Issue: 9.06
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Hi Gang, and greetings from Hollywood!

Shalom, Gang!

One of the first rules of performing I was taught was, know when to walk off the stage. When the show is over, it’s over, so genug, shoyne! This lesson lends itself well to movie characters as well, or at least it could if only people would admit that they’re aging.

Sadly, this lesson has been lost over the years. The first sign of its extinction was back in 1977 when Mae West made her last film, “Sextette” in her eighties, playing a role she had written for herself thirty years earlier. Critics and even her fans agreed that, even given how good she looked for her age, the idea that Timothy Dalton, Tony Curtis, Dom Deluise and George Hamilton all wanted to hit the sheets with her was so absurd it became the main source of laughs in the film. In the last (hopefully,) “Rocky” offering, Sly Stallone arthritically punched his way through two hours of tired training sequences, aided by special effects that made those in “Jurassic Park” pale in comparison, and in the end looked just as out-of-date as Speilberg’s Brontosaurs.

Now, Steven Speilberg has dragged his old pal ‘Indiana Jones’ out of the British Museum and resurrected his thus far highly successful franchise with “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull”. After much hemming and hawing over scripts, (sources say that up to twenty were rejected before green lighting this one,) the man credited with making archaeology sexy is back. But at sixty-six years old, Harrison Ford’s sex appeal has faded considerably. The boyish face is now weathered and haggard, (although in some shots, it’s evident that Ford has had some face work done, either in a surgeon’s office or in Photoshop,) and the lithe torso had become soft and paunchy. In the few and far between running scenes, Ford looks amusingly like one of the CGI pachyderms in the stampede sequence on “Jumanji” In another scene, he swings from his trusty whip at a truck roof, peering over his waistline to see if it’s safe to land.

But, unlike West and Stallone, Ford makes no pretense. He knows he’s not the spry young hero. He often looks ridiculous and he not only knows it but uses it brilliantly to his advantage. And when we laugh, we’re laughing with him, not at him. He works his arthritic bulk with all the agility of a cruise ship in a bathtub, constantly taking on challenges that would make mere mortals half his age think twice. While West and Stallone crashed and burned, Indiana rises from the flames like a sexagenarian phoenix and, in the words of the young kids these days, he ‘totally kicks ass!’

Although Indy’s erstwhile sidekick John Rhys-Davies is conspicuously absent from this installment, (as are Sean Connery and Brendan Fraser, both of whom got tired of waiting for the project to get started and moved on to other things,) Karen Black is back as Marion Ravenswood, Indy’s love interest in “Raiders of the Lost Ark”. The plot is shamelessly close to “Raiders” too, only this time instead of battling the Nazis for the Ark of the Covenant, Indy is fighting the Soviets for the mysterious crystal skulls of lore. The entire storyline seems a little too familiar, but die-hard ‘Indy’ fans will love it. The art direction, acting, effects are all unmistakable Spielberg, and it doesn’t take much else to justify a film’s audience appeal. But don’t go in expecting to see Indy as he was during the ‘Last Crusade’. If you can accept that Indiana Jones, like the rest of us, has aged, you’ll like this one. I certainly did. In fact, it was kinda nice to see that a fat, middle-aged zadie like Indy can still save the world from global tyranny. In this film, Indy proves that age and physical limitations are truly more a perception of those around us than a true arbiter of our capabilities, and speaking as another fat, middle-aged zaidie, it made me feel a whole lot better about myself. Not that I have any aspirations about going in search of the Ark of the Covenant…hell, I have enough trouble finding my reading glasses!

Till next month, Gang!


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