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Collateral 2004

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[mann] l start with a question, as a filmmaker and a storyteller,
how should this story tell itself?
`Cause there`s different strategies available.
What attracted me to Stuart Beattie`s screenplay was the notion
that it all happens in a very short time-frame,
meaning, that it`s like the third act of a traditional drama:
You`re making a whole motion picture about only the third act.
One of the big reasons l wanted to make the film,
was we`re seeing fractions or fractals.
We`re seeing a fraction that represents the whole.
Only what you need to know is what you`re seeing.
And it doesn`t go backward in time, or give you exposition
about other parts of their lives. They don`t talk about themselves.
So in the beginning, l wanted to enter this scene,
or enter these activities with kind of a torn edge,
so we just see Vincent in LAX,
we hear a plane land, Vincent`s in LAX.
He meets somebody foreign. That`s all you need to know.
He`s got a South London working-class accent.
This accidental bumping into each other, you realize,
if l`ve done my job correctly, is not accidental.
lt`s premeditated, and a briefcase has been exchanged.
So that whatever it is Vincent`s here to do,
you know only the few things you need to know,
which is there was a premeditated plan to it,
it`s secretive and it involves people from foreign places.
And then, we enter the domain of max, but we don`t know what it is.
First, there`s abstract pieces of things,
and then we realize those abstract pieces are cars,
and that the cars are cabs, and there`s drivers waiting to go on a shift.
And what l`m trying to direct the attention to
is that max is very obsessive
about making this environment of the interior of his cab
clean and perfect, and that he has a picture
that has some significance to him
`cause he very carefully mounts it on his visor,
and that he closes out chaos, makes chaos go away.
This mural we put outside the cab comes from Estrada Courts,
which is in East L.A.,
and there`s a spectacular tradition in Los Angeles of mural painting
that`s Hispanic, derives from mexico. This was painted in `7 4.
The painter`s anonymous, he never finished it.
The vaquero doesn`t have a head for some reason.
l can`t put my finger on it. lt felt like it fit into the vision of,
here`s max launching out of the cab depot
onto the streets of L.A. in late afternoon,
on a shift that probably began about 4:00.
A cab driver described to me that folks who get in the back seat
are kind of like a radio with a random Wonderbar.
You never know what station you`re gonna land on,
and so you never know who`s gonna wind up in the back seat.
There`s a lot of aerial shots in the picture,
and this was shot with a Wescam mount, which is amazingly steady.
This is a gas station just off the Santa monica Freeway.
After the sun has set, and the light in L.A.
has this amazing red quality, red-yellow quality to it.
And the mural of the products for sale
in the tienda is taken off a tienda in East L.A.
The fractions of L.A. and how diverse L.A. is,
and diverse, not in... l grew up in Chicago,
not in a Chicago, or East Coast, or New York way,
but diverse in a Pac-Rim, Hispanic, Los Angeles way.
Part of the intent of the opening of the film, max`s world,
and the world of Los Angeles...
Now, this guy here, his real name...
The actor`s name is manny Urrego, and he was a limo driver.
ln working out every detail,
the most important details of max`s life as a cab driver,
and the work we did in pre-production with Jamie,
one of the key things we did was make complete
max`s business plan for having a limo company,
and consequently manny provided spreadsheets,
a whole business plan, complete with depreciation, overhead, salaries.
Annie is played by Jada Pinkett Smith, who l worked with in Ali.
When Jada gets in the cab, this is one of the first sequences we shot,
and we were using the Sony F-900 high definition video camera.
lf we were shooting film, you wouldn`t see any definition
of the images behind them.
And you wouldn`t have this feeling of low light levels
that make me feel that we`re actually in the cab.
The picture was originally written for New York City.
And my interest in shooting a motion picture
that took place at night in Los Angeles, in a compressed period of time,
pre-dates my getting my hands on the Collateral script,
which was given to me by Walter Parkes at DreamWorks.
lt`s written by Stuart Beattie. lt was an excellent script,
but it was written about the Russian mafia and New York City.
And my interest was immediately to transpose all of that into,
not just L.A. as a location, but L.A. with its unique diverse population,
and the way it seems to be organized,
where there are almost like sites or domains...
...that you travel to. They`re not...
The ethnic richness and the sense of place in L.A.
is not immediately apparent off the freeways. You actually go to it.
And then, in putting together the film,
again as the storyteller, the first thing l`m looking for
is who are these people? Who is max? Who is Vincent?
Who are these characters?
What`s their history? Where did Vincent come from?
How did Vincent get made into the Vincent who shows up in L.A.,
late afternoon... on this one day?
Where did max come from?
Some of the answers to this, that as the director,
that l build in building the characters,
and in working with the actors in pre-production,
and in forming the character of Vincent with Tom,
and max with Jamie, had to do with...
...their histories, where they came from.
ln fact, the backstory of Tom and the film
is that in the offshore world of narco-trafficking cartels...
...they have the budgets to buy the best, and they do,
particularly since the end of the Cold War,
when that labor has become available.
People who are ex-KGB, ex-Stasi,
as well as Brits and Americans from special forces, lsraelis.
They have the best computer technicians, signal-intercept capabilities,
and sophisticated counter-intel, as well as attorneys and private investigators
to discover if there`s any operations against them
or whether or not there`s a Department of Justice or DEA investigation
or any indictments pending against them in the U.S.
That`s exactly what`s happened here.
The group that`s hired Vincent found out there are pending indictments,
and that an assistant U.S. attorney, played by Jada,
is, in fact, about to indict in a grand-jury hearing
that`s supposed to begin tomorrow morning, certain figures.
They have had private investigators working,
and discovered the identities of five key witnesses,
and have spent three or four months
working up an operation to kill these witnesses.
And tonight`s the night. max and Annie, who have just met in this cab...
max doesn`t know she`s a prosecutor... are completely unaware of this.
l wanted to form characters who were absolute strangers to each other,
and constituted opposites to each other in every conceivable way that l could
because they`re about to be thrown together into this cab.
One of the big things that appealed to me about this film
is to tell a story the way this story tells itself,
which is that, since we`re only in these ten hours,
we`re only seeing a small fraction of a whole life.
And since we`re only into ten hours,
the challenge is can l design those fractions
so that they become glimpses, that you kind of sense the person.
To do that, one has to invent the history of Vincent, the history of max,
and then choose those details to put into the ten hours of tonight.
The way max dresses,
or the self-deceptive attitude he has when he talks about a limo company.
The film doesn`t do what a life experience of these ten hours
also would not do, which is to have exposition
or to travel backwards in time by flashbacks or any other devices.
But instead, just to keep us immediate, into this present,
and yet to have a greater degree of knowingness about their lives.
max is averse to impulsive action.
He has planned to perfection this business plan.
He`s going to set up a limo company. He`s been doing it for 1 2 years.
Now one of the hardest things for an actor to play is indecision.
That in-between state, but that`s exactly what max is.
He`s a man who has big dreams and has realized none of them.
For Jamie to play this, it means he must generate the object of max`s desire.
Really experience and feel it and then invent what impedes him
from actualizing it, so that he exists in that kind of twilight zone
of potential and frustration.
And in this case, it all becomes personified by Annie,
with whom he has this stunning rapport, as played out by Jada and Jamie here.
But he can`t bring himself to actually ask her out.
And the way Jamie plays it, and the way Jada plays it,
l, for one, feel Jamie melt when Jada`s eyes look up
at the moment that just passed.
There`s this kind of instant regret at his having failed himself.
And as she`s leaving, she realizes she has no way
to ever have contact with this guy again.
