Big badda boom.
At this point, the only way to approach the ongoing adventures of John McClane is with a wink, because the very notion of the first film has been undermined by the entirely understandable urge by the studio to turn the character into an ongoing franchise. What made the first "Die Hard" so great is the exact thing that makes the sequels less interesting. John McClane was just a normal cop. That was made very clear in the film, and that's why it was so great to watch this guy take down this elaborate heist. It was just a case of being in the wrong place at the right time, and he beat Hans Gruber and his merry band of thieves through sheer tenacity. McClane simply wasn't going to let them win, and as a result, he managed to not only stop the bad guys but he also won back his wife in the process. Great character arc, great premise, lean and mean and self-contained.
And while I can roll with the notion of "Die Hard With A Vengeance" because it's about an act of specifically-targeted revenge, a true sequel to the first film, I have more trouble getting my head around the coincidental nature of "Die Hard 2: Die Harder" and "Live Free Or Die Hard," where McClane goes from being a normal cop in extraordinary circumstances to being a lightning rod for elaborate bad guy plots.
Big badda boom.
"Seven Psychopaths" is one of those films that you can't fully sum up just by describing the plot or the characters, because it seems like it's playing a lot of games with the viewer at all times.
Taken just on the surface, as a plot-driven comedy, it's fun. In my review of the film from the Toronto Film Festival, where it played as part of the Midnight Madness section, I talked about how it also serves as an "Adaptation"-style deconstruction of the creative process. That's a hard thing to sell to an audience, though, and it's basically just the gravy. If the film didn't work as a character comedy first, it wouldn't work at all, and thanks to both the sharp writing and the dizzyingly funny performances, it absolutely works on that level.
My favorite film of all time is playing theaters Thursday night, and if you've never seen it, or if you've never seen it theatrically, now's your chance.
I know that many people view "Lawrence Of Arabia" as something that sounds like it's going to be homework. I try to go see the film every time it plays LA in 70MM, and last time I went, I was joined by a friend who had never seen it. He confessed that he was worried about the homework issue and that the film's length intimidated him. "Tell you what," I said, "if you still think this is homework by the time the intermission rolls around, you should feel free to leave." When we reached the intermission, he looked over at me, wide-eyed, and I could tell he wasn't going anywhere.
"Lawrence" is as theatrical a film experience as I can imagine, huge and epic, with scenes that I find almost impossible to imagine anyone actually staging and shooting. It is a tremendous film both as entertainment and art, and with the Blu-ray arriving in stores on November 13, Sony decided to show off the new restoration, an update on the amazing work done by Robert Harris and his team in 1989, something you need a theatre screen to fully appreciate.
I get the feeling no one wrangles Bruce Willis.
Most of the time when a publicist wants to organize an interview, everything is rigorously scheduled. I've had several phone interviews this week, and in every case, there has been a flurry of e-mails and phone calls ahead of time to pin things down, including in almost every case a pre-call call just to make sure I'm really where I'm supposed to be and the conversation is really going to happen.
I got an e-mail from Sony asking if I'd be interested in talking to Bruce Willis about "Looper," and the answer to any query about whether or not you want to talk to Bruce Willis is, of course, "yes." I sent back my affirmation and then waited for a follow-up.
A full day and a half later, my phone rang, and I answered, right in the middle of trying to talk my kids into putting on pants. It was post-school, and they have recently decided on an all-underwear policy when they're relaxing after school, something I'm trying to discourage. In the middle of a debate that largely consisted of me saying things like, "I don't know why! You just need pants!", I picked up the phone, distracted and not expecting anyone in particular.
"Hi. Is this Drew?"
"Hi, Drew. This is Bruce Willis."
Richard Stark wrote 24 novels about Parker, and yet we've got no less than three film versions of the first book now, including Taylor Hackford's "Parker," where Jason Statham will step into the shoes once filled by both Lee Marvin ("Point Blank") and Mel Gibson ("Payback") in previous adaptations.
At some point, I'd love to hear the story of why this one particular novel keeps getting adapted while the rest of the series, which contains some truly remarkable books, has yet to really be mined as source material. Sure, Godard adapted one of the books loosely as "Made In USA" in the '60s, and there was another French film called "Mise a Sac" that used "The Score" as source material, also in the '60s. Jim Brown played a renamed version of Parker in "The Split," and Robert Duvall played a renamed Parker in "The Outfit". But we're talking about 24 books, and just a handful of movies. That's crazy.
