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David Poland

By David Poland

BYOB Friday The 13th

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35 Responses to “BYOB Friday The 13th”

  1. As I wrote elsewhere, I liked The Expendables as what it was: a B-movie action picture that wouldn’t be under nearly this much scrutiny if the genre weren’t such an endangered species. Is it an action classic that restores the macho he-man action film as a viable genre? Not in the least. But it’s good dumb violent fun that’s worth the $6 for a couple hours, which is all these movies ever were.
    Ironically, with almost no real profanity, no sex/nudity, and mostly CGI blood and gore, it’s quite obvious that The Expendables was intended to be PG-13. Most of the third-act gore is either CGI or disconnected to the main action, as if it were shot later in production after Stallone realized that his original cut would get an R anyway. When Eric Roberts uses the word ‘freakin’ twice in fits of anger, you know something was amiss (I heard only one ‘F-bomb’).

  2. palmtree says:

    $6? Where are you watching your first-run movies?

  3. a_loco says:

    Maybe Stallone had a discussion with his bff Harry Knowles and realized that his homies in the AICN talkboards would have gone apeshit if it was rated PG-13

  4. AMC has before-noon $6 tickets (n the Los Angeles area) pretty much every day. If it’s a slow work day, or I’ll be able to stay later than 5-ish, I sometimes take in a very early show then swing by the office afterward. Perhaps Lionsgate realized that they were causing more harm with a PG-13 than good (see the backlash over the PG-13 for Drag Me to Hell, even though that movie didn’t need R-rated violence and gore), but the film had hallmarks of a film that was PG-13 at one point then amped up a a harder R (think Collateral Damage and Snakes on a Plane).

  5. rossers says:

    The Replaceables VS Eat, Pray, Queef
    fuck this summer.

  6. Whois67 says:

    re: the road to box office hell chart
    Really? Really??? 30 million-ish for The Expendables???? Really???? Really???????
    Really???????? Seems high.

  7. movieman says:

    No early screenings of “The Expendables” in the Cleveland market, so I didn’t catch up with it until this afternoon.
    If Stallone was trying to duplicate the cruddy look and brain-dead dramaturgy of a mid-’80s Cannon action programmer, he succeeded brilliantly. If he was actually aiming a little higher–say, slicker if equally vacuous ’80s Stallone vehicles like “Cobra” or “Tango and Cash”–he completely missed the mark. I haven’t seen a more off-putting or actively unpleasant action movie since Stallone’s own “Rambo” from a few years back. The only person who even attempts a performance here is poor Eric Roberts (despite being saddled with unspeakable dialogue and idiotic character “motivation”). Movies this devoid of sentient human interest/value always give me plenty of opportunity for stream-of-consciousness musing, and “Expendables” was no exception. I mourned the beauty and raw talent of the young Mickey Rourke, nostalgically recalled Roberts’ remarkable (and almost completely unknown today) career performance in Bob Fosse’s brilliant “Star 80,” wondered how “Stone Cold” Steve Austin got so damn old looking (seemingly overnight) and debated whether nihilistic action fare like this could really be my least favorite movie genre.
    The human body is such an amazing organism. People spend billions of dollars a year (on doctors, drugs, gym memberships, exercise equipment/health foods, etc.) trying to live longer/better. Yet all that time and effort can be pointlessly and cruelly negated with the firing of a machine gun, or the slash of a knife. Is there anything more depressing and soul-deadening than random, anonymous, senseless wholesale human slaughter–especially when it’s disguised as “entertainment” like it is here?
    Sorry to wax philosophical (metaphysical?) on a Friday nite, but I’m still bummed out from the two hours of my life wasted on this abomination.
    Despite its indulgences and longueurs, I’ll take “Eat, Pray, Love” any day.

  8. leahnz says:

    finally somebody who shares my feelings on ‘the expendables’

  9. movieman says:

    Yeah, Leah!!!!!!!!!!!

  10. hcat says:

    Just watched the trailer for How Do You Know, and now I have to wait for months until I find out if Reese Witherspoon ends up with the poor nice guy or the rich jerk. Don’t know how I will bear the suspense.

