(Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images)
He’s traveled through time in search of knowledge, saved Sandra Bullock from getting blown up on a bus, freed humanity from being enslaved by computer overlords, and delivered some of the most righteous vengeance ever exacted on behalf of a murdered puppy — and all that really only scratches the surface of all the stuff Keanu Reeves has been up to on the big screen. Since making his mark as a quirky young lead in the ’80s, Reeves has followed his cinematic muse all over the genre map, from hit comedies like Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure to blockbuster action thrillers like Speed, John Wick, and Point Break, as well as dramatic showcases like Dangerous Liaisons and My Own Private Idaho. Also, he knows kung fu. Whoa.
On the horizon, we got The Matrix Resurrections and another John Wick. Now, we’re ranking all Keanu Reeves movies by Tomatometer.
This week on home video, we’ve got a steamy sequel, a scary prequel, some heartfelt animation, a stylish horror debut, and a couple seasons of popular (and well-reviewed) television, plus more. Read on for the full list:
The Kings of Tampa decide that if they’re going to leave the adult entertainment world behind, they should go out with a bang. So they head for the Male Strippers Convention in South Carolina to strut their stuff one final time. On the Blu-ray, you’ll get two featurettes and an extended dance scene of Malik (Stephen Boss aka “Twitch”).
The third installment of the Insidious series goes back to the origins of the story in a prequel, recounting how a psychic (Lin Shaye) attempted to help a tormented girl (Stefanie Scott) by contacting the dead. Extras include a making-of doc, a breakdown of a key stunt sequence, a look at character design and effects, and more.
The latest animated treat from Studio Ghibli’s Hiromasa Yonebayashi (The Secret World of Arrietty) tells the story of a lonely foster child who meets a mysterious friend during a summer trip to Hokkaido. Bonus features include a look at the artwork, storyboards, and a making-of featurette, plus more.
Writer/director Ted Geoghegan makes a strong, stylish feature debut with this horror story about a grieving couple who move to a secluded home after the tragic death of their son; little do they know that their new home has a bloody past. The Blu-ray comes with standard extras like commentary and a behind-the-scenes featurette.
Alex Gibney’s multiple Emmy-winning HBO documentary makes use of first-hand accounts and archival footage to profile the history and inner workings of Scientology and delve into the accusations of abuse that have been leveled against the organization over the years.
Showtime’s horror drama improved upon its strong debut season, offering more insight into the life of Vanessa (Eva Green) and following up with Dr. Frankenstein (Harry Treadaway), Ethan (Josh Hartnett), and Sir Malcolm (Timothy Dalton). Extras include a history of the occult, a behind-the-scenes featurette, a video production blog, and more.
Based on the novel of the same name, HBO’s The Leftovers focuses on a small town family as they and their community attempt to make sense of a mysterious event where 2 percent of the world’s population suddenly vanished into thin air.
Gus Van Sant’s acclaimed drama stars River Phoenix as a narcoleptic street kid and Keanu Reeves as the mayor’s son he falls in love with. Already available on DVD, the new Criterion Blu-ray includes a new 4k digital transfer, a making-of doc, deleted scenes, a conversation between Van Sant and Todd Haynes, and more.
Gus Van Sant and Dustin Lance Black look rather exhausted at this stage in their publicity whirlwind for Milk. The day RT sits down with them, the film has just received four BAFTA nominations, including one for Lance’s original script. The jetlag seems to be getting to them, but they perk up when they start talking about Harvey Milk and their very different journeys into this project.
Dustin Lance Black: It was an inspiration because of a speech that’s in it, and I heard that when I was in college. I’m from San Antonio, Texas, and Harvey says, “There’s a kid out there in San Antonio who’s going to hear my story and it’s going to give him hope.” And it’s true – it really did do that. I’d heard of Harvey about six years before that, from a theatre director who told me his story, and it was a revelation to me that there was such a thing as an out gay man, much less one who was elected to public office and celebrated. You don’t have that in Texas!
