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: James Coburn Dead at 74  ( 19480 )
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« #30 : June 14, 2007, 06:48:15 PM »

I liked Affliction very much MWND.  I did see it in the theater.  I thought the performances by Nick Nolte and James Coburn were quite impressive.  Dafoe was very good as well.  I don't believe I've seen it again since I saw it in the theater.  The subject matter is difficult.  It's a bleak bone chilling kind of story.  I think overall Schrader did a good job with the direction.  I do still remember a lot of the scenes, appropriately filmed during winter, from the film.  I didn't read the novel that the film is based upon so I'm not sure how Schrader may of adapted the material.  I found that the film did have an effect on me when I saw it.  It's basically a story of a dysfunctional family, the arrested development of the Nolte character and I guess the cycles of anguish and sometimes violence that can occur within families.  That's hard stuff.  I always find I'm kind of vulnerable in different ways to stories about fathers and sons.  Although it's not one of my favorite films, and sometimes I think it's kind of overrated, the father son scene in Ordinary People always gets me for some reason.  I feel the emotion that you see in Sutherland's and Hutton's face.  I found that in a similar way, Affliction affected me.  I think that's a testament to the fine work of Nolte and Coburn.     
Monster's Ball, A Simple Plan, American Beauty and A History of Violence somewhat touched on those same themes, dramatically. Do you think that comedies in the same vein, such as The Royal Tenenbaums and My Big Fat Greek Wedding weaken a trend back to good drama in cinema? Up until Affliction, Coburn was basically known as a light comedy-dramatic actor. If he hadn't died, do you think his career would have taken a drastic 180 degree turn?

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« #31 : June 14, 2007, 07:41:50 PM »

Monster's Ball, A Simple Plan, American Beauty and A History of Violence somewhat touched on those same themes, dramatically. Do you think that comedies in the same vein, such as The Royal Tenenbaums and My Big Fat Greek Wedding weaken a trend back to good drama in cinema? Up until Affliction, Coburn was basically known as a light comedy-dramatic actor. If he hadn't died, do you think his career would have taken a drastic 180 degree turn?

I think the same subject matter can be handled with comedy or dramatic comedy.  One film that comes to mind, I haven't seen it in sometime, and I wouldn't say that it was a great film, or that the director is a great director by any means in my opinion....is Nothing In Common (1986) by Garry Marshall.  Another film about the father son relationship.  I think the performances by Hanks and Gleason lift the film above the material.  It was a comedy drama type of approach to the subject matter.  I think black comedies maybe along the lines of Harold And Maude can sometimes be very effective in their treatment of serious dramatic material.  I have no problem with that. 

Getting back to Coburn...I'm not quite sure what direction his career would of taken after Affliction and the acclaim he received from his performance in it.  I think he had great range as an actor.   Sadly, I think the problem is with the current state of the industry.  With his age, he would of had few and fewer opportunities for really good roles.  You kind of were hopeful that maybe he'd get another great role ...maybe like Robert Forster did from Tarantino...or perhaps like Hackman, Harris and possibly Garner from Eastwood.   I remember when Paul Newman was nominated for Nobody's Fool, npr and some news outlets provided favorable enthusiastic reviews (very rightfully so) of his performance but at the same time depicted it as his likely swan song from the leading actor ranks.  It did sort of happen that way.  It was his last really good leading role.           


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« #32 : June 14, 2007, 07:56:49 PM »

I think the same subject matter can be handled with comedy or dramatic comedy.  One film that comes to mind, I haven't seen it in sometime, and I wouldn't say that it was a great film, or that the director is a great director by any means in my opinion....is Nothing In Common (1986) by Garry Marshall.  Another film about the father son relationship.  I think the performances by Hanks and Gleason lift the film above the material.  It was a comedy drama type of approach to the subject matter.  I think black comedies maybe along the lines of Harold And Maude can sometimes be very effective in their treatment of serious dramatic material.  I have no problem with that. 

Getting back to Coburn...I'm not quite sure what direction his career would of taken after Affliction and the acclaim he received from his performance in it.  I think he had great range as an actor.   Sadly, I think the problem is with the current state of the industry.  With his age, he would of had few and fewer opportunities for really good roles.  You kind of were hopeful that maybe he'd get another great role ...maybe like Robert Forster did from Tarantino...or perhaps like Hackman, Harris and possibly Garner from Eastwood.   I remember when Paul Newman was nominated for Nobody's Fool, npr and some news outlets provided favorable enthusiastic reviews (very rightfully so) of his performance but at the same time depicted it as his likely swan song from the leading actor ranks.  It did sort of happen that way.  It was his last really good leading role.          