She can take cabs in L.A. for the next 1 5 years and might not run into him.
So, she responds to her impulse,
and she gives him a card, and there the contact is made.
Feeling that she`s just been in this cab with this man
who has other plans beyond driving a cab,
but who has just understood her and was so generous
about giving up something that`s his because she needed it.
lt`s the rapport and intimacy that can be struck up only between strangers
because you believe there`s no consequence,
`cause you`ll never see each other again, so you can be open.
`cause you`ll never see each other again, so you can be open.
Vincent is somebody who is decisive and who`s embraced force
as a way of controlling his environment, as a way of...
l don`t think Vincent is actively aware of this,
but it`s a way of controlling an environment
so that bad things don`t happen to him.
He, consequently, is somebody who can be improvisational,
he`s highly trained, he takes action, he has opinions. max is the opposite.
Vincent chooses public transportation,
and the thought behind that is the same thought that`s behind Vincent`s suit.
lt serves two purposes.
One is to be indistinguishable, to be anonymous,
so that if somebody witnesses Vincent doing an illegal act,
and are questioned by the police and they`re trying to describe him,
a guy with gray hair, average size, gray suit, white shirt.
There`s nothing there. So, that choice is in the first instance,
simply really good tradecraft to be inconspicuous by being anonymous.
And that`s one of the reasons that he also picks public transportation.
ln his mind, and according to his plan for tonight,
the cab drivers driving him around
will not know what he`s doing at each stop he has to make.
This is an interesting shot. l`m gonna digress here because again,
this is something only possible with high-def, high-definition video.
lt became a whole strategy about how to see the world
that Vincent and max are gonna traverse this night.
l viewed the first scene between max and Vincent in the cab as casting.
Vincent is being provocative intentionally,
saying things about L.A., ``Nobody knows each other``,
to see what max`s reaction is gonna be.
lf max was aggressively defensive, Vincent might just have changed cabs.
And when Tom and l were working in pre-production,
l thought that it was likely that Vincent, in fact, had a cab
that took him from the airport.
He didn`t like that cab driver for whatever reason.
So he switched out when he went to reconnoiter Annie`s building.
And that max is, in fact, his second cab of the night.
Vincent would have been one of these guys recruited in the private sector.
He probably lives offshore. He has a domicile,
maybe in Udon Thani province in Thailand or Songkhla in Thailand,
a Buddhist country where people leave everybody else alone.
max comes from a middle-class family, Ladera Heights in Los Angeles.
He has a business plan to set up a limo company
so driving a cab is only temporary. lt`s a means to an end.
We`re about to find out that temporary`s been 1 2 years.
l`m not in this for the long haul. Just filling in.
Temporary while l get some things shaped up.
This is just temporary.
- How long you been driving? - 1 2 years.
The other aspect about Vincent`s appearance is,
again in building the character,
and how to make these characters be oppositional,
what Vincent has chosen to wear, it tells us things.
l believe that audiences are much brighter than they are aware of.
There`s a lot of information they take in, on a feeling level.
There`s a cut to his suit that says, perhaps,
There`s a cut to his suit that says, perhaps,
it was custom-tailored, but not in milan or London or New York.
ln my mind, it was in Kowloon.
The thing about his hair, the scars on his hands, scars on his face.
ln effect, he`s kind of ``rough trade`` in a good suit.
Prematurely gray, kind of a steely aspect to him.
Those were design issues that are designed to tell us,
tell audience, tell you things about who he is on a feeling level,
not anything that`s didactic or spoken to you.
lt was tricky to arrive at some of these looks and issues because...
This is the challenge of the film that made it exciting to do,
which is that when you compress the timeframe of a narrative,
and it`s down to under two hours,
and you`re just in one locale, for one night,
it also means there`s gonna be one suit, one wardrobe change,
where everything becomes important. lt`s like driving a race car,
where a small input in steering has a very radical effect.
So, the slightest change, because it`s cumulative,
becomes a big deal.
Now this location is an alley in Pico-Union.
That`s downtown Los Angeles in the background. lt`s about two miles away.
You couldn`t see this, again, without using digital video.
The building Vincent`s walking up in is at 1 839 South Union.
Working on a film, during pre-production
you find yourself moving through different neighborhoods
as you`re looking for locations.
You oftentimes get glimpses into lives and people`s residences.
You see fragments of working folks and their conditions.
Sometimes these fragments can speak about a whole life or existence
that`s not really part of the story, yet it is part of the environment.
l find that very powerful,
and sometimes l`ll try to build that into the environment.
Something that maybe is glimpsed in passing,
something we don`t take in except on this kind of a sensory level.
So, it`s a small detail, but the idea of these two guys,
in this room, with a line they run across the room,
where they hang six or seven good shirts they brought from mexico,
was a particularly unique facet of something we saw. So l reproduced it.
The local gang, which is 1 8th Street Gang, provided the graffiti,
which is on the walls here.
Vincent did not expect Ramone to fall out the window.
That`s an accident.
His first instinct is to look and see if he`s picked up any surveillances,
anybody... are there neighbors looking out the window?
Are there... has somebody dialed ``91 1 ``? Are there police coming in?
Vincent`s ironic here.
And Tom`s ironic timing, l think, is subtle and masterful.
And in analyzing it, how irony is achieved
is by Tom playing it as if he`s as oblivious
to what`s self evident as max is.
So max says, ``You killed him.`` Tom`s response is,
``No, l shot him. The bullets and the fall killed him.``
And l`m an admirer of Billy Wilder who used irony a lot.
Kind of a Berliner wit, from Weimar.
And so l spent a lot of time studying Cary Grant`s work in Front Page
in preparation for Vincent`s use of irony,
his droll wit and facile nihilism.
And so there`s a kind of an homage to Billy Wilder
way back in the preparation l did for these aspects of Tom`s character,
and Tom just nails it.
Jamie`s comedic timing is spectacular, as in the last scene.
He doesn`t need any help from anybody.
But l think, underlying that is his kind of native talent as an actor.
Jamie trained, not as a comedian. He trained as a musician.
Then when he wasn`t getting work as a musician,
he saw people getting work doing stand up comedy,
so he acted like a stand up comic. Whatever the origins were,
his timing, gestures, attitude, hesitation and stuttering...
You`re just experiencing it as great.
lf you look at it analytically, it all hits in a certain perfect rhythm.
Here`s mark Ruffalo, the fine, fine actor playing Fanning,
to a piece of score by Tom Rothrock called Rollin` and Crumblin`.
Kind of a blues concrete thing.
l had Ruffalo spend a lot of time with a guy named Q,
who`s an undercover narc in L.A.
And we borrowed liberally from Q`s appearance,
the way he holsters his gun, and the way he has these little clips
that hold magazines on his belt, designed to be...
lf you just look at him, you don`t realize he`s carrying.
And if you saw Q, you would never guess that he was, in fact,
a detective by both his carriage,
by his carriage and attitude, as well as by his appearance.
This apartment is in this... really in the same building,
and the decor in this apartment is, in fact, what`s there in real life.
lt was one of those places, where you happen on it,
and it`s so evocative of a mood, of a...
...kind of working-class Hispanic...
...apartment in this section of the city.
lt`s so representative of that.
Other than putting in a big-screen television,
we changed nothing. So the fish tank,
and on the opposite wall that we`re looking at right now,
this back-lit, strange, kind of aqua art object of a ship is also. . .
...belongs to the guys, two guys who actually live here.
What this launches is the sub-story of a quest by Fanning,
who has very solid procedure: an unorthodox appearance
belying a very orthodox and sound procedure.
