Thursday, April 21, 2016

Criminal and Elvis & Nixon

                                                               Mind Over Matter

                                                         Reviews by Ken Burke

 This week’s subjects of focus are competing (losing, actually) against my weekly Netflix disc, which happens to be the superb 5-star-masterpiece Raging Bull (Martin Scorsese, 1980), so these current remarks may not be as supportive as they could be; still, the 1st movie’s got enough constant action to keep you properly tense and distracted from your normal routine for its duration while the 2nd one (based on oddball-facts) is just silly and charming enough to maintain its welcome over a crisp 87-min. running time, so either one could be useful entertainment for you if you so choose.
Take care, curious readers, for plot spoilers gallop rampantly throughout the Two Guys’ insightful reviews.  Therefore, be warned, beware, and read on when you’re ready to be transported to … wherever we end up.  Please protect your eyes from the dazzling brilliance.
                                                        Criminal (Ariel Vromen)
A superlative computer hacker has knowledge that could devastate our planet, as he’s pursued by a ruthless anarchist who wants to use the software for massive destruction; the CIA’s trying to protect the hacker but his guardian agent’s killed by the villains, so the only hope is to transplant the agent’s memories into a rare qualified donor—a vicious convict.

What Happens: 
A mastermind-computer-hacker, Jan Stroop (Michael Pitt)—known as “the Dutchman”—has invented a “wormhole” program that allows him access to anything in cyberspace, including the U.S. military system that controls our arsenal of nuclear-tipped-missiles; he’s seeking $10 million and protection which the London office of the CIA, headed by Quaker Wells (Gary Oldman), is quite desperately willing to provide, especially because Stroop is under pursuit by his former employer, a maniacal Spanish anarchist, Xavier Heimbahl (Jordi Mollà), intent on using the “wormhole” to launch devastation around the globe, essentially bombing mankind back into a primitive state so that we’ll have to start over, presumably with better results.  Things get ever worse, though, when we’re aware that Stroop’s CIA handler, agent Bill Pope (Ryan Reynolds), has stashed both Stroop and the cash somewhere but is being trailed by Heimbahl’s forces through London; the Spaniard must have some potent programs at this command already, because when Pope’s cab is identified this master terrorist is able to hack into the vehicle’s GPS, sending faulty information that directs Pope into the hands of Heimbahl rather than the intended safe house; despite brutal torture, Pope refuses to divulge anything so he’s left for dead when the CIA team finally finds him, although his body’s kept on life support until a sci-fi-type-solution to the problem (of where to locate Dutchman and the cash) is attempted with Dr. Mahal Franks (Tommy Lee Jones) pressed into action to see if his experiments with transferring a mammal's memories to another can work with a human.  Unfortunately for all concerned, the human subject needs to have a specific brain condition—unformed frontal lobesfor the transfer to even have a chance to seep into this open cranial receptacle; such a subject exists, but he’s a vicious convict, Jericho Stewart (Kevin Costner), kept chained in solitary confinement in the U.S. because he’s missing the mental capacity to feel emotions or make judgments on any basis except survival (he was injured when thrown from a car as a child by his father, furious at his mother [she was killed] for having an affair).

 Following the operation, Jericho seems to have no sense of Pope’s identity, despite Wells’ frantic attempts to jar something loose because somehow (I forget) he’s aware that Stroop (not knowing of Pope’s death) feels he’s been betrayed by the CIA so he’s now shopping his wares to the Russians but still dodging the manhunt by Heimbahl and his thugs, including the attractive but ruthless Elsa (Antje Traue).  Jericho manages to escape in a most violent manner (characteristic of this movie as a whole), his awareness of Pope begins to emerge as he finds his way to the agent’s home to tend to his wounds but has to tie up Pope’s wife, Jill (Gal Gadot), in order to keep her quiet long enough to explain how he’s now carrying her deceased husband’s memories (including their wedding day on a lovely beach), which she ultimately, reluctantly accepts even as her daughter, Emma (Laura Decaro), warms quickly to this strange new guy.  Jericho manages to catch Dr. Franks (using Pope’s ongoing-CIA-skills-emergence) in order to get some painkillers needed after the invasive operation, but Heimbahl’s henchmen almost capture him (determined to beat the Dutchman’s hiding place out of him) until he saves himself by driving off a bridge.  Eventually, Jericho realizes that Stroop’s in Jillian’s office at the University of London, with the cash bag hidden in the locked rare books section of the library, but before he can act on these crucial memories he’s under the control of Elsa because Heimbahl has Jill and Emma captive, even as both the CIA and Russians have hit squads following him to the university all in desperate need of finding the Dutchman.  Jericho seemingly kills Elsa and her henchman with a homemade bomb in a chemistry lab, then finds Stroop to finally tell him what’s happening; however, Elsa’s not dead so as she takes Jan’s flashdrive with the “wormhole” program (which he’s previously demonstrated by launching, then destroying a missile from a U.S. submarine off Portugal) she kills Stroop, only to be beaten to death herself by Jericho with a table lamp.

