Plus: an ‘Action’ assignment!
I remember seeing "Last Action Hero" and being thoroughly unenthused. But then seeing it again a few years later I got what it was going after and it's now a favorite. My only complaint is that had "I" directed it, I would have shown Arnold's character holding the magic ticket at one point pondering possibilities and then at the end when he waves goodbye from car on the movie screen, his son would pop up and wave as well.
But nobody asked me.
Man it is so funny what you said about Last Action Hero. That movie holds a special place for me as it was the last movie my father and I saw together.
I watched on VOD recently and I agree with your take: it was a very good movie that was simply too “meta” for its time. People did not get its satire it, and were expecting to see just another Arnold smash and bash flick. Thus the reviews at the time were pretty negative. The other movie that was similar to this was “The Cable Guy”. If you watch it now, it was so on prescient that it’s scary.
Years ago, I worked as a unit publicist and one of the first movies I did was the original "Terminator". I never saw any bad behavior from Arnold and he was actually pretty charming. When he found out my grandfather was Groucho Marx, he invited me to smoke cigars with him and told me how much he loved the Marx Brothers. He actually quoted lines from "A Night At the Opera"!
Fan theory: Robert Patrick’s cameo confirmed the Jack Slater movies are set in the Terminator universe, thereby suggesting the T-800 was modelled on Slater himself. (Stallone as the Terminator is a movie within the movie universe.)
I'd say Arnold is... complicated. In a former (professional) life, I worked adjacent to him and everything people say about him was true: he is self-made, driven, talented, generous... AND demanding, boorish, vulgar, and waaaayyyy too grabby/handy with all manner of women around him.
He was a long term cheat on his wife, had a love child in perfect sync with a child with Maria and denied it, loudly and publicly, for years. I can't imagine the emotional trauma that causes a child, all because a man (let alone one who has built a career on various modals of "strength") refuses to own his own actions.
I liked working with him and find him charming still (and LAST ACTION HERO is great) but I think he is complicated enough to maybe not warrant a simple blanket endorsement of his entertainment value, let alone "great American" bonafides.
Speaking of Arnold, whom you hold in such high esteem, I guess you haven't seen the hatchet piece that your sister publication, The Bulwark, just published. It's called "Arnold Schwarzenegger Is No Hero". It's pretty ugly.
It's funny that you recommended Last Action Hero; for no reason, I started up Commando last night. And ... it doesn't quite hold up. It feels so much older than it is. But what really shocked me is how campy the fight scenes are. I mean, WOW, Hollywood has gotten much better at that part of film making. The great Arnold one-liners, however, still make it worth watching. And I was surprised at how similar those one-liners are through his movie catalogue.
Yeah, so, a bunch of people that fancy themselves experts on the entertainment industry have been up in arms over both the WB stuff and the new Lord and Miller story today. Your newsletter is a perfect example of how important it is to have an understanding of how the business works before reacting. The Lord and Miller story is pretty standard stuff! Whether or not animators should enjoy some cap on work hours like SAG has is up for discussion, but the Amy Pascal quote is pretty dead-on, "“I guess, Welcome to making a movie.”
I mean, I worked for a small production house in my 20's and literally heard an owner say "that's working in video production" after dropping a ton of notes on us at 4 PM. What do you do? You collect the overtime and charge dinner on the company card.
As for WB stuff...TCM is bad. The other stuff is fine. I have no strong feelings towards Zaslav. The real culprit for the WB mess is the AT&T CEO. Everything went off the rails in 2017.
In conclusion: Good newsletter, you are more informed than 97% of the people on Twitter and anybody reading you is better off than 100% of the people on Twitter.
LAH was DEFINITELY ahead of its time WRT culture/media. I remember all the really PO'd Arnold/action fans I knew bitching about how they were ripped off by the movie, to which I replied, ya you obviously didn't "get it."
It wasn't a great movie, but it was an interesting early attempt and very meta/self-aware.
TRUE LIES (one of my favorite movies) did it better and more subtly with the advantage of time/experience.
I wanted to like Last Action Hero but it was a bit too self-aware and the kid gets annoying after a bit - not his fault, his character was written that way. I felt True Lies captured a lot of what LAH was trying to do but more subtle, funnier and just all around better.