And it`s gonna lead Fanning to be the only man who`s gonna realize
that A, witnesses are being killed,
and B, that Vincent is not in fact, max, but, in fact, is Vincent.
He`ll be the sole person who has what happened here
correctly as events of the night unfold.
correctly as events of the night unfold.
We`re now entering a long scene,
and what`s interesting to...
and what`s interesting to...
...what may or may not be interesting to people who aspire to direct
or want to know how films are made, is that for myself,
l have to know exactly what a scene is trying to do,
and l believe l should be able to distill that
into one simple set of words, called ``the action.``
And in this case, it`s what is Vincent doing?
What does Vincent want? And this has to be expressed in the infinitive,
and it is that Vincent... it is to manage.
Vincent needs to manage max.
Now, there`s many other layers, many other things that are happening here.
max has just experienced a dead body.
He`s never seen this kind of violence before.
lf there was an adrenaline rush that kept him functioning in the alley,
now that he`s driving, the adrenaline`s worn off.
He`s on the precipice of falling into shock, or going into a fugue state.
So, one of the things he`s doing
is throwing out some really provocative thoughts
that are also part of Vincent`s themes,
but nevertheless, they`re being used to provoke max.
And that`s keeping max sharp.
Vincent`s saying, ``What`s the difference if one fat guy falls?
There`s six billion people on the planet, why worry?``
He`s giving justification using everything from Social Darwinism
to the l Ching, to advise max in a therapeutic way,
how max ought to think about the events that just happened.
And max is confounded... he`s also, by being confounded,
he`s also preoccupied. And, in fact, he is still driving
`cause Vincent, from his point of view, has a number of jobs to do.
He`s got to watch to see if they picked up surveillance,
you`ll see him throw looks out the side of the car.
Secondly, he`s working on his PC. He has to go to target number two.
And number three, he`s got to keep max functioning.
And what he does next is put max into this impossible situation,
that max has to talk his way out of a ticket,
or Vincent is going to kill both of these two cops.
or Vincent is going to kill both of these two cops.
The officer on the left is played by Jamie mcBride,
who is, in fact, an actual LAPD officer.
He`s ex-CRASH unit.
l`ve used him before in Robbery Homicide Division.
The actor on the right is an extremely fine actor, Richard T. Jones,
who`s a regular on Judging Amy,
which stars Amy Brenneman who l worked with in Heat.
But getting back to Jamie mcBride, it`s really interesting for a director
to work with people who have some native ability to act.
The most difficult thing for them to do, by the way, is to... to play a character that`s close to them in life.
lt`s much more easy for Jamie mcBride to play a villain
than for him to play a cop.
But in working with them, it would be a mistake for me
to expect them to have the kind of technique
that comes from years and years of training.
As a director, l have to find the means,
maybe through subtle suggestion or whatever
to help Jamie mcBride lose himself in the moment of what he`s doing
because it`ll be really good and spontaneous only the one time.
What Jamie mcBride is doing here, is not playing. He`s doing.
Even though it`s something as routine as a traffic stop,
nevertheless, there`s a 1 20-man film crew all around Jamie mcBride.
For him to be un-selfconscious about that process is the objective.
And to just do what he, in fact, does, which is a normal traffic stop.
But, you see how good Richard T. Jones is there.
l`ve had people ask me if both these guys were, in fact, real LAPD.
There`s a certain fatalistic attitude that Jamie has
as he sits back in the cab, as if he`s just been condemned to...
...get back behind the wheel and be in his seat, and ride this cab.
This is an alley right off of Wilshire Boulevard
on the edge of Koreatown.
max is... A lot of max`s character is built around this inability to confront,
and the evasion and avoidance of doing what, in fact, he wants to do.
And that`s when there`s the... we have the impulses to do things in life,
we want to do things. We enact them, or chart a course
that takes us to a certain outcome, a certain goal.
And max has these things, and he has a lot of latent power as an individual,
but it`s, it all exists behind a wall of repression
that he can`t break through.
And one of the interesting constructions of the picture,
viewed as ``the big picture,``
is the collision of these two guys in this situation... which at the end,
Vincent actually becomes an agent for the liberation, in a way, of max,
and enables max to manifest his individuality, and in fact, act.
And reciprocally, max, towards the end of the film,
provides us and Vincent with an illumination into Vincent.
There`s a moment in time later in the film
when max sees beyond the end of Vincent`s gun,
and sees Vincent for who Vincent is, which is damaged goods.
And at that point in the film, max`s judgment to Vincent
is devastating to Vincent, and he`s truly impacted upon.
The Teflon coating, the impervious armor
that Vincent, in this part of the film has, is gone.
And one of the designs
in the evolution of Vincent`s character through the film, that l hoped to get,
was the glimpse of fractures in Vincent`s armor,
to the realization that he`s not this machine-like presence.
That, in fact, there`s something wrong with Vincent tonight.
lt begins in the scene that happens later
with a paroxysm of remorse that Vincent does,
after he shoots somebody named Daniel.
And some other small subtleties
that l designed into our understanding of Vincent`s character,
hoping to try and communicate those to an audience almost subliminally,
things that you sense, without being aware you`re sensing them.
And that sensing lays a foundation for actual overt reactions
And that sensing lays a foundation for actual overt reactions
when Vincent has them much, much later in the film.
That`s all working backwards from the end about the necessity, l believe,
to know the man, to have characters that are three-dimensional,
meaning that he can commit heinous acts
and is responsible for his actions,
and there should be consequence. At the same time,
you glimpse something wounded behind that... those actions,
and come to whatever conclusion you would like to come to.
One might be that, given different circumstances,
Vincent might have been somebody else in life.
Understanding Vincent doesn`t let him off the hook.
Even having positive emotional feelings for him
does not let Vincent off the hook
does not let Vincent off the hook
for the judgment that we render upon his actions,
because l believe that you`re responsible for what you do,
and your intent is something that we all maybe sympathize with.
But that`s got nothing to do with responsibility for your actions.
But it`s dimensional to have both be there.
That`s what makes characters fascinating to me,
and l wanted to try and fuel that. So, to do that,
l built backwards towards the front of the film
the sense that there`s something going on with Vincent that we...
He`s not just machine-like.
Tom trained for about three months with live ammunition
under extremely rigorous safe conditions
on the L.A. County Sheriffs combat shooting ranges.
Tom had not fired live rounds through a handgun before,
so for him it`s a new experience. lt`s a whole different deal
when you`re doing it for real than when firing blanks.
And the true lethal potential of a firearm is, in your managing of it,
becomes a very strong dynamic in a performance,
particularly when your skills, and Tom is extraordinarily skilled
at everything athletic that he tries,
particularly when the skills become so schooled in him
that they become truly second nature.
But the real sign of how integrated
Tom was able to become with the skills that Vincent, in fact, would have,
is the expression that`s on Vincent`s face after he shoots these guys,
and when he`s holstering his gun.
He`s not thinking about holstering the gun. He can do that in his sleep.
And immediately after he`s fired that last round,
his attention gets focused on Wilshire Boulevard
down at the end of the alley: ``ls anybody coming at us from there?
Did anybody hear these gunshots? What`s max doing?``
He immediately switches over to the next task,
and that`s absolutely perfect craft.
And it`s exactly what somebody who had a lot of trigger time,
who had been in conflicts in various places in the world
that we imagine Vincent had been in. That`s what he`d be doing.
He wouldn`t be worrying about how he holsters his gun.
So, that is a beautiful little movement, and it`s a testament
to the commitment of Tom to the work of turning himself into Vincent,
and having deeper understandings, as well as acquiring physical skills.
