Hey folks, Harry here with a couple of reports in on THE GREEN MILE... This first one by Shunderson isn't so much a review as much as it is coverage of the Directors Guild Of America screening that was held yesterday that also had a Q&A afterwards. As for the review here... That's left up to Quint, that squanching seaman from four fathoms down, here we go...
Today, there was a screening of the Green Mile at the DGA in LA, and after the 4 o'clock screening Frank Darabont himself came up to speak, interviewed by Jeremy Kagan.
I'll touch on the most interesting things Mr. Darabont talked about, first there was a standing ovation for the film and Frank, and then came the questions on the casting, especially Michael Clark "like the drink, not spelled like it, Coffey" Duncan. Who should be nominated for an Oscar for his role as James Coffey. And as has been previously mentioned, Bruce Willis was instrumental in bringing Duncan to the attention of Castle Rock and Frank Darabont. As Duncan and Willis were working on Armageddon, and Bruce was reading the Green Mile at the time.
Frank said that he then met with Duncan a couple of times before they finally decided on him. Frank also mentioned that there were two moments in the film that had to work, or they could have a "silly" movie on their hands, both involved Duncan. The first scene was when Coffey talks to James Cromwell's wife for the first time, and tells her that he "sees" her tumor. The second scene involves Coffey as he explains why he wants to be executed. Both of the moments were pulled off brilliantly by Duncan, and Frank still says "oh my God" everytime he sees the "glass in my head" speech made by Duncan.
Interestingly enough, when they were shooting the "glass in my head scene" with Duncan, Frank says that they started out with the master shot, very wide. But that Duncan just nailed the scene, so they went right for the close up that is in the movie, and they only shot that scene a couple of times.
In regards to the rehearsals for the movie, on Shawshank, they had two weeks, but that with Green Mile, he didn't feel like they needed much rehearsal.
A question about his working habits with Stephen King was brought up, and Frank said that he wrote the script, sent a copy to Stephen, he read it and said, "Good luck." To which Frank replied, "It's good to be trusted." Frank also had good words to say about Castle Rock and the fact that they didn't interfere at all with the movie.
When asked about the length of the film, which clocks in at 165 minutes, Frank said that after the Scottsdale, AZ test screening, which WB says was the best test screening they ever had, Frank had no problems.
Frank has the highest praise for his crew, especially his DP, David Tattersall, his production designer, Terence Marsh, who after Frank saw that he worked on Lawrence of Arabia, wondered why he would want to work on Shawshank, and his editor Richard Francis-Bruce, who Frank trusts so much that he stopped watching the dallies on Green Mile, and said that Richard would have told him if something was wrong.
Also, shooting, which was done mostly indoors on sets designed by Terence Marsh, all except for the Warden's office, was hard because there were so many people in different areas of the "green mile" set. For instance, when Tom Hanks brings in corn bread for Coffey, it is only a two page scene, but there is coverage of Coffey in his cell, Eduard Delacroix in his cell, and "Billy the Kid" in his cell. And there was a part with David Morse and Tom Hanks in the beginning of the scene that had to be cut.
Plus there were the problems of shooting through prison bars, and keeping the actors eyes visible at all time, or it gets weird, says Frank Darabont, it just creeps you out.
There was a question from the audience, interestingly enough, posed by Fred Savage of "The Wonder Years" fame, he asked about the scenes of movies within his movies. Most notably the scene of Fred Astaire in his famous "cheek to cheek" song and dance and it's use in the Green Mile. Apparently this was created by Frank for the Green Mile. He said that there was a scene in the book in which the old Paul Edgecombe was watching a Richard Widmark movie, in a retirement home, which reminded him of Percy Wetmore. But instead, in the movie, Frank used the Astaire "pure, good moment" to trigger Paul's memory, and later shows the origin of the memory when Coffey sees a movie for the first time.
And to wrap it up, I liked the movie, but it's not perfect.
And now we go to Quint who squanches like none other...
Hey, there Constant Readers, everybody's favorite crusty seaman and world class squancher here once again, this time with a review of a film that is probably the most anticipated film left in 1999, The Green Mile.
I'll skip the usual intro. stuff as to how I got to see the movie. It's pretty boring this time (while I was dropping some chum markers I got a call on the CB aboard the Orca telling me when and where, etc.) and I know that some picky talkbackers don't like the adventurous storytelling before their reviews. Now, I'm not cutting it short to appease those talkbackers, but like I said before, it was pretty boring.
Anyway, I've been a huge Stephen King fan since I started reading more adult novels back in the kiddie scissors class days. I've read every novel he's published, some more than once. I, like most of you, ate up the Green Mile every month when each 100 page book came out a year or two ago. I just love the spell that King can cast over me when I read his novels. I love his diversity. I can read IT, then pick The Body (Stand By Me), Green Mile, Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption, or even his darker Bachman books (of which The Long Walk is my favorite). The one thing all his novels have in common, and the reason why it's so easy for him to do different types of novels and short stories, is the incredible way he can realize a character. That's the key to all of his novels. He writes terrific, interesting characters. Since he can right these characters, he doesn't need to depend on the horror formula, or the sci-fi formula or the drama formula to move his story along. And he was in top form in this department with Green Mile, as most of you know.
What most of you might not be so sure of is that Frank Darabont was also in top form realizing King's terrifically flawed and vulnerable characters to script format. And Tom Hanks as Paul Edgecomb, Michael Clarke Duncan as John Coffey ("Like the drink, 'sept spelt diffrent"), David Morse as Brutal, etc are all in top form in putting flesh to the characters put forth by King and then by Darabont. The Green Mile is one of those instances where the planets align just perfectly, the stars glow brighter and the world is just a happier place. King wrote a great book. The great book got into the right hands and a great script came forth. The great script got to right actors and just like that, with a little help via a terrific score, you have The Green Mile, which more than lives up to the hype it has already developed.
I'm going to take it that most of you reading this review already know the plotline, have either heard what the movie's about or read the books or even that early draft of the script that was floating around out there. If you don't know what the film's about, then go check out www.imdb.com and do a search on Green Mile. You'll get what you're looking for there.
Tom Hanks-Jesus, this guy's greedy! Tom, honestly, do you really need all those Oscars? Do you? Why do you keep making it so hard for other actors to compete? I mean, honestly! I know you said you needed that row in the garage so they'll reflect the headlights so you don't bump into the wall, but c'mon! Give someone else a chance, will ya'!
Michael Clarke Duncan- Yeah, yeah. That big guy from Armageddon. Know what I say to that? So-the-fuck-what? This movie also stars a man that started his career cross-dressing on TV. Michael Duncan is just magical in this movie. If he hadn't worked out, The Green Mile wouldn't have worked out. He had the burden of being the heart and soul of this movie, granted he was helped out along the way by Tom Hanks and Mr. Jingles... but the point is he effortlessly pulled it off. I never for one moment during the whole 3 hours of this movie thought, "Hey, look. There's Bear in a jail cell." He will forever be John Coffey for me. When Coffey was hurt, you saw the pain in his eyes, you heard it in his voice, you saw it in the tremble of his lip. When he was happy, you could just see the joy pouring out of him. I'm not too terribly big on throwing around phrases like "Oscar-calibre performance" but if the shoe fits...
Those were the big two. I could go on for thousands of words about the rest, but I'll spare ya' that. Suffice it to say that the supporting cast is just as great. Harry Dean Stanton rocks as Old Toot, Bonnie Hunt is great as Edgecomb's wife, Michael Jeter is terrific as Del, a guy that doesn't have the greatest time in the world in this flick. The list goes on: Willem Dafoe, Gary Sinise, James Cromwell... all give career high performances.
All right, I left out one star. Mr. Jingles. It's amazing what this actor can do. I can't wait to see what he does next.
What about the effects? How do the flies look? I know there's been some worries about making the flies (you know what this is if you've read the book and if you haven't, then you will know soon enough) too CGI. I can attest that they do not look fake and do not hinder, only heighten, the film.
I think I've made it abundantly clear that I love this movie. I know some people won't like the 3 hr. running time. Pardon me, but fuck 'em. And shame on them! This is a great movie, with great characters, a great story, great music, and with Quint's world record (in 1999) for the highest number of amazing performances in one single movie. If all you have to not like about this movie is that it makes your butt hurt, then just quit your bitchin'.
In all seriousness, though, if you liked Shawshank Redemption, you'll go ape-shit over Green Mile. I hope all of you Constant Readers enjoy this movie as much as I did. I can't wait to see it again. I love the way this movie made me feel and makes me feel still. If you can get that same experience out of the film, then you'll know exactly what I mean and be spouting off like a madman (or Crusty Seaman for that matter) just like I've been doing in this whole review. Green Mile is case in point why films are made. Every once in a while, you'll get a Green Mile, or a Cuckoo's Nest, or a Shawshank. It makes putting up with Pokemon and the like easier to handle.
Till next time, Constant Readers, this is Quint. Over and out.