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David Poland

By David Poland

About Katie's Boys…

If you’re interested, my Hot Button today mentioned: “Four Brothers, I am amazed to say, is a good, old fashioned time at the movies. It is so clearly a The Sons of Katie Elder rip-off, coming out of the studio that owns Katie Elder, that it is surprising not to see any credit to the original, though the studio had it slated as a remake as late as last November. I don’t know what the issue is, but my guess is that it has something to do with the very, very difficult and demanding estate of John Wayne, which may well have remake rights that allow the Waynes to vet production choices. Regardless, John Singleton and the youthful credited writers – David Elliot and Paul Lovett – did a nice job of maintaining the spirit of the original while adapting the whole notion to the modern era.”
That lead to a reader e-mail that pointed out the writers claiming “they’d never seen Elder until after the movie was done” in a Creative Screenwriting podcast interview.
But meanwhile, ln a “New Paramount” story in Variety last November 7, this appeared: “The rest of 2005 includes remakes of “Bad News Bears,” “Last Holiday” and “The Sons of Katie Elder”; and TV-based projects “Aeon Flux” and “The Honeymooners.””

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69 Responses to “About Katie's Boys…”

  1. Terence D says:

    Where was this Four Brothers review and critique when it opened a month ago?

  2. David Poland says:

    What’s your point , TD?

  3. palmermj says:

    My guess is probably wasn’t there because he hadn’t seen it yet. So, he posted it when he saw it.

  4. Terence D says:

    The review would have been better a month ago when the movie opened. Everyone that will see it, already saw it. It coming out now is just a tad late and it doesn’t have the same effect as it would had a month ago. For the viewer and for all of us here. Movies are a short window of time.

  5. Terence D says:

    I do expect DP to see every movie early and inform us, his loyal readers, with his thoughts on it and other assorted gossip. I hold him to a high standard. What can I say?

  6. HenryHill says:

    I really wasn’t that surprised by how good Four Brothers was. Singleton is, I thiink, one of the most underrated directors of his generation. Everyone agrees on the greatness of BOYZ N THE HOOD. Let’s not forget the quality work he did on ROSEWOOD and SHAFT. He knew early on what Tupac Shakur and Janet Jackson were capable of as actors. BABY BOY is one of the most underrated movies of the decade. (The work by Ving Rhames was Oscar worthy.) 2 FAST 2 FURIOUS proved he could be a relaible director-for-hire. His work on that movie was good prep work for the exciting car chase in FOUR BROTHERS. And he has produced one of the best movies of the year with HUSTLE & FLOW. At this point I can’t wait to see what he does next.

  7. Bruce says:

    Who said that Janet Jackson was a good actress???

  8. HenryHill says:

    This is off topic but do we have any Entourage fans out there? Last night’s episode might be the best half hour of TV I’ve seen all year. (I’ll hold my full judgment until the new season of Curb Your Enthusiasm begins.) The ep had more twists, laughs, character revelations, and emotion than anything I’ve seen on TV in quite awhile.
    One more thing: Talking about the nudity on HBO’s Rome is pretty lame. Whay, no one knew there was rampant sexuality during the Roman days? People need to be talking about HBO’s willingness to greenlight shows with subject matter that doesn’t involve cops, lawyers, or doctors.

  9. HenryHill says:

    I did. Her work in POETIC JUSTICE was startling in its subtlety and sweetness.

  10. Stella's Boy says:

    Though not as good as Boyz N The Hood, I think Shaft (the remake), Rosewood and Baby Boy are all vastly superior to Four Brothers. I agree that Singleton is capable of good work, and to me 4B is a step backwards for him. And the car chases did nothing for me. I found them to be poorly shot. Same with the shootouts. Pretty standard, boring stuff. The good guys can’t miss, and the bad guys can’t hit shit despite having more men and firepower than the good guys.

  11. Stella's Boy says:

    Huge Entourage fan, but I didn’t see last night’s episode.

