This week David O. Russell's new film 'The Fighter' arrives in theaters, riding on a wave of expectation unleashed primarily by the promise of actor Christian Bale's knockout performance as a washed-up, crack-addicted boxer, but also the dubious reputation earned by the director on his previous effort. Thus far all of his films have met with either critical or commercial success (or both), but after the disastrous revelation of behind-the-scenes footage of battles between Russell and co-star Lily Tomlin on 'I Heart Huckabees,' some industry insiders are curious to see what lessons he learned from the experience and/or how well he now plays with others.
Personally speaking, until a filmmaker or actor is actually rude to me, I don't care what they do on set; while I'd certainly prefer if all creative people were sensitive and generous, plenty of outright geniuses were obstinate, difficult people, whose work it must be said probably wouldn't have been as impactful without that intense force of will. Regardless, the question remains whether Russell's previous film transcends all of that hype, and perhaps as well whether he is himself one of those mercurial geniuses. As such, this week's selection for "Shelf Life" is 'I Heart Huckabees.'