In his continuing effort to be a relevant post-political career movie star again, Arnold Schwarzenegger has tried almost anything. He added his name to the aging action icon franchise The Expendables, then set out on his own for the High Noon-lite of The Last Stand and the lax buddy prison effort (with Sly Stallone) Escape Plan. This week he will be amping up his game, taking on the latest from Training Day‘s David Ayers and Swordfish‘s Skip Woods. Entitled Sabotage, it’s being sold as a quasi-realist DEA vs. drug cartels standoff. Lots of gun raised raids for Arnie and his co-stars Sam Worthington, Terrence Howard, Joe Manganiello, Josh Holloway, Max Martin, and Mireille Enos, among others. The trailer tells us the plots revolves around a group of high intensity Feds who run afoul of a cartel, putting Schwarzenegger’s family in jeopardy…
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There was a time, not so long ago, when they were all we had. Film fans waited an entire year just to see their favorites line up for the annual red carpet ritual, the end result being a decorative gold statue (or disappointment) and a slap on the back from their own insular club (or not). The previous 12 months held a wealth of possibilities, and it all boiled down to a four hour excuse for grandstanding and kowtowing, legends being built while some movie myths were dismantled. It was our chance to see those famous faces with their guard down, wins eliciting cheers (or jeers) with losses and snubs providing a similar level of consideration/controversy. Back before the Internet, back before the social media tweeted the trivial and the travesty of every cinematic step, the Oscars mattered. Like prize fighting, horse racing, and professional chess playing, The Academy Awards used to be a national obsession. Now, they’re just a nuisance.
There’s a lot of talk going on about Quentin Tarantino, his recently announced project The Hateful Eight, and his reaction to the leaking of his first draft script to someone outside the circle he trusted to keep it confidential. Some have called the Oscar-winning auteur a whining crybaby for complaining about the very web-based world he helped foster while some see this as the ultimate betrayal of an artist and his intentions. Those taking his side argue that in this technologically advanced age, some semblance of professionalism and integrity needs to be maintained. The entire episode recently ramped up when Tarantino decided to sue the website Gawker for posting a link to the leaked script. While the legal standing is somewhat specious, the intention is clear: mess with a powerful Hollywood heavyweight and feel the wrath of his/her immense power and their hurt feelings.
“You’re an embarrassing doorman and garbage man. Fuck you. Kiss my ass.”
That was how famed critic and contrarian Armond White chose to respond to Steve McQueen‘s acceptance of the New York Film Critic Circle Award for Best Director on 6 January. While the rest of the country was embroiled in the ongoing BCS/ACC/SEC soap opera playing out in Pasadena, Manhattan saw the man most famous for hating every movie you (and his peers) love take out his own personal agenda on the British artist behind one of 2013’s most astonishing movies—not that Mr. White would agree with such an assessment. When 12 Years a Slave was released back in October, he had this to say about it:
Of the three men who led an unprepared America into the Iraq quagmire, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld had less of a say in the invasion than either Vice President Dick Cheney or President George W. Bush. But of the three, Rumsfeld is the one you would want to sit in the chair across from Errol Morris.
In The Unknown Known, Rumsfeld shows time and again why he’s a perfect subject for another of Morris’s documentary investigations into American military adventurism and hubris. For one, he’s the sharpest verbalist of the three. For another, he’s willing to tangle with other points of view; though not necessarily concede an inch of ground. If the film can’t compare in the end to 2003’s The Fog of War, that’s because Rumsfeld doesn’t appear to have had the come-to-Jesus moment about Iraq that Robert McNamara had about his role in the disaster that was the Vietnam War. Given the placidly combative figure presented here, that moment will probably never come.