VH1′s When Eric Roberts Ruled the World
A weekly editorial Grande with a double shot
With Clint Morris
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How’s this for incongruous, and well, further corroboration that brain harvesting is still ongoing? I was watching Al Gore’s preachy save-the-environment pic “An Inconvenient Truth” at the theatre today; and walked out mid-way through to check out the small yellow soaps in the bathroom. But on the way out of the theatre, just near the entrance, was a young Chinese man – having a cigarette!! Yes, its bad enough that a guy is puffin’ away on a cigarette in a cinema – but watching a film about the consequences of – well, other things beside but also – such? The mind absolutely boggles. The guy looked intrigued with the film, yet puffed unremittingly on his cigarette. Is it possible he didn’t speak English, so had no idea what Mr Gore was talking about? Dude, it ain’t “Accepted” you were watching, where they actually encourage you to bring your Bong along, ya’know?
Quarter way through coffee
Caught up on a few films the last few days. On Friday night I decided to give the brain a real workout, and see the extremely challenging “D.O.A” Dead or Alive.
“Bunch of Pervs!” claims Holly Valance’s battle-royaleish babe as she exits the central villains lair of web cams. Now whom is she referring to there? Because, well, lets be honest, there isn’t nobody in the audience watching this thing that’ve come for enlighten or answers to life’s greatest riddles. Yep, “D.O.A” is another of those all-babe no-brains efforts that’s bound for ‘pause button’ greatness in the future.
Holly Valance slips into – in slow-mo no less – her bra as she kicks the bejesus out of some coppers, a bikini-clad Jamie Pressley takes on a boat-full of pirates, oh, and Sarah Carter, roller-skates in a two-piece – and they say Walnut Logs make for good-quality wood?! Ahem.
Another movie based on a video game (geez, isn’t that idea stale enough?), “D.O.A” essentially snatches the template from fightfest “Mortal Kombat” – ironically, its director Paul W.S Anderson is an executive producer on this – and runs off a few copies of Sonya Blade. Yep, that’s right, instead of one scantily clad babe fighting bad guys; it’s four or five of ‘em.
The film is reminiscent of a predictable football game. You know the one – one team has a clear advantage in the first quarter, and they remain ahead for the entire game. Not very exciting. Still, there’s always enough action and good play in there to see you’re entertained…enough. And this film is no exception. There are no real surprises, it’s as predictable as hell, but it’s tolerable. It’s refuse, sure, but it’s unobjectionable refuse.
Though the actresses are all quite OK – especially Australia’s Holly Valance, in her first major film role – its their mid-riffs that are doing all the work. And good to see Eric Roberts – not that anyone under the age of 21 will remember the guy starring in a theatrical release – back on the big screen. Granted, it’s a sleepwalk of a role for him, but still, he’d be happy just being in something that’s going to be seen by more than the acquisitions manager of Blockbuster.
There’s a place for a movie like “D.O.A” – teenagers will love it, especially those who bow at the template of their X-Box, and martial arts buffs will probably be impressed with the fight scenes, but that’s not to say it’s still only a Target gift in Tiffany’s wrapping.
And even more, I gotta feel sorry for people that actually pay full price – bordering around $16 here in Australia to see a film these days! – to see such nonsense.
Half-way through coffee
Seeing Eric Roberts in “D.O.A” got me thinking…. remember – well, of course nobody born after 1985 would; Today’s youngsters probably only know the guy as either a) Julia Roberts’ big brother b) the guy from the “Best of the Best” movies, or, well, Blockbuster Video – when EB was the man? The shit? The it boy of Hollywood?
It wasn’t that long ago. It really wasn’t.
In the mid 80s, Hollywood was knocking down his door. Everybody wanted to work with Roberts. He had, after all, starred in such hit movies as “Runaway Train”, The Pope of Greenwich Village” and “Star 80”. But for some reason – and it ain’t because he decided to let his little sister share in his piece of the action, believe me – probably bad representation, or probably too many schooners, Roberts career went belly up. As stars like Tom Cruise, Val Kilmer and Keanu Reeves started earning their X’s on the Hollywood map, Roberts was suddenly erased from it.
