Tuesday, March 04, 2014

James Ellroy's legacy, Kyle Chandler (Homefront, Mulholland Falls, FNL)

World War II is finally over & the boys are coming home (River Run, Ohio). However, the world around them is changing & life will never be the same again. Everything appears to be rosy for Hank Metcalf though, as he is coming home to marry his sweetheart Sarah (who is secretly in love with Jeff, Hank's brother).

Kyle Chandler as Jeff Metcalf and Alexandra Wilson as Sarah Brewer in ABC's "Homefront" (1991–1993)

Charlie Hailey promised to marry is girlfriend Ginger Szabo (Tammy Lauren) when he came home, but instead married Caroline while he was in England. He's convinced that Caroline wants the same things out of life he does, a large family full of kids & a middle class life.

Kelly Rutherford plays bartender/widow Judy Owens. The conniving Caroline never wants to have any children & loves money above all else. In its two season 'Homefront' covered topics such as: racism, the fight to unionize, divorce, the fight for equal rights for African Americans, women trying to break the glass ceiling in the work place, interracial marriage, the Holocaust, prejudice between the social classes, & of course what life was like for the veterans who had made it back to the home front.

-What can you tell us about your new project, the second LA Quartet?

-I’m about to finish the first volume, called Perfidia –my biggest book– which will be published in Britain this fall. The new quartet takes characters both fictional and real, major and minor, from the first quartet and the trilogy, but places them in LA during the Second World War. It’s the month of Pearl Harbor, 6-29 December 1941.

-Will you ever write a TV drama?

-I think Deadwood and Mad Men were intermittently quite wonderful, but often shoddy and veered into incoherence. I saw one or two episodes of The Wire and thought it was bullsh*t. Bad writing. And I have no sympathy for the underclass. I was hired to adapt LA Confidential for TV last summer, but it didn’t sell.

-You sound like you’re thinking about your legacy…

-I want to leave a great literary legacy. I will leave legal documents so no one can ever co-opt my characters or write an Ellroy knock-off book, like when Robert B Parker finished a Raymond Chandler novel. I came of age when being a writer was a big deal. Now everyone’s a writer, due to the internet. Half the people in LA are writing screenplays that’ll never get made. I want to secure my literary legacy despite being more and more flummoxed by cyberspace, the internet and the dissolution of the civil contract. Source:

Nick Nolte, Chazz Palminteri, Kyle Chandler and Treat Williams in 'Mulholland Falls' (1996) directed by Lee Tamahori

-"I had recently become a fan of James Ellroy. And I thought what if we could put some of that Ellroy feel into this story... but it seems like Americans really don't dig that kind of genre anymore. Sort of like the western. I think if you want to do that kind of genre now, it's got to be reinvented as a modern film, with a modern spin on it to attract an audience..." -"Along Came A Filmmaker - New Zealand filmmaker Lee Tamahori for Venice Magazine" (2001) by Alex Simon

Although it supposedly takes place in the 1950s, and although it seems vaguely influenced by James Ellroy’s historical novels about Los Angeles, 'Mulholland Falls' is visually indistinguishable from the world imagined by Towne and Polanski. Like 'Chinatown', it deals with police violence and official corruption (the murder is committed inside the United States Army’s nuclear testing program), but it nevertheless remains sympathetic toward the Los Angeles Police Department— especially toward the “hat squad,” an elite quartet of plainclothesmen who drive around the city in a convertible, beating up gangsters. Aside from administering vigilante justice, the chief function of these four tough guys is to light cigarettes with Zippos and model a peacock collection of suits and accessories. -"More than Night: Film Noir in Its Contexts" (2008) by James Naremore

Kyle Chandler thwarts 'Mad' man Jon Hamm (2011): 'Mad Men' star Jon Hamm lost previous Emmy races for being too emotionally reserved, but in 2011 he submitted 'The Suitcase,' in which he weeps, gets drunk, and mourns.

