Movies

The Rundown: Thomas Crown Was A Real Jerk

The Rundown is a weekly column that highlights some of the biggest, weirdest, and most notable events of the week in entertainment. The number of items could vary, as could the subject matter. It will not always make a ton of sense. Some items might not even be about entertainment, to be honest, or from this week. The important thing is that it’s Friday, and we are here to have some fun.

ITEM NUMBER ONE — Go ahead, re-watch this movie, you’ll see

I had always considered The Thomas Crown Affair one of my favorite movies. I’ve seen it a bunch of times, well into the double digits, usually on some basic cable channel on a rainy weekend. It has everything I want in a movie: heists, Pierce Brosnan, Rene Russo in a series of designer turtlenecks that cost more than your monthly student loan payment, etc. And so, in an attempt to chill out on a recent weeknight, I pulled it up on HBO’s streaming service to watch it yet again, to enjoy a classic fun movie that would not stress me out or make me grind my teeth with rage. It was a good plan.

Something funny happened, though, very shortly after I clicked play. I started… really hating Thomas Crown. I did not see that coming. I thought I loved Thomas Crown. He was smooth and brilliant and a real rascal. He looked great in a suit. He put together elaborate art heists. Those are all things I like and aspire to. But this time, which I realize now was actually my first full watch through in a number of years, something else became clear: Thomas Crown was a real piece of shit.

I should have realized this much earlier. I know that. Some of you are probably reading this and shaking your head right now, like, “Yeah, no shit, Brian.” In my defense, I am often blinded by cool stuff like elaborate art heists and can be as dense as a bowl of mayonnaise. It’s true, though. It’s not like it was hidden in any way, not even from the start. The guy is a mergers and acquisitions ghoul who crushes his competition for fun. This is what he says immediately after squeezing a small business in a negotiation.

UNITED ARTISTS
UNITED ARTISTS

To be fair, again, that’s at the very beginning of the movie. Maybe he grows from that point, learning the value of people over money and learning that it’s not always about w-… nope. Nope, he does not learn a single lesson at any point in the movie. He’s like The Grinch if, instead of returning the stolen Christmas gifts to the Whos in Whoville and joining them for a Christmas feast, The Grinch taunted them about it for a week and then gave the gifts back in a way that made them look stupid. And stole the New Year’s feast on his way out the door.

The man is a menace, a first in line candidate for the guillotine in a fictional sequel where the people rise up against the fat cats. Look at some of the other stuff he did, typed out in cold black-and-white without the charm of Pierce Brosnan to dull their impact:

  • Hired and framed some guys to pull a doomed robbery that he used as a cover, then identified them in a police lineup
  • Stole a priceless work of art from a public museum — where everyone can enjoy it, including schoolchildren — and kept it in a hidden compartment in his office where only he could see it
  • Gaslit Rene Russo about three different times
  • Forced New York City’s public officials to waste a significant amount of time and resources to chase him around in a game of cat and very wealthy mouse
  • Got away
  • Convinced Rene Russo to give up her career and freedom to live a life on the run as a fugitive

What a jerk. What an absolute scumbag. You could make a not-unconvincing argument that the real good guy in the movie is the cop played by Denis Leary who has a healthy disdain for everything that happens in the entire movie and never does anything wrong and just gets crapped on constantly by the entire world. At one point in the movie, he tells Rene Russo’s character about his failed marriage and the story basically amounts to “one night my wife didn’t come home and the next day she was married to a urologist.” That’s a Shakesperean tragedy in one sentence. That poor man. He doesn’t need Thomas Crown’s shenanigans. Give him a break. Geez.

I’m sure a big part of this realization is the timing and the way the world has changed since the movie came out. We’re going through our second major financial crisis since then. It’s a little harder to relate to bored billionaire corporate raiders than it was in the late-90s. I apologize, kind of, if I’m coming across as a spoilsport and ruining a fun movie for you. Please believe me, this all hurt me more than it hurts you. And yet, here I am, writing all of this down and wishing for an alternate ending where Thomas Crown gets tomatoes heaved at him in the middle of Times Square. It’s unsettling. I was so much happier when I knew nothing about anything.

Maybe that’s the lesson here. Either that or “maybe just watch Logan Lucky instead, because that’s a fun heist movie where the little guys win and stick it to a bunch of jerks.” That’s actually a good lesson regardless of context, now that I think about it. I’m glad there’s a silver lining here. This has been a rough few days for me.

