05/02/2013 05:07 pm ET Updated Jul 02, 2013

The Iceman : Chilling With Michael Shannon

The movie, The Iceman, is all the chillier because it is based on a true story. A hit man procedural directed by Ariel Vromen, the film opens with a close up of Michael Shannon as contract killer Richard Kuklinski looking haggard and hirsute, being asked if he has any regrets. Moving back in time to the '70's, we see him tender, courting his would be wife, Deborah, and then we see his short fuse, in a back alley pool hall, when he feels dissed.

Given its subject matter, a contract killer responsible for offing over 100 men, The Iceman shows remarkable restraint: you see some straight ahead violence, throats are deftly slit, but even more terrifying is the sight of doomed men pleading for their lives, or packed as human ice bricks. The ensemble work is first rate, with Ray Liotta as a mob boss and John Ventimiglia as his knife-happy underling. Chris Evans as Mr. Freezy is both butcher and soft ice cream salesman, with David Schwimmer, Robert Davi and James Franco, heartless losers in smaller roles.

Winona Ryder lends her fine boned delicacy to the role of Deborah, the clueless wife, even when she's mussed up awakened from sleep by her husband's sleeplessness. As John Gotti's wife is said to have replied to the question, what does your husband do for a living: she might say, he provides. At the Soho House premiere party this week, Ryder spoke about her commitment to the legendary City Lights founder in her hometown of San Francisco, poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti, now 94. She and Justin Long plan to perform in poet Michael McClure's "The Beard" in the fall. And just a few hours before the Tony Award nominations were announced, Billy Magnussen, agile and hunky in "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike," stopped by to add some mayhem to the party. Cavorting about, giving noisy air kisses, the honey blond actor, a cartoon of perfection with rippled arms and chiseled six pack, keeps wondering why people think he's type cast as Christopher Durang's hilarious Spike. You can only imagine how out of control he must be now that he's a Best Actor in a Featured Role nominee.

A version of this post also appears on Gossip Central.