“Reservoir Dogs” Trivia from Quentin Tarantino

Matt Hoffman and Film School Rejects present What We Learned While Revisiting Reservoir Dogs with Quentin Tarantino.  Here are two of my favorite things…

Tarantino learned a lot about his characters when a producer gave him the advice to search for the subtext.
“Just writing down the obvious opened up different avenues, different thoughts, and so you think you’re writing one line and you write three, or four, and all of a sudden I started realizing, ‘Oh wow, this is kind of a father-son story.’ “Isn’t it interesting that throughout the whole piece Mr. White keeps telling Mr. Orange ‘Wait for Joe, wait for Joe and when Joe gets here he’s going to take care of everything.” Well when Joe gets there he’s come to kill Mr. Orange. And the whole interesting thing at the end, which I hadn’t thought about frankly, which is that Mr. White is kind of almost a de facto son character for Joe, and Mr. Orange has become a de facto son character for Mr. White. At the end, Mr. White has to choose between his father and his son and he chooses his son but he’s wrong, but he’s wrong for all the right reasons. All that kind of started coming to me. So I finished it and I go, ‘Oh wow, that was a really interesting exercise…I never want to do this ever again.’

Working with Lawrence Tierney (Joe) was a nightmare.
“The worst moment on set was the last ten minutes of the last day of the first week we were shooting. Me and Larry got into a fist fight. It was more of a shoving match frankly. Harvey Keitel and Lawrence [Bender] broke it up. I fired Larry in front of everybody, the crew applauded because they’d hated him. Harvey told us to settle down and then he ran out and then Larry ran out. I took a walk around the trucks. I’d done nothing but shoot Lawrence Tierney all week long, so if I wanted to get fired, I’m going to get fired because they’re going to keep Larry. We have a week’s worth of footage. But I wasn’t going to put up with his ****. So I’m literally walking around the trailers thinking, “Well okay, you wanted to know how it’s going to end well it’s going to end this way. I guess it was nice while it lasted but I guess you’re not going to put up with ****, you’re going to go back to the video store but you’re not going to put up with ****. Aren’t you the smart guy?”

John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017)

John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017)

Director: Chad Stahelski

Screenplay: Derek Kolstad

Stars: Keanu Reeves, Riccardo Scamarcio, Ian McShane, Ruby Rose, Common, Laurence Fishburne, John Leguizamo, Bridget Moynahan and David Patrick Kelly.


The Pitch: “Hey, let’s make a sequel!”

Tagline: None

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

 

John Wick [Reeves] is still grieving the death of his wife when Santino D’Antonio shows up. D’Antonio expects Wick to fulfill a blood oath made when Wick was still in the business.  Wick plans to complete the hit and once again leave the life.  Instead Wick learns that D’Antonio has placed an open contract on him!

If you liked John Wick, you’ll dig Chapter 2.  Bring on Chapter 3!

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John Wick (2014)

John Wick (2014)

Director: Chad Stahelski, David Leitch (uncredited)

Screenplay: Derek Kolstad

Stars: Keanu Reeves, Michael Nyqvist, Alfie Allen, Willem Dafoe, Dean Winters, Adrianne Palicki, Bridget Moynahan, John Leguizamo, Ian McShane, Keith Jardine and Kevin Nash.


The Pitch: “Hey, let’s make an action movie that takes it to the next level!”

Tagline: Don’t Set Him Off!

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

 

John Wick [Reeves] is grieving the death of his wife.  A chance meeting with Iosef Tarasov, the privileged son of a Russian mobster, leads to  Tarasov and some of his thugs breaking into Wick’s house, beating him badly, killing his dog and stealing his prized vintage Mustang.

Tarasov learns way to late that Wick is a legendary retired hit man.  And now Wick is coming for revenge.

Chad Stahelski, David Leitch, Derek Kolstad and Keanu Reeves have created a unique world that is just slightly different from the one we live in.  It feels real.  Each character has a backstory that is told without it feeling like backstory.  The action is amazing.  I loved this movie and want more!!

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“The Big Sleep” Character Connections Score Card

The Big Sleep is a classic adaptation of Raymond Chandler’s novel of the same name.  There’s so much going on on-screen and off with so many twists and character interactions you can enjoy the ride without getting all of the details.  And don’t feel bad if you don’t.  Even the actors and film makers weren’t sure who committed one of the murders!