It seemed like it would finally be his year, but 'Friday Night Lights' coach Kyle Chandler staged a come-from-behind victory nobody saw coming. Source:

And out of nowhere came “Friday Night Lights” leading man Kyle Chandler, whose work episode after episode, season after season, established Coach Eric Taylor as the best on-screen dad since Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch, to win the thing.

Chandler was so unprepared for the win that he didn’t write a speech (and, as a result, forgot to thank co-star Connie Britton until after his microphone was turned off). Source:

"I’d watch all these old black-and-white films on TV, whether it was John Wayne, Cary Grant, or Clark Gable, and get completely lost in them. My father died when I was 14. Once he passed away, I lost that father figure, but I had those figures on the screen. Most of those old movies are based on the good guy versus the bad guy, so I’d go out there and play the good guy." -Kyle Chandler

-On 'Early Edition' you averted disasters thanks to a prophetic newspaper. If you got the tabloids a day early, which celebrities would you try to prevent from making a fool of themselves?

-Kyle Chandler: God almighty. I don’t check on the tabloids, so I only know of the big ones that are always interrupting my news. Maybe I’d give some marital advice to some of ’em.

Kyle Chandler's Got Game: -"I get to bring so much of my own experience as a husband and a dad — the love and the anger, the conversation and cooperation, the knowing when to take the lead and when to give in — it's all there. But it's still pretend. Oh, man, if in real life I was as cool and suave as Coach Taylor and had all the answers, things would be easier."

-How is being in a marriage like being part of a football team?

Kyle Chandler: -You can't just have one star — it's a team effort. To make it work, you've got to be honest and keep a dialogue going. My wife Kathryn, we trust each other to the nth degree. Hmm, unless she's been lying to me this whole time. Marriage is hard work period. My greatest concern in life is my relationship to my wife and my kids. One way I differ from my character, Coach Taylor, is that I never would have taken this faraway job without my wife’s consent.

-Does it ever get tiresome to play such a good, decent guy? Do you sometimes wish that Eric would just do something totally terrible and bad-guy for once?

-Yes, most definitely. Every actor wants to be everybody — play all the roles. Eric’s not supposed to do any wrong. But I like it when he fouls up and does wrong. And I’ve got plenty, just plenty, of background in that — in real life. Source:

Monday, March 03, 2014

Cate Blanchett, Carol, Kyle Chandler

Cate Blanchett poses in the press room after winning best actress Oscar for her turn in Woody Allen's 'Blue Jasmine' during the 86th Academy Awards on March 2nd, 2014 in Hollywood.

Actresses Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara attend the 29th Santa Barbara International Film Festival outstanding performer of the year award on February 1, 2014

Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara and Sarah Paulson are lesbians —at least in the upcoming film version of Patricia Highsmith’s 1952 novel The Price of Salt. Blanchett will play a married woman who falls for a younger female department store staffer, while Paulson plays her ex-lover. Todd Haynes directs Highsmith’s work, which was written during the heyday of lesbian pulp novels but stood out as it didn’t have a tragic ending. The producers have chosen to name the film after the book’s original title, which was Carol. The trio are joined by The Wolf of Wall Street's Kyle Chandler and The Office's Jake Lacy. Source:

"The Price of Salt" (sometimes published under the title Carol) is a romance novel by Patricia Highsmith, written under the pseudonym Claire Morgan. The author – known as a suspense writer following the publication of her previous book, "Strangers on a Train" – became notorious due to the story's lesbian content and happy ending, the latter having been unprecedented in gay fiction. "I have long had a theory that Nabokov knew The Price of Salt and modeled the climactic cross-country car chase in Lolita on Therese and Carol's frenzied bid for freedom," writes Terry Castle in The New Republic about this novel, arguably Patricia Highsmith's finest, first published in 1952. Soon to be a new film, The Price of Salt tells the riveting story of Therese Belivet, a stage designer trapped in a department-store day job, whose salvation arrives one day in the form of Carol Aird, an alluring suburban housewife in the throes of a divorce.

