Notes from the back row 

The Next Three Days

I like Russell Crowe.

A lot of people don't. They think he's ill tempered because he threw a rotary telephone at a hotel concierge once. That's why I like him though - that, and I can actually see his pineal gland poking out of his forehead. Such a gorged 'Third Eye" means he can probably see the future or transcend the astral plane or something.

The pineal gland is no joke, although scientifically we know very little about it. We do know, however, that it's pinecone shaped and tucked into a little crevasse at almost the exact centre of the brain. Basically the pineal is the brain's ballsack, and therefore probably contains the balls of the brain. So Russell Crowe, as exemplified by the rotary phone fiasco, has balls to spare.

On the other hand my inside source on Russell (my girlfriend's brother's wife's little brother Regan played his kid in Mystery, Alaska) swears that he's a really nice guy. Badass enough to huck a rotary phone, but nice to kids - both positives in my book.

On top of that Crowe makes generally decent flicks. The Quick and the Dead, LA Confidential, Insider, Master and Commander, 3:10 to Yuma - all solid films.

As well, he's Australian - that continent has its problems (DVD of the week is Cane Toads: An Unnatural History) but no one can deny Australia produces great actors - Cate Blanchett, Heath Ledger, Geoffry Rush, Guy Pierce, Naomi Watts, Nicole Kidman, and Olivia Newton-John to name a few.

Crowe's latest flick, The Next Three Days , opens this Friday at the Village 8. Directed by Paul Haggis ( Crash) this one's a prison break movie in reverse. Crowe is mild-mannered college teacher-turned-commando (via the Internet) who's going into the big house to bust out his wife, whom he believes was wrongly imprisoned for murdering her boss three years ago. It's a remake of 2008 French film Pour Elle, and although Haggis refrains from letting a preachy message jam up the action, The Next Three Days still lacks that raw-cut feeling of good desperate-family-man flicks like Taken or Falling Down .

Besides that, and the fact that after you turn off your cell phone you have to shut off logic as well, Haggis still delivers a decent suspense thriller. Neither Liam Neeson nor Elizabeth Banks are given much to work with but they do okay. Russell Crowe doesn't kill it either, but he's good enough.

The second-last (thank god) Harry Potter movie also just opened. I realize millions of people love Potter and I'm sure I'll buy the books for my kid, but the movies are so stretched out (the first one came out in 2001 and some of the middle few were mediocre at best). This is one of those franchises better watched back-to-back on your couch some rainy-ass day in mid October. Like the Saw or Bring It On series.

Bring It On 1, while technically a cheerleading movie, is also one of the early entries into the latest dance movie craze. Dance movies will always sell as long as teenage girls are told to be chaste but desperate political/economic times consistently ignite a sharp rise in dancing as society tries to escape impending doom. Exhibit A - Swing Kids. Exhibit B - The Footloose/Flashdance/Dirty Dancing trifecta at the end of the cold war. Exhibit C - Burlesque, the latest in a long line of overcome-the-odds-and-dance-your-face-off flicks that stars Cher and Christina Aguilera and opens next Wednesday at the Village 8. All I can tell you about this one is that it's PG-13, Steve Antin directs (he was one of the bad kids in Goonies and Jessie in the video for "Jessie's Girl") and that Russell Crowe is not in it. Sounds like a renter to me.




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