A roundtable chat with Kate Bosworth and Danny Huston of “The Warrior’s Way”

The movies often make for strange companions, if not actual bedfellows. So it was that a bunch of entertainment writers at the junket for the genre-blending martial-arts western fantasy, “The Warrior’s Way,” met with a pair of actors with a definite air of  beauty-and-the-beast about them.

Kate Bosworth of Kate Bosworth is, oddly enough, the beauty of the pair. Perhaps best known as Lois Lane in the unfairly maligned “Superman Returns,” Bosworth has appeared in a number of films, including a solid appearance as Sandra Dee in Kevin Spacey‘s offbeat Bobby Darin biopic, “Beyond the Sea.” She also played porn star John Holmes’ teenage girlfriend in the fact-based “Wonderland” and was the female lead in the gambling-themed hit, “21.” Bosworth launched her career starring in the short-lived “Dawson’s Creek” spin-off, “Young Americans,” which wrapped in 2000 and followed that up with the lead role in the surfing-themed “Blue Crush” in 2002.

Danny Huston is often cast in the role of beastly types and authority figures, and usually a combination of both. He was the leader of the cold weather vampires in “30 Days of Night,” a memorably creepy power broker in “Children of Men,” and the mutant hating Col. William Stryker in “X-Men Origins: Wolverine.” He was also the despicably ultra-vicious desperado/gangleader brother of Guy Pearce in the 2005 mega-grime Australian western, “The Proposition.”

Danny Huston of It’s also mandatory that I mention that Huston is about as “Hollywood royalty” as people get, being the son of acting and directing great John Huston, whose best remembered acting role remains as the deeply evil Noah Cross of “Chinatown” and whose iconic films included “The Maltese Falcon,” “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre,” and, still going strong decades later, “Wise Blood” and “Prizzi’s Honor.” That additionally means that Danny Huston’s grandfather was the early Hollywood star and character actor Walter Huston and his half-sister is Oscar-winner Angelica Huston. Still in his forties, he also was a director early on in his career, helming 1988’s “Mr. North.”

Bosworth and Huston were there to promote their roles in “The Warrior’s Way,” which was released this last weekend in a modest wide release. In the film, the first English language starring vehicle for Korean superstar Jang Dong-gun, Bosworth plays Lynne, a knife-thrower in training bent on revenge against the man who killed her family and attacked her. Naturally, that man is the Colonel (Huston), a mask-wearing evildoer who was badly disfigured by Lynne as a young girl, so it’s clear these two just aren’t going to get along.

Off screen, however, the two got along just fine as they sang the praises of the film which none of us entertainment journalist types had actually seen. About 10-15 minutes worth of clips had been shown to us the night before, prior to a very pleasant reception with some really delicious sushi and yakitori treats. The next day we got more American style fare at the Beverly Hilton. Did I mention that the food is often the best part of a press day?

The conversation started around some of the costumes used in the film. One journalist asked Kate Bosworth if she enjoyed the costuming aspect of movie-making. This might have turned into a very interesting piece if she’d said, “God, no, I hate it!” But, of course, that’s not how she feels.

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It’s your just barely pre-holiday weekend movie news dump

I was going to try and avoid doing this this week and meant to gripe about the Los Angeles Film Festival’s rather serious problems in terms of how they treat the human beings who attend, but there was simply too much interesting news stuff going on to ignore, even if some of it is outside of what I usually cover.  So, LAFF, you get another reprieve…

* I don’t do gossip and the content of an argument between a director/star and his ex-mistress certainly qualifies. On the other hand, when that star is Mel Gibson and he has the history he does and he says something as noxious as this, you just can’t ignore it. People say terrible stuff when they’re in the thrall of extreme anger, but Gibson keeps going back to the racist and misogynist well when he becomes unhinged. It’s not nothing.

Also, I hope he avoids anything that looks like preaching ever again. I’m no theologian, but as I understand it,  a devout fundamentalist anti-Vatican II Catholic who openly cheats on and leaves his wife is not exactly walking the walk, but it’s only anyone’s business because of the way he’s made religion part of his career and it’s hard not to think of him as complete hypocrite, on top of everything else. I truly don’t believe that people should decide not to see movies based on a particular actor’s behavior, not matter how bad, but this comment is so repulsive, and the man is so clearly out of control, that I’ll understand if people would just prefer not to look at him anymore.

On the other hand, for those in the talking and making fun of people business, it can be a good thing, and it’s already started, largely via Twitter. Jeff Schneider of the Wrap has compiled some of it.

