Ruben Fleischer

commentary-gangstersquad

Gangster Squad is a stylized and clearly fictional retelling of the real-life adventures of a special Los Angeles police squad created to fight organized crime in the city. It’s a messy film at times, but director Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland) keeps the tone casual and the action entertaining. In addition to some fun performances by the likes of Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling and Sean Penn the movie also looks pretty fantastic thanks to some great period details, seamless digital work and stylish action sequences. The film was originally slotted for a late 2012 release, but real world tragedy led to its dismissal to January of this year so that a scene involving a gangster shootout in a movie theater could be dropped and a replacement one filmed. Opinions vary as to whether or not that was a necessary move, but most everyone expected the original scene to be included on the Blu-ray/DVD amidst the special features. Unfortunately, it appears WB has decided to live in an alternate reality where that scene and its deletion never occurred. There’s no mention anywhere on the disc, and it’s not included in the deleted scenes. The question is, what does Fleischer have to say about it all? Keep reading to see what I heard on the commentary track for Gangster Squad.

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Spy Hunter

As was strongly rumored back in September (and before the bust that was Gangster Squad), Warner Bros. has now officially set Ruben Fleischer to direct their Spy Hunter video game adaptation. Carter Blanchard is also on board to pen the script which, sadly, is not about the Spy vs. Spy comic that I’ve apparently been thinking of every time this project has come up. Based on the popular arcade game from the ’80s, Spy Hunter also involves rogue spies hunting each other. Self-explanatory. This adaptation has been off and on for years and years, with such names as Dwayne Johnson (who voiced an updated version of the game back in 2006, and whose face is plastered all over its boxes), John Woo, and Paul W.S. Anderson filtering in and out of its development. [Deadline Hollywood]

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Gangster Squad Reshoots

The trailer for Gangster Squad brought us right into the world of 1940’s Los Angeles, where gangsters ruled the city under the unflinching thumb of Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn) as ominous undertones vibrated against the sounds of punches and gunshots. This is a Los Angeles where crime and punishment rule rather than glitz and glamour, and the clothes, the hair, the makeup, the cars, and the guns alone let us know we are in a different time. But then a commanding female singer’s vocals cut through the chaos telling us to “get low,” while a hip-hop beat started to drive the action. This 1940’s world suddenly got a jolt of good ol’ contemporary R&B as Mr. HOV himself, Jay-Z, breaks in with his track “Oh My God.” His lyrics may be from a song released in 2006, but they do not feel out of place here saying: “A journey seldom seen / The American dream.” Gangster movies are appealing because they give audiences a glimpse into that dangerous world and Mickey Cohen has clearly convinced himself that what he is doing is simply living the American dream his way. Unfortunately this unique pairing of modern music with a period story exists solely in the trailer, while the film instead opts for an exclusively 1940’s feel. With a soundtrack full of songs from artists of that time such as Pee Wee King, Big Jay McNeely, and Peggy Lee it is this idea of taking itself too seriously that seems to be Gangster Squad’s inevitable downfall. Hoping to be a […]

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gangster 1

This weekend’s Gangster Squad may invoke classical conventions of the mobster genre, but director Ruben Fleischer never set out to make an old school throwback. His dramatic action movie is a part of a new breed of period pieces, ones made with a very modern sensibility. They move at a bullet’s pace, are shot with feverish popcorn energy, and avoid any preconceived notions of being stuffy. Fleischer didn’t set out to make an epic like The Godfather, and after 30 Minutes or Less and Zombieland we wouldn’t expect that from him, but that doesn’t mean he settles into expectations either. Generally if you work in a genre more than once, you become distinctly known as, in Fleischer’s case, “the comedy” guy. While Gangster Squad has its laughs, it shows Fleischer working on a whole new level as a visual storyteller in a different genre . Speaking with Fleischer, he was obviously happy to escape the pigeonhole with his third feature film. Here’s what he had to say about seeing his movie 400 times, the hilarity of Sean Penn and why he’ll continue to shoot digitally:

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Girls Guitar Club Short

Ruben Fleischer is on a roll right now, with his third feature in four years hitting theaters (a bit delayed) this Friday. Before Gangster Squad, he directed the dark comedies Zombieland and 30 Minutes or Less, and long before that he made his first film, a short from 2001 titled The Girls Guitar Club. Producing and directing off a script from the comedy duo of Karen Kilgariff and Mary Lynn Rajskub (both of whom were then perhaps best known for Mr. Show), Fleischer thought it would be his calling card for jumping into Hollywood. “I basically spent all the money I had saved and was sure that movie deal offers were gonna come and I’d be directing pilots [for] television shows,” he told Collider back in 2009. “And as soon as people saw the short film, but of course people thought and said, ‘Oh that’s good,’ and [then] nothing ever really came of it.”

