Sunday, June 06, 2010

Ashton Kutcher "gets it" when he gets recruited by the CIA (in pretend mode), in Lionsgate's "Killers"; whom does the CIA really want to hire?

Intelligence services, the CIA specifically, have a quandary in hiring agents. They think that people who are excessively aloof and independent from “normal” interpersonal intimacy – the lone wolfs – can be dangerous, but sometimes the schizoids are the only kinds of people who can “connect the dots” and do their work.

Spencer, played by the very likeable nice guy and Twitter champ Ashton Kutcher, explains that to his bride Jen (Catherine Heigl) in the middle of the "comedy" movie “Killers”, directed by Robert Luketic. He was chosen as a freshman in college because he had no family and had been forced to be independent. But Jen only “finds out” three years into a marriage with the perfect man she had met in Nice, France, living now in a new subdivision near Atlanta. Now assassins are chasing Spencer in a comedy of mayhem.

Kutcher seems out of his usual character in the ease with which he handles normally banned assault weapons. There’s something else: when Jen meets him in Nice, the camera makes it all too obvious that his chest has been erased. Yes, Kutcher had “grown up” a bit by the time he made “The Butterfly Effect” a few years ago. No more. Jen’s father is played by Tom Selleck, who looks pudgy and awful – and who no longer looks like the flashing dandy of Magnum PI. He’s really gone downhill fast.

The last scene in the crib, where the couple protects its "young", may have been inspired by Jon Amiel's "Entrapment" (1999); laser beams would provide pretty good security for a baby from abduction.

Lionsgate skipped its musical ritornel when it played its “machine dreams” trademark; it seems that a lot of directors find musical trademarks distracting as their films open. But Lionsgate’s bombast is a match for 20th Century Fox, and it seems needed to announce the film. From a legal perspective, studios should probably always use them.

Lionsgate also refused to allow this film to screen for critics, as Patrick Goldstein wrote for the Los Angeles Times in his blog “The Big Picture”, here. Lionsgate, previously known for independent films and horror, has been moving more into other “genres” in the past few years, and the urban legend is that critics don’t like genre movies. This film seems to mix genres too much: European style and crime caper. Somehow, Alfred Hitchcock’s “To Catch a Thief” from the 1950s works; this one, not so much.

The official site from the film is here Note that Lionsgate’s site opens its film-specific sites in separate windows and may fool the visitor.

Maple Pictures has a YouTube video where Ashton Kutcher explains why his chest had to be waxed (as in “40 Year Old Virgin”), and he didn’t remain a “man-o-lantern”. He says that for insurance reasons the studio won’t let him do a particular underwater stunt, and the stunt man apparently is smooth (that is, "thmooth"). So for consistency (or out of homage to the Biblical story of Jacob and Esau) he has to get waxed for the whole film. He sounds angry and invaded.  (When I was a teen, I would have seen this as being made to "feel feminine"; but in Donald Trump's "Apprentice" candidate Troy McClain let his legs get waxed for the good of the "team"; so it is here.) Ashton says that chest hair is coming back. There was a curious short story about this issue in the gay magazine “The Advocate” back in 1984 (called “The Body Shave”) that starts out by describing the way Hollywood glossed everyone for the movies back in the 1950s, especially those Cinemascope spectacles. I’ll have to go through Twitter and Facebook to see what Ashton says about it there. If you use popular laser treatments (let alone electrolysis), it never grows back.

That interview disappeared from YouTube but now (Jan 2011) NewsMediaFeed had a better one with Lester Holt interviewing him, talking about the "establishing shot" with the stunt man (they won't let Asthon jump through glass), and his torso had to match.  But that one also disappeared. Here's a "news story" on the matter (link).

Here's a CBS video on the film, interview with Kutcher.

Holt mentions that Time considers Kutcher one of the 100 most influential people in the world, and that was before Mark Zuckerberg was named person of the year for 2010.

So: Ashton ("aplusk" or "A+K"): you have to do what the director tells you to do. Why not direct a film yourself, and then deal with the comsetics from the position of the man above?

First still picture above: unrelated, but it would fit.

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