If you go back and
do a little homework, youíll find thereís a strong connection between
actors playing iconic figures and failing careers afterward. Look
at anyone whoís played Superman. Have you seen Michael Keaton do
anything good lately? How about anyone who ever played James Bond?
Oh sure, Sean Connery managed to step outside the shadow after about
a decade or so Ė there are always exceptions. But when the brainiacs
at MGM shitcanned Pierce Brosnan as Bond and replaced him with a
guy whoíd be better cast as a Nazi officer in a prequel to Schindlerís
List, they pushed Brosnan off the plank to either sink or swim.
And if The Matador is any indication of Brosnanís
swimming prowess, the man has no worries. He plays a hitman whoís
losing his edge, and Greg Kinnear plays a businessman years into
a run of bad luck. While both on business, they become friends after
a few awkward conversations. What could have easily turned into
yet another sorry buddy movie completely sidesteps the possibility
by infusing its characters with such bizarreness and dropping them
into situations so random that you canít avoid laughing.
In addition to demented humor, The Matador is also
a very clever character study into what makes a psychopath tick.
Brosnanís character admits to being a psychopath and the way his
character unravels is also the result of good choices and a great
script thatís every bit hilarious and edgy as it is witty. Greg
Kinnear and Hope Davis also turn in performances that turn on a
dime, going from straight to wounded to offbeat. But make no mistake,
this is Mr. Brosnanís show.
For as much as I thought Brosnan was the best Bond
since Connery, heís pretty much been playing the role of either
a spy, a thief or some variation thereof for the last 20 years.
Admittedly, a hitman isnít too far off, but at least the manís proved
heís capable of more than making soccer moms wet. Heís also delivered
his best role ever. Including James Bond.
In reading this review you may expect to read certain
words. Fag may be one of them. Backyard drilling, ass banditry,
butt pirates, felching, canned goods, tops & bottoms, pitcher
& catcher, friends of Dorothy, down low, water sports, snow
monkeys, donkey punchingByou get the idea. You may even expect me
to refer to this film as Bareback Mountain or Brokeass Mountain.
But Iím not going to.
For one, thereís no point. You canít turn on a talk
show without hearing a Brokeback Mountain joke of some kind. Itís
pretty redundant and not even that funny anymore. Although it was
pretty funny when at a Q & A in Kansas someone asked George
W. Bush if he saw the movie and he said no, but he could talk about
The fact of the matter is for a movie about a 20-year
relationship between two cowboys, Brokeback Mountain isnít gay.
Or at least not that gay. This is coming from a guy whoís been to
a few drag shows, politely turned down a few propositions from men,
has a few gay friends and delivers copies of this paper to the stretch
of gay bars on Allen every other Thursday. The thought of two men
kissing or going at it neither repulses nor does anything for me.
Maybe itís the steady diet of liberal media talking
here, but what the hellís the big goddamn deal? Two guys work on
a mountain herding sheep one summer. Itís a cold night, theyíre
sleeping in the same tent, wake up horny in the middle of the night
and go for it. Jobís done, they go their separate ways, and each
gets wrangled into a subsequently miserable marriage thatís somehow
bearable as long as thereís a trip to the mountain on the horizon.
But what does put me off is a movie thatís consistently
depressing from beginning to end. The whole white trash ainít-never-had-me-no-education
and otherwise thoroughly dismal setting didnít exactly suck me in.
The forbidden love scenario didnít come off as entirely convincing
either. Yeah, yeah. Forbidden love isnít supposed to be all chocolate
and hookers, but if youíre going to risk getting your ass stomped
by a bunch of good old boys canít you at least say I love you?
But then youíre dealing with men after all. Even
though they go on Afishing trips@ where the only things they catch
are trouser snakes, thereís not too much talking about their feelings.
Jake Gyllenhaalís character Jack is definitely the bitch as he eventually
gets prissy when Heath Ledgerís character Ennis canít make the summer
uh, fishing trip some 20 since they first met.
Contrary to what you may have heard, the sex is
not frequent, overbearing or graphic. You see more nudity out of
Anne Hathaway and Michelle Williams than you do out of Gyllenhaal
and Ledger. This is not to say that Brokeback Mountain is all
depression and potential nausea. Thereís a fun and random sequence
where Jack and Ennis deal with their respective Thankgivings. And
Gyllenhaal grows a sweet cookie duster toward the end of the movie.
