Alan Rickman was stunned to learn his Cbgb co-star Keene Mcrae was from Alabama at the end of the movie, because the newcomer mimicked rock star Sting so well the veteran was convinced he was British. Rickman, who plays CBGB club boss Hilly Kristal in the new movie, is friends with the former The Police frontman and he complimented McRae on perfecting the singer's soft-spoken Geordie accent.
But director Randall Miller admits the young star with a bright future wasn't all he appeared to be.
He tells WENN, "Keene McRae, who plays Sting, was a casting call guy who was amazing and came from Alabama. Alan is actually friends with Sting in real life and Keene came in and did an amazing accent.
"He said he was from Birmingham, Alabama and we said, 'No you're from Birmingham, England, and you're never gonna say you're not,' so he kept that accent until he finished shooting.
"On his last day we said, 'Now you can tell Alan now where you're really from!' He was astonished."
The new film captures the sights and sounds of the New York punk mecca during its late 1970s heyday and features Foo Fighters star Taylor Hawkins as Iggy Pop, Malin Akerman as Blondie star Debbie Harry, Justin Bartha as Dead Boys frontman Stiv Bators and Joel David Moore as Joey Ramone.
The Japanese martial art of ninjutsu dates back around the turn of the seventh century A.D., encompassing the tactics of self-defense, espionage, and guerilla warfare. This strategic practice has, thanks to its lasting influence over international culture, maintained a stronghold of cultural significance in Western cinema. The character of the ninja is a timelessly fascinating, regally entrancing phenomenon. Beyond Medieval knights, high seas pirates, and intergalactic travelers are ninjas the most engrossing, beloved, and mysterious warriors in fact or fiction. But as rich and dense as the history of the ninja might be, it wasn't until the date of August 7, 1992, exactly twenty years ago today, that the identity of the Japanese spy and soldier really hit its potential in terms of relevance in the canon of American film. For on this date, the great Jon Turtletaub bequeathed unto the world his third directorial feature: 3 Ninjas.
A Brief History
If you grew up in the '90s, then the gravity of this film's impact need not be clarified to you. I was almost five when 3 Ninjas came out; my older sister was about ten. I remember our first viewing of the adventures of the Douglas brothers. She explained to me, as the boys rustled through their dresser drawers to hastily throw on their uniforms before they'd defend against invading criminals, that the change of clothes was necessary — my sister shot down my suggestion that the boys were hoping to shield their identities, but instead, simply needed to don their garb to effectively "become" the three ninjas.
And from then on, I understood. This wasn't simply a story about a trio of goofy siblings defying their disapproving dad for the sake of it. This was a tale of deciding what you wanted to be, and setting that decision into action. It was a story about challenging the forces set against you to become exactly what you always knew you were supposed to become. And while I never personally intended to be a ninja (although it was always enjoyable to play a few rounds of 3 Ninjas with my two best friends... I was always Tum Tum), the message still rang true. This is a movie with a timeless message.
But as positive an effect this film has had on me, and its many other fans, it seems to have had a particularly bizarre effect on its cast. Less than four years after 3 Ninjas hit theaters, each of the movie's young stars Michael Treanor (Rocky), Max Elliot Slade (Colt), and Chad Power (Tum Tum) were out of the business for good. The last acting credit attributed to Treanor was the film's 1995 threequel, 3 Ninjas Knuckle Up. For Slade, it was a '96 direct-to-video flick called The Sweeper (his last big screen appearance was in Apollo 13). And as for Power: he followed Knuckle Up with stints on ER and Step By Step in '95. None have been seen on screen since. Rumors and reports about the boys are numerous: Treanor works in finance in Washington D.C. and was considered for a part in a 2011 regeneration of his Rocky character; Slade plays guitar for a band called Haden. But in the true spirit of their ninja identities, these warriors have maintained a thick sheath of mystery over their whereabouts.
And while we have nothing but respect for their privacy and career choices, we'd still wish to extend this open letter to the stars of the 1992 classic 3 Ninjas in hopes of, perhaps, reuniting the family Douglas.
