An Olympic Review: The Cutting Edge (dir by Paul Michael Glaser)


Hi everyone!

So, I just watched the Opening Ceremonies of the 2016 Summer Olympics!  And I have to say that I really enjoyed them but then again, I always enjoy the Olympics and not just the gymnastic stuff that everyone loves.  It’s odd because I’m really not into sports at all.  I guess I just like the idea behind the Olympics.  I like the idea of people from all nations gathered together in one country, linked together in the spirit of fair competition and, most importantly, not killing each other.

Plus, I can’t help but love the spectacle of it all!

I figured that, for the duration of the games, I would attempt to post one Olympic-themed film a day.  Now, I have to admit that this is one of those things that seemed easier when I was thinking about it then it does now that I’m actually trying to do it.  But we’ll see what happens!

Originally, I was going to limit myself to films about the Summer Olympics but then I realized that, by doing that, I wouldn’t be able to write about the 1992 film, The Cutting Edge!  And that would be a shame because I really like The Cutting Edge!

The Cutting Edge tells a story that is both thoroughly predictable and yet thoroughly charming at the same time.  Doug Dorsey (D.B. Sweeney) is a likable and kinda dorky blue collar guy who also happens to be one of the best hockey players in the world.  Kate Moseley (Moira Kelly) is a world-class figure skater who has been totally spoiled by her father (Terry O’Quinn) and whose imperious attitude has managed to alienate every partner that she’s ever had.

At the 1988 Olympics, Doug and Kate run into each other.  Literally, they collide with each other in the arena.  Doug is apologetic.  Kate snaps at him to watch where he’s going.  Later, Doug is injured in a game and is forced to retire from hockey.  Meanwhile, Kate’s latest partner deliberately drops her during their program and Kate is forced to settle for a silver medal.

Two years pass.  Doug is working at a steel mill when he’s approached by a Russian coach named Anton Pamchenko (Roy Dotrice).  Anton explains that Kate needs yet another new partner.  Desperate to return to the Olympics, Doug agrees to skate with her.

And things go about the way you would expect.  At first, Kate hates Doug.  But slowly, Doug starts to win her over and Kate starts to lower her defenses and warm up to him.  Kate teaches Doug how to be a champion figure skater.  Doug teaches Kate how to be nice.  Soon, they’re in love but unfortunately, Kate already has a boyfriend — a lawyer named Stuffy Q. McBorington (Dwier Brown).

(Actually, he might not be a lawyer.  And his name isn’t Stuffy Q. McBorington.  But it might as well be!)

Convincing Kate to leave her boyfriend is actually the easy part.  The hard part is going to be winning the gold!  Doug still has some rough edges and Kate can still be demanding but they love each other and we all know that love conquers all!

The Cutting Edge is one of those movies that used to be on cable all the time when I was growing up and I always loved watching it!  I wanted a boyfriend like Doug and I wanted to wear cute costumes like Kate and I wanted to win a gold medal.

Yes, it’s a totally predictable movie.  Not a single moment or line will surprise you.  But it’s such a likable movie!  Sweeney and Kelly have a really sweet chemistry and the skating action is well-directed and what more can you ask for a romantic comedy about ice skating?

I rewatched The Cutting Edge earlier today.

I still love it!

Enjoy the Olympics, everyone!


Quick Review: The Bourne Legacy (dir. by Tony Gilroy)

After completing The Bourne Ultimatum, Director Paul Greengrass and Actor Matt Damon were probably asked if they’d ever come back to do another. When you look at the overall story, Bourne’s journey was pretty complete, and Damon voiced that he’d only consider doing another if Greengrass did. After Greengrass bowed out, the notion of another chapter in the Bourne saga was dead in the water.

Universal had other ideas, deciding on moving forward and having the trilogy’s screenwriter, Tony Gilroy direct The Bourne Legacy. No stranger to making films, Gilroy is more known for making “slow burn” features like Duplicity and one of my favorites, Michael Clayton. If he were working on a remake to “All the President’s Men”, I’d be certain it was a perfect fit. For Bourne, however, we get something of a different result. Not a terrible one, but possibly not the one that everyone was hoping for. This almost makes sense, considering that even the Bourne novels themselves were taken over by Eric Van Lustbader after Robert Ludlum’s death.

