Tag Archives: Angelina Jolie

The Man who would be Cage: An Interview with Marco Kyris by Kent Hill

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I feel like I’m somehow getting closer to Nicolas Cage. I’ve spoken to a man who has directed him – a man who has “Nic-polished” his scripts. So, you can image my delight when Marco Kyris, Cage’s stand-in from 1994 till 2005, agreed to not only have a chat, but also to give me a preview of his new documentary, UNCAGED : A Stand-in Story.

People ask me, “What’s with this Cage obsession?”

My answer is always…I think he’s a genuinely smart actor, with eclectic tastes and a wide repertoire which has seen him enjoy Oscar glory, big box office success and become a champion of independent film.

The son of August Coppola (nephew of Francis Ford), but with a name lifted from the pages of his comic book heroes, Cage is at once both an actor and a movie star. With a legion of devoted fans worldwide and, heck, even a festival that bears his name – celebrating the wild, the weird, and the wonderful of the cinema of Nicolas Cage. From the genius of Con Air to the brilliant subtlety of Adaptation, the exceptional character work of Army of One to the gravitas of Leaving Las Vegas – Cage is a ball of energy that needs only to be unleashed on set.

It was my sincere pleasure to talk with the man who stood in for the man when the man wasn’t on set. Marco’s tales are a fascinating glimpse – another angle if you will – in the examination of one of the movie industry’s true originals. I know you’ll find his story and his film, UNCAGED, compelling viewing  – for both those curious as to the life of a stand-in, and also those looking for a unique look at the life of a superstar.

I’ve been privileged to chat with the people who made the rough stuff look easy for Arnold Schwarzenegger and Rene Russo…

Now it’s time to uncage the legend.

(ALL IMAGES COURTESY OF MARCO’S WEBSITE: https://www.mkyris.com/)

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DJ Caruso’s Taking Lives

Angelina Jolie as a cop hunting down a ruthless serial killer who uses especially grisly methods is a great premise for a film, but you may as well skip DJ Caruso’s Taking Lives and just go revisit Phillip Noyce’s The Bone Collector, a great film that did the concept way better. Lives is a poor excuse for thriller material, a drab, dank and musty slog through a narrative that doesn’t seem to give two shits about its characters and frequently makes little to no sense, not to mention fails heavily at holding interest. Jolie plays a hotshot FBI profiler who is consulted by French Canadian police when their efforts to nab an elusive murderer fail. This is a guy you never really see because every time he kills, he takes on the identity of the victim, blending in and leaving few clues. Jolie searches back through records from decades ago and tried to piece together this guy’s past to find him, but he himself has noticed her and taken an interest. This all sounds terrific on paper but the film they’ve made is a messy, overwrought lump, like a particularly bloody episode of criminal minds without the ‘mind’ part to give the criminal activity any weight. Jolie is joined by Ethan Hawke as a colleague as well as Olivier Martinez, Gena Rowlands, Tcheky Karyo, Paul Dano, Justin Chatwin and more, but none make a huge impression. Kiefer Sutherland shows up as a nasty piece of work who is so obviously a red herring it hurts to see his painfully limited arc come and go like a breeze. Don’t even get me started on the final twist either because it’s too ridiculous. This has the grungy, incisive visual aesthetic of David Fincher’s Sev7n but with none of the pace, doom laden atmosphere or brains to back it up. The only cool thing is the title, which of course refers to the killer’s penchant for both murdering and assuming the lives of those he targets. Neat premise, wicked title, dope cast… shit awful film.