Coburn never truly enjoyed the success that Newman did. Up until Road to Redemption, I cannot recall a truly villainous part Newman ever performed, whereas Coburn was not above chewing the scenery in various villain roles(Payback and Looker spring to mind). Ergo, Newman held on to his charm with moviegoing audiences longer, even though both were equally engaging. Anthony Hopkins , of course, is still going strong, and never really had much appeal of any kind until Silence of the Lambs. The most recent example of this is Peter O'Toole who every so often becomes a shocking surprise to audiences

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« #33 : June 15, 2007, 06:29:24 AM »

Noodles,
thank you! Appreciate your kind words.
Maybe you'd enjoy CINEMA RETRO. A great magazine I'm writing for as well. WE concentrate on the films of the 60's/70's, there's Leone related stuff in almost every issue... (www.cinemaretro.com)

I think the same way as you guys do. NOBODYS FOOL was great, wasn't it? Those kind of films are my favorites the last years. WONDER BOYS, excellent. COCKIES FORTUNE....

Coburn, like any other actor, just wanted to work. The agents and studios of course seldom care about 'oldtimers'. Even when they're awarded to go back to Teen-business the next monday. Actually I soon start writing my next feature project which will be build around 'oldtimers'. I got the idea when I saw the amazing THE STRAIGHT STORY and saw many young people in the audience (not millions, right. But one can make a plus..). So the first guy I wanted to approach was Coburn. Back then I only knew Directors and hadn't started PASSION & POETRY (where I met the big names in dozens :)) so I was a bit unsure of how to approach him. After all I was little Mike and he was COBURN. But I immediately became friends with Ali MacGraw. My favorite female in the business ;). No, really, she incredible. I realized after 2 minutes why McQueen fell for her on the spot. Magnetism, I tell you.. Anyway, she seems to like educated, well-mannered rebels (forgive me that) and we were close from day one. So she felt I had a problem not daring to approach Coburn (who wasn't really hanging around with us much. He stuck with his wife, who was the saviour of his life, so to speak. When he was REALLY near the end in the 80's... And in front of everybody I would have never mentioned my next low-budget feature... So Ali did the ultimate trick. She blinked with her eye (and what a blink) and took me by the hand 'leave it to me'. So we went for out table passing Coburns table, and she said 'hey Jim.... now Mike, tell me all about that new script of yours..' (ignoring Coburn while we past). He immediately forgot about his fork and looked at the both of us together: 'Script? What script? Why don't you tell me about your script??'. Gosh, she is great !

Well, he won't be in it. Others won't too. Like R.G.Armstrong, who is an adorable bear (10 feet high, still). But he is blind by now. But if I'll shoot in LA, who knows, and he can walk and wants to be in it - he will.
Now I'll write it around guys I know who are still 'young', like David Warner, Vadim Glowna, Bo Hopkins. I'll try to get Mario Adorf (big star over here) and L.Q. (a bit difficult to get on the phone sometimes) as well.

For my money all actors from the old days need more director fans. Like Tarantino, who uses Robert Foster or Sonny Chiba, I love him for that.
Old movie people are magical - for me as well. And we kind of worship them for if we see these great films, it is something from another world when we think of the people involved. Yet, most of them sit at home and wait for a phone call, just like when they began 50 years earlier...



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« #34 : June 15, 2007, 06:33:43 AM »

Ernest Borgnine still stays relatively busy, and he's 90.

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« #35 : June 15, 2007, 08:17:41 AM »

Yeah, he's great!
When I approached him, I thought he'd sit in his armchair on the porch, enjoying his retirement, waiting for bloody fools like myself :)
But his schedule was busier than mine!  He was very kind to me but at first didn't want to be in the film. 'thought he couldn't remember much, actually he didn't appear in many documentaries. He is really living today...
The story who I finally got him is great, looks like I'll write it down here sooner or later anyway...

I called him up just weeks ago for his 90th birthday. Although I hadn't spoken to him for 3 years he remembered me immediately and told me to forward the script.  I never felt more powerful 'presence' in a room than with him.
Damn, I hope I get this thing off the ground before they're all 99...



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« #36 : June 15, 2007, 12:07:24 PM »

Maybe you'd enjoy CINEMA RETRO. A great magazine I'm writing for as well. WE concentrate on the films of the 60's/70's, there's Leone related stuff in almost every issue... (www.cinemaretro.com)
 
Old movie people are magical - for me as well. And we kind of worship them for if we see these great films, it is something from another world when we think of the people involved. Yet, most of them sit at home and wait for a phone call, just like when they began 50 years earlier...

Mike, thanks for the link.  I'll check it out.  That was another interesting story on Ali MacGraw and James Coburn.  She sounds like a wonderful woman.  I definitely agree with you on the neglect of older actors/actresses in film.  There are select few that do continue to get or create their own work, but just not enough.  I wish that films would provide a better cross section showing characters of different ages and generations on the screen.  Maybe we can be a little hopeful that will change because of the boomer situation in society.  It would seem to me that industry people would see a possible change could be profitable.   I think it would benefit everyone, young and old.  It's great that you recognize this as an important issue, and I wish you good luck with your project.  


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