The Bourne Legacy takes place during the same time period as The Bourne Ultimatum. The story expands not on what happened to Bourne post Ultimatum, but what happened to the programs in place in the aftermath of Bourne’s visit to New York. We find Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner), part of a separate program that goes beyond Treadstone and Blackbriar, making his way through a snowy Alaskan wilderness. The new breed of agents (assets, as they’re referred to in the Bourne Universe) are genetically augmented by way of meds they call “Chems”. The Chems give the assets the edge they need to do what they do.

This bothered me a little, because Jason Bourne got by with none of that for years, but I chalk that part of the storyline to the notion that Gilroy has this thing for Pharmaceuticals and Chemicals. Michael Clayton’s antagonist worked for a Chemical Company. Duplicity’s spies were trying to steal secrets from a pair of what seemed like pharmaceutical companies. The reasoning behind Cross’ need for the Chems is made clear through the story, but it was a strange angle to go on, I felt.

During the course of Aaron’s trip, the Powers That Be, played by, Stacy Keach, Donna Murphy and an underused Edward Norton decide that Bourne’s actions (along with Joan Allen’s Pamela Landy) are going to cause all of their programs some serious trouble and decide to wipe the slate clean. Cross needs to both escape this while still finding a way to get a hold of the Chems he needs to stay at peak performance. That’s the idea behind the Bourne Legacy in a nutshell.

On a casting level, The Bourne Legacy is actually very good. Both Renner and Rachel Weisz handle their parts well, I thought (for what they were given). A few of the cast members return from the previous Bourne films, but their appearances are so brief that it may leave you feeling as if they were just a piece of leftover film from the Original Trilogy. If there’s anyone who feels out of place, it would have to be Edward Norton. He comes across in this movie like he wasn’t sure what he wanted to take on and decided to just do this to pass the time.

The action in the Bourne Legacy is on par with the other films, but this being Gilroy, there’s more of a distance between the action and the drama.  When I really think about it, there’s about the same amount of it as there was in The Bourne Identity or Supremacy – neither one of those were die hard action films – but the potential to wish for more is greater with Legacy. This is especially true with the way it was advertised. Just about every action scene in the film is in the trailer. That said, Gilroy has gotten better at being able to handle these scenes. A few more films like this and he should do really well in the future.

Just like Michael Clayton, however, the movie ends so abruptly that you may blink a few times in protest. Gilroy needs to work on that part.

So overall, The Bourne Legacy wasn’t a story that was needed, nor does it really add too much more to the Bourne Universe over all, but it’s nice to return to the espionage that surrounds it. Here’s hoping that this could give something more for Renner, Gilroy and the rest of the team.

Lisa Marie Bowman Does Michael Clayton (dir. by Tony Gilroy)

As part of my continuing mission to see and review every single film ever nominated for best picture, I recently rewatched the 2007 Best Picture nominee Michael Clayton

The title character (as played by George Clooney) is a sleazy attorney who “fixes” problems for one of the biggest law firms in New York.  When Arthur Edens (Tom Wilkinson), one of the firm’s partners and Michael’s mentor, has a nervous breakdown while at a deposition in Minnesota and ends up in jail, Michael is sent to retrieve him.  Michael soon discovers that Arthur’s mental collapse was due to a class action law suit involving an evil, faceless corporation.  Before he reveals any more details, Arthur flees and is subsequently murdered by two assassins.  With the police calling Arthur’s death a suicide, Michael soon finds himself being pursued by the same assassins.

Though I’ve owned the DVD for a couple of years, this was only the second time that I had ever actually sat down and watched this film.  (The first time was during its initial theatrical run.)  There have been many insomnia-filled nights when I’ve gone to my DVD collection, fully intending on grabbing Michael Clayton and allowing the images of an unshaven George Clooney to flicker in my dark bedroom.  However, every time, I always ended up suddenly remembering a film that I wanted to see more. 

That’s the thing with Michael Clayton.  Having seen the film a second time, I can say that it remains a well-made film and an entertaining film and I can also say that I noticed a whole lot of small details that I had either missed the first time or had subsequently forgotten about.  Like a lot of best picture nominees, Michael Clayton is a good film.  It’s just not a very memorable one.  Seriously, is anyone surprised when business executives and attorneys turn out to be the villains in these type of films?  And if you couldn’t guess that Tom Wilkinson was going to end up dead from the minute he turned up on-screen then you may need to surrender your filmgoer card.