"And they were silent again. Carol drove faster, changing her lane to pass cars, as if they had a destination. Therese set herself to say something, anything at all, by the time they reached the George Washington Bridge. Suddenly it occurred to her that if Carol and her husband were divorcing, Carol had been downtown to see a lawyer today. The district there was full of law offices. And something had gone wrong. Why were they divorcing? Because Harge was having an affair with the woman called Cynthia? Therese was cold. 'Is Harge still in love with you?' Carol looked down at her lap, impatiently, and perhaps she was shocked at her bluntness, Therese thought, but when Carol spoke, her voice was the same as before, 'Even I don't know. In a way, he's the same emotionally as he's always been. It's just that now I can see how he really is. He said I was the first woman he'd ever been in love with. He's never been interested in anyone else, it's true. Maybe he'd be more human if he were. That I could understand and forgive'."

Therese struggles to hide her infatuation even as Carol—teasing, ironic, hard-drinking—flirts with her fairly outrageously. Both Richard-the-dopey-boyfriend (now badgering Therese to marry him) and Harge, Carol's oafish husband, grow suspicious of their intimacy. In the novel's crucial sequence, the two women embark, Thelma-and-Louise-style, on a headlong cross-country car chase pursued by the private detective that Harge has set on their trail. Carol not only fails to commit suicide, she soon recovers her Stanwyckian aplomb and moves into a Manhattan apartment. Therese, learning that some of her set designs have been accepted by a famous theater director, is suddenly confident enough to quit being an IYSYG and finds herself flirting, knowingly enough, with a beautiful movie actress at a Manhattan cocktail party. All the more satisfactory, then, her final realization: the beautiful movie star is a bore, Carol still the One. ("It would be Carol, in a thousand cities, a thousand houses, in foreign lands where they would go together, in heaven and in hell.") When last seen, Therese has just tracked Carol down in the "Elysée bar," and, dizzy with joy, walks resolutely toward her. Source:

Kyle Chandler Tells The Story Of The Army-Navy Game Of 1963: The classic gridiron rivalry was postponed as a nation mourned. But JFK's widow, Jacqueline, wanted the game to go on. President John F. Kennedy was eager to attend the November 30th Army-Navy Game in 1963. The president was assassinated on November 22nd and the game was postponed. Friday Night Lights’ Kyle Chandler (Coach Taylor) narrates Sports Illustrated’s moving story of the game the almost didn’t happened. Source:

[Leo] thinks he’s acting cool and clever, but in reality, he’s just boring. It’s no coincidence that the only times the film is the least bit compelling are when DiCaprio is forced to shut up, first by Matthew McConaughey’s hilarious monologue in Act I, and then about two hours later when a dogged FBI agent - superbly played by Kyle Chandler - gets the better of Belfort while confronting the latter on the deck of his 700-foot yacht.

The remaining 165 minutes are filled with scene after scene of Belfort getting high, bedding hookers, fighting with his bimbo second wife, Naomi (an overmatched Margot Robbie, playing exactly the same role Jennifer Lawrence has in “American Hustle,” but to much less effect), and giving dull motivational speeches aimed at keeping the troops pumped up as the feds close in. Source:

Kyle Chandler (Crazy about my baby) video from Kendra on Vimeo.

Saturday, March 01, 2014

Jake Gyllenhaal: Man of the World

Jake Gyllenhaal on the cover of "Man of the World", #issue 7, 2014

There's no denying Jake Gyllenhaal is a heartthrob, but meeting the actor in person, it's also clear that the 33-year-old is first and foremost an artist. It's evident in his recent choice of roles, and in the passionate and thoughtful way he speaks about his craft.

Gyllenhaal has always been one to take on challenging roles in provocative fare, dating back to his breakout role as a troubled teen in "Donnie Darko." In the years that followed, the actor worked with a series of notable directors including Sam Mendes ("Jarhead") and David Fincher ("Zodiak"). After experiencing a minor setback with "Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time," his first bid at a blockbuster franchise, Gyllenhaal returned to the dark character studies he made his name on. His latest, "Enemy," from his "Prisoners" director and good friend Denis Villeneuve, opens March 14 and is currently available to view on DirecTV.

