'This is a movie that says that love is the most powerful thing there is ...'
Russell Crowe is smiling and happy as he meets the press to talk about his role as Super-dad Jor-El in "Man of Steel." Compliment his suit and he makes the international sign for Euro-sophistication, upturned hand with the fingers meeting above it, as he intones "Giorgio Aaaaarmani." We spoke with Crowe in Burbank about what made him come on board, Jor-El's ultimate fate and what his kids most enjoyed about the film ...
MSN Movies: You play Jor-El, the father of Kal-El who becomes Superman. We were just talking about the suit you're wearing today, which is a Giorgio Armani. But when you're playing Superman's dad, how much do the clothes make the Kryptonian? You have some great costumes in this; does it help?
Russell Crowe: The council chamber costume was probably the biggest battle I had in the whole movie -- me versus that costume. It was very difficult to even walk around in, that thing, and it's so heavy. And so when you have a fight sequence with it as well and the choreography, one of the moves is like a kick so you're trying to lift up your leg under that, all those layers of material. But the bottom line thing, the essential spandex, four layers of spandex thing, that definitely made you feel powerful.
And the other thing is, you do get to get your fight on a little bit in this. Normally when we see Superman's dad, he's intoning to preside over the launch of the rocket. Was it nice to be slightly more proactive version of that?
Well, I don’t know those; I've never seen those other films, so I don’t really know what the references are. But certainly I was a little surprised at the size of the character when it first came to me, but I think it's cool. I mean I did have to explain to my kids, that, unfortunately I will die multiple times before their eyes. (Laughs)
A little bit grim.
A little bit.
Trailer nerds, here's your new most anticipated film of the year
Based on Megan Abbott's book of the same name
The 99% take on the 1%... in space!
Videodrone's take on the biggest, best, coolest and culty-ist releases of the week
James Franco plays "Oz the Great and Powerful" (Disney) in the Frank L. Baum adaptation from director Sam Raimi that plays out as a prequel to the classic "The Wizard of Oz." Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz, and Michelle Williams play the witches of Oz in this lavish production, originally released in 3D, and are more interesting characters than the shallow huckster who grows into a hero. Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D, DVD, and VOD. Videodrone's review is here.
"Snitch" (Summit) is a Dwayne Johnson thriller that favors gritty crime drama over action movie superheroism. Susan Sarandon and Barry Pepper co-star. Blu-ray, DVD, On Demand, VOD, and at Redbox. Reviewed on Videodrone here.
"Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters" (Paramount) stars Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton as fairy tale character grown up into fantasy warriors dispatching wicked witches and other monsters preying on the hamlets of medieval Germany. Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D, DVD, On Demand, VOD, and at Redbox. More from Videodrone here, including an exclusive clip from the Blu-ray extras.
On the indie front is Quentin Dupieux's "Wrong" (Drafthouse, Blu-ray and DVD), an absurdist tale of a man looking for his lost dog, and from the small screen comes "Betty & Coretta" (Lionsgate, DVD) with Angela Bassett and Mary J. Blige as civil rights leaders Coretta Scott King and Dr. Betty Shabazz.
And arriving from foreign shores is the erotic thriller "The Taste of Money" (IFC, DVD) from South Korean filmmaker Im Sang-soo, plus "11 Flowers" (First Run, DVD) from China and "The Monk" (Flatiron, DVD) with Vincent Cassel from France.
Most releases are also available as digital download and VOD via iTunes, Amazon, and other web retailers and video services.
TV on Disc:
"The Newsroom: The Complete First Season" (HBO), Aaron Sorkin's HBO original series set at a cable news channel that is remarkably idealistic and full of brilliant people who have sharp political instincts and poor impulse control, arrives a month before the second season launches. 10 episodes on Blu-ray and DVD. Videodrone's review is here.
"House of Cards: The Complete First Season" (Sony) brings the Netflix original series, produced by David Fincher and starring Kevin Spacey as a savagely Machiavellian politician, to disc. 13 episodes on Blu-ray and DVD. Reviewed on Videodrone here.
The middle chapter in Peter Jackson's second Middle-Earth trilogy is due this Christmas
Plus more 'Madea,' Araki goes 'Kaboom,' Tilda Swinton in 'The Deep End,' and more
"Upstream Color" (2013), the latest headtrip from filmmaker Shane Carruth, gets an unequivocal recommendation from MSN film critic Glenn Kenny: "the second feature film by writer-director-performer Shane Carruth, is a tour-de-force of a science fiction/horror film, conceived and executed with rare sensitivity and intelligence. It's full of genuinely creepy and disturbing moments and trucks in some genuinely creepy and disturbing ideas and concepts. For most movies nowadays, these qualities would be more than enough to qualify as something special, and something especially ambitious as well. But "Upstream Color" has more, and that's a big part of what makes it glorious, but also a big part of what makes it challenging for what we'll refer to here as the "mainstream market.""
"Madea's Witness Protection" (2012) pairs Madea (Tyler Perry) up with Eugene Levy, a meek investment banker who takes refuge in Madea's house when he enter Witness Protection with his family. Los Angeles Times film critic Mark Olsen calls it "a spectacularly slapdash and wearingly half-hearted effort from the prolific writer-director-actor, lacking energy, structure or common sense."
