News

Here's looking at you, kid... for 3 hours

Barry Koltnow
The Orange County Register (MCT)

I have a friend who is a big movie fan.

As soon as I get back from a screening, she wants to hear all about the movie. We've had some lively and thoughtful discussions. Our most recent discussion was not one of them.

I saw an early screening of "American Gangster" the other night, and she couldn't wait to discuss it.

In the middle of my critique of how director Ridley Scott tackled the nuances of the gangster film, and how "American Gangster" fared against the best movies of that genre, I was rudely interrupted.

"Is Denzel worth looking at for three hours?" she asked.

"Don't you want to know if the movie's any good?"

"No, I want to know if Denzel is worth looking at for three hours?"

"Are you asking if Denzel Washington has turned in another Oscar-worthy performance as a Harlem narcotics kingpin in the 1970s?"

"No, I want to know how he looked."

"Aren't you interested in Russell Crowe's performance as the honest and dedicated New York City cop who tries to bring down the drug lord?"

"No, I want to know how Denzel looked."

As I said, this was not one of our most intellectually stimulating conversations.

By the way, the answer to her incessant questioning was an unqualified "Yes."

Then again, when is Denzel not worth looking at for three hours? The man is a movie star.

Movie stars make an obscene amount of money because they are worth looking at for two or three hours. One would have to be a really big movie star to be worth looking at for three hours, though. Denzel Washington falls into that category.

Of course, there are other factors at play when you engage in the "Who is worth looking at for three hours?" debate. The quality of the movie comes to mind. If a movie stinks, then nobody is worth looking at for three hours. And that poses an interesting question: "Which stars are worth looking at for three hours, and which stars aren't?"

Before you say it, allow me to point out that most of you don't think that any movie star is worth looking at for three hours because you don't think that any movie is worth three hours of your time. I understand that. Most movies are way too long these days. But once in a while, a movie comes along that I think is worth three hours of my time.

So, let's assume for the sake of this discussion that a movie is so well-written, so cleverly directed and so brilliantly acted that even you might feel it's worth three hours of your time. Whose face could you look at for three hours before you tired of it? And whose face has a shorter attention span?

Obviously, these are only my opinions. You might have a different opinion. One man's Denzel Washington is another man's Adam Sandler. In no particular order:

THREE HOURS: Denzel Washington, Leonardo DiCaprio, Clint Eastwood, Cate Blanchett, Morgan Freeman, Anthony Hopkins, Robert De Niro, Harrison Ford, Meryl Streep, Robert Redford, Tom Hanks, Jack Nicholson, Johnny Depp, Helen Mirren, Al Pacino, Gene Hackman and Peter O'Toole.

TWO HOURS: Clive Owen, George Clooney, Jodie Foster, Sean Penn, Matt Damon, John Cusack, Halle Berry, Mark Ruffalo, Joaquin Phoenix, Reese Witherspoon, Dustin Hoffman, Natalie Portman, Tom Cruise, Ray Liotta, Jamie Foxx, Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Paul Giamatti, Kevin Spacey, Robin Wright Penn, Will Smith, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Forest Whitaker, Laura Linney, Daniel Day-Lewis, Harvey Keitel, Geoffrey Rush, Jane Fonda, Don Cheadle, Christian Bale, Robert Duvall, Ben Kingsley, Claire Danes, Kevin Costner, Gary Oldman, Aaron Eckhart, Patricia Clarkson, Christopher Walken, Samuel L. Jackson, Alec Baldwin, Annette Bening, Mel Gibson, Michael Caine, Glenn Close, Laurence Fishborne, Jeremy Irons, Alan Rickman, Diane Keaton, Kevin Kline, Shirley MacLaine, Bill Murray, Vanessa Redgrave, Tim Robbins, Susan Sarandon, Kate Winslet, Dakota Fanning, Edward Norton and Sean Connery

