Friday, September 23, 2011

Monday, Monday....Can't Trust That Day - MGP

Interesting day Monday.  I had plans to see Machine Gun Preacher at the L.A. Film School.  I particularly wanted to see it at this venue because it featured a Q and A with screenwriter Jason Keller and I wanted to hear what he had to say about writing this script without fans asking about Gerry.  When the making of this movie was announced I questioned how and whether  they were going to make Sam a sympathetic character or whether they would portray him with all his warts and the dark side that was still very apparent after reading the book Another Man's War.

Anyway,  the ticket was for two people so I called my friend T, who had just returned from an exhausting trip to Shanghai, to see if she would like to go.   Knowing it wasn't her kind of movie, I promised her a nice dinner afterwards where she could fill me in on all her recent adventures.   Though she has never heard of Gerard Butler,  I told her that the actor in the movie was the type of guy I had had in mind when I wrote my first script, which new revision she had read the week before and that the real Sam looked a little like her recent ex boyfriend.  Don't know if these two asides whetted her curiosity, but I told her a little about the story and even though the title was ominous, she agreed to go.  I should have listened to my better judgment and gone alone, but what the turned out to be an interesting evening.

I left my house at 5:45 and picked her up an hour later.   We headed directly over to the film school to get in line and assure ourselves a seat.  There was already a line, but I figured they would start letting people in around eight.

My friend was kind of bored, so she decided to go buy a bottle of water  and a candy bar across the street.  On her way back she met an attorney she knew, who was in line for the movie,  and who was the ex of one of the people that owns a condo in her building.  She brought him back and introduced me as a "screenwriter." I learned, in short order,  that, in addition to his being an lawyer, he had the acting bug, was doing improv, was a closet conservative who had just come from Tea Party headquarters....and his wife had kicked him out after a second stab at saving their marriage.  At the Tea Party comment my friend poked me in the rib, while I tried to keep a straight face.

Like a lot of people in this town and in line for this movie, he had been networking with others and had spoken to the girl behind him who had told him about a few organizations, including Women in Film, who mentored screenwriters.  Hearing this, my friend, a shameless networker in her own field, promptly asks him if he would introduce me to the girl.  Reluctantly I headed to the front of the line to meet the girl in question and exchange information so she could forward me some material about said organizations.  T is a very dramatic, forward person.  I am not.

After returning to my place in line, T starts giggling, telling me she can't believe she actually knows a "tea partier" (her first) and then starts wondering aloud about the political persuasion of his ex.  A few moments  later she starts looking at her watch and wondering how long before they were going to let us in.  She discovered she could see the CNN clock and every few minutes would tick off the time.  Miss Patience she isn't.

Thankfully, the two girls who were standing in line behind us had been watching us.  I knew they were actresses from hearing them talk and realized they were giving me covert glances when one of them spoke up and asked if I was a dancer.  She then proceeded to tell me that I reminded her so much of her ballet teacher when she was a little girl, a lady she had loved dearly.  She said I was very pretty, just like her teacher.  I thanked her for the compliment and then she went on to tell me I had such a nice way about me and a warm face that attracted strangers.  Seeing me blush, her friend, a stuntwoman/driver,  tells me that I looked very familiar to her too.  I told her that it happens a lot and that I have a double walking around somewhere in Hollywood.  T suddenly pipes up with her "She looks like a younger Elizabeth Taylor, doesn't she?"...  to which I choked on my spit, gave her a dirty look and told the girls my friend was blindly fond of me.  I resemble Taylor in absolutely NO way.

We joked for a while with them and were joined by the people behind them but soon all turned to wondering when they were going to let us in, as it was already 8:30 and the doors were still closed.  After ticking off the time again, I told T to go use her charm and see if she can find out what was going on.    She promptly goes to get the attorney and between them they got to the bottom of the situation.   It seems the digital projector had broken down and they were borrowing a regular projector from somewhere else and were waiting for that and also had had to send a messenger to the Writer's Guild to pick up the only copy of the film available.  They anticipated a new start time of maybe 9:15.

T had started clock watching again and hinting that we should forget about the movie and go directly to dinner.  I didn't say a word (although I was starving) and just stuck in line.  After waiting this long, what was a few minutes more?

Well to make an already long story short, 20 minutes later they let us in and I think the film started close to 10:00 p.m., with the guy running the show announcing that Jason Keller had agreed to stay and do the Q & A, even though it was going to be late.

They threaded the projector and started the movie.  Five minutes after watching Gerry (Sam) walk out of prison, I look over to see my friend covering her face and her ears.  This continued throughout a big part of the movie and the guy on my other side of me kept looking over at her.  Whenever there was shooting or some kind of violence or gory scene she would not look.   I tried to ignore the whole situation and concentrate on the movie, but if you know the story, you'll know how hard that was.

