A-‘Ledge’-dly, a thriller

A month into 2012, and already a contender for worst movie of the year

Screen

GO AHEAD & JUMP | Sam Worthington gives a tic-filled performance in the execrable ‘Man on a Ledge.’

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES  | Life+Style Editor
jones@dallasvoice.com

It’s a mitzvah when the movie studios get the worst movie of the year out of the way early — and kind of canny. Cause once you see Man on a Ledge (if you even bother), every movie that follows it will look so good by comparison. It’s rather genius, really, like burning your partner’s toast so your omelet seems tastier.

The title says it all, doesn’t it? We don’t know much about Nick (Sam Worthington), other than he’s a former cop who got sent to the big-house for some reason, and has now escaped and stepped onto the ledge of a building on Madison Avenue. He is both determined that the cops not know who he is, yet actively courting folk-hero status with the people in the street. A hostage negotiator (Elizabeth Banks) serves some function, I’m not sure what. There’s a smug TV reporter (Kyra Sedgwick), too, just so you know who to hate for doing their job.

Sam Worthington got off to a propitious movie career: His first three roles (in Terminator: Salvation, Clash of the Titans and Avatar) made him a household name, if not face, and last year he took on a “prestige” picture, The Debt, which wasn’t very good but looked like it might be, so props for that.

By now he should be realizing that lucky casting and good hair will only take you so far. He’s expected to carry Man on a Ledge, despite the “all-star” cast (with “star” having the same definition it does on Dancing with the Stars). Worthington is, after all, the title Man, who doesn’t seem suicidal but appears to have nothing to lose… unlike the audience, which loses nearly two hours of its life. He goes for being twitchy, since he doesn’t get to move around much.

As a Donald Trump-like real estate mogul and professional blowhard, Ed Harris appears positively skeletal; I don’t think it’s because he’s supposed to remind of the villainous Skeletor, either. He’s gaunt and frail, and he moves as if his entire body is in a cast. You don’t so much want him to get his comeuppance as you do an MRI. Edward Burns, inarguably Hollywood’s most boring actor, plays a rough-and-tumble cop, because, I mean, what’s a cop movie without someone who can be a sexist asshole to the women in the movie? Man on a Ledge doesn’t miss many clichés: Its plot is needlessly complex (an elaborate heist, reliance on precise police procedures, a series of “planned” coincidences) but also nonsensical (if any one of the Rube Goldberg-eqsue plans varies even slightly, the entire thing collapses; even if they accomplish their task, they prove nothing), as well as, for example, a beautiful girl stripping down to her bra because, you know, guys like to see that kind of thing. (The men also make crudely homophobic jokes, just to prove they are “real men.”) Gaps in logic and cheesy objectification and bigotry are the least of its problems however. The director, Asger Leth, and scripter, Pablo A. Fenjves, find it necessary to make every single scene a conflict between some characters, as if that will mask the lack of overall dull idea underlying it and a climax that’s flabbier and less exciting than an obese person marathon.

On the continuum of bad quasi-mysteries about complicated capers with hidden motives, Man of a Ledge is about on par with Inside Man and a few steps below Law Abiding Citizen and nowhere near the original Talking of Pelham 1-2-3 (though about the same as the remake). It may make you think about other films, but it’s best not to think about (or see) this one.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 27, 2012.

—  Kevin Thomas

Mormon church says HRC statement about its stance on homosexuality ‘can’t be taken seriously’

Earlier today the Human Rights Campaign issued a press release suggesting that the Mormon church no longer considers same-sex attraction sinful.

But the Mormon church swiftly responded by saying HRC’s statement “mischaracterizes the church’s position” and “can’t be taken seriously.”

The HRC press release came in response to recent changes to the Church Handbook of Instructions. The handbook contains guidelines used by leaders in dealing with members, and the new version softened language related to gays.

