September 22, 2006, - 1:06 pm

Weekend Box Office: Mediocre WWI Flick, Sleazy Horror Pic, Glamorizing Huey Long

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 “”–a far better war movie–and this year’s “,” “s,” and now this one).

Hot James Franco in “Flyboys”

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.

Spicoli Plays Fictionalized Huey Long Persona in “All the King’s Men”

* “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, “,” 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.

George Clooney Galpal Krista Allen in no “Feast” for the Mind

* “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 “” remake–and even “”–than this cheap exercise in futility. Despite ripping off every failed horror movie attempt at chills–the monsters are even borrowed from “”–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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7 Responses

The only WWI fighter plane movie I know of is Renoir’s La Grande Illusion. Hmm, maybe I’ll give this one a look-see.
Mark Ruffalo in King’s Men, an example of a lightweight actor who crossed over from indies to big studio. Quality acting in LA-LA land is like quality pitching in the expanded Major League Baseball – there just isn’t enough to go around.

Jeremiah on September 22, 2006 at 4:39 pm

Being from Louisiana, I’ve always known what a corrupt piece of garbage Huey Long was. My father told me that when he was killed, there was a big party thrown at his house. He was a U.S. Senator at the time and had a good chance of becoming president. The fact that a man who takes taxpayer money, redistributes it and takes credit for it is glamorized by Hollywood, is no surprise. Thank you for pointing out the facts of this embarrassing part of our state’s history.

Allen on September 22, 2006 at 4:39 pm

The acting in “Flyboys” was the worst. I feel bad for Jean Reno, a good actor, he came off ridiculous. This was the worst script, corny movie, and sappy story this year. The planes, as usual were cool, but the period and topic were so rich and this movie so poor, I couldn’t believe it. The editing was, as you alluded to Debbie, sub-standard. Every cliche in the hundred year history of movies was inserted into this picture. This movie has a lot of nerve pitching itself as a true story. They ripped off “The Razor’s Edge” by Sommerset Vaugn big time in the characters, too. The movie was so corny that I expected the fiancee, in the train station goodbye running after the train scene, to run into a pole. It was that silly. Perfect date movie, though. The women were eating it up and all lovy dovy afterward. Even though the bozo leading man couldn’t find his lover after the war, because he told her to meet him in Paris when she lives on a farm in the sticks, DUH! This movie just butchered the period. Think Keystone Cops in biplanes. The best part is when the leading man puts the girl in the pilot’s seat of the biplane for a ride! Yes, that’s right, the rear seat is actually the pilot’s seat. The movie is worth the price of the ticket to see how ridiculous she looks in a pilot’s hat and goggles, it’s real comedy!

code7 on September 23, 2006 at 1:42 am

Hey Jeremiah, how about “The Blue Max” with George Peppard?

code7 on September 23, 2006 at 1:59 am

I’d rather watch Beer League

KOAJaps on September 23, 2006 at 4:54 pm

Thanks for the Peppard tip.

Jeremiah on September 23, 2006 at 6:14 pm

I should retract the comment about the pilot’s seat, it might depend on the plane. My piano teacher’s husband when I was a kid flew in WWI but never made it into the war. He crashed his “Jenny” twice before he got the extra training. The prop torque flip his plane, he needed to compensate with rudder. The struts from the landing gear came up through the floor just missing the instructors ear convincing him that remedial training was in order. The rear seat could be for observers and gunners certainly. This guy also won an Academy Award for some kind of set art or art direction.
I’d love to go back in time and ask more questions. There is a WWI flying fraternity where new members replace the ones that die. Their club magazines are the best flying stories ever written. Jimmy Doolittle talked at one when I was kid and gave my dad his autographed picture for me because he heard I was reading “Thirty Seconds over Tokyo”. I wrote him years later when my friend wanted one, he sent me a nice note on his personal stationary from Carmel where he retired saying basically, “no”. If anyone else has one I would be interested to know, he was a very formal gentleman. I was embarrased and destroyed the letter but still have the autographed, to me, photo in his uniform.

code7 on September 25, 2006 at 12:28 am

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