  12. palmermj says:

    On the DP comment, his rallying around the flick would not have meant millions of more dollars.
    People who wanted to see it saw it and those who might be interested can still go see it, as it is playing everywhere.
    It was good to see the review and now I might see it.
    Onto the HBO comment. As much as I love their stuff, I’ll be glad when they get out of this bizarre fascination with Hollywood shows. I love Entourage, but they’ve got like three or four Hollywood shows like the Comeback and Unscripted. It’s a little too much.
    The average America could care less about how Hollywood views itself. Movies that tend to focus on that bomb.
    That said, Six Feet Under’s finale was the best hour of television I might have ever seen.

  13. HenryHill says:

    The night time car chase in 4B had an old-fashion energy that made you forget all the high-tech car chases that have been populating movies for the last five years or so. I found it more enjoyable than the overhyped one in THE ISLAND.

  14. HenryHill says:

    I thought UNSCRIPTED was not coming back? THE COMEBACK is turning out to be a love-it-or-hate-it kind of show. It has a cringe factor that some viewers–and critics–are confusing with poor writing. The show is about the cluelessness of an over-the-hill TV star.

  15. Wrecktum says:

    How many threads (real or hijacked) about little-seen HBO TV shows does this movie blog need?
    As for why Poland is posting this now instead of a month ago…even asking the question shows how marketing-driven film “journalism” has become. The film is still in theatres, therefore, it’s perfectly OK to discuss it.
    I wish we lived in a world where film reviews and criticism were printed in the weeks following a film’s release instead of the first day. It would allow REAL criticism, giving the readers a chance to see the film so its merits could be discussed openly.

  16. jeffmcm says:

    I thought the Shaft remake was boring and a real waste of an excellent opportunity. For me, Four Brothers shows what it could have been.

  17. HenryHill says:

    It looks like Wrectum is yearning for the days when Pauline Kael would write her review two-to-four weeks after the movie was released. I miss those days myself. The only way for that to happen is if Hollywood slows down its production schedule and allow for their “product” to sit and develop a following through word-of-mouth. I don’t see that happening anytime soon, what iwth the ever shortening “window.”
    As for some threads being hijacked by discussions regarding TV…? Anyone remember when Dave thougth about starting a TV Blog when he said LOST was just an update of GILLIGAN’S ISLAND? (Have you noticed Dave hasn’t said another word about LOST?) Television is becoming more exiting than the movies. I’m actually looking forward to EW’s Fall TV Preview issue more than I did the Fall Movie Preview. This is the moment for the great TV critics to come out and make their makk. where have you gone Ken Tucker and James Wolcott?

  18. Bruce says:

    John Singleton is still young so there is still time for him to reach the vast potential he started with. But the last 10 years he really hasn’t done anything of note. Baby Boy got some nice notices but was it really that good? No. It really wasn’t.

  19. HenryHill says:

    Yes, Bruce, it really was that good.

  20. LesterFreed says:

    The Shaft remake is one of the worst experiences of my life. I sure fire home run turned into a sour dud. How do you ruin Shaft? It made me cry at night. How you don’t lay it on thick with the Shaft mojo, beating perps, and ladies I’ll never know. I still hold a grudge against John S for that one.

  21. bicycle bob says:

    four brothers was pretty good. he got a good cast for it. never heard of the old school movie they stole/took/borrowed from. but i’ll have to check it out.

  22. Bruce says:

    I’ll be patient and listen to a lot of wacko stuff especially here. But I won’t listen to anyone saying that Poetic Justice and Baby Boy were really good. If you’re going to defend John Singleton than just keep on about Boyz in the Hood. The others don’t measure up. And remember the anti JS crew can always throw up 2 Fast 2 Furious at you which ends the argument.

