Sunday, September 8, 2013
JEFF OF THE CINEFILES: HALL OF FAME: FILE # 0027: THE RULES OF ATTRACTION (2002)
Written & Directed By: Roger Avary
Based On The Book By: Bret Easton Ellis
Cinematography By: Robert Brinkmann
Editor: Sharon Rutter
Original Score & Music By: Tomandandy
Cast: James Van Der Beek, Shannyn Sossamon, Jessica Biel, Kip Pardue, Kaye Bosworth, Ian Somerhalder, Joel Michaely, Jay Baruchel, Thomas Ian Nicholas, Clifton Colljns Jr., Faye Dunaway, Swoosie Kurtz, Russell Sams, Clare Kramer, Eric Sroltz, Fred Savage, Paul Williams
Camden College. Sean Bateman is the younger brother of depraved Wall Street broker Patrick Bateman. He's also a drug dealer who owes a lot of money to "fellow" dealer Rupert Guest, as well as a well-known womanizer, for he sleeps with nearly half of the female population on campus. Lauren Hynde is, technically, a virgin. She's saving herself for her shallow boyfriend, Victor Johnson, who's left the States to backpack across Europe. Her slutty roommate, Lara, has the hots for Victor as well. Paul Denton, who used to date Lauren, is openly bisexual and attracted to Mitchell Allen, who's dating Candice to prove to Paul that he's not gay. Sean loves Lauren. Paul loves Sean. And Lauren may love Sean.
A lot of the facts on the film were researched from other sources as well.
The film is easy to write off as a bunch of teen show stars. Trying to be edgy and do something different. Not too far from the truth though I'd rather see them do this then some creepy film aimed at teens that uses the same old stories and just are a slight variation on characters they were playing at the time, just more risqué.
I used to read Director Roger Avary's blog. Which was all access. It would regularly give tips for filmmaking and take you through his writing and directing process. Always updating and interacting with fans. Letting the fans design posters and vote on which trailers to use with his films. It was one of the first time I had as I am sure many had contact with some one in the industry at the time. This was when he Internet was still young. So this was almost magical and it gave a reality to my dream of becoming a filmmaker you just keep going with ideas. A sobering. Look bit an insider view into the industry at the time that meant a lot and that I never forgot. Even now with the over abundance of information and contacts. Kevin smith was my first actual director I was in somewhat contact with at appearances. Roger Avary was purely digitally online. The only other of note was Joel Schumacher. The blog also helped me stay updated on the production on the film.
Like on the blog was where he revealed all of his casting notices.
Roger Avary wanted the writing credit to read "Written by Bret Easton Ellis and Roger Avary," even though Ellis had no involvement with the movie whatsoever. Avary wanted this as he felt he had only translated Ellis to the screen. The writer's guild steadfastly refused to allow this.
Roger Avary was an old friend and co-writer who Quentin Tarantino he co-wrote pulp fiction and Tarantino produced Avary's first in Killing Zoe and some say Avary is truly at least the original writer behind notes Tarantino screenplays TRUE ROMANCE and NATURAL BORN KILLERS as he wrote first drafts and stories for these films and while working at video archives with Tarantino they would trade stories and scripts they were working on and punch them up with rewrites. Which might explain why Tarantinos films and scripts really being to differ and become more epic around Jackie brown. These stories are all around the Internet for further research.
As was my movie going habit I saw this film opening night to a half filled audience and a handful of walkouts. Who i watched leave with a guilty smile on my face as i enjoyed the decadence. while it was different then the film being sold own the television ads I enjoyed the film immensely as I knew what i was in for and also I liked that it disturbed people and stuck to it's style, spirit and vision. Which was a bit punk Rock and for such a at times upsetting film it has a lot of integrity. Something I hadn't really experienced at the time since BEFORE SUNRISE.
The film was an introduction at a time in my life when I was working at a video store so many films at my fingertips that i let slip through and passed by as at the time the store still carried videos that to this day still have never come out on American DVD. this was my film school to a degree. Though at the time i wanted to be a filmmaker this looked to be the closest I would ever get to movies. I mean you could have worst company. Though there i trim learned more about genre of films and truly gained an education. As he store carried books and magazines on films that I soaked up.
After Christina Ricci Supposedly turned the role down Shannyn Sossamon took the role.