TATJANA SL has provided us a score card to keep track of all the characters and their relationships.

Amazing “John Wick: Chapter 2” Poster by Denys Cowan, Bill Sinkiewicz and Elizabeth Breitweiser

“Yeah.  I’m thinkin’…” this is the poster that they should have used for John Wick: Chapter 2.

I am so diggin’ this poster by Denys Cowan, Bill Sinkiewicz and Elizabeth Breitweiser.  As I was looking up the artist links I came across the slightly different version of the poster below.

Chef’s choice.

The Asphalt Jungle (1950)

The Asphalt Jungle (1950)

Director: John Huston

Screenplay: Ben Maddow and John Huston from a novel by W.R. Burnett 

Stars: Sterling Hayden, Louis Calhern, Jean Hagen, James Whitmore, Sam Jaffe, John McIntire, Marc Lawrence, Barry Kelley, Anthony Caruso and Marilyn Monroe.

The Pitch: “Hey, John Huston wants to make The Asphalt Jungle!”

Tagline: The City Under the City

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

Ex-con,  “Doc” Riedenschneider (Jaffe) brings together a team for a $750,000 heist.  Even though the job goes sideways, they get away with the money.  Then the double-crosses start.

Marilyn Monroe has a bit part — she wasn’t even listed in movie poster credits on the film’s initial release — but she made such an impact future posters featured her prominently.  The Asphalt Jungle made Marilyn a star!

John Huston with another classic!

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Thinner (1996)

Thinner (1996)

Director: Tom Holland

Screenplay: Michael McDowell  and Tom Holland

Stars: Robert John Burke, Lucinda Jenney, Bethany Joy Lenz, Howard Erskine, Joe Mantegna and Stephen King.

The Pitch: “Hey, let’s make a movie adaptation of Stephen King’s Thinner.”

Tagline: Let The Curse Fit The Crime.

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

When an obsese small town attorney accidentally runs over a gypsy woman, his friends (a judge and town cop) set things up to get him off without a charge.  The gypsy leader then places a curse on the three men that will leave them dead after suffering horribly.

My problem with Thinner is that there is no one to root for.  All of the leads are bad people. The lawyer, his wife, his friends — even the gypsies.   Also about three quarters in the film changes into an action/revenge movie with lots of shooting and blowing up things… but since you don’t know or care about the characters…

An somewhat interesting misfire…

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The Getaway (1972)

The Getaway (1972)

Director: Sam Peckinpah

Screenplay: Walter Hill

Stars: Steve McQueen, Ali MacGraw, Ben Johnson, Sally Struthers, Al Lettieri, Slim Pickens, Dub Taylor, Jack Dodson and Bo Hopkins.

The Pitch: “Hey, Steve McQueen wants to star in an adaptation Jim Thompson’s The Getaway directed by Sam Peckinpah!”

Tagline: They’re Hot – McQueen/MacGraw

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

 

An ex-con (McQueen) and his wife are on the run after a bank robbery double-cross.

I saw this when I was 14 years old and it left an impression.  How could it not?  McQueen backed by a great cast, a Walter Hill adaptation of Jim Thompson’s novel and directed by Sam Peckinpah!  It holds up.  If you like crime stories then this one is for you!

 

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25 Fascinating Facts About “Breaking Bad”

Jennifer Wood and Mental_Floss present 25 Fascinating Facts About Breaking Bad.  Here are three of my favorites…

2. THE NETWORK REALLY WANTED MATTHEW BRODERICK TO STAR.

It’s impossible to imagine Breaking Bad with anyone other than Bryan Cranston in the lead role, but he wasn’t as well known when the series kicked off, and AMC wanted a star. They were particularly interested in casting either Matthew Broderick or John Cusack in the lead.

“We all still had the image of Bryan shaving his body in Malcolm in the Middle,” a former AMC executive told The Hollywood Reporter about their initial reluctance to cast Cranston. “We were like, ‘Really? Isn’t there anybody else?’” But Gilligan had worked with Cranston before, on an episode of The X-Files, and knew he had the chops to navigate the quirks of the part. The network brass watched the episode, and agreed.

“We needed somebody who could be dramatic and scary yet have an underlying humanity so when he dies, you felt sorry for him,” Gilligan said. “Bryan nailed it.”

10. GILLIGAN GOT SOME HELP FROM THE WALKING DEAD CREW FOR FRING’S FINAL EPISODE.

Fring’s final sendoff is one of the most memorable visual images from the entire series—and they were able to enlist the help of some true gore experts. “Indeed we did have great help from the prosthetic effects folks at The Walking Dead,” Gilligan told The New York Times. “And I want to give a shout-out to Greg Nicotero and Howard Berger, and KNB EFX, those two gentlemen and their company, because their shop did that effect. And then that was augmented by the visual effects work of a guy named Bill Powloski and his crew, who digitally married a three-dimensional sculpture that KNB EFX created with the reality of the film scene. So you can actually see into and through Gus’s head in that final reveal. It’s a combination of great makeup and great visual effects. And it took months to do.”

15. HEISENBERG’S SIGNATURE HAT WAS A MATTER A PRACTICALITY.

Heisenberg’s porkpie hat came to identify Walter White’s dark side, but it originated from a very practical place. “Bryan kept asking me, after he shaved his head, ‘Can I have a hat?’ because his head was cold,” Kathleen Detoro, the show’s costume designer, explained. “So I would ask Vince and he kept saying no; Jesse wore the hats. Finally, Vince said, ‘I think there’s a place …’ It was Bryan asking for a hat, me asking Vince, and then Vince figuring out where in the story it makes sense: It’s when he really becomes Heisenberg.” (If you want to buy your own Heisenberg hat, it was made by Goorin.)

13 Wild Facts About “Wild Things”

Garin Pirnia and Mental_Floss present 13 Wild Facts About Wild Things.  Here are three of my favorites…

2. ROBERT DOWNEY JR. ALMOST PLAYED THE MATT DILLON ROLE.
Pre-Iron Man, Robert Downey Jr. had been chosen to play the school counselor, but his drug issues endangered the production. “It was during his rehab, and he’d just been on Diane Sawyer’s show,” John McNaughton told Entertainment Weekly. “And to the people in Hollywood, that was a great career move. That made him hot.” The film’s insurance didn’t want to cover the actor, though, as Downey Jr. was too much of a liability.

6. THE CAST HAD TROUBLE KEEPING THE LIES STRAIGHT.
“To determine their motivation in each scene, the cast had to gather with the director, writers, and producers to establish the sequence of events,” Bacon said. “We’d sit in rehearsals trying to piece together what was going on in the script, whom we were lying to about what, and it’d just get so complicated we’d have to stop and rest.”

9. A DEAD BODY FLOATED INTO THE PRODUCTION.
While Campbell and Daphne Rubin-Vega filmed a scene near a swamp, a dead body rose to the surface. “All of a sudden one of the crew says ‘cut’—it was one of the lighting guys—and they said there was a dead body in the water,” Campbell recalled. “And so the cops came by and were like ‘You makin’ a movie?’ And we were like ‘Yeah.’ So they actually—typical Hollywood—held the body next to the dock so it wouldn’t float through the shot so we could finish the scene.”

Each Dawn I Die (1939)

Each Dawn I Die (1939)

Director: William Keighley

Screenplay: Norman Reilly Raine and Warren Duff based on the novel by Jerome Odlum

Stars: James Cagney, George Raft, Jane Bryan

The Pitch: “Hey, let’s make a prison drama!”

Tagline: Slugging their way to adventure!

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

When newspaper reporter Frank Ross exposed government corruption he is framed for a manslaughter charge and sent to prison.  Holding out hope for evidence to exonerate him, Ross is beaten down by the system (not to mention the prison guards).  Seeing no other way out, Ross teams with infamous gangster Stacey (Raft).

 

Rating:

Sleepless (2017)

Sleepless (2017)

Director: Baran bo Odar

Screenplay: Andrea Berloff based on the French film Sleepless Night

Stars: Jamie Foxx, Michelle Monaghan, Dermot Mulroney, Scoot McNairy, Gabrielle Union and Octavius J. Johnson

The Pitch: “Hey, let’s remake Sleepless Night!”

Tagline: Don’t judge a cop by his cover.

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

 

Sleepless starts off with a lot of potential and then quickly becomes turns into a brainless action fest.  That’s not a bad thing if you’re not hoping for more, but based on the trailer I was.

