Monday, July 13, 2009

On Val Kilmer 2

Or: Why Columbus Day?



Dear Val,

I can see that you're still trying, Val. That may be the worst part. A few years ago it seemed like you'd given up. Your choices suggested a lack of concern over the direction of your career, you see. A certain wackiness had crept in. As if you were accepting every second offer that your agent texted your way. Sitting there, in your lounger in your big-ass Ranch, nubile women half your age seeing to your every need, watching classic Swedish Erotica or 1960s Czech New Wave cinema or endless manga on your plasma, drinking far too many cans of that energy drink you seem so dangerously addicted to, picking up the kids from school in your flip-flops and boxer shorts on those dry empty evenings, not even leaving the SUV at the gate, just sitting there, like some mafia bodyguard, bloodshot eyes hidden behind the mirrored shades you cannot even begin to contemplate taking off now, not in the outside world. Knowing how all the soccer moms want you, and feeling that only as a hollowness in your gut. Once all the world wanted you, it seemed. Magazine covers were a monthly thing. But you blew that, somehow. And back then, part of what was interesting about you was that you always seemed a little contemptuous of it all. Amused by the fuss. Who else got the lead in the biggest franchise of the era and acted like they never wanted it, like the whole thing was beneath them? Nobody but you, Val. And you were right, Schumacher's version of Batman was a bad joke. Imagine what you could've done in the Nolan films...But you blew it.

So here we find ourselves. At one of your latest shitstops on the way to has-been appearances on dodgy American sitcoms.
The name of this waste of your time, Val, is Columbus Day. I'll try to jog your memory: you spend most of the movie in an L.A. park with the little black kid from Role Models (did you see that movie, Val? You could do with a movie like that. You could play either the Rudd role - not as well as him, but hey - or the Stifler role, and be equally good. We all know you can do comedy. Top Secret! I haven't forgotten, Val, even if you have...). Nothing much actually happens. You're waiting, you make phone calls, you bond with this kid. Its a crime drama, I guess. Marg Helgenberger is the chick. You remember her, right? I know, I know, you've starred opposite Nicole Kidman and Meg Ryan and Elizabeth Shue and Deborah Kara Unger, oh Deborah Kara Unger, and Mira Sorvino and Carrie Ann Moss and Angelina Jolie and here you find yourself with the slightly-too-old-though-doubtlessly-hot-a-decade-ago chick from CSI. But thats where things are these days, Val. Anyway, theres a little bit of confusing action at the start, then some at the end too, and some slo-mo.
But mainly its talky as hell.

See, I know how the script must have seemed. "Intelligent". Interesting, trying to be something other than the usual Hollywood crap. But its not intelligent enough. The writing is mediocre, the direction workmanlike. None of the characters are really memorable, the situation is just a slight variation on a dozen we've seen before. It tries, but sometimes thats not enough. I get what you were going for. Harvey Keitel was in a similar spot, a long time ago. A worse spot, maybe. Barely anybody even remembered him, and he had been in some of the greatest films of the previous two decades. But he made - this sound familiar ?- a series of baffling, awful choices, and stardom crumbled away from him and suddenly he was doing crap parts in bad films. So what did he do? He started working with young directors on indie films. He worked with old mavericks on risky projects. He got lucky - Reservoir Dogs and Bad Lieutenant happened and he had a new cachet which he could trade in for parts in big movies while continuing to work with his indie buddies. But it was luck. And you are no Harvey Keitel. Your charms have always been simpler, more...mainstream. so now you try to remake yourself, and it might just be too late, Val.

And if you are to remake yourself, you just have to pick and choose your projects better. I know you've got the wit and brains to do that (I remember a long profile of you in Premiere, maybe, way back when The Saint, your one true attempt at carrying a Blockbuster solo, was released, and you drove the journalist in a jeep at night through the African savannah and camped out somewhere, all the while discussing Bruce Springsteen as the modern Al Jolson and the reality of stardom and you seemed fascinating and impossibly glamourous, whereas now you just seem fat and desperate). Try something which - if its a genre film - has at least a smidgen of tension or suspense. Something with characters other than stock types. Something that doesn't look like a TV movie. (Ok, that may be a cheap shot, it doesn't look like a TV movie. But it doesn't look like a Movie Movie either, does it? A Direct-to-DVD movie, then. Which makes you Steven Seagal, for Gods sake.) Something good, if you can. That would be nice. Failing that, just stick to supporting roles in big movies. Audiences like familiar faces in certain roles. The Cop's Captain. The ex-husband. You know the type. They'll pay the rent until you figure it all out. Some of your old directors like you - Michael Mann might throw you a bone. Or David Mamet, Tony Scott. Send them Christmas cards, stay in the good books. You can do it Val. You're still big, its the pictures that got small.

Yours affectionately,
David N.

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4 Comments:

Blogger Beezer B said...

AHW, you love!

10:54 pm  
Blogger David N said...

Doesn't everybody?

11:51 pm  
Blogger Ross said...

If it weren't for the enthralling writing, the depth with which you love the Kilmer would be embarrassing.
Yeah that's right, enthralled.
Like your head can get any bigger.

6:25 pm  
Blogger David N said...

I think its still pretty embarrassing.

Theres a dvd out in a few weeks. Kilmer, Sharon Stone, 50 Cent. Called "Blood in the Streets". Oh yes.

Thinking about buying it.

12:20 am  

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