Phillip Noyce chats with Caffeinated Clint
A weekly editorial Grande with a double shot
With Clint Morris
Q. Who Am I? I was born 18-years-ago. I talk all the way through movies. I listen to techno music. I have a commodore. I talk back to teachers. I lie about my sexual experiences. I smoke cigarettes only when I know somebody is looking. And most famously, I gamble with others lives – particularly when it comes to my excessive speeding.
A. An annoying little fucker that talked all the way through the movie this afternoon. Galactica should’ve taken him with them.
Sorry, do I sound like a guy who nearly ripped a couple of annoying kids a new asshole at the cinema? I know we’ve all been one of them, but god…. Were we that loud, self-interested and annoying? Were we? I don’t understand why little runts pay good money to go to the cinema only to talk and chuckle all the way through it…. Luckily they stopped before Mrs. Morris got out her razor-studded whip. She’s almost scary when she attacks.
Quarter way through coffee
Oh, what did I see? “The Guardian”, the new Andy Davis/Kevin Costner/Ashton Kutcher thing. Missed the media screening, so caught it in-season with the Mrs. OK, so it didn’t matter too much that the virginal dweebs down the back just chortled all the way through it…. It’s not exactly a thinking man’s movie…. But it still counts towards your experience.
Not a bad movie. Well, you know what you’re getting anyway – and you’re not disappointed.
He’s a seasoned pro, approaching his use-by date, that was once the best in the business. Unfortunately, some young guys – despite the fact that they’re not half as good as the vet – have since come up, and are now getting the jobs he use to be handed on a silver platter back in the day. Hmm…funny how Kevin Costner’s latest movie mirrors his professional career.
In “The Guardian”, Costner plays ‘the legendary’ (those words were probably scribbled next to the character breakdown when he received it – in an effort to get him to sign on) Rescue Swimmer Ben Randall, a top gun who becomes the sole survivor of a deadly crash at the height of a colossal squall. In the wake of the accident, he is sent against his will to teach at “A” School—the elite training program that turns arrogant young recruits into the best and bravest of Rescue Swimmers. Steel reeling with grief, Randall decides to turn the program upside down – and makes an instant enemy (and future buddy) in the overconfident trainee, Jake Fischer (Ashton Kutcher).
Costner – whose-had-more-dips-than-Grant-Hackett – has a line early on in the movie about it being good to swim with the current, rather than against it. Funny then that that’s exactly what Costner’s been doing since he won the golden tallboys for “Dances with Wolves” (1990) – swimming against the current.
From the moment, the ‘It boy’ of 80s cinema (who can forget his smasheroo performance, then mostly-unknown, as Elliot Ness in “The Untouchables”? Frickin’ gold) got a grasp on that next bar on the ladder, Costner gave it his indomitable best to go against the grain and do basically, well, whatever the heck he wanted. He did a $200 million dollar commercial for SeaWorld (a.k.a “Waterworld”), followed it up with a bunch of bunch of egocentric westerns (including “Wyatt Earp” and “Open Range”) that not even the local in El Paso could sell out, and obviously unmindful to the liver spots growing on his neck, he continued filling the seemingly-hunky romantic lead spot in forgettable rom-coms like “Tin Cup” and “For the Love of the Game”. The biggest gamble of Costner’s career was “Dances with Wolves”, and whilst that paid off, he should’ve left it at that.
Thankfully, Costner’s now returned to doing what he’s told, and has seemingly put his ego, and his obsession to resurrect dead genres, back in his holster. Thank god.
Not to say “The Guardian” is a gem by any means. It really isn’t. It’s popcorn entertainment in the purest sense. It’s fluff. It’s predictable. It’s corny. It’s more slicker than solid. But it works. It works for Costner.
Andrew Davis, director of such enjoyable pics as “Under Siege”, “The Fugitive” and “Holes”, knows his way around a good sopping thriller… and exactly when to hit those buttons. Like his previous films, he has a knack for making an audience tense, tear-up and – even when some are quite aware they’re being manipulated. This one, for instance, features a blueprint as old as the washers in my kitchen tap – quite vintage – and even Paris Hilton will be predicting the outcome of the film before she’s even waltzed up to the cashier.
Thing is, there’s a place for entertaining fluff – if there wasn’t, Michael Bay would be a regular at a soup kitchen – and especially when it’s well done fluff like this. This has a terrific cast (the supporting cast, including Neal McDonough, Clancy Brown, Sela Ward and John Heard, are near as good as the likeable heads), a captivating-enough storyline, and enough bells and whistles to get your attention.
