On Saturday May 9, 2015 rom 2:10 pm – 2:55 pm at Osgoode Ballroom East at The Sheraton Centre Hotel Richard will host a keynote interview with legendary director Spike Lee.
On Saturday May 9, 2015, Canadian Music Week is proud to present a special Keynote Interview with Spike Lee, as part of the event’s conference programming. As one of America’s most vital, vibrant, and challenging filmmakers, over his four-decade long career he has made an indelible mark on the independent film scene with his provocative, experimental, and socially active films. Known as “Spike Lee Joints”, he has directed, produced, written, and acted in over 50 films, along with creating his own production company 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks.
Expounding upon Spike Lee’s expansive and storied career, the Keynote Interview will give attendees a rare inside look into the filmmaker’s accomplishments, creative process, and more. The interview will take place from 2:10 pm – 2:55 pm at the Sheraton Centre Hotel.
In conjunction with Spike Lee’s participation in this year’s conference, a special engagement of his masterpiece Do The Right Thing will screen at The Royal Cinema, followed by a Q&A with Lee on Sunday May 10th.
In my review for the recent remake of Oldboy I wrote, “There is no more manly-man actor in the mold of Lee Marvin or Lee Van Cleef working today.”
I guess that shouldn’t be a surprise given that he was named after the rough-and-tumble character Josh Randall played by Steve McQueen in TV’s Wanted: Dead or Alive.
In Oldboy he’s so tough he’s a practically indestructible force of nature; able to withstand physical punishment that would make Grigori Rasputin look like a wimp.
The tough guy angle is one Brolin plays in a number of films, including his latest Labor Day. He plays an escaped convict who hides out in the home of a depressed, widowed agoraphobic, played by Kate Winslet. Over the course of one long holiday weekend she learns of his dangerous past and before you can say the words Stockholm Syndrome has fallen for the ruggedly handsome stranger.
It’s the kind of role that Brolin has mastered; the multi-layered tough guy but according to him, he doesn’t seek out those roles.
He says he wracks his “brain like crazy trying to figure out which films I wanted to be in.”
Some of those films include No Country for Old Men and Jonah Hex.
In the Oscar nominated No Country he plays down-on-his-luck Llewelyn Moss, who stumbles across the site of a drug deal gone wrong. Bullet-ridden dead men litter the landscape along with several kilos of heroin and a suitcase stuffed with two million dollars in cash. When he makes off with the money his life and the lives of those around him are changed forever.
Jonah Hex didn’t earn any Oscar nods, but did get some Razzie attention in the form of nominations for Worst Screen Couple for Brolin and co-star Megan Fox. The story of a supernatural bounty hunter set on revenge against the man who killed his family is as disfigured as its main character’s face but Brolin brings his real-life swagger to the role and has fun with some of the tongue-in-what’s-left-of-his-cheek lines.
One tough guy role got away from him however. On-line speculation had it that he would be cast as the Caped Crusader in the upcoming Batman vs. Superman. Although he would have been perfect for the part he lost out to Ben Affleck. Contrary to his bruiser persona he was gracious in defeat. “I’m happy for Ben,” he said.
The plot of “Oldboy,” Spike Lee’s new remake of a cult Korean film from 1993, is labyrinthine, relying on twists, turns and suspension of disbelief.
After seeing the film one has to wonder if “Oldboy” isn’t some elaborate real-world scheme of Lee’s. It occurred to me that the filmmaker, who moonlights as a New York University film professor, might well have gone through the convoluted machinations of bringing the movie to the big screen to teach his students how not to make a remake of a well liked film.
Sure, he calls the exercise a “re-interpretation,” not a remake, in the same way that Miles Davis’s version of “My Funny Valentine” is a transformation of the tune and not a cover version, but instead of elevating “Oldboy” onto a different plane, he hits all the wrong notes.
Josh Brolin is Joe Doucett, an advertising executive with an ex-wife, a three yar old daughter and a crippling addiction to booze. He’s the kind of guy who shows upon your doorstep at 3 am yelling, “No one wants to have fun anymore,” when you don’t let him in.
One night, after a bender he wakes up in a cell—actually more like a bare bones Motel Six with no windows but with a television and a mail slot for room service. From the TV he learns that he is accused of the brutal murder of his ex-wife, but is given no clue as to why he has been locked away.
For twenty years he rots in the room, so starved for human contact he fashions a friend à la Wilson in “Castaway” out of a pillowcase.
He emerges from his two decade sentence cleaned up, looking like a movie star, although a somewhat slightly dazed one, in a box in the middle of a field.
A mysterious stranger (Sharlto Copley) contacts him with a deal. Answer two questions and the entire experience will be explained and he will get to see his daughter. Fail and the mysterious goings on will continue.
Along the way the moonfaced Marie Sebastian (Elizabeth Olsen) and bar owner Chucky (Michael Imperioli) try and help Joe get to the bottom of the mystery.
If anyone should have been able to pull this off it should be Josh Brolin. There is no more manly-man actor in the mold of Lee Marvin or Lee Van Cleef working today. You believe him as a slickster with a drink in his hand and a practically indestructible force of nature able to withstand physical punishment that would make Grigori Rasputin look like a wimp.
But yet, in “Oldboy,” you don’t care.
The original movie was an epic tragedy, a twisted story (there will be no spoilers here) driven by revenge and dark secrets. All those elements are in place in Lee’s version, but the focus has shifted to the mystery, which is the least interesting thing about the story.
As a collection of red herrings and mumbo jumbo about “faceless corporations” it’s an incoherent mess of information searching for a form. As a story device it deflects the focus from the mental to the procedural, giving Brolin little to do except glower into the camera.
Add to that a badly botched remounting of the original’s most striking scene—a hammer battle in a long hallway—and you’re left wondering what Miles Davis might have done with this instead of Spike Lee.
So you knew of Godzilla’s roots, but did you also know The Magnificent Seven and A Fistful of Dollars were remakes of Asian films?
Add to that list this weekend’s Oldboy, a Spike Lee re-creation of a violent Chan-wook Park film. Josh Brolin plays a man searching for answers as to why he was kidnapped and held in solitary confinement for twenty years.
Spike Lee says the original director only offered up one piece of advice. “Josh went to Park and asked for his blessing,” he told MTV. “Park gave it, and the one thing he said to Josh — which Josh related to me — was ‘make a different film; don’t do the same thing I did.’ [So] that’s the way we did it.”
Hollywood has looked to Asia for inspiration for years.
Akira Kurosawa’s films provided fodder for two redone classics. The epic Seven Samarai became the Wild West gunfighter flick The Magnificent Seven and the director’s Yojimbo provided the backbone for A Fistful of Dollars, starring Clint Eastwood.
Once again old west gunfighters subbed for samurai but the premise of one man playing rivals off one another remains. Since the movie was an unofficial remake Kurosawa sued, won and later bragged he made more money off of Fistful of Dollars than Yojimbo.
At the turn of the millennium Japanese movies like Ringu, Ju-on and Geoul Sokeuro helped reinvent Hollywood horror. The best known of the Asian horror remakes was The Ring, an unlikely story of a cursed videotape that caused the viewer to die within a week of watching it. Roger Ebert called the movie boring and “borderline ridiculous” but it was a huge hit and paved the way for others like The Grudge and Dark Water.
Hollywood has often looked to Asia for inspiration, but sometimes it has worked the other way round.
Saidoweizu is a Japanese version of the wine soaked romantic dramedy Sideways, director Toshikazu Nagae put his own spin on Paranormal Activity 2: Tokyo Night and A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop transports Blood Simple’s action from 1980s Texas to 19th century China.