Often noted as one John Wayne‘s favourite films. After watching The Cowboys (1972) it’s easy to understand why, reading about his own family history. Spending a large amount of time away working whilst his older children were growing up. A hard life and sacrifice of most actors in Hollywood of that time. With his eldest from his first marriage all grown up, and younger ones with his last wife Pillar Wayne he started to take his family on set, which worked out better for everyone.
Here in his last decade of his career and life, he had cemented his place in film history of an icon of the big screen. A larger than life figure who had took on the world at war and in the west, to many he was America. Now we see him take on a fatherly role as rancher Wil Anderson (Wayne) getting ready for another cattle drive. All the men are off on the chance of striking gold again. Left with little choice he turns to the local school boys. Every cowboy has to start somewhere I guess, learning the ropes of a dangerous job that can make or break a man.
Anderson takes the chance and trains up the young men, putting them through their paces. Swallowing his pride and realising he has no other choice. There is growth in all the boys who have are in an enviable position, playing cowboy with John Wayne. Something that I am envious of too, which is the appeal of this film. On the face of it, it’s a crazy plot to see boys on a cattle drive, mixing film fantasy with little known facts.
Photographed breathtakingly by Robert L. Surtees who gives us a legend walking on the screen, against a vast open landscape that he has carved out on his horse. The sweeping and gentle score of John Williams before he went onto bigger films.
Rounding off the western is the creepy villain Asa Watts (Bruce Dern) who after being turned down for a job as a hired hand. A jailbird desperate to get some money and go straight. or so we believe. He and his men follow the herd before moving in to make his move. A move that sees a rare and hard to watch killing of Wayne on screen. A fatherly figure to the boys is killed brutally like an animal. Its even harder for the audience who have rarely seen the giant being taken out. Its always the other way around, taking out the villain.
This act of violence sees the boys take the law into their own hands, a matter usually seen by older men, yet carried out with the shrewdness of children which allows for some forgiveness. They take to the weapons like toys, gunning down their friends who would fall to the floor dramatically. This is my only criticism of a warm feel good western that sees Wayne starting to move into the elder man roles who could stick throw his punches and hold his ground.
- Bruce Dern: ‘Shooting John Wayne Killed My Career’ (contactmusic.com)
- What A Character! Bruce Dern: The Guy You Love To Hate (paulascinemaclub.com)
- Bruce Dern is one of cinema’s most underrated actors (theguardian.com)
- Bruce Dern: black and white and all colour in Nebraska (theguardian.com)
- Red River (1948) (dailyconor.wordpress.com)
I have not been so gripped and disturbed by a film in a long time, well since No Country for Old Men (2007). Even though director Michael Haneke has delivered a shot for shot remake for Hollywood I feel nothing has been lost in the translation from Europe to the commercial world of cinema. I can’t say for sure having only seen the remake, going to such lengths to ensure we have the same material, with a different cast for Funny Games U.S. (2007) lead by Naomi Watts and Tim Roth.
From the beginning things are not as they seem with an aerial shot as a couple play their own game, guessing the music playing. The most harmless of the film by it’s conclusion. A middle class family are taking a break at their lakeside house. Everything seems normal until they pull up at the neighbours, the first sign things are odd.
Its when a request for eggs as innocent as it sounds gets out of hand between Peter (Brady Corbet) and Ann (Watts) goes from being a neighbourly gesture into a threatening series of events that see the her and her family George (Roth) and Georgie (Devon Gearhart) are taken hostage by Peter and his very calm accomplice Paul (Michael Pitt). The next 12 hours of their lives are in the hands of two psychotic young men who treat the family with contempt, like characters in a computer game that are meaningless.
What ensues is a series of events that we could easily have heard about in the media, a driven pair of sinister men take a family hostage and inflict unthinkable pain onto them. There are moments when its too much to even look at the screen as the pain is delivered to members of the family who are spoon fed information as the games are played. It’s malicious fun for the two men who even argue with themselves, feel compelled, getting a thrill out of the violence to innocent families. Whilst the audience is held back from the action in the cold stationary camera work, only moving to reveal more of the scene at a rate so slow its even more painful, as if we have been knocked about, just moving hurts to turn out necks.