An Open Letter to the 3 NinjasDear Rocky, Colt, and Tum Tum,
We'd like to kick things off by extending our best wishes for whatever travels you are presently undertaking. It was twenty years ago today when you first came into our lives, and only three short years later when you left them for good. Vanishing, just as Grandpa Mori Shintaro might have taught you to. Sure, your roles were usurped in '98 for High Noon at Mega Mountain, but nobody really ever accepted Mathew Botuchis, Michael O'Laskey II, or James Paul Roeske II as your respective characters. Besides, that film was mostly just a showcase for Hulk Hogan anyhow. Hardly true Ninja fashion. Although I do love a good Jim Varney turn.
The point is, we miss you guys. Your '92 movie, silly as it was, was a great deal of fun. It's one of those rare kid's pictures that welcomes every young lad or lass to relate comfortably. For the romantics, there's Rocky, who loves Em-uh-lee. For the no nonsense, there's Colt. And for the goofballs, there's good ol' Tum Tum. Every group of three is comprised, to some degree, of this makeup. Your movie allowed for lovers, loners, and jokers to all envision themselves as heroes. Trust me, having inclusive movies like these does wonders for kids' self-esteem.
We understand that the spotlight is not for everybody. Perhaps your collective experiences as child actors on the Ninjas movies turned you off from a Hollywood career. Perhaps it was never your intention to get into showbiz in the first place, but your affinity for martial arts and unparalleled screen presences made for the opportunity of big screen starring roles that you just couldn't turn down. But we're more inclined to believe an alternative theory:
You're actually ninjas. In real life. And ever since the movies blew up, the three of you went undercover, forming a secret squad of defenders of justice (handling the cases that FBI Agents like Alan McRae can't handle), making the world a better, albeit snappier and chaotically-edited place.
As such, we appreciate your desire to avoid the public eye. But on the off chance you are not actually real-life ninjas and are, in fact, just three regular adult males, then we reach out to you. As the purveyors of a story that gave so many children not just entertainment, but genuine life lessons, hope, and a new investment in the idea that you can truly be whatever you want to be, we look to you. We want to hear from you. We want to know what we can do to further present these values to the children of today. And most of all, we want to encourage the possibility of a 3 Ninjas: 20 Years Later. A reteaming of brothers Sam, Jeffrey, and Michael to honor the memory of their grandfather, maintain a cautious rebellion against their skeptical dad, and uphold the ideals of justice, family, and dreaming big.
From not only everyone at Hollywood.com, but from everyone who was between five and fifteen on August 7 in 1992, we thank you for giving us this beloved movie. And we hope to see you kick back again, soon.[Photo Credit: Touchstone Pictures]
'E.T.' 30th Anniversary: The Sequel That Never Was and Three Decades of Cameos
'My Big Fat Greek Wedding' 10th Anniversary: A Look Back at Then and Now
The 30th Anniversary of ‘Annie’: A Musical That’s More Relevant Than Ever
The age-old debate over fate vs. free will has been and always will be a tough theme to crack in any medium but with the benefits of modern filmmaking technology the theory can be explored in ways that Philip K. Dick never imagined. However when one relies too heavily on spectacle to tell a story a piece of cerebral science fiction can quickly become just another action extravaganza. In this day and age there’s a fine line between the two; The Matrix walked that tightrope with style and grace while Next never found its footing in the first place. Fortunately the precious work of novelist Dick has for the most part been treated with respect by Hollywood (the aforementioned Nic Cage dud notwithstanding) but that doesn’t necessarily mean movies based on his stories are completely faithful to his vision.
Case in point: George Nolfi’s directorial debut The Adjustment Bureau an adaptation of Dick’s short story “Adjustment Team.” The film stars Matt Damon as David Norris a successful businessman and rising political candidate who after a chance encounter with the girl of his dreams (Emily Blunt) loses a crucial election. He happens to run into her on a Manhattan bus the following week before finding his office swarming with masked men who are “adjusting” everyone inside. Richardson (John Slattery) the man in charge captures Norris who unsuccessfully flees the scene after seeing behind “a curtain he wasn’t even supposed to know existed” as the enigmatic figure puts it. From that point on Norris must live with the knowledge that he (and we for that matter) is not in control of his own life. Rather the choices he makes fit perfectly into “The Plan” that’s been written by “the Chairman”.