But it’s tough to do a comparison between the films. The thing I wanted to do in the script was get much more personal. The documentary doesn’t have most of the stories that I was drawn to. It doesn’t have Cleve Jones’ story, which is a father-son story, which I related to the most. And it doesn’t have Scott Smith and Harvey’s story. It doesn’t have Jack Lira. It doesn’t have any of the actual love stories. But it has the political framework, which is great. And the most transformative time in Harvey’s life was that political time, so obviously both Rob Epstein and I were drawn to that. I just thought it was an opportunity to get more into the personal stories – of what it was to be gay in that transformative time. In narrative I can take liberties and create that; in documentary maybe there wasn’t the material there to dive into those stories. To me it felt like there was more to be told.
How did you get in contact with the people from Harvey’s life?
DLB: It was a challenge. It was unfinanced, and there was no movie or book to base it on, because I didn’t have the rights to anything. But also it was a great opportunity, because I was forced to make those drives to San Francisco to meet all the real people. It started with Cleve Jones in 2004, because a friend introduced me to him and he started telling me the stories. He’s very candid, so he didn’t tell me the stories that would lionise Harvey or make him into a saint, but stories of a failed businessman who really messed up his relationships. And that humanised him in the kind of way that said to me, “Hey you can make a movie out of this!” Because if it’s just pure hagiography, who cares? You want to know that a real human being who’s kind of like you could achieve these things.
Next were Danny Nicoletta and Anne Kronenberg – meeting all of his allies – and then I moved on to meeting his political foes. It was difficult at first because these people had been told that a movie was going to be made for two decades, but it never happened. They’ve been sharing these stories, but they aren’t easy stories. It’s entertaining, beautiful and moving for us, but for them it’s incredibly painful. So once that dam broke and they did trust me enough to share, then a lot of people came out of the woodwork. I was just trying to build a history and get a sense of a man who I could never meet – and you can get that by talking to the people who he shaped, because they were so young back then.
Gus, you’ve been living with this project for quite a lot longer.
Gus van Sant: Well, I was involved in the other project, which was in 1992. Oliver Stone had attached himself to a project that producers Neil Meron and Craig Zaden had begun with Randy Shilts’ book The Mayor of Castro Street. It’s a pretty grand book – it’s a grand story and there’s a cast of lots of characters, with tens of thousands of people marching in the streets. It’s the birth of the “out” part of gay history, and at the centre is Harvey becoming a more out person, and his rallying cry to come out. And then Oliver joined on and it was like the jackpot: Oliver Stone, major Academy Award-winning films from Platoon to Wall Street. JFK was about to come out, and he was developing this script – it was edgy and hard-hitting and it was backed by $40 million from Warner Bros. And Robin Williams was going to play the role.
Then when JFK came out, Oliver decided he wasn’t going to do it. I don’t know what his other projects were – he might have had 10 other things in development at Ixtlan, his production company. So the studio was in an awkward place because they’d had one of the biggest guys. They did go to Ron Howard, because he told me, and Coppola, Spielberg – well, I would have if I was them. Then one day I was meeting with Rob Epstein socially – we’d met on the festival circuit in ’84 – and he told me Oliver had just dropped out of the film. I didn’t know there was a film – I didn’t even know there was a book! I’d seen Rob’s film about Harvey, and he was saying, “Oliver dropped out and they’re looking for a director – you should do it!” And when I told Warner Bros I might be interested in being considered, I was all of a sudden pushed in.
GVS: Oliver was a big supporter of my work, and I think that what was going on was that Oliver was looking at me as a compatriot, someone he respected as a director, whereas at Warner Bros, the executives and the producers, were looking at my demographic. I’d made Drugstore Cowboy, which made $5 million, and My Own Private Idaho, which made $15 million, which was pretty good, but I was a low-budget filmmaker. I hadn’t made a big-budget film, and in Hollywood there’s a sort of man and boys situation. You’re a man, you make $80 million movies! As if it’s harder to make an $80 million movie. Well, I guess businesswise it is because you have more executives to argue with.
DLB: Well, the meals are better!
GVS: Yeah! But making a $3 million film is a different business. So I lasted about one draft. I didn’t really have the support, not for any real reason, but my ideas were like, “This doesn’t look like a gay movie because they don’t look gay, they don’t kiss, nothing happens to signify that they are gay.” And I was met with, “You don’t understand why this is an important thing.” They just wanted me to do Oliver’s script, which was really asking the question: why did Dan White shoot these guys? That was really the theme. Harvey was the guy he shot, and he happened to be from the Castro, but Harvey wasn’t the central character – it was about the overall begging question, which is a big begging question. So that’s where I was.
