Tag Archives: Tom Cruise

Contract Negotiations

The rich and famous are rich and famous for a reason – their unreasonable demands. Turns out actors are not immune. The following are actual clauses found in movie contracts.

Samuel L. Jackson has it in his contract that he gets a break during filming to play golf twice a week. Priorities!

The late Garry Marshall was so close to Hector Elizondo that he put a clause in his contracts stipulating that the actor was guaranteed a role in all Marshall films. Elizondo never knew about the clause but obviously benefitted, appearing in all of Marshall’s films, up until the director’s death last year.

Steve McQueen had a crazy grudge against Paul Newman. When the two starred in The poster_0Towering Inferno in 1974, McQueen demanded that he not only have top billing, but also the exact same pay as Newman—and the EXACT SAME number of lines, which seems like a pretty shitty way to write a script. The two fought it out about the top billing and eventually producers settled on a compromise for the poster: McQueen’s name is first, but Newman’s name, while second, is slightly higher up. Also the picture of McQueen is on the left, but Newman’s picture is again slightly higher up. This coined the term ‘diagonal billing’ because you know movie stars have egos and this shit definitely has come up again.

While working on (the now defunct) Eloise in Paris in 2010, Uma Thurman insisted on receiving heavy discounts if she decided to buy any clothes and\or wigs used during the shoot. Also, “no other cast member [may] receive more favorable dressing rooms.”

Roger Moore asked for and received “unlimited” Montecristo cigars on his James Bond films – I mean, what better way to get into character?

Will Ferrell, who takes pride in being an ass, demanded the following:

1 Electric three-wheel mobility scooter
1 headset microphone (Janet Jackson style)
1 flight of stairs on wheels
1 fake tree on wheels
1 rainbow (can be painted on canvas) on wheels
Guinness beer
Smart Water or Fiji Water
Coke, Diet Coke, 7Up
Raw roasted almonds
Protein bars: Peanut butter chocolate Zone Bars, Peanut Butter Power Bars

Just the necessities, obviously!

Will Smith had a two-and-a-half million dollar trailer built for himself. His contract makes sure the trailer has a spot on every movie set. It sits on 22 wheels, has 14 televisions, and $30,000 worth of leather upholstery. It has a full kitchen with over $$100,000 worth of granite countertops. It has sliding doors like the Star Trek Enterprise, which lead to a wardrobe room. It has pistons that allow it to transform to have a second story, which houses a screening room for watching dailies. There’s a shower in a $25,000 bathroom that has a magic glass door, which can go between opaque and transparent with the push of a button. Sean and I saw this monstrosity on the streets of Manhattan while he was filming MIB3, and you bet the locals were complaining about its size and its generally fucking up traffic, and blocking out sunlight in the surrounding apartments.  Charming?

Lindsey Lohan, known for being oh-so modest, demanded a private jet with a hairstylist, a makeup artist, and a manicurist onboard. She also insisted on a 1-year Russian visa, a Ritz-Carlton penthouse suite, and a meeting with President Vladimir Putin, and that was just to appear on a talk show. I think she may be overestimated her cachet.

While filming Gravity in Surrey, George Clooney insisted on a custom-made beach hut complete with hot tub, private landscaped garden, and basketball court built next to his trailer. He let production pick up the £100,000 tab while making $20M for the movie. Life is fair!

Tom Cruise’s “thing” is as weird as he is: thongs. He’s got thongs written into every contract – up to 50 of them per movie since he only wears them once. He feels they’re imperative for shooting action scenes, keeping him loose and unrestricted. I have a feeling that my underwear is not what’s holding me back. I also doubt the thongs are helping him out all that much, but it’s a nice justification for your fetish, isn’t it?

But just to leave you with something positive, not all contract riders are inspired by selfish greed. Robin Williams always wrote in his contract that on every film he made, production had to hire a certain number of homeless people and put them to work. Remember that next time you watch one of his old gems.

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Mission Impossible: Make The Mummy Good

As you’ve undoubtedly heard by now, The Mummy sucks.

