Tuesday, January 06, 2009

"My, my, my. What. A. Mess."

When I pack for a trip, or have to do a major cleaning project, or any other bit of extended drudgery like that, I like to put on a movie I like and know very well. It serves as something to take my mind off the menial task at hand, but I also don't need to constantly keep looking at the screen to watch Andy Dufresne listening to the opera record or The Duke giving Jack Walsh a hard time about his cigarettes.

Last night, while doing some preliminary packing for press tour, I decided to see what movies I could find On Demand, and I settled on "The Fugitive," and quickly realized my mistake: it had been so long since I watched it, and the movie still held up so well, that I got very little packing done and instead sat and watched the whole damn thing. A few observations before I resume the actual packing:

• Tommy Lee Jones is really, really good. I don't know if he's "Deserved to beat Ralph Fiennes in 'Schindler's List' for the Oscar" good, but he's so likable, and so in command of the screen every second he's on it, that I totally understand why he got the award, and why it finally made him a leading man after 20+ years in the business.

• I had actually watched part of Jones' previous collaboration with "Fugitive" director Andrew Davis, "Under Siege" -- aka The Only Good Steven Seagal Movie -- a week or two ago, and I was struck by how similarly Jones is used in both. Matt Seitz likes to say that in "Under Siege," Davis used Seagal the way Japanese directors would use Godzilla: he'd pop up now and again to wreak havoc, but most of the heavy lifting was left to the real actors, notably Jones. Harrison Ford gets more screen time than Seagal did, but he's often left alone to do his thing -- that humorless, self-righteous, lip-quivering angry white guy routine he's been doing since the mid-'80s -- while Jones makes Ford's stick-in-the-rear-end persona palatable with his humor and his bluntness. Ford has a line like "I didn't kill my wife!" in every movie he's done for a few decades, but "The Fugitive" is the only one that makes a joke out of it -- and finds some humanity in the moment -- by having Jones retort, "I don't care!"

• I remembered that Joey Pants and a skinny Daniel Roebuck were part of Jones' team, but I didn't realize until this viewing that L. Scott Caldwell, aka Rose (of Rose and Bernard) from "Lost" played another of the deputies.

• The movie climaxes with 51-year-old Ford having a knock-down brawl with 49-year-old Jeroen KrabbĂ©. At first, I was tempted to suggest that such a thing would never happen in a big-budget 2008 summer action tentpole, but then I remembered that just this summer we saw the 66-year-old Ford getting into all sorts of violence (including a fight with 51-year-old Ray Winstone) in that movie where the fridge got nuked.

Back to the suitcase, and to that "24" column I promised my editor before I left, and the "Friday Night Lights" review I want to be ready to post tomorrow at 10, and...

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

In a word, is new 24 good or at least somewhat of a rip roaring thrillride?

Alan Sepinwall said...

In a word? Meh.

Anonymous said...

Well, I hate to delay your packing anymore, but if you're feeling "meh" about 24 you should definitely watch this. It's over a year old, so you may have already seen it, but I can't help but laugh every time I watch it:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JMLH_QyPTYM

Anonymous said...

Better than nothing, I guess.

Rick said...

I have always loved that movie, but every time I see it now I get a little more excited to see Neil Flynn (Janitor).

Tonight's Scrubs' return, and that was always one of my favorite stories.

Andrea said...

We can't watch Scrubs without saying Kimble! Sadly we did not enjoy the first episode of Scrubs. Hope the second us better. It just looks so dark.

jcpdiesel21 said...

Now I want to see The Fugitive! I haven't seen it in forever.

Andrew said...

This is a truly addictive movie. A couple weeks ago when I had nothing to do for a day, Encore ran the movie twice, and I actually ended up watching it twice in a day. Even though the back and forth between Jones and Joey Pants is still my favorite part of the movie, you can't shortchange Ford's contribution. Just because it's a simple persona doesn't mean it's a bad one (i.e. John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, Woody Allen). In this film it definitely works. Ford still has to carry the first twenty minutes on his own and does a fine job of it.

amysusanne said...

This is on my short list of go to movies when I need something on and don't feel like sitting down to watch. Usually by that first "my, my, my, my, my" moment I'm paying attention and watching straight through. One of the most quotable movies ever. Unless my friends and I are just strange...which is entirely possible.

@Rick: when Neil Flynn showed up in "that movie where the fridge got nuked" I was distracted for a good ten minutes with various Janitor inspired mind wandering.

Bobman said...

Rose! Of course! I actually recently watched the Fugitive again (maybe a month or two ago) and just couldn't place where I knew her from.

Also :

"Under Siege" -- aka The Only Good Steven Seagal Movie

Thank you. People who have never seen it but know of Steven Seagal movies always laugh when I say that one is actually decent (for what it is).