Shannyn Sossamon's strength as an actress Is that she is not trained. Which makes her performances seem natural that is hard in more structured films, but more experimental off beat she excels in compare the style with her co-star Jessica Biel in this film. Biel feels like she is performing a character seperate from herself. Sossamon feels natural like she inhabits he character or makes the character more like herself. Though still a mystery to the audience.
According to Roger Avary, Shannyn Sossamon, as an untrained actress, would often burn out after more than three takes. Whenever she had a scene with another character, her parts were shot first since "by the time she's done, the other actor's were just warming up."
I read the book twice once in high school where i didn't really get it. Thinking it was the source novel for the film THREESOME. Taking on sexual and social boundaries in college. It confused me to tell you the truth and once i found out the film was being made I read not again and it made a lot more sense to me. It now to me is an extraordinary work by Bret Easton Ellis. Though the film follows the novel to a point the film also has some autobiographical memories from the director and some added plot points.
The trailer for the movie bears a striking resemblance to the theatrical trailer for Stanley Kubrick's A CLOCKWORK ORANGE. Both trailers feature short clips from the movie being intermixed with nouns and adjectives describing the movie (printed as big bold white text on black background), while classical music plays in the background.
The score was haunting to me as I had to get it right after i saw the film and would use it to make my walks around New York more suspenseful and energetic as some use songs to help them keep the momentum at the gym.
When the production couldn't afford George Michael's "Faith", Roger Avary sent the musician a letter asking if he could lower the price. Michael gave them the song for free.
Victor's European trip was supposed to be a film in of itself of the film has been a bigger hit it would have been it's own sequel that would help bridge to the next film planned based on Ellis's novel GALMORAMA. Unfortunately the film Bombed. They had filmed actor Kip Pardue in character all over Europe for two weeks and his little improv adventures with real people pre-dating BORAT. it would have made a great DVD extra and a controversial early one of a kind experimental feature.
I am a big fan of writer Bret Easton Ellis who is a good writer gifted with prose. Though I believe sometimes he really has nothing to say deep down so he writes more semi-autobiographical books that include characters from the world he was living in or wanted to be. Then just added Shocking scenes that might have been rumored or urban legends
Of course some things are lost from the book. The abortion and of course some of the more racy scenes. Which is hard to believe considering how hardcore the film already is they also leave The chapter entirely in French from Sean Bateman's college roommate.
The film's limited budget also allowed it to be more experimental.
Lionsgate tested the film at a mall in conservative Orange County, as they saw the film as a teen comedy. Director Roger Avary saw the film as "the assassination of teen comedies." The test screening was reportedly horrible, with dozens of walkouts and people shouting "fag film" at the screen as they left. Regardless, Lionsgate insisted on marketing the film as a teen comedy and opening it in wide-release.
When asked why he made so many changes from the book, Roger Avary replied with a story about Stanley Kubrick. According to John Milius , Kubrick once called him and asked from the greatest handgun ever made, but it must never have been fired. Millius eventually found the pistol, and Stanley purchased it from England. Several months later Millius met with Kubrick again and asked how he liked the gun. Kubrick replied he loved it, and had replaced the handle, trigger, hammer, re-bored the barrel, and swapped out the firing pins. Horrified, Millius said he had ruined it. Stanley simply said, "No I didn't, I made it better."
The film has no real plot. It focuses on the characters and their settings. Basically life at college and how they interact. Just really a series of slices of life. Like the film rules of the game this movie tries to tell it's story of location almost like an anthropology anthology.
This film was edited using Apple's (relatively) inexpensive "Final Cut Pro" software on Macintosh computers to reduce costs.
The motto of the film seems to be there is no hope. Life is cruel and full of funny mix-ups
The scene with Fred savage reeks of stunt casting not bad in the scene it just doesn't feel needed so it comes off as weird but matches the attitude of the film with it's basis that seems more like a foreign/European film about the lost youth of a generation.
This tone is held throughout it's dressed up style. It's punk rock filmmaking not perfect it even comes off a bit pretentious, but it doesn't care. The film has attitude yet is open to anyone yet won't change it's demeanor and follows it's own rhythms. That's like a symphony while slapping you in the face.
While the film seems like it is trying to immerse you in their world it comes off as more of a comedy, but slowly becomes serious.
The film purposely avoids trend to make the film and it's characters timeless as it could be set in any era. Just when you think you have it pinned down. It seems like a different one definitely nihilistic 80's, 90's yet it makes the time period Bauer as any generation can identify with it.
