Fisher Stevens

Stand Up Guys

Old age can be a frightening prospect for anyone, but especially for gangsters. Think about it, your aim starts to go, you begin forgetting the names of your hit victims, and before you know it, you’re spouting gems like, “as far back as I can remember…it was yesterday.” This unfavorable scenario faces the protagonists of Fisher Stevens‘ (yes, that Fisher Stevens) Stand Up Guys. Back in the good ol’ days, the all-or-nothing days, a certain trio of button men were the toast of the town. To phrase it with fewer idioms, Val (Al Pacino), Doc (Christopher Walken) and Hirsch (Alan Arkin) comprise the literal gang getting back together in their twilight years for a final night of wild antics before Doc must complete his last assignment…killing Val. Stevens has had a bizarre career as a filmmaker, and Stand Up Guys is clearly the most ambitious project he’s ever undertaken. Truth be told, it shows a great deal of promise. Pacino and Walken are living legends, and they’ve each in their own right played some of cinema’s most iconic gangsters. That said, the casting of either one or both of these actors long ago exited the realm of a guaranteed hit…or even a guarantee that the film would be watchable. However, Stevens smartly walks the line between keeping his actors sharply focused on playing the beats that enhance the narrative and letting them ease into their natural cosa nostra charisma. There are even thrilling pockets in which we are reminded that […]

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Call of the Wylie Short

Nobody really knows Fisher Stevens the director. We tend to think of him primarily as the actor who boldly went brownface for the Short Circuit movies and more recently appeared in a few episodes of Lost. (But if you’re really hip, you best remember him for My Science Project.) He also won an Oscar for producing the documentary The Cove three years ago. But he has been directing here and there since the mid-’90s. He helmed a little-known rom-com in 2002 called Just a Kiss and collaborated with Dan Klores on the also under-seen 2007 doc Crazy Love. This Friday, his biggest directorial effort to date, Stand Up Guys, opens theatrically in a modest number of locations considering it stars Al Pacino, Christopher Walken and Alan Arkin. In anticipation of that new feature, I’d like to go back 18 years and look at Stevens’s directorial debut. It’s a short titled Call of the Wylie, and it’s a live-action comedy about the Warner Bros. cartoon character Wile E. Coyote. In his personal life, he goes by his middle name, Ezra, and acts like quite the highbrow thespian in spite of the slapstick role he’s best known for. Starring as the Coyote is Patrick Breen, who also scripted the short (as well as Stevens’s Just a Kiss and another short, Phineas). Call of the Wylie depicts the character being fired by Jack Warner and then meeting a woman named Melody (as in Merrie Melody) played by Amy Irving. Over drinks and smokes, […]

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Stand Up Guys

In Stand Up Guys, Christopher Walken picks up Al Pacino from prison, and they hit the town in fine form, but there’s one last assignment hanging over Walken’s head. He’s got to kill his friend. So what’s an insane, elderly punk-filled night when your life will be over by sunrise? Why not let Alan Arkin drive? Directed by Fisher Stevens (yes, the guy from Short Circuit) it looks like equal parts harmless retirement comedy and 25th Hour. Check out the trailer for yourself:

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The new trailer for The Experiment promises to eat the weak or at least release some battery acid into your bloodstream with tension and social commentary. History and Psychology buffs will recognize the story as The Stanford Prison Experiment which saw volunteers divided into two groups to see how normal people would respond when given power over others or seeing their rights taken away. Such a fantastic premise for a film – and adding Academy favorites Adrien Brody and Forest Whitaker to the bill is a masterstroke – so why is it going straight to DVD again?

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movieswelove-shortcircuit

For the inaugural edition of Movies We Love, we dug way back to 1986 and picked up Short Circuit, a film about a lovable military robot who is struck by lightning and begins to believe he is alive.

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