Mel Gibson Ousted from “Hangover II” – What A Joke!

I’m sure many have already heard about this bit of news, but I wanted to get my two cents in on the subject anyway. So, in a rather brilliant casting move, Mel Gibson was set to make a cameo appearance as a Bangok tattoo artist in the much anticipated Hangover II. When I first heard about this, I thought it was ideal casting and a perfect move on two fronts: (1) it would help to bring Mel back in the public eye in a positive way and (2) it would just be downright hilarious…a much funnier cameo than Mike Tyson, would you not agree? OK, a third non-related front would be that I am really anxious to see The Beaver (directed by Jodie Foster and starring Gibson) and this would help to bring that to the screens in quicker fashion.

But last week, Warner Brothers — a studio that Gibson has helped make a gazillion dollars for — dropped the controversial star from the project. Why??? Apparently a number of the film’s stars objected to the casting of Mel and were “in deep protest” (to use Zach Galifianakis’ words) about the decision. They have since replaced him with Liam Neeson — a much safer bit of casting, but not nearly as funny for a comedy that is supposed to give off the no-holds barred kind of vibe.

This decision is a joke and a shame. Galifianakis is the only one who has thus far publicly voiced his personal protest of Mel’s presence in the movie (without naming names), saying he was “up in arms” about a certain movie he was working on. Very brave of you, Zach…if you’re going to call someone out, be a man and call that person out. Don’t hide behind ambiguity. What upsets me further is this absurd “Holier Than Thou,” self-righteous attitude that these stars (and select crew members) have taken…in Hollywood of all places!!! The irony of it all reeks of hypocrisy.

Mike Tyson wasn’t bothered at all. In fact, of everyone involved, Tyson said it perfectly — “I’m not going to ever in my life point my finger at anyone. I don’t live in a glass house. None of us do.” Amen, champ. What has the Oscar-winning Gibson done for other celebs in their hour of crisis and need? What did he do with Brittany Spears and Robert Downey, Jr., among others? The man went out of his way to reach out and help these troubled stars when no one else seemingly would. It is a disgrace that in his time of need, these Hangover stars (including Bradley Cooper and Ed Helms) cannot find it in themselves to do the same. And let’s face it — The Hangover made these guys. Sure they were working, but this movie made them huge. I’d love to see just one of them showcase the talent remotely close to Gibson’s as a polished actor and/or an extraordinary filmmaker. Perhaps the virtuous Mr. Galifianakis will surprise us all by doing something minutely different from everything else he has done to date, which is, let’s face it, the same character over and over and over again. But I won’t hold my breath.

I hope these stars never say the wrong thing, never make a bad decision that goes public or never do anything considered to be remotely immoral. Because by having Mel axed from this soon-to-be blockbuster film, they are saying that they are too good and too upstanding for those who have made bad mistakes and poor choices. Again, I am in no way condoning Mel’s recent behavior, but who do these guys think they are? This protest — that eventually led to the firing of one of their brethren — stinks of pretense and insincerity.

Gimme 5: Sweeping Epics!

According to Wikipedia, the epic film is one “that emphasizes human drama on a grand scale.” They are more ambitious in scope, have high production budgets, and usually have a much longer running time. From historical epics (The Birth of A Nation and Lawrence of Arabia) to war epics (Patton and El Cid) to romantic epics (Out of Africa and Doctor Zhivago), Hollywood has been making them for decades. I will try not to be repetitive in my film choices here (or else I would certainly put The Godfather films as epics) and Woody Allen doesn’t make these kind of movies, so sadly, no Woody on this “Gimme 5.” I will try and list my favorites of those most commonly viewed as a “saga” or “epic.” Really, the definition is up to you. So for this week, I am asking you to think big, think saga, think glorious and grandiose — and



I Will Start…

1. Fanny and Alexander (1982)
(not your typical “epic,” but Bergman’s 312-minute autobiographical film is everything that movies should be)
2. Reds (1981)
(Warren Beatty’s romantic epic is gorgeous from beginning to end)
3. The Ten Commandments (1956)
(Cecil DeMille’s last film; I’ve seen this story of Moses so many times & it never wears on me)
4. Braveheart (1995)
(Mel Gibson’s retelling of William Wallace’s story is a cinematic triumph. Freedom!!!)
5. Gone With the Wind (1939)
(I know it’s cliché, but there is a reason for it. And yes, I do love this outstanding achievement)

Now It’s YOUR Turn!!!

