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“A Good Year,” A Bad Movie

Russell CroweLet’s assume for a second that you’re Al Pacino (Hoo-Ah!). You’ve probably got more money than you know what to do with, you’ve been in some of the greatest films of all time (“Godfather,” “Scarface,” “Dog Day Afternoon”) and undoubtedly you get hundreds, if not thousands, of scripts sent to you every year. Not to mention that you can meet with any director, producer or studio you want and you’ve obviously got a top-notch Ari Gold-esque super-agent working on your behalf. So why, I ask, would you make “Two for the Money”?

No, seriously, why?

I don’t mean to pick on you Mr.Pacino (assuming you’re reading this), because clearly you’re not alone (and clearly you can have me whacked), but it seems odd that actors of your caliber continue to make sub-par films. Is it a matter of ego? Do you think that your superior thespianism can carry a crappy flick? Are we, the movie-going public, just supposed to trust that you wouldn’t put your name on a big flaming turd of a film? Maybe you owe someone a favor for that thing you did that time with that girl in the place? We can speculate all day.

Now, I’m not suggesting that every role an actor takes on needs to be worthy of an Academy Award, and surely there’s something to be said for branching, diversifying and making films that are “personally fulfilling.” However, “Anger Management”? There’s just no reason why Adam Sandler and Jack Nicholson should ever be mentioned in the same sentence. Unless of course that sentence is, “Jack Nicholson’s toilet paper has images of Adam Sandler on it.” And I like Adam Sandler.

Moving on.

The reason I got on this rant in the first place is my recent viewing of the trailer for “A Good Year.” It would appear that the “great actor, bad movie” phenomenon has caught up to Russell Crowe, who stars in this inevitable borefest. Don’t believe me? This is the riveting plot:

London banker Max Skinner moves to Provence to tend a vineyard he inherits from his uncle. There he encounters a beautiful California woman who says she is a long-lost cousin and lays claim to the property.

That’s it folks. That’s the whole deal. Seems to me that someone is trying to compensate for a certain temper tantrum-phone-throwing incident by making a sappy, uninspired “drama” about “real life.” I mean really. You’re Russell Crowe. Adored by men and women for your amazing roles in “L.A. Confidential,” “The Insider,” “Gladiator,” “A Beautiful Mind,” “Master and Commander” and “Cinderella Man”. Why, oh why, would you sign on for this?

I blame Ridley Scott.

Yes, the director of “Alien,” “Blade Runner” and “Black Hawk Down” is at the helm of this “movie”. Clearly Mr. Scott (No, not that one) has some kind of mind control/blackmail scheme going on if he was able to convince Russell Crowe that doing this movie was a good idea. I mean you wanna to talk about ego and favors? Check this out.

Note: the following is pure speculation, but it probably happened (phew, covered my ass on that one)

Ridley Scott and his buddy, novelist Peter Mayle, are hanging out, working on their third bottle of wine. In a mind-numbing stupor, the two somehow manage to spew out the basic plot for what will eventually become the novel, “A Good Year” (nice wine pun, huh?). Anyway, after the success of the novel Ridley decides that he’ll turn it into a feature film, because he can.

Are you with me so far? Good.

In order to secure financing for his film, Ridley uses the “I directed you in Gladiator and you won an Oscar” Jedi mind-trick to convince Russell Crowe that he was born to play the title character. Boom! Crowe is on board, Ridley’s got his dough, and we’re making movies people!

So what have we learned today? We learned that although we may never truly understand what motivates the marquis actors of our time to take on mediocre projects (aside from the trillions they negotiate into their contracts) it’s fair to assume that ego and nepotism play a large part.

Wait! You mean to tell me that Hollywood is filled with massive egos and nepotism? Holy crap!

I know, I know. Not exactly a shocking revelation but important just the same. As long as Hollywood A-listers try to cash in on their, um, cache with moviegoers, we’ll continue to get useless, self serving “cinema” like “A Good Year”.



(Note: Although far less prevalent, sometimes bad movies happen to great actors too…I’m looking at you “DaVinci Code”.)

For more Trailer Trash, check out these other fine postings:
"Casino Royle"
"Man of the Year"
"The Last King of Scotland"
"Farce of the Penguins"
"Transformers:The Movie"
"Ghost Rider"
"Deja Vu"
"Go to the Movies, Leave After the Trailers"

Posted by on November 7, 2006 8:45 PM
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One more factor to take into consideration. Some actors simply live to be in front of the camera, and will take almost anything to keep themselves working. It could be called an addiction, but it does explain Samuel L. Jackson's entire career.

-- Posted by: Jason at November 8, 2006 12:22 PM

good point, jason.

along the same lines, it's interesting to note that samuel l. made it very clear several years ago that he would never work with rappers-turned-actors because of how he felt about his craft (if you can call being "angry black man" in every movie a craft).

ironically (or not) he's been in more films with rappers than anyone else in a large margin (see, "Home of the Brave")

- mb

-- Posted by: mediaboy at November 8, 2006 2:09 PM

All you've seen is the trailer of "A Good Year" and you've judged and condemed it. Typical of so many in the media; talking about things you know nothing about.

Since when is there some law that says an actor who's made great epic movies and intense true-life movies, has to keep doing those same kind of roles? Sorry Sir Ridley Scott and Mr. Russell Crowe aren't living up to YOUR expectations but you know what?... I don't think they give a tinker's damm.

And just for the record, I'm very much looking forward to seeing a movie staring a great actor, with a nice story and no violent special effects; a movie that must be carried by the talents of the actors and director.

-- Posted by: JJ at November 8, 2006 11:59 PM

JJ -

a "tinker's damn?" anyway...

as you're probably new to "Trailer Trash" allow me to explain what it is we do around here.

ya see, a few years ago i decided that i was tired of seeing fantastic trailers and then being disappointed by the movie. i dubbed these films, trailer trash.

as a result of these experiences, i took it upon myself to warn others of potentially crappy cinema *before* they shelled out their hard-earned cash. it's more of a public service really, and i perform it by watching trailers.

and since we're on the record, i have absolutely nothing against movies with no violent special effects and "nice story" starring great actors. what i do dislike however is contentless, self-serving, elitest and pompous cinema.

unfortunately, with "a good year," i feel as though mr.crowe and mr.scott have allowed themselves to be consumed by their own "greatness".

thanks for posting.

- mb

-- Posted by: mediaboy at November 9, 2006 9:23 AM

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