If youíre on the fence as far as whether or not
to see Brokeback Mountain, donít avoid it because two men ride the
hobbyhorse or because it allegedly defames the classic image of
the American Cowboy. Thatís a really dumb reason to avoid a beautifully
shot film by Ang Lee, one of the best directors working today. If
you pass because itís drawn out, morose, and brooding, then those
are valid reasons not to see it. Oh, and it doesnít end well. Iíll
tell you that right now.
I remember that fall day back in 2003. Sucked in
by the eurotrash glamour ad campaign of the original Underworld
and the excitement of my friend Amanda to see it, we decided that
even if all there was to the damn thing was Kate Beckinsale in skin-tight
vinyl and some cool special effects weíd be happy. Besides, the
idea of vampires fighting werewolves seemed kind of intriguing.
We got one of the two that day. The special effects
were indeed special Ė that is, if youíre going by the Corky Thatcher
definition of special. Straight-to-video production values and the
overwhelming desire to be another Matrix as blatantly phony werewolves
took on the weakest representation of vampires ever depicted anywhere.
Magnificently powerful creatures were reduced to candy-ass ravers
who were going to party party party until Terrible Tuesday hit.
And the werewolves were like badly CGIíd pro wrestlers that the
producers would believe convincing given the lack of dialogue. It
had no drive B no effective buildup that really had you rooting
one way or the other. But letís not dwell on the negative.
Letís talk about the then-Miss Beckinsale, before
she married the movieís director, Len Wiseman. She looked good,
no doubt about that. So do strippers at a strip club before you
realize you canít touch and get subsequently bored. She looked slimy
through the whole thing and the scowling got old fast. The fuse
went out pretty quickly there.
Of course, with any movie of this nature, theyíve
got to leave it open for a sequel. I wasnít too scared there, because
I thought Underworld a bad movie, but had the potential to be a
great implement of torture. Kind of like former Creed frontman Scott
Stappís solo albums, or Syd Barrett tribute shows.
But Underworld: Evolution? Ye gods, where was this
script two and a half years ago? Itís a brilliant metaphor for the
American government today. The vampiric Republicans trying to edge
out the Democratic werewolves as their grass roots sensibilities
are about to be extinguished. And Beckinsaleís conscience guiding
her to do whatís right and just, as she slinks around in black vinyl,
telling the vampires, Ayou used to have this. Now you canít.@ Alliances
change. The line between good and evil is incredibly blurred. And
if you believe a word of this crap you deserve to lose the price
of admission for the most unnecessary and pointless sequel in recent
history (and Iím including both Matrix sequels in that statement).
The best way I can describe watching Underworld:
Evolution is like knowing that youíre going to have a very long
and even more trying day ahead of you. Relatives, a 12-hour shift
at work... hell, letís throw Christmas Day in there while weíre
at it. And youíve got only a bottle of your preferred poison with
maybe enough to keep you sane for maybe twenty minutes. Oh, and
youíre in a dry county.
So if the end of the original Underworld left you
wanting more of a D&D-inspired gothfest, drier than Kafka on
the moon, Iím sure you and your Hot Topic wardrobe will be very
happy. If youíre slowly moving away from the idea but you still
want to see vampires fight werewolves, I suggest watching American
Werewolf in London and throwing those Anne Rice books you havenít
read in ten years at the TV. Ohhh! That werewolf looks pissed! What
are you going to do now Lestat?
Well itís January. And in the world of the local
cineplex, that means its time for an inspirational, based-on-a-true
story sports tale of underdogs overcoming all obstacles and never
wavering in the face of adversity. Coach Carter, Remember the Titans,
Friday Night Lights. Are bells and whistles going off yet? If youíve
seen them, youíve seen Glory Road. If you donít care, move along.
These arenít the droids youíre looking for.
So why the hell should you bother with Glory Road?
I canít give you one good reason. Of course we start with the up-and-coming
coach with way too much to prove, who is put in charge of a gang
of undisciplined players/students who were never given a chance.
Letís not forget the team that always wins that theyíre going up
against for the final game, where our heroes will prove their worth
and show that they didnít come all this way for nothing.
The (only) thing that I found interesting about
Glory Road was how, when a team of predominantly black players was
put in for the final game, everyone went batshit like there was
some kind of human sacrifice happening on the court. What? Were
all the honkies upset because black people found a way out from
underneath Whiteyís thumb? The movie takes place in the mid-60s
and makes out like discovering that black people can play basketball
is akin to the reinvention of fire. Ooh! So what can we expect now?
