David Poland riffing amusingly (if a little too fast) about Pirates, Shama-Lama-Disney (he calls Lady in the Water “a question mark”), and Super-licensing on iklipz.
A Miami Vice press conference happened at the Four Seasons late Friday afternoon. I rode down on my bike and arrived about 25 minues in front. I was talking to a couple of friends before the show began about all the cottonball questions that always get asked at these things. So with 15 minutes to go (or around 4:25 pm), I walked up to the conference table where the talent would be sitting, picked up one of the little black mikes and addressed the 30 or 40 journalists in the room.
“I’d like to make a brief announcement,” I said. “I’m just one guy and you guys ask what you want, but since we’ll only have 30 minutes with the talent it would be nice, just speaking for myself, if everyone here would cut back a bit on the typical Us magazine softball questions in order to leave time for more substantive ques- tions. I’m just saying…you know, it would be nice if that happened.”
Miami Vice director-writer-producer Michael Mann (center, shortish gray hair) with stars (l. to. r.) Naomie Harris, Jamie Foxx, Colin Farrell, Gong Li and Li’s interpeter at today’s Universal-sponsored press conference at Four Seasons hotel — 7.16.06, 4:40 pm.
Miami Vice director Michael Mann and stars Jamie Foxx, Colin Farrell, Gong Li and Naomie Harris walked in around 4:40 pm, the press conference began, and the first seven or eight or nine questions were almost all cottonball stuff. A fair portion of the these questions came from a cluster of female African-American journalists with a certain ampleness of phsyique. They were partly the reason I made my little speech beforehand. One look and I knew.
The softballers asked questions about the ’80s TV series, about why didn’t Mann use the TV theme song, how did Foxx and Harris handle their sex scenes and how did Farrell and Gong Li handle their sex scenes? And then more questions about comparisons to the film and the ’80s TV series and how come the movie was so dark and not warmer and funnier, like the TV series was on occasion?
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Foxx answered every question with charm and humor. He’s a natural entertainer, and everyone in the first two rows was making goo-goo eyes at him and having fits of laughter every time he did a bit (which was often). I’m not saying he’s not funny — he is — but you could take the obsequiousness and the obeisance-before-power in that room and cut it with a knife.
I asked Foxx the one semi-tough question of the day, which I put as follows: “Jamie, you’re a good guy in person and you obviously play one of the good guys in the film, but in the world of Kim Masters’ article that went up on Slate today, you’re kind of the bad guy. That’s how you’re portrayed, I mean. And it’s out there and people are reading it, and it seems fair to ask if the piece is accurate. Is it?”
Foxx kind of rolled his shoulders and smiled and eyeballed me and shrugged. He might have said something but I don’t remember what it was. Six or seven seconds passed, and then Mann stepped into the breach. “I think it’s ridiculous…really ridiculous,” he said. It’s wrong? I asked. The article is inaccurate? And then Mann started in about the “process” and the hurricanes and particulars about the guy that got shot and how he always makes sure that his sets are extra-safe.
But he didn’t get into the thing about Jamie Foxx and his entourage leaving the Dominican Republic location after the shooting, and how, according to Masters’ article, this abrupt departure forced Mann to end the film in Miami rather than an earlier ending that was set in Paraguay. Then Foxx chimed in and then Farrell did also, and they were all locked and unified in their view that shit happens, the process is the process, we made this film together and we’re standing (or at least sitting) together right now, and we’re not getting into Kim Masters’ view of it.
I spoke to Mann later in front of the hotel, and said, “I just realized what you meant when you said Kim’s piece was ridiculous. You meant that her way of looking at the shoot was ridiculous.” He kind of nodded and went into an extension of that earlier complex thought about the totality of the process and the ebb and flow of creativity (while briefly alluding to a factual wrongo or two that I didn’t question him about), and so on.
Pics: (a) Looking northeast at Beverly Hills and West Hollywood from the 14th floor balcony of the Four Seasons hotel — Friday, 7.14.06, 5:25 pm; (b) Colin Farrell (l. blue shirt) being questioned by Boston Herald‘s Stephen Schaefer with Gong Li in-between after this afternoon’s press conference; (c) Post-press conference chit-chat with Gong Li — Friday, 7.14.06, 5:15 pm; (d) Jamie Foxx signing autographs (yes, journalists ask for them after these events) — Friday, 7.14.06, 5:17 pm; (3) Jamie Foxx’s silver Lamborghini outside Four Seasons hotel after Miami Vice press conference — Friday, 7.14.06, 5:40 pm.
A first-hand report from Josh Horowitz about New York Observer critic Rex Reed nearly getting his legs amputated while interfering with everyone’s concentration at a screening of Miami Vice last night in Manhattan.
“What typically nails me to my chair on the first viewing [of any Michaal Mann film] is mood, pure and simple, and Miami Vice holds to that pattern perfectly,” writes Ain’t It Cool‘s Drew McWeeny. (Drew calls it mood, I called it “fumes.”) “This is a smart, adult, demanding motion picture that may well be the most artistically successful translation from a TV show to the bigscreen. Although you won√É¬¢√¢‚Äö¬¨√¢‚Äû¬¢t hear the Jan Hammer theme, and you won√É¬¢√¢‚Äö¬¨√¢‚Äû¬¢t see any of the same fashions or even the same sort of stylization [o fthe ’80s TV series], this film perfectly captures the broken heart of the series, that sense of slipping into a world that corrupts even the best intentions. And the fact that the film fairly drips with cool doesn√É¬¢√¢‚Äö¬¨√¢‚Äû¬¢t hurt a bit.”