-I love that idea of someone being split. Trying to kind of find their way and commit to in the end... a real relationship with his wife, who is pregnant with their child. You know, that's to me what the movie was about. To me, that was the beautiful hopeful ending, that I thought, "Okay, that's where he's moving towards." Now the irony of it is, and I don't know if this is a spoiler, the end is cyclical because no matter what we commit to in what we decide we want our lives to be, there's always the biological, psychological aspects that will torment us at times. You know, there's always that snake. The snake doesn't go away, you know what I mean? It's always in the corner of the woods, you just need to know where it is, so you don't step on it again. You can walk around it. And I think that's the idea of the movie to me.

-I feel a desperate need to bring that to everything that I do. And I feel that every interaction that I have, be it in the interaction that we're having now, or I go out on the street, whoever I see, whoever I meet, in my life, my friends, the people I love, my family... each on of those things in between each project I do is an accumulation of an experience and I want to put all those things, even if it correlates to the movie I'm doing or not. It's all inside me, it's how I grow. So, I don't want deny that stuff and then go and make a movie. I want to take all that stuff with me and put it into the experience I'm having. And that's a decision I made, I started to realize, "That moves me. Oh, I detest that. Oh..." Whatever it is, and bring it in to the performances. I think you get to a certain age where you start doing that and you're no longer feeling that...

-So I'm seeing more of you in every performance now.

-I think so. I think so... I mean, I've become a lot more obsessed with the specificity of characters and like you said, my work, the choices I make, also being on stage was a really big evolution for me. Getting back on stage last year, I will again next year, to me, being a part of... I don't know... I just feel more alive in what I'm doing.

-I can't explain it in any way, except the relationships I make with the people I make movies with matters to me the most and how we interact. I'm about to go do this movie about Everest with Baltasar Kormakur, directing the movie, and I know the relationship we have there, like, we will explore. I will listen to him and what he needs and then I'll go into unknown territory for him as a result. I don't now what that's about. I don't know what happened. I just know I went like, "Oh, now's the time." There's no other time but now to go do it. I'm going to make a bold choice and if someone doesn't want it they can cut it out. Source:

Friday, February 28, 2014

Carole Lombard's Fireball, The Greatest Generation, Homefront

If you are interested in the Golden Age of Hollywood and an in depth look inside the life and death of Carole Lombard, then Fireball: "Carole Lombard & the Mystery of Flight 3" by Robert Matzen is a must read. It was released on January 16, 2014 on the 72nd Anniversary of the mysterious plane crash that killed Carole and 21 others. As you turn each page, Matzen takes you on an intriguing journey of discovery.

I didn’t really know that much about Carole Lombard other than she was a famous movie actress from the 20’s and 30’s, and married to the famous Clark Gable. As you turn the pages, the photographs in the book and the historical background into the Hollywood Era bring Lombard and Gable to life. Matzen’s research details just how “highly influential” Lombard was.

He describes the love story between Lombard and Gable as well as the people they surrounded themselves with. Moreover, the reader experiences all the emotions of that terrible night on January 16, 1942 when the DC-3 crashed into Mt. Potosi at an elevation of 8,200 feet, with Lombard and 21 others on board. Robert Matzen says, “The wreckage of the plane had been beckoning me up that mountain for years, and finally I went. That adventure was all the inspiration I needed, and I am dumbfounded that no one has told this story before me. The plane crash is always looked upon as a throwaway item, as the end of Lombard’s story, rather than as a story itself. But it has everything: love, bravery, courage, foolhardiness, sadness, and death.”

