August 2004 Archives

Built for Bad Movies

The oft-stated (and obviously fallacious) stakes are that Miramax needs Project Greenlight movies to be financial successes for the studio to continue bankrolling the enterprise. The unstated reality is that Greenlight will never produce a decent movie until it drastically changes the way it operates.

Most performers would kill for one of Kris Kristofferson’s careers. But he has three of them: as a great country songwriter, a musical performer of no small repute, and a successful actor. This man has been in a musical group with Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, and Waylon Jennings, and as an actor has worked with Martin Scorsese, John Sayles, Sam Peckinpah, and Tim Burton. But for all that, Kristofferson seems amazingly modest, and he sounds nearly unsure of himself when he talks about playing solo.

Singer-songwriter Chris Smither has been around long enough that not much surprises him. His latest album, though, came together in a way he didn’t expect. But his producer knew what he was doing, and that’s the way Smither prefers it. His expertise is in songwriting, not producing albums.

Just to be clear, Michael Mann’s Collateral is a thriller, and an adept one at that. I say this up-front because that part of the movie isn’t of much interest to me. It doesn’t seem to captivate Mann, either. What Mann recognizes better than other directors is that investment in characters makes the action more tense and suspenseful. (Also, David Mamet’s Spartan.)

Superhero Ennui

The adjective “competent” is a faint compliment if it’s praise at all, but it’s all the enthusiasm I can muster for Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 2. The movie is about as good as superhero movies get these days, but that’s not saying much.