Sure, it’s not Ghostbusters or Star Wars or a superhero, but the release of a new film directed by Warren Beatty seems like reason to celebrate.
I’m fascinated by dream pictures, movies that directors try to get made for years or even decades, projects that they push slowly and surely up a hill like a cinematic Sisyphus. Sometimes they turn out beautifully, and sometimes they are overcooked train crashes. You can get Apocalypse Now or you can get Battlefield Earth. When Martin Scorsese made The Aviator, he pulled off something a number of other filmmakers had tried and failed. As white whales go, Howard Hughes seems to pose a particularly tempting challenge, and guys like Christopher Nolan and Michael Mann have walked away frustrated after trying to figure it out.
Whatever I expected from this one, “screwball comedy” wasn’t on the list. That doesn’t mean it has to be a bad thing. In some ways, I’m glad it doesn’t look like the “Howard Hughes is crazy” film that I think a number of people have tried to make, because I think that’s actually the most boring approach. We get it. Dude had some issues. But how many scenes can you really shoot of him peeing in jars or growing his fingernails real long? It looks like this is a movie where Hughes sort of lurks at the periphery of things, playing a part but without pulling the entire focus of the film. It’s kind of amazing how well Beatty pulls it off, playing Hughes somewhere in his mid-50s, and it’s fun to see Annette Bening show up as well. I figure if anyone can get her to clear her schedule, it’s Beatty.
Whether Beatty realizes it or not, his movie’s going to be under way more scrutiny than it would have been before Alden Ehrenreich was cast as young Han Solo for the upcoming movie by Phil Lord and Chris Miller. People are curious about him now, and here’s his first starring role since the news broke. He looks like he has a great easy charm in the trailer, and that was certainly true in Hail, Caesar!, the Coen Bros. comedy this spring. When I spoke to the Coens about that film, we spent a chunk of the interview just raving about this kid.
I am so curious about this one, and I’m glad we finally got our first look at what’s taken Beatty so long to figure out. In the meantime, check out this piece I wrote, complete with a gallery about dream projects that nearly killed the filmmakers who made them.
Rules Don’t Apply is in theaters November 23, 2016.