What we hear and see in the news is played out and cranked up to great effect by Haneke who moves the action from Austria to American suburbia, where you just don;t expect all this to happen. When we would usually not see the action between hostages and criminals we get a chance to see. The experience is more extraordinary when Paul breaks the fourth wall to talk directly with us, a game is being played with more than just the three victims, they are aware others are watching the action, so are playing up to that, giving us what we want or not for effect. We are a captive audience who are watching for the thrill of it, as we take photos are car-crashes on the motorway as we drive by. Now we are watching a family being tortured in the same way, the only difference we chose to watch unlike those unfortunate enough to be in the accident on the road. The media’s sensationalism for stories, has created a hunger in the public to see such horrific stories to be played out, and when we want to eat it up, we simply want to to spit it out again.
Hey there followers
I’ve decided recently to slow down my output for this month, its been a bus creative year with plenty of shows and films, My work is going well too
With it being December my job is taking all my pulling all my energy, retail – Christmas = busy, busy, busy. I have also noticed in myself a lack of energy for writing reviews of films in the last week or so. So I will be posting when I feel almighty passionate about them. I’m still going to be around so any comments etc. are still going to be answered. My work will as you’ve noticed is taking a break whilst away from the studio. I hope to continue on but at a slower rate.
Catch you soon guys and thanks for all the discussion you bring with you.
I’m disappointed today, I was looking forward to improving my animation today, ready with my camera and mini tripod, thinking up small journeys for the O gauge figures to walk about the house. Instead as soon as i started to stand up the figures they fell over. I hadn’t taken into account the fact that as they are aimed at railway models they would be glued in place and not move. So the poses which saw them falling over under their own weight which can be seen as a design flaw for my work alone.
I have come up with a solution to free them up and make them animation friendly. Deciding to fix them to a base with model glue (poly cement) made of PVC sheets which will free up and stabilise hopefully the models to animate. So once again I am at the mercy of the postman. Still with no studio time at the moment, I can wait.
A very controversial film to say the least, set ten years after the death of Anna’s (Nicole Kidman) husband Shaun who we see in the opening scene who dies whilst jogging. Having got back on her feet, and moved on with her life, meeting her fiancé Joseph (Danny Huston). A 10-year-old boy Shaun (Cameron Bright) turns up a day later informing Anna that he is her late husband who himself as we learnt at the very start didn’t believe in reincarnation. This is the dark basis for Birth (2004) which sees a once strong woman become vulnerable and verging on becoming a paedophile.
It was a hard watch from the moment we see the Shaun make himself known to a family who had moved on, accepting another man into the fold. The boy is determined to make his presence known. The family led by Eleanor (Lauren Bacall) can’t dismiss this boy, having to take him seriously, at first upsetting Anna who is about to remarry.
Every attempt only reveals more of the past which cannot be easily denied, is he Shaun who died ten years ago, back in the form of another? I’m not too sure. Becoming more disturbed by how Anna is getting used to the idea, starting to love this boy who could be her husband. The audience is in a position of doubt is discomfort as a once happy woman has to decide who this boy is.
A film this dark and wanting to be complex starts to show plot holes, trying at one stage to show a devil child/protector relationship which is not followed up, simply confusing the matter. Even swapping where the boy lives, between a down-town terraced house and just a few floors below Anna’s apartment. It becomes more confusing as it goes on.
A film that tries to disturb and provoke, it has succeeded in doing so, at the expense of really explaining why. Touching on what if’s and the potential downfall of a woman to commit sexual crimes. The boy motivations are swept under the carpet in a letter as they just don’t know. So nobody really is any better off, as we see when she finally gets married. On a positive note its great to see Bacall on-screen once more.
- Shot of the Week- Nicole Kidman (buzztini.wordpress.com)
- Internal Acting (lespopettes.wordpress.com)
- Top 15 Nicole Kidman Performances (feelthefilms.wordpress.com)
It’s been a long and fascinating wait to watch Saving Mr Banks (2013) that depicted the fight Walk Disney had to have the rights from P.L. Travers in order to make Mary Poppins (1964) it seems like it never happened when we see the family classic time and time again which never fails to lift the spirit.
This isn’t Mary Poppins as we know her, the books and the author Travers is mile away from the nanny we all love. Instead we find Travers (Emma Thompson) in need of money, her royalties have dried up, her only source of money is a deal for the film rights to the books. Something that Disney (Tom Hanks) has been fighting for twenty years, not wanting to break a promise to his daughter. Travers is a stubborn woman with a cold exterior who is not willing to hand her creation over to the house of mouse.
