Thursday, February 22, 2007

On Her Majesty's Secret Service

You’ve seen Skyfall now how about taking a look at the other best James Bond movie you’ve never seen?

Ask a hardcore Bond aficionado what his favorite 007 entry is, and there’s a very good chance the answer will be On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

We don’t necessarily want to make bold claims as to what the best Bond movie is, as it differs from person to person, but Majesty’s should be Top Five material for any die-hard fan of the franchise. The film is littered with all kinds of “firsts” and “onlys” — both in front of and behind the camera — but the most obvious is of course its lead, George Lazenby, and it’s with Lazenby that, for better or worse, most talk of the film begins (but should by no means end).

In the year 2013, we take for granted the changing of the lead actor within the Bond series, as we’ve now had a half a dozen different 007s, but back in the late sixties there was only one James Bond, and his name was Sean Connery. During the production of You Only Live Twice Connery decided to exit the franchise that made him a household name (though as we now know today, he’d return to the character not once, but twice), however, quite understandably, the producers of the series weren’t finished telling their stories, and the public seemed far from tired of 007’s adventures.

So there was really only one option and that was to recast. The search was extensive, but in the end Bond producers decided on a complete unknown – Lazenby – a model with virtually zero acting experience. Regardless, Albert Broccoli was certain he could transform the man into his new James Bond.

Read the rest of the piece by clicking here and visiting Bullz-Eye.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Jackie Earle Haley on Jimmy Kimmel

I must admit I'm not the biggest Kimmel fan, but he managed to pull one of the most fun interviews out of Jackie I've seen yet.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Adios Lobo and Hola Kevin Cacy

The Sunday before last, while many Americans indulged in that bizarre, violent spectacle known as the Super Bowl, Kevin Cacy was indulging in a very different bizarre, violent spectacle: The Spaghetti Western. Also separating him from the masses? He wasn’t watching entertaining commercials, he was making one of his own.

Adios Lobo is Cacy’s response to the Robert Rodriguez-sponsored Grindhouse trailer competition, which was announced last month. Filmmakers like Cacy had less than a month to throw together an exploitation-themed trailer for potential screening at the SXSW Film Festival in Austin in early March. Assuming a handful of auteurs may already have had footage of some kind in the can, what about the many who only had ideas in their head?

Cacy invested $2,300 into his two minutes, called in a bunch of favors, rounded up a cast & crew of somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 people and headed for Enchanted Springs Ranch in Boerne, TX. From a 10:15 AM call to a 9:40 PM wrap, Kevin helmed an abbreviated version of a story he someday hopes to expand into a feature-length project. He then spent the following week editing – submissions were due by 5:30 PM on the Austin. At 2:30 that day, he was still putting the finishing touches on it at Matchframe in San Antonio. In true maverick filmmaker style, the drive up to A-Town was nothing short of harrowing. (If you know anything about Austin traffic, the real "miracle" here is Kevin getting it in on time.)

Does his Grindhouse entry serve as an adequate representation of his ultimate vision? Not quite, Kevin told me last night. “The feature version of Adios Lobo would probably be more along the lines of The Proposition rather than the exploitation angle I’m working for the competition.”

Kevin nabbed a small role as a zombie in Rodriguez's "Planet Terror" segment of Grindhouse, an experience he acknowledges as "inspirational". He also spent hours holding a boom mic on the set of Ravenswan, an experience I'll acknowledge for him as "tedious". Yet clearly the two-minute version of Adios Lobo has been the greatest inspiration of the many movie hats he's worn over the past few years and it's given him the confidence necessary to pursue the eventual expanded version. Check out the trailer for yourself:

And after you’re done with that, head over to Ain’t It Cool News and sift through the many other trailers that have been created for the competition.


So I send out this piece to a few people who I think might care, and lo and behold I get a missive back from my buddy Lee Sparks, who resides in Austin. Turns out he's also had a hand in the Grindhouse trailer madness and is involved in Cong of the Dead. In Lee's own words:

"This is a trailer for a movie that will never exist. The zombie stuff was shot concurrently with production on the feature length stop motion film Viva The Nam, which is currently in post production here in Austin. The primary creators are Paul Hanley (Director) and Kieran Healy (DP, Chief Editor). They do the lion's share of the work. I am probably most accurately described as "Hanger-On #1," and have recorded mountains of incidental dialogue for peripheral characters, a few principal characters too, and have been a chief contributor to the project since its inception about 7 years ago. I'm most proud of the heavy vehicles constructed for the film and a lot of the "SFX dummies" that get blown apart."

The work these guys do is very distinctive, and I've seen the "prequel" to Viva the Nam, a 30-minute piece titled Viva La Guerra. Ain't It Cool must have added Cong on one of their updates as I'd have recognized it as Lee's handiwork had I noticed it when first hammering around the page. Looksee below:

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Sleestak: An Appreciation

The Rued Morgue requests that you share any and all Sleestak thoughts and memories below. Doesn't matter how sleesey they are, the Morgue will not judge. We only celebrate all that is Sleestakular.

When I look all around
I can't believe the things I've found
Now I need to find my way!
I'm lost, I'm lost, find me...
Livin' in the Land of the Lost!!!

