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!