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Gangster Squad Reshoots

“You’re going to be begging for a bullet before it’s over,” maybe isn’t the smartest line to end your preview with. Good thing it doesn’t look like The Gangster Squad is going to make for any kind of chore. This second trailer is packed to the brim with big hats, lots of bullets, and plenty of funny voices — all the famous hallmarks for a man’s man kind of movie. When you have a cast which includes Josh Brolin, Sean Penn, Anthony Mackie, Nicky Nolte, and Robert Patrick, pure manliness is probably what you’re going to end up with. Check out the second trailer for The Gangster Squad to see how many times you can hear “good lord” before going nuts:

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Spy Hunter

Vulture is reporting that Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland, Gangster Squad) is the next director on deck to make something out of the 80s arcade game “Spy Hunter” for Warners. John Woo and Paul W.S. Anderson were both previously interested during the project’s development in the 2000s, and now it falls to Fleischer. The thing is, the video game involved driving a car and shooting at people. It was pretty simple. However, Dwayne Johnson voiced the hit and run hero for an updated version of the game in 2006 – “Spy Hunter: Nowhere to Run” – which was supposed to be a tie-in for the film, but when the movie stalled out, it just kept going. That involved a bit of a story, but this project seems destined to be high concept. Man with fast car tracks down rogue spies and kills them while in danger of being killed himself. Pretty simple, but Fleischer is a shrewd director and a far better option than the Bad Anderson. Now the question is whether Johnson will still be up for starring, and if not, who should be?

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Gangster Squad Theater Scene

Whether they needed to or not, Warner Bros. went into something of a panic after last month’s tragic theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado and made plans to scrap a key scene from their upcoming release Gangster Squad. You see, their crime film’s climax also concerned a shooting taking place in a movie theater, and the studio figured that creating a fantasy tragedy that so closely resembled a recent, real-life tragedy would have been in bad taste. After a bit of deliberation, the plan was to completely rewrite and reshoot the sequence, a process which would push the film’s release from September 7 to sometime in 2013 (now confirmed as January 11). Of course, given that reshoots necessarily pushed back the release date of the film, further discussion was created around the issue of whether or not a movie coming out in 2013 would need to change its content because of a shooting that happened in 2012. It’s an interesting line the studio is straddling between acting in good taste and censoring art. But, no matter where your opinion on the issue lies, what’s been decided has been decided, and director Ruben Fleischer and crew are going forward with the reshoots.

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Gangster Squad Reshoots

Real life tragedies affecting film releases isn’t a new phenomenon. There was a period after the terrorist attacks on 9/11 where films shot in New York City before the World Trade Center went down had to go back and edit scenes out or use digital trickery if even a glimpse of the Twin Towers appeared in a shot. And, more recently, upcoming comedy The Watch had its title changed and one of its trailers pulled after content in the ad too closely echoed the killing of Florida teen Trayvon Martin. People don’t like to be reminded of horrible things when they’re trying to go out for a night of entertainment. So, it comes as no surprise that in the wake of the theater shooting that took place during a screening of The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, Colorado, some films are going to be making adjustments to their content and marketing efforts in order to not inappropriately echo the tragedy that took place. So far the studio that’s most immediately affected is Warner Bros. Not only did they have millions of dollars worth of violence-filled TV ads for The Dark Knight Rises pulled from the airwaves over the weekend, but they also cancelled several special screenings where the stars of the film were scheduled to make personal appearances. And another of their upcoming releases, the Ruben Fleischer-directed Gangster Squad, is making it necessary for them to make even more adjustments.

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Ruben Fleischer is two for two. Zombieland and 30 Minutes or Less both exhibited an energetic brand of comedy that showed off the chops of a new talent. Now it’s time for that talent to change genres and show some range. The Gangster Squad was a black list script from Will Beall that made its way to Warners. The first trailer boasts a stellar cast of Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling, Nick Nolte, Emma Stone, Sean Penn and a ton of familiar face. Plus, Gosling comes off as a total pansy here, no matter what size gun he’s got. That’s an interesting reversal after the stoic badass in Drive. It looks like a standard gangland story, but the visuals are dynamic and everything points to it being a solid flick. Check out the trailer for yourself:

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If you haven’t been reading along, I’ve been gushing about Ruben Fleischer’s upcoming crime drama The Gangster Squad for quite a while. Story details about the cops and gangsters flick about real life gangster Mickey Cohen can be found in my first article about the movie, where it was announced that Sean Penn, Josh Brolin, and Ryan Gosling had all been cast in key roles. Penn is in the starring role as Cohen, and Brolin and Gosling are two of the members of the titular gangster squad that is put together to take him down. After hearing that, I didn’t think that life could get much better, but then it did. The second Gangster Squad related bomb that Fleischer dropped on me was that man about town Bryan Cranston would also be joining the cast as a rough and tumble member of the LAPD by way of Texas. Suddenly the original Triumvirate of Awesome that was the Gangster Squad cast became the Cornerstones of Awesome instead. And now that the film has such a solid foundation to build a metaphorical house on, it’s time to start picking out pretty curtains and stuff by filling out the cast further. The big news of the day from Deadline Monowi is that grizzled, crazy actor Nick Nolte has also been cast. He will play Bill Parker, the incorruptible chief of police who takes it upon himself to form this so-called gangster squad. That sounds like a big role. Seeing as Nolte’s upcoming movie […]

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr makes big plans to publish a best-selling book that women across the nation will read in hoity-toity book clubs. Step one: Move to the deep south and get raised by an African American maid. While Kevin tries to figure out how to move past that step, he gets a job delivering pizzas and lives in constant fear he’ll be used in a bank heist. Then he cheats death by avoiding the Glee concert movie, but lives in even more constant fear that the flick will hunt him down and make him watch it.