There`s no cutting in it, and Tom draws and fires five rounds in 1 .4 seconds.
And we did that on the range.
We did that with dummies, and with plates and stuff,
and with live ammunition. And it`s hard.
As well as a lot of close-quarter combat, a lot of hand-to-hand combat,
of a very brutal short, efficient nature, not martial arts.
And all the other tradecraft that Vincent would have,
a lot of which doesn`t even appear in the text of the film.
But it`s a whole package to do with reconnoitering each of these people.
But the deeper work that goes into this kind of thing is, in fact:
How did Vincent become Vincent?
And, Tom and l did a lot of work
in trying to understand where this guy came from.
lf he was in a foster home, if he had an institutionalized childhood,
and he was back in the public school system at age 1 1 ,
that would have been sometime in the `70s.
He would have been dressed very awkwardly.
He was probably ostracized `cause he looked odd,
and the kind of brutality of, you know, pre-teens and early adolescence.
We postulated an alcoholic abusive father,
who was culturally very progressive.
He was probably part of Ed Sadlowski`s steel-workers local in Gary.
He was a Vietnam veteran. He had African American friends,
on the southside of Chicago.
The Checkerboard Lounge is 30 minutes away at the Calumet Skyway.
The father probably, in the `60s and `70s, was an aficionado of jazz.
There was great jazz on Chicago`s southside. modern Jazz Quartet.
But it`s almost as if the father blamed the son, i.e. Vincent
for what happened to the mother, and the father drank,
and as Gary was being reduced into, you know,
it looked like Dresden at the end of WWll.
The father never tutored the boy in jazz,
but the boy extolled the virtue of knowing jazz
`cause he heard his father talk about it. Not to him, but to other people.
And that`s why he knew about jazz and why he learned about jazz.
Vincent`s father never tutored him about jazz
because he had rejected his son and ignored him.
lt was something that got constructed as backstory
in the work l did with Tom during pre-production,
and understanding every aspect of who Vincent was,
much more than appears in the text of the film.
So that the fractions of Vincent-ness that we have in the text of the film
within these ten hours could resonate with the totality of life,
the same as they would with anybody you met.
We bring our whole history with us into any moment of the present.
This is my pal, Pete Berg,
who`s an extremely talented director, as well as a fine actor,
playing Weidner, who`s Fanning`s careerist partner
on this crime scene and we segue to a jazz club.
And this is Barry Shabaka Henley,
who also played Herbert muhammad in Ali.
max doesn`t like jazz, and l got the idea that max didn`t like jazz
because muhammad Ali doesn`t like jazz, and muhammad Ali doesn`t like blues.
muhammad Ali only likes soul.
But Vincent knows all about jazz and has just explained it.
And in a way, that`s kind of related.
lt`s not a direct metaphor for what`s happening, but it`s closely associated.
lt`s an analog, rather than a metaphor about improvisation,
about having a theme, structure, but then being able to improvise.
And so, Vincent here is starting to verbalize the themes that are...
...that as he sees into max, he really reads max.
That`s part of Vincent`s job, part of his craft, is to read max.
So, Vincent already knows all that we know about max,
which is that max is not improvisational.
And he also knows that max is along on a ride
in which max has no idea what`s gonna happen in ten minutes.
So, it`s really the first articulation of two of the central themes,
each of these guys personify their opposition to each other.
The music that we just heard is Spanish Key by miles Davis.
We cut down the 1 7-minute length, which is on Bitches Brew,
to a little over three and a half minutes.
And Shabaka, playing the character of Daniel,
relates an incident in which miles Davis came to South Central
after recording at Columbia, and sat in on a session
in one of the great jazz clubs that came out of South Central.
This is after the flowering of West Coast bebop,
which, in part, came out of graduates of Jefferson High School in Los Angeles,
Dexter Gordon, Lester Young,
a whole slew of jazz musicians came out of it.
And they were very much part of that scene in the `50s
along with other West Coast jazz regulars
which would have included Charlie mingus,
Wardell Gray, Thelonius monk, Chet Baker, like that.
The anecdote that Daniel`s relating here
is an actual event from miles Davis` life.
miles Davis played a guest-starring role
in two episodes l did on two television series.
He played a character for me in Miami Vice,
and a more profound role in one episode of Crime Story
in which we were telling the story as a two-parter of the moulin Rouge,
which was an African-American casino in segregated Las Vegas.
He played in that one as well, so l had some contact with him.
The anecdote that`s related here is interesting
because it talks about the violent reaction that you will have
if you`re somebody whose concentration is so totally focused.
Daniel talks about miles` head is in a musical headspace.
His reaction to being pulled out of it was fierce.
That`s what you feel when concentrated,
if you`re in the act of concentrating on a scene
while they`re re-setting lights, and somebody disturbs you.
lt`s a violence and it`s not personal but it comes from high, high order
of focus and concentration, and irritation sometimes,
almost as in direct proportion to your ability to focus.
There`s nothing l can mention requiring focus more
than doing the art that miles Davis did, so...
There`s a stillness to the depth
of which Tom is into the moment
in this particular scene right now, that l admire.
He is so economically, completely in the moment.
He knows what he`s gonna do.
He just has that sideways glance to see if the waitress,
who he heard leave has, in fact, left and she has.
This is where, l think, great acting resides.
There`s a pure economy of motion.
There`s immobility when there should be.
You don`t program this kind of work. lt`s there, or it`s not there.
And there`s a paroxysm of regret.
That`s the first anomaly to the perfect machine-like presentation
we`ve had from Vincent, and it`s designed to be an anomaly.
lt`s designed to be a deviation from the way we have seen him up to this moment.
max can`t take it and wanders off on this broken course,
without much navigation. The way he walks across the sidewalk,
he heads towards the parking meter, then to the left.
And Vincent, who has repressed regret and is back in business,
back on the case, reminds max he`s not playing.
max provokes a theme, ``lf you were playing him,
what would you have done if he`d answered right?``
And l wanted that question to remain unanswered.
l want it posed, but not answered.
So, l then interrupt it with Lenny, the dispatcher, who returns.
Now, the voice of Lenny is the voice of michael Waxman,
who was my first assistant director.
He`s a dear friend, we`ve done many movies together, so...
He just was reading these lines so that we could shoot them
because Lenny was always to be off camera, off screen.
So, we were gonna find a voice later on. We tried to cast some other voices.
But we couldn`t find the voice that was as...
...wonderfully kind of annoying as michael`s voice, in fact, could be.
Now, this is another use of high definition video.
l wanted to see the world they`re moving through
and this is nothing you would see in normal motion picture film.
You can see the clouds in the sky behind Vincent,
and you also are able to see the colonnade of trees
behind max disappearing in the distance.
You normally wouldn`t be able to see any of that.
Now Vincent is about to deliver a second anomaly.
The first was the regret that he felt.
lt became a paroxysm, and then repressed,
and the second one is gonna be right now...
...when he says to max, ``She carried you in her womb for nine months,``
as if there`s a special consciousness
of the significance of mothers that Vincent possesses.
This sentiment will continue in the scene with lda
and provoke almost a sibling rivalry for the affections of lda
between Vincent and lda`s son max, which Vincent wins.
We`re gonna find out later on that Vincent never had a mother.
lt`s an accumulation of small anomalies to indicate
that something subterranean is going on with Vincent.
That something is fracturing with this man.
And the coincidence,
which is part of the wonderful structure of the piece,
Stuart Beattie`s narrative construction, was unchanged.
lt`s as if you take a screenplay and throw it in an X-ray or an mRl,
you see the underlying engineering of it.