Are the studio – and the public – more ready for a film like this now, with its more emotional approach?
GVS: Yeah I think there’s a lot of that. The media has gone through lots of things that make it a less foreign thing to have your lead character be gay. I think Ellen helped changed that.
DLB: I think society has opened, but we’re now in a post-Aids, gay rights era. We’re talking about rights again instead of survival. And so that’s starting to sound more like Harvey’s era. So it feels like it’s a part of the dialog of today. And in that way I think the public is ready to discuss this again.
How did you feel about the parallels between Prop 8 last November and 1978’s Prop 6?
GVS: There was no indication that was going to happen, at least not while we were shooting. And also, Barack Obama wasn’t the candidate, and Sarah Palin didn’t exist. All this stuff happened during our editing period: the world began to resemble some things in our movie. Obama, because he used the word “hope” so much, started to resemble Harvey and especially his hope speech. And Sarah Palin because she just looked like Anita Bryant.
DLB: And sounded like her! But there were clues when I started writing. Because it was 2004, so you had the re-election campaign of George W Bush and the Karl Rove strategy with the language of it sounding so much like Anita Bryant and the “save our children” campaign, bolstering their base through fuelling this fight between evangelicals and the gay community. We started hearing the same lines that I was looking at in my research!
You’re working together on a film of Tom Wolf’s 1968 book about Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. This subject is also getting the doc approach, and I know you’ve been in contact with Alex Gibney about his project.
GVS: He’s a lot further ahead with his film than we are. He’s incredible, and his filmmaking’s incredible. But Lance is writing our script, and I haven’t seen it.
DLB: Yeah, I’ve got to go now – I’ve got to get back to work! I have a draft, I just haven’t had a chance to work on it in like two weeks.
Have you taken the same approach as with Milk, interviewing the real people?
DLB: Yeah. You have to kind of act like there’s not a book, at least for a bit, and just discover the story yourself. But the book is wonderful, a great thing to guide you. When we finally get done with these press interviews for Milk, hopefully I can find two hours to read it head-to-toe with no break – to read it like it’s the movie. It’s that far along, but then we’ll see what Gus says.
He says he signed on for Pineapple because it was a chance to work with Judd Apatow and company, whom he knew from his days on the TV series Freaks and Geeks. “We did a lot of goofing around in a kind of constructed way,” he says of the film. “It’s a lot of improvisation, just letting the camera roll and doing the scene over and over again and seeing what happens. And I loved that!”
When asked to contrast the experiences on the two sets, he stops and thinks. “Milk had its own kind of looseness,” he says. “Gus Van Sant has his own approach, and there was the freedom to try different kinds of things. And Sean really encouraged that too. So it was somewhat improvisational, but what it did was to make the performances more natural. And it may be funny to say, but it was the same with Pineapple. I think that’s one of the things that Judd Apatow brings to comedies: there are wacky situations but it feels more emotionally grounded.”
Clearly this on-screen naturalism is important to him. He’s been studying film at New York University, and chooses five favourites that are all firmly rooted in authenticity…
It’s just amazing. I’ve been watching all of the Maysles Brothers‘ films and I’m really into their approach, which they called “direct cinema”, and the whole school that came out of DA Pennebaker, Robert Drew and so on. I love the whole idea that life can be as dramatic as fiction. It’s very different than reality television, because that’s very manipulated.
The Maysles’ approach is minimal interaction and being as observational as possible. Gimme Shelter has such drama, and it’s so well-done. As are all of their films.
I also love Salesman, which also proves that their philosophy can really work, because it just has these real Bible salesmen. But to me it has as much drama and tension as Arthur Miller or Eugene O’Neill – it’s like the Death of a Salesman and The Iceman Cometh all rolled together – but it’s real! I just can’t get enough of it.
Even before I started acting, this was a very important film to me. Obviously I was really drawn to the performances and characters, but the whole film just kept bringing it back.
Idaho actually started as three different projects – three scripts – through Orson Welles‘ Chimes at Midnight, which was a distillation of Shakespeare, and this other story about street kids in Portland, and then something else about a kid finding his parents in Italy. And then this whole narcoleptic thing that was influenced by George Eliot. He’s got all that just in the script, and then there’s the way it’s shot – he had two DPs, plus time-lapse for the cloud sequences and 8mm for the dream sequences.