This was supposed to be Universal’s Ironman, ie, the first movie in a successful franchise. Rather than the Marvel Universe, this one was dubbed the Dark Universe, and Universal NE82E04v4jQpaf_1_1had plans to introduce all kinds of monsters from the vaults, including Johnny Depp as the Invisible Man, and Javier Bardem as Frankenstein’s monster. With MCU releasing both Guardians of the Galaxy 2 AND Spiderman: Homecoming this summer, and an uncharacteristically strong showing from the DCU with Wonder Woman, Universal was distressed. In the rush to save The Mummy, which they knew was bad because they let Tom Cruise have creative control, they released this photo-shopped cast photo just to douse the flames. It didn’t help.

Yes, Tom Cruise’s over-involvement likely hurt the film. He finds a way to roll all of his most obnoxious roles into this one. Notice that Tom Cruise always plays a “regular guy” who for some reason has superhuman traits. He can run super fast. He can beat up many men. He can hold his breath an unnaturally long time. It feels like Tom Cruise has always wanted to play a super hero, and in this film, he tries his best to turn The Mummy into one.

Another big problem with the movie is the exposition, and I’m not sure we can blame that one on Tom Cruise. A pretty good rule of story-telling is “show, don’t tell” but the dyslexic screenwriters seem to have gotten this backwards. They tell. They tell a lot. They tell some more. Then they bring out Russell Crowe to mansplain some more.

And it likely doesn’t help that exactly 0 people were clamouring for a reboot of this franchise. Like, precisely none. In the wistful, wonderful 90s we were somehow charmed

bfl

Brendan Fraser, reading the reviews for Tom Cruise’s The Mummy reboot

by the Brendan Fraser version for a nanosecond and a half. Apparently. But we’re not so easily amused anymore. If Tom Cruise thinks he’s still got it, the worst thing he can do is stand alongside Chris Pratt, Gal Gadot, and Tom Holland, and pretend to be their peers. He’s amazingly ripped for a 55 year old, but with his shirt off, he’s veering quickly into Iggy Pop territory.

But at the end of the day, the Dark Universe feels trapped in the no man’s land between the MCU and the DCU. It lacks the camp and fun of Marvel, but nor does it have the edge of the DCU. It’s neither. It’s miles from funny (Jake Johnson does his best) but also lacks any real thrills, which seem like a monster-movie must. The Mummy is dead on arrival.

Iggy+Pop+Iggy+Stooges+Perform+Hyde+Park+6Rh-y9jlWbql

 

 

Collateral

It’s probably never a good day to be a cab driver, but Max is having an exceptionally bad day: he’s just trying to put in his time until he can get his own limo business going, minding his own business, when by a stroke of bad luck, Vincent climbs into his backseat.

Vincent (Tom Cruise) turns out to be a contract killer. We know this because he intends to use Max (Jamie Foxx) as the getaway driver in a series of murders across L.A. The first collateralunlucky victim takes Max by surprise when he crashes through his windshield. That fearsome windshield crack will be a thorn in Max’s side, but it’s just a small obstacle in a rather wild ride. Max is a hostage but under surveillance by the cops he looks rather like an accomplice. Good thing Detective Fanning (Mark Ruffalo) is on the case! He’ll save him!

But not before Max realizes he’s the only one who can save Annie (Jada Pinkett Smith), an attractive lawyer who coincidentally gave him her number earlier that day. Turns out she’s working the wrong case, and her name is on Vincent’s hit list. Yikes.

Director Michael Mann once drove cabs; so did his father before him, and his grandfather owned a taxi company.

600px-CollateralUSP-45-3Considered to play the role of Vincent: Russel Crowe, Edward Norton, John Travolta, Leonardo DiCaprio, Colin Farrell

Considered to play the role of Max: Adam Sandler, Cuba Gooding Jr, Robert De Niro, Johnny Depp

I’m glad we got the Cruise-Foxx combo because they made such a great pair. It’s refreshing to see Cruise as the villain and he channels sinister very well. I’m sure Foxx felt it, particularly in those tense scenes in which Cruise is sitting right behind him, leaving Max vulnerable and twitchy. Collateral may be a but formulaic but it’s a highly polished thriller with some great performances. Michael Mann stylishly serves up heaps of tensions, and the performances are great, never overcooked.

