Back in 1953, Ernest Borgnine gave Frank Sinatra an Oscar for From Here to Eternity by sticking him with a blade in a back alley. Then there was James Coburn in The Magnificent Seven (1960), who was willing to draw his knife against any podunk cowboy’s six-shooter. But in 1961, West Side Story decided that knife fights needed a good neutering. It wasn’t just the dancing or the god-awful writing; it was the cardboard acting that really did the trick. A knife fight in a movie doesn’t have weight if the actors can’t bring any real desperation to it. Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” video, with its nauseating combination of switchblades, West Side Story dancing, red leather, and Eddie Van Halen, didn’t help any. After such displays of stylized, bloodless almost-violence, how could anyone take knife fights in movies seriously? Such combat is a nasty, brutal thing. It can be graceful, awkward, startling, even grimly funny—but it sure as shit ain’t dancing. Read the rest of this entry »
Posts Tagged ‘Tommy Lee Jones’
THE HUNTED (2003)
The Hunted proves once again that Tommy Lee Jones is one of America’s finest screen actors. Who else could so convincingly deliver some of the lines that are required of him here? Who else could match Benecio Del Toro’s intense performance without going overboard? Who else could so strongly ground a movie whose third act threatens to fly right off the rails into utter preposterousness? Very few, that’s who. It takes gravitas, a willingness to throw lines away, and the ability to convey a sharp mind frantically striving to keep ahead of everyone else. Jones does all of this in a movie that is essentially a two-man show. It no doubt helps that the film is helmed by veteran director William Friedkin (The French Connection). Friedkin knows how to make action thrillers, and here he delivers. Read full review
Nobody knows how to destroy the world like Roland Emmerich does.
The first hints of the director’s talent came in Universal Soldier (1992), when he hastened the End of Days by casting Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren in the same movie. He followed this apocalypse-inducing venture with Stargate (1994) and proved that he was not averse to massive displays of special effects, even if strong characterization eluded him. Then came the blockbuster Independence Day (1996), in which Emmerich finally got to blow up a lot of famous landmarks real good. Godzilla followed in 1998. We will forgive him, but only because in 2004 he unleashed The Day After Tomorrow, a surprisingly smart and timely disaster film about the dawning of a new ice age. It features a strong cast, spectacular visual effects (tornadoes shredding Los Angeles? You bet!), and dialogue that doesn’t make you wince (at least not too much). None of these past efforts, however, have prepared you for the gleeful, methodic destruction of 2012. Read full review