Needs must and after 20 years she gives in to look over the script that is in development, begrudgingly she flies to L.A. where she enters Uncle Walt’s world, a world that has never been defeated, always winning and getting their way. A one woman fight against all the ideas for the film is waged against the Sherman Brothers (Jason Schwartzman (Richard) and B.J. Novak (Robert)) and script writer Don Dagradi (Bradley Whitford). Yet it is Disney himself who bears the brunt of her resistance to his southern charm and ideas to bring the nanny to the screen.
All this is explained in short scenes that takes us back to Travers’ s childhood focuses on her father Travers Goff (Colin Farrell) who forms the basis for Mr banks that appears in the Poppins books and film. Moving his family half way across Australia to work at another bank, a man who adores his young daughter Ginty (Annie Rose Buckley). Plagued by his alcohol addiction which becomes clearer with each passing fleating scene that shows a little more each time. I feel these should have been longer, knowing that her past inform the books and the woman, and indeed Poppins that we know and love.
We then see from the awakenings of these memories the effect on the author, induced by the Sherman Brothers music which as irritating it was for her, she softens on hearing Feed the Birds and Fly a Kite. For the audience each song brings back nothing but happy memories of the classic film making you all warm and fuzzy inside.
Disney’s own efforts at first to understand the woman who will not agree or compromise is not helped by a trip to Disneyland an opportunity for the film-makers and studio to take advantage of the theme park, dressing it up for the early sixties. Disney (Hanks) only really begins to understand the only woman to ever stop him when time is drawing to a close, one artist to another, as he opens up about his past he seals the deal. And the rest as we all know is history.
For the Disney Company they pulled out all the stops, just in time for the 50th anniversary of the classic film, every detail of the look of the film is taken care of, thanks in most part to the incredible archive they have, allowing for John Lee Hancock to recreate as much as possible the world of the early 1960′s. Even the première which I wasn’t expecting which was recreated in fantastic style, from the archives. History was being recreated. A chance also for a new audience to see a classic, (only a few clips) on the bog screen. Maybe that’s going to far for them, also showing a love and devotion to the film. Both Thompson and Hanks are on top form here, creating many comical moments, all courtesy of a dry witted Travers whilst Hanks really takes on the role of an American icon.
There has been criticism about sugar-coating the facts of the film, as I discovered in a Culture Show special which made me aware of a darker side to the author. The film touches on these facts lightly, Disney will never delve into areas such as her adopted son and suspected lesbian partner of 10 years. They still paint a woman who holds her characters and what they really mean to her as she comes to terms with her relationship with her father which is what the film is really about, forgiving and letting go. This is where Banks is most effective, with all the trappings to create the era and the look, with all it’s heart a resolution is made whilst pushing all the right buttons at the same time.
- Saving Mr. Banks (rickihobson.wordpress.com)
- Saving Mr Banks (Film Review) (evolverphoto.wordpress.com)
- The Secret Life Of Mary Poppins: Victoria Coren Mitchell on PL Travers (metro.co.uk)
- Film of Choice at The Plaza Tonight – Saving Mr Banks (figgy66.wordpress.com)
- How ‘Saving Mr. Banks’ Helped Rescue Emma Thompson (variety.com)
- Saving Mr Banks, review (telegraph.co.uk)
- Saving Mr. Banks… A Must See! (huffingtonpost.com)
- ‘Saving Mr Banks’ Review – Emma Thompson, Tom Hanks Tell Story Of When Walt Disney Met Mary Poppins (huffingtonpost.co.uk)
- Emma Thompson: A wickedly witty crank (with video) (canada.com)
- Writer Brian Sibley on Saving Mr Banks and the unmade sequel to Mary Poppins (standard.co.uk)
A cult classic that had shamefully passed me by, having only heard more about the ending which has caused debates ever since. Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles (1994) begins abruptly with an eager journalist Malloy (Christian Slater) who wants to talk to a vampire, set within a modern world that is aware of vampires as creatures more of fiction rather than fact. All this changes when Louis de Pointe du Lac (Brad Pitt) starts to recount his life as a plantation owner, overcome with grief for his wife and child in the mid 1700′s. A shadow of the man he once was, with no purpose in life than to just wander about, ready to die, to be once more with his lost loved ones.
All this is about to be changed when an offer from a creature of the night who has been watching him, makes himself known. One Lestat de Lioncourt (Tom Cruise) a confident vampire who offers him a life of immortality, a life without death. Pointe du Lac in a state of weakness and grief takes up the dangerous invitation. Allowing for almost homoerotic scenes as Pointe du Lac explores his new form and life as a vampire, enjoying the company of Lioncourt who teaches his new apprentice the ways of the vampire life. A life that Pointe du Lac doesn’t take well to, the idea of taking blood from a fellow-man or woman is unnatural to him, turning instead to animal blood.
