Sunday, July 10, 2011

Auteur Watch - Lawrence and Mark Kasdan

What a wild ride it's been. And just as Bob Zemeckis hung around the set of Close Encounters like a pest, so must have Lawrence Kasdan been like a third wheel to George Lucas, but it paid off! Even better than David Lynch who was going to be saddled with the untidy duty of directing Return of the Jedi! Why, no one remembers who did that!
I have an unfair advantage here, as I watched the Encore "The Directors" special about Kasdan, so I'm going to go ahead and say that it was the 80s that was his favorite decade. He was young, dumb and full of... hope for his ceiling-less future! Hits, bombs, the guy can do no wrong! He even got a purple mohawk while he was directing Body Heat. You know, just because he could. He didn't go as far as Lee Tamahori wearing fishnet stockings, but it was pretty radical at the time. He almost got thrown off the studio lot a couple times. But once he sat in that director's chair, it just felt too good, and he's been there ever since.
Then it was the go-go 90s. What a sad state of affairs it is when Grand Canyon is more beloved than Boyz 'n the Hood... or is it? I wouldn't know. But I do know that John Singleton seems to have steered very, very clear of BntH-type territory lately. Kasdan was part of the great screenplay purge of 1992. I guess the studio had to clear their books or something. Trespass, Toys, The Bodyguard, all those 25-year old screenplays written by now-famous directors... they all had to go, but Trespass and The Bodyguard would be handled by different directors instead. Kasdan tried to recapture that Dances with Wolves magic with Kevin Costner and Wyatt Earp. I guess Costner wanted part of it as well. They should've gone the HBO miniseries route, but warmer heads prevailed. What a sad state of affairs it is when Tombstone is the... you get the idea. And once you make a film like Wyatt Earp, sometimes you just want to do a simple film like French Kiss... I assume, I sure wouldn't know how that works. And then, once you do a film like French Kiss, you take a break for 4 years to write your Ph.D. dissertation, or the filmic equivalent: the Anti-Grand Canyon, Mumford. Was I the only one who liked that movie? Then I'll move on.
The 2000s were bad for a lot of people, and I'm assuming for Kasdan as well. He thought he was doing America's Next Top Shawskank Redemption, but he drank too much of the Stephen King Kool-Aid, I'm afraid. I've beaten this dead horse before, but there's two Stephen Kings. There's the Shawshank Redemption Stephen King... and then there's everything else: Graveyard Shift, Pet Sematary, Christine, what have you. All the stuff Rob Reiner didn't do, basically. That's where Dreamcatcher comes in. But it makes a nice commentary on the horror that was the Dubya decade. Everyone will know that Dubya tried to make Iraq eat a dog turd... someday. We're too busy trying to dig our way out of this recession to care.
Oh, and Lawrence has a brother, Mark. Poor guy. Got cut out of Silverado, and swore he'd never work with Larry again. But he decides to mend the fences and go back to work with his bro. On what? Dreamcatcher! Well, that tears it. See you in another 18 years, if at all!!!

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