Blog Directory CineVerse: Under the radar: Set your sights on Grosse Pointe Blank

Under the radar: Set your sights on Grosse Pointe Blank

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Ask Steve Pink where his edgy group came up with the moniker “New Crime Productions” (NCP), and he invokes the name of Galileo.

“He was a criminal of the highest order, considered a heretic for his positive ideas about the universe,” said Pink when I interviewed him back in 1997 about NCP, which was originally launched as an alternative Chicago theater troupe in 1988. “A ‘new crime’ is an original or innovative way of creating. As technology and innovations come into the world, there are no laws to regulate them at first.”

Along with actor John Cusack and D.V. De Vincentis—two other former Chicago-area pals—Pink is one of the partners-in-crime and co-founders of NCP, which has been responsible for a number of critically acclaimed films since the late 1990s, including “Arigo,” “High Fidelity,” and “Grace is Gone.”

But perhaps “Grosse Pointe Blank” is NCP’s greatest achievement—not to mention its first. Written and co-produced by Pink and DeVincentis for NCP and distributed by Hollywood Pictures, the film stars Cusack as a successful hit man trying to fight off middle age and an identity crisis. On the advice of his shrink, Cusack vows to rediscover himself by attending his high school reunion back in his hometown of Grosse Point, Michigan, where his sordid past comes crashing down on him like an avalanche.

“We really believed in the story from the start,” said Pink of the black comedy, adapted from a screenplay by Tom Jankiewicz. “It’s paints a great character written from an emotional, socially satirical point of view. Despite his moral ambiguity as an assassin, (Cusack) plays a character you actually can’t help liking.”

New Crime co-conspirator De Vincentis seconded that motion. "It's less the story of a psychopath than a person who simply takes all the serious buzz phrases like 'be all you can be,' or 'let's go out there and make a killing,' seriously. The character rediscovers his past while reinventing his present."

Though the NCP trio wasn’t able to shoot in Chicago as originally intended due to bad weather (principal filming took place on the west coast, though on a "rigorous" and "very challenging" schedule) they were able to infuse plenty of Windy City talent into the film: the supporting cast includes NCP theater alum Jeremy Piven and fellow Columbia College pals Patrick O’Neill, K.K. Dodds, and Audrey Kissell. Also playing opposite Cusack are big screen veterans Dan Ackroyd and Alan Arkin.

"Beyond a hectic production schedule, it was pretty tough just trying to adjust the script every day to meet the physical needs of the production while maintaining its integrity," said De Vincentis. "We were literally rewriting the story every day."

NCP’s last project was “Hot Tub Time Machine” starring Cusack and Chevy Chase, which was released last year.

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