's a good intro to one side of turturro's acting repertoire.
5. secret window
turturro is so deliciously creepy in this movie. when i saw it, i didn't know anything about turturro, and i only knew him as the guy from o brother, where art thou?--so, as usual, it surprised me to see him so calm and collected in this movie, such a contrast to o brother. he plays john shooter, mort rainey's (johnny depp) alter-ego. one must love a man who exists in johnny depp's imagination, admittedly. the black hat and duster jacket turn turturro into a shady force to be reckoned with, confident, introverted, and insistent on his accusations of rainey. shooter is still a small part for turturro, but he seems to like that feel of moviemaking, from what i've seen--he's pretty out of the limelight for a hollywood guy.
this movie's okay: people who play poker or enjoy gambling or have some related addiction would probably love it. and i have to admit, sometimes matt damon can pull off that suspense and anxiety thing pretty well for the audience. overall, i'm not a big matt damon fan; however, john turturro plays what seems like a more trustworthy prototype of john shooter here. he could be creepy in rounders, but really, he just knows how to play the game, both the social and the technical aspects of it. matt damon's character never listens, and john turturro's always knows better because he's older, he's from the streets of new york city, and he's been attacked by loan sharks too. turturro strikes me as extremely honest and caring in this movie, which is another example of the flexibility inherent to his career.
3. miller's crossing
another esoteric film noir by the coen brothers, miller's crossing has john turturro playing, as a younger man, a nervous, jumpy, and crafty foil to the almost-hero of gabriel byrne. turturro's character, bernie, seems nice at first, like someone tom reagan (byrne) could manipulate enough to leave him alone. it turns out he's not so innocent, though his sister, verna, reagan's girlfriend, would like to believe that, and bernie eventually has to beg for regan to spare him his life. the plot is twisted, fast-moving, and all of the characters are tangled up so tightly they can barely move; bernie plays both a fallboy and a threat to reagan and his politics, as well as the politics of the rest of the prohibition-cursed city. yet another side to turturro, a glimmer of his early days before he settled into himself for movies like secret window.
2. the big lebowski
it's true, john turturro has very, very few lines in this movie, but are they ever memorable. in fact, there are shirts of just his lines as "tenpin pedophile" jesus quintana, one of which i got for my (pretty much ex-) boyfriend: "nobody fucks with the jesus." the dude (jeff bridges), walter (john goodman), and donny (steve buscemi, another coen favorite) play jesus at their local bowling alley in the much-contested bowling league. jesus is weird, to be frank: he wears a purple crushed velvet leisure suit to bowl in, and his bowling ball, which he enjoys licking as a form of luck or something, is also purple. who knew? john turturro can also play a hispanic pedophile who wears a hairnet to the bowling alley. need i say more?
and the number one turturro movie that i've seen so far: o brother, where art thou?
i love this movie. i love everyone in it. i love the plot, i love the characters, i love the lines. and john turturro's pete is spectacular. here, again, he is honest, but he is a convict in a depression-era jail chained to george clooney's determined ulysses everett mcgill. when everett escapes from jail, he takes pete and delmar (tim blake nelson) with him to find the "treasure" he hid a couple years before. pete himself goes on another treasure hunt after he is kidnapped by the devil/warden chasing them, the fugitives. instead of his new york city instinct, turturro here employs his best southern accent and gets scruffy in the face to complete the role of reticent, dull, yet enchanting pete. i don't know if this movie is his best filmmaking effort, but for the purposes of the movie, he was absolutely wonderful. if you didn't get it already, i highly recommend this movie, along with all the others on this list, as well as any other turturro movie not on this list.