are all kinds of reasons why John Rambo, the currently filming fourth installment of Sylvester Stallone’s other shockingly-out-of-mothballs franchise, should be better than Cries and Whispers. First off, there’s the fact that Cries and Whispers is staid even by Bergman’s hyper-staid standards; secondly, there’s the understanding that any movie carrying sixteen fucking producers can’t help but be brilliant; thirdly, there’s Sam Elliott.

And, of course, there’s last year’s Rocky Balboa, which surprised lots of snooty critic-types – i.e. people who wear ascots, eat brie and ride horses to work – by being a rousing return-to-form for an erstwhile movie star whose previous three efforts at career rehabilitation – D-Tox, Shade and the truly special Avenging Angelo – generally skipped theaters altogether (I left out Spy Kids 3-D because it didn’t help prove my point). Though no masterpiece, Rocky Balboa had an emotional integrity that eluded most of the Rocky sequels by eschewing cartoonish he-man antics in favor of a rumination on going toe-to-toe with Father Time (and we know this is progress because, twenty years ago, that would’ve literally been the name of Rocky’s opponent). Most excitingly, Stallone seemed engaged again as a writer; after embarrassing himself with such empty-headed doozies as Driven, Cobra and Over the Top, he rediscovered the voice that made the first Rocky a pop cultural sensation and a surprise Best Picture winner.

But when I run across pictures like those recently posted to (FYI, "Your Number One Source for Celebrity Images", which is a little bewildering because I just love celebrity images and this is the first I’ve ever heard of it), and factor in the recent HGH scandal, I wonder if ol’ Sly might be pressing his ego-stroking luck. Somehow, the combination of veiny forearms, stringy hair and melting face reminds me of Steven Seagal in a direct-to-oblivion vehicle like, say, Out for a Kill, though at least Rambo has an excuse for not showering.

But that’s just me bein’ snarky, and probably blowing my opportunity at an interview with a guy I honestly respect, eight or nine months removed from the eventual release of his movie, which, by the way, has the titular one-man-army going all Toshiro Mifune and training a bunch of persecuted villagers to defend themselves from their Burmese oppressors (again with the Burmese!). No one’s more stoked to see this movie than me, even though I’m still not sure that excitement is completely unironic.