Jamie Foxx is a deeply charming and likable guy in-person…no question. But in this Kim Masters Slate piece about the making of Miami Vice, the 38 year-old Oscar-winner comes off as a swelled- head movie star who (a) lacks a certain something — a lack of commitment to “the job”, moxie, intestinal fortitude — or (b) has gotten a bit too full of himself. The bottom line is that Foxx put his own personal concerns over that of Miami Vice during shooting, and this, according to one of Masters’ sources, didn’t do the film any good.
The key thing was Foxx’s decision to abruptly bail on the film’s Dominican Republic location shoot after a local man was shot and wounded by one of the film’s security guards. This forced director-writer Michael Mann to change Vice‘s ending and shoot it back in Miami. Mann spins it more positively than an unnamed crew member, but Masters’ story leaves you with a clear feeling that Foxx’s departure may have dramatically wounded Miami Vice to some extent.
“Even before going to the Dominican Republic, Mann had written an ending set in Miamii,” Masters writes, “but then decided to go to Paraguay, then to remain in Miami, and then again to film in Paraguay. Now he went back to the Miami ending.
“It was like turning an oil tanker around on a dime,” Mann tells Masters. “But the Miami ending worked out to be the better ending. It brought all the conflicting characters together in one arena.” Maybe, but would Mann say any different if the Dominican Republic ending was in fact superior? He’ s got a movie to sell and he doesn’t want to “war” with Jamie Foxx, with whom also made Ali and Collateral.
“‘It was very scary’ after the local man was shot, Mann says. ‘What if this guy has six brothers? What if they blamed us? All these questions rush into your head.’ He says care was taken to ensure that the cast and crew could leave the set safely that day.
“But immediately after that incident, Foxx and his entourage packed up and left for good. ‘Jamie basically changed the whole movie in one stroke,’ a crew member says — and not, in his opinion, for the better. The ending that was supposed to be shot in Paraguay would have been ‘much more dramatic.’
“Asked about Foxx’s departure, Mann doesn’t speak for a moment and then says, ‘You hear the sound of silence.'”
My second exposure to Miami Vice (Universal, 7.28) last night was no less pleasurable than the first — this is a great adult popcorn movie that’s about heightened realism and also about life on another planet — a planet I’d like to live on.
Viewing #2 was actually better in a sense because I was able to digest the first-act complexities with a bit more ease. Director Michael Mann throws you right into a very dense and layered situation at the very start, and it may take you ten or fifteen minutes to sort it through. (A movie that makes you work a bit is a good thing.)
A guy I spoke to after the screening said that a woman sitting next to him was having issues with the violence. Which seems silly to me since Vice‘s shootings and sluggings aren’t the least bit gratuitous — it’s just honest, and it has nothing as cruel as the Brandon Routh-getting-half-kicked-to-death sequence in Superman Returns.
A very smart, somewhat snooty industry woman derided the final 10 minutes of the romantic arc between Colin Farrell and Gong Li as “a Sydney Pollack ending”. (I answered that Sydney Pollack endings work for me just fine. )
Another woman I spoke to didn’t care for the Thomson Viper photography — i.e., the sometimes grainy, sometimes-not texture.
So it wasn’t all happy camping at the Arclight, but the after-vibe was, I felt, one of general satisfaction.
The adventures of Smith and Grip-Boy in Austin, briefly recounted.
Not that anyone cares, but HE solemnly pledges to see The OH in Ohio sometime this weekend. That 25% Rotten Tomatoes rating, I’ll admit, hasn’t exactly gotten my hopes up, and those complaints about no nudity and an oddly asexual vibe haven’t added to the allure, but I feel strangely drawn regardless. Directed by Billy Kent from a script by Adam Wierzbianski, it’s about a somewhat arch and brittle Parkey Posey not having an orgasm with husband Paul Rudd, but eventually hitting paydirt in this regardwhen she runs into a kind of pool guy-sex guru played by Danny DeVito. I was speaking about this last night with colleagues outside of the Arclight after a Miami Vice screening (my second),. When I heard about this I asked, “How does DeVito administer the pleasuring?” and one of them replied, “He goes up on her.” (This is a great line, and I’ll give this guy credit for it if he gives permission.)
“Simply put, Snakes on a Plane (New Line, 8.18) wouldn’t work without Samuel L. Jackson. Even as the [film] escalates beyond any semblance of reality, Jackson anchors this film with an unwavering performance. Not once does he act like this flick is beneath him or is he playing camp, even when he takes an infamous request from the online community and delivers a line of exasperated dialogue that he’ll inevitably be associated with for the rest of his life…Jackson is fully committed here.” And once the action cranks up, “the director, screenwriters and snakes show no mercy. The attacks are unremitting and even child passengers get a taste of venom. This is the ultimate movie to see with an audience. There will be pandemonium in the theater, especially during the finale.” — Derek Flint on Ain’t It Cool.
People like me — i.e., those with some understanding of online technical issues, but lacking a Master Jedi Degree in advanced web skills — are currently being blocked from downloading the Mozilla ActiveX plugin, which means they are not permitted to view the new trailer for Hoax (Miramax, 11.3), the Lasse Hallstrom drama that will presumably turn up at the Toronto Film Festival.
It’s about the fraud that author Clifford Irving (Richard Gere) perpetrated in the ’70s by selling a fake Howard Hughes biography to McGraw-Hill. (I interviewed Irving for an EW piece 11 or 12 years ago.) The costars are Alfred Molina, Marcia Gay Harden, Julie Delpy and Hope Davis. If anyone sees the trailer, please let me know how it plays. Better yet, if anyone knows of a URL that allows you to download that infuritating Mozilla ActiveX plugin, please forward. Update: The trailer is viewable after all at another location.
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