From The Desk of John
How are things going, man? I heard about the new film with Uma. Sounds great.
Did you see my newest film “Lucky Numbers”? I play Russ Richards, the local celebrity weatherman in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Russ has adoring fans, his own table and omelet at Denny’s, and a snowmobile dealership. Due to uncommonly warm weather, his dealership is about to go under, crumbling his entire financial empire. Out of desperation, he pays a visit to Gig (Tim Roth), the owner of the local strip club. Gig suggests that Russ and his ‘friend’ Crystal (Lisa Kudrow) rig the state lottery. Crystal works at the same station and pulls the numbers out for the lottery. Crystal is all for the idea. She has also been dating Dick Simmons (Ed O’Neil), the station manager and he has been neglecting her. Her share of the winnings will help her break free. Everything, of course, gets complicated.
Funny, huh? It has it's moments.
Quentin, you know that I like to work with people I know. It makes me feel comfortable. Acting is hard, man. I need comfort to help me create my characters. Nora Ephron directed the film. She and I worked together on “Michael”, which was pretty successful, so I was hoping lightning would strike twice.
I really enjoyed reading the screenplay. Basically it combines elements of dark comedy and farce. People act weird, some people die, people are mean to one another. But they also act really silly. I haven’t done a lot of farce but I laughed when I read the screenplay. My track record with comedy is spotty, but if someone has the $20 million and a decent script, I’m game.
Lisa and I are great together. She plays someone that is very different from her well-known persona on ‘Friends’. Crystal is very different from Phoebe. Crystal has an edge, a determination that makes her very interesting. Crystal has a few moments that also make her seem real, a very important factor in a farce. If the character doesn’t have at least a tiny grounding in reality, the farce doesn’t work. Lisa gets this and makes it work. I get it, too, and made it work during the scene in the Denny’s… In the scene in the snow mobile dealership… In the scene at the television studio when they reveal that someone was killed… In the… Well, I know I made it work somewhere. I’m no film historian, but it works.
The supporting characters are top notch. Michael Moore plays Crystal’s dimwitted cousin. He is very funny. Tim Roth is good, but doesn’t have a lot of laughs. But that’s OK. He’s primarily a dramatic actor anyway. Actors should play to their strengths. Michael Rappaport plays a local thug. He’s all over the place. Hell, most of the supporting cast is all over the place. That’s OK, because this is a farce, right?
I know reviewers will pick up on the fact that everyone in the film is greedy, unlikable and they really don’t like each other. There isn’t really anyone to care about. That’s OK. These characters are based on real people. They don’t need to be likable. They need to be funny. They are funny. Aren’t they? Sometimes? Yes. They have some funny moments.
Nora is a great director. She has a good hand at comedy, especially farce. Every farce I have ever seen has too many laughs. You’re laughing when another joke happens. You can’t keep track of it all. Thankfully, Nora has slowed everything down… Quite… A… Bit. Her pacing is glacial. But I like that. I have the ability to laugh at the jokes.
Quentin, I’m just not sure. I’ve had a string of dogs lately. I’m not a good actor. I’m a movie star. I am a persona that draws people into the movies. They shouldn’t expect my performance to be subtle or even well-modulated. If I’m playing a local celebrity weatherman, I’m going to play it for all the smarminess I can. I’m going to mug and grin at every character that recognizes me. I’m going to wear the local fame on my sleeve and when things start to go wrong, I’m going to shake, rub my head, run around in circles, really frustrated. I can play characters. But lately, people haven’t been coming to the films. "Battlefield Earth" was a disaster, but to save face, I told some news people that I thought it was good and will make a sequel. I am a powerful star, a member of the $20 million dollar club. I can’t go back to the under $10 million club. I just can’t.
Quentin, you are the king of creating comeback vehicles. Can you start thinking of another comeback vehicle for me? I know you can. I think that I may need another comeback in a year or two. Start watching the old videos, OK, pal? For me, Quentin?