The short list has been shortened, so good-bye to the three fine gentlemen I wrote up on last Saturday, and hello to the two I am about to regale you with all the dirty nasty details on. Through the magic of the Internets it’s been determined that sometime later this week Catching Fire will have its new director, will it be Francis Lawrence or Bennett Miller, two very different directors with one thing in common, they’re up for the same job, and unless Lionsgate throws us a curve ball, and thrusts some name never even mentioned into the mix. Considering the time constraints they’ve put them selves under, I’m gonna make an educated guess here, and say that most definitely one of these men will get the job.
First off, let me state my loyalties, because I know some of you are itching to know “which one does Them There Eyes want?!” It’s Miller, and I’ll do my best to explain why. However, I think it’s best if I explain why Lawrence (Really? that’s going to be so confusing in interviews, think about it.), and Bennett are more, how do I say this nicely — economically viable than Cronenberg, Iñárritu, and Cuaron. Okay, well — both of them have less than five feature films under their belts, and the smaller the amount of experience you have means the cheaper you are to hire, unless you happen to be certain people who somehow hit the jackpot and won millions of awards with their very first film. Anyway their lack of experience is good for the studio, but it’s also good for these two men, because getting to helm Catching Fire means a hell of a lot of notoriety, and it’s pretty much a given that no matter what the end result is people are going to go see the film. That being said, both of these men have done good work, even though the work they’ve done combined together is less than 10 features. Miller wins my vote though, because of two reasons, Capote and Moneyball.
I should probably mention that I have not seen Moneyball yet, but I did see Capote — and it was no fluke, it was pretty close to a masterpiece. It had the magic combination of all the right people working on it that made it as extraordinary as it was. The script was penned by Dan Futterman, who everyone will probably know as the actor who played the son in The Birdcage, Dan was nominated for an Oscar for his work. The script was beautifully written, and adapted from the biography also called Capote by Gerald Clarke. The cast was nothing to turn your nose up at, Phillip Seymour Hoffman as Truman Capote, won Best Actor at the Academy Awards for his work on it. And then there was Chris Cooper, and Catherine Keener fleshing out the best known end of the principal cast. The rest of the cast was rounded out by talented but less known actors and actresses like Clifton Collins Jr. and then surprisingly Mark Pellegrino who’s best known for his recurring roles on Lost, Supernatural, Being Human, Dexter, and The Closer. The cast aside, the behind the scenes people were pretty damn good too, Avy Kaufamn who cast the film has worked on such films as Syriana, Shame, Brokeback Mountain, and even Zethura: A Space Adventure which Josh Hutcherson starred in way back in 2005. Adam Kimmel who was cinematographer on the project did some pretty stellar work as well, in fact that’s one of the most gripping aspects of the film, the way in which it was shot. Kimmel since Capote has gone on to work on films like Lars and the Real Girl, which starred Ryan Gosling and Emily Mortimer, and the heartbreaking book to film adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let You Go. The crew and cast made some sort of magic happen, and the film was nominated for 45 different awards, and won 52, including Seymour Hoffman’s best actor award at the Oscars. Miller himself was nominated 16 times for his work on the film. And I haven’t even got to Moneyball! Ah, perhaps I won’t — as I have no experience with that particular film, I think it’s best that I not comment, except to say that it was nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars this year, it won AFI’s Movie of the Year, as well as several film critics awards all over the world. It was a screamingly well received film, and critical praise for it, and for Miller’s other works, that’s what makes me hope he gets the job, because it means that Catching Fire, if everything falls into place, could receive the same kind of treatment from both Miller, and from the critics.
Francis Lawrence — I have to say this, I think he’s going to get the gig. I know as much as I hope Miller gets it, Lawrence is a much more commercial film maker. His background is mostly in music videos, he’s worked with people like Britney Spears, Greenday, and Jennifer Lopez. Somewhat recently he’s focused his work on feature films, and television dramas. He directed the pilot episode of Touch, Kiefer Sutherland’s comeback to television since 24 ended its run, and he’s working on a made for television film right now, well according to his IMDB page he is, called Gotham. Most notably though, and what I think will sway Lionsgate, is his work on the film adaptation of Water For Elephants. He’s made two other films to date, and I’ve only seen one of them, they are I Am Legend, the Will Smith disappointment, and Constantine. Back to Water For Elephants, this film surprisingly was a pretty damn accurate adaptation of a beloved book. True some elements were eliminated, and I think one performance could have been pushed harder by both Lawrence and by the actor (Christoph Waltz), but as a film — it was sweet like the book, but nothing truly special. Since I’ve gone on far too long, we’ll end it here.
Lawrence, for Lionsgate is the safe choice in my opinion, personally — I don’t think they should go for safe. Safe is boring.
Them There Eyes