* I usually also try to avoid stories that are vague and unconfirmed, but this one is a bit too interesting and potentially big to ignore. There’s also a various obvious Gibson connection to the biggest unconfirmed glorified rumor of the day. It’s that it’s just barely possible that two back-to-back “Mad Max” sequels are being directed down-under even as we speak by the Max man himself, George Miller. Certain aspects of the story, especially the putative titles, are hinky, but I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.  If it’s true, I’m guessing Miller is a bit relieved that Gibson isn’t involved this time. (Though can they really be sequels in the usual sense without him, or at least his character?)

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Three losses

The old saw about deaths coming in threes appears to have come true over the last couple of days with the passing of three individuals, all noteworthy to the movie world, though in very different ways.

* Al Martino spent most of his career as a well known lounge singer, but his moment of cinema immortality came with his casting as mob-connected singer-actor Johnny Fontaine in “The Godfather.” According to this rather sensational obituary in The Telegraph, his life  — including even how he obtained the role in the 1972 classic — may have had more in common with Fontaine’s than Frank Sinatra, who most filmgoers assumed was the model for Fontaine. Martino, who got the role after another Italian-American crooner, Vic Damone, dropped out of the running, also appeared in both “Godfather” sequels. He also sang the hit version of the movie’s “Love Theme,” “Speak Softly Love.”

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* On Monday, Anne Thompson posted a moving remembrance of her friend, film scholar Anne Friedberg, who died of cancer at age 57 on October 9. She was the chair of the Department of Critical Studies at USC’s film program. She was married to screenwriter Howard Rodman, who heads the screenwriting program at USC, and her past students included critic Manohla Dargis of the New York Times. Ms. Thompson also included a quote from famed magician/writer/character actor (and David Mamet regular) Ricky Jay, so she obviously had her share of interesting friends as well.

* Former MGM and Columbia Studio executive and producer Daniel Melnick also died yesterday from lung cancer at age 77. He oversaw a number of classic and notable films at the studio and also was personally involved with a number of significant hits and a few classics ranging from “Footloose” (a hit, definitely not a classic) and Bob Fosse’s “All That Jazz” (a classic, not that huge a hit) to Sam Peckinpah’s “Straw Dogs,” to “Altered States” and my favorite Steve Martin movie, “L.A. Story.”

  

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The Tiger’s Tail

Writer-director John Boorman (“Deliverance,” “Excalibur,” “Hope and Glory”) has never been afraid of taking chances, and that definitely continues in this witty, suspenseful, and flawed 2006 thriller-cum-family drama. “The Tiger’s Tail” reteams Boorman with his lead actor from 1998’s “The General,” Brendan Gleeson (“In Bruges,” “28 Days Later“). This time, Gleeson is a renowned Dublin real estate capitalist with a calm but frosty marriage to wife Kim Cattrall, a strained but affectionate relationship with his Marxist teenage son (Briain Gleeson, the character actor’s actual offspring), and a business on the edge of collapse. All of that, however, is just par for the course until an exact double turns-up and appears bent on the most extreme form of identity theft.

As you might expect, this is a tale full of twists and turns. Unfortunately, several of them are weirdly contrived (think “Trading Places” meets “Ordinary People” with a distasteful dash of “Straw Dogs”) and many moments are just plain overheated –- at times Boorman seems to want to bludgeon us with composer Stephen McKeon’s score. Still, “The Tiger’s Tail” is salvaged by plentiful tension, humor, heart, and some very good performances, not only from Gleeson in a showy dual role, but also from son Briain and an especially moving turn by veteran actress Sinead Cusack. Best of all is a conclusion that takes the film to a place very few thrillers go. In his mid-seventies, Boorman remains a big-hearted filmmaker and this is a messy but big-hearted film.

Click to buy “The Tiger’s Tail”

  

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Remake of “Straw Dogs” begins filming

Sam Peckinpah’s 1971 classic “Straw Dogs” stars Dustin Hoffman as a Hollywood screenwriter who moves with his wife Amy to her hometown. As Hoffman’s character, David, buries himself in work, Amy becomes annoyed and begins to flirt with the men in the town. Among them is her former boyfriend, Charlie, who begins to romantically pursue Amy. When he is unsuccessful, he rapes Amy while David is out of town. The scene was incredibly controversial at the time as Amy at one point appears to enjoy the rape.

The film offers a challenging take on males as carnivores. As the townspeople descend on the couple’s home, the previously mild-mannered David shifts into a homicidal rage. “Straw Dogs” is intriguing, thrilling, eerie, and raw.

So, I don’t know why anyone would want to remake it. I can’t see how an update would be relevant in the slightest. Rod Lurie, a former movie critic, will be directing. In the past, Lurie’s directed such films as “The Contender,” “The Last Castle,” and “Resurrecting the Champ.” The remake, which begins filming today, stars James Marsden as David and Kate Bosworth as Amy. Alexander Skarsgard, James Woods, and Dominic Purcell will play some of the town’s ruthless citizens. The movie is set for release sometime in 2011.

  

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