Sam and Gerry
When the movie was finally over, after getting a nice ovation, a bunch of people left.  Jason Keller took a seat and the guy doing the interview did likewise.  Settling in, the Q & A was very interesting.  Keller turned out to be a very hip guy, not anything like the guy who had appeared with Sam and the Evangelical preacher in the Church service that Gerry was supposed to, but luckily did not attend.  He was asked some great questions by the interviewer and what I found very interesting was when he finally admitted that he "personally" did not like Sam, but greatly admired the end result of his conversion, which was the heroic and dogged fight to save the kids and found the Angeles of East Africa. Although it was a cause he himself was now involved with,  he said that he, Marc and Gerry had all agreed they would not whitewash him...and though Lynn Childers had told him he had got it right, Sam was having a hard time with it....seeing himself up there and accepting the bad with the good.

He also stated that the three of them had all agreed they were not going to make a political movie and after seeing Mr. Tea P. in the lobby afterwards and asking how he liked it, he told me he didn't like the movie because they skirted the issue of the Muslim north being the real ones responsible for all the violence.  Of course I couldn't help myself and asked him if he hadn't heard Keller say they were not trying to make a political statement with this movie, but were just trying to tell Sam's story and that was perhaps a story for another movie.  He thought it was a cop out and, of course,  I was rolling my eyes. by that time.

The Q & A didn't wind down until around 1 a.m. and we left there at l:15 a.m. and headed for The Standard (the only place I could think of that was still serving food) where I hungrily attacked a plate of crispy fish tacos, a green salad and a glass of Pinot Noir because, by that time, my stomach was sure my throat had been cut.

After dropping my friend off at 2:30 a.m., I drove home, having the road all to my self and made it in almost half an hour.  Although I didn't fall asleep until 5:00 a.m. after checking out my e-mails and showering and washing my hair, I went to bed thinking about the movie.

In all fairness I think my viewing of this movie was impaired by two things, the constant repulsion of the violence by my friend and the fact that I was too busy watching Gerry's performance that I missed seeing other things along the way.  This is something I will remedy with a "paying " ticket to the 5:30 show at the Arclight on Saturday, when I hope to see it with fresh eyes and give it a more honest critique.    I know everyone involved with this movie is promoting it like I've not seen a movie promoted in a long time.  The cause itself deserves it.  They want so to see it succeed and the critics, for the most part, are not helping it.  The message of the movie is a good one, but it is put together in such a way that it is not an easy movie to love...and not just because they show Sam with all his faults, but perhaps maybe because they couldn't quite connect with the man who would do such a heroic thing in saving these beautiful kids by what is portrayed on the screen. Is something missing in the telling of the story?

I have to say this is the best performance Gerry has given since The Jury. He was very good as was Michelle Monaghan.  I also think even though most people think Gerry is at his best doing action and being violent with his manly image....those that loved The Jury or Dear Frankie (and even in parts of 300) loved him for what he could say with his eyes, his silence, his tears...not just his brawn or his swagger.  I did love his performance in Machine Gun Preacher, but I wanted to love the movie itself a little more.  Perhaps it will seem a little less disjointed upon second viewing.

Oh, and what did my friend say about it?   "Boy that Gerry actor is one lovely hunk of manliness, isn't he?"

I just nodded and wanted to say...I think he's more than that.   But I didn't.

Songs out of tune, the words always a little wrong...Canzoni Stonate

1 comment:

  1. I just learned that Sam will be at the Q & A at the Arclight tomorrow after the showing and I am really looking forward to seeing him in the flesh and getting a feel and sense of the real man. I'd love to exchange a few words with him and take in his aura by osmosis, as I sometimes can with people, to see if there is something about him the film did not get right.

    I am sitting here with ice on my face hoping the swelling will go down enough after a cosmetic tissue graft on two molars where I am having a smaller, more esthetically pleasing crown switched with the present one, to allow me to go tomorrow. It's all a part of my continuing maintenance program to grow old gracefully with the same smile I came into the world with...well plus some teeth, of course. I had zero swelling and no pain the first two days, but this morning woke up looking like I had the mumps on one side.

    Caught a part of Grey's Anatomy last night and the story arc about accidently injecting one of the doctors with epi during heart surgery made me laugh. That would have been me, when the first attempt at doing this tissue graft scared the hell out of the dentist when we both discovered I still have a very high sensitivity to epi and she was too scared to do the procedure with my heart dropping beats all over the place.

    What a thing to have a sensitivity to. Shoots the hell out of my plan to to fix my droopy lid (a la Streep in It's Complicated) unless the surgeon, like the dentist, will do the procedure without it. Said I was the best patient ever and a walking advertisement for healthy living. My take is that I must have a high pain threshold or am just foolishly brave and optimistically determined to always have a good outcome I do believe in the power of positive thinking and it works for me, despite minor obstacles.