Joan said...

I had a great nostalgia moment last week when this was on -- my oldest, soon to be 12, channel-surfed into the middle of it, and asked me if I knew what it was -- of course I did. It's the first movie my husband and I ever saw together, when we were first dating. We saw it at the old, awesome Charles St. Cinema in Boston -- amazingly huge screens, millions of red velvet upholstered seats, just a great place to see a movie.

And it was such a great movie made even better by being with someone else who enjoyed it as much as I did and for similar reasons.

I have a list of "go-to" movies that are just great to rewatch no matter how many times I've seen them, and The Fugitive is on that list.

Anonymous said...

I too love Jones and highly recommend, for those who haven't seen it, his directorial debut, the Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada. It is wonderful.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0419294/

Anonymous said...

Actually, there's a Steven Seagal movie that's even better than Under Siege-- namely, Executive Decision. And for those who might complain that Executive Decision shouldn't qualify as a Seagal movie, the reason why is precisely what makes it the best one :>

oz

gottacook said...

Ten years before The Fugitive, Andrew Davis made another set-in-Chicago movie that happens to be (in my opinion) the Only Good Chuck Norris Movie: Code of Silence. I haven't seen it since it came out, and it probably doesn't hold up as well as The Fugitive does, but it was more than decent.

My brother is a friend of Dan Roebuck since the latter's Bethlehem, PA days; apparently, from his perspective, the only good thing about the Fugitive "sequel" U.S. Marshals is that he was able to put a down payment on a house as a result of again being in Jones' crew. (Its director Stuart Baird went on to make Star Trek Nemesis and, I hope, nothing further...)

David said...

Dangit. Now I feel the uncontrollable need to put that at the top of my Netflix queue.

Toby said...

Oz beat me to the "Executive Decision" comment. LOL But I'll add that it's a good movie to illustrate a basic premise in Joseph Campbell's works, and for the same reason Oz alluded to.

Melanie said...

My mom, who's in her 70s, is addicted to The Fugitive and never fails to watch at least part of it whenever it's on; the same goes for You've Got Mail. Gotta say that either one of those will also bring my channel surfing to a stop, as well.

Anonymous said...

And if you watch The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, you get to marvel yet again at the talents of January Jones, Melissa Leo, Levon Helm, Barry Pepper and a whole bunch of other really talented people.

Tommy Lee Jones is, in this old broad's opinion, the bee's knees.

K J Gillenwater said...

"The Fugitive" is one movie my kids could watch after they got on a Harrison Ford kick (obviously, the Star Wars and Indy Jones movies were what got them started). I can watch this one, too...especially that first half hour. I never get tired of the train wreck. Never.

If we're listing movies we can watch repeatedly...two of mine (oh I'm such a girl) are "Bridget Jones's Diary" and "Love Actually." If I start watching any part of these films, I just HAVE to watch the rest. "Alien" and "Aliens" would be two others.

dez said...

I don't know if he's "Deserved to beat Ralph Fiennes in 'Schindler's List' for the Oscar" good

No, he wasn't, but that "I don't care" was pretty damn good :-) If I come across "The Fugitive," I'll stop to watch it at least until Tommy whips that line out. One of my favorite cinematic moments every.

@Toby, what's the Joseph Campbell premise you're alluding to? That film is so old that I think it's safe to talk about (assuming we're all thinking of the same moment when Seagal "exits" the picture, hee hee)?

Anonymous said...

Yeah, Harrison Ford's old. And he could kick your ass with his lip quivering the whole time. Deal with it.

Under Siege is the best Steven Seagal movie. But there is no such thing as a "good" Steven Seagal movie.

As for TLJ, I like him. He's great. Everyone likes him. But talk about using the same routine for decades! TLJ still plays his same marshal character from The Fugitive in just about every movie he does.

Matt said...

I'm am shocked no one has linked this yet:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M0IMVWxQTEI

Anonymous said...

I think "Under Siege" was also the best Erika Eleniak movie ever, too. So she's got that going for her.

Number Five said...

Yeah, the interaction between Jones and his team helps put an already excellent movie over the top. I recognized L. Scott Caldwell when she first appeared on Lost, but when looking up Daniel Roebuck on IMDB I could not believe Arzt and Biggs were played by the same actor. In that role, he looked a lot like Wally Bruckner, a longtime sports reporter at WRC-4, the Washington, DC NBC affiliate.

Anna said...

Fugitive is great.

FYI.. Joey Pants was also in the pilot of LA Law I saw last week. We played a co-lawyer of Michael Kuzak cross-examining (read attacking) a victim played by Alfre Woodard. I don't know if he was on any other eps. He good and looked very young.