From Jack to a king: Nicholson in the seminal Five Easy Pieces

and (right) with director Bob Rafelson on the set of Blood And Wine

Jack the lad

Director Bob Rafelson has made five films with Jack Nicholson over three decades, and has witnessed the rise of the star from the earliest work to his latest, Blood And Wine.

Words: Trevor Johnston

‘There’s an informal trilogy at work here. let’s be clear about that.’ reflects director Bob Rafelson on the thread that connects his newest picture. Blood And Wine with two of his earlier offerings. Five l:'as_v Pieces and The K ing ()f Marvin Gardens.

‘They’re all dysfunctional family stories. and Jack Nicholson has acted brilliantly and uniquely in each of them. A charming but desperate young man in the first; a sort of intellectual deadbeat in the second; here an older man. a wine merchant. with all the bullshit and flash that seems to suggest Miami these days. This one’s a father/son story with a woman inbetween. but it’s still related to the previous pictures - even more so perhaps. because of Nicholson’s presence.’

It’s undeniable that in those seminal 70$ offerings Nicholson put in some of his best work, bringing off an emotional involvement in the parts that too often recently has been replaced by blustery show and coasting on a past reputation. Here he proves that this key Hollywood performer of the past three decades. hasn’t lost his hunger for real acting.

Rafelson and Nicholson go way back. The actor wrote the director’s first feature. the Monkees frolic Head as long ago as I968; they’ve also been reunited since on the Iubricious 1980 remake of The Postman

'On Five Easy Pieces, Jack and I shared a room. By the time Postman came around, I had to knock on his trailer door if I wanted to speak to him.’

Always Rings Tiviee and. lest we forget. l992’s disastrous ‘comedy‘ Man Trouble. Consequently. Rafelson’s an astute judge of the changes time has brought in the actor and the industry.

‘Well. he’s a lot richer now. that’s for sure.‘ is his first response. in the wake of Nicholson’s hefty Batman profits cut and escalating salary scale. ‘On Five Easy Pieces we shared a room. On Marvin Gardens. we shared a room with a partition down the middle. By the time Postman came around. I had to knock on his trailer door if I wanted to speak to him. and he was getting paid more to do that picture than the entire cost of all the movies I’d made in my life up until then. What I would say is that we’ve always worked together on set the same way. There are gestures we understand. easy references we both get. The difference today. unlike back in I970. is that the whole process has this aura of “legendary collaboration” thrust upon it.‘

As Rafelson points out. these are not the only power shifts over the intervening period. ‘The age we live in simply isn‘t going to permit the movies to he a form of personal expression in the way it was in the 60s and 70s.’ he points out. pragmatically and without much sense of misty- eyed nostalgia.

‘Nobody thought all that was going to happen until we did it. The studios thought they were in control. until suddenly Dennis Hopper and myself seemed to take over. and these strange directors like Bob Altman and young Marty Scorsese were in the ascendant. Then. of course. it all changed again. Spectacle was in. Huge investments and theme park rides. Of all the movies around at the moment. I can’t think of one less likely to be turned into a theme park ride than Blood/Ind Wine.’

Blood And Wine goes on selected release on Fri 7 Mar. See review.

preview FILM Rough Cuts

The column that dresses up in a tuxedo and previews the Oscars.

IF WE ALL HAD A FIVER for the amount of times the word 'Oscars' appeared in this issue, we could retire to a nice Caribbean island. Anyone hoping to make a bob or two from betting on the eventual winners faces a tougher proposition this year. Although the front- runners appear to be The English Patient and Jerry Maguire, those mavericks from Shine and Fargo could cause an upset.

The tips, according to Lucky Listo. are The English Patient (Film). Anthony Minghella (Director), Tom Cruise (Actor), Brenda Blethyn (Actress), Cuba Gooding Jnr (Supporting Actor) and Lauren Bacall (Supporting Actress). Fingers crossed for John Hodge and Trainspotting’s bid for Best Adapted Screenplay.

TALKING OF FARGO, the nomination for editor Roderick Jaynes stumped the Society of American Cinema Editors, then embarrassed the Academy. Considering the guy only ever works on Coen brothers' films, could he in fact be a pseudonym for Joel Coen, so the family name doesn't swamp the credits? Remember, back in 1984, it was Robert Towne's dog. RH. Vazak, who got the nod for a barking good screenplay for Greystoke.

THE BEST PLACE TO WATCH the Oscar ceremony is, yet again. at Cruisaid's all-night benefit held at the Filmhouse in Edinburgh late on Monday 24 March. For the third year, the Scottish AIDS fundraiser will be providing a glitzy package that includes two preview screenings of films not yet seen in Scotland, an auction of film memorabilia and live coverage of the awards show on multiple television screens. The film double bill this year consists of volcano actioner Dante’s Peak and Ba: (Strictly Ballroom) Luhrmann's fast and furious version of Romeo And Juliet, which recently won its star Leonardo DiCaprio a Best Actor Award at the Berlin Film Festival. Tickets, priced £15, are now on sale at the Filmhouse box office. (Alan Morrison)

Leonardo DiCaprio: starring at the Cruisaid Academy Awards Party

7—20 Mar 1997 THEM”