Fellow Film Club Members & Movie Buffs:
This month we get to view three excellent films by maverick writer/director David O. Russell.
We have been so fortunate here in the Northwest. Winter is exhausting itself on the other 90% of the country and we seem, so far, to be spared from its record breaking chill. Still, it is more fun not to have to fight icy roads when heading out to watch a movie, so join the Tacoma Film Club this next Friday, February 7, 2014 for a screening of David O. Russell’s satirical Gulf War film, THREE KINGS (1999).
David O. Russell is really coming into his own in the past couple of years, as his films are garnering Oscars. He was innovative with the filming of THREE KINGS, using a lot of hand-held camera shots; but to his credit, he mounted them on steadicams so that the image remains clear and not jumpy. He is known as a difficult perfectionist who works quickly, favoring an improvisational on-the-fly directing style that seems to be difficult for some actors; never using shot lists or storyboards, which can frustrate crew members.
He prefers to write the screenplays for most of his own films, and was an uncredited script doctor on both STUART LITTLE (1999) & MEET THE FOCKERS (2004), and he collaborated on all three of the ANCHORMAN films. He has directed 11 films since 1987, some of which I enjoyed included SPANKING THE MONKEY (1994), I HEART HUCKABEES (2004), & THE FIGHTER (2012). This month we at the Film Club are viewing three of his best films: THREE KINGS, SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK, & AMERICAN HUSTLE.
David O. Russell said, “There’s nothing better than an actor who is really hungry, ready to show everything they’ve got.”
Trivia: The movie was filmed out on the deserts of California, Arizona, & Mexico. The stand-up comic John Ridley wrote the original story for the film, calling it SPOILS OF WAR, completing it in seven days and selling it to Warner Brothers. Russell did not read the Ridley version, preferring to write his own version of the premise. Ridley sued them, and finally was given credit. Director Spike Jonze, a friend of Russell’s, was talked into acting in the film, even though he had never acted before. George Clooney’s part was offered to Clint Eastwood, Nicolas Cage, Mel Gibson, Dustin Hoffman, Nick Nolte, & Jeff Bridges. Russell, at first, did not want Clooney, who was still working in TV on ER. Clooney had to fight for the part, literally.
During the filming Clooney felt that Russell was verbally abusive to a number of the crew members, and he spoke up for them repeatedly. One day a shouting match between Clooney & Russell broke out in an actual fistfight. Some say Russell head-butted Clooney first, other said Russell dared Clooney to hit him, and was punched in the face. When asked later if Clooney would ever work with Russell again, he replied, “Life is too short.”
Matt Damon & Matthew McConaughey both turned down the Mark Wahlberg role.
The cinematography was done by Newton Thomas Sigel, who had shot documentaries on war zones during civil strife in South America, and certainly knew what lensing firefights should look like. He has shot 60 films since 1980, including THE USUAL SUSPECTS (1995), BROKEDOWN PALACE (1999) several of the X-MEN films, several of the TWILIGHT films, SUPERMAN RETURNS (2006), VALKYRIE & JACK THE GIANT SLAYER (2013).
Jim Bartoo of HOLLYWOOD.COM wrote: “From frame one the washed-out look and grainy feel of Sigel’s cinematography puts the audience right into the harsh, unmerciful desert heat.”
The film score was written by Carter Burwell, a veteran composer who has scored 49 films since 1990, including ROB ROY (1995), FARGO 1996), GODS & MONSTERS (1998), THE BIG LEBOWSKI (1998), BEING JOHN MALKOVICH (1999), O BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU? (2000), IN BRUGES (2008), THE BLIND SIDE (2009), & TRUE GRIT (2010).
THREE KINGS (1999)
Written & Directed by David O. Russell @ 114 minutes.
The film stars George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, Ice Cube, Spike Jonze, Cliff Curtis, & Mykelti Williamson.
Synopsis: A small group of American soldiers near the end of the Iraq War, find a map showing a large gold cache buried near their base. They embark on an adventurous journey that enables them to rise to heroic challenges that will change their lives.
Tagline: They’re deserters, rebels, and thieves–but in the nicest way.
Rotten Tomatoes rated the film at 94% of Critics Approval and 77% of Audience approval.
Roger Ebert wrote: “This is one of the most surprising, and exciting movies I have seen this year. It has the freedom and recklessness of an Oliver Stone or Robert Altman during their mad-dog days.”
TIME OUT: “This is a defiant, provocative bit of cinema; Russell may yet prove to be a filmmaker to treasure.”
Joe Baltake of the SACRAMENTO BEE wrote: “Russell’s edgy pacing here, and the assorted styles he’s adopted create an exciting, restless immediacy.”
FILM 4: “This film is far more intelligent & perceptive than most actioners, yet with enough thrills & spills to satisfy all those adrenaline junkies.”
So folks, mark your various calendars for this next Friday, February 7, 2014, and join the Tacoma Film Club for their screening of David O. Russell’s THREE KINGS (1999). It will screen at the church building at the Center for Spiritual Living, located at 206 North J Street, on the corner of Division and J Streets, across from the Group Health hospital.
Arrive early, around 6:15 p.m, and join some of us downstairs in the newly remodeled kitchen area for fellowship. It is permitted for you, if you so desire, to bring along snacks & beverages, including wine, to share with others. Please remember, however, that no food or drink can be brought upstairs to the sanctuary while watching the film. There will be a donation box upstairs to assist the Club in renting the space, buying a license that allows us to screen films for the public, & other expenses. There will be membership cards available, at $20.00 per year (see member Diane Jensen). THREE KINGS will screen at 7:15 p.m. It runs 114 minutes, so the screening should be over by 9:30 p.m.
See you at the movies!