I've never met James Mangold before. I had a great couple of meetings with his producing partner Cathy Woods back around 1995 and 1996, but nothing ever came of it. Mangold at that point was still establishing his voice, and what I've enjoyed about watching his career over the years is that he's never really allowed himself to be pinned down to one thing, but he certainly doesn't seem like an anonymous studio guy, either. That's not easy to pull off.
When I sat down for our interview this past weekend, I was operating on no sleep and a weird case of jet lag, and I had just ridden in from the airport and showered quickly before we spoke. I barely knew where I was, and I thought it was very kind of Mangold to check out the way my shirt buttons were lined up and get up, walk over, and make sure I was camera-ready. He did it unconsciously, like he was setting up a shot, and it said so much about him, and especially in the way he introduced himself at the same time in a very disarming manner.
Made it easy to jump right in so we could talk about "The Wolverine," which he directed, and he seems excited by the film he's put together. I'm not sure when we're allowed to review the film, but I think it's clear from these conversations that I liked a lot of what they did. I think it tries harder than any of the "X-Men" films since the second one, and it works to give you a taste of what made the storyline so popular originally while also trying to make it fit into the film franchise that they've been building for the last five films. This is very much a sequel to "X-Men: The Last Stand," and it contains images that also call back to "X-Men Origins: Wolverine," two films that landed flat for many audiences. I like that Mangold finds a way to build new ideas on what those films did without having to go scorched earth and do a hard reboot of the entire franchise. If they pull off "Days Of Future Past" in a way that works for the mainstream audience, it will be because of the groundwork that Mangold and screenwriters Mark Bomback and Scott Frank laid with this movie.
I particularly like the way Mangold approached the issue of language in the film, and other filmmakers should take note of the way he won what is typically a very difficult battle at the studio level.
We'll have more on this film before its release, and later today, I'll have an interview with the sort-of-somewhat-back-from-the-dead Famke Jannsen.
"The Wolverine" arrives In theaters July 27.
1950 | Drama | NRSummary: A small-time screenwriter is drawn into the life of a fading silent film goddess like a fly in a spider's web. Murder and madness await within her gloomy old Hollywood home.Director: Billy Wilder
Cast: William Holden, Gloria Swanson, Erich von Stroheim
2010 | Comedy | RSummary: One of the funniest and bloodiest-ever cases of mistaken intentions ensues when a group of college campers assumes two good-natured rednecks must be killers.Director: Eli Craig
Cast: Tyler Labine, Alan Tudyk, Katrina Bowden
1974 | Comedy | NRSummary: Good Times gave actors like Esther Rolle, John Amos and Jimmie Walker loads of great material as members of a family living in Chicago’s inner city, and for a couple years was one of mainstream America’s most reliable views of black American life -- at least until producers allowed it to become a...Director: Mike Evans, Norman Lear, Eric Monte (creators)
Cast: John Amos, Esther Rolle, Jimmie Walker, Ja'net DuBois, Ralph Carter, BernNadette Stanis
1973 | Comedy | PGSummary: Before Star Wars, George Lucas paid tribute ot the '50s of his youth with this dramedy featuring Ron Howard and Richard Dreyfuss as high school seniors trying to make the most out of their last night in their California home town. Keep an eye out for a very young Harrison Ford!Director: George Lucas
Cast: Richard Dreyfuss, Ron Howard, Paul Le Mat
1948 | Comedy | NRSummary: Ad exec Cary Grant flees to the country from Manhattan, and makes a series of impulsive and bull-headed choices as he tries to create his own personal dream home.Director: H.C. Potter
Cast: Cary Grant, Myrna Loy, Melvyn Douglas
1984 | Comedy | NRSummary: An alien slave crashes lands in New York city while being pursued by two Men in Black bounty hunters. His attempt to find a place for himself on earth parallels that of the immigrant experience.Director: John Sayles
Cast: Joe Morton, Rosanna Carter, Ray Ramirez, Yves Rene
1997 | Action | RSummary: Odd comedy about a contract killer played by John Cusack who tries to balance completing a job with rekindling an old romance while home for his high school reunion.Director: George Armitage
Cast: John Cusack, Minnie Driver, Dan Aykroyd
1979 | Action | RSummary: Prominent gang leader Cyrus calls a meeting of New York's gangs to set aside their turf wars and take over the city. At the meeting, a rival leader kills Cyrus, but a Coney Island gang called the Warriors is wrongly blamed for Cyrus' death. Before you know it, the cops and every gangbanger in tow...Director: Walter Hill
Cast: James Remar, Michael Beck, David Patrick Kelly, Dorsey Wright
2008 | Drama | NRSummary: An inside look at Italy's modern-day crime families, the Camorra in Naples and Caserta. Based on a book by Roberto Saviano. Power, money and blood: these are the "values" that the residents of the Province of Naples and Caserta, have to face every day. They hardly ever have a choice, and are forc...Director: Matteo Garrone
Cast: Salvatore Abruzzese, Simone Sacchettino, Salvatore Ruocco, Vincenzo Fabricino
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