A Smokin' event...!!


I was lucky enough to be part of a special VIP screening of SMOKIN' ACES, featuring the likes of director Joe Carnahan (the man behind the kickass NARC), Jeremy Piven (of ENTOURAGE fame, among other things), and actor/musician Common. It was mostly a charity event, but Carnahan has made it no mystery that he loves Sacramento , California , his hometown and starting place for fame. Why else would he hold a screening event before even the Hollywood premiere?


The screening kicked off with a pre-film reception, allowing us humble civilians to mingle with the cast/crew and thus feel a higher manner of self-importance. In attempts to calm to my nerves I headed over to the open bar, and then proceeded to fail at getting any booze. Damn 21-year age limit. With that out of the question, I latched myself onto the free food (which was sort of like the junky version of rich people food, including weird cheese-covered meatballs, gravy-covered kebabs, etc. - basically, stuff covered in stuff) and headed on over to Carnahan and company. I didn't say anything. I just sort of tiptoed closer and closer, waiting for my moment to attack.

Unfortunately, I was too busy looking the opposite way (as to avoid seeming like either a stalker or a serial killer) that I didn't realize just how close to them I was. And then it hit me. Or rather, Joe's elbow hit me.

I opted for playing it cool.

(NOTE: The conversation's been condensed to prevent you from reading endless nonsense and/or too much of me sucking off Carnahan with endless praise.)

ME: Hey Joe, loved Narc! Can't wait to watch Aces.

JOE: Oh dude, you're gonna f*ckin' love it! If you're into -- (*pauses and looks at me*) You watch a lot of movies?

ME: Yeah yeah, I actually write DVD reviews for JoBlo.com . I go by Quigles.

(I think he recognized my name because I actually talked to him online back-and-forth a bunch of times. SacTown locals represent!)

JOE: Oh that's you? You little bastard! Come here!

ME: (*laughing*) So you know the website?

JOE: Oh totally, it's f*ckin' awesome.

(About this time, my head was exploding.)

ME: Yeah, well I think it's great you were able to go from BLOOD, GUTS, BULLETS AND OCTANE to NARC to SMOKIN' ACES. That's so cool. I love your style.

JOE: Haha, I think you're probably one of five people that have seen [BLOOD, GUTS, BULLETS AND OCTANE].

ME: (laughing) So how long did it take you to write the screenplay for ACES?

JOE: I actually wrote on that while working on Channel 31, here.

ME: Oh very cool. What were your inspirations?

(I don't think he heard exactly what I asked, so his answer varied from the question. Far be it from me to correct him.)

JOE: Dude, the movie's gonna blow you away! If you like action and comedy it'll just -- you'll be happy. Trust me, just wait. You're gonna love it.

(And about here he started being taken away so I figured I'd better just wrap up.)

ME: Well thanks a lot, man. Been great talking with you!

Let me just say that WOW, Carnahan is one f**kin' cool dude! He's loud and riotous, but not nearly to the point of being obnoxious. He seems like a great hang-out/party guy - very fun and full of energy. Just like his films.

After having Carnahan build up my confidence (and ego), I found my way over to Jeremy Piven, who was much more surrounded than Carnahan (due likely to the fact that everybody knows his face). I waited for a chance to speak to him, but it seemed like it was taking forever. I made sure my friend (the person I came to the screening with) had my camera ready to get a pic of Piven and me. Finally, a chance opened up.

ME: Hi! Love your work! You're such a versatile actor. Love you in ENTOURAGE! (Yup, I was going down on him worse than Carnahan.)

JEREMY: Hey thanks.

ME: Not to impose, but could I get a picture with you?

JEREMY: Yeah sure, no problem.

And then I turned around and noticed my friend had disappeared. Shit! I apologized and asked if it was ok if I came right back. He was completely cool with it. *phew*

But by the time I found my friend he was gone... and then Carnahan's voice came across the sound system. I looked up to the stage to find Joe on stage, followed by Piven and Common (among others) joining his side.

It was just the usual chatter. The "thanks for comin' down" type of stuff, discussing the charity and event and such (benefiting STC and John T. Holley foundation - if anybody close to Sacramento is reading). He also talked about how much he loves Sac and how this is where he started, and also that if anybody is interested in talking with him not to hesitate. What a cool guy.

People by this point were pretty much ready to take off to the actual screening, but I was having none of it. I weaseled my way through the crowd and found Jeremy Piven chatting alongside a really hot babe. As soon as he finished I was standing ready with my camera. He was more than happy to oblige (and show off his charisma & sense of humor in the process).

JEREMY: (*grabbing my shoulder*) Wait. Stop being so tall... Here, I'll stand on my toes. Or maybe I could just kneel on you. I need to look as good as possible.

Even though Piven was a little more closed-down than the aggressively awesome Carnahan (although he did play it up on-stage whilst pretending to chug a gigantic beer), he actually opened up as soon I started talking to him... despite me not getting a chance to say much. Still, it was very cool meeting them both and I couldn't have been happier with the opportunity to do so. I also got to brush shoulders with Common (say hi, shake his hand, etc.), but seeing as I didn't really know who he was, I figured I would best off avoid any awkward conversation.

Man, and I hadn't even seen the film yet.

To sum up the rest: we went down to the screening and sat snugly in our wonderful VIP seats, as the cast/crew piled out of their limos and then met up inside the theater. Carnahan and co. once again met up in the front and announced the film, talking about how great a time we were gonna have, etc. After finishing up, the Universal logo popped up and they found their seats... which were only three rows ahead of me. Awesome.


Come time for its release, I suspect there will be hordes of people perfectly ready to bust SMOKIN ACES's balls. Reason being, it's one of the most non-linear big-budget films I've ever had the pleasure of sitting through. It doesn't follow the normal story arc that general viewers are so used to seeing. In fact, this is probably the type of film you might see more often if you were to give a genuine movie buff the opportunity to spend a ton of cash on whatever crazy antics he wanted to put on screen.

The first half of the film feels like one hugely stylistic opening, introducing you to the numerous characters (in very entertaining fashion, of course), loading up the audience with exposition (not all that understandable though), and creating solid build-up for what's to come. Then there's a slight bit of lag while you wait for the shit to hit the fan, but when it does... well, lets just say it’s a helluva lot of fun (*cough* Tremor Brothers *cough*).

These scenes also add plenty of intensity to the proceedings, piling up right alongside the hilariously dark scriptwriting. Some may find the movie has a problem deciding what it wants to be - a poor mishmash of the thriller and comedy genres. To that I just laugh; it's not a poor mishmash, it's just unusual. And in this case, it's the best damn kind of unusual. The "rock your balls off" kind.

RATING: 8/10

(If you're not satisfied and want to check out the full review, head on over to the JoBlo.com forums HERE!)

Source: JoBlo.com



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