  23. HenryHill says:

    2 FAST 2 FURIOUS did what it was meant to do. It offered up good-looking stars, bright visuals, and some mindless car chases. Also, it didn’t VD talking about how he lives his life a half-a-mile at a time.
    Singleton wanted to add the sex but the studio wouldn’t let him. His first choice for the role was Don Cheadle. The fun of the SHAFT remake was in the corners. Both Jeffrey Wright and Christian Bale gave great performances.
    POETIC JUSTICE was a minor film but had some really fine writing in some scenes. And Tupac Shakur gave an amazing performance. Anyone who says ohterwise is just being stubborn.
    If you don’t get BABY BOY I just cant’t help you.

  24. Bruce says:

    So, you’re saying that Singleton is a money whore for the studios and will do whatever they demand to make sure he gets paid and has a job? That is one real great director there.
    A real visionary. Please.

  25. Josh says:

    John Singleton is well on his way to becoming a great hack director.
    Higher Learning? Poetic Justice? Rosewood? The Bad version of Shaft? Fast Furious 2?
    That is his resume and some people are saying he is a great director? Where can I get the drugs you’re taking?

  26. HenryHill says:

    How did you get that out of my last post, Bruce.
    Singleton had a lot of fights while making SHAFT. He wasn’t going to walk just because he didn’t get his way on every issue. You seem to forget it was a rare thing for a black director to get the opportunity to diret a big-budget studio remake of a seminal blaxploitation classic. The success of SHAFT, 2 FAST 2 Furious, and 4B have allowed him to have more freedom as a director and producer.

  27. Bruce says:

    The point is ,Henry, and you are making it really for me is that Singleton is a gun for hire. He doesn’t rock the boat. He doesn’t care about a legacy or creating visual works of art. He only cares about his next job and not ruffling feathers and getting paid.
    If you have a vision for Shaft and the studio spits on every idea don’t you at some point fight for your vision or walk in the end? You don’t shut your mouth and make a half ass film.
    That is why Singleton is a waste of the talent and promise he showed in Boyz. Now he just wants the paycheck and the girls and the fame.

  28. BluStealer says:

    Higher Learning is one of the worst movies ever made. It is an amatuer production. He needs to do a penance of 10 good movies before I can take John Singleton seriously and 4 Brothers was a decent start.

  29. Lota says:

    The writers never saw Katie Elder til after? Bullocks to that, they must have. Maybe it seeped ino their consciousness during the endless rotation on TV/cable reruns and they didn’t “realize” it. There is more than a slim comparison to Sons of KE.
    Four brothers & 2F2F I see as B movies and in the context, decent B movies (even though Wahlberg annoyed me), and I think they are certainly better that Higher Learning and Baby Boy which just played into way too many stereotypes at the expense of significant character dev., but that’s just my opinion. Maybe Singleton is a natural western/and/or B movie maker rather than Urban filmmaker (exception Boyz in the hood), because I certainly didn’t enjoy HL or BB.
    And Terence it is better that Dave did not say that re. Katie Elder early since it would be a major spoiler (too late now since it is discussed above as thread topic and most know this). I would actually would Not have wanted to know that, apriori viewing.
    I think 4B was essentially a guy movie(most revenge fantasies seem to be) so I wasn’t all keen about it, but the displays of grief were pretty decent.

  30. Stella's Boy says:

    I hated the “emotional” moments in 4B. I found them poorly written and acted, and comically bad. They also seemed really out of place to me, and it was impossible to care about their mother because she is hardly in the movie at all.

  31. HenryHill says:

    I could care less if the writers saw SONS OF KE or not. The Wayne movie is not a Wayne classic. (Ebert made a point that even he hadn’t seen the movie.)
    What is wrong with being a director-for-hire? Howard Hawks was one. John Ford was one. Coppola was one when he made THE GODFATHER. Scorsese alwasys wanted to be one. And, no I’m not comparing Singleton to those directors. I’m just trying to make a point about there’s nohing wrong with being a director-for-hire as long as you can put a mark on the movie.
    Anyone who thinks BABY BOY relied too heavily on stereotypes doesn’t know jack about hip-hop culture. BABY BOY got its power from tackling difficult issues regarding young black males that most movies wouldn’t dream of approaching.

