WOOD WAR: 05.19.2009

0519woodwar WOOD WAR: 05.19.2009

New York Daily News: Sometimes on a Monday you're on the elevator with a coworker and you're not sure what to say, so you say, "Do anything interesting this weekend?" And sometimes the person tells you "Yes, I saw [insert movie name here.]" So you say, "How was it?" And they only have a few seconds to tell you what they thought before the elevator reaches your floor and you are free to go your separate ways. What they say in those few moments sometimes influences you, and sometimes doesn't. The movie studios don't have any control over this kind of conversation. But they do screen movies in advance of their release so that movie reviewers can write about them before they open. What does the movie reviewer do with this advantage? Most often, not much. Here are a few quotes from Joe Neumaier's review of Terminator Salvation today:

Fifteen years after "T3" was set, Connor (Christian Bale) commands a network of resistance fighters battling robots that rule a post-apocalyptic world and corral people to make cyborg parts.

Thanks. I could have read that before the movie was made. What else, Joe?

Part of the strength of the storyline is due to [Sam]Worthington's subtle, empathetic performance. Bale's rumbling "Dark Knight" voice is great for shouting, which works for the barking militarism, and may have scared crew members, but doesn't allow for the pop heroism of 1991's "Terminator 2: Judgment Day." (When Connor says "I'll be back," it's surprising, as it seems he's forgotten the good-guy Arnie of "T2.")

OK, not totally sure that is in English. Anything else?

Director McG even keeps the gripping, "Road Warrior"-lite action scenes linear and kind of retro, avoiding today's nervous, chop-shop editing style. When you add the mushroom clouds and Bale, Yelchin and even Schwarzenegger's brief turn, it all fits to a T.

OK, thanks! Time to walk to my desk! By the way, this dominates the front page of the Daily News today. "'TERMINATOR' IS BACK," reads the headline. There are four stars above this headline, which tells you, "This movie is opening."

But the worthless Terminator story doesn't really lead the paper; it's just there to put a picture of Christian Bale on the cover of what would otherwise be a pretty rough front page. Otherwise a dead baby would dominate. That's better handled with type: "BABY DEATH FLU PROBE" reads the largest text on the page. Three pages—a spread and one additional page—cover what may be the second death from swine flu to hit the city: a 16-month old infant who was brought to the hospital one day after his parents noticed a high fever died within an hour of arriving at Elmhurst Hospital. The national Centers for Disease Control is going to investigate whether swine flu was the cause of death. Suddenly health commissioner Tom Frieden's warning about "underlying conditions" is starting to sound like really, really scary officialspeak for "infancy." B-copy includes further tribute to Mitchell Wiener, the assistant principal who died from complications from swine flu Sunday night. Without meaning to make light of it we point out the following line describing what students said who were placing flowers or candles at one of those Makeshift Memorials in front ot IS 238 in Hollis: "They told fond stories about the man who helped them out of teenage jams …" This sounds like the lyrical set-up to a Who song to us. Teenage jams!

The New York Post: "WALKING sex has a new name, ladies." Wait: what was the old name? Anyway, ladies, that's the lead to a "story" about how GQ took a lot of racy pictures of Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez. He's local, ladies! So, ladies, this piece is basically just an excuse to put pictures of a quarterback next to a lady in a bikini. This is most of the cover of the Post today, ladies. We are going to go out on a limb and say the GQ picture of Mark Sanchez with a bikini-clad beauty the Post chooses for its wood is set in such a mundane setting, it looks meant to evoke a home-made amateur porn video, ladies. What's more, the close-up crop discloses another scandal: Mark Sanchez clearly has an erection, and that erection is clearly touching the lady's thigh, ladies. Did we mention that this one is for the ladies? Incidentally the inside head—"FLIRTY SANCHEZ"—should have been on the wood instead of "Jets QB a lady killer."

Nu, swine flu? It seems that the H1N1 virus isn't just for Daily News readers anymore!

The closing of St. David's School, on East 89th Street off Fifth Avenue, sent shudders through the tony neighborhood and came as the city locked four more Queens public schools because of increased numbers of kids suffering flu-like ailments.

At this rate of 15 schools in the sticks for every one school in "tony" parts of Manhattan, the News can hope, theoretically, to get 15 times the readers the Post gets off the swine flu story! Seriously, we've talked about this before, but never has the coverage of a story shown so clearly what the difference is in sensibility between the two tabloids. The cover line is a generic "PIG BAD FLU," but the words "Upper East Side" make it into the 18-word lead of the story printed on the front. The inside headline? "FLU FEAR MOVIN' ON UP."

General observations: Does sex sell? Recently I was directed to look at an ad for office space in a fashionable new building that straddles the High Line. A layer was photoshopped over the building such that the mystical spirit of a giant slut baring her breasts at the reader was superimposed over the entire building. Put a year's rent in this building's brassiere, the ad seemed to say, and the building will show you its tits, possibly more. We don't have the energy to talk about the Post spending part of its cover lauding the editorial decisions of other publications (yesterday, an early version of the cover was replaced with a pick-up story about a pilot in a jet-pack stolen from a U.K. paper). You can't help but wonder why the Post didn't do its own story about how Mark Sanchez should trade in his shoulderpads for kneepads. Normally we are inclined to reward the Post for its shamelessness, but this is too much. And the Post is myopic today in its treatment of the swine flu story. It's just stretching things too far to lead with the fact that swine flu has reached an upper east side school instead of asking the question whether the death of an infant from causes being investigated by the C.D.C. as possible swine-flu is a watershed in the pandemic's effect on New York. Confidential to Col Allan: Sometimes, it's OK to care.

Meanwhile, the News ought to hire a movie reviewer who has something more to say besides "I saw this movie already!" if they are going to try to sell papers by sticking movie stills on their covers.

Winner: Daily News.