Wayne Kramer

Pawn Shop Chronicles

The Movie Gods haven’t been gentle to Wayne Kramer the past few years. After his critical darling The Cooler and a recent cult favorite Running Scared, Kramer ran into some trouble. He went through hell trying to keep Crossing Overtogether after Harvey Weinstein stripped it down to the “important” soft picture Kramer didn’t intend to make. More recently Kramer went through a tumultuous development with Bullet to the Head before exiting the project over creative differences. But he’s come back with a movie that is very much in his wheelhouse. Pawn Shop Chronicles is a dirty, highly-stylized crime picture which would play nicely as double-bill with Running Scared. We spoke with Kramer about the film, sex in American cinema and how to get a project greenlit on the spot.

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kramer

Joe Lynch’s removal from Knights of Badassdom has been a very public affair in the online world. The movie that surprised Comic-Con audiences all those years ago that disappeared only to re-emerge went through its troubles, namely Lynch’s cut being butchered in an editing bay. Directors don’t always (or normally) have final cut, but what Lynch is going through is a matter of being locked out completely. The film was recently picked up for distribution, but, from the sound of it, we won’t be seeing Lynch’s version any time soon. We don’t hear about these behind-the-scenes issues that often, but another famous case was The Weinstein Company’s handling of 2009’s immigration drama Crossing Over. Despite featuring Harrison Ford, Ray Liotta, Alice Eve, Ashley Judd, and a few other familiar faces, the movie went unnoticed at the box office and critics didn’t much care for it. In addition to the strong cast, it was directed by Wayne Kramer, the man behind The Cooler and Running Scared. Those are two fully-realized movies, while Crossing Over is a movie that, although containing commendable performances and moments, never quite comes together in the way that it should. And there’s a reason for that. The film certainly doesn’t deserve a 16% on Rottentomatoes, but, even Kramer would agree, it’s not on par with his other work. There are many, many political reasons why that’s the case, and when we spoke with Kramer for his new film, Pawn Shop Chronicles, he was ready to speak about the serious troubles he ran into at the Weinstein Company.

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Pawn Shop Chronicles

Tossed into theaters with little fanfare, Pawn Shop Chronicles was dreamed up as a “hillbilly Pulp Fiction” that saw three stories swing in and out of one pawn shop in rural somewhere-or-other. It’s probably still on a few screens, but it’s also getting a DVD/Blu-ray release on August 27th, and it looks like the kind of thing that might thrive on home video. Fred Durst was set to direct early on, but along the way he left and Wayne Kramer (Running Scared) took over with Paul Walker, Elijah Wood, Vincent D’onofrio, Matt Dillon, Norman Reedus, Thomas Jane, Lukas Haas and Brendan Fraser in an Elvis costume starring. That’s an intense cast (and there may even be women in it, too!). After watching the trailer, it’s hard to tell what the stories are all about beyond a bunch of insanity floating around near drugs and weaponry.

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The last time I heard about The Cooler and Running Scared director Wayne Kramer, he was jumping off of Sylvester Stallone’s upcoming hitman movie Headshot because they couldn’t agree on a direction for the film. Kramer reportedly wanted to make it more dark and violent, while Stallone was looking for a lighter, more humorous approach. Needless to say, at the thought of Stallone doing more comedy, I easily fell down on Kramer’s side of the disagreement. So now that he’s gotten some distance between himself and the Headshot debacle, what is the director going to try for next? According to Deadline Tembisa he’s going to be filming Ecstasia, an original script that he wrote himself, for Relativity Media. Ecstasia is said to tell the story of an alternate universe where love no longer exists. In order to feel any sort of emotional attachment to someone, people must go through a medical procedure called “commitment” which sends emotional signals to your brain through an implanted computer chip. The problem is, commitment is a very expensive procedure to maintain, so when couples run out of money they either have to resort to desperate measures to keep it going, or fall out of love completely. Ecstasia centers on a couple that is in just such a predicament. Given Kramer’s penchant for the dark, I’ll be interested to see just what those “desperate measures” end up being. And also what his explanation is for people who can’t fall in love wanting to fall in […]

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It was just reported yesterday that director Wayne Kramer was exiting Sylvester Stallone’s upcoming starring vehicle Headshot, and already there is word of who might step in to take his place. As far as his falling out with the film’s original director Wayne Kramer, Stallone says, “Initially, Mr. Kramer was hired to direct a dark comedy. However, his vision was much darker and exceptionally more violent than how the project was originally conceived. It was decided that it would be better for everyone to move on and consequently Mr. Kramer was dismissed by producers earlier this week. There were no volatile clashes, it was simply a professional parting of the ways.” So, who does Stallone think has what it takes to fulfill his more comedic vision for the project? One of the top names being considered, and the one Stallone seems to want, is veteran director Walter Hill. Stallone says, “I completely respect Walter’s incredible body of work and hopefully this legendary director will become attached to the project.” I can’t fault that sort of logic. If you want to make a funny film, what better way than going out and getting the guy who made Brewster’s Millions? I have to say that I am a little disappointed to hear the reason for Kramer’s dismissal, however. While Hill has made one of the most beloved action comedies of all time with 48. Hours, I think Stallone is forgetting what his own track record with the comedy genre is. Has Stallone […]

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Headshot was going to be the first movie that Sylvester Stallone starred in without directing himself in quite some time. When the project was announced a couple months ago it was said to be stemming from a script written by Alessandro Camon, that it would star Stallone, but someone else would direct. That someone else turned out to be Wayne Kramer, director of The Cooler and Running Scared. But that’s now off after Kramer and Stallone have reportedly clashed over the direction of the film, and Kramer has decided to leave the project to make something he wrote himself instead. There have been stories about Stallone being hard to work with going around Hollywood ever since there has been a Sylvester Stallone in Hollywood. I remember once hearing his brother Frank Stallone tell an anecdote about how Sylvester hates Renny Harlin because when they worked together on Cliffhanger, Harlin did whatever Stallone wanted and ostensibly directed the film as his puppet, but when Stallone hired him to make Driven, he went off on his own in the editing room and made his own choices. The nerve of the man! Most of the commentary on Kramer leaving Headshot presupposes that Stallone may just bite the bullet and end up directing himself, but I imagine it’s just as likely that he’ll find someone younger and less headstrong than Kramer, and then simply direct the movie through them. When the chips were down and his career needed a serious resurgence, Stallone sat in […]

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From what I’ve heard, Millennium Pictures has all the right ideas for the Bruce Willis and Jaime Foxx led actioner. It will be stylish and ultra-violent, just like the video game. And now they’ve got a director that could make it all happen.

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crossing-over-header1

This highfalutin, silly immigration drama from writer-director Wayne Kramer wastes a lot of terrific actors.

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Crossing Over

Today finds the release of a new trailer for Harrison Ford’s immigration drama, Crossing Over. Per the director, Wayne Kramer, the movie “is a multi-character canvas about immigrants of different nationalities struggling to achieve legal status in Los Angeles.

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Harrison Ford and Alice Braga in Crossing Over

In exploring the newly updated 2008 Summer preview from the Weinstein Company (which makes no mention of Fanboys, by the way), I stumbled upon the late-summer release Crossing Over, which stars Harrison Ford, Sean Penn, Ray Liotta and Ashley Judd.

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