A Few Words About Mel Gibson

Oh, Mel…looks like you’ve done it again.

In 2006, when he was arrested for DUI, he shocked us all when he ranted that, “”The Jews are responsible for all wars in the world” and admitted to saying as much on Good Morning America with Diane Sawyer. Four years later, poor Mel is on the proverbial crucifix again and up to his neck in more negative press. Radar Online first broke the exclusive story, revealing that Mel was taped going off on a racist and vulgar rant towards Oksana Grigorieva, the mother of their baby daughter, Lucia. On the infamous tape, Mel is alledged to have called Oksana a “bitch,” a “fucking fake,” and “an embarrassment” to him. Most damaging of all, he tells her: “You look like a fucking pig in heat, and if you get raped by a pack of ni**ers, it will be your fault.” Later, more news. It was discovered that Mel had actually hit this woman and is even caught on tape declaring that she “fucking deserved it.”

I am not writing this article to vilify or voice my negative opinions about Mr. Gibson. In fact, on the contrary. I’m writing in response to the many movie-goers I have seen since this discomforting story broke denouncing his work and claiming to boycott his future films. Whatever. I think these people are hypocrites. Seen a Hugh Grant movie the past few years? How about Eddie Murphy? Did you go see Christian Bale in The Dark Knight or the superfluous T3 after his vulgar, moronic and mean-spirited 4-minute rant against a helpless crew member? Watch any Tom Cruise flicks after he tried imposing his personal religious beliefs on others? Any Russell Crowe fans still out there after all his violent outbursts? Or we can look to just about any Hollywood celebrity or musician that feels it their civic duty to vociferously spew their immaterial political opinions every four years. And on and on we go.  

All I know is that if we boycotted every movie or concert of our favorite artists from music and film who said/did something wrong or stupid, then we wouldn’t be seeing a whole hell of a lot of movies or buying into much music at all. I for one have tremendous respect for Mel Gibson as a filmmaker and as an actor so I will gladly continue to pay my money to see his work. Part of what was coined the ‘Australian New Wave,’ this is the man responsible for bringing the magnificent Oscar-winning Braveheart to the screen — snatching up two well-deserved Academy Awards in the process. The highest paid celebrity in 2004, he has mostly chosen projects that revolve around characters fighting for justice or seeking revenge. I loved his performances in Payback, The Man Without A Face, Lethal Weapon, and The Bounty opposite Sir Anthony Hopkins. He did a terrific job tackling William Shakespeare’s Hamlet and showed off his charm and famous sense of humor in What Women Want. Whatever you may think of his Apocalypto, I thought it to be gorgeously filmed and a pretty impressive achievement.

I can’t stand political correctness. Not much offends me. What does offend me is when narrow-minded people are offended by material deemed politically incorrect. We’ve all lost our tempers at some point. We’ve all said things to others in the heat of the moment that we surely do not mean. It happens. We’re human. Some of us are more emotional and volatile than others (Gibson admits to being guilty of this in his GMA interview). The difference is that we don’t have paparazzi following us everywhere; nor does anything we say/do make the newspapers or electronic media. No one cares what we say. But they certainly do care what Mr. Gibson has to say. That’s where he gets screwed, and yes, that’s the price one pays for worldwide fame and making that kind of money.