I love all of Gus’ movies. I think Drugstore Cowboy is a hilarious movie. I love how he can take a situation like that and make it funny. I think Matt Dillon gives one of the best comedic performances in that movie. Gus is taking a very personal approach in the film – from the look of Bob Yeoman‘s cinematography to the way Gus captures Portland on screen.
All of my favourite films are approaching realism in a different way. This is Italian neorealism – obviously there’s a script and a story and everything, but it’s shot in the street and it has the feel of Italy, of being in the streets and, like Idaho, a deceivingly, simply constructed narrative. But there’s so much emotion that’s evoked from these very simple stories.
Again, a very simple approach, but there’s so much power in that film. You’re not quite sure what’s happening from the beginning, but you’re just kind of thrown into it. All you know is that these women have this mysterious meeting, and it takes you from there. The film gives you a great sense of what it was really like to live in Romania in the 1980s.
I loved this film! I really like the films of the Dardenne Brothers, like The Child and The Son, and I’m sure The Wrestler was influenced by the Dardennes, especially in the beginning when the camera is following the back of Mickey Rourke‘s head through the hallways.
I know Darren Aronofsky a little bit, and I remember meeting with him just when The Fountain was coming out, and he told me to look at the Dardenne Brothers because they were doing some really good stuff, so I know he’s a fan.
Milk opens in UK on Friday and in Australia on 29th January. It’s out now in the US.
Friends, readers, Tomato-fans, lend me your ears. Not stepping o’er the bounds of modesty, we at RT humbly present to you the Greatest Shakespeare Movies, a list of the Bard’s best-reviewed films that (we hope) is fit for the gods.
One of the wonderful things about William Shakespeare‘s works is how adaptable they are. Thus, our list contains adaptations both reverent (Sir Laurence Olivier‘s Hamlet) and revisionist (Ten Things I Hate About You, My Own Private Idaho). We’ve got the Bard in outer space (Forbidden Planet), in high school (O), and in feudal Japan (Throne of Blood). Our list also contains great performances from some of the finest actors ever to tackle Shakespeare’s deft, mysterious verse, including Orson Welles, Kenneth Branagh, Denzel Washington, and Rick Moranis.
Can one desire too much of a good thing? Check out our list and be the judge. As the Bard might say, “The best is not, So long as we can say, ‘this is the best-reviewed.'”
I attend several film festivals each year, but there’s always one movie-centric event that I’d really love to attend: The San Diego Comic-Con. Movie geek heaven is what I like to call it. Read on to find out why…
From the pre-con report at Dark Horizons: "With a little over a week to go, the full schedule has been announced with this year’s various panels to include appearances and Q&As with the likes of Nicolas Cage, Samuel L. Jackson, Hilary Swank, Gerard Butler, Jason Statham, David Wenham, Rosario Dawson, Amber Tamblyn, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Eva Mendes, Kristen Bell, Ali Larter, AnnaSophia Robb, Nick Frost, David Arquette and The Wayans Brothers.
Joining them will be directing and producing luminaries such as Sam Raimi, Alfonso Cuarón, Bryan Singer, Kevin Smith, Richard Kelly, Robert Rodriguez, Guillermo del Toro, Stephen Hopkins, Jon Favreau, Edgar Wright, David Goyer, James L. Brooks, Mark Steven Johnson, Zack Snyder, Joel Silver and Stan Winston.
Potential footage debuts from the likes of ("Spider-Man 3"), "300," "Grind House" and possibly "Transformers" will draw much talk as well. Amongst the films getting panels or being shown footage from are: "300," "The Ant Bully," "The Children of Men," "Crank," "DOA: Dead or Alive," "Fantastic Four 2," "Flyboys," "Ghost Rider," "Grind House," "Happy Feet," "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," "Iron Man," "Open Season," "Pan’s Labyrinth," "The Reaping," "Saw III," "Skinwalkers," "Snakes on a Plane," "Southland Tales," "Spider-Man 3," "Stardust," "Surf’s Up," "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles," "Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning," "Transformers" & "The Wicker Man."