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Director Boaz Yakin did 'Life in Death' for himself

Doug Nye
McClatchy-Tribune News Service (MCT)

When Boaz Yakin was directing "Death in Love" (2008), he knew it wasn't going to be a blockbuster hit. That's not why he made it.

"It is a very personal film," Yakin said during a recent telephone interview. "There were a lot of different forces at work. I had just come through a deep six-year depression. It was something I just had to do."

The film, released this week by Screen Media on Blu-ray and regular DVD, is a dark and often depressing production that looks at the lives of two brothers, played by Josh Lucas and Luke Hass. Both have been affected by their mother (Jacqueline Bisset), who survived a concentration camp by sleeping with a Nazi doctor.

Lucas' character, in his early 40s, has become frustrated and cynical about life and growing older. The sex scenes in the film, more often than not, are used to amplify the character's thoughts and feelings of hopelessness.

Yakin not only directed "Death in Love" but also wrote and co-produced it. Lucas served as executive producer.

"I put everything I had in it," Yakin said. "And, yes, when you write an independent film like this, you put a lot of yourself and personal observations of life into it."

Those who watch the film might be surprised to learn that Yakin also directed "Remember the Titans" (2000), an uplifting story about a coach (Denzel Washington) who united a Virginia high school football team during its first year of integration and led it to the state championship. That Yakin did such a fine job of directing is remarkable when you consider it wasn't the kind of film he gets enthusiastic about.

"I don't even like football," Yakin said. "Basketball and baseball, yes, but not football. What I did was try to focus on the characters and elements of the story that interested me. And then do the very best I could."

Yakin might well have drawn on his childhood memories. He was born 1966 in New York City and grew up in a theatrical family watching his father direct plays. His love of movies was sparked by a revival theater that he frequented often.

"The first movie I remember liking is 'The Adventures of Robin Hood' (1938) with Errol Flynn," Yakin said. "It was just great. Most people my age grew up on movies from the 1970s and 1980s. I grew up on movies from the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s.

"I loved the old Warner Brothers movies. Bogart, Cagney, Bette Davis and so on. The theater showed so many of them. And I'm so glad I got to see them in a theater with an audience rather than on television."

Among Yakin's other credits are; as writer, "The Punisher" (1989), "The Rookie" (1990) and "Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights" (2004); as director, "Uptown Girl" (2003), "A Price Above Rubies" (1998) and "Fresh" (1994); and as producer, "2001 Maniacs" (2005).

Some Yakin did for commercial reasons.

"You do some of those so you have the freedom to do a 'Death in Life'," Yakin said. "I know it isn't the kind of film that will appeal to a lot of people. But you do it for yourself and hope it finds that small audience that will appreciate it."


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