People Tell Me I Look Like Han Solo.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
  R.I.P. Patrick Swayze
So Patrick Swayze died this week, and as much as this is sort of “old news” by now in our contemporary cycle of celebrity journalism, I feel I have to weigh in, because he was in some pretty excellent movies over the years, including one of my all-time favorites.

First off, I should get something out of the way: I never cared for Ghost and I don’t think I’ve ever seen all of Dirty Dancing. But one of the highest compliments I can pay any actor is when I don’t even think of them being in a particular movie because I so associate them with the character. A great example of this is Jeff Bridges in The Big Lebowski; I always have to do a mental double-take to remember that he’s in that, because when I think of that movie I always just think of The Dude. And Patrick Swayze does that to me in Point Break, which I think of as a Keanu Reeves movie in which the villain isn’t Patrick Swayze, but just Bodhi. He’s great in that movie, and takes a character that doesn’t really make much sense on paper – a surfing, sky-diving, bank-robbing adrenaline junkie who doubles as a quasi-Zen philosopher – and he just makes it work. Even after the film shifts gears and he begins to play Bodhi as a full-on villain (complete with kidnapping the hero’s girl), he gives the character a charisma and likeability that most other actors would have ditched in favor of more traditional scenery-chewing bad-guy stuff.

But Swayze’s death is also a rare instance where everyone knew it was going to happen, it was just a matter of time. And I think he deserves extra kudos for his work on The Beast, the A&E cop drama he made after being diagnosed with terminal cancer. He was determined to go out working, and that’s admirable.

Also, he was in Road House, for the love of god, one of the campiest camp classics in the history of camp classics. Patrick Swayze was the first man I saw rip out another man’s throat in a movie. And I’ll never forget it.

A week or so ago I mentioned a few movies playing at the Toronto International Film Festival that caught my eye (sadly, none of which I’ve actually gotten the chance to see), one of which was Peter Stebbings’ oddball indie superhero movie Defendor, starring Woody Harrelson.
It’s since been picked up by Sony for worldwide distribution (except for here in Canada, where it will be released by the fine folks at Alliance Films). I haven’t seen Defendor so I can’t say whether it’s good or not, but it certainly looks interesting, if nothing else. I can’t wait to check it out for myself. I’ll keep you posted.

Have a look at the Defendor trailer here.


Speaking of Sony and superheroes, do you know what you’re doing on May 6, 2011? Sony would like you to clear that date to see Spider-Man 4. Variety reports that director Sam Raimi, as well as stars Tobey Macguire and Kirsten Dunst, are set to go for a sequel. I actually like this idea for a couple of reasons: (1) it will hopefully free us from the notion of the trilogy as the accepted form that just about all sci-fi/fantasy/superhero stories must take, and (2) it gives Raimi a chance to redeem himself after the disappointing Spider-Man 3. I didn’t hate that movie as much as some did, but it was way too filled with stuff (there was easily two films worth of ideas shoehorned into one, presumably because everyone involved assumed it would be the last Spider-Man movie, at least with that cast and crew). With any luck, Raimi will be left alone to make the movie he wants to make, and no villains will be foisted upon him by Marvel or the studio or fans (which is apparently what happened with Venom in the last movie).

In related news (it’s actually in the same story), Marvel has announced that a few weeks later, on May 20, 2011, they’ll release Thor in theaters. Personally I’m more excited about Thor, as I like the character more and I think that if director Kenneth Branagh can pull off the balance between superhero action and the book’s more mythic, fantastic themes, it’ll be a take on the superhero we haven’t really seen yet. We’ll see how it all goes down, but I can’t until I start seeing more stuff about both films in the coming months.
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A blog about movies, by a guy who probably watches too many.

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