Les Alexander –SHS 67 is the Producer of "Parker" a new movie recently launched starring Jason Stratham and Jennifer Lopez.
Les Alexander was Donald Westlake’s friend for 35 years and is a producer on the Parker film. He sent this e-mail to a reader on his film which was published on the website: The Violent World of Parker - The Parker Novels by Richard Stark (AKA Donald E. Westlake), other works by DEW, and crime fiction in general.
You may also read the New York Times review of his film below.
Les Alexander on his film:
I love that there are DEW fans like you who care enough about his legacy that these discussions are even happening. Don’t judge the film by the trailer – designed by Film District – the studio – for one purpose only – and one which DEW would heartily approve of – getting people into the theaters.
I was fortunate to have known DEW for 35 years and had many a discussion about the difference between a good adaptation and a slavish translation. He said that when adapting The Grifters for Stephen Frears, what freed him to write the Oscar nominated script that he did was Frears telling him to forget the book. The book would always be there for anyone who wanted to read it. The movie would be judged as a work unto itself.
Don’t deprive yourself of the pleasure of enjoying a truly entertaining movie that works on many levels.
John McLaughlin (Black Swan) did a great adaptation of Flashfire which involved much pruning and many hard choices – and yes Parker’s crime spree is still there as is a line from Parker to Hardwicke that real pros don’t like killing civilians because it brings out the police in greater numbers.
Yes, Parker is a bit softer – as are the post-hiatus final novels. DEW at 70 was different and so is Parker. We chose Flashfire as a way of introducing people to the character without doing yet another copycat of the two previous movies. The story maintains many of the big beats that define Parker. He wants what is his – not a penny more – and when an agreement is broken Parker is relentless in making things right. He is not romantically involved with Leslie (Jennifer – in a stunningly good performance). He remains true to Claire.
DEW’s wife, son and Larry Block attended a private screening of the movie and thoroughly enjoyed it. Comments were that Don would have been delighted with the way the movie turned out and that by the end Jason had truly earned the right to be called Parker. I think this is Jason’s best performance since Bank Job. His Parker will not be as anyone imagined him. That’s the magic of books and radio. Much thought went into the choices made and Abby Westlake spent time on the set and with Taylor Hackford filling in details and missing pieces where needed.
If you can let go of the preconceptions there is a very good movie here that should bring DEW a big new audience of readers – who can then imagine for themselves who Parker really is.
The first credit after the last frame of the movie and the screen goes dark is
“Dedicated to the memory of Donald E. Westlake”
New York Times Review
Violence and Thievery Find Room for Honor
‘Parker,’ Starring Jennifer Lopez and Jason Statham
“Parker” is an action movie, which means that it should be judged, first if not foremost, by the effectiveness of the scenes of fighting, chasing and shooting that are strung together like baubles on a thin, tough filament of plot. The first such set piece — a heist at the Ohio State Fair undertaken by five guys dressed as clowns, a firefighter and a priest — provides a master class in how to balance chaos and coherence.
I don’t want to spoil any surprises, so I’ll describe another sequence somewhat abstractly, or rather concretely, with reference to the improbable weaponry deployed by two gentlemen walloping the bejeezus out of each other in a Palm Beach condo for reasons that need not detain us here. In addition to a couple of knives there are, according to my notes, a flat-screen television, a cowboy boot, a shower curtain and the lid of a toilet tank. The inventiveness of this bloody ballet is impressive. Even more so was the reaction of the audience members at the screening I attended, who cheered and whooped as the dance reached its lethal conclusion.
This was not a crowd of popcorn-crazed teenagers, mind you, but a room full of well-dressed, middle-aged Manhattanites at, ahem, the Museum of Modern Art. That they could be thrilled (as was I) by the impact of bodies on floors and porcelain on heads is testament to the skill of the director, Taylor Hackford, a veteran Hollywood prestige monger (“Ray,” “An Officer and a Gentleman”) bringing honor to the first syllable of his last name.
I mean that as a compliment; it takes one to know one. And sometimes — especially in the epically dreary cinematic month of January — the pleasures of craft can be more satisfying than the challenges of art. “Parker,” adapted by John J. McLaughlin (“Hitchcock” and “Black Swan,” speaking of prestige) from a novel written by Donald E. Westlake under the name Richard Stark, is not a great movie. There are other films inspired by the Parker character, notably John Boorman’s “Point Blank,” that reach that level, though Mr. Hackford’s is the first to be allowed to use Parker’s name. But “Parker” is nonetheless great fun.
It is part of a welcome trend, or counter-trend, in action filmmaking, an effort to strip away the apocalyptic bloat and digital fakery that have overtaken the genre and return to its pulpy, nasty, mechanical roots. If “Parker” is superior to some other recent work in this line — Steven Soderbergh’s “Haywire,” Andrew Dominik’s “Killing Them Softly” and Christopher McQuarrie’s wretched “Jack Reacher” — that may be because Mr. Hackford is authentically rather than self-consciously old school. He knows how to pull off a caper without making a big deal about it.
He also makes excellent use of a cast that includes some blue-chip supporting actors (Michael Chiklis, Nick Nolte, Bobby Cannavale, Carlos Carrasco and others) in small, pungent roles and, out front, the unlikely but effective duo of Jason Statham and Jennifer Lopez. Mr. Statham, who seems to be made entirely of muscle and scar tissue, is comfortable with his limitations as an actor. His Parker, in any case, is more of an axiom than a fully rounded human being. He does have a girlfriend (Emma Booth), whose existence testifies to his softer side (in addition to providing some steamy flashbacks to ensure an R rating if the violence somehow fell short). His loyalty also confirms that even though Parker is a thief and a brawler, he is not without a sense of honor.
“A man must have a code,” Bunk Moreland said in a contemplative moment of “The Wire.” (Fans will note that Wendell Pierce, who played Detective Moreland, turns up here on the other side of the law.) Parker is a walking ethical treatise. “I don’t steal from anyone who can’t afford it, and I don’t hurt anyone who doesn’t deserve it,” he says. And he gets righteously angry when anyone steals from him, which is what his partners in the fairground robbery are foolish enough to do.
He tracks them to Florida, where he meets Leslie (Ms. Lopez), a frazzled real estate agent who lives with her soap-opera-addicted, shamelessly scene-stealing mother (Patti LuPone). Parker and Leslie enter into a partnership in which she does all the talking, he does the glowering, and they check out each other’s rear ends — she lustfully, he tactically, to see if she’s wearing a wire and also to provide an alibi for the oglers in the audience.
From whatever angle, it is nice to see Ms. Lopez exercising her talent for damsel-in-distress silliness. Though there is not much romantic chemistry between them — the man’s code forbids it — she and Mr. Statham achieve a certain screwball energy, lightening the brutality that is the picture’s main business. And if “Parker” is, in the end, business as usual, it is also a pretty good deal.
“Parker” is rated R (Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian). Flesh and blood.