- What are you looking at, sugar tits?
Edge of Darkness: Mel Gibson returns to the screen after a seven-year absence; I completely forgot that his last headlining performance was in Signs. He is way, way better in that movie than he is in, hmm, let’s be generous and say eighty percent of his previous work. But Gibson heard the call of directing, so he’s been doing that on and off for awhile. I was pretty down on Gibson as a director after that Christ porn, but I have to say, Apocalypto is kind of awesome—definitely the right kind of crazy, and specific brand of craziness is often a concern with Gibson. For example, most stars of his level would make their big comeback role the center of either a big-deal summer blockbuster or a major year-end Oscar campaign, but he chose another revenge thriller released in the near-dead of January. After Braveheart, Ransom, Payback, and all of the torture stuff that makes it into both his star vehicles and directing projects, Gibson’s thirst for vengeance and/or accompanying martyrdom has become predictably crazy—one of the worst kinds, incidentally.
This is part of what made his role in Signs so refreshing, and what makes Edge of Darkness most suspect (even though it’s directed by Martin Campbell, about as dependable an old-fashioned thriller director as you can get [Seriously! The dropoff from Goldeneye and Casino Royale to the rest of the Brosnan/Craig Bonds is, as Ice Cube almost said, steep, so steep, so steep. -Ed]). In the trailer for Edge of Darkness, Gibson spouts a catchy tough-guy line about how “you’re either hanging on the cross, or banging in the nails.” Since when is this a choice, Mel? You seem pretty happy doing both. Maybe Edge of Darkness will prove to achieve some kind of apotheosis not just of Gibson’s twin desires for his suffering and others’ blood but for the entire mad-movie-star genre that has become such an attractive option for performers as diverse as Gibson, Harrison Ford, and Jodie Foster.
When in Rome: Let’s try this again, romantic comedies. A couple of weeks ago, I was tricked into going to see Leap Year because I find Amy Adams unbelievably charming. It kind of sucked. Not quite 27 Dresses level of sucking, but certainly Confessions of a Shopaholic level of sucking. Now there’s yet another romantic comedy, this time starring Veronica Mars (or, I guess, Kristen Bell), who I find unbelievably charming, as a girl who accidentally casts a spell over a variety of suitors including Will Arnett and Jon Heder. Of course, the real guy for her is the army dude from Transformers, because, come on, guys who aren’t rakishly charming on the outside and bland on the inside? Ew! Romantic comedies, this is starting to resemble an abusive relationship: I get low self-esteem from chuckling a few times at the When in Rome trailer, will probably go to see it even though I know it won’t end well, and will likely wind up feeling worse than ever. At least Leap Year was directed by Anand Tucker of Shopgirl; this is from Mark Steven Johnson of Grumpy Old Men and Ghost Rider, so goodbye occasional nice shots of Amy Adams and Matthew Goode by a moonlit lake in Ireland and hello sitcom-lit Italy! [You should read this post on Glenn Kenny’s blog, and then scroll down to the comments section, to the part where Greg Mottola(!) says, “I also recently got this note from an exec visiting the set: ‘We like brightly lit comedies at our studio’.” Dear god, When in Rome is so brightly lit, I haven’t been able to put my contacts in all week. —Ed.]
Saint John of Las Vegas: This sounds like the title of a fucking terrible short story, but it’s actually a movie starring Steve Buscemi with a supporting turn from Sarah Silverman. I kind of want to see it, but not as much as I want to see it as a seventeen-year-old. What sounds like a determinedly quirky road-trip odyssey would’ve probably played better for me then, anyway.