NINETY MINUTES: Brad Pitt, Russell Crowe, Tommy Lee Jones, Charlize Theron, Ben Stiller, Steve Carell, Gwyneth Paltrow, Ryan Gosling, Kevin Bacon, Colin Farrell, Will Ferrell, Richard Gere, Ashley Judd, Jack Black, Renee Zellweger, Vince Vaughn, Angelina Jolie, Daniel Craig, Hilary Swank, Nicolas Cage, Keira Knightley, Michelle Pfeiffer, John Travolta, Chris Tucker, Jackie Chan, Rosario Dawson, Tobey Maguire, Orlando Bloom, Felicity Huffman, Elijah Wood, Kim Basinger, Eva Mendes, Salma Hayak, Drew Barrymore, Mike Myers, Bruce Willis, Jessica Alba, Demi Moore, Robin Williams, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Jessica Biel, Jennifer Lopez, Josh Hartnett, Mark Wahlberg, Martin Lawrence, Woody Allen, Sandra Bullock, Jim Carrey, Cameron Diaz, Steve Martin, Bill Bob Thornton, Uma Thurman, Owen Wilson, Luke Wilson, Jennifer Aniston, Jake Gyllenhaal, Heath Ledger, Scarlett Johansson, Sacha Baron Cohen, Shia LaBeouf and Keanu Reeves

TWO-MINUTE TRAILER: Dane Cook, Jude Law, Carmen Electra, Ewan McGregor, Woody Harrelson, Adam Sandler, Lindsay Lohan and Jessica Simpson.

Music


Books


Film


Recent
Books

The Kinks and Their Bad-Mannered English Decency

Mark Doyles biography of the Kinks might complement a seminar in British culture. Its tone and research prove its intent to articulate social critique through music for the masses.

Music

ONO Confronts American Racial Oppression with the Incendiary 'Red Summer'

Decades after their initial formation, legendary experimentalists ONO have made an album that's topical, vital, uncomfortable, and cathartic. Red Summer is an essential documentation of the ugliness and oppression of the United States.

Film

Silent Women Filmmakers No Longer So Silent: Alice Guy Blaché and Julia Crawford Ivers

The works of silent filmmakers Alice Guy Blaché and Julia Crawford Ivers were at risk of being forever lost. Kino Lorber offers their works on Blu-Ray. Three cheers for film historians and film restoration.

Music

Rush's 'Permanent Waves' Endures with Faultless Commercial Complexity

Forty years later, Rush's ability to strike a nearly perfect balance between mainstream invitingness and exclusory complexity is even more evident and remarkable. The progressive rock classic, Permanent Waves, is celebrating its 40th anniversary.

Music

Drum Machines? Samples? Brendan Benson Gets Contemporary with 'Dear Life'

Powerpop overlord and part-time Raconteur, Brendan Benson, grafts hip-hop beats to guitar pop on his seventh solo album, Dear Life.

Music

'Sell You Everything' Brings to Light Buzzcocks '1991 Demo LP' That Passed Under-the-Radar

Cherry Red Records' new box-set issued in memory of Pete Shelley gathers together the entire post-reunion output of the legendary Buzzcocks. Across the next week, PopMatters explores the set album-by-album. First up is The 1991 Demo LP.

Music

10 Key Tracks From the British Synthpop Boom of 1980

It's 40 years since the first explosion of electronic songs revitalized the UK charts with futuristic subject matter, DIY aesthetics, and occasionally pompous lyrics. To celebrate, here's a chronological list of those Moog-infused tracks of 1980 that had the biggest impact.

Reading Pandemics

Poe, Pandemic, and Underlying Conditions

To read Edgar Allan Poe in the time of pandemic, we need to appreciate a very different aspect of his perspective—not that of a mimetic artist but of the political economist.

Books

'Yours, Jean' Is a Perfect Mixture of Tragedy, Repressed Desire, and Poor Impulse Control

Lee Martin's Yours, Jean is a perfectly balanced and heartbreaking mix of true crime narrative and literary fiction.

Music

The 60 Best Albums of 2007

From tech house to Radiohead and Americana to indie and everything in between, the 60 best albums of 2007 included many of the 2000s' best albums.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Solitude Stands in the Window: Thoreau's 'Walden'

Henry David Thoreau's Walden as a 19th century model for 21st century COVID-19 quarantine.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Will COVID-19 Kill Movie Theaters?

Streaming services and large TV screens have really hurt movie theaters and now the coronavirus pandemic has shuttered multiplexes and arthouses. The author of The Perils of Moviegoing in America, however, is optimistic.

Gary D. Rhodes, Ph.D
Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.