Thursday, October 28, 2010
About every time I get brave and try my local country radio station, I'm disappointed. Today's country music is just God awful. What else can you say? If I hear another song about how much a man loves his truck, farm, dog, woman, country, I'm going to throw up. What happened to heartache? Being drunk? Broke? Stickin' it to the man?
When did Nashville stars start looking like old women fresh from the beauty salon with frosted hair and eye liner.
That brings me to the salvation in all of this: Have you heard of Jamey Johnson? Like the original Hank, he hails from my home state of Alabama and is absolutely kick ass. This is true, authentic country music. Check out this recent story in the New York Times about his exploding career. Country is back.
I was happy to see yesterday's story in the L.A. Times about Christopher Nolan talking about the next Batman film and even giving away the title. The Dark Knight has been one of my favorite films in recent years, honoring the gangster films of the 1930s and the great noir films that influence my writing. Like most, I became aware of Nolan with Memento -- an absolutely terrific noir. Love or hate Inception, he is one of the best directors and screenwriters working today.
From the L.A. Times:
Christopher Nolan’s third Batman film will be called “The Dark Knight Rises” and though the Gotham City auteur isn’t ready to reveal the villain of his 2012 film, he did eliminate one of the big contenders: “It won’t be the Riddler,” Nolan said in an exclusive interview with Hero Complex.
Nolan was most eager to talk about the fact that Warner Bros. had agreed with his argument that the film should resist the current 3-D craze and instead use high-definition approaches and IMAX cameras to strike out on a different cinematic path than the stereoscopic technology that, for better or worse, has become the dominant conversation in the blockbuster sector.
Check back here later in the morning for a more in-depth look at that decision and the Nolan ambitions and reasons behind it.
As for the title, it shows the writer-director’s intention to keep his Bruce Wayne trilogy tightly stitched together. “We’ll use many of the same characters as we have all along, and we’ll be introducing some new ones,” Nolan said cryptically. I had an odd thought: What if Nolan somehow brings back Harvey Dent?
The only reason I even mention it is because, back during post-production on the second film, Nolan told me that the title “The Dark Knight” was just as much about Dent and his fall from the status of shining-knight civic crusader. Dent was plainly dead at the end of the last film, though, and Nolan has been intent on keeping his Gotham City film firmly rooted in a gritty gangland realism– this isn’t a franchise that has veered off into the supernatural or even much super-science.
Nolan plays things close to the vest — he’s one of the few filmmakers of his generation who actually does wear a vest — and he chuckled when I tried to get a few more details out of him. “Oh, you know me, I don’t talk.”
He began our conversation by comparing it with a visit to the dentist’s office. Well, if so, he’s a patient who never opens wide. I asked if he could imagine a time when Warner Bros. would let a filmmaker shoot a Batman script where the villain isn’t one of the signature creations from the comic books. “Ah, Geoff Boucher, master of the leading question,” he said with a chuckle.
That’s when he did agree, however, to eliminate a villain candidate, namely Edward Nigma, the green-suited Riddler, who many people (myself included) assumed was the next natural choice. That character could be taken in a lot of directions — think of Kevin Spacey’s character in “Seven” as a compass point for one of those dark paths — but Nolan and his team are going a different way.
As with “Dark Knight,” the new film has a script written by Nolan and his brother, Jonah, and it’s based on a story by the director and David Goyer. Earlier, I got Nolan to take Mr. Freeze off the list and, yes, this is like pulling teeth but don’t think for a minute that I mind.
Nolan makes sublime films, and any secrets he wants to keep in place are done so to protect the final product. As for me, I’m hoping now for Hugo Strange who, come to think of it, looks a bit like a dentist…
– Geoff Boucher
Sunday, October 17, 2010
I finally got a chance to see Ben Affleck's latest THE TOWN based on a novel by Chuck Hogan. I had read a couple reviews but didn't expect much. I enjoyed GONE BABY GONE but thought the tone and pacing was way too slow and self conscious.
There was none of that sluggishness found in THE TOWN. The movie is a straight-up, fast-paced crime thriller shot with a confident hand and a sly wit. I really appreciate Affleck's style, shooting the movie in Charlestown neighborhood of Boston and on the streets of the North End. There is a terrific climax set in Fenway Park with a death scene worthy of a Warner Bros. gangster flick. (The last observation courtesy of my pal, Jack Pendarvis.)
The story is classic noir: a bank teller is held up by a team of armed gun men. One of the robbers pays her a visit -- unmasked, of course -- to find out what she knows. He ends up falling for her while the bad guys try to draw him back into one big final score.
This movie felt completely contemporary but had that wonderful classic framework. Some of the best scenes featured the amazing Rebecca Hall.
A lesser actress might have played the role of the victim unraveling as a set piece. Instead Hall is completely authentic and holds the film together. She is also so incredibly good looking that you can understand how the tough guy played by Affleck is torn.
Although Blake Lively is tremendous as his drug-addicted ex -- terrific in the role but definitely the healthiest looking drug addict I've ever seen.
Another favorite is Pete Postlethwaite who just breathes with violence and corruption as crime boss, Fergie Colm. Wait until you see the way he dethorns a rose.
After the film was over, I started thinking about other great Boston crime flicks. I realized there definitely is a subgenre here as I've written about in the past -- Southern crime and great British crime movies.
I'll list a few of note below. Readers let me know any other that you recommend or should be listed.
* The Friends of Eddie Coyle: Based on the novel by George V. Higgins and starring Robert Mitchum. Elmore Leonard called the novel one of his formative reads.
* Mystic River: Dennis Lehane's breakout crime epic seen through the lens of Clint Eastwood.
* The Departed: My favorite of the bunch. Scorsese's retelling of Infernal Affairs. Music by the Dropkick Murphy's turns up the heat even more.
* Southie: A small film featuring Donnie Wahlberg as a Southie (someone who grows up in South Boston) who comes home and gets involved with old pals in with the Irish mob. A terrific little film.
* The Brink's Job: A great film that has yet to make it to DVD. You'd be lucky to score a VHS copy. The story centers on the true tale of one of the biggest armed car jobs in history. Starring Peter Falk and directed by William Friedkin.
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