Seen at the Movies
: Three weeks after the terrorists attacks, Hollywood's getting back into the swing of things on the release front, at least. Last weekend was a big one for new studio product, with the Michael Douglas thriller Don't Say a Word taking the box-office prize, followed by the fitfully funny Zoolander and the wretched Stephen King weepie Hearts in Atlantis.
This weekend's top earner is almost certain to be Training Day, starring Denzel Washington as a lethally bad cop against Ethan Hawke's comparative goody two-shoes. Impressively directed by Antoine Fuqua, with excellent noir-toned cinematography by Mauro Fiore, Training Day has a real feel for the more downtrodden and threatening streets of Los Angeles. Production designer Naomi Shohan makes the most of the movie's locations, including South Central, Crenshaw, Watts, and the Imperial Courts housing project, a crime-ridden enclave where residents try to create a sense of home and personal flair behind their security gates. But for all its texture, Training Day feels fraudulent and second-hand—Washington's evil narcotics detective, for example, comes off as a screenwriter's conceit, reveling in his own power and badness.
I prefer Joy Ride, a much less ambitious and frankly B-scaled thriller directed by Red Rock West and Last Seduction maestro John Dahl. This is basically a reworked Duel, the 1971 Steven Spielberg TV film in which Dennis Weaver was menaced by a truck with an unseen driver. Here the targets are brothers played by Paul Walker and the wonderfully entertaining Steve Zahn, who get in trouble with a trucker while fooling around over a CB radio during a road trip. As in Duel, the trucker—whose handle is Rusty Nail—is never seen, but his Sam Elliott-style drawl is repeatedly heard. Director of photography Jeffrey Jur, who also shot Last Seduction has a creepy field day with the movie's dark country roads and sleazy neon-lit motels, and finds a variety of lighting functions for the big rig's headlights.
Heard from the West Coast: The 53rd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards will take place Sunday, 8pm ET, after being postponed from September 16. The event will be broadcast over CBS from the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, with a simulcast from New York's NBC Studios, and will be a more somber affair than originally planned. There will be greatly heightened security, few after-show parties, no screaming fans on bleachers, and no Joan Rivers to comment on the stars' wardrobe. Dress, in fact, will be business or cocktail attire rather than formal evening wear. Lighting designer for the show is Bob Dickinson, and art director is Kevin Sullivan. The host is Ellen DeGeneres.