And that`s what`s so brilliant about what Stuart Beattie did.
These two vectors of Fanning going someplace,
we don`t know where, we find out he`s going to the morgue.
lt`s as if the hospital is martin Luther King,
which would also have the morgue in it.
And max and Vincent going to visit max`s mother,
`cause max does this nightly.
He has a complex relationship with his mother.
One can almost imagine that there`s three older brothers
whose wives have made them move out of Los Angeles
to Houston or someplace to get away from the mother.
Now she says to Vincent, ``They`re beautiful.``
And Vincent`s struck by that.
And Jamie`s playing in this scene...
...of betrayal is, l think, profound.
And then, Vincent is charmed, and gets seductive...
...but the hurt in Jamie`s eyes,
l just thought he did a wonderful job, right here.
Another thing l liked about this, one of the reasons l did it,
is that it had a multiplicity of forms,
of different kinds of narrative all contained in the same picture.
And this becomes ordinary sitcom.
lrma Hall started as a schoolteacher in rural Texas,
from a town that`s next door to the town of 8,000 that Jamie Foxx grew up in.
And so, they were comparing notes when we were shooting here this day,
and they both knew some of the same officials in the school system.
And Jamie went to graduate from his high school after studying,
being both on the football team and studying piano,
and got a scholarship into university in classical piano.
This is the first time max is gonna manifest an impulsive act,
that is completely irrational,
which is to steal Vincent`s briefcase, and run where...
Do what with it? lt`s an illogical, irrational act...
...but it`s provoked by Vincent winning the affection of max`s mother.
And this puts us out of the hospital and across a footbridge...
...over the 5 Freeway in a neighborhood known as City Terrace.
lt`s just east of downtown, and what we`re looking at right now
is westbound on the 5, towards downtown L.A. in the distance.
This is a very hotly contested turf
between two gangs on opposite sides of the freeway,
and so this night we had elaborate security precautions.
The question that gets asked later in the film,
and the scene after the shootout at Fever
relates to this moment in time.
lt`s when max says to Vincent, ``And why haven`t you killed me yet?``
Because by everything we know about Vincent,
that`s exactly what should happen right now.
And we start to wonder, and it`s a question whose origin is in this moment,
and in the continuing relationship that starts to become
almost the relationship of two brothers, who are violently quarreling,
but nevertheless, two brothers,
although Vincent will, in a kind of schizoid way,
have those relations with max, but then he`ll go back to being on the job.
The question is...
...what is Vincent seeking from max? What does Vincent want from max?
Why, as they get closer and strike a rapport,
and begin to talk about things familiar
and then from familiar to intimate.
What`s going on?
And it`s something that l hoped, and do hope,
is occurring subtly within audience, almost subconsciously.
l`d prefer that they`re not aware this question`s being asked.
But that it produces a state of openness
to wondering what`s gonna happen with these two men.
Because the wondering what`s gonna happen is actually not
whether or not max is gonna live or die, or Vincent`s gonna live or die.
whether or not max is gonna live or die, or Vincent`s gonna live or die.
lt`s about, what is this relationship?
Fanning has linked the victims together,
so we have a situation in which Fanning, or the LAPD,
knows there`s linkage among victims.
meanwhile, we cut back to max and Vincent.
And this is the first time Vincent will digress with max into familiarity,
as if these are two guys in a bar who`ve known each other for a couple of months.
They`re talking about their father. And max talks about his mother.
Now, this is a design by which this subtext
of the two men impacting on each other
actually begins to take over and start to drive the story.
For it to do that, it has to begin early on
where you start to see anomalies in his behavior,
he`s not the machine-like presence he was at the beginning of the film,
but that there`s deviations.
So you get the sense something else is going on with this guy tonight.
Now, this is the truth, but Vincent doesn`t play it for truth.
And, again, this is a moment that l think...
l believe that Tom just absolutely hits a very difficult thing to nail,
which is that Vincent is brilliant
and he knows how easily shocked is petit bourgeois max,
and he says things to absolutely horrify and appall max.
And when max delivers a reaction,
Vincent laughs it off and says he`s kidding.
And now they`re talking about lsland Limos,
and the rationalizations max has about why it hasn`t started yet.
So, max has evolved and refined this ideation
of this exalted, ephemeral state of riding in a limo,
and lsland Limos to such an elevated experience,
that it`s not only impractical, it`s never gonna happen.
And all this was shot in the refineries of Wilmington,
which is near the Port of Los Angeles.
ln Wilmington, there are clubs like this.
Why anybody`d want to locate a club there, l don`t know.
Why anybody`d want to locate a club there, l don`t know.
The El Rodeo disco that the following scene is shot in
is not actually in Wilmington.
lt`s in Pico Rivera, and we did nothing to this place.
The difficulty in scenes like this sometimes,
and Jamie does a wonderful job,
is to maintain three months after beginning principle photography,
that pure line of exactly his character,
of what the character`s circumstances are.
And because the night in fiction is only two hours old,
and the circumstances are that he`s being asked to do
some preposterously outrageous, difficult task,
to go into this club and pretend he`s Vincent, impersonate Vincent.
And the perplexed confusion, as Jamie as max,
has to try and process a task of which he`s completely incapable.
Those circumstances, keeping those alive,
and keeping those present after you`ve been playing max
and we shoot the scenes out of order,
so it may be two months later, not two hours into the evening,
is what Jamie`s achieving here in what he`s able to do.
lt`s an innocent look in his eyes as he turns and looks at Vincent.
We`re about to see Klea Scott,
who was a regular on Robbery Homicide Division.
A fine actress who trained at the North Carolina School of Performing Arts,
and Bruce mcGill, who l`ve worked with a couple of times.
He was terrific playing the attorney, Ron motley in The Insider.
And did a well-remembered episode of Miami Vice
called ``Out Where the Buses Don`t Run.``
What you`re seeing is how it appears,
including the security guards in the front,
who are the real security guards at the real El Rodeo.
Really nice performances, particularly by this guy, Cosme,
who`s the guy on the left with the bald head.
most everybody in the place are regulars. lt`s a norteno disco.
The people are from northern mexico.
The music`s got a heavy polka influence
and we substituted Calexico and a couple of other bands.
And max doesn`t know what he`s getting into.
One of the things that intrigued me about Stuart Beattie`s script
was the way the storylines intersect.
They`re held in a very disciplined way, discrete,
each in its own channel.
And we`re about to see two of them collide
as the shadowy, silhouetted figures we established
coming into the FBl surveillance
are, in fact, revealed to be Fanning and Weidner,
who have information that is specifically, is and only is,
that there`s a linkage between victims.
Not who the victims are, or how they network together,
or who`s responsible for killing them.
And somebody told Pedrosa, played by Bruce mcGill,
to cooperate with these guys, talk to them,
and he`s reluctant to, and is stiffing them.
But Fanning spotted the cab.
He knows there was a cab described in the alley behind Ramone`s,
and launches them on a voyage of discovery
that`s gonna result in the convergence of these two vectors.
What`s nice about Beattie`s script is the way,
once we know the vectors are going to converge, he leaps ahead,
and the next time we go back to the surveillance location,
Beattie leaps ahead to the convergence already happened,
and just takes us right into the important part of it,
which is the conclusion.
And there`s a great poster for L.A.`s famous Que Buena Radio.
And El Rodeo on the interior is black-lit,
and these are the actual murals on the walls.
And these are some of the actual security guards there.
Couple other of these guys playing security guards
are some folks we got on work-release program
from L.A. County Jail.
