Thirty years into Shane Black’s Hollywood career, first as a screenwriter and then full-on auteur, it is clear that he loves three things: buddy badinage, labyrinthine crime plots, and Christmas. Lethal Weapon. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Iron Man 3. All feature the holiday season. And it is not a huge spoiler to reveal that Black’s latest movie, the Ryan Gosling- and Russell Crowe-starring action-comedy The Nice Guys, continues that trend. So, why is the filmmaker so crazy for Christmas?
“Oh, it’s not in everything,” protests Black.
Pretty close, though.
“It tends to be a touchstone for me,” he admits. “Christmas represents a little stutter in the march of days, a hush in which we have a chance to assess and retrospect our lives. I tend to think also that it just informs as a backdrop. The first time I noticed it was Three Days of the Condor, the Sydney Pollack film, where Christmas in the background adds this really odd, chilling counterpoint to the espionage plot. I also think that Christmas is just a thing of beauty, especially as it applies to places like Los Angeles, where it’s not so obvious, and you have to dig for it, like little nuggets. One night, on Christmas Eve, I walked past a Mexican lunch wagon serving tacos, and I saw this little string, and on it was a little broken plastic figurine, with a light bulb inside it, of the Virgin Mary. And I thought, that’s just a little hidden piece of magic. You know, all around the city are little slices, little icons of Christmas, that are as effective and beautiful in and of themselves as any 40-foot Christmas tree on the lawn of the White House. So that, in a lot of words, is the answer.”
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You can see the trailer for the now-in-cinemas The Nice Guys, below.