Friday, February 02, 2007

Pimping Jackie

Two items of business before moving forward...

1. Nightline will profile Jackie Earle Haley on Monday night. Read all about it in Jeanne's column and be sure to tune in. Updated!! Nightline just informed Jeanne the piece has been moved to Tuesday!

2. If you're a San Antonio resident who missed Little Children during its three-week run at the Crossroads Bijou, the good news is it's starting another run today at the AMC Huebner Oaks 24 with showtimes at 11:40 AM, 3:00 PM, 6:40 & 9:50. Not in San Antonio? Check out this map of its showtimes around the country. The movie is powerful regardless of where you see it, but I cannot recommend a big screen viewing highly enough.

Here's a bizarre trailer for Little Children that somehow made its way onto YouTube. It reminds me of the mashup trailers that are all the rage these days, and I kept waiting for "Solsbury Hill" to start playing in the background. Great example of how to misrepresent the tone of a film through marketing, and yet this is the sort of thing would get some butts in seats regardless. If you've seen the movie, what's really cool about this trailer is that it's full of little bits and pieces that didn't make it into the finished film.

Yes, my ongoing quest to pimp Jackie's wares continues...which isn't to imply he needs my help; he's clearly doing just fine on his own. I didn't pimp All the King's Men with this sort of fervor, so Jackie's awards, noms and attention aside, the deal is that I really dig the flick. If there's one thing I love doing here at the Morgue, it's selling stuff I believe in. Add a bud into the mix and I'll work to sell it twice as hard.

Joe Gillis: I didn't know you were planning a comeback.

Norma Desmond: I hate that word. It's a return!

As a friend paying very close attention to the media coverage of Jackie's "return", I sometimes feel frustrated by the repetition of the many interviews & articles I read. This isn't to bag on any of those interviewers and/or writers who've so graciously covered what's happened with him over the past couple months. How else is a person to write about someone like Jackie?

On nearly every occasion I've been in a position to mention his film history to one of the uninitiated, it typically comes down to saying "You know, the guy who rode the motorcycle and smoked cigarettes in the Bad News Bears movies - the bad boy." Sometimes people get it at that point--sometimes not. So yeah, when writers cover Jackie, inevitably stuff like Kelly Leak & Breaking Away and words like "comeback" and "return" should be mentioned, otherwise readers might be lost.

An anecdote: The night Ravenswan premiered here in S.A. - to a packed auditorium of over 300 people - Jackie was amongst the crowd. Before the movie, I did a little trivia competition with the audience and gave away various goodies.

One of my questions was "Local actor, writer and director Jackie Earle Haley had a small but important role in what movie directed by John Schlesinger?" Silence. One person raised a hand: Bad News Bears? Nope. Someone else: Breaking Away? No, Schlesinger didn't direct that either. My memory may be faulty, but I swear somebody answered "Midnight Cowboy", which was at least a good guess, but since Jackie wasn't in it, no dice. After the crowd started looking at me like I was an asshole, I said "The Day of the Locust. Nobody here has seen The Day of the Locust?". Crickets...or maybe locusts...I dunno.

After the screening, and after Jackie bestowed some gracious kudos upon me (he'd seen the rough cut of Ravenswan, which didn't inspire much hope), I mentioned the trivia question. He rolled his eyes and said, "Dude - come on. Nobody was gonna get that one."

I look forward to the day when the Bears flicks aren't the only means to identify Jackie. Another famous child actor named Jackie - Jackie Cooper - worked well into his latter years and he also never escaped his childhood work from the Little Rascals/Our Gang shorts. But I guess "the creepy pedophile from that one movie with Kate Winslet" isn't how one wants to go through life either. (Haven't spoken to him on the issue, so that's only supposition.) There's the case of Ned Beatty, a guy who reputedly hates talking about his debut film, Deliverance -- the one flick for which he's still most well-known. Or maybe Ned just doesn't appreciate strangers coming up and demanding he squeal like a pig? I can understand that. (The fact that both Jackie Cooper and Ned Beatty appeared in the Superman movies only just hit me.) As an actor, I guess no matter when or where you are in your career, you'll always be subjected to someone bringing up your past work. Look no further than Traci Lords for proof of that. Or George Clooney, who cannot escape The Facts of Life or that crappy sitcom from the mid '80s called E/R.

I continue to applaud Jackie for not only his spectacular work in Little Children, but also for pursuing and taking on the role of Ronnie in the first place. It was a huge gamble that easily could've backfired (same goes for Ned Beatty). It's difficult to imagine an actor more solidified in his career agreeing to the risky job of breathing life into such an ambiguous character. It's equally difficult to imagine it working with a more well-known actor.

Sometime between now and Oscar night I'm doing an interview with Jackie that will appear at The House Next Door, but he's got to hightail it back to S.A. in order for me to do it - the guy's been insanely out of pocket over the past couple weeks (as you might imagine). It won't and can't be like most of the other interviews he's given. There's no way it could be as I can't pretend to be even remotely objective. Hopefully it'll be one of those unique pieces that could only come from the belly of the blogger underworld. So stay tuned folks...and there's more 007 in '007 around the corner as well!