For the unpardonable sin of having directed and written a moving, strongly acted, mostly well-received and somewhat profitable Adam Sandler film called Reign Over Me (’07), Mike Binder was arrested and charged with intent to make dramadies, found guilty and sent to Movie Jail. (It’s not widely known that Movie Jail is a real-deal, privately-funded correctional facility, located just east of Bakersfield.) Binder was furloughed from time to time for acting gigs, meetings and tennis lessons, but he wasn’t fully “sprung” — i.e., allowed to direct again — until last summer when he began shooting Black and White, a racially-tinged parenting drama starring Kevin Costner, Jillian Estell, Octavia Spencer and Andre Holland. The film has been fine-tuned and will probably be part of the fall conversation, but first things first. Binder is one of the few directors left who are into character-driven, human-scale films about flawed guys enduring loss, failure, transitions, relationship breakthroughs, etc. Remember The Upside of Anger? Remember Anthony Lane’s review of Reign Over Me?
Black and White director-writer Mike Binder, Kevin Costner during filming last summer.
Kevin Costner, costar Jillien Estell.
The only thing that scares me about Binder’s film right now, sight unseen, is the title. Black and White sounds too Michael Jackson, not to mention Steve Wonder and Paul McCartney. Old-hat baggage. Then again a good movie with that title would redefine it.
Speaking of Movie Jail, what other directors, right now, are doing time in Bakersfield and for what “crimes” exactly?