As the new film about James Brown opens in theaters, we listen back to interviews with the 'Godfather of Soul' himself.
Pela: Review of 'Locker 13'
When it comes to moviemaking, Phoenix isn’t exactly an industry town. But the forthcoming feature Locker 13 was produced here.
Set in an Old West amusement park somewhere in the southwest, Locker 13 is an anthology, with each story built around a mysterious storage locker bearing the number 13. In one, a man who’s about to toss himself off a skyscraper is interrupted by someone who appears to know an awful lot about him. In another, a hit man abducts three women and demands to know why they each hired him to kill the same guy. The film’s leading story concerns a has-been boxer played by Ricky Schroder who’s given a pair of murderous boxing gloves by a shadowy stranger whom no one else can see.
Schroder is the biggest name in the film, which also includes performances by other well-known names and faces including Jon Gries of Napoleon Dynamite fame, The Young and the Restless’s Tatyana Ali….and Coen brothers mainstay John Polito.
Screenwriter John Waldron, who co-produced the film, says he and his partners got to these actors by ignoring Hollywood etiquette and going straight to the players themselves.
"We just kept being persistent and seeing a film that they're working on. There's connections there's always a way to get to that person, and some of them were connections through crew members, people that do makeup, that said 'hey, I worked with that guy, I've got his phone number.' Well, could you get him this script? They hear that all the time, but the stories are very well written," Waldon said.
Locker 13 offers a tightly paced 90 minutes. The blood and violence are minimal, although the boxing scenes are brutal for anyone not accustomed to watching the sport. The sleazy bad guys who turn up in each of the stories are distinct, and the writers do a good job of sculpting heroes of a fairly human scale. Special effects are kept to a minimum, turning up briefly and convincingly in the final sequence about the ex-con janitor who stumbles on Locker 13’s dark secret.
Waldron says getting all of this to the big screen meant working with new industry models for film distribution.
“The old adage were they would say a film was going straight to video was always detrimental to a film. It could basically mean that your film is no good. With the technology as of late with the Internet and the way films are released, theatrical distribution is is really limited to big, big productions made by big studios. I read statistic that almost 40 percent of films are watched on iPads, on cell phones, on laptops. But it's great, it's instantaneous, you can really get your product out to people fast,” Waldron said.
Locker 13 opens in theaters and on pay-per-view platforms on March 28.
Robrt Pela’s reviews appear in the Phoenix New Times.