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September 05, 2001 - Image 59

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2001-09-05

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New Student Edition - The Michigan Daily - Wednedsday, September 5, 2001-9D


'Rebel' Rodriguez
stays true to himself

Courtesy of New Market
W Pantoliano stars with Guy Pearce In "Memento."
Memento-star chimes
in, on Hollywood life

By Christopher Cousino
yArts Writer
Spoiler note: this interview reveals
crucial information about the plot
and characters of "Memento."
Joe Pantoliano. A veteran charac-
ter actor with more than 20 years in
the business and 70 films to his
credit. Born and raised in Hoboken,
NJ. A member on the board of direc-
tors of the Screen Actors Guild.
Francis Fratelli in "Goonies." Cypher
*1'he Matrix." And he's not fond
of the Academy Awards.
"It', all bullshit. It's all politics.
It's like watching the fucking senate.
And they're not entertaining," Panto-
liano said. "You know what, come
up, tell me the fucking guy who won,
girl who won, have 'em make their
speech because that's why I watch. I
want to see what their reaction is. I
't wanna see the fucking Rock-
es doing a scene from "Godfather
Laughing aside, Pantoliano's latest
film "Memento," in which he plays
the strange confidant Teddy, already
has a large amount of buzz surround-
ing it (the film was a hit at this year's
Sundance Film Festival). "That's
when everyone started getting confi-
dence again," Pantoliano said. "Then
t ereviews started coming out and
'drybody just breathed a sigh of
Since the middle of March,
"Memento" has played to sell out
crowds in New York and Los Ange-
les. "This movie's already been suc-
ces~fyl," Pantoliano said, as
"Memento" cost relatively little to
make (it's budget was about $5 mil-
lion). "Everybody made sacrifices.
N actors worked for less, produc-
didn't take fees or took very little
fee. We all worked for less."
Working on a cheap budget, the
entire production dealt with a quick
shooting schedule. "25 days. 24 days
and "one pick-up day," Pantoliano
said. 'I think we had like four days
of rehearsal. We didn't have a lot of
time and we knew that if we didn't
get it, we wouldn't get it. If we didn't
get our day, we weren't coming back
t tit tomorrow."
ethe end, the time constraints
mayihave added to "Memento"'s
lively feel. "Filmmaking is really
more of a pragmatic experience and I
think sometimes when you have less,
you get more done than when you

have more," Pantoliano said. "I think
people get spoiled by money."
The power of money is a concern
for Pantoliano as an actor and an
artist. "It's so stupid. When com-
merce controls art, you're in a lot of
fucking trouble. I feel like we're in a
lot of trouble," Pantoliano said. "I'm
tired of all these action flicks and
chick flicks, catering to the lowest
denominator. For me, it's encourag-
ing when movies like 'Traffic' and
'Requiem for a Dream,' that these
movies are breakout movies that get
a large audience because then the
morons financing these movies
(action, chick flicks) start thinking,
'Well, we should start making more
movies like this."'
As cynical as he might sound
toward many of the blockbuster
films, Pantoliano still holds a posi-
tive view toward some of the Holly-
wood mainstream (though he won't
be coming back in "The Matrix"
sequels. "They decided I was dead,"
Pantoliano grinned.)
"There's some really fantastic
commercial films I like. I think
there's room out there for high con-
cept movies, like "Crouching Tiger,
Hidden Dragon," like "The Matrix,"
"The Fugitive," "Air Force One,"
Pantoliano said. "The movies I
object to are these mindless "Exit
Wounds," "Lethal Weapon 4,"
"American Pie 9," anything with that
- what's his name - Freddie Prinze
is in. If it's a Freddie Prinze movie,
you just tell your kid 'No,' they can't
A film like "Memento, " however,
is a treat for Pantoliano. "'Memento'
is the kind of movie I like to go see
and the kind of movie I dream of
being in," Pantoliano said. Director
Christopher Nolan cast Pantoliano
on a recommendation from "Matrix"
co-star Carrie Anne Moss.
"He said, 'That's an interesting
idea, but I think the audience will
think he's the bad guy right away.'
And then he met me and we liked
each other and he told my agent
that," Pantoliano said. "He [Nolan]
said, 'I think the audience will think
that, because of the kind of parts
Joey's played most of the time.' And
then my agent said, 'Well, that's the
reason why you need to hire him.
Because he's not the bad guy. You
need them to think that he is.' And
Chris realized he was right. Lucky
for me."