So I really don’t care what Mr. Gibson says in the privacy of his own home. That’s his business, not mine. Where people do have a right to be upset is his admittance to striking a woman. That ain’t cool. I have no idea what was going on between the two, what was being said or how it came about, but I personally don’t believe in ever hitting a woman. I have never done it and don’t think I ever would. But let’s not all get on our soap boxes and condemn him, pretending that we were there and know what happened. These are the same small-minded people who ask me with a sour face, “How can you like Woody Allen? He’s a pedophile!” Or how I can pay good money to support a Roman Polanski film. It’s actually pretty easy. I love their work. I admire them as artists. I don’t give a shit about their personal lives.

I am sorry to see this all happening to Mel Gibson. I have always enjoyed seeing him on-screen and I respect him as an artist. I know that when Jodie Foster’s upcoming movie The Beaver comes out (in which he stars), I will most certainly go and try not to let the tabloids deter me from doing otherwise. Chin up, Mel!

Postscript: 7/9/10: After listening to the 2-minute heated exchange of the actual tape today, I do find it conspicuously odd that Oksana remains so terribly calm throughout. Sounds as if she had planned to set poor Mel up all along.

Peter Eramo Reviews: “Edge of Darkness”

I didn’t know much about this film going in except for the fact that (a) this was Mel Gibson’s first starring role in eight years and  (b) he was pissed off and not making any arrests. Good enough for me, so I checked it out.

Gibson plays Boston homicide detective Thomas Craven who is a single father to Emma (Bojana Novakovic), his 24 year-old daughter. I’m not giving anything away here (I don’t do spoilers in my reviews) by saying that she is brutally killed right in front of him and what we are left with is a very typical revenge film. Craven wants no part of working with his colleagues on this one. No…this time, it’s personal (Thank God he doesn’t say that). Unfortunately, we are not given much that is new here in Martin Campbell’s thriller. In conducting his own investigation as to who murdered his daughter, Craven uncovers not only his daughter’s secret life after graduating MIT, but also a world of corporate conspiracy with the government authorizing murders to make sure that their secrets stay secret. In his search, he runs across Jedburgh (Ray Winstone), a government “cleaner” sent in to keep an eye on Craven and sweep up the remaining mess and all evidence left behind. During his search for answers (and ultimately, revenge) Craven is being followed, he gets assaulted, he cracks some heads, you know the drill.

What makes the film engaging is Mel Gibson. It’s his movie and if you’re a fan of his, you will most likely enjoy this one. At the core of the film, we have a father who loved his daughter more than anything else, and Gibson illustrates this well (as he usually does playing characters experiencing a terrible loss). We empathize with him and see his agony on his sleeve. There are some very sweet flashbacks here of Craven and his daughter and in the brief time we see him with his grown-up girl, we see a very close bond between the two. Danny Huston is well cast as Jack Bennett, the president of the company behind all of the mysterious murders, though it would be nice to see Huston play something other than the man we root against. The scenes between Gibson and Winstone are very intriguing and dramatic. We never know exactly where Jedburgh stands until the very end, which keeps you on your toes. Winstone has a powerful screen presence and you can see why he’s been a very busy actor lately (IMDB lists 8 films he has in pre-production at the time of this writing).

I suppose I was hoping for a much more original screenplay here. This is a revenge film that doesn’t veer too far away from recent others of its kind such as “Death Sentence,” “The Brave One,” “Taken” and “Law Abiding Citizen.” One sequence in particular upset me — you know when superheroes get caught (the Batman TV series was famous for this) and he isn’t just killed right there on the spot? No, that would just be too easy, right? So what do they do? They have to imprison their capture and conduct an “extra special” killing and delay the inevitable…the hero pulling off a grand escape from the dungeons of evil. I was surprised to get that here. So in the end, yes, Mel kept me watching, but overall, it doesn’t bring much that is new to the table…I was hoping for much more from his big comeback.

Director:  Martin Campbell
Year:        2010

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