 Jericho grabs a car, makes a mad dash to the rural airport where evil Heimbahl has Jillian and Emma in order to save them (even though near-frantic-Wells isn’t much concerned with their lives if he can keep the horrid flashdrive away from the madman), takes out the Spaniard’s remaining bodyguards but throws the flashdrive into the plane in order to distract his adversary enough to get the captives safely away from this demented, determined-anarchist.  Heimbahl flies off just as Wells arrives by helicopter, telling Jericho that the world will now be destroyed only to find out (in the small slip of time between Jericho blowing up Elsa—so he thought—and locating Stroop) that the Dutchman agreed to reprogram the deadly “wormhole” so that whenever it fired the 1st missile (which Heimbahl did as he flew away, directing it back to the airport where Jericho and Wells are still standing on the tarmac) that weapon would “return to sender” (to cite an Elvis Presley song [1962 hit single—certified Platinum {selling at least 1 million units}—on the 1962 Girls! Girls! Girls! Album] in acknowledgement of our next review) so it’s Heimbahl’s plane (and the “wormhole” weapon) that are blown to bits.  After all of this trauma, though, Jericho more or less shuts down, showing no further aspects of Bill Pope until Wells brings him to the beach where the agent and Jill had their honeymoon, which shakes Bill loose in him again as Jill and Emma accept him as some sort of avatar of their lost husband/father, with the final bit of reconstitution being that Dr. Franks has stabilized the procedure so that his unique patient won’t lose the implanted awareness (originally the effect was going to wear off after 48 hrs.) while Wells may offer Jericho a job as Pope’s memories and emotions are changing Jericho’s very nature.

So What? If nothing else in what happens here shows it, our man Jericho demonstrates that he’s what Texans (in my case by birth, no longer by residence, thank heaven) call “one tough son-of-a-bitch” (a badge I proudly wear from my actively-painful experience back in San Antonio a few years ago getting my arm returned to its proper place after a dislocated shoulder from a stupid trip-up on a sidewalk) as he survives multiple injuries (including a bloody, vicious shoulder gunshot wound—which was probably even more painful than my experiencethat he has to endure the whole time he’s driving frantically to save Jill and Emma, then taking out their captors while being shot at some more), manages to escape twice while his hands are bound in front of him (fortunately, with plastic cuffs that he’s able to cut loose), and drives wildly through London with no damage during his 1st  escape, even though he’s never been to that city before (Pope’s memories must have selectively emerged after Jericho sped away in his stolen car, maybe as those reflexes paralleled the instinctive responses that had previously “driven” Jericho throughout his post-childhood-life to that point).  If that all seems extreme (Well, this is a hybrid sci-fi/crime/international-espionage-thriller after all, so what do you expect?), then add to it Heimbahl’s already-effective-command of Internet-security-devices (which rarely leave Jericho off the grid no matter how untraceable he tries to be) and you know that if you need logic
(and viable physics) to get you through this narrative then you’re in the wrong theater, but if you can just accept whatever’s thrown at you at face value, rushing along with Jericho for the ride, then you should have an expectedly-enjoyable-experience, along with enough adrenalin pumped to help clear the cholesterol out of your blood stream at least until you have another temptation-breakdown over a box of donuts.  For that matter, you might also have to clear your own memory banks of more intriguing sci-fi along this line such as you’ll find in either version of Total Recall (Paul Verhoeven, 1990; Len Wiseman, 2012—review of the later version in our August 15, 2012 posting [although, as with many of my older reviews, there’s too much text per paragraph, which should have been broken up more with additional photos; sorry about that but it would take way too long to re-edit all that fall into that situation] even as I recommend the earlier one) where the protagonist finds that one of his most-deadly-antagonists is himself prior to a brain-wipe or just in an intentionally-silly-comedy, All of Me (Carl Reiner, 1984), where the soul of bossy-millionaire Edwina Cutwater (Lily Tomlin) is transferred into lawyer Roger Cobb’s (Steve Martin) body so that he has to fight with himself as 2 internal-consciousness’s collide.  Once those stray distractions are under control, Criminal can keep you entertained, at least at a visceral level, until you have something more important to do. 