I'm still not sure what to make of the title, but the trailer for "Movie 43" makes it look very slick and wildly offensive, and I'll admit that much of what I saw made me laugh.
The very, very, very red band trailer for the movie showed up today on the Comedy Central website, and just looking at the trailer, you can tell this has been kicking around for a while. It filmed in 2010 and is the work of a whole group of directors. Elizabeth Banks, Steven Brill, Steve Carr, Rusty Cundieff, James Duffy, Griffin Dunne, Peter Farrelly, Patrik Forsberg, James Gunn, Bob Odenkirk and Brett Ratner all contributed to the picture, which was written by Steve Baker, Will Carlough, Patrik Forsberg, Matt Portenoy, Greg Pritikin, Rocky Russo, and Jeremy Sosenko.
Hi-yo, Silver, indeed.
Disney is betting big on "The Lone Ranger" for next summer, and based on the first trailer that just premiered on "The Tonight Show" when Armie Hammer appeared last night, they're sparing no expense in an effort to make this work.
Gore Verbinski and Johnny Depp made Disney a mountain of cash, something like three billion dollars over the course of three films together. I wonder how much longer Verbinski is going to make this sort of film, this scale of film. I think he's got a real voice as a filmmaker, and I want to see him try his hand at the esoteric, the small, the personal.
That's not to say this is purely going to be an empty experience, though. I like the opening narration in the trailer, someone talking about the change that the railroad is going to bring to the west. I like that Verbinski is building this lush, opulent world and contrasting it with what looks like fairly classic Western movie imagery.
So are we getting a Sharon Carter in the Marvel Universe?
That's certainly a possibility as we hear reports today that Marvel is screen-testing a list of five actresses to play the female lead in "Captain America: The Winter Soldier," which is due to start shooting soon. The subtitle is our one big clue about what we're seeing in the sequel, and I was sure they were going to be headed in this direction as soon as we saw Bucky's "death" in "Captain America."
I think Joe Johnston did a nice job of setting up enough dangling threads in the first film to leave plenty of room for Joe and Anthony Russo to play in the sequel. The home video release of "The Avengers" has given us a glimpse at some of the scenes involving Captain America grappling with his lost past that were cut from the film. While I liked those scenes, I can see how they decided they didn't fit in "The Avengers," but I hope they carry over the same melancholy tone for at least part of the sequel. There's something interesting they can play with Captain America that isn't true for any of the other Marvel characters onscreen so far.
Toshi saw "E.T." when he was too young to process it.
I wasn't the one who showed it to him. It was while he was away in Argentina with his mom for six months. There were only six movies at the house where they were staying, and "E.T." dubbed into Spanish was one of them. And during that six months, while he was going nuts from lack of things to watch, "E.T." became a mainstay. My wife says it must have been played at least 20 times, but this summer, when we were talking about the film, I realized that he remembers none of it.
Allen also felt like he had a handle on the film, and when I asked him what he knew about the movie, he told me, "That's the movie about the guy who is from outer space and he poops candy." I feel like that's not entirely accurate.
The Blu-ray showed up here at the house between my trips to Toronto and Austin, and both of the boys were eager to see the movie again. We haven't done that yet, but it's on the agenda for October. In the meantime, while I was gone on my second trip, Universal invited us to participate in a special "E.T." press day, and I talked to my wife about her taking the boys since I wouldn't be back in time.
While I was at Fantastic Fest last week, "Holy Motors" screened five or six times, and they kept adding screenings later in the schedule. It was wildly impressive to see how many people fell in love with the film. It's not an easy movie. It's not a movie that will ever play on 3000 screens at one time. But it's a gorgeous movie, a big beautiful drunken dream of a movie, and I love that people are responding to it.
The movie's going to be opening in the US soon, in limited release, and when the film's publicists asked if I wanted to be the first one to present the poster to you, I jumped. Selling a movie like "Holy Motors" is a real test, because it doesn't offer anything like a conventional plot, and it's not particularly star-heavy. Eva Mendes and Kylie Minogue both appear in it, and Minogue is great in it. The film belongs to Dennis Levant and Edith Scob, and it's the most amazing duet of the year, a dance between these two great actors. Scob is part of France's film history, and I can't think of a better way to wrap up an iconic career of performances than in a film about the power of icons and performance.