Friday, February 28, 2014

Last Man Standing: Harrison Ford

It's 80's time over at The Arclight as they're showing classic flicks like Aliens, Predator, The Terminator, Back to the Future and Die Hard over the coming weeks (a.k.a. Michael Biehn on the big screen 2 weeks in a row!).  On Wednesday, the Dome was nearly sold out for a revival of 1984's Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom which finds the globe trotting professor fighting gangsters in China before embarking on a quest for magic stones in India where he uncovers a dark cult of heart stealing baddies.  The film looked great up on the big, curved screen of The Dome and Steven Spielberg's work still holds up with it's mix of walloping action, exotic locales, romance and buddy comedy in the purposely dark story.  Apparently writer/producer George Lucas was going through a divorce at the time and not in the best of moods and also wanted to follow The Empire Strikes Back's move into scarier territory.  If you've never been to The Dome, always sit in the middle sections, whether you're in the front row or the way in the back, it's still a good view.  Sitting on the sides is a little weird because the curvature of the screen seems to distort the image, to me, at least.

Earlier in the week and during dinner, I had been discussing American leading men and how we have so few of them coming up the ranks.  Batman, Spider-Man, Robocop and Superman are all played by Europeans.  Australians like Russell Crowe, Hugh Jackman and Chris Hemsworth have a lock on playing tough guys while for a moment America was getting Jesse Eisenberg and Michael Cera shoved down our throats.  Point Break, a film about an Ohio football player turned FBI agent chasing down a California surfer, just got cast with an Australian and a Scotsman in the leads.  Don't get me wrong, we'll always have our Clooney, Pitt, Damon, Cruise and Smith contingent but those guys all started off in the 90's and are "cool guys" who were deemed pretty or funny before coming into their own.  Tom Hanks, a marvelous actor, has made a career of being the nice guy.  Where's the American ideal, the cowboy, the quiet loner, the get it done, Doer?  Burt Reynolds had his day but his good ol' boy charm just wasn't taken seriously.  Charles Bronson, Steve McQueen, Robert Redford, Lee Marvin and Clint Eastwood did it their way but apparently that's not the times we're living in anymore.

In the 90's, every big script went to 3 guys:  Mel Gibson, Kevin Costner and Harrison Ford.  Gibson is fucking harsh but his career was sold on his Australian upbringing.  Costner was a McQueen wannabe but never half as cool, in fact, he kind of comes off as a dick.  But Ford...Ford was it, Ford, in my estimation was our last American Man.  The O.G.  He was strong, dignified and fought the fight because it was the right thing to do.  In Temple, he is a movie icon for the books with his strong jawed handsomeness, dry wit and laconic personality.  A former carpenter who turned to acting, Ford brings a real life weariness and knowing confidence to the screen with his creaky gait and fit yet not overblown physique.  Turns in Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Blade Runner, Witness, Patriot Games and The Fugitive showcased his anchoring presence and easy going action charm.  While Air Force One gave us the only President, cinematic or otherwise, we can imagine throwing down with terrorists before tossing them off his plane.

Here's to you, Harrison Ford, for showing us how it's done.  Hopefully they manage to cram in "get off my plane" in Expendables III where he's playing a pilot.

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