Friday, January 11, 2013

Question for the Week of Jan 7-13: Unsolicited Advice

Do you have any ideas for how to improve some of the problems you discuss here? Lots of people talk about things that bother them - that's only complaining unless you try to make things better...
Nice one! Now, I could rely on the typical response - that I feel drawing attention to these issues is an effort to improve the state of affairs. It's a true statement, and I am the sort of person to point out problems so that we're aware of and can deal with them. But I like being atypical, too, so I can offer one constructive example right here and now.

Y'know how Arnold Schwarzenneger films used to be a blast, and then they started getting worse and worse? I mean in terms of things like being well-written, having a solid story, etc etc. Y'know how the same thing happened with Sylvester Stallone's films? I think I have a fairly suggestion for how they can turn things around a bit; it's asinine to offer such advice to professionals when I'm not even in their profession, but...

I think that guys like that should start taking non-lead performances, and/or star more in ensemble films. I want to believe good things about Stallone's acting abilities; every time I look at the guy, I remember Rocky. I've liked several of his roles, but it always comes back to that damn boxing, and the fine work he did therein.

Similarly, it's hard to pin down what made Arnie's action films so fine in the 80's and increasingly unentertaining in the 90's. But one thing I can definitely say about these guys is that they always the alpha male in their films, and are virtually always the undisputed lead of the production - it's their pic, it's all about them. Perhaps some of these actors are drawn to vehicles which aren't written or executed very well, but I have to think that taking different roles would improve things.

In fact, this has already happened, in a way : I'm not going to get into The Expendables, as it's just an OTT action film, and it kind of thrives on its gimmick. I would never suggest that guys like Arnie and Sly go do more mindless violence pictures, and I don't want to get bogged down with tangential issues. However, my point is kind of proven the last time I remembered thinking "see everybody? Stallone can freaking act."

Yes, I'm talking about Copland. Now, Copland was not a good movie, for many reasons. It has the worst Michael Rappaport performance I've ever seen, and it gets bogged down with a lot of nonsense with DeNiro and his crew, and it features far too many uses of the n-word. It had so many problems... but you could it was an attempt at a quality, thoughtful film. And Stallone did a really fine job in his role.

We can all mock Liam Neeson's action pix over the last several years - particularly Taken, The Grey, and Taken 2: The Takening. But he has a long history of choosing modest, quality films that run the range from romcom to action to horror. He also has done a lot of "character" work, where he has a small part in a film. And some of his movies are "about something," are flix that want to make you think.

Sylvester and Arnold, though... Their careers now seem to be 90% decent to bad action/thriller pictures. Maybe they don't have the biggest range, but I hate seeing them stick to one thing, and I don't even want to see their action pix do poorly. And it's just a great big crying shame that we've reached a point where I can barely remember things like Twins or Night Hawks.

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