Keep on swimming with the current Costner – it is better to eat, then to not.
Half-way through coffee
So caught up with filmmaker Philip Noyce a few days back. Always good value. Darn good filmmaker too. I still say “Dead Calm” is one of the finest – if not, the finest – Aussie thrillers ever produced.
God this guy has had an up-and-down journey over the past decade though….
Nobody likes to do another’s homework. Nobody likes to another’s washing. You’ll even be hard pressed finding someone that wants to walk your dog. For the past 15 years, Australian export Phillp Noyce has been making another man’s films – and though he’s been richly rewarded, his gut told him it was time to let someone else take over.
“Catch A Fire” is the third film in recent years that Noyce – the other two being “The Quiet American”, and more importantly, “Rabbit Proof Fence” – has made not without a Hollywood beancounter in mind, but himself, a talented Aussie filmmaker – who left Australia in 1989 after cracking it big with the locally made thriller “Dead Calm” for the bright lights, big city of Tinseltown – whose mission objective in his career has always been to first and foremost, tell good stories.
Though Noyce started off doing just that – being the man behind the megaphone on such sublime local pics as “The Dismissal” and “Newsfront” – the luxuries of working in Hollywood were just too much to resist. He worked on the hits “Patriot Games” and “Clear and Present Danger”, but he’s also got a credit on such cinematic dogs as “Sliver” and “The Saint”.
“Those movies aren’t worse, they’re not better – they’re just more expensive,” he says of his Hollywood back catalogue. “And with the expense comes the huge responsibility of trying to deliver the movie that will make that money back. These smaller films, you have much more choice in terms of subject matter – even if they didn’t show this movie in cinemas, they could make their money back through the deals they make selling it to television and the like. With most movies costing upwards of $60 million, a $15 million movie with a star and an up-and-comer is a good bet. As a director, you have much more freedom, you don’t feel that burden.
“It’s also about what was becoming a job – a very well-paid job. It wasn’t what we started out with here in Australia. It was a real privilege and a new experience for us as filmmakers to be expressing ourselves in cinema. It was a new experience for audiences as well – people would go along to see an Aussie movie just for the uniqueness of the experience. After 12 years in Hollywood, the machine was so efficient – get blockbuster, attach superstar, spend money – that you could just sit there and watch the machine do its work. So coming back to do Rabbit-Proof Fence was a real invigoration. And just doing that took me back to the early days, when we were pioneers, and there was a thrill in that.”
Like the acclaimed “Rabbit Proof Fence”, Noyce’s latest film “Catch a Fire” is a welcome 180 degree turn from everything he has been doing in Burbank for the past decade – it’s not only smaller, it’s stronger. The film, set in South Africa, tells of a policeman (Robbins) and a young man (Luke) who carries out solo attacks against the regime.
“It’s never too early to tell an historical story, to be reminded of the past so it can guide us through the present and the future,” Noyce says of his motivation in making the movie, which takes place in the early 1980s. “It wouldn’t matter for me if it took place five years ago – if it’s a good story, it’s worth telling. I’ve always admired the way South Africa came through that conflict, a bitter racial divide that seemed incurable. This is a story of a man who’s a hero not because he takes up arms but because it’s much harder to make peace than make war. Like the country, he makes peace with his own past, and I think that’s something worth celebrating.
“I also think it was important to make a film at this moment that explored the psychology of a person that felt the only way to change the world around them was by taking up arms, by using terror tactics,” adds Noyce. “The advantage of this context is that the audience knows when it comes to the story of South Africa that the black South African is the good guy. If we told a story about a Muslim who’s doing the same thing now, people would go ‘No thanks, I don’t want to touch it’. It’s important that we understand why someone would feel motivated to do that because that is at the core of the present-day problem. We’re not going to solve it by killing every alleged terrorist and all of his relatives – it ain’t going to produce any result except our grandchildren will still be fighting this crusade. And it is a crusade – it’s like we’ve returned to the Middle Ages.”
Next up, Noyce is bringing Tim Winton’s novel “Dirt Music” to the big screen. It was set to star Oscar Nominee Heath Ledger. “He’s doing The Joker, instead”, Noyce says of Ledger’s decision to do “The Dark Knight” over “Music”.
