You're a writer and producer on the project. Was it hard to get it made in this climate?
It was tricky because people were buying all the lies that came out of the Bush administration. It would be like, "What time is it?," and they would just start to lie and everybody just let them get away with it for so long. They were even saying things like, "Everybody better watch what they say, you guys better watch what you say." And it was really at the height, you know, when the statue had fallen, and so we figured that it better be time to not watch what you say. So getting a movie made is hard but getting a movie made that takes on the military corporate complex and how it's mutated into this kind of privatized war machine - it was not an easy sell.
You said that there were people telling you that the film was too early or too late. In fact, it's coming out before the presidential elections, which seems to me the perfect time to get a political message out. Was that part of the plan, or is that a lucky break on your part?
A little bit of both. I think the climate has changed for the movie. At first people were saying things like, "We won't even show it," you know? And then they were saying things like, "It's anti-American," and then they started to say things like, "Well, there are some good ideas in it," and then they started saying it was funny and then people started to say, "It's great." All that happened in about six months, so I think the climate has changed in the country really drastically in the last year. The movie hasn't changed much but I think people's reaction to it has changed drastically. It's actually doing very well in the theaters at the moment. Crazy.
It's expanding out to more cities on June 13.
It's interesting. In the movie we have disaster capitalists, these corporations that want to make money off of actually planning and then milking disasters, like owning every part of the disaster of war. But in the movie business we just have straight capitalists, and the company that released it feels like they can make some money because its per-screen average was, I think, just under Sex and the City and Indiana Jones in LA and New York. The theaters have been packed so far and there's been a real viral groundswell to see the movie.
Some critics have not liked it and there are some critics who have, but the LA Times and Time magazine liked it and a lot of other people have hated it, but the critics we've had on MySpace, like the guys I told you about, that's gone viral. There's been about 30,000 visitors on MySpace now and a lot of these political organizations who have been supporting the film, like The Nation magazine and Raw Story and independent journalists and investigative journalists, are saying, "This is the way it really is right now." We've actually sold out the theaters so we've got the capitalists interested in this crazy movie, which is kind of crazy because it's just a punk rock movie which we just made for a couple of bucks in Bulgaria. The idea was, let's just do something that tries to puncture a hole as loudly and as broadly as we can in the whole neo-conservative movement, let's just call things what they are, shame it, mock it, light it on fire and throw rubber bricks at it. Or real bricks.
I saw you talking about the film and the issues on Real Time With Maher a month ago or so.
Bill Maher actually gave us a terrific endorsement for the movie. He's one of our guys who gave us a quote.
You said you made this as a guerrilla operation, very little money...
Yeah, about a third of the money we had for Grosse Point Blank and that was 10 or 15 years ago.
How did you get stars like Hilary Duff and Marisa Tomei and Ben Kingsley in major roles?
They all loved the script, they all loved the idea of how radical it was and how fearless it was and they all said "Yes" right away. Hilary read it, wanted to do it. Sir Ben Kingsley read it, wanted to do it. Marisa read it, wanted to do it. I think they liked the idea that it was so crazy. One of the things that's so weird about this movie that some people like and don't like is that it's so, as you said, strange, but a lot of people love that about the movie, because it shifts from surreality to a soap opera to black comedy to regular sincerity and it doesn't make any excuses about that or explain it. I think some of the actors like being in something that isn't just another romantic comedy or isn't just another cop film. It's nice to be able to do something different.
You brought up Grosse Point Blank in terms of budget, but there are other connections to the film. I see Hauser, the corporate assassin, as the logical evolution of Grosse Point Blank hit man Martin Q. Blank, in an alternate universe. He still sees a therapist and he has stress issues, he just turns to shots of hot sauce.
He doesn't even really have a therapist, he just uses the OnStar guide, and even that is a little antiquated. He is kind of a samurai; he is kind of an old school guy, but he uses the OnStar valet as the only human connection he can. But yeah, we saw it as kind of a spoof on samurai characters, but it's certainly in the tradition of the other movie.
He even has the same dry, deadpan sense of humor.
It's definitely cut from the same cloth as that movie, but it's a lot more experimental.
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