The editing is cutting edge. There was even a noted scene where a camera follows both James Van Der Beek and Shannyn Sossamon seperately with a split screen so they each are on one side of the screen as they walk and finally meet each other and then he screen becomes one shot with the both of them having a conversation. While all done to the song by Tim Buckley
A point of contention for many critics was the so-called "hollow relationships" of all the characters. Roger Avary says that he deliberately wrote the script to jump from point-to-point in the relationships, instead of showing a natural progression and buildup. This was done to better resemble people's memories of college; it's only the major points that get remembered, not the points in between. There are reportedly dozens of deleted scenes depicting other "relationship points" that were cut for various reasons (time, pacing, content, etc.).
When Sean punches Lara in the face outside of her dorm room, the close up shot of her, cross-eyed with a bloody nose fainting backwards, is the same shot used in Roger Avary's film KILLING ZOE, when the character Zoe is punched in the face.
The first scene that introduces the characters rewinds from another angle and character to take us to another main character and thier Introductary monologue. It is especially inventive when we did out out introduction to them is actually the end of their stories. We are filled in on what lead them here though it seems like a jumping off point for introductions. --James Franco was the original choice to play Sean. Roger Avary later decided that he played it "too much like the book," and recast the role with James Van Der Beeek.
Bret Easton Ellis, author of the novel on which the film is based, revealed in an interview that director Roger Avary asked him to play the role of Patrick Bateman in the film after Christian Bale, who portrayed Patrick in the film adaptation of AMERICAN PSYCHO, turned down Avary's offer to return as Patrick. Ellis also turned him down, saying that he thought it was "such a terrible and gimmicky idea". The scenes with Patrick were eventually shot with Casper Van Dien playing the role, but they were cut from the film. The drama of this scene where we don't know the entire history other Saving her virginity for someone special. Then heartbroken gets drunk and thinks she is losing it to nice guy student then losing it to not only a townie who was not initially who she came upstairs with and is being videotaped by the so called nice guy and the drunken townie ends up vomiting on her. Which shows like the rest of the film it is repulsive, inventive, sad, disgusting and funny in a dark humorous way. According to an interview with Movieline.com in 2010, Bret Easton Ellis has said this is his favorite of the adaptations of his books. All of these same words you can use to describe this film, but it's nihilistic heart just like Ellis's writing in his books fascinate and entertain (trust me even his tweets are hilarious)
In the decade since the film's release, several commercials have paid homage to the European travel montage. Vodofone has done several.
The last footage shot for the film was Victor's European travel montage. Shot over the course of fifteen days, by a crew consisting of just Roger Avary, Kip Pardue, and producer Greg Shapiro, together they amassed over 70 hours of video tape. The excess footage was later edited into the movie Glitterati which, due to music rights issues, has yet to be released. The last footage shot for the film was Victor's European travel montage. Shot over the course of fifteen days, by a crew consisting of just Roger Avary, Kip Pardue, and producer Greg Shapiro, they ended up with over 70 hours of video tape. The excess footage was later edited into the movie Glitterati which, due to music rights issues, has yet to be released as of 2012.
The film feels like a college set teen film that desires to be an artsy european film. Though it seems to catch the wild world of college making your own decisions and being away from home for the first time.
The studio's preferred poster, green background with plain head-shots of the leads, has derisively been referred to as "the Saved By The Bell poster" By the director --I can easily see how this is not everyone's cup of tea, to me it's a gem. A film which I wish there were more of with this bravery. Then again this film would be normal par for the course and not as special as it is.
The End of the World" party scene was filmed on 11 September 2001.
It's surprising to see Faye runaway have a cameo in this film. It is hard I notice as in her scene there is actor Russell Sams scene stealing role as Richard an ex of Paul’s character. And lip synching to the song faith by George Michael
On the DVD the film even has a commentary track done with carrot top while he watches the film for the first time. There is also a Shannyn Sossamon commentary it's not too informative.
Roger Avary was very displeased with the posters the marketing department devised; he felt they were only showing off the cast and said nothing of the film's content. He personally helped design the infamous "animal sex position" poster, which was rarely used. After the release, Austrian artist Gottfried Helnwein created a poster featuring Shannyn Sossamon pulling the dead Food Service Girl from the tub. The poster was made without the consent of Lionsgate and the studio got sued over it. To date, it has not received an official release.
