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updated: 2/14/2013 8:27 AM

Sylvester Stallone still flexing his muscles

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  • A buff Sylvester Stallone plays a professional hit man with an ax to grind in Walter Hill's arrested action film "A Bullet to the Head."

      A buff Sylvester Stallone plays a professional hit man with an ax to grind in Walter Hill's arrested action film "A Bullet to the Head."

  • Video: Sylvester Stallone's workout

 
 

Too hard on Stallone?

Dear Dann, Your movie review of Sylvester Stallone's "Bullet to the Head" aside, (I saw it. Not exceptional, but it was better than "Parker" with Jason Statham) you were pretty tough on Sly himself. I will guess that you and I are close to the same age. I am 56, have been a devoted gym rat for 25 years and counting, and am in the best shape of my life.

But, Sly at age 66, is more vascular and ripped than I am by far. Let's face it, Dann. Nobody wants to get old. But the clock doesn't stop. So kudos to Sly for doing something about it.

Arnold, a seven-time Mr. Olympia, should follow this lead, because even though I liked "The Last Stand," Arnold didn't look good at all, I'm sorry to say. -- Brian E. Skol, Bensenville.

Dear Brian: I don't try to be "hard" or "soft" on anybody in the movies. I merely describe what I see, and what I see is the result of decisions made by the actor, makeup artist, costumer and director on how a particular character should look.

You can disagree with my observation that Sly's eyebrows look pasted on his forehead. And you can disagree with my description of his veins being "freakishly bulging." That's OK. Based on what I observed in the movie, I consider these fair and accurate descriptions.

Plus, I do agree with your kudos to Stallone for resisting the passing of time with exercise, diet and Vidal Sassoon hair coloring.

Hey! I want Stallone kicking butt at 66. I want Arnold mowing down baddies at 65. I want Harrison Ford cracking whips at 65. I want Charles Bronson mopping up street punks at 73. Because if these guys can do it, then I can entertain the fantasy that I, too, can do it if I really needed to. I'll be 60 in May. -- Dann


Time for your Oscar fix

Snow storms and scheduling conflicts have forced me and film historian Raymond Benson to move our Dann & Raymond's annual Academy Awards shows to next week. (Weirdly enough, this was foretold in the writings of Nostradamus!) So, here's the schedule:

• At 7:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 18, we invade the Schaumburg Township District Library at 130 S. Roselle Road, Schaumburg. stdl.org.

• At 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 20, we head to the McHenry Public Library, 809 Front St., McHenry. mchenrylibrary.org.

• At 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 21, we move into the Arlington Heights Memorial Library, 500 N. Dunton Ave., Arlington Heights. ahml.info.

Free admission! Please come, because Raymond has been cramming all week for this.

• In addition to those events, I'll be the guest at an Arlington Heights Chamber of Commerce lunch to do a brief Oscars primer Wednesday at the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre.

• Those perceptive journalists at ABC-7 News have invited me to drop by the studio during the 11 a.m. hour Friday, Feb. 15, to chat about Jessica, Quvenzhane, Ben and the other Academy Award nominees. abclocal.go.com/wls.

Reel Life mini-review:

"A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III"

It takes a special kind of actor to make a shallow, insensitive, self-centered character sympathetic and heroic.

Charlie Sheen is not that actor.

He stars in Roman Coppola's cinematic train wreck "A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III" as the title character, a successful graphic designer whose world implodes when the love of his life, Ivana (Katheryn Winnick), leaves him alone with his dysfunctional ego.

(Hey, maybe it had something to do with Swan refusing to part with all those naked photos of his earlier conquests?)

A boring boor, Swan mopes around his privileged world, comforted by his prickly sis (Patricia Arquette), his quasi-mentor (Bill Murray on impulse power) and furry best friend Kirby (Jason Schwartzman, whose beard and wig colors don't even closely match).

"A Glimpse" trundles out a menagerie of unlikeable characters just like them -- except for a wooden marionette created to resemble Sheen, and it's more animated and funnier than its source material.

As Swan searches for his lost Ivana, he launches into dance numbers, suffers from post-stress flashbacks and experiences 1960s-era musical interludes (with a punchy score by Chicago's own Liam Hayes).

The press notes for "Glimpse" ask the sophomoric question "Is it possible to love and hate someone at the same time?" Duuuuh.

This question was best answered long ago by Christmas Eve, a character in the Tony-winning musical "Avenue Q." She sings, "The more you love someone the more you want to kill them!"

At times, Coppola seems to be channeling Fellini's circuslike view of life. Yet, "Glimpse" is mostly a thin homage to Bob Fosse's introspective musical "All That Jazz" -- without the intriguing characters, crisp direction, sharp cinematography and tragic sensibility.

"A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III" opens at the 600 North Michigan Theater. Rated R for language and nudity. 86 minutes. .

Reel Life interviews:

Alice and Alden

Aussie Alice Englert and Alden Ehrenreich are the main stars of the new fantasy movie "Beautiful Creatures" opening this weekend. I peppered them with questions recently and here are their answers:

Q. How was it for you to work with a full-blown special effects movie for the first time?

Alice: Actually, they (special effects) were extremely minimal. Richard LaGravenese, our director/writer, wanted to shoot the magic as much as possible in camera. CGI becomes so quickly dated now. So I spin, go up and down, there's wind blowing and all is madness!

Alden: Wherever you can find the reality of the scene, that's where you need to be.

Q. Alice, when was the moment when you realized that your mother was THE Jane Campion, Australia's trailblazing female filmmaker?

Alice: I was 13. Some boys came up to me one day and said, "Your mom makes sexy films." And I was like, "No, she doesn't!"

Alden: Wait. They sounded like chimney sweeps? "No, she doesn't!"

Alice: They sounded like that! Anyway, I saw "Holy Smoke" finally and I said, "Well, she kinda does, actually."

Q: Alden, what was the best part about working with Alice?

Alice: Haha!

Alden: We came to the movie with the same sense of purpose, to bring some humor and sense of fun and intelligence into this genre. For such a young person, Alice has a strong point of view and a strong conviction on what she wanted to bring to the film.

Q. Alice, what do you like best about working with Alden?

Alice: Alden has this hilarious laugh. I have this deep, kind of horrible, gravelly sort of old dude laugh. Alden has this high-pitched, sweet ...

Alden: Girlie? Were you going to say girlie?

Alice: Feminine. I was going to say feminine! It's always good to have someone who you can laugh at and with at the same time!

• Daily Herald Film Critic Dann Gire's column runs Fridays in Time out!

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