Roberts’ chain of success basically ended for him at the end of the 80s, and in 1990 he was reborn as a ‘direct to video B-star’ fronting such travesties as “The Ambulance” and “By the Sword”. He’s worked steadily throughout the last couple of decades – but in essentially, crap (and yes, I’m referring to his small turns in theatrical duds like “Final Analysis” and “The Specialist”, too).
It’s quite sad that today’s audience don’t know how good Eric Roberts can be. It’s sadder that they’ll probably never know, too. They’re going to only know him as that “dude with the hair” from “that video-game movie” or the “old guy” from TVs “Less than Perfect”.
Eric Roberts doesn’t deserve to go down that way. He really doesn’t. In some ways, it’s like remembering Kurt Russell as merely ‘Kate Hudson’s stepfather – that old guy that use to be in monster movies’, or Bill Murray as the ‘balding Ghostbuster’, or Billy Wirth as the guy that use to be in ‘Lost Boys’ (OK, that’s a fair point, he pretty much is that). Like unfairly demoting a CEO to Janitor.
So what am I proposing? Well, someone hire him for something good. He’s good. He really is. We all thought Mickey Rourke was a washed-up talent less clown a few years back, and look where he is now? Back at the top! So how about bringing Mickey’s old “Greenwich Village” buddy to the party too? Everyone deserves a second…or third….chance.
Three quarters the way through coffee
Here’s a little story for you.
Kids walk up to the box office of their local cinema.
Kids: How is “Macbeth”?
Cashier: Its actually kinda boring. Nah.
The kids then proceed to buy a ticket for something else – I imagine, since it was screening at the same time, they went into the dire “Material Girls”!! – other than the new Australian film that’s actually so unique many may find it hard to grasp…. but, that’s not the point…What the hell is with that!? Those working at the cinema are advising ‘against’ going to see films like “Macbeth”? – - It’s fuckin’ wrong!!
OK, so the cashier chick might not have liked the film, but in this case she should zip her tongue. I remember going up to a box-office cashier back in the early 90s – back when I worked on radio, and had to lay down a couple of film reviews for that weekends show – and asking what I should see: “The Fisher King” or “Drop Dead Fred”.
The cashier’s answer? “Both different, very different, but both good. We’ve heard good things about both of them”.
Granted, I hated her for the rest of the day by not advising me against two hours of Rik Mayall picking his nose and flinging it in Phoebe Cate’s direction, but she did her job. She’s not there to tell you what’s good or what’s bad; she’s there to sell you a ticket – to EVERYTHING and ANYTHING.
If the behaviour of the woman advising against going to see ‘Macbeth’ is a common thing at Australian cinemas, then it’s no wonder that our local film industry has a shallow bank balance. Lets hope there’s some sensible cashiers out there who are still singing the ‘but they’re both good’ tune.
One sip to go
You just gotta Love the ‘codenames’ that big movies adopt to deter people from wanting a peekaboo onto their sets. “Superman Returns” was known as “Red Sun”, “The Matrix Reloaded” used the name “The Burly Man” to put people off, and most famously, “Return of the Jedi” hid under the name “Blue Harvest”.
The latest big-screen blockbuster, about to start lens in Vancouver, is “Aliens Vs. Predator 2” – not that locals are probably aware of that. Nope, they’ll only be aware that a sci-fi film called “Colorado Nights” is filming in the area (FOX are going to be panicking now that that cat’s out of the bag). Yep, a real unappealing name for what could be quite an appe…who am I kidding, I’d rather drink dog-vomit through a funnel than sit through a sequel to that…. still, it’s a big movie.