When asked about doing his research, Matzen said, “To get a fresh perspective on Carole Lombard, I located unpublished manuscripts as well as interviews with principals that had been kept in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for almost 40 years.” Source:

Tom Brokaw defines "the greatest generation" as American citizens who came of age during the Great Depression and the Second World War and went on to build modern America. The vehicle used to define the generation further is the stories told by a cross section of men and women throughout the country under eight topics: Ordinary People; Homefront; Heroes; Women in Uniform and Out; Shame; Love, Marriage and Commitment; Famous People; and the Arena. Unlike any era YAs have known, the 1940s are characterized by a people united by a common cause and values. -Carol Clark (Fairfax County Public Schools, VA)

"Jack Dempsey and Gene Tunney were raising the spectacle of heavyweight boxing matches to new heights of frenzy. Baseball was a daytime game and a true national pastime, from the fabled Yankee Stadium to the sandlots in rural America. The New Yorker was launched, and the place of magazines occupied a higher order.

Flappers were dancing the Charleston [According to Robert Matzen, Carole Lombard embraced the flapper lifestyle and won several Charleston competitions at the Coconut Grove]; Fitzgerald was publishing The Great Gatsby; The idea of personal responsibility is such a defining characteristic of the World War II generation that when the rules changed later, these men and women were appalled." -"The Greatest Generation" (2010) by Tom Brokaw

Jeff (Kyle Chandler) and Ginger (Tammy Lauren) were my favorite characters on the series. I loved watching them bicker. They got together out of loneliness at Jeff’s brother’s wedding, both having to see the people they loved with someone else. They dated, became engaged, broke up, and got back together during the two seasons of the series. The series finale featured their wedding.

"Homefront" was well done and authentic, with astonishing attention to detail and a fantastic cast as its best features. The story started at the end of WW2 and told of the seismic shifts that were underway as those who served came back home and, along with those who stayed behind, had either difficulties or adventures adjusting.

“The world would never be so simple again,” said the ad tagline, which gives you the premise in a nutshell. There’s the spunky screwball girl and wannabe actress (Tammy Lauren) who’s waiting for her sweetheart to return but meets his wife instead and has to plan for a different future.

And every small town has to have the sultry siren, the war widow dame (Kelly Rutherford) who looks like she walked straight out of a noir (producers did cast for her Gloria Grahame attitude). Those roles, filled by extremely talented actors (especially the women), were set up as a microcosm of society, every class and type with whom we’d watch the postwar age unfold.

One thing I vividly remember is that the lifestyles and styling seem just the way you’d expect in reality, meaning it looks like the character came home after seeing the latest Betty Grable or Veronica Lake movie, ran to the mirror and mimicked her look, as opposed to you being painfully aware you’re looking at a 90s actress playing dress-up.

They act as believable people, not as reasonable facsimiles; some trendy, some traditional, each looking as they should. It’s no wonder the show was nominated for over a dozen Emmys, and won four for art direction, hair and costuming. Wherever you lay your eyes there’s a detail and a touch of realism someone thought to include: furniture, cars, slang, gossip, products, sponsors, newsreels, all were woven in where appropriate. The brides from Europe are wearing dresses authentic to their regions, and according to the complaints of some of the actresses, even the underwear was uncomfortably vintage. The show was even shot in the style that would have been in use in the 40s, so for example they used no zoom lenses.

Music was a huge part of the series and it was picked carefully, featuring deeper, more meaningful tracks than just the basic Swing’s Greatest Hits compilation. Good old fashioned traditional values like courtship were in there, and mostly without cynicism, as one reviewer wrote, it was like a wholesome Norman Rockwell painting come to life, but you also got the necessary portion of social realism beneath that pretty painting, of unmarried girls facing pregnancy scares, the struggle of trying to walk after polio, dealing with racism, civil rights struggles, PTSD and divorce.

Homefront was one of the best examples of comfort television I’ve ever seen, and with the critical acclaim and the awards it got, it deserves a better place in TV history than just being a cute soap. It was a bigger step than people realize, toward the high production-value throwback series we enjoy now like Mad Men or Boardwalk Empire. But because of poor network promo, six time slot moves by ABC, an expensive production budget, and chronically low ratings, it barely squeaked out two full seasons and is pretty much forgotten now. Source: