Midsummer Vibe

To me, Universal’s decision to advance the opening of Oliver Stone‘s Savages from 9.28 to 7.6 means (a) they’ve decided it has definite mainstream popcorn potential and (b) they don’t think it fulfills the requirements of a “fall movie” (however you want to define that term) to quite the same degree. I haven’t read the script but it’s basically a drug-dealing movie costarring Aaron Johnson and Taylor Kitsch that’s about saving Blake Lively from Mexican drug cartel kidnappers. Benicio Del Toro, Demian Bichir, John Travolta, Uma Thurman, Emile Hirsch, Mia Maestro and Salma Hayek costar.

  • Jack South P.I.

    It’s a great book from an underrated writer perfectly suited for Stone’s overheated tendencies.

    To me, the release date isn’t the most telling thing. I want to know the running time. If Stone brings this thing in around 100 minutes, get ready for a rollercoaster. Anything over two hours will make me nervous.

  • LexG

    That sounds absolutely awesome– especially that cast; Man, Universal sure does like making grainy crime movies with lots of flashing guns and surveillance and Latinos and fast cards and shit; They’ve easily, handily overtaken WB’s ’90s legacy as the most Actionman/LexG studio with all that Contraband, Greengrass, Safe House, Fast Five, Miami Vice type slick crime shit with south of the border overtones.

    Should be pointed out, though, that that release date is kind of the MIAMI VICE 2006 slot, also the PUBLIC ENEMIES 2009 slot– the half arty, half mainstream big-canvas crime movie that they usually open to about 25 mil. For what it’s worth.

  • dino velvet

    Holy shit, so there’s going to be an actual mainstream release for ADULTS this summer?

  • LexG

    There always is one of those– for better or worse, THE HELP was last summer’s midsummer adult serious movie; In days of yore it would be like SPR or Road to Perdition and they’d make a big deal about it being the ADULT CHOICE amongst all the popcorn.

  • BoulderKid

    Glad Stone is back to make entertaining violent adult movies. Hoping this is a return to his U-Turn, Natural Born Killers days. I would feel better if someone cooler than Tyler Kitsch and the kid from Kick Ass were the leads though. I could even take LaBeof over them, at least I can see him all sweaty and frantic while blasting his way through a bunch of Mexicans.

  • Jack South P.I.

    Sam Witwicky over Tim Riggins? No sir.

  • Rashad

    I hope it’s closer to Any Given Sunday. I just hope Del Toro’s accent is better than it was in Traffic.

  • Jack South P.I.

    Let’s see how far Stone goes with the big sex scene. The book went ALL the way. If they even allude to where the book went, I can’t see how the movie could get an R-rating.

  • dino velvet

    Yeah I couldn’t care less about either of those leads (is Taylor Kitsch in serious danger of headlining two major flops?) but Blake LOOK AT HER…and hopefully Stone has got Travolta to bring his A game. And since Benicio is playing some kind of cartel psycho, I hope he busts out his Licence to kill Dario persona again – “We gave her a nice honeymoooooooon!!”.

  • LexG

    Yeah, psyched for TRAVOLTA in this — I have no idea who or what he’s playing, but if it involves him either hamming it up doing his sorta-gay BROKEN ARROW/ tough-guy shtick for the 4 millionth time, OR mincing as some goofy bureaucrat in THIN RED LINE mode, it’s gonna bring down the house either.

    Taylor Kitsch, you kinda really do have to have seen him on Friday Night Lights, because it’s a weird case where a guy has a lot of charisma and appeal on TV, then you see him in a movie like THE COVENANT and he seems like a completely vapid tool. If nothing else, he’s an official entrant in the Wannabe Olyphant Club, a la Barry Watson, Geoff Stults and Josh Duhamel.

    It is sort of a cruel way of the world that WE all know about big directors and live and die by the AUTEUR THEORY and would be jizzing in our pants to meet Oliver Stone, let alone work with him in ANY capacity… then like some vapid male model type young actor who was merely lucky enough to have a Yenta stage mom growing up gets to star a Stone movie, when he probably doesn’t even know who the fuck Stone is, and refers to him as “that old guy” and couldn’t care less about his filmic legacy.

  • JLC

    Kitsch has this, John Carter AND Battleship coming out before the end of summer. When all is said and done, he could potentially be the lead in about half-a-billion dollars worth of bombs. That’s something to put on your resume.

  • LexG

    Yeah, but a) all those look awesome, and b) would you have turned them down?

    It’s like when everyone was ragging on Colin Farrell for his “bombs” like ALEXANDER and MIAMI VICE… If you were an actor, you wouldn’t want to make those movies on paper? Christ, the idea of MIAMI VICE would have been my #1 most want-to-do movie EVER as an actor; Oliver Stone would be top 5. Weird when people rag on actors for CHOOSING BOMBS, when the bombs are like sure bet properties or cool directors.

    Not like Taylor Kitsch rolled into Hollywood and turned down a lot of cheap art films and said “FUCK THAT, I wanna make this 600 million movie about a purple flying tuna fish directed by Richard Benjamin!” Then you could rag on him for bombing.

  • BoulderKid

    Miami Vice IS awesome.

  • alynch

    I believe Travolta plays a corrupt ATF agent in this, so there’s definitely potential for some fun hamminess from him.

  • Myles

    This was Winslow’s worst book IMO. It was basically a screenplay, not a novel. Thin, thin, thin. So hey, maybe it works like gangbusters on screen.

    Also, in the book, the two friends DP the girl — one schlong in the puss, the other in the shitbox. It’s supposed to show how all three love each other. Normally I would think this would be cut, but you never know with Stone.

  • LexG


  • JLC

    Lex, I think Battleship looks pretty stupid, but I’m rooting heavily for John Carter. Read some of the books as a kid and always thought they’d make great movies.

    However, I would never, ever make fun of an actor for getting paid and being in a huge movie. It’s their profession, it’s what they do. I’m pretty sure Johnny Depp and Robert Downey, Jr. are happier being the idol of millions, rather than constantly toiling in indie flicks. Taylor was right to roll the dice. Sure worked for Chris Hemsworth.

  • dino velvet

    Gee, which movie to see that weekend…another fuckin Spiderman or BLAKE LIVELY IN A THREEWAY

  • LexG

    I’m-a risk it.

  • Frankly, I’m amused that it’s getting moved to summer, because I was kind of aghast at all the ‘this is going to be a high quality prestige picture!’ talk when it was announced. Especially amusing was the bloggers expressing outrage over Jennifer Lawrence doing Hunger Games (where she is the lead in her own action franchise) as opposed to this (where she would have played ‘the token love interest/hostage’). Point being, I haven’t read the novel, but the plot synopsis basically makes it seem like a variation on the original Double Dragon video game from 1986.

    And yes, it is absurd to pick on young actors for signing onto projects that A) seemed good on paper and B) every single young actor would be insane to turn down. The prime example is Orlando Bloom, who somehow became an pariah because he signed on to a Cameron Crowe drama and a Ridley Scott medieval drama. That one was a fatally flawed film and the other a painfully misunderstood masterpiece (hint – it’s not a sequel to Gladiator!!) doesn’t mean that Bloom wouldn’t have been a moron for saying no. And, because this bears repeating, I think its time we forgave Jake Lloyd for not quite having the raw instincts at just eight years old to overcome George Lucas’s famously weak direction of actors and/or the courage/clout to ask him Lucas for better direction.

  • Alboone

    You know Stone has been on my shit list of late. His last few have been crap so I’m taking his latest with a grain of salt. Not buying the hype. As for John Carter I think its gonna surprise. Andrew Stanton is one HELL of a storyteller. @Scott Mendelson — I agree about Jake Lloyd, its not the kids fault, George is just a shitty director.

  • LexG

    Stone is the GOD OF ALL DIRECTING.


    “Pretend you’re back in the hood… and your Mama’s ringin’ the DINNER BELL.”

    Also that bit where James Woods gives some speech about the nobility of football players as warriors… then two seconds later tells his coke-whore date to stay behind “and get fucked by these animals.”

    One of the greatest movies EEEEEVER MADE.


  • cyanic

    From IMDB Pot growers Ben and Chon face off against the Mexican drug cartel who kidnapped their shared girlfriend.

    I guess a scene of them making a “sandwich” will make the final cut somehow.

  • LexG

    Put me down for Door 2.

  • alynch

    I still remember that Woods line: “Stay here and get butt-fucked by 12 neanderthals, bitch.”

  • James Rocchi

    The shame is that this is Winslow’s weakest of his last five books — Christ, even The Dawn Patrol is better-written than Savages. Berg was supposed to do the stunning California Fire and Life (one of the most majestic American crime novels of the past 20 years). That never happened. We got Bobby Z with Paul Walker and Laurence Fishburne. And The Winter of Frankie Machine had Mann attached for a while; is that going anywhere?

    As for The Power of the Dog, a book that in many ways out-Ellroy’s American Tabloid as a leaner, cleaner three-part, three-decade cross-border saga of the drug war? If someone at HBO were smart, they’d make the next Wire out of that.

  • dino velvet

    Ha, looks like Travolta will be rocking it sans rug once again :


  • LexG

    Where do you people read these books, anyway? Who READS in 2012? I have an English Literature degree and I haven’t read a new book in like four years– I read THE ROAD, and before that, probably hadn’t read a novel since the mid-’90s. Who has the time? It’s BORING and my mind can’t focus.

  • Myles

    James Rocchi you and I agree on everything Winslow.

  • cyanic

    I have an English Literature degree

    And yet you work in post production. Not even doing something fun like color correction.

    How come you haven’t considered porn? You get to fuck white women who haven’t made it on a TV show. Although, it would mean the rest of us get to see you naked which means you won’t do it because you don’t want fags like me to get a free peep show.

  • Alexander

    I trust a trailer is to be attached to Safe House, then?

    And Rocchi nails Winslow perfectly. The Power of the Dog would make a killer HBO series.

    I’m afraid Frankie Machine is in developmental hell. Mann appears to be talking up the Agincourt project these days.

  • Jack South P.I.

    “The Power of the Dog…out-Ellroy’s American Tabloid”

    Seriously? I consider Tabloid as the War and Peace of crime novels, the best ever. I’m ordering this now.

    I’m a Winslow fan already but haven’t made it that far back in his work. Lost my cherry with Frankie Machine; thoroughly enjoyed The Dawn Patrol and Gentleman’s hour – talk about material for a a killer TV series.

  • Myles

    Yeah, Mann is off Frankie Machine.

    Also, Mann is deaf and won’t admit the sound is off in all his latest projects. Drives everybody nuts.

    So there’s that.

  • Jack South P.I.

    From page 118:

    The boys quiet until Ben looks across the table at Chon, holds up his thumb and index finger a millimeter apart, and says, “We’re that close to being gay.”


    How does this make the final cut? My guess is they have a steamy three-way and kill any reference to the heavy stuff.

  • Jack South P.I.

    Rocchi, I also ordered Fire and Life.

    People, you need to read Winslow.

  • Raising_Kaned

    “Glad Stone is back to make entertaining violent adult movies. Hoping this is a return to his U-Turn, Natural Born Killers days.”

    ME TOO; I want it bad — almost too bad — but we’ll see.

    Cool cast, but you know how you often see pictures referred to as “top-heavy” in the acting/star department? This one almost seems “top-light.” Weird.

  • dino velvet

    TRAVOLTA BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR POWER. Nah I have no idea, but just in case it does take off, let it be said that I got there first.

  • Raising_Kaned

    Why isn’t James Woods in every Oliver Stone movie ever made?

    I’m actually completely serious about this — there doesn’t really seem to be any logical reason for him not to be.

  • RFignolia

    I’ve said this a few times on this board, but I think the invisible ingredient that made Oliver Stone’s glorious run from Salvador to U-Turn so exciting is Bob Richardson’s cinematography.

    Visually, Stone’s movies haven’t been the same since, though he was able to get away with some leftover fumes with Any Given Sunday (still a favourite of mine).

    So for the moment, I don’t really have any high hopes for this movie, but I’m looking forward to his director’s commentary (they.re great to fall asleep to).

  • Raising_Kaned

    I’m not sure it’s fair to call RR’s cinematography “invisible,” even at the time of release (hard to find a review of NBK that doesn’t mention it prominently — and for damn good reason).

  • Rashad

    Having never seen either version, is Alexander: Revisited good?

  • BoulderKid

    “Having never seen either version, is Alexander: Revisited good? ”

    Can’t imagine it would be. Kingdom of Heaven was a good movie that through its directors cut became great. Alexander was a bad movie that through its directors cut becomes mediocre?

  • RFignolia

    Raising_Kaned: good point, my phrasing was a bit lame.

