Driven to Perfection

Art & Industry

BMW and Fallon approached David Fincher, Anonymous Content's resident creative genius, with the idea of making a feature for the BMW Web site. Fincher thought a group of shorts would work better—each one reflecting a different mood, but tied together with a single character, called the Driver, who handles his BMW with aplomb as he acts as a combination of private eye and security guard for a variety of clients. Five directors signed on: Wong Kar-wai, John Frankenheimer, Ang Lee, Guy Ritchie, and Alejandro González Iñárritu, whose piece won't be finished until mid July but is described by Anonymous's founder and CEO, Steve Golin, as having the "most serious content." Of the four films currently available on the Web site, Wong's sultry The Follow is the most ravishing fetish object of the bunch, while Frankenheimer's Ambush offers the slickest high-speed chase. Lee's The Chosen combines Buddhism with a rescue fantasy, and Ritchie's Star delivers Madonna looking as skanky as Courtney Love. Golin explained that one of the reasons the films cost several million dollars apiece is that "car chases are expensive, especially if you care about everyone's safety." The other reason, of course, is that their purpose—to add extra glamour and risk to BMW's high-toned but traditional image—necessitates tastefully lavish production values.

The most brilliant creative choice was casting Clive Owen as the Driver. Fallon's Robyn Boardman, a senior producer on the project, suggested Owen after seeing him on PBS in the noirish British police series Second Sight and then in Croupier. "He expresses a tremendous amount without saying anything at all. Even when he's not talking, he seems to be thinking," says Boardman of the actor who might be described as a cross between Sean Connery and James Mason. The Hire showcases the brooding, romantic aspects of Owen's persona, but it also allows him to display his panache as an action hero. As a result, the British press is promoting him as "the next James Bond."

The fast and the furious: Clive Owen in The Hire
Photo Courtesy of
The fast and the furious: Clive Owen in The Hire

The demise of Winstar Communications Inc. made one worry about the fate of Winstar TV and Video and its library, which recently added the films of Hou Hsiao-hsien to its extraordinary collection. But according to Al Cattabiani, president of Winstar TV and Video, "While our publicly traded parent company is bankrupt, we are not." Cattabiani explained that Winstar TV and Video was able to keep itself separate from the Chapter 11 filing. "We pay our own bills and we're in the process of arranging independent financing so we can be a private company. And while no one can fully predict the future, we expect to be freer to make adventurous aesthetic choices than when we were tied to a publicly traded company."

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