Here`s Javier Bardem playing Felix,
and it`s a case of a brilliant actor,
who invests himself totally in a role, even though it was two day shooting.
Javier is Spanish, and he spent two or three weeks
learning to speak English with a mexican, not Spanish, accent.
And the two story tracks between the LAPD and the FBl have converged,
and now their information is actually revealed to us
because we`ve not known up to this point who these people are
who are being killed, which is unusual when you think about it.
We`re engaged in a picture in which Vincent is killing people
and he`s taken captive max, who`s compelled to go along with him.
And we don`t know why the people who are being killed, are being killed.
They`re obviously crimes of dispassion. Vincent doesn`t... is indifferent.
And we`re gonna discover later
that Vincent isn`t even sure why they`re being killed.
So, the way the information is marshaled,
the way it`s moved around, and where it`s revealed
is fascinating to me,
and it enhances for me the sense of immediacy
because when you are in the moment of something,
you don`t know the backstory, the context.
You don`t know everything about where people came from.
You`re just occupied with the ``right now`` of it.
And that`s what appealed to me about doing this film,
was that could l make a motion picture in which l can engage the audience
in the ``right now`` of it, without a lot of history or exposition,
so that it, in a way, almost simulates our experience of the present
when we`re put in a context we don`t know.
We don`t know the circumstance, where we are.
The landscape may be somewhat foreign to us.
And so, we have less answers than we have answers.
And as that, the impressions impact upon us,
one after the other, in sequence,
some of that experience, that`s what l wanted to...
That`s what attracted me to tell this story,
because it did that, it had that immediacy to it.
l found that very exciting.
The degree of difficulty of this scene for an actor is rather high
because what Jamie has to do is he has to pull off that he is max,
and he, playing max, has to have max play that max is Vincent,
and with believability so that you believe
that it`s credible enough for Felix to buy.
And that`s hard to do.
Behind all that, and why this is pivotal in the realization of max`s character,
it has to do with this massive compression of max`s life
to this single point, this single fine point in time
in which max believes he`s gonna die.
Here`s the moment of truth for max.
And faced with mortality,
what emerges is, in fact,
the power, the skill, the improvisational ability,
to speak his mind, to take action.
lt`s okay that it manifests itself in mimicry. He`s imitating Vincent.
That`s actually how our learning process is as humans, how we learn.
We mimic something, and then we make it our own.
And that`s exactly what the idea of this was.
But he had to have that experience, as a jumping-off point,
as a catalyst of ``he`s gonna die.``
And it comes from Felix
telling this anecdote he probably just made up
about Black Peter.
Felix is surrounded by a ring
of security people around him,
and he is also surrounded by sharply-pointed plants,
and it was... l wasn`t happy with the set.
We couldn`t change anything on the walls,
and so we just improvised and brought in a bunch of plants.
This is an interesting scene to me in terms of audience reactions
because, for some reason, some audiences get
that max is offering Felix a big discount on Vincent`s fees.
That he`s giving away a whole bunch of Vincent`s money.
And some audiences think this is absolutely hilarious.
And for some reason, other audiences, it goes right past them,
and it doesn`t get any kind of a reaction.
The color right here is...
...just something that happened, just the position of the light.
This was actually shot on film, this piece.
And we just managed to preserve it.
What`s happened here was very challenging for me
from a storytelling point of view
or actually the plot point of view...
... because the information deficit that each discrete track had
i.e., the FBl knew nothing,
the LAPD knew that bodies were dropping and they were linked,
and then also, we`re about to generate Paco and Rubio
have all come together in the FBl surveillance scene.
And the FBl and the LAPD
now know that the bodies dropping are all linked together,
and that they`re the FBl`s witnesses who were about to come forward
in a federal grand jury that`s supposed to be convening tomorrow.
This was an abandoned Kmart, and it was the largest...
l think it was the largest Kmart in America,
and it was transformed into this set by a very talented art director.
lt was a very long night. We wound up working very fast,
and it was very late in the night.
Sometimes when you do that, there`s a real tremendous intensity.
And if you could keep that on a roll, you get some of the best work because,
as an actor and as a director, it`s just happening so fast,
there`s a certain spontaneous intensity to it.
And mark Ruffalo, particularly, l believe, really shined in this.
What`s happening here is that Klea Scott
is identifying for us the origins of Vincent.
The FBl are poised as kind of ``unguided missile``
or ``misguided missiles`` because they now have identified
because of Vincent`s ploy, that they believe max to be Vincent.
Fanning is skeptical.
This is Tom Rothrock`s cue.
most of the composing is done by James Newton Howard,
who did excellent work,
particularly a very difficult piece towards the end of the film,
which is alternately orchestral and percussion.
But this particular piece is composed by Rothrock,
whose strength is this kind of blues mode,
which you`re hearing right here. He also did the cue opening the movie.
And l view music as telling different parts of the story.
Like multiple characters, you should have different,
slightly different perspectives on the music,
all fitting into a plan about how the story ought to tell itself.
So, there`s four story tracks, all heading to a disco named Fever.
max and Vincent are heading there,
and there`s a sense of destiny`s gonna get worked out. This confrontation,
there`s a prelude in which something l found fascinating was to happen.
Vincent changes registers again,
and l wanted Vincent to just elevate without any transition
into a state of mind in which he was speaking to max
as if they were brothers or pals who`ve known each other for 1 5 years,
they`re in a bar, and Vincent`s saying this casual thing,
``And aren`t you gonna ask that girl out?``
With a familiarity that`s schizophrenic,
that has no basis at all
in the circumstances that Vincent has, in fact, imposed upon max.
So, it`s a step aside from reality into a parallel reality,
the reality going on in Vincent`s mind,
which is also the subtext of the film, that Vincent`s, in fact, cracking up.
which is also the subtext of the film, that Vincent`s, in fact, cracking up.
That subtext is gonna wind up
hijacking the whole of the story and drive us to the end.
After he asks this question, each man kind of retreats
into the solitude of his own self-awareness.
What they see is something l witnessed a couple of times in L.A.
l was driving a babysitter home and saw three coyotes
just walking across the intersection of Fairfax and Sunset.
They had an attitude like they owned it, this was still their real estate,
and this civilized layer, called the city of Los Angeles,
which has only been here for 80 years was something temporary.
lt may be here, may be gone tomorrow.
And each man thinking his own thoughts
as he`s heading into what may be mortal combat.
When l heard this song by Audioslave,
and the Chris Cornell vocal, Shadow on the Sun,
l knew l wanted it for this moment in the film.
As they travel through the neon shopping malls of Koreatown,
the advantage of the video, shooting in high-def,
is the ability to see these distant landscapes and trees against the sky,
almost as if we`re in some kind of a dark afternoon.
The club is a club. The real name of the club is Bliss.
lt`s on Sixth and Wilshire Central in Koreatown.
We renamed it Fever.
And we actually enter the real location,
and we duplicated the decor on a set that we built,
that had to be seven times as large,
seven or eight times as large as the actual club
seven or eight times as large as the actual club
to fit the eight or nine hundred Korean extras we brought in.
What`s happening is that all the discrete storylines
are heading towards a collision, and we, the audience, are aware of it.
Vincent, the hunter, is not aware that he`s, in fact, being hunted.
The challenge of shooting it, and the excitement about shooting it,
was to set up each character
moving through this field of 800 dancers
in a way so that we were with each group as they`re moving through it,
and knowing where we are at the same time,
and keeping all three stories alive.
The music is Ready, Steady, Go by Paul Oakenfold.
lt`s a great piece. lt was perfect for this scene.
