Archive | June 2009

Opening Night “Public Enemies”

To my mom and dad, et al–

So I saw the new Johnny Depp movie "Public Enemies" last night– I believe
it was the 1st time it's ever been shown for the public. And I did make the
final cut– no lines, but you can't miss me. For those who may go to see
it, look for me about an hour and a half into the movie, after Johnny Depp,
sitting on a park bench, reads a letter from his girl in prison. I'll be on
the left side of the screen at the start of the next scene, looking badass.

I've enclosed cell phone pics you can follow along to. Look at the invite–
I had no idea this was going to be a big deal. I almost showed up in jeans
and t-shirt. I dressed up a little, almost to be "ironic," thinking the
theatre was going to be full of Chicago people getting to see the film first
as a "thank-you" to the city. Then, approaching the movieplex, we noticed
the street was blocked off– I said, oh no, this is a bigger deal than I
thought, I hope they still have my tickets reserved. Walking into the main
lobby, every single poster frame had been filled with "Public Enemy"
posters– the place had been taken over! They rented the whole damn
building, shutting down all but two of the 21 screens for the duration of
the night. We checked in, our tickets were not only there, but reserved
seating! Although I was a bit disappointed that they were row 'A'– front
row at a movie? Not usually my idea of a good time. My neck can't take it
anymore. We went up the first escalator and checked out the view of the
crowd from the windows– there were hundreds of people behind barracades, a
press tent, vintage cars, and an honest-to-god red carpet. There was free
popcorn and soda laid out, and we grabbed them, said hello to some friends,
and went inside. Sure enough, front row center, but how cool was it when
(30 minutes late) the director Michael Mann came out and said a few words in
praise of the city. And then, he introduced all three of the leads– they
all made it! Bale, Depp, and Marion Cotillard (the only Oscar winner among
them). They said nothing, smiled, waved, left to give the same speech in
the adjacent theatre (where they apparantly did a bit where Mann said the
three actors had prepared a little song they were going to sing– they
cleared their throats, opened their mouths, and cracked up at the tease).
Then, the movie. I didn't care for it much– like most Michael Mann movies
it was overlong, not very engaging, too caught up in period and historical
details, and not clear about what story it was telling. Anyone who saw
"Heat" will see this guy doesn't have a whole lot of new tricks up his
sleeve– there's the same overly long and loud gun battle in the middle, and
the same slo-mo faceoff between the good guy and bad guy in the end, set to
the same kind of atmospheric techno music and fog machines. But look, a
vintage train! A vintage plane! Vintage automobiles! The love-interest
story was repetitive and hackneyed. Bale had nothing to do– you know he
worked way too hard for what was asked of him. Cotillard had some lovely
moments, but was given very little to work with– same with Depp. So many
characters in this movie, whispering to each other about plans you couldn't
understand. With all the hard work the production took making Chicago look
authentically 1930's, you never had a very clear idea of where you were,
where the characters were going to or coming from– the scene where
Dillinger is gunned down could have been a you-are-there moment of realistic
excitement– instead it was a swirly haze. The book it was based on told
the story of the origins of the FBI, but the movie's too interested in
Dillinger, and so the whole thing is torn between two (or many many more)
stories and it never quite coheres. On the plus side, I didn't hit the
cutting room floor as I have done so many times in the past with movies that
come through Chicago. And the thing will still make 100 million, though not
much more. Bring on the residuals!

Then we went to the afterparty– free food and drinks, good stuff. Bale
left, Depp came in. Depp left, Coltillard came in. Coltillard left.
William Peterson and John Mahoney were also around, though surrounded by far
fewer flashbulbs and screaming teens clutching bouquets of glow in the dark
roses. Three drinks and time to relieve the babysitter. That's it! Sorry
the pictures suck– I swear I had no idea there was going to be anything to
take a picture of.

Bye!

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