Other articles by R. Emmet Sweeney include:
“You Have to Make Money. It’s a Business”: Jesse V. Johnson on Accident Man, Scott Adkins and the Logistics of Fast DTV Shoots Filmmaker Magazine, February 6, 2018
For over 15 years, Jesse V. Johnson has been a reliable craftsman of action movies for the wildly unreliable DTV market. Born in England, he moved to Hollywood to work as a stunt performer in the 1990s, working on everything from Total Recall (1990) to The Thin Red Line (1999). He has bounced back and forth between stunt work and DTV directing ever since — whatever it took to pay the bills in an unpredictable career. One predictable thing over the last year has been the presence of Scott Adkins as his leading man. Adkins may not have the name recognition of Van Damme but is his inheritor: a remarkably athletic performer who broke through in fight tournament movies but is now trying to expand his range. That next step happens in Accident Man (out on VOD/DVD/Blu-ray on Feb. 6th), a kinetic comic-book adaptation directed by Johnson about a hitman who makes his kills looks like accidents. I spoke with Jesse V. Johnson about working with Adkins (they have two more movies coming out this year), dealing with the budget limitations of DTV productions and the difficulties of making it in in the movie business without a trust fund.
Isaac Florentine is one of the stalwart direct-to-video directors of the last decade, making fluid fight films on microscopic budgets, usually with the miraculously athletic Scott Adkins in the lead. His latest film Acts of Vengeance has heightened visibility, and an honest-to-goodness theatrical release, thanks to the casting of Antonio Banderas as a slick defense attorney who takes a vow of silence before taking his revenge on his family’s killers. I spoke by phone with Florentine about the development of the project, the personal losses he sustained during its production, and his philosophy of screen fighting.
Carpenter Craft Brooklyn Academy of Music, February 5, 2015
He came of age in film school at the same time as the Steven Spielberg/George Lucas “movie brats,” but John Carpenter is generally excluded from triumphal histories of 1970s New Hollywood cinema. Yet Carpenter’s genre reinventions have become as equally influential as those of his cinéaste brethren. While Lucas and Spielberg tried to supersize the 1930s adventure serial, Carpenter took the professionals-on-a-mission films of Howard Hawks and fractured them for the Reagan era. He developed a style of slow-burn—precisely choreographed widescreen features that were irresistible tension-and-release machines. But while Jaws and Star Wars appealed to all audiences, Carpenter’s subversive streak led to films deeply suspicious of the American dream, creating entertainments that stick in your throat.
How ‘Eastbound and Down’ Perfectly Captured Aggro Sports Culture in Kenny Powers, Indiewire, November 20, 2013
After three years of self-destructively pursuing a return to Major League Baseball, the fourth and final season of the HBO comedy had him chase his materialistic dreams of fame on cable television.
Going His Way: Leo McCarey, Directors’ Guild of America, Winter 2012
With an improvisational style fashioned from silent films, Leo McCarey coaxed great performances from some of Hollywood’s biggest stars. Yet his role as a master of American film comedy is often forgotten.
Eros Plus Massacre: Transgressive Romances from Japan and South Korea at the Japan Society, Brooklyn Rail, March 2012
Japan Society’s new film series, Love Will Tear Us Apart, is a perversely entertaining rejoinder to Hollywood’s Garry Marshall plan for depicting romantic love. Imagine Katherine Heigl delivering the pillow talk in Koji Wakamatsu’s The Woman Who Wanted to Die (1970): “If I disembowel myself, will you decapitate me?” The series, curated by chief film programmer Samuel Jamier, attempts a trans-national exchange of sadomasochism, with 22 features from Japan and South Korea communicating in the universal language of emotional abuse.
Colgate Comedy Hour, September 18, 1955,
La Furia Umana Spring 2012
On September 18th, 1955, Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin hosted the Colgate Comedy Hour for the 27th time. It would be six months before they began shooting Hollywood or Bust, after which their preposterously successful union dissolved. But from 8 – 9PM on a studio set at NBC, they continued to work their alchemical comic magic, two perfectly poised bodies wreaking ingratiating destruction.
Fantasy Baseball’s Founding Fathers, Baseball Prospectus, April 29, 2011
Fantasy baseball is a product of childhood solitude, when idle youngsters furtively build sandlot castles in their feverish minds, but it is an obsession that has found fertile ground in adulthood as baseball statistics have grown more complex and expressive. Schoolyard arguments about favorite players are now settled by quoting stats with bewitching acronyms like WARP. Almost every action on the field can be quantified, and fantasy games allow fans to see these magical numbers light up for their own players. This vicarious thrill encourages deeper immersion in the sport, until fake owners know more about 18-year-old prospects than their own mothers. It is a frightening and wonderful addiction.
Robert Flaherty Seminar 2010, Part 1: Unseen Labor July 21, 2010
Since 1955 The Robert Flaherty Seminar has gathered influential filmmakers, critics, academics and programmers to hash out the aesthetic and political possibilities of the documentary. This year I joined them in packing the dorm rooms of Colgate University, subject to ominous-smelling shared bathrooms and dissipated coffee, but trusting that the curatorial acumen of guest programmer Dennis Lim, and his chosen theme of “Work,” would make it all worthwhile.
Cutting Down The Angles Poetry Foundation, May 30, 2008
Randall Maggs is a poet and professor of literature, but unlike most academics, he’s a garrulous hockey buff. “When I watched that San Jose–Dallas series I was absolutely struck by the intensity of it,” he said from his home in Newfoundland. “I’m not even interested in those teams, but they were stronger and faster and harder-hitting, and the goaltending was superb.”