This fall, writer/director Joe Carnahan will start production on one of the most talked-about properties in Hollywood -- the closing chapter of James Ellroy's famed 'L.A. Quartet,' White Jazz. Following The Black Dahlia, The Big Nowhere, and L.A. Confidential, Jazz is a work that's been described as 'unfilmable,' because of its frequent dips into stream-of-consciousness, its almost total lack of good-guy characters and its endless perversions, not to mention the Byzantine narrative, typical of Ellroy. But Carnahan is confident that he's going to crack it, and could hardly contain his enthusiasm for the project when I recently spoke with him -- the director is making himself available this week to promote the April 17 release of the Widescreen DVD Edition of Smokin' Aces. Among other things, we talked about the architectural and musical influences he's drawing on, how it will stand apart from L.A. Confidential, and who he's envisioning alongside George Clooney in the film's major roles.
Also on the agenda was his other major passion of the moment, a full-throated telling of the Pablo Escobar story, which he hopes to jump onto after Jazz is completed. His enthusiasm for that one is already so high and his knowledge of the main character so deep that when hearing him talk, it seems like he's ready to start shooting the picture next week. Throughout the course of the interview, we also talked about the recent media furor over Reese Witherspoon's departure from Bunny Lake is Missing, the current Hollywood rush to remake Sam Peckinpah, the spec script he's currently working on, and whether or not we could see more of the Smokin' Aces characters sometime in the future. My list of things to bring up also included MI:3 and how he managed to coax a decent performance out of acting novice Alicia Keys in Aces, but we didn't even have time to get into that stuff. If you're a Carnahan fan, as I am, it's a fun read, so enjoy.
Do you see the ending of Smokin' Aces as an ending or a beginning? It seems to me like Ryan Reynolds' character could go to jail and become a villain -- he'd just be swimming in a different pool of corruption.
JC: I saw it as the end of that particular bit of hypocrisy that he was kind of revolting against, I guess -- the idea that it's just better to just bring both of these situations into the ground than it is to kind of allow them to continue. I can never kind of fathom a character's journey beyond the moment when you go to black, any more than when people ask me what Jason Patric did with the tape recorder at the end of Narc, you know what I mean? Even in Blood, Guts, like, what happens down the road with these characters? I love the ambiguous kind of endings. I think often times, that's what life really is -- there's no concrete path for you to take. It's always kind of a jumble of variables. Behind this door could be a beautiful woman, and behind the same door could be a tiger, you know? You don't know. So I always look at it as the end of that particular journey, that particular story, but I certainly wouldn't preclude revisiting that.