In relation to my earlier statement I have to say that Nolfi’s picture looks stunning but his natural urban aesthetic doesn’t overpower the story. Sleek contemporary production design and elegant costumes characterize the high-concept story and the wraithlike agents who shape our destinies. Topically we’re dealing with some heavy material but Nolfi and editor Jay Rabinowitz move the action along at a brisk pace that keeps you engaged and entertained without having to try. The film is properly proportioned as a chase thriller romantic adventure and sci-fi fantasy and thankfully no component overshadows another.
Setting the film in the world of politics and big business helps make its larger-than-life revelations a bit more accessible (as do appearances from Michael Bloomberg Jon Stewart and Chuck Scarborough) while providing sub-text about the corruption involved in elections and campaigns (there are conspicuous shades of The Manchurian Candidate in the movie) but the writer-director often tries too hard for broad appeal. For a film with existential implications as severe as they are here the dialogue is at times hokey and superficial. Dick’s source material is far more abstract and Nolfi for the sake of commercial success panders to the palette of soccer moms and mallrats.
What’s worse is his unwarranted exposition of the Bureau a shadowy organization whose major allure is anonymity. Some secrets are best kept and less can be so much more when crafting a mysterious atmosphere; Nolfi reaches that level of magnetic curiosity but squanders it as he reveals the truth about the Bureau and its grand scheme. On the other hand he brushes over the technical lingo between agents Harry Mitchell (Anthony Mackie) McCrady (Anthony Ruivivar) and others without explanation perhaps hoping that the ambiguous terminology will fool you into thinking that his script is smarter than it really is.
Even though Nolfi’s allegorical conclusions are uncomfortably ham-fisted the chemistry between Damon and Blunt alone is enough to enchant you; this is one highly watchable cinematic pairing that should be revisited as soon as possible. Their innocent relationship blossoms organically and together they make it seem as natural on screen as it is for their star-crossed characters. Even if you have a hard time believing in higher powers or manipulative Orwellian forces you’ll have faith in David and Elise’s fated relationship one of the most captivating couplings I’ve seen on the big-screen in some time.
Myers’ Guru Pitka could have used a little more back story and a little less shtick. The thin plot has Pitka uttering philosophical piddle like “an eye for an eye leaves everyone blind ” and repeating his mantra “Mariska Hargitay” over and over. But Pitka is not happy with his standing in the spiritual community--especially with the success story of his childhood friend and colleague Deepak Chopra (who cameos in the film). Chopra has been on Oprah for god’s sake! Suddenly Pitka sees the possibility of the fame when Jane (Jessica Alba) the owner of the Toronto Maple Leafs hockey team summons him to help get back her star player Darren’s (Romany Malco) mojo back after his wife Prudence (Meagan Good) leaves him for the legendarily well-endowed L.A. Kings star Jacques “Le Coq” Grande (Justin Timberlake). Pitka’s spiritual mission? Get Darren and Prudence back together in time for the Leafs to win the all-important Stanley Cup. If you’re looking for one-man shows Mike Myers is your man. Clearly the actor is this generation’s Peter Sellers choosing to play characters far from his own persona such as spy Austin Powers or Wayne Campbell. Guru Pitka fits right in. In Love Guru Pitka throws all sorts of self-help mumbo jumbo around hoping some of it sticks. He is like a distant cousin to other Sellers incarnations in films such as The Magic Christian I Love You Alice B. Toklas and particularly his Indian actor Hrundi V. Bakshi in The Party. But Love Guru doesn’t match those films or even any part of the Austin Powers trilogy largely because the gags take precedence over any true character development. For every Bollywood musical takeoff that works there’s a couple of bits that fall flat. It’s hit and miss despite Myers best efforts to sell this show as something more than an SNL sketch. Surrounding the star is the spectacularly unfunny but still beautiful Alba and the surprisingly funny AND beautiful Justin Timberlake who holds his own in the comedy department especially with his