Watch Ben Barnes in 1st Trailer for Boston Crime Thriller, By the Gun

By the Gun, movie, poster, Ben Barnes, Leighton Meester, Boston, crime drama

So it looks like Ben Barnes, he of Dorian Grey and Prince Caspian fame, and Leighton Meester (of “Gossip Girl” fame) came to Boston last winter to make a movie. As if that pairing wasn’t high enough on the “improbable meter”, then how about we add Harvey Keitel and Toby Jones, who are both along for the ride. Wait…what?

Yes, it’s yet another Boston crime thriller about a guy who longs to be a “made man”. Of course, as soon as that box is ticked on the old bucket list, he meets the girl of his dreams and then wants out of the life.

By the Gun (original title God Only Knows) is written by Emilio Mauro (who is no Dennis Lehane, nor even Chuck Hogan, though he would seem to have borrowed tropes from both – among many others). Speaking of Hogan, director James Mottern is no Ben Affleck (who directed The Town based on Hogan’s book). Mottern did, however, make a pretty good directorial debut with Trucker back in 2008. (Didn’t see it? You’re certainly not alone, which is a shame. It gave Michelle Monaghan the role of her life.) He hasn’t directed anything since, but Trucker gives him the benefit of the doubt. (Provided he isn’t responsible for Meester’s casting.)

Nick Tortano (Barnes) is a smooth-talking, ambitious criminal from the streets of Boston. After years spent working for and idolizing the Italian gangsters he finally proves himself to the boss and becomes a made man. However, once inside, Nick conflicts with a moneymaker for the Mafia and begins to drive a wedge between him and the Boss.

Take a look at this first trailer:

I don’t think Mottern and Mauro are tilling any new ground here, but I’m a sucker for the genre and it’s set in my city, so there’s one ticket sold.

By the Gun also stars, Paul Ben-Victor, Slaine (Yes! A Lehane AND Affleck connection – Ben discovered Slaine for Gone Baby Gone. He is becoming the face of Southie.), and other assorted faces you’ve seen in a lot of wise-guy flicks, like Richie Coster, Michael Yebba, Jay Giannone (Gone Baby Gone, The Iceman and the upcoming Black Mass), and Damien DiPaola, plus former New England Patriots linebacker Tully Banta Cain making his film debut, and Kenny Footloose” Wormald. (Hey at least he was born in Boston. Maybe he helped with the accents.) Millennium Entertainment will give the film a limited theatrical and same-day VoD release on December 5. Wild horses couldn’t keep me away from this. Maybe I’ll go hang out at the red carpet premiere* on December 1 and totally fan-girl out!

*Actually, if anyone reading this is in the Boston area, tickets to the premiere and after-party can be had and the proceeds go to charity. Details here.


An Open Letter to Ryan Kavanaugh

It’s not me, it’s you.

It’s over, Mr. Kavanaugh, I’m breaking up with you.

It was great while it lasted, but it's over. Our six month stint as BFFs has come to an end.

I was loyal. I sang your praises. I believed, in the face of all evidence to the contrary, that you knew best.

When Relativity Media took Machine Gun Preacher off of Lionsgate’s hands at the behest of director Marc Forster, you told the world it was for the express purpose of releasing it in 2011, with an eye toward award season*. This comes directly from your press release at the time and no one (arguably) was more thrilled than I was. (I did the “demented poodle dance” on this blog for you!) So what happened? Were you just placating Forster? Or was it for your good friend (and the film’s star as well as one of the producers) Gerard Butler? Does one of them have incriminating photos or literally know where the bodies are buried? Was it always your intention to just open the door and let the film wander through it rather than shepherd it lovingly along its path to public awareness and hoped-for butts in the seats?

After having witnessed the almost complete lack of support you’ve shown the film, I have to ask, “why?” Why bother? Did you lose faith somewhere along the line? Did you lose your wallet? There was no trailer, no poster, no advance word of any kind until about a month before release. Then came the Toronto International Film Festival. Those of us who follow such things breathed a sigh of relief because we thought, “Okay, now it will begin. The film received a standing ovation at its world premiere. Surely the great minds in charge will build on this momentum and we will see a show of support.” Butler, along with his costar Michelle Monaghan and even the real Machine Gun Preacher, Sam Childers, crisscrossed the country stumping for this movie. No matter how many times they were asked the same questions, they responded with enthusiasm and a visible pride in their product. The problem is, I know all of that because I’ve been following the journey of this film since it was announced that Forster would direct and Gerard Butler would star, which was nearly two years ago. If I hadn’t been, it is entirely possible that I still would not know anything about this film.

(Lionsgate, which is still the international distributor of Machine Gun Preacher, has just released two new television spots for the European market, looking toward the film's November 2 launch.)

You’ve relied almost entirely on word of mouth and a grass-roots internet campaign by Gerard Butler fans to publicize this movie. And we have tried. We have done everything that has been asked of us and more and we’ve been doing it for weeks. Supposedly you’ve been listening, but where’s the proof? Now that it is slinking out of theaters in the larger markets, even before it’s had a chance to slip into the smaller ones, I, for one, am left to wonder what the hell was the point? Do you have any idea how hollow it feels to have talked this movie up to anyone who’d listen and have nearly every single one of them say, “I’ve never heard of it”? Now that they have, what difference does it make since it’s no longer available to them? I’ve gone so far as to buy tickets for other people because it was a physical impossibility for me to be in the theater any more than I already had been and yet I wanted to continue to show my support. I felt an obligation to show my support because I believed so strongly in the film and in Butler’s performance. Why didn’t you?

