Sunday, October 11, 2009

Auteur Watch - Lee Tamahori

Welp, kinda like John Singleton before him, he may have started out as a serious filmmaker, but he found his true calling as a brainless action man! But he is my hero for getting started so late in the game... no, wait, he was a prodigy. Damn! He was a crackerjack boom operator at 28! I feel so old. Well, we still got Andrew Niccol and William Broyles Jr. to look up to, right, guys?
Let's focus on the career highlights. Graduating from the sound department to directing, he hit international paydirt with Once Were Warriors. Great title. I'm going to add it to my list. Well, it's not quite in the big league of title names, but close. I'm talking titles like: Future Shock. Castle Freak. Joey Breaker. A Rage in Harlem. If ... Dog ... Rabbit. Things We Lost in the Fire. You might not have seen the movie, but man! How about that title? It's a name you can really sink your teeth into when you go up and ask for that ticket.
Anyway, he had some caché and sashay after OWW and Mulholland Falls, and so what does he do with his career capital? He blows it all on The Edge. The stories about the making of which are, of course, more interesting than the film itself. But he does what he can, cribbing Spielberg's patented move of dollying up on an intensely-staring face. I'm guessing the 90s were his favorite decade.
Unless you're talking sheer budget costs, which means the 2000s were SURELY his favorite. One expensive bomb after another, except for Along Came a Spider... did that even get released theatrically? That was $28 million. Then the last Pierce Brosnan Bond pic Die Another Day. Budget? 142 million. Phew! Great gadgets in that one. Then came XXX Part 2: The Next Level. I'll find my DVD copy and prove that's the title, damn it! Budget? 87 million. Man! Can't a brother get a little respect here?
Then came Next, clocking in at $70 million. Oh, there's a clear trend here. Next thing you know, he'll be getting a script like Paranormal Activity on his desk. Can you keep it under $11,000?
But, I think we've all learned that the current or next decade is always a director's favourite, and ol' Lee's getting into Oscar territory this time! Something called The Devil's Double, about "The real story of the man who was forced to become the double of Saddam Hussein's sadistic son". I confess, I cut and pasted that. Okay, maybe Saddam's kid was the Devil, but he did have a lot to live up to. I just hope this film isn't trying to do for the Iraq Occupation what We Were Soldiers tried to do for Vietnam. A toast to Lee Tamahori, ladies and gents! Have a Foster's for this guy, will ya?

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