-Nate Hill

Dominic Sena’s Gone In 60 Seconds

I’ve always liked Gone In 60 Seconds, even if it is one of the more lukewarm notches in Jerry Bruckheimer’s belt. Helmed by Dominic Sena who comes from a music video background, you get what you’d expect from a craftsman like that in the way of a flashy, eye catching popcorn flick that sees an easygoing Nicolas Cage as Memphis Rhaines, a car thief guru culled out of retirement when his dipshit little brother (Giovanni Ribisi) gets in deep with a dangerous UK mobster (Doctor Who). It’s the perfect setup for one long night of auto boosting as the villain gives them a laundry list of sweet cars to steal and ship out of the port by sunup or they end up as fuel for his scary flame factory/junkyard thing that these guys always seem to own and live in. The real fun is in seeing Cage put together an eclectic team of fellow thieves to work their magic, including Will Patton’s slick veteran booster, Scott Caan playing yet another insufferable horn-dog, Robert Duvall as a sagely old fence, Vinnie Jones as the strong silent muscle and Angelina Jolie as the motor mouthed tomboy who inevitably ends up in the saddle with Cage. They’re all hunted by two detectives, one an intuitive veteran (Delroy Lindo) and the other a misguided rookie (Timothy Olyphant) who always are naturally one step behind them, and so the formula goes. The cars are indeed pretty cool, especially Eleanor, Rhaines’s fabled unicorn automobile that happens to be a gorgeous matte silver Shelby GT with a seriously sexy purr. The supporting cast is solid and includes William Lee Scott, James Duval, Chi McBride, Michael Pena, John Carroll Lynch, Master P ad Twin Peak’s Grace Zabriskie as Cages’s feisty mom. This isn’t a knock your socks off flick or anything revolutionary in the genre, but it cruises along with an easy swing, carefree urban vibe and the actors, as well as Sena’s sharp and snazzy visual editing make it fun enough. Oh and it doesn’t get much cooler than those wicked opening credits set to Moby’s Flower, that’s how you lay down a mood for the film to follow.

-Nate Hill

PHILLIP NOYCE: An Interview with Kent Hill

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One of the great things Phil told me – aside from passing through my hometown to play footy in his youth – was that Queensland had a big part to play in convincing the studio powers that Blind Fury (my personal favorite of Phil’s pictures) could be a hit.

After a regime change – as often is the way in Hollywood – the new brass didn’t have much faith in a film the previous caretakers saw fit to green-light. Phil knew he had a good picture and thus persuaded the powers to let him take it to the far side of the world and release it in the Sunshine State, where, with the help of a publicist, they sold the heck out of Blind Fury and brought in $500,000 buckaroos.

So Phil went back to the blokes in suits and told them if the movie can do that kind of business 7,510 miles from Hollywood, I think we have a shot. See that’s the Phil Noyce touch ladies and gentlemen, remaining Dead Calm in the face of Clear and Present Danger. If you believe that there is even a Sliver of a chance your movie can Catch a Fire, you can’t just sit there like The Quiet American and take it with a grain of Salt. You need to fix your courage to the sticking place, follow the Rabbit Proof Fence all the way home and for your hard work they’ll call you The Saint for being the The Giver of great cinematic entertainment. You can play Patriot Games till the cows come home, but if you attack them on the Newsfront then you’ll be The Bone Collector and bring home the receipts.

I’ve watched many a great interview and read many a great book about the life and career of Phillip Noyce – never thinking that one day I might catch a moment’s grace and be able to have a chat with him. I have to thank (again) a top bloke by the name of Nick Clement for putting in a good word for me – without Nick I’d still be dreamin’.

Phillip Noyce is a marvelous chap of the old school and the maker of some truly wondrous pictures. He really needs no introduction from me for his reputation speaks for itself. Without further adieu . . . the master . . . Phillip Noyce.

The Man in the Director’s Chair: An Interview with Michael Schroeder by Kent Hill

It was owning a fast car that booked a young Michael Schroeder his first trip onto a film set. With Chief Dan George (The Outlaw Josey Wales) in the seat next to him, Michael was instructed to drive as fast as he could toward camera. He took this request literally.

While no one was injured, and though this early encounter did not go exactly according to plan, the crew assembled in cowboy hats and shorts seemed to be having a lot more fun than the group of aging lawyers with whom Schroeder had spent this previous evening. So he quit trying to be become a lawyer and ran of to join the movie business.

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He began his professional career as an assistant director working on such films as Revenge of the Ninja, Lambada, Highlander 2 and Guests of the Emperor. In 1988 he would take the director’s chair on Mortuary Academy. Fourteen features would follow, among them Dead On: Relentless 2, Angelina Jolie’s debut Cyborg 2: Glass Shadow, Cyborg 3 (apparently Schroeder’s most lamentable experience) and his career high and passion project, the wonderful Man in the Chair.

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He is a talented director who came to movies late – but he has since established himself as a consummate artiste of the motion picture. He was a font of great stories, optimism, on top of being an eloquent gentleman.

It is my privilege to present to you this interview.

Ladies and Gentlemen . . . Michael Schroeder.