The literary link between LESS THAN ZERO and The Rules of Attraction nearly made it into the film. In an interview with Aint It Cool News, Roger Avary stated, "During the writing stage I toyed with the idea of Clay and Blaire returning to campus (and I would have used Andrew McCarthy and Jamie Gertz). My notion was that Clay was now a studio executive and they were visiting his magna alumni for nostalgia. I wrote several variations on scenes with Clay and Blaire, but they always seemed extraneous to the story I was telling. And my script was already long by Hollywood standards - so I cut them."
It's a film that affects a mood and takes you places you never expected to go. As a film fan it amazed me. As a filmmaker it males me stare in awe.Almost like a more mainstream Harmony Korine film.
There is so much cut footage I believe, that is not on the dvd. I think the producers were hoping for Blockbuster success that they were hoping for a special edition Dvd. Supposedly the director caught so much footage of Kip Pardue in character as victor in Europe for the two minutes of the scene summarizing that trip. That there was talk of releasing it as a mini movie on Dvd or as a film itself. But alas it never came to be.
This was a film I was looking very forward to other then having and still do have a huge crush on actress Shannyn Sossamon the film seemed to cast all the hot young actors running around Hollywood at the time. I was also reading up on the filming by following Director Roger Avary’s blog where he wrote about the film almost everyday as well as showing footage and poster art. When he showed the trailer I was in ecstasy. I read the book also while this was going on to prepare myself as to what to expect material wise from the film. So when it came out I watched it opening night and I wasn’t disappointed but it wasn’t what I thought it would be it also taught me a lesson as a young man. Don’t believe everything you read from a director when he is discussing his project. I should have learned that lesson earlier with the film THE FACULTY which I didn’t hate but wasn’t the film I thought it was going to be.
Roger Avary is a oscar winner for co-writing PULP FICTION though he only gets a story by credit on that film. There has been controversy over the writing and relationship between him and Quentin Tarantino as to where his work begins and ends on projects such as TRUE ROMANCE, NATURAL BORN KILLERS and PULP FICTION. The settled there differences and Quentin produced his debut film KILLING ZOE. This film is certainly a step up though KILLING ZOE wasn’t that bad.
The film is really a experimental film it has tons of style deals with many different subjects mainly through the three protagonists eyes and jumps from satire, to dark comedy to drama while dealing with a long list of subjects like sex, suicide, homosexuality, drugs. The film stays very true to the book while cutting out some subplots that are missed as they gave some characters depth and made certain scenes a reason to actually be there. The film has the gloss and polish of a studio film but has a punk rock heart. A certain rebelliousness. It’s like someone who looks normal and infiltrates a building then once they are in there they show they’re true colors as they try to dismantle the place from the inside.
The film isn’t bad but it seems to be a film that you will either love or hate. Most of the characters are hard to feel sorry or even sympathy for except for Sossamon’s character Lauren. The film has plenty of examples of amazing technique and film technology as scenes run backwards but with visual tricks that throw you off. Two camera shots that are follow the character separately on a side by side screen until they meet each other and the two angles come together into one wide shot. It fits in with the film as there are copious amounts of drugs and alcohol and lends itself to the characters experimentalism, But at times also feels like there is no reason for it to be there. The film is supposed to be set in the 80’s but then tries to blur it’s time period so it can seem universal and timeless for the college experience.
It reminds me of what director Roger Avary was going for a film that like RULES OF THE GAME was not only a coming of age tale but supposedly a eye opening film that deals with the young generations morals and behavior. The film was also supposed to be James Van Der Beek’s breakout film into more serious film territory as he made this and was also supposed to be in the film STORYTELLING but his segment was cut. While he makes a mark here in a good performance. You just never feel any sympathy for him. In fact if this was a traditional Hollywood movie he would be a villain not a protagonist.
Bret Easton Ellis has said that this is his favorite of all the film adaptations of his books.
There is really no plot as we just really experience the trials and tribulations of the three main characters Sean the rich boy partier, Lauren the virgin, and Paul the homosexual. How they cross each others paths to form a weird love triangle. The film is heartbreaking almost as much as how many times Lauren gets her heart broken.
I really like the film and it almost made my Hall of fame but after watching it recently wile I still like it I don’t love it and doesn’t lend itself to ageing. It also wasn’t as great as I used to think it was. I think it deserves more consideration then it currently receives.
The film also has a good soundtrack and a cool score from tomandandy that is catchy. The dvd includes a out of nowhere audio commentary by Carrot top only because roger avary wanted to try a audio commentary of someone watching the film for the first time and there reaction. For the experiment I have to give him kudos it’s a cool idea. Not entirely successful though.
Decide for yourself, as I still recommend it