HOLLYWOOD – Gerard Butler is to film London Has Fallen sequel, following Donald Trump election victory.
London Has Fallen – the sequel to the bafflingly popular Olympus Has Fallen – was a huge hit and has prompted producers to go ahead with plans to make a third film and thus complete the Has Fallen trilogy. Babak Najafi takes over directing duties from Antoine Fuqua who bowed out with the excuse that the script was weak, something that didn’t seem to bother Antoine about Southpaw, or The Equalizer, or Brooklyn’s Finest.
Gerard Butler crashed through the plate glass skylight of the Studio Exec bungalow to dish the dirt on the closing film of his ‘Has Fallen’ trilogy.
We are talking escalation. First of all, it was the White House that was under attack. Basically a building. Then we wanted to go bigger and better so we went for London Has Fallen. An entire city under terrorist attack. And now the new film will be The Earth Has Fallen. And I think anyone watching the news will know what we mean.
Science Fact! Terrorists are taking over space and are going to target the President of the United States Aaron Eckhart by blowing up the planet Earth and only his loyal secret service bodyguard Mike Banning can save the day.
Exactly. Morgan Freeman had the idea because he was in Deep Impact and he reckoned he could use some of the same lines. There are gonna be so many explosions but then I save the President of the United States.
And the world?
Oh no, the world’s fucked. It blows up. But I save the President and the Vice President and we live on the Moon. Antoine Fuqua is going to direct it. He likes the script.
In our continuing series of ’47 Films to see before you’re murdered in your dreams’, we look at John Huston’s grimly brilliant boxing picture Fat City.
The fact of the matter is there have been more decent Boxing pictures than there have been decent boxing matches and John Huston’s Fat City is one of the best. Stacey Keach is the man who wakes up in his underwear in a flea pit boarding house, his bottle down to the dregs and unable to find a light. As Kris Kristoferson – who was legally required to write a song for every US film from 1971 to 1974 – croons about headaches, Billy Tully (Keach) stumbles out onto the street and heads for the gym where he is hoping to perhaps pick up the pieces. Here he meets young Ernie (Jeff Bridges) and the two spar. Tully’s comeback seems already over when he pulls a muscle but on his advice, Ernie goes to the local gym where he is taken on by Tully’s old coach Ruben (Nicholas Colasanto, who played coach in Cheers).
This is no Rocky, or Million Dollar Baby, or Raging Bull, or Southpaw. Those films all follow a similar trajectory, a rise and fall. They all perceive their particular fighter as in some way special – a contender. In Fat City, both Ernie and Tully are nothing special, except for the novelty that they’re white fighting among the black and Mexicans who make up the circuit. Ernie is particularly inept as a boxer and gets himself knocked out in his first bout, his nose broken badly in the next. When he does win a fight by a decision, we don’t even see it. Tully’s belated comeback fight is a brutal affair against another old fighter who is a similarly aging slugger and who pisses blood before the fight.
This is John Steinbeck country, or something Charles Bukowski might have written if he’d stopped for a second writing books about himself. Poor Californians – both Ernie and Tully end up fruit picking at one point – along with the poverty and possible brain damage, Tully has the additional abuse of alcoholism to contend with and a relationship with fellow boozer Oma (a magnificent Susan Tyrell), who for a moment gives him companionship but ultimately torments him. Ernie also has a girl Faye (Candy Clarke) and things seem more hopeful when he gets her pregnant and marries her.
Adapted from his own novel by Leonard Gardner, Fat City is a film that refuses the glamour of the usual boxing pic. There’s no escape from poverty – Cinderella Man – there’s no redemption or defeating of demons, no glory and no glamour. In the end there’s a brutal honesty and a small perfect epic about the losers who never get to Fat City.
SOUTHPAW – REVIEW: Rocky 5 without the intellectual heft: Donnie Darko punches people, but when his True Detective Season 2 wife is killed Donnie feels like the Prince of Persia and needs the Ghost Dog Butler to help him buck his ideas up.
Boxing movies are weird because essentially boxing is one of those things which is chronically dull and violent, outside of the movie theater. With the one exception that proves the rule – Muhammad Ali – boxers are generally nasty pieces of work without the wit or will to say anything interesting. Jake Gyllenhaal plays Billy (The Great White) Hope, a light heavy weight fighter who is at the top of his game but with the encouragement of his wife Maureen (Rachel McAdams) has one eye on the door before he gets his ticket to Palookaville. They have a little daughter who is just lovely.
When his wife gets killed in a confusing and weird scene, Billy goes to pieces, loses everything including his mansion and daughter and must start once more from the bottom. He goes to an old gym where he finds old trainer Tick Wills (Forest Whitaker) and begins his arduous climb back to the big time.
Gyllenhaal, it has to be said, is excellent, but one wishes that Antoine Fuqua (nominative determinism anyone?) had put as much dedication into the picture as his lead. Fuqua loves his aerial shots of a city at night and he uses them with televisual regularity. The fights are well done but the story is so predictable as to be almost infuriating. The manager played by 50 Cent is so worthless that one of the other characters predicts his worthlessness a good twenty minutes before it proves to be so. The villainous fighter is an actual villain. Even Rocky had the good sense to see that Apollo Creed’s villainy was pantomime and to deconstruct it into a gay love affair by Rocky III. Nope, Billy’s Columbian rival Escobar (Jesus!) is as slimy as his namesake, with a skanky missus (Rita Ora) to boot and everything is strictly by the numbers. We have the training session, the inspired youngster, the trainer’s grumpiness acceding to respect and a seriousness of tone, totally out of keeping with the thin fare on offer.
There are more good boxing movies than there are good boxing matches – check out John Huston’s Fat City – but rather than light heavy weight, Southpaw is more bantam.
HOLLYWOOD – Jake Gyllenhaal revealed today that his preparations for Southpaw also involved gaining sixteen pounds of brain damage.
When you see Jake Gyllenhaal in his new boxing drama Southpaw, you’ll be amazed at his physical transformation which saw the actor gain pounds and build muscle to take on the role of Billy ‘The Great’ Hope, a middle weight boxer in search of redemption in Anthony Fuqua’s drama. However, what you might not know is that the Brokeback Mountain actor also got himself brain damage in order to get closer to the reality of boxing.
Jake spoke EXCLUSIVELY to the Studio Exec to explain his preparation:
Everyone is going to concentrate on the body and how hard I trained, like Robert de Niro for Raging Bull. They’re going to say I’m like Robert de Niro, I know that. But the reality of boxing isn’t just looking ripped. It’s also about being hit in the head so that the brain sloshes about in the skull like a blancmange in cement mixer. And it takes a quite a bit of damage so that the words in the right order come don’t. And so I do that as well. Which de Niro didn’t do.
How did you get the brain damage?
I just let people hit me in the head for hours at a time. And hey presto! the MRI showed the degree of damage that was done.
And how will you return back to normal?
Southpaw is on general release.