After a quick change in the bathroom (glasses, hat and sweater back on; that’s my whole bag of tricks) I sit in the hallway on a bench, just out of sight of a camera waiting for the next one. On the wall there’s a huge blown-up still from The Godfather flanked by the poster for Action Jackson on one side, and Backdraft on the other. I think that triptych somehow captures the spirit of my day.
I grew up on the A-Team TV show, and while I always loved it, I never really thought it was good. It was just one of those shows you watched because what else were you going to do? Read? This attitude could be why, unlike some other people who loved the show, I didn’t feel too protective when I heard they were making a movie. And taken on its own terms, this movie’s fun: explosions, totally implausible schemes (which nonetheless pale in comparison to some of what they used to do on the show, like completely disassembling the van, burying the pieces, and then digging it up, reassembling it, starting it up and driving off, all in a matter of hours), and the impossibly attractive, impossibly dull Jessica Biel. On top of all that, there’s an interesting feminist subtext happening here (no, seriously).
Biel’s character, Sosa, a hard-ass army officer and former flame of Face’s (Bradley Cooper, so jacked he’s nearly Gyllenhalled himself), is a woman in a man’s world. Acting like a man is how she copes. Her several male underlings are frantic to follow her orders, lest they wind up on emasculating “bitch duty.” Sosa and Face’s personalities (he’s vain and pretty, wears flowered robes and pampers himself; she’s aggressive, never breaks a smile and looks great firing a gun) and relationship (we get hints that they broke up when he wanted a commitment and stability she feared) are the reverse of the male/female stereotypes. Sosa is smart, savvy and focused, but she’s also outmatched for one simple reason: she’s the only one playing by the rules. While the good guys and bad guys (emphasis on “guys”) all color outside the lines with glee, she doggedly goes by the book, and as a result she’s always one step behind. The suggestion, as I take it, is that in these boy games, the rules are trumped by the drive to win. Women—either because they’re relatively new to the game or because of a temperamental difference—are taking the wrong approach entirely. By the end of the film, she’s come to believe in her love for Face and the innocence of the A-Team even as they’re sent back to prison, vowing to do whatever it takes to clear their names (through proper channels, we assume). The boys, meanwhile, are already planning their next escape.
Trailers: Piranha, Dinner With Schmucks, Takers, Predators, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Knight and Day, and (is it wrong to want to see this just for Alfred Molina in a fur-collared overcoat?) Sorcerer’s Apprentice.
Food: The second egg, two chocolate bars, the chips. I don’t feel well.
Hat, glasses and sweater off. No one suspects a thing. As an aside, I’ve now seen this ad three times today, and if you can walk into an elephant this well, you, sir or madam, are an actor.
I assume the pitch for this went something like, “Friday the 13th meets Lifeboat meets And Then There Were None meets a Benneton ad.” The Predator franchise (such as it is) feels like it’s perpetuated just to keep second-rate filmmakers busy, rather than in response to some demand. This time around, the joint gets classed up a little by Adrian Brody and his very odd nose (Brody is bulkier than usual here and seems to have done his best to get into the Gyllenhall spirit, but when you’re built like a tomato stake to start with, there’s only so much you can do). But otherwise, you know the story: A large, usually invisible, and surprisingly immobile-looking monster kills of bunch of humans, this time on an alien planet where the humans are being hunted for sport. The general air of pretension (“on our planet,” says the sole female character, “we’re the monsters”) suggests that all this might go somewhere, but it doesn’t. It’s just pretentious. And if you’re looking to be scared, look elsewhere, because the aliens here are already so familiar to us (there’s a supposedly new breed of alien here, but it still look like shirtless Rastafarians on HGH with a Garden Weasel for a face) and they’re so far superior to the humans (at one point, an alien takes 6-8 grenades to the face and then just gets back up, slightly dazed) that there’s no tension whatsoever.
Trailers: The American, Lottery Ticket, Step Up 3D, Resident Evil: Afterlife, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, and Machete (Michelle Rodriguez in an eye patch, nurses with machine guns, Danny Trejo on a flying motorcycle, and I still don’t want to see it. Robert Rodriguez can ruin anything).
Food: Two strawberry bars. I need protein.