CHICAGO – If you’ve ever wondered what the difference is between a director and a producer, let “47 Ronin” explain how the hierarchy of creativity hinders the evolution of even the most straightforward-sounding pitches. “47 Ronin” is the type of samurai movie set in Japan that features native actors speaking only English, while Keanu Reeves stars as an outsider clearly plunked into the picture for stateside star power.
CHICAGO – In January 2013, The New York Times wrote a scathing, fascinating piece about the tumultuous production of Paul Schrader’s “The Canyons.” The narrative was essentially that star Lindsay Lohan was so difficult on set that it derailed the directorial work of the writer of “Taxi Driver” in ways that would make a reality TV producer pull out his check book to buy the footage.
CHICAGO – Not everything should be filet mignon. Sometimes you just want a greasy, delicious cheeseburger. Now imagine eating ten of those cheeseburgers in a row. Robert Rodriguez’s “Machete” starts as a wonderful gore-fest but falls victim to its creator’s inability to realize he doesn’t need to answer to every violent vision he can dream up. The film is proof that even extremely over-the-top films can be monotonous in that their one tone is “ARGH!”
CHICAGO – As a contemporary of the John Lennon assassination in 1980 and an ardent admirer of the late Beatle, I had a hard time figuring out the reasons for making the film “Chapter 27”.