His is forced to change his mind when the hunger for blood becomes too much and when Lioncourt brings a young girl Claudia (Kirsten Dunst) into the world of the night, through this child who instinctively wants blood, forces Point du Lac to take up human blood. What was once an unnatural act has to become instinctive and second nature, with a child too feed, he has to feed himself to stay alive.
The three vampires live together for 30 years together before cracks start to show, the signs of immortality become clear to the child who will never grow up, loosing her childlike outlook on the world, struggling to understand fully what she is, resenting those who forced her to live as a vampire. Claudia a woman trapped forever in a child’s body finally breaks, wanting to kill the immortal Lioncourt an act not thought possible towards another vampire. Going up in flames and fed to the creatures of the swamp, leaving father and daughter through circumstance to live on not held back by their overbearing master who took away what made them human and mortal.
Living together they travel Europe in search of other Vampires for almost a century before meeting a head vampire Armand (Antonio Banderas) who leads a cult of blood thirsty creatures. Willing to share his secrets with Point du Lac about his state of life. Before these can be answered their past comes back to haunt them, for Claudia who now wants a mother, repeating history with a woman who desires more the idea of living forever than the existence of feeding of others for eternity. Not something that Point du Lac is easily going to grant.
This is far more than your average horror film, questioning the existence of vampires and they life they choose or not to lead. Having to give up a life of freedoms in return for a death at the end, something most of us either accept or don’t. The consequences of that lifestyle preoccupy Point du Lac for the film who doesn’t resent his friend Lioncourt as much as he regrets the life he has chosen for him in state of weakness. Interview with the Vampire is also a chance to place two of the biggest box-office draws together into what could be a homosexual relationship in the guise of being vampire and apprentice. A relationship which never really works on love more on obligation and circumstance. Bringing a child into this relationship cements the failure that will happen, being thrown back in Lioncourt’s face. He is a predator wanting to hunt in a pack for his prey accustomed to the lifestyle, that we are shown and throws out some of the old believes, whilst holding to the core ideas of sleeping in a coffin and a fear of natural light, the law of their existence you might.
The ending is as many have discovered left wide-open, has another vampire been born, or was Malloy killed? If he was reborn a vampire did he become Point du Lac or Lioncourt’s apprentice, somehow I believe it would be Lioncourt who would take on that role. Being left open has created something for the audience to really hold onto, the interview is a cautionary tale to not give in to temptation, very Christian at it’s core. Whilst also there’s an acceptance of life choices made, you either embrace it and how, or you die, it’s that simple.
- Protecting yourself from a Vampire (valeriebitanga.wordpress.com)
- Vampire Culture (ellyrivera995187.wordpress.com)
- Interview With the Vampire (blokecalleddave.wordpress.com)
- Interview With the best Vampire Film Ever (cometocos.wordpress.com)
- Interview With The Vampire (daisy12andrews12.wordpress.com)
- Hoo-Ah! Al Pacino As Lestat In INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE Concept Art (comicbookmovie.com)
I mentioned over on my Facebook Page earlier on today, that I wanted to share some of my footage earlier. I think it’s best to get as much feedback as I can. Not being in the studio at the moment it’s harder to get a second opinion. Here on my blog/website is a great platform to get some feedback which should help my work develop.
Please note that there is no sound at this stage, I’m thinking of adding some distortion later on. Any help or advice is welcome.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, it’s always a pleasure to have Peter O’Toole on my screen, in whatever role he is in, he will gracefully bring it to life. The same goes for the role of an elderly father Mr Fisk. Sr at the turn last century who is visited every Thursday by his son Fisk. Junoir (Jeremy Northam) who does his best to entertain his dad who is destined to be stuck in his old ways. All this changes with the opportunity to go to a talk on reincarnation, ideas held by the Hindu faith that are about the soul living on in different bodies, moving on after death. Where they also meet a man of the cloth Dean Spanley (Sam Neill). Its all “poppy-cock” to Fisk Sr when he’s not sleeping.
For Fisk. Jr he is fascinated by the idea of the soul lasting forever. Also by a man of the cloth also being there. He has to found out more about this illusive man, whilst putting up with his cantankerous father. We discover that the vicar is partial to a rare drink Tokai. It’s only when he is able to have an evening in his company that the drink produces incredible results for the vicar. This rare drink takes Spanley back to the memories of life as a dog, is this madness or pure theatrics? The young Fisk must find out for sure.
