Garrett’s Grumblings – In Defense of Brett Ratner; RIP David Bowie

On January 12, 2016 by Garrett Collins

In Defense of Brett Ratner

brett-ratner (1)There are some horses within the entertainment business which are just too fun to repeatedly beat down, aren’t there? You have Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, whose reasons we tear them down with words are so easy to justify. There is what goes through us keyboard warriors’ minds when we see our favorite childhood film get mentioned in the ‘remake’ category. My impression of these types goes as so: “Oooohhhh, where is my iphone so I can rant on Facebook about how much this remake is a disgrace to society. FUCK HOLLYWOOD!” Don’t worry. I’ve been there too.

However, there is one nail people within the online community will not stop hammering in, no matter how delicate the wood block is. For some reason, people love to say just how much of a hack director Brett Ratner truly is. They like to point out the entire Rush Hour series, as well as X-Men: The Last Stand as examples of a director who really has no idea of what he’s doing. However, I am here to refute that.

Let’s start by dissecting his situation with that last film mentioned. By the time Ratner took the directing reigns of The Last Stand, the whole behind the scenes situation on the film was already in shambles. A cantankerous director by the name of Bryan Singer had switched franchises mid prep, deciding to try his hand at a Superman story. And the script was a mess, mostly due to the egos of some cast members insisting on bigger parts, and these requests being honored. Now I will probably be trolled like hell for saying this. But given what he was given, I do not think Ratner did a bad job with X-Men: The Last Stand. At the very least, I feel it is far from being the worst film baring the X-Men name -that would be X-Men Origins: Wolverine– and the movie actually flows at a rapid fire clip without seeming too jumbled. A common film misconception is that people think the feel of a movie is established on the page before cameras roll. But the truth is, all aesthetics and narrative flow is done by the director. On page, X-Men: The Last Stand had the makings of a disaster. But, dare I say thanks to Ratner’s sly hand, it isn’t nearly as bad as its reputation.

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However much I am defending the guy’s talent, let me move on to something I feel he does perhaps better than the majority of directors out there. When handed a script like 2002’s Red Dragon, and given all the main Oscar nominated and winning actors that were on that film, the possibility of ego overload, much like Singer let happen on X-Men, was upped to its full capacity. Just take a glimpse at the Red Dragon cast list: Edward Norton, Anthony Hopkins, Ralph Fiennes, Harvey Keitel, Emily Watson, Mary Louise Parker, and Philip Seymour Hoffman. Hopkins and Norton do not have the best behind the scenes reputations, and Fiennes doesn’t exactly exude warmth. Yet Ratner’s ability to keep all of their egos under control, as well as keep the film under budget and on time, is a feat that not many directors in his position as the ‘Rush Hour‘ guy could handle. Just listening to Ratner’s commentaries, he gives off such a passion for what he does, that I know it has to rub off on set.

Another thing people might not know about Ratner is just how much of a producer he is. In fact, his directing career has been tapered in recent years because the guy’s producing resume is impressively piling up. Here are just a few titles he has produced: Catfish, Prison Break (HBO), Mother’s Day (remake), Mirror Mirror, Jersey Boys, Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films. Oh yeah, and a little movie called The Revenant.

Like it or not people, Ratner is a Hollywood player. Knock Tower Heist all you want. I think that Hollywood needs more people like him, if only for the passion each of his projects brings out of him. Yes, his mouth can get the best of him at times (which is how he lost an Oscar directing gig a few years back). But in this society of ‘everything needs to be PC,’ Ratner’s candor is kind of refreshing. As is, dare I say, his directing style.

 

 

A Few Words About David Bowie’s Passing

david_bowieFirst of all, I am not going to sit here and pretend that the late great David Bowie played a huge part in my life. I was not an outcast who had Ziggy Stardust plastered all over my walls. Nor did I watch Labyrinth on repeat. Truth be told, with the exceptions of a couple Rolling Stone Magazine interviews, a collaboration with Trent Reznor, and a flash of tabloid covers depicting his supposedly bizarre early lifestyle and marriage to former supermodel Iman, Bowie was pretty non existent in the first two and a half decades or so of my life. Even with everyone telling me that Marilyn Manson’s 1998 album Mechanical Animals, an album I absolutely loved, was an almost plagiaristic rip-off of Bowie’s own Ziggy Stardust persona, I never thought twice about him.

When I entered my mid twenties, something happened. I was still attending college, which meant many hours were spent on a bus listening to things to pass the time. One rainy night, I was listening as Howard Stern’s Sirius Radio show went off the air, and for some reason he decided to play a block of Bowie tunes. All of which, and this is something all good music does, felt like were written specifically for me. This one block of music drove me to pick up as much of his catalog that I could.

It was also around this time when I decided to, for the very first time, check out Labyrinth. The mid 80s Jim Henson/George Lucas collaboration is looked at by many as a first rate achievement in making musicals cool for kids. But if there is one thing I regret about my fantasy ridden childhood, it’s that I did not discover Labyrinth earlier. Watching it as an adult, it just did not resonate with me, and I almost felt bad about it.

Nonetheless, Bowie played a part in not necessarily my growing up or outcast cries for help. It was in his, ironically, ability to speak to me about how to become a man. Yes, there are fantastic ways of hiding from your problems and avoiding head first dives into reality. But it isn’t until you look these realities in the eye, IE Buddha of Suburbia, when you are able to transcend not only that reality’s surefire truth, but facing and making it a cummapance.

RIP Goblin King. You may not have been my childhood spokesman. But I respect your ability to do so when everyone else was fighting against what you represented.

Oh, and Fuck You Cancer.

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