Me: “I’m flying into NYC directly from Telluride, and staying for two days before flying up to Toronto. And I have to admit that I’m not that taken with the New York Film Festival lineup this year. Sorry but I’m not. Not Fade Away is allegedly a problem, and Life of Pi is a wide-eyed 3D storybook fable. The Olivier Assayas and Flight are the only ones I really want to see, and the rest of the films are Cannes and Toronto leftovers…not impressed. Plus Flight will screen on the Paramount lot right after NYFF so that might be good enough for me.
“Plus I will not pay those godawful New York hotel or sublet rates for two weeks straight. I tried Pod 39 — $450 and change for two nights? I’m sorry, but is that someone’s idea of a low-cost deal?”
“And I’m not flying to [unnamed West Coast city] on 8.22 to see The Master either. That puppy definitely sounds like something I can wait until Toronto to see.”
Colleague: “I think the NYFF line-up is highly impressive. You’ve unfortunately made up your mind on Life of Pi without knowing the first thing about it. I think it’s a major get for the opener. I’m very excited for Flight. And Not Fade Away has been re-edited from the problem’ cut. And I’m happy to see a good selection of Cannes or Toronto holdovers.”
Me: “I know some things about Life of Pi. I know it’s got a fucking Bengal tiger in it. And a zebra. And some of it takes place upon heaving stormy seas. And it’s in 3D. And it stars a young actor from India, and that his eyes are bug-eyed with wonder or fear or excitement most of the time. It’s obviously a wonderful, eye-filling adventure fable, perhaps for the whole family. Where did you hear or read that the problem version of Not Fade Away has been re-edited?”
Colleague: “You have no idea about Pi. But thankfully there are those who know of things like spiritual journey as metaphor, and they won’t dig their heels in and pronounce, ‘This is what this movie is. It’s only what I see, not what’s behind the imagery.'”
Me: “Oh, I don’t know. I think that snarling tigers and heaving stormy seas are metaphors in and of themselves. I think the decision to use these images is, in a sense, content. I think it’s Ang Lee declaring, ‘Let’s put on a show!’ And let’s slip in a metaphor while we’re at it.'”
Colleague: “I’m told that they tested Not Fade Away some time back and that it didn’t go well, and that [director David] Chase worked up a different version that dealt with those issues and that it’s better now. How much better, I can’t say.”
The aging lawman with a turkey neck, a man of virtue, kindly manner, slight pot belly, face like a satchel. That was Tommy Lee Jones in No Country for Old Men. Throw in a little Gran Torino action — i.e., an ornery old cuss with plenty of moxie and muscle tone…spit in your eye, kick like a mule. Mix, shake and throw in some third-act Mexican cartel carnage and you’ve got Kim Ji-woon‘s The Last Stand. Is this the first half-decent Arnold Schwarzenegger film since he left Sacramento? Or just a good poster?
The impediment, of course, is that Arnold’s face doesn’t have that creased weary elegance that benefitted Mr. Jones in No Country. AS’s face looks re-molded. I’m not convinced that any border-town sheriff has ever been able to afford such a procedure.
Logline: “A drug cartel leader escapes from a courthouse and tries to make the Mexican border. But he first has to get past an aging sheriff (Schwarzenegger) and his inexperienced staff.” Pic costars Jaimie Alexander, Harry Dean Stanton, Genesis Rodriguez, Rodrigo Santoro, Forest Whitaker, Peter Stormare, Johnny Knoxville, Zach Gilford, Luis Guzman. Wait…doesn’t the projected 1.18.13 opening mean it’ll probably be genre sludge?
So the weekend’s #1 film, The Expendables 2, is something of a weak sister. The goony plastic-surgery action drama is playing in 3316 situations and looking at a so-so $30 million by Sunday night. And yet audiences gave it a CinemaScore grade of A-minus. CinemaScore respondents tend to err on the side of politeness, but an A-effing-minus? For a movie that efilmcritic’s Peter Sobczynski said “bears the same basic relationship to a genuinely thrilling action extravaganza that an order from Papa John’s has to actual pizza”? That the Globe and Mail‘s Rick Groen called “breezily forgettable”? That EW‘s Lisa Schwarzbaum called “excellent crap”?
I decided to forego the pleasure of seeing The Expendables 2…sorry. Maybe someone who’s seen it can explain how it deserves an A-minus? It sounds that by any fair standard that a B-minus or more likely a C would be the way to go. Wouldn’t the presence of facelifts automatically drop the rating down half a point, at least? An Expendables 2 sans plastic surgery would most likely get an A, in other words?