Last weekend, Sean Penn’s attempt to be a long-in-the-tooth action hero The Gunman bombed tragically at the box office. Honestly Penn is too chameleonic an actor to be pigeonholed in lobotomized action flicks. Most of the criticisms centered around Penn himself who starred, produced and co-wrote the script. The detractors flayed Penn for self-indulgence by displaying his surprisingly sinewy body, interjecting his geopolitical activism and wasting a sensational supporting cast to scaffold his ego. It was claimed to be a vanity project pure and simple. Less about entertainment and more about insular megalomania. Sometimes though, the results are undeniably arresting for the audience. These are my favorite nosedives into celebrity id…
Just Sings – Jerry Lewis
I might be in the minority but I truly believe that Jerry Lewis, the legendary physical comedian, possesses a mellifluous vocal quality. Sometime around collaborating with Dean Martin in both a lounge act and several feature films, Lewis was encouraged to release an album of crooner songs in 1956. For a reputable court jester and video playback innovator, Lewis’ voice is simply hypnotic. He can hit high notes with the velvet tones of his Buddy Love alter-ego. His cover of Jolson’s “Rock a Bye Your Baby with a Dixie Melody” is a toe-tapper and it automatically puts me in a euphoric mood when I hear it.
50 Cent: Blood on the Sand
After the moderate success of Bulletproof, 50 cent decided to go multi-platform again with Blood on the Sand, a sizzling first-person shooter which followed 50 and G-Unit crew through a demilitarized warzone in the Middle East. For a rapper who sought to condemn gun violence after his tribulations in the past, Blood on the Sand revels in glorifying firearms and xenophobia towards other cultures. However, the game is also massively invigorating as you navigate through levels with slo-mo “Gangsta Fire” where the cover system is fluid and the far-fetched cut scenes are part of the appeal.
On Deadly Ground
I won’t proclaim that Steven Seagal is a thespian from the Royal Shakespeare Theater but some of his early 90’s movies are limb-snapping fun (Under Siege 1 & 2, Out for Justice, Marked for Death) . Watching On Deadly Ground is a uniquely hypocritical experience. At one point, Forrest (Seagal) decries “I didn’t want to resort to violence” for his fundamentally peaceful cause of environmental sanctity. Then in the skillfully brutal, unflinchingly ultraviolent finale, Forrest singlehandedly eviscerates dozens of mercenaries at an oil refinery. My favorite deathblow is the knife reversal through the back of a henchman’s skull. Yes, the speech is sanctimonious gibberish but Caine is at his frothing best as the villain and the fight sequences are genuinely white-knuckle in their staging.