  32. Mark Ziegler says:

    Ok, we get it, Henry. You think Singleton is a fabulous director. Because Baby Boy was decent. I don’t agree with you but you are entitled to your opinion on the merits of John “I made 2 Fast 2 Furious and ruined whatever good will I built up” Singleton.

  33. Lota says:

    I do know jack about hip hop culture(don’t assume anything because I don’t agree with you) and I think to play upon the majority (what I see as) negative instead of the positive is not a good thing for that movie (Baby Boy). That said, I don’t think Singleton had to be a preacher, I just think it displayed the worst stereotypes hip hop had to offer rather than something different–it was Automatic Pilot Hip Hop–and I know a fair number of performers(in any pop music type) fall into their own hype and can become stereotype, but I’d like something different in a movie (just my opinion). The characters (esp female) just seemed to be too cardboard, and same with Higher Learning. Very negative narrow range on female characters.
    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being a director for hire–at all. I like half of JS’s movies alot, the other half I dislike alot.
    But I do think there’s something wrong about the Studio/writers not credited remake status [from the same studio] when it’s so clear (seen Katie Elder 10X) where the story is from.

  34. Angelus21 says:

    Being a director for hire is great. For them. Money, more money, the perks. But it is not great in directing what you want and telling the kinds of stories you want to tell. I’m sure JS didn’t get into the biz to haggle over how he was going to direct Paul Walker in a sequel to a car movie.

  35. PandaBear says:

    I remember the days when we had good arguments over directors like Spielberg, Zemeckis, Lee, Allen, Coppola, Scorsese, etc. Not uber hacks like John Singleton.

  36. Cadavra says:

    For the record, ELDER was a job-for-hire for Wayne; Paramount owns it outright. My guess is that with all the other remakes they’ve been doing the past couple of years, they didn’t want to add any more fuel to that particular fire.
    And by the way, I loved the SHAFT remake! So there!

  37. PandaBear says:

    How can you like the Shaft remake? For what reason? For the incoherent story? For the toned down Shaft? For the no women? For the no supporting characters? For the missed opportunities? I’m just curious.

  38. HenryHill says:

    Thank you Cadavra!
    Wright and Bale stole every scene they were in. It is pretty hard to steal scenes from Sam Jackson.

  39. joefitz84 says:

    I think its pretty obvious that the Goodfella is joking. If he’s not then I have to question his sanity.
    Want to talk over acting 101? See Jeffrey Wright in Shaft. Wow.

  40. David Poland says:

    My big take on Singleton’s Shaft is that, much as I love him, Sam Jackson was wildly miscast. Roundtree wasn’t just handsome. He was beautiful. That was part of his thang.
    I said then, before his Oscar nod, that Djimon Hounsou would be a great Shaft. A pretty boy, buy also a real African, who could play territorial arrogance over black Americans, a true African prince in the ghetto. In a modern era, that would be that tonal analogy to the original in my view.

  41. joefitz84 says:

    Richard ROundtree is beautiful??? As a straight man, I think Sam Jackson has him beat. Plus, he brings the loud, booming voice and the charisma. They just needed a bad ass script and him to plow some white women.
    But you’re right Dave. Hounsou would be a good choice if they want to reinvigorate the franchise.

  42. David Poland says:

    You would argue that Sam Jackson is a pretty boy or that Roundtree was not?

  43. Joe Straat says:

    I was with the Shaft remake until the moment they were supposed to take it up a notch. I loved the first scene for its ability to tell everything with so much style and skill from the actors, the director, and hell, David Arnold, the white British guy holding his own again the classic stuff by Isaac Hayes (I still wish they released the score album)! Some good scenes after that, too. After he throws off his badge and joins the private eye biz, though, the movie just went flat. Tedious chase scenes, Shaft in full action hero mode where he can take down an entire gang without a single sense of danger, and some good ideas that just didn’t pan out in interesting ways.
    As for Singleton, I don’t really feel one way or another. One great movie with a whole lot of debatables after. Some people can thrash him for not doing better than he’s done, but he’s definitely not part of the McGs or Paul “Don’t Call Me PT” Andersons of the world.

