By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
Speaking of stories, Bernard is particularly aggrieved about what happened to hisAnna Karenina, especially the way your performance as Anna's brother was almost entirely cut out of the film. What was your perspective on all that? Is there a way to prevent that?
When my father was shooting Prizzi's Honor, this fellow from ABC came in. We were sitting in the bar of the hotel, and this executive said to Dad, "The ratio you're shooting is fantastically low. Thank you for using so little film." My father nodded: "You're very welcome." After the guy left the bar, my father turned to me -- I had just left film school -- and he said, "What a fool." I was surprised: "What do you mean?" "The man's a fool!"I asked why, and he said, "Because I'm not giving him any footage to cut!" That was basically how my father would shoot. He would shoot a long shot, and then -- in midsentence! -- "To be, or not to . . ." "CUT!" And he'd move in for a close-up: ". . . be, that is the question." [Laughter.] He never hesitated to split a line on either side of a pair of shots. He would literally work his way through the film, using very, very little actual film stock, and protecting himself from anybody coming in and cutting it. Because there wasn't any extra material left over for them to do that with. With the exception of The Bible, his films tend to be short and to the point. What the producers saw was what they got, and there he was, covering himself beautifully.
Do you feel ready to tackle directing in a new way based on your experience withivans xtc.?
The wonderful thing about being an actor is that you can observe many different directors at work, something you can't do if you're just a director. That's been very, very useful. And now? It's like Archimedes said: "Give me a point to lean on, and I can lift the world."
I feel like I've found my point to lean on, and I'm ready to go. II. BERNARD ROSE, director
BORN IN 1960 AND EDUCATED AT THE NATIONAL Film and Television School in Beaconsfield, England, Bernard Rose first came to the attention of American moviegoers with the urban-folklore chiller Candyman (1992). By then he'd already directed several features, most notably Chicago Joe and the Showgirl (1990), and since then he is best-known for Immortal Beloved (1994), which starred Gary Oldman in the role of Ludwig van Beethoven. This led to Anna Karenina (1997), which puzzled this reviewer (among many others) by its astonishing brevity.
In 1999, Rose had been set to direct The Thief of Always for Universal, based on the novel by Clive Barker and budgeted at $90 million. While waiting for that project to begin production, he quickly wrote a screen adaptation of Tolstoy's short story "The Death of Ivan Ilyich" and -- having time to spare and no exclusivity arrangement to stop him -- began shooting ivans xtc. Alas, after an item about the film appeared in Jeffrey Wells' Internet column, Hollywood Confidential, Rose was suddenly dropped as director of The Thief of Always. (He received the news during the shooting of the funeral scene, from his then-agent at CAA, Adam Krentzman, who also plays an agent in the film.)
Rose, half-amused at the twisted fates governing such reversals, prefers not to complain. Much!
L.A. WEEKLY: Ivans xtc. makes perfect sense on its own terms, but if you happen to know the Tolstoy story, there's an added pleasure -- because despite the Hollywood transposition, you've been exceptionally faithful to the source.
BERNARD ROSE: The joke of the book is that it contains a truth so universal, you could actually take almost anybody's life and do it as Ivan Ilyich. Anyone who dies of natural causes eventually is Ivan Ilyich. What struck me about Tolstoy's construction is that he pulls a trick on you. You read the first part, and you think, "Oh who cares -- some bureaucrat died." But then, when you go into his life, his life is so important to him.
One thing about the film that felt concordant with the book was the irony that it's not about the "death" of Ivan so much as it is, very deeply, about the life of Ivan -- and that it's his life that's killing him.
Well, what really kills him is cigarettes. People's attitudes are upside-down: "Oh yeah, he must've died because he was taking all that coke." Coke doesn't kill him. It doesn't do anything to him. Ivan's friends and clients don't want to face how close to death they all are, and how much his actual behavior is essentially unexceptional. When [CAA superagent] Jay Moloney died, people went out of their way to say how exceptionally addicted and terrible he was. But it isn't as if there aren't a lot of Hollywood agents who take coke!
Ivan's not a big cokehead. It's just as he explains -- he takes what they're offering. He goes out of his way to make everybody feel comfortable. He wants everybody to feel they're having a good time. There are people in Hollywood who are true masters of that. And they get very rich off it.
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