A movie showing that blacks are better athletes?
Look. Iíve already reviewed this movie about half
a dozen times. Aside from the fact that Glory Road threw in a racial
aspect as well as the hard-ass coach pushing a bunch of players/students
who are good kids, but just need a step in the right direction.
Iíve enlisted the help of someone who may have caught something
I might have missed. A different perspective, if you want to call
it that. A female perspective:
I recently was required to attend
a screening of Glory Road as part of a ďTeam BuildingĒ outing
with 6 coworkers and my boss. Every once in awhile my boss gets
a hair up his butt to try to make us in middle management ďbondĒ
so we have better teamwork or something.
Imagine being forced to hang out
with the people you work with. Not just the cool people, ALL of
the people. The weird, skinny, quiet guy with thick glasses whose
pants are too short and who no one really talks to. You know,
the guy who won the vote for most likely to come in Friday morning
shooting. Then thereís the fat balding dude whose belt length
clearly exceeds his height, who sweats like a pig even in January
and breathes too hard even when heís been sitting in a chair for
two hours. And donít forget the divorced lady who laughs too loud,
who has been smoking since she was like 6 years old so her voice
sounds like someoneís rubbing her trachea with sandpaper and her
teeth are reminiscent of baked beans. How long have you had that
cough? 8 years? Eh, Iím sure itís nothing. Oh, and the kiss-ass,
that guy you want to punch in the face because not only does he
take the job way too seriously, but he does nothing but complain
until someone in a position above you is within earshot, and then
itís nothing but spineless yes-man-isms and brownnosery. Ya, those
guys. You have to be seen in public with these people. As if itís
your choice. Take a moment and ponder it. This was my plight the
evening of Jan 18th.
The evening started out at Fuddruckerís.
There was apparently no consideration given to those of us who
donít eat meat. So I had that going for me. After we ate (my salad
was okay) we played a game to see who knew the most about our
fellow coworkers. We all had to write down a secret talent and
then we all had to guess whose was whose. My secret talent? I
can beat just about anyone at Tekken 3. Itís true. But no one
guessed it right. Anyway, to my complete disgust and chagrin,
I won the game by guessing the most correctly. How the hell that
happened, I have no idea. I must have a subconscious understanding
of the mildly freakish (which also explains my last three boyfriends).
My prize B I got to pick out a temporary tattoo my boss had to
wear on his forearm all night. I chose a dancing frog. Then I
prayed for death.
We then went to the movie. We
stood around for a few minutes, all looking mildly uncomfortable,
trying to make non-work related small talk. Eventually a few of
the guys discovered a mutual love of online computer games, and
I quietly slunk into a corner and contemplated the movie I was
about to see with these people, and wondered how it was possible
that someone still smelled like coffee, even though we hadnít
been in the office or near coffee in like 2 hours. Eventually,
we went into the movie. Of the eight of us, six were guys. I watched
as they all sat down, instinctively leaving the ďIím not gayĒ
seat between them. They didnít even talk about it. They all just
did it. Iíll never understand that about men. Then the previews
started, which I donít remember, because I was heavily immersed
in a text message conversation. And then the movie began.
First and foremost, Glory Road
is about basketball. I despise basketball. To me, itís three hours
of guys running back and forth. Every once in awhile someone falls
down, and looks mad. Donít get me wrong; Iím not anti-sports,
but for some reason I just canít stand basketball. The movie is
based on a true story about the first all-black starting lineup
in a college basketball championship game. I probably am missing
some of the finer details, but frankly I donít care. The coach
was white, some actor whose name I donít know, but he looked vaguely
familiar and he was kinda hot. His acting abilities fall somewhere
in the range of William Shatner and Bill Pullman. Apparently,
in whatever year this movie was supposed to take place in (1950ish?),
this all-black lineup was a big deal, and a lot of people were
highly against it. This team then went on to win the national
championship, and they were all very happy. Hope I didnít ruin
it for you. ††††††††
I was apparently supposed to learn
something about teamwork from this movie, but frankly all I got
from it was how stupid people in the 1950s were, and how uncomfortable
it is when youíre forced into social situations with people you
could care less about and have virtually nothing in common with.
How Iím supposed to use that at my job every day, Iím not sure.