With the assistance of a dealer Wrather (Bryan Brown) he acquires more Tokai and the information about the past life continues to flow out, leading to a possible connection between the father and son who whilst they spend time together are miles apart emotionally. The son has grieved for the loss of his mother and brother, whilst his father saw the events as happening if they were inevitable, they were fated to happen. Not what the son wanted to hear, not feeling any emotion from his stiff-upper-lip father.
They both have to see the vicar when he’s under the spell of this transportive liquid where we spend the last act of the film. moving away from the world of humans to that of a long forgotten and loved dog – Wag. Emotional connections are made during the meal between an old man and the vicar who holds a connection to a not so forgotten time for both, if they know it or not. We see a gradual softening of a man who has held back his emotions all his life. A new man is born and a relationship between father and son is renewed with love and affection that was once just obligation to one another.
It’s charming and funny, seeing a worn father-son relationship that has been tried by the passion of a brother/son and mother who would have created a different dynamic for the film. It’s light of touch as a man is first exploring, if not naively exploiting a weakness in the vicar under the influence of alcohol, which could be just nonsense. It’s sheer luck that a real connection is possible between one life and the next, and what that can do for two men who should share so much more than obligation.
- Peter O’Toole to star in new film about St Katherine of Alexandria (catholicherald.co.uk)
Another day in the edit suite working today with the car footage and the animated sequences which slowed down the process, from simply adding the footage to the “storyline” of the work. I can see pieces working and others not, working again with the flow. With a few pieces I have placed them back-to-back.
I know for sure that having the cars stationary isn’t effective as when they are animated. Only when they are parked can I get away with the footage.
The animation was an eye-opener for me, having them already filmed in sequence, it did push my computer at time when I was adding the footage into the “storyline”. I began thinking each piece of footage would last for 2 seconds, it just didn’t work far too stunted, unlike 1 second. Of course for animation you need 24 frames a seconds, however that is not what you get with CCTV, depending on the system, which have improved over time. However this placing the technology back 60-70 years, so it will look far different. What I need to do is get a second opinion on how it’s looking before it goes much further.
I really want to animate the figures then I can combine everything together and see what I have. I know it will be longer to produce a scene, having to juggle figures and cars. A challenge I’m ready for.
I’ve steered clear of this film for sometime now, not really knowing what it was about. Coming also from a western John Wayne image, not really used to Wayne outside that image. Until more recent films that I have seen, so I took the plunge and viewed Islands in the Sky (1953) which was quite a shock, throwing out my preconceptions, which were little to be honest founding a very human story.
When a transport plane is forced to land in freezing condition in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by nothing but snow for miles. It’s up to Captain Dooley (Wayne) to look after his men from the almost certain death in Labrador. I can see in Wayne’s acting that he is growing as an actor, seeing flashes of Ethan Edwards in his performance during a time of his career away from the wild west.
The five stranded men have no more than 6 days until they will start to starve to death in the harsh conditions which are believed to be minus 70 degrees Fahrenheit . All missing families back home and all the comforts of being at the airbase.
The airbase is quick to get a search and rescue mission under-way, calling back all their men led by Col Fuller (Walter Abel) who as much as he wants his men back is restricted by the war effort and the reality that these men could be dead. That’s something which his men aren’t ready to accept. Each crew having a love for Dooley and his men. They are all family which spurs them on to stay up in the air for as long as they can.
The real drama is in the freezing waste land which sees 5 men struggle to survive on little rations, and the elements which see the men fight on. It’s tough going as hunger hits them hard, energy is being drained and the cold just makes it all so much worse.
The search in the treacherous skies that threaten a change for the worse means it’s a race against time. We want so much for these men to be found as they have nothing but hope to hold onto of getting out. Photographed beautifully in black and white, making for a more bleak world, we focus more on the human drama that holds this tense film together.
- Movie Review: Island in the Sky (beardedhermit.com)
This has been on my watch-list for sometime, and with one good reason – Tom Hanks of course added to that the iconic quote “houston, we have a problem” one of those modern classics that have evaded me until now. I can safely say Apollo 13 (1995) was well worth the wait and anticipation.
Depicting the ill-fated Apollo 13 mission of 1970, which begins with great hopes as Apollo 11 lands for the first time on the moon. Already the nation is filled with euphoria having beaten the Russians in the space-race to reach the lunar rock in the heavens. For astronaut Jim Lovell (Hanks) he believes his next mission is Apollo 14 not ready for this one after an ill fated flight that took all three men.