Well, apparently it’s all about the money. If Machine Gun Preacher does well, you’re afraid it might queer your deal with JP Morgan**, that your current financial partner, Elliot Investments, might not go gently into that good night and might stick around like a burr under your saddle. But, if MGP tanks and you can close with Morgan by the time your next release, Immortals, comes out, you’re golden and that movie’s success will prove it.

So, you took Machine Gun Preacher off of Lionsgate’s hands and appeared to all the world like a savior. I’m reminded of Leo Bloom and Max Bialystock (Mel Brooks' The Producers). In this case, when you (and whomever you’re in cahoots with) realized MGP might be a success you decided to blow up the theater, but you forgot to tell Gerard Butler, Sam Childers… and the fans. You let everyone think that Relativity’s involvement with Machine Gun Preacher was a show of faith in the movie, the director and the star’s incredible-enough-to-be-a-personal-game-changer of a performance. (Business aside, you’d think you’d want to support a friend. For God’s sake, Gerard Butler was in your wedding party!) Instead, it looks like you tanked your good friend’s movie…on purpose.

PS: Unless Hunter Killer is the mother of all submarine movies, with a role as meaty and exceptional as that of Sam Childers, it will not make up for the torpedoing of Machine Gun Preacher.


PPS: Box Office Mojo reports that as of 10/11*** MGP has made $325,65.00. That is a disgrace. At this point, it will have to work to catch up to the domestic take of Beowulf & Grendel, a little seen, barely released retelling of the epic poem, although it might catch Game of Their Lives (Miracle Match), a little seen, barely released movie about the 1950 US Men's Nat'l Team & the World Cup, both of which were released in 2005. Dear Frankie, which had almost no domestic distribution made nearly 1.5 million. WTF is wrong with this picture??

Even Gamer, which incidentally was released by Lionsgate, had a lot more PR and made a lot more money. Love 'em or hate 'em, Gerard Butler movies make money, especially those released after 2007. While I realize that this won't be the first film to have been scuttled by a lack of studio support or publicity, it is, just maybe, the first one that I care about this deeply.



*** The last date for which Box Office Mojo is currently, publicly, reporting figures for MGP

I Take It All Back!

It's obvious that it is Relativity Media's intention to give us a little nibble nearly every day until the release of Marc Forster's Machine Gun Preacher on September 23. If I ever doubted the wisdom of waiting, it was only out of frustration because I personally had been waiting for a look at this movie since it was announced in early 2010. If I had been thinking clearly, I would have realized that waiting until only a month before the release to do a big push generates curiosity and creates a buzz, the kind of buzz that is enveloping this film going into tonight's gala presentation in Toronto.

If the producers had given us what we thought we wanted, the rest of the film-going public very well might have grown tired of hearing about MGP and Gerard Butler and Sam Childers. The public is fickle like that. If I know that, you can be damn sure that the wizards behind the curtain working the gears of the publicity machine know it.  (There are a lot of actors/film makers with more than one movie screening at TIFF this year, most getting a big end-of-the-year push. "Saturation Syndrome" could happen to any one of them.) 

I never really doubted you Mr. Kavanaugh…

Here's our first look at Michael Shannon as Donnie (I'm thinking he's probably not going to be very supportive of Sam's new lifestyle)…

Here's a B-Roll of Behind-the-Scenes footage…

I think after TIFF, Machine Gun Preacher is going to be on the map BIG TIME. I can’t wait to hear about tonight's event (and see the pics, who’m I kidding?) In the meantime, enjoy this collection of soundbites as Gerard Butler talks about the film:

Of course, all of the above is merely an excuse to post these pics. Blue Boy Redux…

Thanks to for the pics!

If Gainsborough Were Painting Today…

…he might have a new muse.

Of course, the point of this post isn't solely to marvel over the cerulean-covered consummation of male perfection (not solely). Oh no, my friends, the point of this post is to continue, in my own small (and perhaps insignificant) way, to talk up Marc Forster's Machine Gun Preacher.

I find it difficult to believe that anyone reading this blog wouldn't know what the film was about, but on the off chance that someone stumbled in here from the Tardis or is just back from an extended vacation in outer Mongolia, I'll tell you. Machine Gun Preacher is based on the life of the Rev. Sam Childers (Butler), one bad-ass sonofabitch, who experiences a religious conversion, and feels called by God to go to Africa to help build houses and ends up building orphanages and rescuing children forced to become soldiers for the Sudanese rebels.

While G may have (probably does have, given all of the pre-release buzz) a role that will finally give him the recognition and respect he deserves as a dramatic actor, let's not forget he's also a producer. Without him, this story may not have been told. JMHO, but if the film does nothing else but shine a light on a struggling and war-ravaged part of the world that could really use some attention from the rest of it, then the whole thing will have been worth it.

The cast is in Toronto as we speak, gearing up for the gala screening on Sunday night, September 11 at Roy Thomson Hall as an official selection of the Toronto International Film Festival. Today, fulfilling the first of many obligations I'm sure, they posed for some pictures. Present and accounted for were Gerard Butler, Michelle Monaghan, Michael Shannon, director Marc Forster and oddly, Chris Cornell. (I know he recorded the "official" song for the soundtrack. Don't get me started on THAT, but I'm surprised he's at the Festival in support of the film. Good for him.)

This clip is called “Build It Again”. Any thoughts I had that Michelle Monaghan wouldn’t be tough enough to play Lynne Childers (Vera Farmiga was originally cast, but her pregnancy would have prevented her from travelling to Africa) have fallen by the wayside with the stills and clips we’re getting.

Machine Gun Preacher opens in NY and LA on September 23 and will open wider on September 30. It's been well over a year and a half that I've been looking forward to this. I already have my (first) ticket!

Thanks for reading and your indulgence. Here's some pics of ‘our’ "blue boy". You know you want 'em.