  11. Joe Leydon says:

    Whois67: Looks like it might — repeat, might — do slightly better than the chart prediction. LOL.

  12. Nicol D says:

    “As I wrote elsewhere, I liked The Expendables as what it was: a B-movie action picture that wouldn’t be under nearly this much scrutiny if the genre weren’t such an endangered species.”
    Exactly! On its own Expendables is not a classic. The first half is rather clunky and the characters do not have the built in pathos that fans associate with Rocky or Rambo. But I agree that on some level it works. When Rourke gives his speach at the half-way point it injects the flick with a needed humanity that carries it through to the end. The film does give two great fights and a great finale although I am getting tired of CG gore. Austin is a good foil.
    I also think it is time to embrace the fact that Cannon is to action films in the 80’s what Hammer was to horror films in the 60’s. Expendables is made with a complete Cannon aesthetic. If one cannot appreciate that…one will not like it. Period. But if one can put the film in its proper historial context, it is fun. Stallone also warms Statham up in a way he has not been before. Not quite as overdog and a bit more underdog.
    Flawed to be sure and Arnie just phones his cameo in where I think Willis and Rourke try. But still fun and I am glad to see Stallone back with a number one summer hit. Have to respect that career longevity on some level.
    On another note… why has no one mentioned how gosh darned old Arnie looks in this? Even his walk is that of an old man. Not trying to be mean but it really stood out.

  13. The Pope says:

    Movieman, please don’t ever apologize for waxing philosophical, especially when what you wrote is so poignantly accurate.
    “Is there anything more depressing and soul-deadening than random, anonymous, senseless wholesale human slaughter–especially when it’s disguised as “entertainment” like it is here?”
    The answer is no.
    It is interesting that you note the amount of money people spend trying to stay young/stay alive. I remember when I was in my 20s, I didn’t have that much of a problem with such movies. But now, probably because of aging, I do. From gray hair, to not being able to run a sub five minute mile anymore, the signs of aging are everywhere. And you become more conscious of your own mortality. And if you have kids, you live in dread of some horror befalling them.
    The financial success and moral failure of these films is down to the fact the target audience is too young to know any better.

  14. The Pope says:

    P.S. And don’t get me started on “Jersey Shore.”

  15. LexG says:

    Jesus Christ.
    I’ve made this point before, but if nothing else you’d think that people WHO MAKE THEIR LIVING SEEING 200 MOVIES A YEAR would be immune to violence… Why do some of you guys (movieman, Turan, Maltin) get MORE squeamish with age? IT’S NOT FUCKING REAL. Plus this is THE EXPENDABLES, so getting worked up over it like a PUSSY is like weeping for animal mistreatment after watching a Bugs Bunny cartoon. Lighten up.
    The only abomination this weekend comes courtesy of Edgar Wright.
    But with that whopping 12 mil, tops, it’s going to pull this weekend, followed by next week’s inevitable 70% drop, can we PLEASE STOP LISTENING to the AICN/CHUD/Cinematical/HitFix crew telling us how each new fanboy movie is going to be the DEFINITIVE WHERE-WERE-YOU-WHEN formative experience of a generation????
    Poland’s GEEK EIGHT looks fucking charitable at this point.

  16. LexG says:

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA FUNNIEST THING IMAGINABLE TO ME, James Awesome Wolcott on Vanity Fair bagging on Todd Gilchrist and how boring a writer he is.
    YEP YEP. Says the man who is a HUGE FAN of THE LEXMAN.

  17. Tofu says:

    Lex, Medved is the main proponent of the Box Office > Quality paradigm.
    Friends don’t let friends be Medveds.

  18. LexG says:

    Yeah, I totally get that… Wasn’t really my argument. Just after hearing every HitFix and Cinematical dude (face it, everyone I follow on Twitter) talk this shit up like The Second Coming, kind of awkward and underwhelming to stroll into a FRIDAY NIGHT screening of Scott Pilgrim and the place is like 92% empty… same thing with Kick-Ass (which is a masterpiece compared to SP). Just the way these guys have been bonering out for this thing, you’d think it was May 1977 and the entire cinematic landscape was about to change. All I’m asking is, don’t Harry and Co. EVER get sick of turning every mildly cute genre movie that panders to their niche interests into some WATERSHED EVENT?