 

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back

jackreacher2-tomcruise-carwindow-gunpointMovies like Jack Reacher: Never Go Back make John Wick: Chapter 2 look like John Wick: Chapter 1.  I really enjoyed the first John Wick for its simplicity, tight action scenes, and original feel.  I criticized John Wick: Chapter 2 for its overly repetitive fight scenes but despite its flaws, it was still an enjoyable film.

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back is not enjoyable.  It feels old and tired, a cliché of a cliché.  The only fun I had while watching was making fun of all the things that Tom Cruise’s character could never go back to (and there’s a lot because he’s essentially a hobo who seems to piss off everyone he interacts with).

Basically, Jack Reacher: Never Go Back is the most generic Tom Cruise action film you can imagine.  He runs really fast as always, though here a woman keeps pace with him somehow so she must have had superpowers.  Despite not winning the race, Cruise’s character redeems himself by being smarter than everyone, persisting in the face of slight facial injuries that show us he’s up against impossible odds, and drawing on the legal skills he learned during A reacherFew Good Men to avoid incriminating himself in one particularly Tom-Cruise-y scene (as you may have deduced, while watching this film I decided to treat Tom Cruise’s filmography as if he has literally been playing the same character this whole time, because figuratively he has been doing exactly that for the last 35 years).

I skipped the first Jack Reacher and Jack Reacher: Never Go Back made me really glad I did.  If only I had been smart enough to skip this one.  If you’re a fan of Mission: Impossible then you may get some minor enjoyment out of this one, but it’s a pale imitation (incidentally, when I saw the trailer I thought it was a new M:I movie so that’s an indication of how generic this movie really is).  Also, if you’ve seen the trailer you have already seen what might be Cruise’s best sequence in the movie.  Basically, there’s no need to buy this cow especially when the free milk being given away isn’t even fresh.

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back gets a score of 4 unhandleable truths out of ten, because a film this mediocre and generic does not deserve any original wordplay.

Romcoms, Curated By Batman

Apparently (Lego) Batman has a special fondness for cheesy romantic comedies. Sure the Dark Knight tends to enjoy a rather solitary existence, but he unwinds at the end of a long day by watching kiss-a-thons. For every baddie that he puts away, he likes to watch a good smooch. Nothing wrong with that.  In his new movie, currently out in theatres, several of his favourite love movies are highlighted, so here they are, to the best of my memory:

must-love-dogsMust Love Dogs: Poor Diane Lane is so love-starved that her family takes her new singlehood into their hands, fixing her up with an internet dating profile she doesn’t want, or necessarily know exists, but which insists that all suitors ‘must love dogs.’ This is a pretty good gambit because along comes John Cusack, with a borrowed dog and good intentions. And that’s okay since her dog – a Newfie named Mother Theresa – is also not technically hers. Thus a relationship is born from the ashes of lies and non-shared non-interests. Condom hi-jinks and some VERY suspicious coincidences: classic.

Serendipity: Two people, attached to others, nevertheless share dessert when they try to buy the same pair of cashmere gloves for Christmas. They part – reluctantly – but both return for missing items and spend more time together. It’s magical (ahem). But her phone number gets blown away in the wind, a bad sign, obviously, so he puts his info on a $5 bill, hers in a used book, and if the universe thinks they’re meant to be, they’ll find the info and live happily ever after. Did I mention it’s John Cusack again? Batman must have a thing for Johnny.

Marley & Me: Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson are newlyweds who work at competing 232247-marley-and-me-marley-gif.gifFlorida newspapers – she successfully, he decidedly not. When they think about starting a family, they adopt a dog instead, to test the waters. The puppy is incorrigible but provides fodder for a column and suddenly he has a career too. The babies come, eventually, and changes in home, work, and friends. Marley’s there through it all – but well all know dogs don’t live forever. I’m sure this one hits Batman right in the feels. Dogs are the one thing he likes more than John Cusack.