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30 Minutes or Less is a movie that takes risks. In a flat landscape of studio movies that seem mostly to be shoved into a formula that doesn’t quite work anymore, watching this film is like drinking an ice cold lemonade on a hot summer day that’s been spiked with stuff that would put hair on your chest. For all the laughs and gore of Zombieland, director Ruben Fleischer seems to have taken this comedy about a pizza boy forced to rob a bank simply to further prove he can get away with anything he wants. And he gets away with it, because the movies he makes are damned funny. This is a film for adults that grabs its anatomy, goes about its business, and doesn’t care to cater to any particular sensibility. It’s because of that attitude that it all works so well. The direction, the actors, and the writing commit fully to the premise, and sells us on the bit by sheer willpower (and a healthy amount of adult language and situations).

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Director Ruben Fleischer seems to have cashed in all his chips from Zombieland and made a small, dark, action comedy. Underneath its obvious commercial appeal, chances are taken with the humor of 30 Minutes or Less. Whether it be with Michael Pena‘s performance or being unafraid to have actual stakes, the film doesn’t always play it safe. One would think Fleischer would jump right away into the world of tent-pole filmmaking, but he decided to wisely follow-up his hit film with a project that’ll allow his sensibilities to show. Fleischer won’t be staying in the comedy world forever, though. With his next film, The Gangster Squad, the director will be tackling an epic L.A.-set gangster picture through a digital camera lens. The director was kind enough to make the time to talk while prepping The Untouchables-esque epic, where we discussed the darkness of 30 Minutes or Less, grounding comedies, and his love for digital filmmaking:

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In 2003 a man walked into a bank in Erie, PA with a bomb strapped to his chest. He claimed he was being forced to wear the explosive device and that if he didn’t succeed in robbing the bank his captors would detonate it. The police caught up with him in nearby parking lot, handcuffed him, and waited around (at a safe distance) for the bomb squad to arrive. They waited too long. As the man pleaded with police as to why no one was coming to remove the bomb it exploded, blew a hole through his chest, and killed him instantly. Sounds like ripe material for a comedy to me! 30 Minutes Or Less is the new film from Zombieland director, Ruben Fleischer, and while it isn’t actually based on the real life incident it has potential to be a very dark comedy indeed. Jesse Eisenberg plays a pizza delivery driver who has a bomb forcibly attached to his body and is then instructed to rob a bank. Aziz Ansari plays his best friend who tries to help him through this fairly difficult situation, and Danny McBride and Nick Swardson play the diabolical masterminds behind the plan. Check out the trailer and share your thoughts below.

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It was looking like Sean Penn might not be able to star in the upcoming organized crime film Gangster Squad after he entered negotiations to star alongside Christian Bale in The Last Photograph, but Variety is reporting that Penn is still in the running, and actually very close to signing. And now that Penn is almost on board, things are looking good for Josh Brolin to join the cast as well. Gangster Squad is the story of the LAPD’s battle against famed gangster Mickey Cohen and other mafia men trying to make the jump from East to West coast back in the 40s and 50s. The script is based off of a L.A. Times article written on the subject by Paul Lieberman. Penn is negotiating for the role of Cohen, and the previously rumored Ryan Gosling and newly rumored Josh Brolin would be a pair of police tasked with bringing him down. The original article was adapted for the screen by Will Beall, who is a former police officer turned novelist, and Zombieland’s Ruben Fleischer will direct. I think everything that I mentioned in this article is awesome, so hopefully when you put them all together the results will be a movie that is super awesome. At the very least I can’t wait to watch Gosling and Penn trying to flamboyantly out act each other while Brolin is all squinty and minimal in the background.

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No one knows what it is, so you have to judge whether or not it’s a good idea based on who’s involved.

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Danny McBride

Despite being rumored for every interesting project under the sun — including a potential directing job on Mission: Impossible IV — Zombieland director Ruben Fleischer seems to have found his next project.

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Ruben Fleischer

After his success with Zombieland, director Ruben Fleischer has been on the minds of many a movie fan. He’s on the geek radar, if you will. And with that comes constant surveillance over his next project. And while we don’t know what it is yet, we can see that his options look good.

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SXSW Directing the Dead

I am not usually one for covering events. My niche is film review and that is really all that I have ever been asked to deliver. But when SXSW put together a panel discussion on horror films not only did I know that my attendance was a moral imperative, but I swallowed my reservations and accepted the task of covering it.

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published: 12.23.2014
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published: 12.22.2014
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published: 12.19.2014
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