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 Krabbé. 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...