More Not-So-Deep Thoughts

All right, same deal as before. I've got some questions, complaints and observations, but nothing that could quite stand by itself. So I'm combining them with the hope that together they will amuse as you peruse.

The "Give It Up Already" Award Goes To . . .

Miramax head honcho Harvey Weinstein, who, in a recent New York Post op-ed, still maintains that he postponed the scheduled Christmas 2001 release of The Gangs of New York because the film's violence "might be too painful for audiences so soon after the (September 11) attacks." The Gangs of New York has been plagued by rumors of discord. Director Martin Scorsese reportedly wanted more time for reshoots and for editing the film down to a 2 hour 40 minute runtime.

While I don't claim to know what's really going on either with the film or between Weinstein and Scorsese, continuing to use 9/11 as an excuse is both ridiculous and insulting. The Gangs of New York is set in the 1860s, making it hard to believe that audiences would be reminded of airplanes crashing into buildings. Many violent films have opened since 9/11, including films that related more specifically to terrorist violence, such as Collateral Damage. Of course, after the bump from Christmas The Gangs of New York has since been moved twice more, shifting from the spring to the summer and then to Christmas 2002. Were these delays due to 9/11 too? Many films have delays for a variety of reasons. It's Weinstein's prerogative to keep those reasons private. But Weinstein should find a way to defend his film without dishonoring the many people who really did have their lives and livelihoods changed on 9/11.

Thinking about sports films . . .

People often talk about baseball movie clichés - the game-winning home run or strikeout (it's rarely a popup or double to left). But you don't hear as much about football film clichés. No, I'm not referring to the halftime pep talk because that applies to basketball too. Here are a couple that are unique to football movies:

1. The trick play. More often than not, when faced with a critical situation, a real football team will go with a bread-and-butter play. This is particularly true in playoff and championship games, where the maxim is "Go with what got you there." Not so in films, where instead a team uses a razzle-dazzle play it's rarely run before to win. Prime example - Necessary Roughness.

2. Going Both Ways (Remember, we're talking about football). Ever since the early 1960s teams have generally used entirely different sets of players for offense and defense. Switching is rare, and usually happens after some practice. In movies you will see a coach, also during a tense situation, take a player who has played defense his whole career and suddenly have him on offense (or vice versa). Prime examples -- Remember the Titans, The Waterboy. Of course in the movies this move always works. Not only would this be ludicrous in real football, but think of it in construction -- "Hey plumbers, I want you guys to switch jobs with the electricians."

Surprise of the year (so far) . . .

By now all of America knows Kirsten Dunst as Mary Jane Watson in Spider-Man. But that role only scratches the surface of her talents, which were much better displayed in The Cat's Meow. Dunst plays Marion Davies, a gifted film actress in 1920s Hollywood who was also the mistress of powerful media tycoon William Randolph Hearst. I had watched a Turner Classic Movies documentary on Davies, and was skeptical that Dunst could pull it off, especially because she was too young for the role. Not only did Dunst erase my doubts, she gave the finest performance of any actress this year to date. She brings Davies to life with the spark and humor that one would expect. But she also shows a certain wisdom and weariness. Davies cares for Hearst but is also trapped both professionally and personally by their relationship. Dunst lets you see Davies's inner conflict and an awareness of the true nature of the people around her. Here's hoping that audiences find The Cat's Meow and that the Academy remembers Dunst next year.

Burning question of the day . . .

How come Emilio Estevez hasn't found a TV show yet? Is he still waiting for Young Guns III or the next Mighty Ducks movie? Does anyone remember his last hit? (No, his sacrificial lamb role in Mission: Impossible doesn't count.) Emilio need only look to his own family for inspiration. "The West Wing" made father Martin Sheen a star again. "Spin City" has not been quite as successful for brother Charlie Sheen (actually, the show was just canceled). But the show gave Sheen some credit and media coverage that didn't involve hookers or cocaine. A TV show would seem to be the career saver that Estevez needs, just as it was for fellow Brat Packer Rob Lowe (also on "The West Wing"). At the very least it could land him a cameo in the next Kevin Smith film.

Helpful Movie Character Tip . . .

Let's say you discover some damaging information, which you bring to your boss's attention. If the boss asks you "Does anyone else know about this?"or "Did you tell anyone else?" say "Yes." This is especially true if you're a police officer and have uncovered evidence of corruption. Remember, you're living in the movie world. The boss asking you whether you told anyone else means he/she is the bad guy, or at least one of them. By answering "no" you're really saying that all the boss has to do is kill you to keep the secret safe. So remember what almost happened to John Book (Harrison Ford) in Witness and what did happen to Jack Vincennes (Kevin Spacey) in L.A. Confidential. Just say yes.

The "Say What?" Award Goes To . . .

An ad for the upcoming Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron cites this reviewer's quote: "I cheered out loud." As opposed to what exactly? Cheering silently?

Finally, in tribute to the upcoming Attack of the Clones, I offer my Star Wars geek question . . .

Has there ever been more useless protective gear than the Imperial stormtroopers body armor? What exactly does it protect them from? If the stormtroopers even get nicked by a laser blast, they fall faster than AOL stock. OK, lasers are one thing, but then the Ewoks take the strormtroopers out with sticks and clubs in Return of the Jedi. If your armor can't save you from some angry teddy bears, it's time to switch.

Adam Spector
May 15, 2002

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