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A MIGHTY HEART – A REVIEW BY J.D. LAFRANCE

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Ever since Angelina Jolie won an Academy Award for her memorable role in Girl, Interrupted (1999), she has gradually gotten further and further away from the kinds of roles that won her that coveted accolade in the first place. And so it was with some anticipation that she would be returning to more challenging, interesting work with A Might Heart (2007), an adaptation of the memoir by Mariane Pearl about the kidnapping and death of her husband, journalist Daniel Pearl. Of course, there were the usual fears that this would merely be a vanity project for Jolie – a desperate attempt to reclaim Oscar glory yet again. However, the wild card thrown into the mix was the presence of British filmmaker Michael Winterbottom. He has the reputation of being something of a maverick, adept at all kinds of genres, be they literary adaptations (The Claim), period pieces (Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story), biopics (24 Hour Party People) or politically-charged docu-dramas (The Road to Guantanamo). However, he also has the habit of turning them on their head in a way that polarizes critics and audiences. If anyone could get Jolie to shed her movie star persona it would be him.

The film is set in Pakistan as Daniel (Dan Futterman) is doing a story on the Taliban for the Wall Street Journal. One day, he goes off to interview a religious leader and never comes back. When he doesn’t return later that night, Mariane (Angelina Jolie) checks his email and tries to track down his contacts but with no success. The next day he is still missing and she starts calling anybody she can think of, eventually bringing in the local police. The film becomes an intense, Michael Mann-esque police procedural as local law enforcement, led by Captain (Irrfan Khan), turn the city upside down questioning anyone connected with Daniel or who helped set up the interview he was going to.

The Department of Justice and Diplomatic Security Service special agents are called in and a representative by the name of Randall Bennett (Will Patton) meets with Mariane in order to get her side of the story. She is also a journalist and does her own digging into the case. In a few days, she receives an email from the kidnappers who claim that Daniel is a CIA agent posing as a journalist while the local newspapers claim that he’s a Mossad agent just because he also happens to be Jewish. Mariane finds herself drowning in the political quagmire that is Pakistan as the authorities question Daniel’s methods and motivations.

Angelina Jolie does an excellent job as a woman barely keeping it together in the face of such uncertainty, not knowing if she will ever get to see her husband alive again while also dealing with being pregnant on top of everything else. She wisely underplays the role, resisting the urge to come on too strong by being showy and instead immersing herself in the part. Winterbottom helps her out, like in one scene where Mariane allows herself a moment to let it all out and break down. He refuses to go for the easy money shot close-up of Jolie’s teary, anguished face and instead opts for a long shot, letting her body language speak volumes about how she’s feeling.

Winterbottom’s hand-held camera careens through the crowded, claustrophobic streets of Karachi much like in the opening scenes of The Insider (1999) when Al Pacino’s character meets with the leader of the Hezbollah. Winterbottom creates an immediate, immersive experience as the sights and sounds of the city are everywhere. He also keeps everything grounded in reality with minimal use of music because of its ability to easily manipulate our emotions. A Mighty Heart feels like a personal project for Jolie but never seems like a vanity project because one never feels like she is grandstanding but rather is passionate about the subject matter and doing justice to it.

Angelina Jolie Pitt’s BY THE SEA – A Review by Frank Mengarelli

A cinematic love story is rarely grounded in reality.  We see a projection of it, someone else’s idea of what love is.  The escapism of boy meets girl, boy loses girl, and then the boy triumphantly wins girl back – is a mundane and trite formula.  Angelina Jolie Pitt’s BY THE SEA is a love story that wages war with itself and takes place within the reality of life.

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The film spans a few weeks at a villa in France.  Roland (Pitt) and Vanessa (Jolie) are married, waging a toxic and a fearless psychological war with one another.  Roland drinks all day, desperately seeking inspiration for his next novel while Vanessa bunkers herself within their room and lies comatose in bed on a self medicated mixture of pills and wine.

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At this point in their marriage, all is lost, yet they continuously fight for and against one another.  Their passion still burns bright, but their hope flickers as each minute of the film passes.

Jolie has become an inspiring vision behind the camera, fluidly crafting her film; using the vulnerability and innocence of 1970’s France as a canvas to showcase such a painfully beautiful film.

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BY THE SEA is a clear cut example of a critical and box office failure that eludes the self indulgence of critics and the current cinematic populous with its pulverizing and honest view of love.