But to make it be less familiar,
we translated ``Ready, Steady, Go`` into Korean,
so what they`re saying in Korean is, ``Ready, Steady, Go.``
Koreatown has the largest population of Koreans outside of Seoul,
and as a community, it`s particularly vibrant and unified,
and has a great depth of culture, which is kind of typical of Los Angeles,
and ethnic communities in Los Angeles,
where there seems to be a lot less assimilation
so that in going to a Korean club,
you`re gonna see music videos from Seoul.
You`re not gonna see music videos from mTV.
The way l thought about this scene is, in terms of scene analysis, like,
how does the scene work internally?
lt`s a conflict between our characters max and Vincent,
and also Pedrosa when we`re tracking with Pedrosa.
And what he`s in conflict with is, in fact, chaos.
And it`s the chaos that Vincent has to work against
to achieve his objective...
...which is completely pathological,
to murder a Korean gangster named Peter Lim.
A lot of the close-quarter combat that Vincent is doing, again,
took three to four months of training.
And we did a much broader variety of it than what we`re seeing here.
But Tom was very fast
and very strong, very skilled with this.
And the instructor l used is mick Gould,
who was one of the two instructors l had
for all the close-quarter combat that we did.
The other guy was Andy mcNab, who was also the author of a book
called Bravo Two Zero,
which is highly recommended reading on the first lraq war,
that he was in and was captured by the lraqis.
Lim has an outer ring of protection,
which is exactly the way security would behave.
And then he`s got some closer people around him.
There`s two classes of security, one with bodyguards, trained bodyguards,
and some Korean gangsters who didn`t speak English.
Why they don`t speak English is gonna be seen in a moment.
The Korean gangsters behind Lim
now mistake the FBl, who are, in fact, coming to bring Lim to safety.
They mistake it as an assault on Lim.
They don`t speak English.
Pedrosa gets shot.
That instantly initiates panic and chaos,
and now Vincent is not just having to move through a field of dancers
to get closer to Lim, he now has to move through, in fact, a gunfight
and chaos and panic and a mob stampeding to get away.
We had an admirable group of Korean extras, recruited from Koreatown,
from UCLA, all kinds of places, who managed to work themselves up
into a state of panic for about 1 2 to 1 4 hours a day,
for about five days straight.
Vincent, in reality, would be really focused on what`s happening.
Like a fugue state.
And then it`s gonna get interrupted by a threat to max,
and as Vincent deals with it, l wanted Tom to have,
and he absolutely has, a kind of look on his face,
almost as if he`s irritated because max has been so inconsiderate
to allow himself to have his life jeopardized
and Vincent`s had to intervene to save him.
The only guy who has had it right
because he, in fact, has really proper procedure
as a detective and investigator is Fanning.
He`s finally been able to rescue max.
This sets up the unexpected.
Vincent, right here in this scene, is disarmed,
and it`s actually his weakest moment in the film.
He rises to the occasion, and continues doing what he does.
But the point was that Vincent had a moment of confusion.
And it`s one of the other subtle glimpses into what`s going on
below the surface of Vincent`s activity.
ln my mind, this is strictly from the director`s perspective,
meaning audience doesn`t necessarily get impacted upon these things.
ln my mind, it`s almost as if Vincent`s 1 1 years old for an instant,
ln my mind, it`s almost as if Vincent`s 1 1 years old for an instant,
for a fraction of a second.
And he`s confused by bad things that are happening to him.
And he responds by reassembling his perspective
in reacting and acting out with violent aggression.
Now, audience may or may not only get a moment of weakness from him,
but it was fundamental to me in my understanding of Vincent`s history
and his character that this, in fact, is something that`s repeated into his life.
What Jamie was supposed to do, was his door was open,
and he was supposed to be so distracted
by the seemingly eternal situation he finds himself in,
by the seemingly eternal situation he finds himself in,
meaning that regardless of what happens,
he winds up back behind the wheel on the seat of that cab,
that he just accelerated forward without closing the door,
and the door is to bang into the car, parked car.
That didn`t happen. The door closed and Jamie just headed for the car.
We`re into something called ``Scene 86,``
and it`s the big pivotal scene in the construction of the story.
max has been changed by a number of things that happen,
starting with the compression of his life,
facing death in the form of Felix.
my direction to Jamie was that, ``You have to feel like you`re gonna die.
You`re gonna die right now.``
And max manifested individual action, which has always been there.
lt had been latent instead of manifest. And in the scene with Felix,
it took the form of actually mimicking Vincent`s style,
when he talks about l Ching, Darwin.
But between then, with Felix and right now, max is changed.
And right now, max sees beyond the end of Vincent`s gun
to the man who is there.
Vincent`s repeating a pattern, and he again delivers the facile nihilism
about the purposelessness of the cosmos, nothing means anything,
so what difference does it make how many bodies are dropped?
This is the third time we`ve heard this from Vincent,
and so there`s a kind of self-directed cynicism.
He calls it ``crap.``
But this time max doesn`t buy it. And max sees through it.
Every film seems to have its pivotal scenes,
and this is the pivotal scene of this motion picture.
max, for the first time, is seeing beyond the end of the gun,
and is seeing Vincent for who Vincent is, which is damaged goods.
He experiences a feeling of an understanding for Vincent,
and he struggles to put it into words.
And that struggle is something l very much wanted Jamie to live through,
and that is Vincent`s sociopathy,
that even if you put a gun to his head and told Vincent,
``l`ll shoot unless you tell me what somebody feels.``
Vincent can`t do it. He isn`t capable of empathy.
He`s literally incapable of it, as if he were handicapped.
And max renders a negative judgment on Vincent,
and he says, ``You are low, my brother, way low.``
Vincent is actually not impervious, he`s not the Teflon man
we saw landing at LAX. He`s injured by this.
And he assaults max reactively.
lt`s very personal and his intent is to devastate max
with a prediction of the purposelessness of what max`s life will be,
almost as if Vincent is the Ghost of Christmas Future
and telling him that max`s evasion is chronic
and he`ll never achieve any of his dreams.
ln this scene right here, l can`t fail but to have...
...a director`s appreciation for actors.
Because fine acting is fine acting
and it`s not something directors do, with noble exceptions like John Huston.
But we have the highest...
At least l have the highest regard for it.
Because it is that projection out onto the end of the limb.
Or on the wire without a net.
lt`s going to that ineffable place
where you`re simultaneously in control and completely uncontrolled,
living, breathing and being in the moment.
l think that`s what Jamie Foxx and Tom Cruise are doing here.
lt never ceases to be marvelous to me.
max has taken what Vincent said earlier and stood it on its head,
which is to say that if existence has no inherent meaning,
it`s meaningless, then the individual is free
to put meaning in his life by his actions and max takes action.
max rebels and he destroys what has imprisoned him for the last 1 2 years.
ln flipping the cab, l designed the shot
and how many times l wanted the cab to flip, and how l wanted it to end up.
And the physics of it are pretty interesting.
You weight the cab in certain parts,
and you lift the back of the cab with an air mortar.
And you just actually run the left front of the cab into a piece of concrete,
and physics do the rest.
Joel Kramer, the stunt coordinator and the stuntmen who worked on this
are pretty much able to dump the cab exactly where they want,
and we went out to an abandoned airstrip
and set up this course with exactly the right distances.
and set up this course with exactly the right distances.
And the cab dropped where it was supposed to that day,
and it also dropped where it was supposed to this day.
There were about nine cameras there, but the key camera is the last one.
The camera in which the cab actually comes to a stop,
after it lifts the front end of this Pontiac.