  44. HenryHill says:

    I had always heard that Singleton was not too happy with the Richard Price sceenplay. I have a feeling he wanted to do more but Rudin kept him on a tight leash.
    I’m not joking Joe. Go back and read every review from every major critic and you’ll see they all made special mention to Wright’s hilarious turn as a low-level, second-generation Scarface. Bale was playing off his American Psycho persona from earlier in the year.

  45. Lota says:

    Well, speaking As a straight woman, Richard Roundtree has Sam Jackson (and Michael Jackson) beat. I’d tell Richard Roundtree to “keep talking” and tell Sam to “shut the f*ck up”.
    And re. your other comment Mr Fitz “They just needed a bad ass script and him to plow some white women.” Gee! That sure would invigorate the franchise wouldn’t it–to sink to every other piece of shit stereotyping movie that comes out of Hollywood in 2005–this isn’t exactly the blaxploitation era so why repeat it badly? If they wanted to invigorate the franchise they should be a bit more original than that…and yes, Hounsou is a very good suggestion by DPo. He could be the new Bond.
    And yes re. Singleton…I agree, SIngleton is no “Uber hack” and has a long way to go (and I hope he doesn’t go there) to get to the McG or Uwe Boll level of dastardly PAINFUL filmmaking.

  46. Sanchez says:

    I’m convinced some people here will argue over anything. Singleton not a hack????
    I almost spit out my corona when I read his IMDB page.
    Give me Roundtree over Sam, Denzel, Morgan, and Don, and Bernie and Matt Damon.

  47. Anonymous in Chicago says:

    RE: Shaft — a “C” movie if ever there was one, because of one factor: Samuel L. Jackson. What was Singleton thinking when he cast the 50 yr old Jackson? And then cast the 55 yr old Richard Roundtree as his uncle. Come on – it was only watchabe because of Jeffrey Wright’s over the top Puerto Rican criminal.
    4 Brothers is by far his best. Very watchable, holds your attention, action, street dialog, and good acting.
    IMO, Singleton is singlehandedly bringing back blaxploitation – far more successful then Tarantino. This is something Spike Lee should be doing, but doesn’t know how to do because he always wants a “message” in the movie.

  48. bicycle bob says:

    lets be real honest here. if someones best movie in ten years is four brothers he can’t be considered a good director.

  49. iowabeef says:

    About 10 years ago, Singleton’s name on a picture was a guaranteed must see. Boyz N’ the Hood is one of the best movies of all time. Poetic Justice was pretty good and I still enjoy Higher Learning after all these years…but after that I can’t think of the last time I walked out of a John Singleton film feeling like I just saw the work of a great director. In fact, I think I stopped seeing any of his movies after Shaft. I’m slightly curious about 4B, but I still think it is a definite wait for Netflix movie.

  50. Bruce says:

    He lost all goodwill with me after Boyz N the Hood with Poetic Justice and Higher Learning. I have seen better student films that dealt with the college experience better than Higher Learning. It is almost like he took every half ass cliche and believed it true. The farm boy who is naive and needy and ends up becoming a killing skinhead. The wise old black professor who leads his head strong fellow black men thru tough love. The inner city kid on scholarship. Does he have what it takes to make it thru the mans system? The rich white girl who is spoiled rotten and must learn to embrace life and live her own life. Just complete crap. Pardon my french.

  51. iowabeef says:

    Yeah I can definately see your point Bruce, but for me, I guess it is one of those guilty pleasure movies that I always end up watching if I see that it is on. I’m not going to list some of my other guilty pleasure movies because I fear I’d be laughed out of the room!

