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By Tom Collins
Arizona Daily Wildcat
August 28, 1997

Corrupt cops?


Arizona Daily Wildcat

Sylvester Stallone stars in "Cop Land."

by Tom Collins

Tuesday, 7 p.m. and I'm going to the movies.

Man, I'll tell you what, the crazies are on the street tonight. I'm driving this beat up Toyota east on Broadway, just trying to stay out of people's way, you know, minding my own business.

I don't even honk at the Chevy Suburban that damn near causes a disaster.

I'm off to see "Cop Land."

It's a movie starring Sylvester Stallone as the fat sheriff of the town of Garrison, N. J. Garrison is a tightknit, little town. A town filled with boys in blue. Cops.

Lots of 'em.

The town is like a fortress across the river from New York City (hence the name Garrison. I mean, the fucking town isn't named after William Lloyd Garrison, but I played him in a history class skit once upon a time.) The cops built it to keep their families away from the crime in the city. Only one bridge, the George Washington, crosses the moat of the Hudson River.

Now these here cops, led by tough guy Harvey Keitel, had to cut a few deals to start their little town. Seems these coppers don't want anyone poking their nose in where it don't belong.

So that's how Sylvester Stallone's character, Freddy Heflin (our hero), ends up sheriff.

Freddy's a hefty, half-deaf guy who got half-deaf saving a drowning girl and who couldn't get on with the NYPD because he's half-deaf. Or rather, deaf in one ear, which amounts to half-deaf to me - argue with that logic.

Freddy's been lumbering around, kinda pathetic, for ten years. He can't even give a speeding ticket. In our introduction to the man, he gets drunk while playing lonely pinball and drives his police cruiser into a tree avoiding a deer.

He's slow; oh so slow.

I mean like in the head.

I mean this movie wouldn't have been 2 1/2 hours long if Stallone's character were even as bright as Forrest Fucking Gump.

But that's really beside the point.

Stallone's performance had been reputed to be just that, a performance. Now, I'm not saying it was and I'm not saying it wasn't.

You know why?

You wanna know?

Cause I've seen "Rocky" and I've also seen "Rocky V."

One of those is, according to reputation, a near Oscar caliber performance. The other, supposedly, the mailed in hack-work of a has-been. Heroes fall on hard times.

Now if you've actually watched both those movies with an open mind you can't tell the difference. And you can't tell the difference in Cop Land. Just cause Stallone looks hang-dog throughout the film does not make him a good actor. But, then again ... You see my confusion.

I wish I was a critic.

I mean, Stallone is kind of like Bruce Springsteen, whose music appears in the film. (It's set in New Jersey, remember.)

People like to say his early stuff is better and his lately stuff is contrived. But if you ask me (And especially if you ask my boss) the Boss is the boss.

And as far as the other actors go, well ... Robert De Niro does his Robert De Niro thing and Michael Rappaport does his Michael Rappaport thing and Ray Liotta does his Ray Liotta thing.

The problem with the movie, like a lot of movies, is the lack of tension, the lack of any character development beyond prima facie. That kind of thing.

Even westerns (at least good ones) develop some kind of reason to hate the men in the black hats and root for the ones in white.

Why root for the Internal Affairs Lieutenant played by De Niro? Why distrust him and root against him? Is it because we've all seen NYPD Blue and know I.A. cops are scum? Why bother creating a character?

Luke, use the zeitgeist.

Now one last thing before I go.

At the beginning of the film De Niro does a voice over bringing us across Manhattan and into New Jersey. At the end we leave, the same way we came - perhaps a little changed - accompanied by De Niro's voice.

I think this may have been some kind of Twilight Zone episode.

Particularly on my drive home, which might be another story.

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