There’s a 1995 movie directed by a guy by the name of Mike Sedan (who I want to blog about some time) called Lap Dancing that I think of a lot. As the title suggests, Lap Dancing involves strippers, and the movie is about half angst-ridden sleazefest, and about half stripping routines which are largely not related to the other half of the movie. And the thing that struck me when watching this movie (on “Joe Bob Brigg’s Drive In Theater”, I think) was, “Wow, Sedan must really think strippers are boring!”
You see, any real stripping routine–any stage routine–is designed to be seen from a relatively static viewpoint: That of the crowd. (I’ve never been in a strip club, but I’ve seen the pseudo-documentary Stripper, so I’m an expert, okay?) Instead, the camera was jumping all over the place. If there was anything exciting about the routine, it was completely lost in the camerawork.
That thought has recurred over the years: “Wow, this guy must really think what he’s filming is boring.”
I think it a lot during Tony Scott movies like The Taking of Pellham 1 2 3. Scott using so many frenetic camera tricks in one of his films, I wonder if he has no faith in his stories. The buzz on this movie has been pretty mixed, too.
It was Father’s Day, though. What was going to take him to see? The Proposal?
On top of that, my dad held little fond memories of the original, but free popcorn is free popcorn.
And it was actually pretty darn good.
The premise is preposterous, of course: A group of ne’er-do-wells (led by John Travolta) capture a subway train, with the intention of ransoming off the passengers.
Kinda kooky, innit? A subway’s not exactly like a plane. You can’t take it anywhere. The exit strategy, as it were, is problematic, to say the least. But Scott is no stranger to dubious plots, and he handles this pretty well.
Managing the crisis is everyman Denzel Washington–who’s maybe too good looking to be an Everyman but surely gives Tom Hanks a run of his money in that area–as the guy who “takes the call” and rises to the occasion.
For all his flashy camera work, Scott knows where the drama is–between Travolta and Washington, and lets them do their thing. And they do their thing very well indeed, reminding me of another movie where two top-notch actors played off each other in what was generally considered a flawed movie: The Negotiator.
But I can watch that one over and over again–the little nuances of Samuel L. Jackson as he interacts with Kevin Spacey being very compelling. I can’t say for sure this is in that category but it did keep me entertained.
Of course, this is an action flick, which is kind of tough when the two principal characters are: 1) holed up in a subway car, and; 2) sitting at a desk at the transit authority’s office. Scott remedies this by having a cross-city car chase which is over-the-top and gratuitous but, hey, keeps you awake, right?
Supporting actors include John Turturro and James Gandolfini, who are also always compelling.
The only real problem I had with it is I could see three or four logical things the bad guys could’ve done to make their lives easier. Just painfully obvious stuff. A little trickier was the fact that Travolta tends to be very likable, but he’s a cold-blooded murderer. (This isn’t a light caper movie.) He was believable, but that particular aspect didn’t quite sit right with me.
But, overall, a good, fun movie. All three of us liked it, including The Boy, who isn’t really inclined to like these sorts of things, and my dad, who was carrying around baggage from not liking the original.
So, not really sure what the bitching is about.