Archives for posts with tag: James Cromwell

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s page in Hollywood history will not talk about art. It will explain his contribution to the genre known as summertime blockbuster action films. “Eraser” (1996) might get mentioned because it’s a perfect example. Arnold must protect a federal witness (Vanessa Williams) from the four horsemen of action movies: pyrotechnics, technology, organized crime and double-crossing government officials. There’s beauty, humor, helicopters and explosions. The climax is just as implausible as the rest of the film and don’t ask me about Arnold’s accent. Just eat your popcorn and enjoy the air conditioning for two hours. It’s hot as hell outside.

There’s nothing wrong with epics, per se, but every movie about the slave experience doesn’t have to be a 145-minute Oscar hunter. There’s plenty of other stories, and storytelling conventions, and it’s nice to see Hollywood starting to diversify artistically in its effort to be culturally diverse. “Emperor” (2020) is an action movie set in the pre-Civil War South about a slave, Shields Green, fleeing a murder rap. Dayo Okeniyi plays Green. From the beginning scenes on the plantation to the climax at Harper’s Ferry, the story is tight and compelling. Who cares whether it’s “based on a true story?”

“L.A. Confidential” (1997) is a modern film noir classic that unfortunately has fallen off the radar. So has its star, Guy Pearce, who plays an idealistic cop with a streak of self-promotion. The juicy role failed to ignite the Englishman’s career. Instead, an Aussie, Russell Crowe, became the box office gladiator, so to speak, after his co-starring role as a brutal cop with a streak of idealism. The plot is delightfully stylish and multidimensional without becoming ridiculous. So are the conflicted characters played by Kevin Spacey, Kim Basinger, Danny DeVito and David Strathairn’s mustache. The Oscar-nominated score is great, too.