By Christopher Cousino
Daily Arts Writer
"I keep adding jobs," laughed direc-
tor Robert Rodriguez with the dubi-
ous giggle of an 8-year-old. "See they
even forget what I do."
He's talking about the omission in
the press release of his credit as editor
of "Spy Kids,"his latest action packed
adventure aimed at children.
Rodriguez also wrote, directed, shot
and produced the film. "I'm also the
effects supervisor and the sound
mixer," Rodriguez said.
Without a hint of arrogance or Hol-
lywood egotism, the shaggy haired
Rodriguez is still the same curious,
enthusiastic filmmaker he described
in "Rebel Without a Crew," an autobi-
ographical journal about the making
of his $7,000 Sundance-winning
action film "El Mariachi." The differ-
ence now is that he knows a whole lot
more about making films - and he's
unabashedly willing to take chances
to learn more.
"Usually when you do an effects
movie, the first person you hire is the
effects supervisor. These are the guys
who help figure out how you're gonna
do all these shots that are in the script
and how you're gonna do the effects,"
Rodriguez said. "I didn't hire that per-
son. I wanted to be them. I wanted to
figure out how to create all these
shots so I could save more money, so I
could use more creative techniques
and so I could learn more effects."
The end result: "We did over 500
effects for hardly anything,"
Rodriguez smiled. "Spy Kids" uses a
melting pot of computers, miniatures,
props and green screens. "Once you
know the principles, you can tell them
how you are going to achieve the
shot," Rodriguez said. "A lot of the
work is figuring out how you're gonna
do it because there is complicated,
expensive ways to do it and there's
sometimes very simple and inexpen-

sive ways. Creative ways."
By making films this way,
Rodriguez continues to stick to his
roots - his budgets are cheap and he
still works outside of Hollywood (he
lives in Austin, Texas). "We shot it
["Spy Kids"] in Austin. I edited it in
my garage and we just work out of my
garage. With TI lines and Fed-Exing,
you can just work at home,"
Rodriguez said. "I could see the
effects guys in Canada and they could
see me. In my garage, I could draw on
a shot and as we're watching we'll say,
'Oh, fix this, fix that.' And we could
play it in real time, so it's like being
Maintaining a certain independence
from Hollywood seems to come easy
for Rodriguez. "A lot of it's just keep-
ing the budgets down. If you work
hard to keep your budget down, then
they'll give you complete freedom.
That's what a lot of other kids don't
understand," Rodriguez said. Though
his highest yet, "Spy Kids"' $36 mil-
lion budget far undercuts many films
made today.
"Keep the money down," Rodriguez
assured. "Or they're gonna freak out.
They're all over the movie, trying to
make sure that it's something that
they've seen before so they know it
will do well. You can kind of make
any kind of movie you want for less
and then they give you more freedom
because they know they'll make their
money back right away so they'll let
you just do what you want. That's the
Though far less violent than
Rodriguez's other films, "Spy Kids"
carries his genuine quality, unlike
other Hollywood films. "I think you
can tell the difference with the movie.
It feels like it's a home made movie.
It's not like a big studio movie,"
Rodriguez said. "It gives it a little
more personal touch to it. It could
easily be just like James Bond,
stamped out, cookie-cutter type stuff.

Courtesy of DimensionFIlms
Director Robert Rodrigeuz (inset) kept the cast and production of "Spy Kids" at a
personal level with his creative energy and Indle work ethic.

I really wanted it to be a little wild."
And it sure was, as "Spy Kids" took
the top spot at the box office this past
weekend, almost recouping its entire
budget. But Rodriguez isn't stopping
yet, with plans for a re-release as well
as sequel.
"We're probably going to rerelease
the movie in the summer as a special
edition with some extra action

scenes," Rodriguez said, excited to
show off one of his favorite scenes cut
from the film - the cave of sleeping
sharks. "We couldn't finish it in time.
There's too many effects. It looks
totally real," Rodriguez said. "We'te
working on the sequel. It's really cool
because they're already spies now, so
they get to tell the president what to

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Berlin Philharmonic
Lincoln Center Jan Orchestra
0 Chunky Move
Evgeny Kissin, piano
Gypsy Caravan II: A Celebration of Rroma Music and Dance
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Philip on film:
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Netherlands Chamber Choir
duck's Orfeo ed Euridice
Anne Sophie Mutter, violin and the
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Sweet Honey in the Rock
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Handel's Messiah
Kirov Orchestra of the Mariinsky Theatre
Les Arts florissonts
Stephan Gent, baritone
Rennie Harris Puremovement: Rome tjewels
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A Tribute to Gospel Legend Mattie Moss Clork
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Charlie Haden's Quartet West with Strings
Oa Camera of Houston: Martel Proust's Paris
The Chieftains
A Solos Evening with Laurie Anderson.
Children of Uganda
Harolyn Blackwell, soprano
Florence Quivar, mezzo-soprano
Col-egium Vocale Gent and Ensemble Modern
San Francisco Symphony
Hays Choir of Harlem
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Guthrie Theatre. Eugene O'Neill's Ah, Wilderness!
Los Muhequitos de Matans
The Tallis Scholars
DaCamera of Houston: Epigraph for a Condemned Book







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