  19. Tofu says:

    Lex, I fail to understand how Smokey and the Bandit changed the cinematic landscape in May of 1977. Everyone was too busy with their new Apple II computers to even go outside.
    But yeah, the clusterfuck AICN found itself in with trying to hype two genre flicks for the same weekend of release was glorious.

  20. Lota says:

    yes movieman
    the movie is a testament to has-beens who think they still ‘got it’ even though I never thought Stallone ‘had it’ except for Rocky (only the first 2) and COpland…I would have hoped he would stick to the COpland trajectory but the ego destroyed that I think. If he had focused on acting instead of himself I would have liked the career better for sure.
    and the rest…so many actors misused and instead parading around with the same misplaced 25 yr old ego thing blah.
    expendable yes.

  21. a_loco says:

    Re: The Pope and movieman
    Glad to see you guys taking the prudish, retarded moral high road and dismissing 90% of action and horror films in the process.
    I honestly don’t see how you can be film lovers and think like that.

  22. movieman says:

    Loco- I don’t think that I’m necessarily taking a prudish (or “retarded” as you so colorfully described it) high road re: “The Expendables.”
    I’m talking about one movie here (well, maybe “Rambo,” too).
    And anyone familiar with my fim-reviewing history knows that I’ve been genuinely passionate about a lot of movies containing extreme violence (“Salo,” “Irreversible,” “Audition,” Peckinpah and QT’s ouevres, etc.) Hell, I even gave the original “Hostel” a (very) favorable review. What pisses me off is when violence/death has no meaning or significance. Sorry to be a prig, but life is damn precious to me. If blood is spilled–in real life or just in a movie–I want it to matter and, if possible, have some larger/greater significance. The extreme violence in “The Expendables” is as morally bankrupt and ultimately pointless (and dehumanizing) as it is in the “Saw” movies.

  23. The Pope says:

    Rather like a food critic who favors certain dishes and dislikes others, doesn’t mean they hate food and it doesn’t mean that I can’t love movies either. There are many different types of movies and I just don’t happen to like The Expendables’ sort.
    Like movieman, I believe that certain things should have a point. Otherwise it is, obvious to say, pointless.
    I think you’ll agree that life is too short to spend time with things you don’t like.

  24. The better Saw films (Saw II, III, and VI) very much have a sting to their violence, and a genuine weight to at least some of the deaths (more-so Saw III and VI than the fun-house spook show of Saw II).
    As for Rambo, that film was arguably the antithesis to the cheerful and occasionally crowd-pleasing violence of the Rambo sequels and stuff like Cobra and Demolition Man (still a great film, but a stunningly violent movie that’s light as a feather with no weight to the carnage). It’s almost Stallone’s Unforgiven, as it explicitly rebuts the whole ‘one person can save the world/make a difference ethos of the 1980s action films. Sure some of the climactic violence in Rambo is so over the top that it’s almost funny (I’m glad I didn’t see it in a theater with teenagers who are conditioned not to take anything seriously), but there is a reason that everyone who survives the final battle is in shock, absolutely wrecked, and in tears over what they just witnessed. The film says that violence and war, real violence and real war, sucks and doesn’t accomplish much in the broad scheme of things. It’s a starkly depressing little film.
    The Expendables is, by virtue of being an homage to 1980s films, the exact opposite. The good guys win big, the bad guys lose huge, and a handful of people can save an entire people with a few machine guns and a handful of grenades. Yes, the violence has no weight and (slight spoiler) there is no real price to pay at the end, but that’s the nature of the film. That’s the nature of any number of action pictures good and bad, but there’s no reason to hold it up as a prime example of something ugly.
    Did you squirm when Neo and Trinity slaughtered innocent cops and guards in the third act of The Matrix? Did you walk out of Mission: Impossible 2 when the bad guys crashed an entire passenger jet full of innocent people just to kill one guy? Did you feel upset over the billions of lives lost when Tarkin and Darth Vader blew up Alderaan? Were you unnerved when Scott Pilgrim… (SPOILER)… basically murdered a couple innocent guards at the climax of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World? If you take the violence that occurs as a matter of course in any number of action films at face value, most of them are awfully immoral. The Expendables cavalier slaughter of enemy forces (who are clearly stated as being handpicked by the American villain to terrorize the populace) is no better or worse than any other action film, so that shouldn’t be a viable reason to dismiss it out of hand.