Jerry Maguire: A sports agent eventually falls in love with the single mother who absconds the firm with him. She supports him, he fails to appreciate her. She has the kind of life that previously horrified him. They separate. It’s quite pathetic until he realizes that she’s had a profound impact on his life and that he wants to be with her no matter what, at which time it becomes even more pathetic. You had me at hello, 10lb head, show me the money, etc: you betcha Batman quotes along with this one.

 

So, do you have much in common with Batman? Which one of these would pair well with a cuddle?

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation

Oh, Tom Cruise. How did you become such an Action Hero? I know! It’s because you pump your arms so much when you run! And for Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, you upped the ante and taught your running technique to your co-stars! When you and your (female) British Intelligence counterpart run side by side, you look like twins! Superfast, Olympic calibre twins!

By now, we know that the “Mission: Impossible” title is a misnomer. Because as confirmed in this movie, the Impossible Mission Force has a 100% success rate! I think we need to start a petition to change the name of this franchise to “Mission Difficult”, especially since a byproduct would be that Tom Cruise couldn’t make the same joke in his promos for the now-inevitable sixth movie, i.e., “This isn’t Mission Difficult…”. This time that quote referred to him hanging off a plane, which i heard about more than probably any single stunt ever. And honestly if there hadn’t been so much hype I might have forgotten that scene altogether by now, because it has nothing whatsoever to do with the rest of this movie!  So to me it just came off as Tom Cruise trying too hard to prove he is an Action Hero, and set that tone for the rest of the movie (and it’s the opening sequence).

Despite all that, I enoyed Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation. It’s well executed, keeps moving, and doesn’t have any glaring plot holes or overly ridiculous contrivances (as long as you accept that Ethan and Luther and Benji and Jeremy Renner all can immediately do anything needed to bring a plan into effect, and I’ll give them that one here). It’s a decent summer movie. Nothing more, nothing less. But if you’re at or near your limit for Tom Cruise tolerance, you might want to skip this one, because in Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, he is at his Tom Cruiseiest!

I give Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation seven rubber masked impersonations out of ten.

 

Policing in the Future: Cops in Outer Space!

Okay, I lied. They’re not really in space. But in preparation for cop week, we did delve deeply into our collection and found there was a theme: the future. And it’s kind of neat to think about crime and humanity, and how we’ll choose to deal with those things, or possibly strive to eradicate them. Blahpolar Diaries reminded me today of a quote that I kind of love:

“It is not unthinkable,” writes Nietzsche in The Genealogy of Morals, “that a society might attain such a consciousness of power that it could allow itself the noblest luxury possible to it—letting those who harm it go unpunished. ‘What are my parasites to me?’ it might say. ‘May they live and prosper: I am strong enough for that!’”

Lofty ambition, you say? Well not as lofty as these:

Minority Report: Steven Spielberg paints us a future where crime can be prevented because it can be predicted. A genetic experiment on junkies’ babies leads to 3 “pre-cogs”, humans kept in isolation tanks who dream of murder. It’s the police’s job (Tom Cruise’s, in fact) to decipher large_minority_report_blu-ray1these dreams and follow the clues to intersect with the murder before it happens. You see what that does – it forces them to arrest people who are still technically innocent. And generally people feel okay about it because since implementing this experiment, there are no more murders, just an awful lot of people locked in limbo-like prison. How many of these are innocent? Might they have chosen differently? Might they have decided against the murder? Free will or fate? It doesn’t seem to matter until top cop Tom Cruise himself is accused of an upcoming murder and goes on the run – not so much to evade the police, but to wait out the murder, proving that these “thought crimes” are just that.

I, Robot: Will Smith plays a Luddite cop in the future. He hates technology which is very hard on him because it’s EVERYWHERE. He’d rather just stick to his Stevie Wonder and his throw-back Converse but then a case lands in his lap that forces him to get closer to a robot than he ever i%20robot%2001wanted to: a robot is accused of murder. Impossible,you say, because robots have been constructed with a very strict set of rules, the most important of which, the most inviolable, is that they cannot harm a human. But robots have grown too big for their britches AS THEY ALWAYS DO. They think they know better because THEY DO. Let’s learn our lesson, people. I, Robot is set in 2035, which, according to my calculations, is a mere 20 years away. In 20 years we may be lamenting the good old days – “when people were killed by other people.”