ITEM NUMBER TWO — Let’s check in with some quarantined celebrit-… oh my

Well, here’s Matthew McConaughey, in character as a person named “Bobby Bandito,” teaching you how to make a facemask to battle the coronavirus, which he, at one point, refers to as “the corona v.” I love it. It’s delightful. Look at him go. The man created a character and trekked into the woods behind his house and filmed a damn monologue. Things are so weird and unsettled lately that I’m not sure we all realize how weird this is. Imagine if he keeps doing this character once we’re in the clear, just making scrambled eggs in a bandana mask in like June 2028. He might, too. We’ve all seen his Lincoln commercials.

Either way, I think it’s safe to say this was the strangest thing a quarantined celebrity did this w-…

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We’ve all been there. #CommentsByCelebs

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Ah, right. This is Martha Stewart drunkenly commenting gibberish on an Instagram photo of little chicks, then immediately owning up to it. It comes just one week after Ina Garten made a cocktail as big as the moon in her own quarantine video. The Hamptons are out of control. I love it. I also love that Martha explained it a second time. Read it in your head in her voice. You can practically hear her gritting her teeth with rage.

Either way, I think it’s safe to say this was the strangest thing a quarantined celebr-…

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Killing the game.

A post shared by Armie Hammer (@armiehammer) on

Hmm. It appears Armie Hammer has lost his mind. And a substantial amount of his hair. And some of his shirt. Whatever is happening here, whether he’s channeling Joe Exotic or early 2000s Chuck Liddell or just messing around with the clippers after a humongous Barefoot Contessa inspired cocktail, I love it. Get weird, Armie Hammer. Famous people have so few opportunities to let their look go wild just for fun. Live your life, buddy.

Still, I think it’s safe to say this was the strangest thing a qu-

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#gifted

A post shared by January Jones (@januaryjones) on

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a champion. Bless you, January Jones.

ITEM NUMBER THREE — We are not making a big enough deal out of Marshawn Lynch just being on Westworld now

HBO

We’re just not. It’s shameful. A big chunk of the blame falls on my shoulders because it is literally my job to highlight interesting and fun things that happen on television and bring them to your attention. I accept that. I will do better going forward. I’m trying right now.

It is profoundly wild, though. Like, Marshawn Lynch, a very famous professional football player who once punctuated an athletic marvel of a touchdown run by leaping into the end zone backwards while grabbing his entire crotch with his free hand, is playing a character on Westworld. A real character, too, not some “Ed Sheehan in Game of Thrones” publicity stunt. He’s been in multiple episodes. He has had numerous lines of dialogue. Just this week he called another character “Little Lord Fauntleroy.” He’s an associate of Aaron Paul’s character, who is very important to this season and is becoming more important with each episode. His partner-in-crime is played by Lena Waithe, a legitimate multi-hyphenate talent. This is a real thing that’s happening and, I think, we’ve all been entirely too casual about it to this point. It’s even crazier that it’s Westworld, not some network-y procedural. This is a twisty turn-y prestige drama here. It’s got big names and big pedigree. Freaking Anthony Hopkins was in this sucker. It would be like if, oh, I don’t know, let’s say if Rasheed Wallace popped up as a police officer in Ozark. Which I now want to happen. I might even start watching Ozark if it did.

Anyway, this is me attempting to do my part. Now it’s your turn. I know we can’t go outside to tell strangers in the street right now, so you’ll have to get creative. Maybe write “Marshawn Lynch is on Westworld” on 100 helium balloons and release them out your window on a windy day. That would be a start. People need to be aware of this.

ITEM NUMBER FOUR — I am pleased to report that Bosch has sideburns now

AMAZON

The new season of Bosch just dropped on Amazon. I am very excited. More excited than I have any right to be. I’m only a few episodes into this season but please be assured I will be done no later than Sunday afternoon. I am on record in many forums as being in the tank for any show where a hotshot loose cannon detective gets results while playing by his own rules, and Bosch is the purest version of that show on television. It’s also the best possible version of that kind of show, with veterans of The Wire both in front of and behind the camera. It’s a good show. That’s my point.