Bottom Line Final Comments: Now that I’ve gotten a good ways into 2016, reviewing truly current cinematic encounters (rather than the several 2015 catch-ups needed the 1st couple of months as Oscar-contenders finally worked their way past their LA and NYC opening-plateaus) I find that of 20 reviews I’ve done (counting the next one, just below) I’m in alignment with the critical consensus of either Rotten Tomatoes or Metacritic (never both, but their disagreements are often rather broad as well) only 5 times, with this one being no help as I’m way more generous (as I often am) than my collective colleagues (Tomatoes, a dismal 27%; Metacritic, barely better at 37%—whereas my 3½ stars of 5 are more like 70%).  Sure, the hand-to-hand-combat-scenes are a bit disgustingly brutal at times; the whole idea is wacky that a body that’s brain dead still has its memories intact so that they can be siphoned off into a computer program that can be implanted into a brain deficient in aspects of its physiological development; and the sheer survival skills of virtual-1-man-army-Jericho may all reach into extreme directions  (just as the idea that emotions from Bill Pope accompany his memories so that their presence will bring about a worldview-change in Jericho Stewart, even though he retains all of his own memories of his heinous crimes, not to mention how he’s now functioning as more of a dual-personality than a split-personality so that he’s essentially 2 different men in 1 body, constantly negotiating with himself about who he is, what he wants, what he'll do next, not to mention how Jill and Emma can just accept this potentially-rough-beast just because he can share Bill’s memories with them—which gets us into the body-possession-aspects of Ghost [Jerry Zucker, 1990] when the soul of Sam Wheat [Patrick Swayze] takes command of Oda Mae Brown [Whoopi Goldberg]), so I can’t argue that Criminal is inarguable-entertainment, but it’s still mostly fun to watch (although a bit violently graphic at times; still, if the fate of the planet hangs on your actions, it’s hard to not make desperate decisions and brutal R-rated-acts), further providing excellent fodder for post-viewing discussions about the individuality's nature, where it resides (soul or brain?), and what could happen when the essence of one person is housed within the physical manifestation of another.