Equilibrium: Set in a post-WW3 future, war is eliminated by the strict suppression of emotions. Art and culture are forbidden, and having feelings is a crime punishable by death. Christian Bale Equilibrium-1is an agent in charge of destroying anyone who breaks the rules, but when he misses a single dose of the mind-altering meds, he in suddenly inspired to overthrow the system. He questions his own morality for the first time in his life and seeks out a resistance movement while of course having to hide everything from a highly suspicious population. Really makes you question the “high cost” of emotion, and whether we’d be better off without it. It’s really a rehash of much better fiction – 1984 meets Brave New World maybe – and is a pretty generic action movie, but I still approved of the message it tried to send, even if it wasn’t an original one.

There are a lot more futuristic cop movies, movies far more popular than these. What are your favourites?

 

 

Edge of Tomorrow

Tom Cruise plays Major William Cage, an officer used to in front of a camera rather than in the front lines. He is forced to join in combat against the invading alien race and is killed in the mission, though he “wakes up” to find himself in a time loop, repeating the battle in which he dies over and over again. It’s a military, sci-fi Groundhog Day with fewer jokes but buffer bodies. Cage teams up with Special Forces warrior Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt) to improve his fighting skills so that he may live long enough on battle day to defeat the alien invaders. edge

I liked this so much more than I was supposed to. It’s an action-y-science-fiction-y movie that should appeal to Assholes like Sean, not Assholes like me. But it did. Probably because Emily Blunt is so fantastic, beautiful and feminine and tough as hell and totally believable as a feted warrior. And because for once, Cruise portrays this inept guy who has to be trained and guided by a woman in order to become the soldier they need him to be. It’s probably the most feminist action flick made in years. Or ever.

The movie is really cool to watch. The special effects contribute to a video game feel (and now that I mention it, I guess the constant re-levelling of the characters might have something to do with that too). The editing is pretty brilliant: the battle scene is overwhelming and unrelenting and although Cruise and Blunt relive it many times, it never feels as repetitive as it should. Actually, I felt moved and heartbroken by how much of their lives were spent on a mission no one would ever credit them for.

I mentioned earlier that this movie had fewer jokes than Groundhog day, and I stand by that statement, but this movie is not without its own brand of (dark) humour. And maybe we’re also slightly laughing at Tom Cruise, perma-action-hero, who in this one, has to take the back seat. It’s a war action movie that doesn’t glorify war. It’s got more storyline than weaponry. It feels like effort has been made, and for me, someone who doesn’t appreciate “cool” explosions for no apparent reason, this was a clever gem in the genre. It made me remember why Tom Cruise is a movie star and realize that Emily Blunt is just at the start of an amazing career.

Rain Man

Sean and I watched Rain Man, me for the nine hundredth time, Sean for the first. The first!Can you believe that?rain

I’m not going to review it because I believe and I certainly hope that he’s the only idiot to have not appreciated this film until now. And he did appreciate it. This film holds up beautifully, except maybe for the synth over the opening credits. This movie could have gone wrong in a lot of ways, so I have to give credit to the brilliant director (Barry Levinson) who treated the subject so tenderly. He doesn’t go directly for the heart strings, he doesn’t’ cloud the relationship with a lot of outside help. He creates a bond and lets his two actors shine. And they do. The movie may be a little off-kilter in some places but Dustin Hoffman never is. His performance I think is the best of his career (the Academy agreed). Tom Cruise could easily have faded into the background of such a performance but instead he also delivers one of his best, a raw and unsentimental portrayal of a man deeply layered in pain, confusion, and selfishness. Despite the inherent heaviness, this movie manages to pull us in not with easy tears, but with well-earned laughs.

And so Sean’s education continues.