"Kaboom" (2010) from Queer cinema icon Gregg Araki rolls sex, questions of sexuality, gorgeous college kids, teenage angst, witchcraft and quite possible the apocalypse into a trippy little picture. "It's by far the funniest and warmest movie Araki has ever made, with much less juvenile angst and much more command of his craft," writes Salon.com film critic Andrew O'Hehir, who describes it as: "A delirious and lighthearted pop spectacle with a dark undercurrent of apocalyptic horror…" Thomas Dekker, Juno Temple, Haley Bennett, Stella, Chris Zylka, Roxane Mesquida and James Duvall star.
"The Deep End" (2001) stars Tilda Swinton as a mother whose protected middle class world is shattered by a handsome blackmailer (Goran Visnjic) who targets her teenage son while her navy officer husband is away at sea. Swinton’s closed in performance lacks the necessary emotional connection with Visnjic to make the melodrama’s romantic twists believable, but she beautifully creates a shell of toughness that cracks under the pressure of the crisis and her family’s emotional needs, tearing at her heart while she’s most vulnerable.
The documentary examines the rise and fall of the controversial 'Father of Trash TV'
Long before Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, or Sean Hannity, one controversial, bombastic talk-show host ruled the airwaves for a brief period in the late 1980s: Morton Downey, Jr. His blow-smoke-in-your-face style attracted a rabid cult following and today he is often considered the “Father of Trash TV.” Did his confrontational style and brash opinions represent the real Morton Downey, Jr. or was it just part of his shtick to appeal to populist audiences? “Evocateur: The Morton Downey Jr. Movie,” directed by Seth Kramer, Daniel A. Miller, and Jeremy Newberger examines Downey’s rapid rise and fall. His ascent was fueled by his excessive coverage of the Tawana Brawley case in which a 15-year-old African American teenager accused a group of white men, including several police officers, of raping her and covering her body with racial insults before stuffing her in a trash bag. Brawley’s advocate, Al Sharpton, became a frequent guest on Downey’s TV show. Brawley’s claims were later proven to be a hoax, and Downey’s own flame-out occurred when he falsely claimed that he, himself, was a victim of an assault by a group of Nazi skinheads in an airport bathroom.
This fascinating documentary includes interviews with Herman Cain, Pat Buchanan, Chris Elliott, Gloria Allred, Sally Jessy Raphael, Alan Dershowitz, Curtis Sliwa, and Richard Bey. Never-before-seen footage reveals Downey’s behind-the-scenes fistfights and foibles. I spoke to Daniel Miller by phone. After discussing the the pitfalls of going through life with our shared name (no, we don’t produce the NPR show “Fresh Air” with Terry Gross or the band Depeche Mode, we aren’t sculptors or experts in organizational theory, and we never starred in the British soap “Emmerdale”), we talked about the provocative Morton Downey, Jr. (who died of lung cancer in 2001) and this definitive look into what made Downey tick.
MSN Movies: I have to admit that I couldn’t stop myself from watching Morton Downey, Jr. in the late 1980s even though I found him repellent!
Daniel A. Miller: I know. My co-directors and I call ourselves “recovering fans.” Downey definitely served both audiences—the "bridge and tunnel" people who felt he was speaking for them and those who just watched his show because it was great entertainment!
Of course what scared me more than Downey himself back then were the mob-like audiences who seemed like they would have felt at home in the Roman Coliseum!
Exactly. You always felt like they might take that mob mentality out onto the street whereas with Morton Downey, Jr., his approach was clearly part of his shtick. What we loved about Downey back in the day—we were teenagers then—was the way he was engaging in real ideas in such an entertaining way. His style borrowed a lot from professional wrestling—there was always a good guy and a bad guy and you saw these guys go into the ring and battle it out with each other. Whether any of it was fake didn’t matter—you couldn’t wait for the Coliseum audience to give the thumbs up or thumbs down.
How did this project come about?
My colleagues (Jeremy Newberger and Seth Kramer) and I discovered that we were all secret Morton Downey fans growing up. We decided we wanted to do a film about him so we met with Bob Pittman, the creator of the show who also helped found MTV and is now the CEO of Clear Channel. He loved the idea and told us he had all of the shows, just over 400 episodes, in a warehouse in New Jersey. So we watched all of them! The goal was not to create a “Morton Downey, Jr. Show” highlights reel, but to create a narrative arc that described Downey’s rise and fall. We wanted to look at his influences and to deconstruct him as a person.
It must have been crazy trying to distill all that footage into a single film.
It was challenging! There were some key moments, like the the Al Sharpton fight and Downey yelling at Ron Paul that we knew we had to include because that’s what people remember from the show. But there were a lot of other surprising moments. Some of the best stuff came during commercial breaks when the cameras kept rolling. At those moments Downey would often unload on his staff. We also got Al Sharpton in one of those moments during a break where he calls someone in the audience a “punk faggot.”
I’m fascinated by Downey’s relationship with Al Sharpton as well as the way his show exploited the Tawana Brawley case. It was hard to figure out what Downey really felt about that situation. Do you think he focused on that case just because it was so incendiary and he knew it would attract viewers?
Absolutely. And I think he saw in Al Sharpton a kind of brother in arms, a fellow showman who was going to use that story, regardless of how much truth was in it, to build himself up as a public persona. Downey and Sharpton were able to feed off each other. Downey’s producers now say that they made Al Sharpton and Downey certainly used Sharpton and the Brawley case to make his show so popular. One of the biggest moments in the history of the show came when they were taping an episode at the Apollo Theater in Harlem and Sharpton got into an actual physical fight with civil rights activist Roy Innis. Downey was actually making news that night which he loved!
Do you think that fight between Sharpton and Innis was real?