 As noted in previous reviews, I hesitate to draw from the same well when choosing my Musical Metaphors to speak to the content, impact, and/or essential significance of whatever I’m reviewing but even though I’ve used The Who’s “Who Are You” (from the 1978 album of the same name) before it’s just too appropriate in its lyrical content not to be called into service again so here you go at com/watch?v=PdLIerf XuZ4 (a video that shows you how a recording comes together in the studio, even as different musical and vocal tracks have to laid down separately rather than the whole thing being done at one time as you see in live performance with additional musicians often needed to fill in the various elements that are multi-tracked/overdubbed in the studio) as you can consider the appropriateness of lyrics such as “I woke up in a Soho doorway A policeman knew my name … I remember throwin’ punches around And preachin’ from my chair … I spit out like a sewer hole Yet still receive your kiss How can I measure up to anyone now After such a love as this?” with the constant refrain of the chorus, “Well, who are you? I really wanna know Tell me, who are you? ‘Cause I really wanna know,” even if Jericho’s still working on the answer to that critical question.  Besides, after being aware of my wonderful wife, Nina’s, devotion to the CBS procedural TV drama, the original CSI for many years (sometimes watching episodes with her when my schedule allowed), I’ve also got a solid connection to this song and its association with brutal crimes, as it accompanied the opening credits of that show which I heard while washing the dinner dishes even if I didn’t see much of an episode, so it’s used in tribute to all of the big-or-small-screen-crimestoppers, searching for needed identities either within themselves or among the public-at-large.  Now, you can move on to my other movie of this posting where there’s no question of the identities involved nor of their motivations.
Short(ish) Takes
 I remind you of my Spoiler Alert from the beginning of this posting, especially because Elvis & Nixon’s just now (April 22, 2016) opening nationwide in the U.S., but, really, there’s nothing here in general structure that’s not known fact already anyway so you can easily read my review and still comfortably see it play out on screen (or you could save some bucks by just reading my review, skipping a screening altogether because I don’t think you’ll miss much).
                                               Elvis & Nixon (Liza Johnson)
This is a fictionalized version of an actual meeting in late 1970 between Elvis Presley and President Richard Nixon in which Elvis offered his services to infiltrate Communist-infested groups in the U.S. by being made a Federal Agent At-Large, something that Nixon has to ponder the propriety of even as he’s growing more fond of the famous singer.
What Happens: In late 1970 Elvis Presley’s (Michael Shannon) sitting alone in his Graceland mansion, sadly getting progressively more angry with the 3 TVs he’s watching as he sees news about Vietnam War protests, youth drug use, the rise of the Black Panthers, and other affronts to his sense of American identity; finally, he releases his pent-up-frustrations by firing his gold-plated-pistol into one of the TV sets, then followed by a decision to slip away from his wife and entourage on a quest to make a difference in the midst of such chaos.  After startling Memphis airport workers by showing up alone (he’s never flown by himself before), he’s off to LA to recruit long-time-friend Jerry Schilling (Alex Pettyfer) back into that entourage, even though Jerry’s trying to strike out on his own doing editing at Paramount Studios.  Elvis convinces Jerry that he’s needed for "the King’s" grand project so off they go to Washington, D.C. (along with Elvis’ LA security head [he’s got a mansion there as well], Sonny [Johnny Knoxville]), with Elvis scribbling an in-flight-letter to Nixon.  They show up unannounced at the White House on the morning of December 21, finally securing special treatment for the letter (Elvis calls on his Army service to butter up an ex-Marine security guard) which makes its way to young Presidential aides Dwight Chapin (Evan Peters) and Egil “Bud” Krogh Jr. (Colin Hanks) who are eager to schedule a Presley-Nixon meeting to generate positive PR for their boss with the generally-disinterested-younger-demographic of the country;
however, White House Chief of Staff H.R. Haldeman (Tate Donovan) takes some convincing, as does Nixon (Kevin Spacey), who’s not interested until his aides secure the help of Nixon daughter Julie who quickly convinces Dad that he needs to do this (as well as get her an autographed photo of her idolElvis, not her unhip-father)After stunning the Secret Service with the number of weapons they’re (legally) carrying, Elvis, Jerry, and Sonny are brought close to the Oval Office but only Presley’s allowed in (after being briefed by Bud on how to comport himself in Nixon’s presence), where he immediately breaks protocol by munching on the M&M’s, drinking the Dr. Pepper reserved for the President (at least they both have good taste in soft drinks), then rambling on about his desire to be a Federal Agent At-Large with a badge from the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs (predecessor to the current Drug Enforcement Administration) not only because he can move unsuspected through left-wing-groups who don’t see him as an enemy but also because as a movie star he claims to be a master of disguises who could infiltrate Communist-influenced-organizations (although I don’t recall any of his movies where he looked like anyone but Elvis Presley, no matter what role he played).

 Over the course of their intended-as-courtesy-5-minutes-that-stretched-into-an-hour-meeting, Nixon really warms up to his supposed-intruder, authorizes the deputation and badge for Presley, persuading Elvis in return to sign some photos as well as have some taken to commemorate the event (Elvis initially objected, not wanting to publicize his “secret surveillance” options).  Closing graphics inform us, though, that even with his new federal position Elvis never went undercover for the BNDD nor did anything else with this newfound-status that he seemingly at this time craved so desperately.  (You can go here to read a more fully-factual-account of this event, although the current movie mostly follows all of the critical details of the actual Presley-Nixon encounter.)