And this is take one. They just hit it, and they nailed it.
l`ve reviewed it on the monitors,
and because of the higher contrast on the monitors,
it made it seem as if the crash was actually more kinetic than it was.
And l thought it was too violent.
So, we re-shot it, l think two more times, didn`t need any of it.
The first take with the multiple cameras, is the one we used.
This is Bob Deamer. Bob Deamer is an officer in the LAPD
and l`ve gone on a number of ride-alongs with him
in which we`ve had various adventures.
And contrary to his appearance here, he`s a very tough cop.
Jamie`s so weary of life with Vincent,
that being taken to L.A. County Jail sounds like a good idea.
This begins a music cue by James Newton Howard
that`s going to alternate between orchestral,
with horns and low strings,
meaning cellos, violas, double bass,
and a horn section and percussion.
And it begins here, and it`s an extremely long cue,
goes for almost 1 6 or 1 7 minutes taken in total.
lt was written and composed as a unified cue.
And that was some of the fascinating dynamics of the construction
of this narrative for those of us who made the film.
of this narrative for those of us who made the film.
Because it`s immediate and it takes place in ten hours,
that means you examine smaller pieces of time
under a very powerful microscope,
which means that events, which normally, in a normal film,
might occupy two-and-a-half minutes, in this film occupy five minutes
because we look and examine them much more closely.
Consequently, music cues that would be two or three minutes,
which are conventional, become five, six minutes,
or in this case, a long cue becomes a hugely long cue.
The visualization you`re seeing in some of these shots of Jamie on the roof
are interesting `cause they would not be possible with motion picture film.
Those buildings are not lit.
There`s, l think, one parking structure light that`s on Jamie
and that`s about it.
lf l had shot on 35-millimeter motion picture film,
l would have had to use a lot of very powerful lights,
and then it wouldn`t have had a realistic look.
lt would have looked like it was lit.
So, it was cityscapes like this, are one of the key reasons
l wanted to shoot in high-def video
because it revealed the whole world of the city at night.
That`s also apparent in the scene when Vincent kicks in the door,
and you`re seeing the detail of the exterior, and the depth of field,
meaning things in the foreground are in focus, and in deep background,
things are also in focus, including the distant lights.
Here`s more of the lights that we`re seeing,
only as a courtesy of high-definition video.
This shot would also have been impossible in motion picture film.
max would either be not exposed at all,
or he would not be able to carry the focus.
This rooftop that max is on was a very, very difficult,
probably the most difficult location for us to get permission to shoot on
in the city because it`s controlled by the Secret Service,
and they use it to park vehicles on from time to time,
and they don`t want anybody even remotely near the rooftop.
And it took a lot of convincing,
and us willing to work under mass restrictions,
meaning we shot all of max`s work in about two hours.
That`s the only way we were able to get permission to be on this rooftop.
lt`s the only exposed rooftop quite like it in downtown Los Angeles,
which was why l needed it.
The drums were originally heard in mozambique,
in maputo, mozambique on Ali.
When l heard them in maputo, l recorded them,
and then, we got Ghanaian drummers, who happened to be in Los Angeles,
to go into the third level of my parking garage,
that`s got a lot of echo in it.
And we repeated the drumming pattern l had heard in East Africa,
with drummers who were mostly from West Africa.
We call them ``Ghanaian drums,`` in fact they`re mozambican drums, if you like.
And we sampled those, and we also repeated it and did them mostly live.
This scene, without being able to use digital video
would not have been able to have been written, much less shot,
because you wouldn`t even conceive of a scene in which characters
are moving around with no lights, and in fact,
it`s only their silhouettes against the city lights,
and a little bit of bounce that`s coming from the city lights themself,
that enables you to see them.
lt would have been physically impossible to capture it.
The cameras see more than the naked eye.
When we finished some of these shots, and l said, ``Cut,``
everybody stayed put until the lights were on
so that people didn`t trip and fall and hurt themselves.
max grew up in Ladera Heights, which is a very middle-class section of L.A.
And he`s never been exposed to street violence really, in his life,
except what he might have seen as a cab driver.
So he doesn`t know how to shoot an H&K .45.
ln doing some of the research about what Vincent would have done
if he walked in a strange building, he would have, first of all,
acclimated himself to the ambient noise of the building.
Buildings heat up during the day when the sun`s out.
At night, they cool off, and they contract,
and thousands of contractions throughout the entire structure
give the building noise.
lf you`re quiet in a building, and you listen, you could listen to it.
The point is that what Vincent would have done,
and what he does here, is that he stops and he listens,
he gets the ambient noise that`s supposed to be there.
What he`s listening for, once he understands the ambient noise,
are the anomalous noises, the sounds of his prey.
And that`s Annie.
All he`s doing when he`s static here is, in fact, listening.
And he`s just almost kind of like a bat, and he`s listening for the sound.
What he hears are her stockings scraping against the carpet,
and her palms scraping against the carpet,
and that`s how he locates her.
lt wasn`t planned that Vincent fall over the chair, but when he did,
lt wasn`t planned that Vincent fall over the chair, but when he did,
it`s one of those accidents that l love.
l love it when something happens that`s unexpected, an anomaly.
l sometimes ask myself, what are the characteristics of an event
or an activity that are gonna make it simulate something real,
or feel to me as if it`s real,
and it`s the things that don`t go exactly according to plan.
l tend to be attracted to them.
l was attracted to this location
among all the different mTA subway stations in Los Angeles,
particularly because of the amount of steel.
l like the sense that they`re running into someplace metallic,
almost like a metallic tube.
L.A.`s got a pretty beautiful subway... public-transportation system.
And when it travels on the surface,
and hits some of the train stops, many of them are one-offs,
they`re individually architected.
Vincent is enraged. He`s impossibly formidable.
max surprised Vincent and actually pulled the trigger,
something that Vincent thought max incapable of doing.
ln his clumsy way, max has been improvisational,
which brings it back to a theme that`s actually defined
in Stuart Beattie`s script in the jazz club
when Vincent talks about improvisation.
max is acquiring certain characteristics through the agency now,
not of the advice of Vincent, but via his conflict with him.
l didn`t desire to ameliorate in any way Vincent`s intent.
Vincent intends to kill Annie,
and it was something that l questioned one or two times,
and came to the conclusion it has to be what happens.
This is a spectacular mTA station right above...
Amongst a conjunction of three freeways.
lt`s the Harbor Station.
This is not a visual effect. This is shot practically,
as is all these other shots of pulling out of the Harbor Station.
There are some shots that are coming up
in which l chose to shoot green-screen,
meaning that l wanted to be able
to customize the backgrounds that were outside the windows.
Like right here. And the reason for it was because
l wanted the graphic pattern of, particularly those rectangles of light,
which are from parking structures.
l wanted them to occur right at this moment.
max has closed his eyes and simply pulled the trigger,
expecting to die after he`s forced himself,
impelled himself to confront Vincent.
There was a direction here, the particular attitude
for Vincent to have as he sat down.
And the direction was to be irritated,
as if he was being irritated by something pedestrian.
And he`s irritated at the absurd outcome of this gunfight,
at the whole of this night.
Particularly about the gunfight. lf max hadn`t closed his eyes
and fired chaotically, he`d be dead.
Vincent`s ironically repeated the same line,
an anecdote about a guy who gets on the mTA, dies...
Think anybody`ll notice? But it`s not a rhetorical question.
Vincent is asking,
``Will anybody note that once upon a time l was here?``
And he`s sincere.
All of Vincent`s life has been...
And all of max`s life, it`s all been collapsed in this one moment.
lnto the events of this one night.
And the night`s over.
Caccia alla volpe - After The Fox
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