His team is soon brought in line for 13 taking place in 6 months time, the training begins and all hopes are with him and his crew. Everything is running smoothly for the crew as they train for the launch and other operations, and the all important landing back to Earth.
Things start to go bad when two of the main crew are kept earth-bound when one is taken ill with measles, meaning that the back-up crew consisting of Jack Swigert (Kevin Bacon) and Ken Mattingly (Gary Sinise) whilst Fred Haise (Bill Paxton) is grounded and frustrated, his chance is taken away from him, a decision that his commander didn’t take lightly.
The launch is successful, it’s all going so well until routine checks on day 3 spark things to change for the worst. No longer are they on course to the moon, but only to survive and get back home. The three men have to do all they are told by Houston at NASA who themselves are searching for solutions to get their men down. Lead by Gene Kranz (Ed Harris) who does his best with a team who are doing their best to get them down to earth.
It’s tense for all in space, at Houston and at home, which focuses on the Lovell family who are left at the mercy of a small radio to know what is happening. The media who at first ignored the mission soon descend on a family whose future hangs in the balance. Director Ron Howard creates scenes that have become synonymous with world events, families around the TV which describe the events as they unfold. Between these three locations the tension is built. Of course we the historical events being retold on the screen, we know the outcome, it’s the pieces in between that bring it to life. It’s an all-American tale of a “successful failure” as NASA had only just proved to the world what they could do, pushing forward mankind, there are still dangers that lay before them, and have since with tragedies such as the Challenger disaster 1986. To further ourselves we must take risks that can be costly.
With Apollo 13 they were indeed very lucky, making the retelling of the events all the easier to tell, with our trusted every-man Hanks who holds the crew together when oxygen and moral is low. A classic tale of hope when despair could be around the corner. Showcasing some incredible special effects which have hardly aged even in comparison with films such as Gravity (2013). Both prime examples of the perfect blend of special effects and human drama. Only time will tell where Gravity will be positioned.
- Apollo 13 (1995) (movierob.wordpress.com)
- Apollo 13′s Jim Lovell: Houston, we have a real problem (telegraph.co.uk)
- Apollo 13 commander: bring back traditional flying skills (telegraph.co.uk)
- How NASA MacGuyvered the Crippled Apollo 13 Mission Safely Home (jeremiahtillman.wordpress.com)
- Apollo 13 (y6southeygreen.wordpress.com)
- Bring back Moon missions, says Apollo 13 commander Jim Lovell (telegraph.co.uk)
- Bring back Moon missions, says Apollo 13 commander Jim Lovell (astronaut.com)
- Apollo 13 CLOI (y6southeygreen.wordpress.com)
- What Apollo 13 Teaches Us About the Fight to Fix Obamacare (usnews.com)
It’s been a few days since I’ve properly looked at the work, turning my attention to the editing what I filmed this last week. Starting with the empty street shots which I have been getting into shape, shaving the clips in places so the flow is improved, whilst still maintaining a CCTV motion in the work.
Tomorrow I will be starting to animation process of the cars which was filmed the day after. I’ll do each sequence separately before I introduce them to the other shots.
In other news the model figures have arrived, whilst I was away in Birmingham. I have already split them into male and female, and removing the sitting figures from the bag. I hope to get to grips with them this month, (weather permitting). I am starting to rethink the painting of them, as they maybe washed out in the filming. This makes me want to return to the studio and get to work again!
I’m becoming more aware of the post recession films that react to the financial crisis of 2008, the end of the last boom and bust, which saw huge corporations lose millions whilst the average man on the streets life just got harder as the living costs started to increase and jobs became a nightmare to find. I was drawn more than anything to The Company Men by the top-billing that was shared by Ben Affleck, Chris Cooper, Tommy Lee-Jones and Kevin Costner.
What I found at first was a hard-nosed shipping company/corporation making another round of redundancies, this time affecting one of their best sales executives Bobby Walker (Affleck) who is a cocky salesmen who believes he will bounce back soon with a job that matches his skills and previously salary. Not what the audience knows to be true, having experienced the hard reality of the recession. Whilst we follow to more men at the company a divisional president Gene McClary (Lee-Jones) and Phil Woodward (Cooper) both long-time employees giving thirty years of their lives to this company that has had to take tough decisions to survive, restructuring and downsizing. The two remaining don’t like to see what is happening, seeing good hard working people being made redundant. All with the help of human resources manager Sally Wilcox (Maria Bello) who is seen as a hard-nosed b**** who doesn’t really care who goes.