Sleepless opens with a drug ripoff that turns into a shootout leaving the drug couriers dead. The two masked men who ripped off the 25 million dollars worth of cocaine get away and we learn that they are cops.  Vincent Downs (Foxx) and his partner show up at the station and Downs requests to investigate the case.  Pretty smart move since he and his partner committed the crime.  This is probably the last smart thing that happens in the movie.

Downs and his partner go to the crime scene and discover another pair of detectives are also working the case.  To make matters worse both the drug dealer and the drug buyer are on to Downs (how do they figure this out before the cops?) and so they kidnap Downs’ son.

Downs’ has a son and a wife.  He doesn’t live with them because he was never home.  Son tolerates dad who is always late or doesn’t show up for scheduled visits.  Wife is ready to move on to another man who has been in her life.  This family life could be expected from a drug dealing no good cop.

Downs gets a call and is told to bring the cocaine to the drug dealer’s casino.  Yep, just bring 25 million of coke to the casino and you’ll get your son back.  So what does Downs do?  He takes the satchel of coke to the casino.  Ah, but he has a plan.  He’ll go into the men’s room and hide half in the ceiling.  Then he’ll wait to give his son back before giving them the rest of the drugs.

Can you think of another place that has more cameras than a casino?  Not the brightest plan.  What follows are a bunch of fights as Downs gets his son back, loses his son, fights the drug dealers and fights the other cops investigating the crime.  There are fights in the hallway, fights in the kitchen, the disco, the spa, the pool and the parking garage.  You’ll see more people with guns get their guns taken away by unarmed folks than in any other movie I can remember.

The thing that bugs me is that this could have been a better movie with just a little more thought.  Nits I will pick…

  • Downs takes all the coke to the casino and then hides half of it in the casino.  What’s the point?  Doesn’t he know about cameras?
  • When the female cop trailing Downs discovers he’s brought the stolen coke to the casino she doesn’t call it in.   Instead she takes the coke and hides it in a locker in the spa in the same casino?!?
  • When Downs goes to get the coke he hid so they will give him his son he discovers it is missing.  So he goes to the kitchen and packs up sugar.  The drug dealers take it without checking because cops are supposedly on their way up.
  • In fight scene after fight scene someone with a gun has it taken away from them by an unarmed person.
  • In a scene in the parking garage, one of the thugs puts on a mask and begins firing off tear gas rounds.  The tear gas has no effect on anyone.  Perhaps he was just firing off smoke grenades, but if that is the case why is he wearing a mask and the smoke would hinder his and his partner’s vision as well.
  • Downs’ wife shows up at the parking garage just in time to kill a thug and save his life.
  • It turns out (major spoiler alert and cliché) that Downs is a good cop who has been undercover for two years.  His dedication to the case is an admirable thing.  Ignoring his family was all in the line of the job.  Aww!  His son and wife are going to forgive him and all will be well in the Downs’ household.
  • The cliché I was hoping that they’d avoid was that the bad cop was actually the female detective’s partner.

If it sounds like I hated Sleepless, I didn’t.  If you go in expecting a fairly mindless action flick, you should like it.  I was just hoping for so much better.

Rating:

The Rules of Wolfe by James Carlos Blake

The Rules of Wolfe by James Carlos Blake

Publisher: Mysterious Press

First sentence…

Eddie Gato pleaded with us to take him on that run last winter but we said no.

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

 

Eddie Gato Wolfe is an ambitious young man who wishes to make a fast rise in the vast Wolfe family criminal organization.  When things aren’t moving as fast as he’d like, Eddie heads down to Mexico and takes a security job for the La Navaja drug cartel.

Assigned to a remote but luxurious desert villa, days and nights are boring.  The only time things liven up is when the cartel bosses fly in with young women to party.  Although contact or conversations with the help is not allowed one of the women seems interested in Eddie… and he in her.  Eddie learns her name is Miranda.

On Miranda’s next visit he sneaks a visit to her and they hit it off.  All is going well until the man who brought her finds them together.  He and Eddie fight and the man ends up dead.  The dead man is the brother of  La Navaja’s leader.  Eddie knows that unless he and Miranda can escape across the desert and back into the United States, a brutal merciless death awaits them both.

Eddie and Miranda head into the desert with the knowledge that the entire La Navaja cartel will be looking for them.  They’re only hope is a lot of luck and maybe some help from the Wolfe’s… the family that he deserted.

James Carlos Blake has another winner!

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