Saturday, February 04, 2006

What One Man Can Do, Another Can Do

I read yesterday that the director Lee Tamahori was arrested in Hollywood for soliciting an undercover police officer. He's in his mid-50s and was dressed in drag when arrested. For some reason the LAPD are withholding the mug shot. I'm sure we'll be seeing it soon enough.

Not much is known of him anymore, if the low-level interest in the announcement of his arrest is any indication, though perhaps if he had been busted 5 years ago it would have been front-page news outside of the ANZAC region (he's a New Zealander). Tamahori made a fairly big international splash out of the gate with his first feature, the brutal Maori domestic violence spectacle Once Were Warriors in 1994 (with Temuera Morrison, now better known as the guitar-slinging bounty hunter Django Fett from Attack of the Clones). His American debut was the big-budget forties-pastiche Mulholland Falls, with Nick Nolte and a cast of fedora-topped slabs of ham like Michael Madsen. Didn't bother seeing that one, but I was mightily impressed by his next picture, The Edge - a survivalist saga with Anthony Hopkins, Alec Baldwin and a giant bear, with a screenplay by David Mamet at his loonily epigrammatic best ("What one man can do, another can do!"). The Edge is a very well-made "man's man" picture which comes down strongly on the side of brains in the old 'brains vs. brawn' debate (before the marketing department weighed in, its working title was Bookworm).

But things became increasingly non-distinguished from there. The boring Along Came A Spider featured Morgan Freeman (but curiously not Ashley Judd) in a standard-issue airport novellette adaptation where his no-nonsense detective plays cat-and-mouse with a criminal mastermind. It was so boring that they filmed it in Vancouver. I knew when it came out it would be the CBS Sunday Night Movie three years later and I might watch it then. Next was Die Another Day, the final Pierce Brosnan 007 outing, which looked a lot like a metrosexual version of XXX. And then last year, the official sequel to XXX itself, starring Ice Cube, which was subtitled State of the Union in North America and The Next Level everywhere else in the world. It was designed to get all the chavs out to the multiplexes, but it fell flat. And even though the IMDB currently lists Tamahori as having two films in development, this lurid turn of events should finish off his directing career for good, unless he has a spectacular explanation of Eddie Murphian proportions.

We'll know more soon, but it just seems to me like a clearcut case of career suicide. I mean there's whoring yourself out, and then there's whoring yourself out.

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