So What? As the movie notes with opening graphics the infamous recording by Nixon of Oval Office conversations that factored into the Watergate crisis didn’t begin until early 1971 (although it was actually previous-President Lyndon B. Johnson who had a recording system installed sometime back in the mid-1960s [note this article’s author, as I attempt to present a perspective different from my own intense-anti-Nixon-bias]) so what this account presents is based on true events (including all of the mid-career-Beatles-haircuts and bushy-pork-chop-sideburns; I, unfortunately, can testify directly for use of those styles) but fictionalized in many on-screen-details (there was also an earlier attempt at a docudrama of this event, a Showtime made-for-TV-movie called Elvis Meets Nixon [Allan Arkush, 1997]; you can see a brief comparison of it and this current version, but it shows only still photos so just to enliven the earlier one a bit here's its trailer [I’ve never seen this older version; however, it seems to be largely played for farce, different from the overall tone of the new rendition]).  While there’s much to be admired in Spacey’s personification of Nixon (the body language, the intonations, the grouchy and profane attitude toward just about everything—except his daughter [at least when he’s on the phone with her]); the sympathetic-connections that quickly evolve between Jerry and Bud (based on their mutual acknowledgement of how difficult it is to work for their mercurial, obsessive bosses); and the gleeful irony (at least in viewers of my far-left-wing-persuasion) of knowing the fates that would later befall this President and those of his men we see here (as a result of crimes committed by the cover-up-“Plumbers” unit and/or related to the Watergate break-in/disinformation tactics, Krogh [ironically now well-known for his work in legal ethics], Chapin, and Haldeman all did jail time while Nixon resigned the Presidency in 1974 as impeachment proceedings were heating up), I’m not as convinced by Shannon’s portrayal of Presley (although I think he’d be a great fit for a biopic on Roy Orbison) which presents “the King” as easily stymied, petulant, and just not nearly as dynamic as would seem to be more appropriate to at least how Elvis would seem to have presented himself to the guardians he’d have to intimidate to get what he wanted from Nixon (it takes the [likely fictional] intercession of Julie Nixon to even get the plan into action, just as Elvis himself has no impact at all on the BNDD Deputy Director when he attempts a direct request for the agent status).

 However, one scene in all of this silliness does offer some heartfelt-poignancy, when Elvis is explaining to Jerry why this agent-and-badge-quest is so important to him.  Presley tells his friend that when Jerry walks into a room people see him for whom he is, whereas when Elvis appears he’s simply a manufactured image (he shows Jerry the makeup kit he carries around with products to keep his hair so strikingly-dark, remove the puffiness around his eyes, etc.), the singer of songs that each person he meets can connect to some specific event in their lives about found-romance or bitter-breakups but he’s not a real presence to them, just a conveyor of memories that have no room for actual information about the flesh-and-blood-person who’s become such a pop-culture-icon.  This brief interlude really humanizes an oversized-figure who yearns for real contact, seeking it out from the few true friends he’s had since before international fame changed his life forever.

Bottom Line Final Comments: The overall-impact of Elvis & Nixon is a pleasant-enough-diversion that’s picked up some mildly-positive-responses from “critics (cinematic agents?)-at-large” so far (based on a few very small samples of pre-release-analyses: 68% at Rotten Tomatoes but from just 28 reviews; 55% at Metacritic from a mere 14 reviews, so you might want to revisit the links to this movie noted below after it’s been in release for awhile to see if any additional commentary causes any changes), although—beyond Spacey’s engaging performance (it takes a hell of a lot for me to say anything that supportive about anything connected to Nixon; my main solace in thinking about this Chief Executive who turned out to be “a crook” after all is taken from transposing an old bit from the early Saturday Night Live TV fake-news-broadcasts where Chevy Chase would announce that Spain’s former-dictatorial-ruler, Generalissimo Francisco Franco, was “still dead” to joyfully remind myself that’s also true for Nixon)—this whole concept seems mired in the incongruity of the famous photo (shown in the previous section of this review), along with the event that generated it, then fleshing out a story explaining how that bizarre Oval Office encounter came to be.  There really doesn’t seem to be much purpose in this movie, even as hard as everyone involved worked to create some needed significance.  So, I’ll stop working so hard as well to move to closure with my Musical Metaphor, which is Elvis’ 1960 big-hit-single (#1 on Billboard’s Pop chart for 6 weeks; certified Multi-Platinum, at least 2 million 45’s sold) of “Are You Lonesome Tonight” (on his posthumous 1987 compilation album The Top Ten Hits, probably others as well) at https://www. chosen because it evokes some of the loneliness that this mega-celebrity felt before his early death (age 42, 1977*) so that the overt lover’s-lament also has some connection to his own lost-homeboy-persona (“Are you sorry we drifted apart? …Do you gaze at your doorstep and picture me there? … Now the stage is bare and I’m standing there With emptiness all around And if you won’t come back to me Then make them bring the curtain down”)—as long as you don’t think I’m implying some autoerotic interpretation of Presley’s ego here, which I promise I’m not.

