If Rian Johnson is looking for a story for his next film, he need look no further than his own Twitter feed.
The quirky writer/director, who helmed 2005's "Brick" and 2008's "The Brothers Bloom," took to Twitter last week to announce that he was searching for someone to feud with, to "increase his brand awareness and avoid writing." His requirements: a fellow writer/director who, while having experienced more success than he has, was still a nice person and rarely bothered with Twitter. That brought him to contemporary auteur Jason Reitman, he of "Juno" and "Up In The Air" fame.
Reitman hadn't tweeted in over a year, but after a few goading tweets from Johnson -- "Reitman? More like WRONG MAN. To bet on. In a FEUD! #feud," for example -- he emerged by tweeting to Johnson a link to the Notorious B.I.G. song, "Warning."
What followed was a long stroll through Sunday evening insanity and a delightful trip into the mind of one of the most inventive young indie directors (we hope). We've compiled it all here, exhaustingly, and recommend you head over to Johnson's Twitter page in the event that more details emerge.
So Jason and I decide to bury the hatchet. We met at this Mexican joint Ernie's up in the valley. Very cordial. He ordered a margarita. And it's early but I figure what the hell, so I get a margarita too. So whatever, we get a pitcher. And we're talking. And the pitchers pile up, and at some point it's now a bottle of tequila and a basket of limes. I don't think we ate. We might have.
So we stumble shit-faced onto Lankershim, and there's this used car lot across the street. And we both spot this 78 Impala. Reitman starts saying "THAT's a car." and I say it back. And for like 10 minutes that's all we say to each other, pointing at it. So half an hour later we own the car and we're barreling down the 101 listening to K-EARTH. I can't trace our line of logic but it made sense at the time to go to Juarez. We got more tequila and some beef jerky and drove for 2 days.
Hindsight is 20/20, but I should have known something was rotten when we got to Juarez. Cause we go straight to this flophouse and the owner seems to know Reitman, and it turns out he keeps a room there, which seems shady. Bare room with just a dirty mattress, some bottles of mescal and a handgun. No windows. I'm not firing on all cylinders at this point. I say should we do a hotel but Jason says this is where he wrote Up In The Air so I figure it's alright.
We drink another bottle and talk about Billy Wilder and smoke something that looked like a blender, and I think I passed out at some point cause when I come to it's night and Reitman's literally dragging down the stairs bellowing "it's time to party.'"
I say I gotta eat and he gets really serious and tells me a long anecdote about Clooney I can't remember, but we're both crying by the end. We end up drinking with a weird crowd in a disused theater lobby and there's a guy there who isn't wearing shoes and I can't tell if it's the Mexican Thomas Jane or really just Thomas Jane. He keeps asking if I wanna share a hooker and I can't tell if he's joking, and at some point I realize Reitman is nowhere to be found.
Just before sunrise I found Jason in a half shattered bathtub in a park outside of town. He was eating pork rinds and had obviously been crying and had carved what looked like a Golden Globe out of soap. He was in a dark place. I wasn't much to look at either, going on four days without sleep or unfried food. I started to regret this whole feud thing and I said so. I think I might have made a Vietnam analogy, which in retrospect I'm not proud of. That's when things got intense. Jason got this icy gaze, and I thought I was in for another Clooney story but instead he said this: "I didn't come to Mexico to make a friend, Johnson. I came to end a feud. For keeps."
The sun was rising fiery red, and somehow now though we could barely stand up we were fighting. Not warriors. Not duelists. This was a brawl. Sweat and blood, fists and fury, we beat each other senseless in the street as the border town awoke around us. Some cheered. Some cried. Some placed bets. Most just watched, with blood in their eyes. I didn't see him pick up the iron pipe, but I saw him bring it down, and heard my clavicle snap before I felt it. Then it was over.
I crawled away from the lumbering bearded auteur bastard that bore down on me. Through the dirt. through the mud. Into a cantina. I flopped over. I was finished. He stepped through the door, pipe in hand. Saying if I begged for mercy he'd make it quick. I tried to come up with a contemptuous zinger about a hamburger phone or something but he was already raising his pipe for the death blow. Mercifully, my mind flitted away into darkness. I heard a distant scream that might have been my own, and passed out.
I woke up covered in blood that was not my own. The cantina was still, and lacquered from floor to ceiling with blood. But I was alive. And Reitman was nowhere to be seen. In the corner sat a beefy Mexican child with a simian brow. He held a bloody machete on his lap and regarded me stonily. The child had a bad lisp and my Spanish was not great but as far as I could translate he said I now owed him a "life debt."
I spent the rest of the day drinking beer in a parking lot and binding my wounds with cardboard and pilfered duct tape. I felt no triumph.
On the bus home I wrote a letter to Ivan Reitman on the back of a discarded off-brand cereal box. He deserved to hear the truth from me. I had lost so much blood that the letter devolved into rambling about how much I loved Ghostbusters, and then into notes for a sequel. I got home and slept for 5 days. On awakening I found 2 things: my notes for the Ghostbusters sequel were shit ("ghost dancing - western?") And a package from CAA. Inside was a letter and a DVD. The letter was from Jason. "Hey dude - great hanging this weekend. Rest up. -J" The DVD: a signed copy of Juno.
I put it on and recognized one of the kids in the track team as the machete child from the cantina. Bastard. Insult to injury: I had forgotten how terrific Juno was. And so our feud continues. With a vengeance. Thanks for reading, sorry bout the verbosity, won't make a habit out of it.
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