When infamous outlaw Ben Wade (Russell Crowe) gets captured in late 19th century Arizona the plan is to transport him to a train en route to Yuma prison(leaving at 3:10 of course). But in the 1800s bringing someone to justice is as arduous as it sounds especially since horses are the only mode of transportation and their carriages the only place to house a prisoner. Across “town ” rancher Dan Evans (Christian Bale) is struggling mightily to support his wife (Gretchen Mol) and kids (Logan Lerman and Benjamin Petry) following a drought and needs to build a well for his family. So when he receives a nominal financial offer to help transport the notorious felon he jumps at it dutifully and desperately. While on the trail that leads to the train station no amount of physical or verbal threat is too much for Wade to break free of with ease. But when it comes to the law-abiding rancher for whom Wade has a certain respect his escape becomes much more complicated than getting out of handcuffs. 3:10 to Yuma’s pairing of Batman and Cinderella Man is perfect in concept and execution and watching the two stars is more than a sight to behold—it is transfixing like watching any two longtime professionals make something difficult look easy. It’s the first of two such powerhouse pairings for Crowe this fall—he co-stars with Denzel Washington in November’s American Gangster—and if this small sample size is any indication big-name costars bring out the best in him. Crowe evokes the kind of real humanistic villain that could only exist in a Western and by playing Wade with equal parts amiability and evil the Oscar winner turns in what is probably his most purely charismatic performance to date. Bale’s character on the other hand—and per usual—is loath to crack a smile a quality the actor has mastered. The Yoda of dialect Welsh-born Bale also has no difficulty switching over to Ol’ West speak but it’s the way he conveys the rancher’s stoicism and will that makes him even more credible. Among the supporting turns Ben Foster (Alpha Dog) stands out as a cranked-up trigger-happy member of Wade’s gang and stalwart Peter Fonda is perfectly cast as a tough ‘n’ gruff bounty hunter. When director James Mangold turned Johnny Cash’s life story into Walk the Line it was the romantic version of a much darker tale. For 3:10 to Yuma a remake of the beloved 1957 Glenn Ford-starrer Mangold gives the Western the same treatment. In attempting to reel in today’s action-happy audience Mangold waters down the drama and speeds up the pace. Minor tweaks for this modern update equal a bit of a departure from true Western style with the dialogue for example as snappy as one of today’s action comedies. But it’s all in good fun. The Old West looks completely authentic and the unforgettable ending is perhaps made possible by the director’s innocuous first two acts. Even so his efforts and those of the screenwriters (Derek Haas Michael Brandt and Halstead Wells who wrote the original) aren’t enough to perform CPR on the Western—not that it’s fair to rest the fate of entire dying genre in their hands.
Top Story: Affleck & Lopez Playing the Media?
Hollywood couple Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez could be pulling the wool over the media's eyes. According to reports in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and The Associated Press, the celebrity duo was spotted Monday at the Liberty County Courthouse in a southeast Georgia town, and "looked totally together, smiling and happy," a deputy registrar at the courthouse told the Journal-Constitution, just weeks after canceling their impending nuptials in California. Although a Liberty County sheriff told AP Affleck stopped to ask about a gun permit, the reason the two were at the courthouse is still up for speculation. The couple recently purchased a home together on Georgia's Hampton Island.
Leno Welcomes Calif. Candidates
Ninety of the 135 candidates running for governor of California in the recall election made an appearance Monday on NBC's The Tonight Show With Jay Leno. "Welcome to California, now under the division of Ringling Bros., ladies and gentlemen," Leno said as he ushered in the eclectic group to his 300-seat NBC studio for the taping of the program, The Associated Press reports. During the taping, Leno gave each candidate 10 seconds to say what he or she would do to improve California--only they had to all answer at the same time. The talk show host also poked fun at candidate Kurt Rightmyer, who identifies himself as a "middleweight sumo wrestler," who said his platform was to cut out the fat from the budget so he can eat it. The show also featured actor Robert Downey Jr., who labeled the recall election as "a sick, pathetic circus"--then announced he was running. Leno gently let Downey know that could be a problem because of "two words: convicted felon."
Schwarzenegger Begins Campaign Commercials
More on the election: Republican gubernatorial candidate Arnold Schwarzenegger began running separate television commercials Tuesday criticizing Gov. Gray Davis' current term as well as the problem of illegal immigrants obtaining drivers' licenses and the influence Indian tribes have over California politics, City News reports. The commercial criticizes the casinos for being allowed not to pay taxes and the heavy campaign contributions they offer. The Davis campaign issued a statement saying that every governor since 1959 has had at least one term with spending growth greater than Davis' and employment is rising, City News reports.
Beckhams Say Marriage Is Just Fine
Contrary to rumors that the fairy-tale marriage between soccer superstar David Beckham and former Spice Girl Victoria is on the rocks, a statement released by the couple Sunday affirmed their "marriage is not in crisis," AP reports. British tabloid News of the World speculated tensions were brewing between the two since Beckham moved to Spain to play for the Real Madrid soccer team and Victoria is reported to have been reluctant to relocate to Madrid full time. "Since we first met, our careers have always meant we have spent time apart. This is not a reflection on the strength of our marriage and we are very much enjoying our new life in Spain," the couple's statement said. "We are extremely happy together as a family. Our only difficulty has been finding a house in Madrid that meets our needs."
Hepburn's N.Y. Home Up for Sale
The New York City townhouse owned by the late Katharine Hepburn went up for sale Monday with a hefty $4.95 million prize tag attached, Reuters reports. Hepburn bought the four-story townhouse in the Turtle Bay Gardens section of Manhattan in 1937 after renting it for six years, Halstead Property, the broker handling the sale, told Reuters. The 96-year-old Hepburn died in June in her family home in Old Saybrook, Connecticut.
TV Profanity on the Rise
A new study put out by the watchdog group the Parents Television Council says swearing on television has increased on all the major networks, AP reports. The council said it studied all primetime entertainment series from a two-week period in 1998, 2000 and 2002 and found a jump in profanity on "virtually every network" and in every time slot. They are asking the TV industry to "get serious about reducing the flood of vulgarity. ... Barring that, the [Federal Communications Commission] needs to get serious about enforcing broadcast decency laws," AP reports.
Role Call: ER Gets New Blood, Gibson Rides With Motorcycle Gang, John Waters' Shame
Actors Nicholas D'Agosto and Rossif Sutherland, Donald Sutherland's son, are joining the cast of NBC's ER, as recurring characters. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the show is trying to rejuvenate the ratings as it goes into its 10th season…Meanwhile, Mel Gibson, having completed his controversial religious film The Passion, is looking to star in a project about an infamous motorcycle gang. Variety reports Gibson is in negotiations to star in Under and Alone, an action drama based on the true story of ATF undercover agent Billy Queen, who infiltrated the notorious and violent Mongols Motorcycle Club…Eclectic director John Waters' new film A Dirty Shame was bought by Fine Line Features and begins shooting Sept. 24. According to the studio's press release, the film will star Tracey Ullman as a blue-collar convenience store owner who suffers a concussion and experiences carnal lust she cannot control. The comedy also stars Chris Isaak, Johnny Knoxville and Selma Blair.