Watch the whole thing HERE!
Posts Tagged ‘Dennis Lehane’
Richard sits in with Marcia MacMillan to have a look at the big weekend movies, Peter Berg’s ripped-from-the-headlines “Patriot’s Day,” “Live By Night” from director-actor Ben Affleck, the terrible “Monster Trucks” and the sublime “20th Century Women” and “Paterson.”
Watch the whole thing HERE!
“Live By Night’s” stylish story of gangsters and redemption sees Ben Affleck reteam with crime writer Dennis Lehane. Their last collaboration, “Gone Baby Gone,” was a story of two detectives embroiled in a professional and personal crisis. This time around the personal and professional intermingle once again, but from the other side of the badge.
Affleck, who stars, directs and wrote the screenplay, is Joe Coughlin, the son of a Boston police captain (Brendan Gleeson) who returned from WWI an outlaw, determined not to take orders from anyone ever again. “No man shall rule another man’s life,” he says. A botched bank robbery lands him in jail, at a reduced sentence thanks to his father’s influence. Jail is a breeze, worse for him is his romantic involvement with flapper Emma Gould (Sienna Miller) who also happens to be the girlfriend of powerful Boston gangster Albert White (Robert Glenister).
Sprung from the lockup and beaten to a pulp by White’s men, Coughlin teams with Boston’s other gang boss, Maso Pescatore (Remo Girone). He’s sent to Ybor City, Florida with the task of taking over the lucrative prohibition bootleg booze business, currently run by White. To that end he leaves a trail of blood and bodies but when this demon rum purveyor tries to find a legitimate way to make cash by building a casino, a religious zealot (Elle Fanning) puts a crimp in his less-than-godly pursuits and interests.
“Live by Night” is a muted, sombre film punctuated by Baptists, bullets, broads and booze. Affleck creates a hard-boiled look at gangster life complete with corruption, betrayal and all the usual crime genre tropes but opens it up to include passion, family and redemption.
Coughlin is an interesting character, a man who coveted his amateur crook status and only turns pro—in other words, becomes a gangster—when he is painted into a corner. He’ll gun you down, but he’s no Scarface. Instead Affleck plays him as a stoic man who leads with his heart and only resorts to violence when all other options are exhausted. Later, when his legacy of violence comes back to haunt him, it packs a wallop.
There’s a lot going on in Ybor City. “Live By Night” tackles racism—the KKK plays a big role in the Florida section of the story—religion—thanks to Fanning’s troubled but angelic character—love—in the form of Graciella Corrales (Zoe Saldana)—loyalty and betrayal. It’s a literary stew of themes, held together by the violence and pulpier aspects of the movie.
Given the Hollywood success novelist Dennis Lehane has had in recent years you’d expect him to live in the 90210 area code. No dice, says the blunt speaking author of Mystic River, Gone Baby Gone and Shutter Island (which comes to DVD and Blu Ray June 8).
“If you live in LA you’re suddenly that guy,” he says on the line from his home in Boston. “You get lost in it. Everywhere you turn everyone is a writer. Where I live now I’m it, at least for a couple of blocks there’s no other writers.”
Certainly there are no other authors in his area with a tinsel town track record like his. The film adaptations of his novels have put him on a first name basis with legendary filmmakers like Clint and Marty and have earned seven Oscars nominations. But don’t look to him to take all the credit for the success of the movies.
“There are only two things I can take credit for and I’m not being falsely disingenuous or anything,” he says, “I’m just being honest. I seem to write characters that actors are attracted to. I invest a lot in my characters, so my characters tend to have multiple dimensions. OK, there I go. I just pumped myself up.
“Other than that I will only get in business with the absolute crème de la crème talent wise and taste wise. Just look at my behind-the-credits people. Look at my producers; they are people that if you look at the CVs are extremely impressive. That spreads out to other talented people. Who are talented people going to pick to write your screenplays? They are going to pick talented writers. Who are they going to pick to do the director’s job? They are going to pick talented directors. Who are the directors going to pick? They’re going to pick talented actors and so on. That’s really what’s been going on.”
Talented though he may be, he’s never adapted one of his own novels for the screen.
“I’m not particularly interested in adapting my own work. It is just not something that I can do. I’m just not competent. I’m the last person you should trust. I don’t know how to cut. I just spent two or three years of my life trying to get a book to 401 pages. Not 402 and not 399 and then you are going to turn around and say that’s the guy I want to trust to cut it to 135?”
Shutter Island, Lehane’s ominous thriller turned Martin Scorsese film about a U.S. Marshal (Leonardo DiCaprio) investigating a disappearance at the remote Shutter Island hospital for the criminally insane, sprung from two separate incidents.
“When I was a little kid my uncle took me out to one of the harbor islands and pointed out where a mental institution—the skeletal remains were still there—and it just stuck in my head. Many, many years later I had a crazy dream one night. I wrote it all down and woke up the next morning and looked at my notes and those notes are pretty much what Shutter Island is.”
Watching Scorsese work, he says was “mind boggling,” but true to form he didn’t spend much time on the set.
“Sets are so unbelievably boring if you don’t have a purpose on them,” he says. “A caterer is far more important on a film set than a novelist. A caterer, hey man, they give you the food; a novelist is just standing there saying, ‘I thought this up.’”
He’d rather be at home, in Boston. “It continually fuels me plus Bostonians are just funny sons-of-bitches. How else would I get to hear great lines all the time?”