It’s going to be tough for the Chicago International Film Festival to top this year’s opening night. The 48th annual festival kicked off Thursday with a screening of “Stand Up Guys” at the Harris Theater and appearances on the red carpet by cast members and Oscar winners Al Pacino, Christopher Walken and Alan Arkin.
Even Pacino, one of Hollywood’s biggest legends, seemed impressed by the film’s star power.
“It’s sort of like if you’re in a trapeze act,” said Pacino about acting alongside Walken and Arkin. “You have that kind of freedom. You feel like you can do anything because these guys carry things. They’re so good that it allows you to be creative.”
“Stand Up Guys” hits theaters Jan. 11 and revolves around a recently released convict (Pacino) reliving the glory days with two former criminal associates, one of whom (Walken) has been ordered by a former mob boss to kill him. The role required Pacino, 72, to once again hold a gun on film, but he hardly considers himself an expert at this point in his career.
“I was talking to a few police officers yesterday and saw their guns and said, ‘I’ve done so many roles with guns, (but) when I finish the part I forget what a gun does,’” said Pacino, known for his gun-toting roles in 1983’s “Scarface” and 1995’s “Heat,” among others. “Every time I get another part with a gun, I say, ‘How do you load this thing again?’ I never thought of myself as being a gun person.”
Rocker Jon Bon Jovi, who contributed two songs to the “Stand Up Guys” soundtrack, also was on hand. Bon Jovi famously wrote “Blaze of Glory” for 1990’s “Young Guns II” but has for the most part stayed away from writing songs specifically for soundtracks since then.
“I sort of forgot that I knew how to do it,” Bon Jovi said. “I was writing a lot and getting ready for the record and said to my manager, ‘If there are any great scripts out there. …’ I wrote the end title song (and) one that’s a big part of the movie.”
Asked why he and other artists don’t write classic soundtrack songs anymore, Bon Jovi boasted, “I’m here to relight that fire.”
The film festival runs now through Oct. 25 and will include appearances by Helen Hunt, Viola Davis, Joan Allen and directors Robert Zemeckis and Lana and Andy Wachowski. Dennis Farina kicked off last year’s festival with “The Last Rites of Joe May,” and Oscar-nominated actor Edward Norton kicked it off with “Stone” the year before that.
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