As for what the studio will ultimately call the film, they’ve apparently just decided – this week, anyway – to call it “AVP 2: Aliens Vs. Predator 2”. Hmmmm. I like “Colorado Nights” better. (Speaking of team-ups, heard a little whisper recently that New Line may be considering teaming up Freddy, Jason and Leatherface for a film, depending on how well “Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning”, does – anybody like that idea?, or are you all with me, when I say ‘let’s threaten to boycott “Spider-Man 3” if Sam Raimi doesn’t lend the studio ‘Ash’ from “Evil Dead” for the long-planned “Freddy Vs. Jason.Vs Ash”?)
DVD of the week
Rescue Me : Season 2 – I just realised I’ve made a big mistake. I was on radio the other day and claimed that “Prison Break” was one of the best new TV shows of late – I was wrong! “Rescue Me” is! How could it have slipped my mind? If you haven’t seen the series – well, start with Season 1 – you really have to pick up the DVDs. Like him or hate it, Denis Leary is superb in this firefighting dramedy, and the writing is absolutely smokin’. Cable really is producing the best stuff these days, and here’s further proof. You can buy the DVD http://www.ezydvd.com.au/item.zml/788643 here
Theatrical release of the week
The Devil Wears Prada – Actually saw this months ago. Anne Hathaway is the naïve, unfashionable, wannabe journalist who comes to New York and scores a job as the assistant to one of the city’s biggest magazine editors, the ruthless and cynical Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep). She ultimately becomes the matron’s right-hand woman, but at a price.
After an impressive turn in the recent arthouse smash “Brokeback Mountain”, it would’ve been nice to see Hathaway do something just as meaty. But she’s nothing to gnaw on here but sugarcoated candy. Not that that’s a bad thing. In fact, it’s quite an entertaining film – and it’s largely due to Hathaway. She’s not just hot, she’s talented. And that’s probably why it stings so much to see her repeating herself. If, on the other hand, you haven’t seen “The Princess Diaries”, then you’re in luck. Go to it. You’ll enjoy this even more than those that have [seen the latter], and will inevitably find Hathaway’s performance both fantastic and fresh.
This Week’s Useless bit of Advice
If you’ve just done about 30 interviews in a week, and recorded every one of them on your digital recorder – best to make sure there’s space on it before heading out to do another.
Missing Career Alert
Richard Masur – Masur’s only on my mind because my wife brought him up yesterday. She remembers his fine work from “My Girl” (1991) – in which he played Anna Chlumsky’s (a ‘Missing Career Alert’ in herself) kindly uncle – and “License to Drive”, in which he gave life to Corey Haim’s long-suffering father. Lets admit it, Masur was a staple of 80s cinema. He appeared in everything from action thrillers (who could forget the stomach-turning moment in “Deadly Pursuit” where his character was forced to dive from a cliff?), horror pics (he was Clark in “The Thing”), drama’s (he was in “The Burning Bed”, “The Mean Season” and “Far from Home”), and, of course, comedies. Some of his comedy highlights include “Risky Business”, in which he played the college rep who comes to interview prospective student Tom Cruise at a party of whores, and “Head Office”, starring alongside Judge Reinhold. But to me, he’ll always be ‘Mr.Anderson’ in the Corey’s comedy, “License to Drive”.
These days Masur mainly does television – he’s appeared in everything from “Felicity” to “Law & Order” – with the actor recently signing to play a regular role on soapie, “All my Children”. Surely someone has a better use for him?
5 things you didn’t know about…… “Licence to Drive” (1984)
1. I worked at a cinema, as an usher, when this begun its run. I remember young girls lining up around the block to see it! And you should have heard the screams when either one of the Corey’s (Feldman and Haim) appeared on the screen. Kinda laughable now!
2. Both Corey’s didn’t have their licence when they were doing the film.
3. Ben Affleck auditioned for the role of Les Anderson – but Haim apparently tested better.
4. Haim had an idea to do a series of “License To…” movies with the first being “License to Fly”. Feldman wasn’t as keen.
5. This was Heather Graham’s first major film role. She made her film debut three years earlier in the Mel Gibson starrer “Mrs Soffel”.