That said, Michael Clayton remains a fun little film and I enjoyed watching it even if it was predictable.  In fact, I may have enjoyed it even more the second time around because I currently work for an attorney so I was able to spend the whole movie playing the “What would my boss do in this situation?” game.  (Hopefully, the first thing he would do would be to send his loyal and capable red-headed assistant on a nice, long, all-expense paid vacation Italy.)  Beyond that, Tony Gilroy’s direction is efficient and fast-paced, George Clooney gives one of his less-smug performances (It can be argued that Michael Clayton — along with Up In The Air and The Descendants — forms Clooney’s Mediocre White Man Trilogy) and Tilda Swinton deserved the Oscar she won for playing a villain who isn’t so much evil as just really insecure.   However, for me, the best performances in this film come from two unheralded actors by the name of Robert Prescott and Terry Serpico.  Playing the two assassins who pursue both Wilkinson and Clooney, Serpico and Prescott play their roles with a nonchalant sort of respectability that is both compelling and genuinely frightening.  During those brief moments when Serpico and Prescott are on-screen, Michael Clayton actually becomes the film that it is obviously trying so hard to be.

Possible leads for Bourne Legacy

After joining this site smack dab in the middle of a two month internship followed by my final semester at college I have not had much time to make a post. Luckily for me things have slowed a bit and I have found time to do things other than study…like blog, as I’m about to do now.

I caught this bit of news on a few websites and I couldn’t help but voice my opinion on the matter, which has to do with the casting of the lead for “Bourne Legacy”, which is in essence a spin-off of the original Bourne trilogy. It is being directed by Tony Gilroy who previously directed Oscar nominated “Michael Clayton”, and the quirky rom-com-spy-thriller…thingy, “Duplicity”. However; he is most notably known by fans of the Bourne franchise for working on the screenplays of the first three.

Little is known about “Bourne Legacy” as far as the plot is concerned other than it takes place in the same universe, at roughly the same time (most likely following the events of Ultimatum), and is not a reboot/remake, will not contain Jason Bourne’s character, but his presence in the world will be known by characters within “Legacy”…hence why I consider this to basically just be a spin-off…just one not containing any previously known characters.

I’ve always been skeptical about “Bourne Legacy” and the closer and closer this project gets to actually being made the more and more I wish they would just not make another film tied into that universe, or wait for Greengrass and Damon to come back for a fourth. But this being Hollywood, where studios love to milk popular franchises dry, it is going to be made whether fans or non-fans like it or not. So, the best I can hope for is that they don’t totally mess it up.

I think what has many worried, including myself, is the actor who will be cast in the lead role. More recently speculation as to who the studio might go for has increased with many names being thrown around and at one point Shia LaBeouf’s name was mentioned and I had almost lost just about all faith that they could pull of anything comparable to the original trilogy. (I think it is pretty obvious that I’m not a fan of LaBeouf…) Luckily it seems that he will not test for the film. Within the last few days it seems that the list of possible actors has gotten shorter and below are four guys who the studio want for testing:

(Garrett Hedlund, Joel Edgerton, Dominic Cooper, Luke Evans)

Personally, as a big fan of the first three, the only guy on that list that I can even remotely see playing a character similar to Bourne is Edgerton. He has an edge to him, and doesn’t have the “pretty boy” looks of the other three, a characteristic that I do not associate with Jason Bourne. Not to mention that from what I have seen from these four, Edgerton is the better actor, but of course that is just my opinion and I really haven’t seen enough from any of them to draw any strong conclusions.

Anyway, they will be testing for the role in the first week of April, not sure when we will get an official announcement as to who they pick but it is a decision I eagerly await. I’m trying to keep some faith in this project, hoping they keep the franchise alive long enough for possibly Damon and Greengrass to team up once again.

Personally, I would love for them to cast Edgar Ramirez who was phenomenal in Carlos, and continue the story with his character, who played Paz, a fellow spy tracking Bourne down in the third film where he got little screen time and just about zero lines. I think the best route to take with the story of “Bourne Legacy” would be to start up right after his interactions with Bourne’s character in Ultimatum and have him investigate a bit about the conspiracies below the surface, which eventually leads to him being chased down as he tries to figure it all out, focusing on what happened with Bourne and other Treadstone/Blackbriar agents. This way they could actually set up the return of Matt Damon as Bourne because of course it would all eventually lead back to him.

But who knows. Tony Gilroy is a competent director and great writer, so “Bourne Legacy” does have a chance, it is just that my love of the original Trilogy that has me worried. Still I’ll probably be there opening day…having watched the first three the night before.

What are your thoughts on the short list/”Bourne Legacy”? Who, out of the four, would you choose? Which actor would you choose who isn’t on that list?