*Here's another Elvis performance of “… Lonesome Tonight?” which seems to have been recorded at some point in his final year, in which he either forgets some of the song’s lyrics (a problem he was having toward the end of his career—a reason why I passed up my only chance to see him in spring 1977 because he’d become a bit of a joke, playing afternoon concerts for swooning “old lady” fans [like my mother, although she never saw him live either]) or simply messes around with them because he knows his audience will accept whatever he does.  In truth, though, “…Lonesome Tonight?” is also just a better choice to wrap up Elvis & Nixon than Elvis’ actual late 1970, early 1971 minor pop hits—another direction I was considering for a Metaphor tune until I researched them a bit—“You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me,” “I Really Don’t Want to Know” (although those respectively hit #1 and #2 on the Billboard Easy Listening chart which helped them both go Gold status [at least 1 million records sold then, now that standard’s been lowered to 500,000 units], while the former got to #11 on the Pop chart), “Where Did They Go, Lord,” and “Life” (all of which, except for the 1st one, I’ll admit I don’t even know so, Elvis fans, if I’ve missed something obvious here, please tell me [in whatever fierce terms are necessary]).
Related Links Which You Might Find Interesting:
 Here’s something of unique fascination, an official selection from the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival with 100 shots from 100 years of cinema (101 actually; count 'em), from The Birth of a Nation (D.W. Griffith, 1915; begins U.S. features); I thank Diana Bebbington, my friend and former Film Studies student at Mills College (Oakland, CA), for passing this on to me to share.  I’m able to identify most of them but not all (at least not yet) so see which ones jump from your memory and which remain a mystery. I had to look up a couple to verify but I simply don't know the following clips—even if you (or I) think I should recognize them: can’t confirm 1918 (except that it's Charlie Chaplin using a dog for a pillow) although it's probably A Dog's Life; not positive on 1924 (except it's Buster Keaton) but it's probably Sherlock, Jr.; don't know 1932 (between Frankenstein and King Kong; image is the shadow of a man on a door); don't know 1936 (between The Bride of Frankenstein and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs; image is a woman walking away from the camera); don't know 1961 (between Psycho and Lawrence of Arabia; image is a man [seems to be William Holden?] and woman kissing in the rain); also, I can’t place 2000 (between Fight Club and the 1st Lord of the Rings; image of a hand passing through a wheat field), 2002 (between LOTR and the 1st Pirates of the Caribbean; image is a couple kissing), or 2007 (between 300 and The Dark Knight; image of a burning platform).  But that's only 8 of 101 not (fully) identified, so I'm quite pleased with my level of recognition.  If anyone can identify the ones that eluded me please do so, with my gratitude, or let me know if you need help with any of the others.

We encourage you to visit the summary of Two Guys reviews for our past posts.  Other overall notations for this blog—including Internet formatting craziness beyond our control—may be found at our Two Guys in the Dark homepageIf you’d like to Like us on Facebook please visit our Facebook page. We appreciate your support whenever and however you can offer it!

Here’s more information about Criminal: (7:41 interview with actor Kevin Costner; he’s answering on-screen-questions which you may need to pause the video to read before you get into his comments because they’re not up long before the answers flow)

Here’s more information about Elvis & Nixon: (6:56 mini-documentary about the actual meeting between Elvis Presley and President Richard Nixon on Dec. 21, 1970)

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If you’d rather contact Ken directly rather than leaving a comment here please use my new email at  Thanks.

By the way, if you’re ever at The Hotel California knock on my door—but you know what the check out policy is so be prepared to stay for awhile.    Ken

P.S.  Just to show that I haven’t fully flushed Texas out of my system here’s an alternative destination for you, Home in a Texas Bar, with Gary P. Nunn and Jerry Jeff Walker.


  1. Agree that Criminal Is well worth the trip especially for Kevin Costner's excellent performance. If only Tommy Lee Jones could step up the Prozac when taking on a role or when sitting in an Oscar telecast.