We follow these three men as they each come to terms with the redundancies. We more easily empathise with Bobby who even with the help of his old employer looks for new employment, understanding the mounting rejection from prospective employers, who believe they are right for the job before having their hopes dashed after all the hollow promises that are made. I personally can understand the struggle to find a job, the pressure and competition for each position. It became disheartening at time with all the rejection that comes your way. More so for Bobby who knows he has to provide for his family who are relying on one source of income, it’s not enough to support the house which they may have to give up. He wants to portray the image of success which he has been used to for some time. An image that he believes will help in securing a new job. He needs to come down to earth.
Whilst for those still at the company things are looking grim as more tough decisions are being made, the face of the once simple shipping construction company becomes far more than it’s beginning. Especially for Gene (Lee Jones) who know longer knows his best and oldest friend Conal (Tom Kemp) who has risen to the top with all the trappings that to the average person are luxuries. Gene who lives a similar life has become jaded to it all and his wife who lives a luxury life. He wants nothing of it, wanting something far simpler.
Whilst for Phil (Cooper) along with Gene are later made redundant. For Phil a man nearing his sixties, his chances of being employed are slim as he soon finds out. Reality is hard to deal with, spiralling into a depression that reflects many who have been victims of the recession.
The Company Men shows the light at the end of the tunnel, when your job and life come crashing down, it;’s how you deal with it that. Falling to the lows that even those in corporations feel, something the majority of the population cannot easily relate to. Seeing the bankers of the world to be the cause of our financial trouble. They are like us, if we like it or not.It has a limited reach to the audience showing how redundancy can affect the average guy, to the executive. It’s only with Bobby’s brother-in-law Jack Dolan (Costner) a builder doing his best to survive in a bleak housing climate. He’s the really the only one we can truly relate to, a hard-working man, who has not had the great success and lifestyle of others. We see others who are struggling and accept anything they are given, something that comes harder to the likes of Bobby.
I don’t think films such as this and Margin Call (2011) will have a massive audience, they focus on the wrong people for a mass audience appeal and empathy. They do try to humanize those who suffer as a result of the crisis that like it or not also are effected. The Company Men (2010) does go some way to breaching that social gap, we all have bills to pay, payments to meet, lifestyles we want to maintain. So does it matter where on the food chain in the workplace you are when and if you do fall?
I didn’t know what to expect from the description of the film, just plunging straight into the black comedy mockumentary Black Pond (2011) that sees the Thompson family who from the beginning we learn have killed a man. It all seems so calm, so very British, no sensationalism as the members of the family recount the events that lead up to the shocking story appear in the papers. It takes a while to work out of this is for real, until you realise they are actors, especially after seeing comedian Simon Amstell and remembering (shamefully) who Chris Langham) is. I start to just let it all unfold. A mix of interview and reconstruction of the events between the Thompson family. When Tom Thompson (Langham in his first role since his time in prison) meets a stranger (Blake (Colin Hurley)) in the local wood walking his dog – Boy. It’s all so very normal as the events unfold, as Blake is invited back to the family home, where we find Sophie Thompson (Amanda Hadingue) who is more than happy to have a visitor, a nice break from the uncomfortable atmosphere between her and Tom which we see get more awkward as the film unfolds.
Knowing already that Blake is to die/be murdered we want to know how, then the dog suddenly dies, the plot thickens throwing a spanner in the already fractured film that moves between each member of the family who recount the events from their perspectives which match up in a patchwork fashion.
The two daughters who live together in London Jess and Katie Thompson (Helen Cripps and Anna O’Grady) more out of circumstance than choice, along with long-time friend Tim Tanaka (Will Sharpe) who also took part in these dark events. There is tension between the three young adults, the girls want to live apart, whilst Tim is blinded by lust for them both. He decides to take up the counsel of an unqualified psychiatrist Eric Sacks (Amstell) who does anything but help him, mocking him and his problems, even leaking his story to another which finds its way into the press. Amstell is essentially playing an extension of himself on-screen, something which most comedians do at the moment, just becoming even more cynical in this role.
There seems throughout a strong need by the family to do what is right, constantly interrupted by their own weaknesses which makes for naturally funny moments in this dark time for the family as they pull together to pay their respects to the dead. They ignore the law of the land, instead follow another law, that of the individuals wishes. It’s all so very odd yet plausible at the same time, with a cast who just go with it. It’s also a brave move for Langham in his return to the screen after a short prison sentence, taking on a role that is almost as dark as his criminal record, walking innocently into a world he knows nothing about with a laid back approach. In terms of story telling, the format of the mock-documentary allows for a bewildering story to appear true, with a cast of actors who for the most part are unknowns making it all the more believable.
