Politics can wear a person down. The endless push and pull, the lack of continual progress, and the realization that most of our leaders are in it for themselves and their paymasters, is enough to make even the most impassioned observers develop hard hearts. I look at the state of Washington today, and I have a difficult time mustering either enthusiasm or outrage. Politics is what it is. We, the people, are the sucker at the poker table. But, unlike in real life, we cannot just get up and leave. We are trapped here.
What a putrid mess. The trailer for Pompeii, Paul W.S. Anderson's CGI shitfest from earlier this year, promised viewers an exploding mountain. It never promised to be a faithful retelling of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79 that destroyed the city of the title. But that's all well and good. Paul W.S. Anderson does not do anything but spectacle. In the trailer, Vesuvius blows up and that's what I paid to see. What I didn't pay to see was a low-rent Titanic rip-off that made me wait 66 whole minutes for the good stuff. And that wait is a problem. Pompeii only runs about an hour and a half. That doesn't leave a lot of time for the disaster portion of this disaster movie.
I watched and reviewed Batman & Robin recently for Arnold Schwarzenegger month, and it was a bit of a revelation. I know why that film failed. It wasn't because there were nipples on the batsuit and every set piece looked like a costume ball. It wasn't even the puns or the shitty acting that was at fault. Nope, it was because director Joel Schumacher had a vision, but he only went partway towards seeing that vision fulfilled. After having watched that movie again, I can see that Schumacher was trying to recreate the aesthetic of the drag queen review for mass audiences. But mass audiences don't want to see that. And they really didn't want to see a half-assed version of it. Schumacher wasn't even the right guy to direct a film like that. If you're going to go gay, go all the way. In fact, gay is not enough. Gay is not deviant. I want deviant. I want to see a Batman movie made by the auteur of deviant lifestyles himself...John Waters.
A person doesn't have to have a massive ego to be a bodybuilder, but it helps. Pumping Iron is the most personal film in which Arnold Schwarzenegger has appeared, because the only character he is playing is himself. Throughout the film, a documentary on bodybuilding featuring Arnold, Lou Ferrigno, and many others, the question of Arnold's authenticity hovers over everything. Early on, he describes his life as a constant state of euphoria. Between sex, the feeling he gets from working out in the gym, pumping up before a show, and posing in front of people, he is, in his words, "...cumming day and night. I mean, it's terrific, right? So you know, I'm in heaven." These are the words of enthused youth, maybe ignorant, maybe indifferent of how bizarre it is to equate one's life with a never-ending stream of orgasms. What this part of the film, such a graphic picture of his happiness, says to me is that he thinks he is the greatest man on the earth, certainly better than anyone he has ever met. Later, he talks about his desire to be one of those rare individuals that history remembers. He even cites Jesus Christ as an example. Wow. What a massive, walloping, over-indulgent sense of self. It's hardly an endearing trait, but in combination with his work ethic, it created quite a return on investment.
This is it. The penultimate film in Arnold Schwarzenegger month. I have one more film in mind, but Terminator 3 is the perfect film with which to conclude the chronological portion of reviews. Terminator 3 is the last film in which Arnold starred before he retired to become governor of California. After his time in Sacramento was over, he returned to acting, but so far, it's been all coda (for reviews of two of these post-governorship movies, click here and here). There would have been no shame at all if this were the last Arnold film.