December 29, 2002


...AND YOU WILL KNOW US BY THE TRAILERS: One of my favorite parts of going to the movies has always been the previews, even prior to my former job of test-marketing movie trailers. Before "Gangs of New York" the other night I saw two compelling ones: Since GONY is about the hero trying to kill the villain, whose name is Bill, it only followed that the film be preceded by the teaser for "Kill Bill," Quentin Tarantino's first new movie in over five years. I must say it looks good, using kung-fu as a stand-in for QT's usual blaxploitation homage.
Another trailer I saw impressed me much, much less: it was for "The Life of David Gale," an anti-death penalty propaganda film which despite appearances is based neither on a true story nor a John Grisham novel. 'David Gale' stars Kevin Spacey as a death-penalty-fighting college professor (apparently based on Northwestern's David Protess) who gets framed for murder, is convicted, and then is sentenced to (you guessed it) the death penalty. So with two days left until he's due to be executed, it's up to intrepid reporter Kate Winslet to uncover the evidence to clear him.
Like "The Contender" and "Three Kings" before it, "Life of David Gale" appears to be making an impassioned, polemical political argument based on events that are completely fictional. We don't know who the bad guys are in this movie, but apparently they're so pissed at David Gale for being against the death penalty that they committed a murder and pinned it on him just to get the perverse joy of seeing him executed- instead of just cutting out the middle man and killing Gale themselves.
A previous Hollywood treatment of this issue (1995's "Dead Man Walking"), was also told from a left-wing perspective (the principals, after all, were Tim Robbins, Susan Sarandon, and Sean Penn), but its script actually managed to call the issue down the middle, and it ended up being one of the best movies of the '90s. "Life of David Gale" looks to have nothing but propaganda on its mind, manipulation on the level of an earlier Spacey vehicle, "Pay It Forward." The only thing that could possibly redeem the film for me would be if Gale turned out to be guilty, but based on the trailer I'm guessing that's not the ending.
And besides, Kate Winslet is the female lead, and she's playing an American. We all know Kate is a thousand times sexier with a British/Australian/New Zealand accent...

Posted by Stephen Silver at December 29, 2002 07:02 PM
Post a comment

Remember personal info?