Do you ever get sick of films that obviously have a large amount of improv? I'm fine with a few riffs here or there, but sometimes I long for tighter editing and, you know, actual writing. A line that I loved in The AV Club's excellent "Michael Schur walks us through Parks And Recreation" article series was when showrunner Schur was discussing the use of improvisation on his series and noted, "[W]e have many, many times thrown away jokes that we thought were way funnier than the stuff we wrote because, completely unintentionally, in the moment, they alter the scene. They change the motivation of the character or they indicate that the character doesn't care about something that he or she cares about or something. And I will always cut those jokes out because it's never worth sacrificing the scene or the story or the character for one joke."
A lot of people hate Paul Haggis -- the director and screenwriter behind The Next Three Days -- because he also wrote 2004's Crash, a bad movie that was wildly overrated at the time of its release. Fair enough, I guess, but since Crash's reputation has been readjusted so effectively over the past six years, I'm personally over its ludicrous Oscar win and focusing more on the fact that Haggis also wrote a damn good Bond movie (Casino Royale), and this thing, The Next Three Days, which is a much better thriller than its over-the-top trailers make it out to be.
Ah, the fun you could have with the new trailer for W., Ollie Stone's biopic of our current president! The latest trailer's use of scenes, music and credits can all be pulled apart for your enjoyment. The strangest thing about it is that it seems to be missing Stone's penchant for controversy. Sure, it has several scenes with different film stocks, like Natural Born Killers, and scenes of binge drinking set to George Thorogood songs, but other than that, it comes off rather ordinary. Until you start reading between the lines, that is.
Since its inception in 1990, the MPAA has slapped the NC-17 on several undeserving movies. It has also withheld said application on more deserving films, either due to public fear or corporate pressure. Both cases yield ridiculous results. For example, Martin Lawrence's comedy concert film, You So Crazy, is rated NC-17, yet Mel Gibson's The Passion is rated R. One film spends 90 minutes talking about crap, Prince and getting a piece, the other spends over two hours beating the crap out of the Prince of Peace. Actions speak louder than words, and should be rated as such. If I go on a date, and we spend the evening talking, that's R (for profanity and sex-related begging). If I'm invited upstairs "for coffee" at the end of the date, that's NC-17 (for graphic sexu--oh, who am I kidding--for brief sexuality and extreme charity). Kevin Smith probably used a similar example when the MPAA rated his actionless film Clerks NC-17. He had more 'splainin' to do than Lucy Ricardo, however, when they slapped the dreaded rating on his latest, Zach and Mimi Make A Porno.
The always amusing Oliver Stone has rounded out more of the cast for his film W, telling the story of President Bush's formative years. Since that is the time period, the casting of Josh Brolin as Dubya and Elizabeth Banks as Laura makes more sense. To play the elder Bushes, Stone has picked James Cromwell as George H.W. and Ellen Burstyn as Barbara. Who knows what Stone has up his sleeve, but it could turn out well. I liked his Nixon, especially Anthony Hopkins's performance since Hopkins, like Philip Baker Hall in Robert Altman's great Secret Honor, didn't try to do an imitation and ended up being more successful at capturing Tricky Dick's essence. Too often, of late, mimicry has been substituted for actual acting (I'm looking in your general direction, Marion Cotillard). Still, I am disappointed that Stone isn't planning to cover the past seven years of Dubya's administration, because I have an off-the-wall casting suggestion for Dick Cheney: Larry David. Really, David's version of himself on Curb Your Enthusiasm resembles Cheney in the way his intentions usually result in chaos, though at least Larry's heart is usually in the right place. Besides, Stone usually provides lots of laughs, at least when he's not trying to be funny (take Natural Born Killers -- please). I know that many would argue that there is nothing to laugh about concerning the missions accomplished and not accomplished by the Bush administration. Still, I have to paraphrase Albert Brooks's line in Broadcast News after his disastrous stint hosting the weekend news: At some point, the Bush administration got so off-the-chart bad, it just got funny.
Not one day after our own Odie Henderson demanded that the movie-going world stop laughing at on-screen penises, Kevin Smith has promised full-frontal male nudity in his newest comedy, Zack and Miri Make a Porno. In an interview with MTV, Smith admitted that Jason Mewes would let it all hang out in what he called "a comedically drawn caricature of not just sex, but porno sex." Not 24 hours have passed, and he's already setting the movement back. Sorry, Odie.