A war movie made for $1.5 million–is that even possible? Certainly not in terms of the Hollywood fare we’re used to, but John Sayles has never made your average Hollywood fare. The director of Matewan, Passion Fish and Lone Star has brought a tight, low-budget focus to the war movie with Amigo, a story set during one of the most overlooked American conflicts, the Phillippine-American war.
Sayles narrows the story down to a single baryo and what happens when US troops take over. Lt. Compton (Garret Dillahunt) is the man in charge and names Rafael (Joel Torre), the village leader, his chief liaison to the people, as Rafael’s declared his opposition to the Spaniards. Trouble is, after the invasion, Rafael’s son runs off to join his uncle and the local band of rebels. While Rafael works to both appease the intruding Americans and keep his loved ones safe, Lt. Compton is also fighting to establish a congenial relationship with the villagers and obey the orders of the callous Col. Hardacre (Chris Cooper).
Well-versed in making movies on a shoestring, Sayles had the small bank account in mind from day one and considered it when writing his script and, of course, while bringing the tale to life. Sayles opted to cross the globe and shoot on location in the Philippines where he teamed up with local filmmakers and actors to create a piece with a modest price tag, albeit a strong degree of authenticity. In honor of Amigo’s August 19th release, Sayles took the time to talk about the book his film is based on, his experience working overseas, an unusual hurdle in the editing room and much more.
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Of course most films are aiming to make their subject matter feel real, but in The Company Men’s case, the topic may hit a little too close to home for some. Seasoned TV writer and producer John Wells’ very first feature film focuses on three, well, company men. Bobby Walker (Ben Affleck) is the young employee on the rise, but when he’s stopped dead in his tracks, thanks to corporate downsizing, he finds that even an impressive resume and skill set aren’t enough during hard times. There’s also Chris Cooper’s character, Phil Woodward. Like Bobby, Phil gets the axe, but in his case, his age makes finding a new spot seemingly impossible. Lastly there’s Gene McClary played by Tommy Lee Jones. He’s the company’s #2, but also finds himself in a tough situation in terms of protecting his employees and himself.
Clearly this is a testy topic for some and Wells was very aware of that. The Company Men was a long time in the making with Wells first developing the concept back in 2000 when the dot-com bubble burst, however, it wasn’t until the most recent economic downfall that filming The Company Men became a reality. During a recent interview with Wells, he told me all about the road to production as well as each member of his all-star cast’s working styles, his experience directing his first film and much more. Check it all out in the video interview below.
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Whether it’s happened to you or someone you know, job loss is a personal matter for the large majority and that makes it a testy topic to manage in a film. If it isn’t represented accurately it could be insulting, then again if it’s dealt with too precisely, it could be too much for some to handle, however, The Company Men approaches the issue quite tactfully. Not only does it deliver a respectable presentation of the hardship, but still manages to maintain a light enough tone making the film a viable source of entertainment rather than just a pity party. In fact, The Company Men might also be a fantastic source for those in need of a little hope.
It doesn’t matter how high you are on the food chain; at GTX, Global Transportation Systems, everyone is on the chopping block during a recession. One of the first to feel the effects of corporate downsizing is Bobby Walker (Ben Affleck), a family man who enjoys cruising around town in his Porsche and improving his golf game. Bobby is certainly angry when he gets the bad news, but pulls himself together quickly and heads into the world of unemployment sure he’ll only be there for a short while. Days turn into weeks and weeks into months leaving Bobby no choice, but to go to work for his brother-in-law (Kevin Costner) building houses.
Meanwhile, back at GTX, longtime employee Phil Woodward (Chris Cooper) is paranoid his day will come, too. Sure enough, he becomes a victim of a second round of cuts as does the company’s second in command, Gene McClary (Tommy Lee Jones). All three men suffer the same fate, but their roads to redemption are wildly different.
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We can’t expect every movie to be good, but there’s nothing worse than walking out of a theater downright angry. Overall, Remember Me is rather boring, but manages to squeeze in a few powerful moments making it worthwhile. But when a real life tragedy is used as a last ditch effort to evoke emotion, Remember Me transforms into something you’ll be eager to forget.
Edward Cullen, er – Robert Pattinson leads as Tyler, an NYU student who’s undecided – about everything. He adores his young sister, Caroline (Ruby Jerins), but struggles with his father’s (Pierce Brosnan) negligence. Compounding the issue is a recent family tragedy filling Tyler with resentment and rage. During one of his outbursts, a noble effort goes wrong and Tyler assaults a cop (Chris Cooper) earning him and his best pal, Aidan (Tate Ellington), a night in prison. When Aidan sees this cop dropping his daughter (Emilie de Ravin) off at an NYU building, he sees it as an opportunity to seek some revenge. He dares Tyler to approach her and when he does, a harmless gag becomes a budding relationship.
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Robert Pattinson’s instantaneous and often overwhelming star power is fantastic for the moment. But what happens when “The Twilight Saga” comes to a close and his herds of adoring fans find another up and comer to fawn over? If Pattinson has anything to do with it, he’ll have moved on from simply being a Hollywood heartthrob and have established himself as a reputable actor. Not only does Remember Me provide him with the opportunity to be remembered long after his claim to fame has come and gone, but it allows him to deliver a similarly important concept to moviegoers: the value of moving on but never forgetting.
Pattinson stars as Tyler, an NYU student struggling with a vast amount of demons he’s not quite sure really exist. It’s fortunate that Pattinson can’t relate to his character in two respects: he didn’t have a troubled youth and that disconnect made the role much more intriguing to tackle. During a roundtable interview he explained, “All the people who I’ve met who are troubled teenagers, you meet their family and their family is like, ‘I don’t know what to do. He’s just – I have no idea what his problem is.'” Tyler definitely has problems to work out, but a recent family tragedy further exacerbates the situation causing him to get unnecessarily heated and even violent.
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