broken Canadian accent. Austin Powers sidekick Verne Troyer is back as the not-so-swell coach of the Leafs and he makes a good hockey puck while Ben Kingsley does his thing as the master Guru Tugginmypudha. First-timer Marco Schnabel is credited as director but it’s a good bet star/co-writer (with Graham Gordy) Mike Myers was calling most of the shots; it appears Myers did not have someone behind the camera reigning him in. Too bad. A sharp comedy director could have shaped the film into more than just a series of sight and sound gags designed for quick laughs at the expense of a coherent story. For his first live action film in five years (he does the animated Shrek films in between) it’s a little disappointing The Love Guru isn’t better than it is particularly from the creative mind behind the Austin Powers trilogy. Myers says he came up with this idea while seeking spiritual guidance from Deepak Chopra after his father died. The opportunity for some sharper satire and a stronger storyline is traded for a hit or miss 88 minute skit that has its moments but never finds it’s true Karma.
In Barrow Alaska there comes a time each winter when sunlight fades out and darkness rolls in like an unwelcome visitor—for a month. Many people abandon the small town without hesitation while those who stay brace themselves for a storm of inhumane relentless frigidity and a test of sanity. But this year one group keeps the town warm—with blood—for its 30 days of night. The town’s two remaining law enforcers Eben (Josh Hartnett) and Stella (Melissa George) are forewarned by a strange drifter (Ben Foster) that “something’s comin’ ” but before they can even finish scoffing the sun has set and the vampires have descended or ascended upon Barrow for blood and recruitment. With only himself and Stella to keep the few living well alive Eben is forced to go on the defensive for the full 30 days. But as he soon learns these vamps are a smart breed with a perpetual case of the munchies. Just when you think Josh Hartnett has finally chosen the right role to suit his dark features and limited range—he decides not to play a vampire. Still 30 Days' constant darkness and overall chaos would seem to accentuate his positives by drowning out his negatives much the way Sin City spun and sold his small role but that’s not quite so. It turns out he’s capable of the quickie action or momentary drama but the scenes in which he is to save the er night—well it’s a good thing the Hartnett-as-Superman rumor was just that. As Hartnett’s partner in non-crime/estranged lover George (Turistas) manages to create some tension without resorting to shrieking or the drama-school histrionics we’ve come to expect from supporting actresses in horrors. Also successful is the ever-versatile Ray Winstone (The Departed) playing a grizzly outsider-turned-insider who joins the anti-vampire crusade. In a role surprisingly tiny considering his current rate of ascension in the industry Foster (3:10 to Yuma) is the best and creepiest this movie has to offer. And in the vampire corner is Danny Huston (The Number 23) who is horrifying as hell on first look only to de-emphasize that appearance by crowing and chatting instead of simply chugging blood. On the first day of night the vampires will seem scary; by the 30th day they’ll seem more like zombies—unless that’s just you projecting onto them. Director David Slade whose previous feature (the indie Hard Candy) could not have been more different from this one will initially win over horror-philes with 30 Days. After all it starts off on a high note with an almost apocalyptic aura to the impending darkness and its consequences. The story is set up adequately and the scares to come are alluded to without getting too greedy. And Slade doesn’t let us down immediately following sundown with jolting flashes of the beasts readying to overtake the small town. But once he gives them faces and personalities it doesn’t take long for the suspense to die—and die some more. That’s almost midway in after which point it becomes clear that the movie will consist only of a heavily abridged countdown to that 30th night and predictable bloodshed. As Slade nears the film’s climax 30 Days nears videogame-like music and machismo before its slightly more compelling conclusion is reached. On a brighter note the lightless Alaskan town—although obviously not totally pitch black for the movie’s sake—does look positively bleak especially when the cinematography takes to the skies.