Somehow we think Noyce will overcome the obstacle of having to recast.
Three quarters the way through coffee
We’ve been running a nifty little “Casino Royale” competition all week, in which I’ve asked you to make up a poem about James Bond. Some of the answers are kinda funny. Sorting through the entries at the moment, and just have to share some of these with you…
Bond is cool
Bond is swish
The one for which
All the girls wish
He is slick
He is fine
If i could
I would make him mine!–
James Bond 007 secret agent extraordinaire
Never shaken never stirred always debonair
Loves to give villains a nasty butt whipping
And with the Women loves some dry Martini sipping
My name is Blonde James Blonde
I prefer it Smashed Not Stirred
My name is Blonde James Blonde
My Face is Bashed Not Burred
My name is Blonde James Blonde
So many Bonds
Just who is the best
I say this not in jest
Cos I wasnt even born
Sean Connery Im most fond
He is the sexiest James Bond
my name is james james bond
love the woman bed the woman
hate the baddies kill the baddies
i am a man i am 007 i am a man
– James Pizzey
007 … my idea of heaven
he’s cocky, he’s cool, he’s nobody’s fool
I dream of the day James Bond comes to play
and whisks me away to live another day
There was a cool spy named Bond,
Of gadgets and girls he was fond,
Not shaken or stirred,
Daniel Craig said the word,
Now he’s the new Bond, James Bond.
Bond is the man
To give ladies a hand
Cos when they’re in distress
It’s off with their dress
The villains he chases all over the world
Never stopping until their plans are unfurled
He’s James Bond,
The Biggest Fish in the M16 Pond.
He’s the World’s Greatest Spy,
With a Gold Finger and a Golden Eye.
He’s Proven that He’ll never be over the hill,
With a Double 0 and a Licence to Kill.
But Without a Doubt, I Have to Say,
He’ll always be back to Die Another Day.
One sip to go
I would watch the fuckin’ “View” if this how all their guests behaved….. DeVito’s best performance since “Hoffa”.
The Weekly Rap Sheet
Movie of the Week :
DVD of the Week
: Superman II : The Richard Donner Cut
Watched the following 5 films this week… :
1) Superman Returns 2 ) Miami Vice 3 ) John Tucker Must Die 4) Charlotte’s Web 5) Click
Favourite Danny DeVito movie movie :
Romancing the Stone
Clint’s least Favourite Danny DeVito movie :
been listening to…. :
Happy that…. :
Coke Zero now comes in refreshing 385ml glass bottles.
Not Happy that… :
Thomas Jane pronounced Brandon Routh’s name wrong at the Scream Awards
Mel Gibson’s newie, “Apocalypto” ain’t gonna go so well.
Retro Pick of the Week :
: Lethal Weapon
Thinking that…. :
I really should be watching “Battlestar Galactica”.
Star Nut of the week :
: Scroll Up.
Confession of the week… :
As a 14-year-old, I use to dream of Kristy Swanson. Now, she’s making my bed..
This Week’s Useless bit of Advice
Never cast Ben Affleck in a film if you’ve got plans for a franchise.
This Week We Salute :
Who? : Brandon Routh
What do I know him/her from? : Unless you were a regular at the Lucky Strike Bowling Alley – “Superman Returns”.
What would you say is their best film? : Trick question?
What did you see him/her first in: ? “Superman Returns”.
What have they been in lately? : Playing it cool at the moment, trying to decide what to do next, but apparently is in talks for a small role in the “Harold & Kumar” sequel.
They done anything dire? : Are we talking about how he got the role of Superman, or his films?
They like anyone else? : Christopher Reeve.
They still in work? : Yep, at least until they sign him up for a remake of “Switching Channels”.
Is their career freezing, cold, lukewarm, warm, hot or sizzling at the moment? : Hot. But can it stay that way?
5 Things You Didn’t Know About…….
“Captain America” (1991)
1. The original mask used had holes that allowed Matt Salinger’s ears to be seen, but as this caused uncomfortable chafing, plastic ears were used.
2. Went direct-to-Video in America and Australia.
3. Arnold Schwarzenegger was originally going to play the part, but his accent lost him the role.
4. Dolph Lundgren wanted to play the lead role, but he had a scheduling conflict with “The Punisher”.
5. They considered casting two actors for the main role – one for Steve Rogers, one for Captain America.
Movie Rating :
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