    What I meant was that Oliver Stone got a lot of credit for the cinematography (from perhaps less knowledgeable filmgoers) while perhaps he only let Richardson take care of it pretty much on his own own without giving him too much specific instructions.

    I was a young teenager back then, but the cinematography in his films was so consistently more exciting than other films at the time (especially from JFK onwards, which was a whole new level no had reached before) that I really associated Oliver Stone alone with this look and was ignorant of Richardson’s adventurous and original work.

    I wonder how NBK would have turned out with any other cinematographer. My general feeling is that Richardson was the one who really elevated the visual presentation of those films that made it memorable for a lot of people, while Oliver was simply a guerilla film maker always on the move, game for daring themes and without too much visual strategies of his own.

    That said, I don’t care too much for Richardson’s work after this period, this oversaturated spotlight from the ceiling being quite played out today. I thought those flashes were distracting in Inglourious Basterds.

  • Gabe@ThePlaylist

    This also signals that Universal thinks ol’ Spidey is vulnerable.

    Hell, I’ll confess to my fetishy-dorky side: I have a pair of Spider-Man underwear, That I sometimes STILL WEAR. And my number one choice on this weekend is no doubt SAVAGES,

  • reverent and free

    If the movie is like the book then it’ll be right up Stone’s alley and very reminiscent of NBK. There’s a scene where Lively’s character imagines she’s on all the talk shows, like I Love Mallory. Plus, Winslow includes a lot of political commentary on current events and modern life, flashbacks to combat in Afghanistan, and Travolta’s character gives a Mr. X type monologue on the history of the drug war.

  • reverent and free

    RFignolia, the DP of Savages is Dan Mindel, who shot Tony Scott’s Domino, which approached NBK’s level of epileptic filmmaking. Should be interesting.

  • DeafEars

    Really looking forward to this, but I wish Johnson wasn’t in it. Whatever’s the opposite of charisma, the kid has in spades. The Germans probably have a word for it.

  • LexG

    How does an actor to explain to their mom they’re tag-teamin’ a chick in a movie? Seems a simple question, but seriously, it’s weird that EVERY ACTOR IN THE WORLD is not just PROGRESSIVE, but they got a family that’d be like “Eh, you’re tag teaming a Gossip Girl with another BRO,” go for it son, GO GET PAID.

    I have an artist’s soul, and CARRIE WHITE’S BACKGROUND; Like that dude on THE SHIELD, Kenny Johnson who played LEM, he said like his parents were SO RELIGIOUS, they never approved of his Hollywood career.

    When I did standup in the 90s and 00s, I once tried to show my parents a snippet of my act, and I dropped like one TAME curse word, and they blanched and didn’t like it AT ALL; How do you SHOW YOUR PARENTS A MOVIE where you play GAY, or HAVE SEX, or talk about sex, or do ANYTHING more kinky than the MUPPET SHOW? How do the great artists, comics and actors and musicians create ART (TM DUCHELOZ GRAY) if they have PARENTS?

    Like doesn’t TAYLOR KITSCH’S or BLAKE LIVELY’S or AARON JOHNSON’S, or, fuck OLIVER STONE’S mom or dad drive out to LOS ANGELES and SHOOT THEM for knowing what SEX even IS? In my upbringing, SEX was THE most evil thing EEEEEEEEEEEEVER– MY family would sooner me KILL SOMEONE than make out with a girl in a movie, then here there’s like BLAKE LIVELY taking 2 dicks;…. what is her MOTHER like? What does her FATHER think? What is TAYLOR KITSCH’s mother like? Dude’s 20 years younger than me, I’m a beaten-down 40 year old man, and I’D NEVER be able to SPEAK TO A WOMAN on screen without my parents actively MURDERING ME for having a sexual impulse.

    Like how does a Blake Lively explain to her PARENTS, eh, I’m playing a hot chick who takes DUDES and DICK in this movie? If my parents had a daughter, they would actively DISOWN if not contract a HIT on her for portraying sex in a movie.


  • Raising_Kaned

    Lex — you’re always asking the really important questions around here (mostly serious).

  • MechanicalShark

    Well, Aaron Johnson’s married to a woman, like, twice his age, so I’d imagine either his parents are super-liberal, or he’s not on speaking terms with them.

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  • flem

    It’s a great book from an underrated writer perfectly suited for Stone’s overheated tendencies.
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  • melody

    its wonderful Rafflesia

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