  25. Stella's Boy says:

    Better Saw films is like saying better STDs.
    Stallone is lucky to have longevity. Reviving Rocky and Rambo obviously paid off big time or he would be making Seagal/Snipes/Van Damme/Lundgren DTV fare, and The Expendables would have a tenth the budget, more wrestlers, and no Statham, Willis, Li, or Arnie.

  26. torpid bunny says:

    Question: all or most of the expendables live? So the title is misleading?

  27. torpid bunny says:

    I checked out of MI:2 somewhere in the third act of Face/Off.

  28. The Big Perm says:

    The violence in Rambo IS funny. I assume Stallone had no idea what he was making was so ridiculously over the top that it’s hilarious…but then since he thinks he’s making important points with that movie I figure he was serious. I’m sorry, after I’ve seen three guys blown in half with machine guns and five exploding heads in the first moments of combat, I start laughing. Rambo almost completely cuts the villain in half with a knife! Rambo is a stupid, stupid movie…and all the better for it!
    And LexG is wrong when he says “But with that whopping 12 mil, tops, it’s going to pull this weekend, followed by next week’s inevitable 70% drop, can we PLEASE STOP LISTENING to the AICN/CHUD/Cinematical/HitFix crew telling us how each new fanboy movie is going to be the DEFINITIVE WHERE-WERE-YOU-WHEN formative experience of a generation????”
    Because he spends half his rants talking about horseshit like Beastmaster that was no big hit but endured simply because it was on HBO all the time. So first weekend box office means nothing, let’s talk about it in ten years when kids are watching it on whatever the new IPhone is.

  29. The Pope says:

    You make several cogent points about violence in movies, a few of which I readily admit that I cannot counter… other than it is simply a matter of personal taste.
    I love Blue Velvet, RoboCop and Gladiator. I admire A Clockwork Orange, Predator and Rob Roy. While I absolutely loath Irreversible, Universal Soldier, and Braveheart. Why? How can I justify those choices? As simply as this… there is never any accounting for taste.

  30. leahnz says:

    i love action (and horror) movies, have no problem with graphic violence AT ALL and i thought expendables was a lame, poorly written-and-directed try-hard mess with a bunch of has-beens doing bad operatic acting in a violent action flick where the violence is wrote, meaningless and pedestrian and the ACTION isn’t even any good

  31. Joe Leydon says:

    I think The Expendables would have been even niftier with Steven Seagal. Exhibit A:

  32. Cadavra says:

    The one recent film that truly left its mark on a generation was THE LOST SKELETON OF CADAVRA. Of course, that generation was Baby Boomers, but still…
    Which reminds me, it’s time for another good-natured pimpage: get it now so you’ll be ready when THE LOST SKELETON RETURNS AGAIN drops on Tuesday, along with DATK AND STORMY NIGHT. Even Lex will call them the awesomest films ever. YEP YEP.

  33. I liked Braveheart a lot more than I liked Gladiator. Hell, I liked The Patriot more than I liked Gladiator (my issue with Gladiator is that Crowe passes up several worthwhile opportunities to avenge his family but doesn’t do it because the movie isn’t over yet).
    Anyway, there are plenty of reasons not to like The Expendables, and I imagine if I had walked into it expecting anything resembling an action classic, I would have been annoyed. But lowered expectations was a boon in this case, just as it was with Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra.

  34. Cadavra says:

    When it comes to Stallone, aren’t “lowered expectations” a given?

Quote Unquotesee all »

It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon