Hey folks, Harry here. I want to address the first paragraph of Moriarty's. What was Harry doing in the bathroom to make all that noise? Well... To be honest I was trying to shove a video unit in my belly button and run fibre optics just under my skin and out of my index finger to try to capture the LORD OF THE RINGS footage. Unfortunately I didn't clean my fingernails, so the footage when we got back to the room was unusable. Sorry folks... Meanwhile, Moriarty was throwing back more of his infamous Mountain Dew and Jack Daniel drinks... MONGOSPLITZ.
After Harry and I threw all those photos and my earlier report online for you guys, we had a little time to kill before the back-to-back films of Monday's indie showcase. I did a quick read of the screenplays for OCEAN'S ELEVEN (the draft that got Soderbergh to sign on to the film) and THE GIFT (Sam Raimi's Southern gothic suspense film) while Harry did something loud and nasty in the bathroom for a little over an hour. I'm sure he's making an animated version of it for the upper left-hand corner of the page right now. Once he finished, he suggested we leave immediately, so we made our way over to the Bally's Grand Ballroom. Last year, that was the main ShoWest site. This year, it's host to the ShoWest Trade Show.
We'll report in more depth on the sights and sounds of the Trade Show tomorrow, since this afternoon was just a preview of the full thing. The forty minutes or so we spent there was more than enough time to find the Paramount booth, where we were given another swag bag. This one had a RULES OF ENGAGEMENT pullover, these super-bitchin' SHAFT police pins, and a groovy MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 2 mug and coaster set.
The main highlight of the Paramount booth was the amazing new M:I2 trailer that was being shown repeatedly, the same one we'll be hosting this coming Thursday. Let me just warn you guys: if you liked the teaser, you will lose your freakin' minds when you see the new one. It starts pretty much the same, with the shots of Cruise on the mountainside slipping, almost falling, then getting the call on his sunglasses. When he throws them this time, though, and they explode, the theme kicks in with this crazy, hard new arrangement as we get our first look at the characters. There's a few glimpses of Dougray Scott, but not enough to really judge. There's plenty of Thandie Newton, though, and she is absolutely smoking in the new trailer.
Right away, there's a fun adult tone to the whole endeavor. Part of that is due to the smoldering sexuality in those early shots of Newton and Cruise together when he asks her, "Do you know me?" She gives him a wicked look and says, "No... should I?" Most of it, though, is due to the presence of Anthony Hopkins. It looks like director John Woo and screenwriter Robert Towne have given Hopkins all the good lines. He warns Cruise that "somewhere out there is the mother of all nightmares," presumably the virus that the film is centered around. Even more fun, though, are the little flurries of dialogue between Hopkins and Cruise. When Cruise protests using Newton on the mission, saying, "She's got no training for this kind of thing," Hopkins gives him a withering gaze. "What? To go to bed with a man and lie to him? She's a woman," he replies. "She's got all the training she needs." The best is saved for last, when Cruise complains, "I don't think I can do it." Hopkins practically snorts, "You mean it will be difficult? This isn't a mission: difficult, Mr. Hunt. It's a mission: impossible." That's when the whole trailer goes mad monkey kung-fu crazy with shots of wild martial arts fighting, crazy car and motorcycle stunts, and various other wild action scenes. It really looks like the time and money has paid off with something big and beautiful and exhilarating. I pray the film makes good on that promise.
By the time we'd made one quick round of the Trade Show floor, we were ready to go hop on the bus that would take us to the Orleans Hotel, where their Century Theater 12-plex was hosting the indie film showcase. We were the first bus to arrive, and we were very early, so we sat in the theater listening to the soundtracks to MAGNOLIA and MAN ON THE MOON. Just before the film began, a couple of young guys walked in and introduced themselves as Derick and Steve Martini, the stars/co-writers/co-producers of GOAT ON FIRE & SMILING FISH, the film Harry and I were there to see. They were accompanied by Kevin Jordan, the film's director and co-writer. All of them seemed incredibly young, incredibly excited about showing the film, and very open and friendly. I was actually a little reluctant to meet them, though. It's hard to be fair to a film, pro or con, if you have a real human face right there in front of you. As a result, I spoke to them only briefly before going back to my notebook.
As for the film itself, it's a wonderful, sweet little diversion that Stratosphere will be rolling out early this fall. The story of two brothers who are going through key changes in terms of life and love, this is one of those honest little character pictures that doesn't layer on the hip and the arch and the pop cultural self-referential sense of humor. Instead, it paints a real portrait of how hard it is to not only make a connection with someone, but to maintain it. Christa Miller, who appears each week as Kate on THE DREW CARREY SHOW, does a wonderful job as a single mom who meets Tony and falls for him. He's the womanizer of the two brothers, but he's really affected by this woman and her ten-year-old daughter. At the same time, Chris is torn between a relationship he's been floundering in for years and the promise of new romance with Anna, an Italian animal wrangler played by the almost criminally sexy Rosemarie Addeo. As he wrestles with his choices, he is also becoming entangled in a strange and special friendship with Clive, the elderly uncle of his boss. Bill Henderson does wonderful work in the film, serving as a sort of guide, trying to give Chris a road map through the trickier parts of love.
There's a sort of subplot in the film that I was entirely unprepared for involving the separate cinema of the first part of this century, the work of talented black performers and technicians. It turns out Clive met his wife while working with the legendary Paul Robeson. His stories about those days of filmmaking are moving both for what they say about him and about the actual industry. I loved this material for the same reason I loved the use of the Astaire material in THE GREEN MILE. There's a recognition on the part of the filmmakers that film is part of our consciousness, woven into the fabric of our memories. Kevin Jordan has an easy, natural style as a filmmaker, never obtrusive, and the quiet confidence of all those involved makes the film a real joy. When the film opens nationally in the fall, find it and see it. GOAT ON FIRE & SMILING FISH is one of the year's first sleepers to sneak up on me, and I am delighted that it did.
Now, I could spend several paragraphs telling you about why we skipped out on the second movie. I could tell you what OG means in Vegas. I could tell you about lapdances from lovely ladies with names like Ninotchka and Viagra. I could tell you why I didn't get to sleep until after 4:00 in the morning. I've already lost enough time today, though, and there's my New Line piece to write and the Miramax dinner to attend, so I'll just say that Vegas has been great fun so far and move on to the more pressing matters at hand. Until then...