The headline of HRC’s press release said, “Mormon Church: Same-Sex Attraction is Normal,” followed by a sub-headline saying, “New Church policy removes same-sex attraction from ‘list of sins.’” The HRC press release went on to suggest that recent advocacy by HRC and other LGBT groups was partly responsible for the changes.

The Mormon church responded by saying, “The HRC press release mischaracterizes the Church’s position and can’t be taken seriously,” according to Steve Rothhaus at The Miami Herald.

The statement about HRC’s press release followed an earlier blog post in which the church slammed a Salt Lake City TV station for its report about the changes to the handbook. The church suggested that the TV station’s report was an example of the type of irresponsible journalism that’s becoming more common because of changes brought on by the Internet.

So here now is Instant Tea’s official, on-the-record response:

“The Mormon church says HRC can’t be taken seriously, and while we’re not here to defend HRC, we’d like to warn LGBT youth that the Mormon church should never, ever be taken seriously. It’s like a really bad joke. And while the church laments changes in journalism, we’re busy lamenting the church’s total disregard for the constitutional principle of separation between church and state.”

Let’s see if they respond.

—  John Wright

Eddie Bernice Johnson at Stonewall Democrats, and The DMN’s big Stephen Broden cover-up

We’ve had some difficulty posting the above clip of Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson speaking at Stonewall Democrats of Dallas on Tuesday, Oct. 19. Then again, if we had posted it last week as originally intended, we wouldn’t have been able to talk about Republican challenger Stephen Broden’s comments two days later saying that a violent overthrow of the government is “on the table” if this year’s elections don’t produce a change in leadership in Washington. Broden, a member of the Tea Party, told WFAA-TV reporter Brad Watson that a violent overthrow is “not the first option,” but is “on the table.”

“We have a constitutional remedy,” Broden told Watson. “And the Framers say if that don’t work, revolution.”

Doesn’t Broden, who’s African-American, realize that if the Tea Party were to take over, racial minorities would be in serious danger? The sad thing is, many in the Tea Party likely agree with Broden. What’s also sad is that The Dallas Morning News had endorsed Broden.

Well, a day later Broden backed away from his comments, and The DMN retracted its endorsement. “In 2010, the only way to bring about change is through the ballot box,” Broden insisted.

The DMN went on to say that its editorial board had decided to withdraw its recommendation of Broden in the race against Johnson, and instead was making no endorsement. Do you mean to tell us that they just now discovered that Broden is a total nutjob? Check out this passage from The DMN’s story:

As Broden’s interview drew more attention, other details of his background emerged Friday.

He confirmed having been arrested in May 2009 outside the White House. According to the Christian Broadcasting Network, he was praying in a restricted area and was cited for failing to obey a lawful order.

Broden said he was doing so on the National Day of Prayer to protest President Barack Obama’s decision not to mark the day with a public ceremony.

After a series of warnings, Broden and another pastor were arrested. They were released after paying a small fine – “less than $100,” he said.

Wait a second, do you mean to say that The DMN hadn’t been aware that a candidate for MAJOR office has an arrest record? The newspaper conducts backgrounds checks on all candidates, from Congress to school board, but they hadn’t discovered this? Give me a break. They’ve known about it for a long time, but they chose to withhold it from their readers because they supported Broden.

All you have to do is Google Broden’s name and you’ll come up with several stories about his arrest for praying outside the White House during the National Day of Prayer in 2009, in protest of President Barack Obama’s decision not to participate in the event. According to the stories we found about Broden’s arrest, he told the media that one of the reasons for the protest was his opposition to gay marriage:

“We prayed that God would either stay the hand of judgment or quicken the hearts of men and women of faith for them to recognize that they need to come to the streets, they need to come to the public square and make it clear that we are not in favor of same-sex marriage, we are not in favor of this scourge … [of abortion], we are not in favor of the kind of trickery and gamesmanships that are being played in the house of Congress and the house of the Senate. We are fed up, and we are tired of what this nation is doing and what our leaders are doing relative to their role and responsibility for protecting our freedoms.”

—  John Wright