Early in The Last Stand,
the small-town sheriff played by Arnold Schwarzenegger says, "It's my
day off. Should be a quiet weekend." That's the new way of saying, "I've
got one week to retirement," because it signals — with flashing neon
and everything — that life is going to royally upend those plans.
One of the most inconsistent franchises in movie history is the one beget by Tobe Hooper's 1974 classic, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. How does one follow all those less-than-beloved sequels? Lionsgate's latest in the series — the seventh — has a solution: Ignore 'em.
Not long after Batman changed Hollywood in the summer of 1989,
every studio wanted to have the next comics-based blockbuster. I
remember visiting Penn Square Mall’s multiplex (as I did often back
then) and seeing a poster for Captain America. The one-sheet was comprised of little more than a close-up of Cap’s iconic shield and a promise to arrive next summer.
With the Broken Lizard comedy troupe becoming increasingly broken, member Paul Soter has branched off to write and direct something about as far away as one can get from the likes of Super Troopers and Beerfest: a horror film. Now that I've seen it, I'm thinking maybe he should stay on his own.
Mixed-martial-arts fighter Evan Tanner once told the camera that in his
life, “the best is yet to come.” It didn't. Three years ago, at the age
of 37, he was discovered dead in the San Diego desert. To this day,
friends and family debate whether it was a suicide, and the documentary
“Once I Was a Champion” takes a look at his brief life, extraordinary
career and tortured soul.
He was, as director Gerard Roxburgh’s film makes clear over and over, a man of ironies. He’d preach kindness for fellow man, but beat crap out of other people for a living. He became a world champion in his field, yet wanted to become a monk. He found the roundly derided ice-skating movie “The Cutting Edge” to be brilliant, but liked to kick back with a leather-bound edition of “Moby-Dick.” He was a smart guy who made some stupid decisions.
You don’t have to know Tanner’s name, much less even care about the sport of MMA, to enjoy “Champion,” because complicated men and woman make for compelling material, especially those taken before their time. As we learn, Tanner may have sped that process along, downing tequila "like it was Gatorade,” making the inevitable all the more tragic.
“Once I Was a Champion” is currently making the festival rounds. Look out for it. Even non-sports fans like me can appreciate its enigmatic subject and tragic story well-told. —Rod Lott