When I saw Oren Moverman‘s Rampart at the Toronto Film Festival, I liked it alright, but I found I couldn’t shake it. The more I thought about it, the more I saw how well it worked, how it subverts the corrupt-cop sub-genre, and how Woody Harrelson‘s outstanding performance ties it all together. Millennium Films is rushing to get an awards strategy into place, and The New York Times reports that the movie will open for an awards-qualifying run in New York and Los Angeles on November 23rd. While I think the movie deserves attention for Best Actor (Harrelson), Best Director, and Best Screenplay, realistically its best chance for an Oscar nomination is Harrelson. Millennium will then try to use the resulting awards buzz to boost the film’s audience when the movie begins a platform release on January 27, 2012.
Hit the jump for more on the film. The movie also stars Ben Foster, Ice Cube, Brie Larson, Sammy Boyarsky, Anne Heche, Cynthia Nixon, Sigourney Weaver, Ned Beatty, and Robin Wright. Click here for my full review.
A genre-bending, 1990s Los Angeles police family drama, Rampart explores the dark soul and romantic misadventures of a never- changing LAPD cop (Woody Harrelson) whose past is finally catching up with him in the wake of a department-wide corruption scandal. Along the way, he is forced to confront his disgruntled daughters (Brie Larson, Sammy Boyarsky), his two ex-wives (Anne Heche, Cynthia Nixon), a tenacious Deputy DA (Sigourney Weaver), an investigator on his trail (Ice Cube), a homeless witness to his crimes (Ben Foster), his aging mentor (Ned Beatty) and a mysterious new lover who may or may not be on his side (Robin Wright), as he fights for his own sanity and survival.
Surprisingly, Harrelson was unhappy with the film when he first saw the finished cut. He tells the New York Times:
The conversation turns to some behind-the-scenes conflicts over “Rampart.” “When I first saw the film, I hated it,” Mr. Harrelson says. “It was very different from the script, and that was a problem for me. As much as I love Oren, we couldn’t see eye to eye over it.
“And then I got a call that it had been accepted to Toronto, and they asked me to come, and I said, ‘Why would I come to promote a movie I didn’t like?’ Then Ben Foster [who also produced the film] called me and said: ‘Woody, you’ve got to man up, this is family. You need to see the movie again.’
“And so I am watching it, and the first 5 minutes are great, then the first 20, and I kept waiting for the problems, so I could tell Oren where I think it heads south — and it never came. I love the movie. I saw Oren and said: ‘Well, it takes a man to admit he was wrong. I was really wrong on this one.’ ”
I can understand Harrelson needing to take a second look. It’s not a movie where you come out the theater instantly realizing the greatness of what you witnessed. Rampart is a tough film, but it’s one that deserves your attention and the attention of Academy voters.
The New York Times also has a new clip from the film. No embed is currently available, but we’ll update with one as soon as it’s available. The clip comes from early in the film and has Dave (Harrelson) forcing a rookie to finish her french fries. It’s not a scene of hazing or tutelage. It establishes Dave as a domineering character who requires that even pet peeves be bent to his will.