  52. Bruce says:

    Guilty pleasures are always enjoyable and to each his own. I’m sure my list would be raped and pillaged by some of the high brow here. Lets just say it features many a Swayze movie.

  53. Josh says:

    Sam Jackson isn’t a sexy man? If he wore the geri curl, soul glo hair cut more maybe he would be.

  54. bicycle bob says:

    i think they should have made shaft just absurdly funny and cast a real wild card. chris tucker, bernie mac, eddie murphy. cause no one can do roundtree. no one.

  55. BluStealer says:

    Go back and take a look at the original Shaft. Then try to watch the new one. And you will see how much better Richard Roundtree is.

  56. MASON says:

    Didn’t Scott Rudin describe Singleton as “literally retarded” during the making of Shaft? Besides that, the one thing I remember about that flick was Jeffrey Wright as Peoples Hernandez — guy was frickin’ great. As usual, Richard Price wrote a great script which was trampled on by a lesser talent.

  57. Terence D says:

    Richard Price is a fantastic writer. He knows his stuff.

  58. LesterFreed says:

    Big Richard R is one helluva stud. Sam J is cool as ice but not even he can match Big RR.

  59. Stella's Boy says:

    I agree Terence. Richard Price is an outstanding writer. And Bruce, my guilty pleasure list has a few Swayze titles on it as well. Just watched one the other night. Little masterpiece called Point Break.

  60. jeffmcm says:

    Road House is a great film as well.

  61. Mark Ziegler says:

    I can’t get over how much they are disrespecting Roadhouse by making some direct to video sequel. A travesty.

  62. Angelus21 says:

    I hate the term “guilty pleasure”. Why should you feel guilty for liking something? Is something that bad that you can’t be proud and tell people you enjoy Roadhouse or Point Break?
    Be proud of what you like.

  63. PandaBear says:

    They’re turning Richard Price’s novel, Freedomland, into a movie right now starring Sam Jackson. Look at how the thread ends uo being tied together.

  64. KamikazeCamelV2.0 says:

    It’s so strange that there is actually an arguement over Jon Singleton? Just like any director he has good and bad movies on his resume. Woopdeedoo

  65. MASON says:

    Freedomland is being directed by Joe Roth, who makes Singleton look like Coppola at his peak. Poor, poor Richard Price.

  66. BluStealer says:

    Singleton just hasn’t directed bad movies. They have been the worst of the worst. He’s lucky he made Boyz N the Hood first or he’d be begging to make commercials right now.

  67. Lota says:

    Sam Jackson AND Joe Roth?! The bitches’ll really hug it out now. And hug it out again.
    Bluestealer what Are you talking about? Worst of the worst? If Singleton has even 2 decent movies to his resume (and he does) he is way ahead of dozens of directors. I believe a list was capably made weeks ago when people were arguing over X-men 3 and a Hack list accumulated. I don’t believe Singleton’s name was on it.

  68. BluStealer says:

    Singleton didn’t make the hack list because he has never even had one watchable movie. He is worse than a hack. Until Four Brothers came along and firmly planted him on the hack list. 2 Fast 2 Furious doesn’t really help his un hack credentials does it?
    Making someone sit thru Higher Learning, Poetic Justice, and Rosewood is torture in some jurisdictions.

  69. Bruce says:

    The directors mentioned on the hack list certainly have a better resume than Mr Singleton. What good movie has he made? Baby Boy? I think most of us are in agreement when we openly laugh at those who say Shaft or 2 Fast are good. Poetic and Higher were disasters. Even Ving Rhames can’t tell us what happend in Rosewood.
    Did he show promise and talent with his first movie? Yes. Has he shown that since? Not at all. Maybe he can in time but not if he is doing movies like 2 Fast or Four Brothers or a lame and boring Shaft remake.
    Question. How does one make Shaft tedious and boring??

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And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

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So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

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