Sunday, March 13, 2005

Movie: Be Cool (2005)

Signs your movie may be in trouble:

- The most interesting people on screen are the supporting characters’ supporting characters.

- Said supporting characters’ supporting characters are portrayed by a musician (Outkast’s Andre Benjamin) and a former professional wrestler (Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson).

- The movie is about the music industry, but all of the music in it is terrible.

On the plus side, the movie retains one of the best lines from the entire Elmore Leonard canon, when record exec Tommy Athens (James Woods) sings the praises of a Chili Palmer production: “(It was) a terrific picture, terrific. And you know what else? It was good.”

DVD: The Rocketeer (1991)

Nobody’s claiming that this is a neglected classic. But in a year when Howard Hughes (THE AVIATOR) and ’30s-style action (SKY CAPTAIN AND THE WORLD OF TOMORROW) are on the big screen, it’s worth remembering a movie that combined both. And did it with flair and a sense of adventure.

It’s got Timothy Dalton playing an Errol Flynn-type as a Nazi collaborator, and a villain made up to look like ‘40s screen heavy Rondo Hatton. Terry O’Quinn’s take on Hughes is positively heroic. Casting Jennifer Connelly in her pre-Oscar days shows some wit, too, in that she looks exactly like the kind of ingĂ©nue that Hughes would try to turn into a star. The Nazi cartoon that shows an army of jetpacked stormtroopers invading America never fails to send chills down my spine. It’s one of the most potent movie moments of the 1990s.

In the years since this film, star Bill Campbell has been billed as ‘William’ and ‘Billy.’ The changes haven’t helped. When I saw an ad announcing he’d joined the cast of a TV series, I thought, “Hey! The Rocketeer’s on THE O.C.!”