Friday, June 11, 2004

Movie: Bullitt (1968)

TROY director Wolfgang Petersen will remake the Steve McQueen crime drama. But not really. The new film will have a completely different storyline. Petersen explains:

“BULLITT is not about remaking a film or repeating a plot, it is about revisiting a great character. Frank Bullitt is a cool, no-nonsense man who doesn’t compromise. Bullitt walks his own path and his pursuit of the truth is unrelenting.”

A cop who plays by his own rules? Jesus, Wolfie, we haven’t seen a character like this in 35 years! I don’t want to pressure you or anything, but in the sequel – I think we all know there’s gonna be one – could we push Bullitt in a new and unexpected direction? Maybe give him a mismatched partner?

TV: The MTV Movie Awards

Hands down the most visually unpleasant awards show in recent memory. An ugly set, graphics with a chainsaw motif, and video game-style interstitials set in a mental institution. The trophies were handed out by a dwarf in freaky make-up imprisoned in the podium. I thought vacuous nihilism went out of fashion around the time Trent Reznor’s career dried up. Even the putatively anti-Hollywood bits, like Vince Vaughn and Ben Stiller as sleazy producers trying to sell Peter Jackson on more LORD OF THE RINGS movies, fell flat. (It didn’t help that Jackson’s scenes were obviously filmed separately.) MTV’s award shows used to be welcome antidotes to the stuffiness of the Oscars and the Grammies. Now watching them is an ordeal, like being trapped next to the fat sarcastic kid in the back of the class who’s nowhere near as funny as he thinks he is.

By the way, apparently Lindsay Lohan isn’t eighteen yet. It took ten jokes for that message to sink in.

TV: 5ive Days To Midnight

This Sci-Fi Channel miniseries was a pleasant surprise. Timothy Hutton plays an unassuming physics professor who receives a briefcase containing the file on his own murder, which will take place in five days’ time. It’s a fun mix of mystery and science fiction, where the central question is which version of TERMINATOR time-travel logic will turn out to be a true: open (T2) or closed (T3)?

Angus MacFadyen, who imbued Peter Lawford with a soul in the great HBO film THE RAT PACK, may make an unlikely Chicago mob boss, but he plays the role with smooth menace. Gage Golightly, a dead ringer for the FIRESTARTER-era Drew Barrymore, shines as Hutton’s ingenious daughter. The show’s greatest creation is Carl (Hamish Linklater), a brilliant if quirky grad student. He starts out as a good guy; Hutton enlists his aid in figuring out his options. But by episode 2 he’s decided that if Hutton doesn’t die in exactly the manner laid out in the file, it will create a rip in the fabric of space and time. So he sets out to undo every step Hutton takes to avoid his fate. The conclusion isn’t as clever as the set-up, but the show is engaging throughout. It will rerun in its entirety on Sunday.

I can’t remember the last time I watched a mini-series. The format offers a pleasure rare on television: a definite ending. When you don’t have to worry about sweeps or setting up next season, it’s a lot easier to tell the story.