Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Redline: A sports car racing film from a new company, Chicago Pictures

Redline (PG-13, 2007) is a new action show about sports car racing from a new company Chicago Pictures and Chicago Releasing, directed by Andrew Cheng, with the story by Daniel Sadek, with Robert Foreman as another writer. This company is also now making a second film, “If I Knew I Was a Genius.” The film should not be confused with Terence Malick ‘s war film The Thin Red Line (1998).

Sadek is said to have used his own personal car collection in this film, wrecking at least one, and to have spent over $25 million in what seems like a "self-published" vanity movie. Visually, it is stunning. In full widescreen anamorphic, it looks like high definition. I saw it in a National Amusements theater in Merrifield, VA with DLP digital projection. (On a Tuesday afternoon, I was the only person in a 300-seat auditorium; as if the show were just for me!) The races, flips and crashes are breathtaking, as is all of the on location scenery in Nevada (Las Vegas included) and LA, most of all Red Rock Canyon, just west of Las Vegas. Some outdoor scenes, like a private jet landing in the desert to kick out an unruly passenger, seem to be in the movie just for spectacle. The cars themselves are sensational: fire engine red, Milwaukee Road yellow, and so on.

I recall visiting a race in Charlotte, NC in April 1994, on a Sunday when President Clinton visited. I went to the Indianapolis 500 in 1970 when I was working for RCA. There has been publicity about other car collections, such as actor David Gallagher (Seventh Heaven).

The story is a bit confusing. A racer Trevor (Marc Crumpton) comes back from military service in Iraq and is racing with his brother. When his brother is burned to death in a wreck, he seeks revenge. At the same time, his evil mafia uncle (Angus Macfayden I believe, one of the better known cast members) owes loan shark debts and is trying to make a movie about racing (there is one shot of a movie lot that looks like WB). Now the movie-within-a-movie idea is something I have played with in my own script writing, but here it gets hard to separate what is “pretended” and what is really happening. Furthermore, the dialogue seems unnatural; the slang usually used in the underworld is missing, and the lines don’t seem to match the characters. (There are even some factual missteps.) At 95 minutes, the movie is brisk, but with the producer’s money I would have hired more experienced help in just the writing to develop the characters, even of that meant a 110 minute film. This particular concept might have worked better if done with the help of more of tinseltown’s “establishment.” Imagine how Quentin Tarantino would work with this material!

A posting about "First Snow" (a film from another new studio, Bod Yari Productions), is here.

Picture: (unrelated but concurrent) DC Voting Rights Rally 4/16/2007

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