Variety‘s Todd McCarthy is the first big gun to weigh in on Mr. and Mrs. Smith (20th Century Fox, 6.10), and…let’s see, the opening sentence says that “marital therapy acquires life-or-death ramifications [in this] exhaustingly elaborate romantic fantasy actioner.” Uh-oh. “Built on the cutesy premise that a great-looking husband and wife are paid killers without the other knowing about it, the at-least $110 million two-hander pirouettes entirely on the script’s whimsical approach to serious business and the charm generated by leads Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. But it doesn’t take long for the souffle to fall.” Yikes. McCarthy adds that “this is one of those films for which viewers willing to buy into the premise might happily go along for the ride…[but] for those who find it resistible, if not preposterous, Mr. & Mrs. Smith proves a very long haul indeed. The sheer weight and volume of mayhem toward the end is numbing and meaningless, and two hours is a good 25 minutes more than such a frail conceit can sustain.” For what it’s worth, a female journo (and non-critic) who’s seen it says “there’s a ton of heat between Brad and Angie, it gives Brad a chance to be very cute and funny, Angie looks less likely to transmit angst in this role than in any of her other movies, and as long as you don’t attempt to think about the plot at all, it’s lots of fun.”
Six or seven weeks ago I called Hans Petter Moland’s The Beautiful Country (Sony Classics, July 8) “some kind of masterwork…one of the most profound and compassionate and finely nuanced films about the rough-and-tumble, never-say-die life of a roaming, disenfranchised person I’ve ever seen.” Only no one voiced their agreement and I couldn’t figure out why because it’s an extraordinarily fine film and I know what I’m talking about. But now — finally! — N.Y. Daily News critic Graham Fuller has joined forces with a blurb that appeared in 5.29’s Sunday Now section, to wit: “Though it has generated little buzz so far, this wrenching sea-and-road odyssey could attract Oscar attention next year.” The main character Binh (Damien Nguyen), a 20 year-old Vietnamese whose American parentage has made him an outcast among his own people, “toughens and gains in wisdom as he ventures into the heart of a different kind of darkness — and out the other side,” Fuller adds. The Beautiful Country is “a road (and sea) movie in the most profound sense of that term,” I wrote on 4.20.05, “and a story about the resilience of the human spirit (although I have mixed feelings about describing it this way, given how totally full-of-shit that last proclamation sounds)…it’s a movie about restraint, restraint and more restraint…and eventually, huge payoffs. Especially during the last 20 minutes or so, when the great Nick Nolte arrives.”
I’ve never patted or pinched the ass of any unacquainted person in my life, male or female, and if someone were to pat or pinch my derriere the groper would be sorry about this immediately, trust me…unless she happened to be an attractive woman, of course. Why am I talking about this stupid subject? Because there’s something bizarre about the following AP news report, which is linked to a front page call-out on the cyber edition of the N.Y. Daily News: “The actor Christian Slater [now appearing in The Glass Menagerie with Jessica Lange) was arrested early Tuesday for allegedly groping a woman on a Manhattan street, police said. Slater, 35, was accused of touching the woman’s buttocks near 93rd Street and Third Avenue on the Upper East Side around 1:50 a.m., said a police spokesman, Detective John Sweeney. The woman, who was not identified, flagged down police to report the incident, Sweeney said. Slater was found nearby and the woman identified him as the man who groped her.” How stupid is Slater? In this day and age what kind of dumb-ass cops a feel on a New York Street and assumes it will go down agreeably with the woman and nothing bad will come of it? (And yet it sounds like an incomplete story…I don’t think we’re getting all the details…an enterprising reporter needs to do some digging.) Isn’t it funny how Al Pacino can do that bit in Heat (“Because she has a…great ass! And you’ve got your head all the way up it!”) and everyone laughs because they know where he’s coming from, but when a guy like Slater does a dumbbell thing like ass-patting on 93rd Street everyone recoils and wonders what the hell. I’ll tell you what Slater’s problem might be. Being a name actor, he might have decided that the rule we all live by, which is that we’ve got to hold it in until it’s cool to let it out, doesn’t apply to guys in his position.