September 22, 2006, - 1:06 pm
By Debbie Schlussel
It’s slim pickins at the box office, this weekend. None of the choices are highly recommend, though “Flyboys” is better than the rest:
* “Flyboys“–This is based on the true story of the Lafayette Escadrille, a battalion of Americans who volunteered to fight for the French during World War II. They train to fly and fight Germans in the air. The star of this movie is the very hot (and Jewish) James Franco, who seems to have a penchant for military and war movies (last year’s “The Great Raid“–a far better war movie–and this year’s “Tristan and Isolde,” “Annapolis,” and now this one).
It’s hard to feel patriotic about this one because it’s about a war that wasn’t really so big in terms of great wars involving America, and this is not about America (though it is about Americans). The movie is way too long, at 2 hours and 20 minutes. I could have done without the irrelevant love story involving Franco’s real-life character, Blaine Rawlings. The airplanes and the scenes involving them seemed stiff in this age of grand, high-tech jet-fighters and computer generated images and special effects. The scenes reminded me of “Snoopy vs. the Red Baron.” But those were, in fact, the kind of rudimentary warplanes they used in those days.
Still, the various American characters are likable and the movie does have its various worthy military-buddies-get-broken-in-fight-and-some-die scenes. The best part of the movie is at the end, when the actual photos of the real-life soldiers whose stories are told in the movie are posted on the screen with info about what happened to them after WWI was over.
Not a great movie, but overall recommended. The best of the new movies out today, but that’s not saying much, given the contenders.
* “All The King’s Men“–Leave it to far lefty Sean Penn to star in a movie glorifying a corrupt, sleazy, populist Southern Democrat governor who ripped off taxpayers; a movie that paints big business and wealthy people as the bad guys (for a “change”). This movie is yet another one of those numerous Hollywood remakes that are far worse than the originals, yet another sign of the lack of new ideas and creativity in America–and it’s decline. It’s a redo of 1949 movie with the same name.
Louisiana Governor Willie Stark is based on the real-life Huey Long. If he were alive today, his name would be Bill Clinton. Sean Penn’s portrayal is largely him yelling and screaming in a bad Southern accent and pretending he cares about the underclass. The rest of the accents are terrible, too–Jude Law sounds like a Brit failing miserably to sound like a Louisianan from a wealthy upbringing. Ditto for Kate Winslet. James Gandolfini sounds like–what else?–a New Jersey mobster trying to sound like a Lousianan. And so on, and so on, and so on . . . . Reminded me of the terrible “Arabic” accents on ABC’s TV movie, “The Path to 9/11,” which all sounded like Russian accents.
The movie is long (2 hours) and disjointed. The first half-hour is confusing, the rest convoluted and silly. While Huey Long, er . . . Willie Stark is shown to be semi-corrupt, he is portrayed largely as an underdog man of the people who cares about “the hicks” in the face of wealthy patricians, judges, and businessmen. Hardly the truth. But fully the agenda of Hollywood, which still sees all liberal politicians opportunistically playing the politics of envy as such exalted heroes, today.
Incredibly, several audience members at the promotional screening I attended clapped at the end of this silver screen slug, proving, once again, that there’s now accounting for good taste–but endless dumbing down–in America.
Long on fashion and style of the day. Short on everything else. That this movie even managed to find a place for pro ice skater Nicole Bobek and her skating (she plays a stripper who skates), tells you what it is: everything but the kitchen sink . . . and a whole lot of broken junk.
* “Feast“–Need proof that Ben Affleck and Matt Damon’s “Project Greenlight” movie-making contest should die a quick death? This is it. A horror movie that doesn’t scare at all. Yes, it makes fun of itself and other horror flicks. But that’s not good enough. I was far more scared by “The Hills Have Eyes” remake–and even “Snakes on a Plane“–than this cheap exercise in futility. Despite ripping off every failed horror movie attempt at chills–the monsters are even borrowed from “Alien Versus Predator“–this one is a morbid, stupid waste of time.
The most infamous thing about it is that George Clooney’s on-again off-again girlfriend, former “BayWatch” babe Krista Allen, stars. Her cheap, nasty sex scene at the beginning and presence in this trashy pic tells us that it is possible to go lower in an acting career than “BayWatch.” Hardly a lesson we needed to waste a second–let alone 1 hour and 35 minutes–to learn.
Interestingly, the screening I attended was hosted by a Black Detroit radio station for its listeners. Probably the most entertaining–but quickly tiresome and overdone–part about this movie was a Black lady in the audience who felt it was her self-anointed job to talk back to the White people on screen (the Black character is quickly killed at the beginning). It’s doubtful you’ll find another Black lady to be your personal, running play-by-play commentator yelling at Whiteys on the screen at the theater near you.
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