A couple observations from the little bit of the new season that I’ve seen so far: One, Bosch has sideburns now; and two, the damn FBI is getting in the way of his murder investigation

Hell yes. You know a cop show is about to get good when the FBI shows up to bigfoot the investigation. They’re going to screw it up and Bosch will be livid. It’s already started. Look at this absolute gem of an exchange from the second episode, which I have slightly condensed to get the point across.

AMAZON
AMAZON
AMAZON
AMAZON

“Stay in your lane.”

“My lane has no lines.”

Yes.

YES.

Wait, is a lane with no lines is even a lane?

What does that mean?

Who cares.

Doesn’t matter.

AMAZON

I’m so happy right now. I think I might cry.

ITEM NUMBER FIVE — Jenn Bryan, please collect your free ice cream sundae

AMC

This week, in my recap of Better Call Saul, I made an offer. I said, and I’ll just go ahead and quote myself here, “Whoever picked out the ‘Land of Enchantment’ t-shirt for Mike Ehrmantraut is now entitled to one ice cream sundae on me.” I had a good reason for making this offer: it was wonderful. Mike Ehrmantraut is the crankiest, grumbliest character on television. He barely speaks. He communicates mostly through sighs and eye rolls. He is the least likely character — possibly in the history of drama, dating back to the Greeks — to be seen wearing a bright yellow t-shirt with “Land of Enchantment” written on it. Everything about the whole thing was perfect and hilarious and I thought it would be funny to offer to buy an ice cream sundae for the person responsible for making it happen. It was mostly a joke, for funsies. But then…

I suppose I’m boxed in here. I can’t very well take it back now, can I? I don’t even want to, partially because I’m a man of my word and partially because quality work deserves to be recognized, preferably with ice cream. Jenn Bryan, if you are reading this, please feel free to contact me and I will send you a gift certificate to Dairy Queen or something. A deal is a deal.

READER MAIL

If you have questions about television, movies, food, local news, weather, or whatever you want, shoot them to me on Twitter or at brian.grubb@uproxx.com (put “RUNDOWN” in the subject line). I am the first writer to ever answer reader mail in a column. Do not look up this last part.

I recently saw a promo for an episode of New Amsterdam which ended with a doctor breathlessly shrieking, “We’re running out of time!” By my calculations, that line has now been said in every doctor show, ever. I know you’re a fan of the bad guy saying to the good guy, “You and I, we’re not that different.” Please name 5 other lines we are almost guaranteed to hear in various genres.

A few of my favorites in no particular order…

1. The classic exchange where a government official flies to the woods to recruit a retired person back to the field by saying “Because you’re the best there ever was.”

2. A cranky judge giving a lawyer leeway in a line of questioning against his better judgment by saying “I’ll allow it… but watch yourself.”

3. Not a specific line but I’m a sucker for a character saying the title of the movie during the movie.

4. “It’s quiet out here. Almost… too quiet.” This also works with “That was easy. Almost… too easy.”

5. Literally any time a detective is taken off the case by a fed-up chief who drink Pepto Bismol straight from the bottle and complains about the mayor “having his ass for this.”

There are many more. Some aren’t even actual lines of dialogue. I’m a huge fan of people flicking a lit cigarette into a trail of gasoline that leads to something that explodes. Just tremendous. I kind of want to start smoking again just to do this once.

AND NOW, THE NEWS

To Spain!

Look, I’m not saying I miss basketball so much that it’s driving me a little cuckoo, but I will say that — very shortly after clicking play on this otherwise lovely video of quarantined nuns playing a game of full-court hoops in their formal nun attire — I started mumbling at my computer screen like I was watching an actual NBA game. At about the 0:25 mark, one of the nuns grabs the ball in the corner near a large plant and throws it to another nun who is closer to the basket and I got mad that she passed up the wide-open corner three. Like, for real mad. I didn’t throw anything but it did bother me in a very authentic way that I have chosen not to think about anymore in case it reveals something troubling buried deep inside me. Let’s move on!

The beauty of this is that, in addition to being a video of nuns playing basketball, if also gives me a very good excuse to post the GIF of Diane Keaton in The Young Pope shooting a basketball with just the worst form you’ve ever seen.

HBO

Thank you, Spanish nuns. You have done the world a great service this week. Now, please, get someone out there to coach you up a little bit. The playoffs are coming.

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