Let's see what's going on at Cannes. Spike Lee is mad, Hollywood's not buying anything, pandas are doing kung fu and Tommy Lee Jones is starring in a movie named after a Dolly Parton song. Sounds like a typical day in France to me.
- First up: Spike Lee, one of the few directors working today who, for good and bad, still has his own immediately identifiable style, took the Coens and Dirty Harry to task for their most recent movies. He chides the Coens, his former NYU classmates, for taking death too lightly. "Look, I love the Coen brothers; we all studied at NYU. But they treat life like a joke. Ha ha ha. A joke. It's like, 'Look how they killed that guy! Look how blood squirts out the side of his head!' I see things different than that." Spike, if Javier Bardem wants to be cast in your next film, RUN.
Dealing with talent in Hollywood can be an eye-opening experience, especially for a renowned French director such as Bertrand Tavernier venturing into the strange world of U.S. filmmaking and the even more bizarre work environment that comes with hiring Tommy Lee Jones. The Oscar-winning actor is a gifted performer to be sure, but to say his reputation is prickly is an understatement. I witnessed first-hand one incident and heard from another entertainment reporter of another instance where Jones reduced a reporter to tears. (In fact, at a roundtable interview with the actor I sat at years ago, the reporters decided ahead of time who would knock him unconscious with one of the Perrier bottles if Jones got out of hand.) Tavernier's In the Electric Mist also co-stars John Goodman, Ned Beatty and Mary Steenburgen, but Tavernier tried to refrain from talking details about Jones during an interview with Geoffrey McNabb yesterday in The Guardian. Apparently, Jones won't do what Tavernier has made a semi-trademark in his films. Was it something startling such as full-frontal nudity? A strange or unseemly sex act? No. Tommy Lee Jones doesn't like to be filmed eating on camera. "Tommy Lee Jones is one of the greatest actors I have seen or worked with. He is very intelligent and educated. When you say 'Action!' he is great," Tavernier told McNabb, who asked about what Jones was like when the camera was off. Tavernier paused. "It varies," he said before pausing again. "Let's say that I love Philippe Noiret."
Tommy Lee Jones is suing Paramount for money (specifically, $10 million) he wasn't paid on the back-end of No Country For Old Men, and while I usually don't have a lot of sympathy for actors, what with all their money and perks and luxury, I have even less for movie studios. Plus, it sounds like Paramount is trying to get out of giving Jones the kind of money they used to lure him into being in the film.