An interesting twist on the noir genre here with Repeat Performance (1947), taking place as one year draws to a close and another one is about to begin. For torn actress Sheila Page (Joan Leslie) shoots dead her husband Barney Page (Louis Hayward). We are missing vitals parts this the murder, coming into too late to know why he was shot dead, and at first who by.
The shaken up wife Sheila doesn’t care that 1947 is just beginning, wanting more than anything to live the year over and change the past, stop everything bad from happening. Something that William Williams (Richard Basehart) tries to understand, her only friend in all this mess she has found herself in. Before she knows what’s happened outside the door of John Friday (Tom Conway) her wish is granted, a rare second chance to put things right from new years day 1946 through to its end.
In theory the plot should be rather good, Instead it becomes quite predictable as Sheila tries time and again to stop events from occurring before her eyes. Seeing once more her alcohol addicted husband fall away from her. Her friend William still go to a psychiatric hospital.
Only Sheila really knows what her second chance means to her, always it slips away as events unfold differently, still leading to the same conclusion. It’s an attempt to bring redemption to a terrible act by a person, allowing them to “re-do” the year as we have seen in numerous pieces of fiction, from the comical to the deadly serious. The setting of Broadway didn’t help me engage more with the characters, coming straight off the back of what was a lack-lustre Morning Glory (1933) which I hoped would be far more than it was. More dated than anything. There is here however more rivalry behind the stage for this group of characters, yet still in a far off world that I cannot enjoy even more so.
It’s the classic story of the man against the whole town, a standard tale of the west. When a group of bank robbers make for their break for the road they are soon followed by a posse from town. Lead by town Marshall Marshal Hiram Cain (Emile Meyer) and Ben Cutler (Fred MacMurray), gunning down 4 of the 5 men who left the bank in a mess. We learn on returning back to town that the much loved Marshall had been shot dead, all the guilt is directed at the last man standing Eddie Campbell (Robert Vaughn), once childhood sweetheart of Cutler’s daughter Laurie (Joan Blackman). There’s only one possible outcome for the last man standing for the robbery, a hanging.
Over the short duration of Good Day for a Hanging (1959) it’s to up to one man alone almost to carry out the justice as he know it should be done. Once again wearing the Marshalls badge he holds the man he believes to have shot his old friend. It’s his word alone that sees him behind bars waiting trial and eventually the noose for Campbell who we saw was unsure at the start where to point his gun. The gunfight in the open country was so fast and action packed of men falling to the deaths by the hand of another’s gun or the falling of their horse even the audience isn’t too sure if Cutler committed the crime.
With the arrival of defence lawyer William P. Selby (Edmond Ryan) he starts to place reasonable doubt into the rest of the town and the posse who all give evidence in court, all under oath to give the truth, the truth they didn’t realise until they were really questioned. It could be seen as the defence manipulating the witnesses to ensure his client walks free. Sadly it the testimony of the Marshall, so sure of himself, even in all the action he sways the jury to come back with the guilty verdict. The law won, but what did the town win after hearing the evidence.
All considering the possibility of innocence of Culter, even more so for Laurie and Ben’s fiancée Ruth Granger (Margaret Hayes) who no longer sees the man she once fell in love with, washing her hands of him in shame and disgust. Whilst the town with a collective sense if responsibility and guilt petition for Campbell’s release. Whilst Cutler wants nothing more than to carry out his duty, now in almost secrecy.
Meanwhile inside the jail a break is being planned, a last ditch attempt for freedom, the last act is a real game changer for all in the town as the peace is broken once again they are left in doubt as to who really shot the late Marshall afterall. All it takes is the actions of a few men to change a towns mind. Nothing is certain really when a man is taken to trial on the basis on one man’s evidence.
A routine western with a twist as the town is swayed in one direction and then again, whilst the law remains constant. MacMurray once again in the west, not completely suited to the west, but the more I see him in boots and hat the uneasy fit. A leading man who never really grabbed the screen like others of his time but holding his own nonetheless.
The last day in the studio saw me return to old form, with my glue-gun and trusted Stanley knife as I made a watch-tower. I had exhausted my supply of foamboard so turned to my massive supply of cardboard, which allowed me to go taller than most of the buildings I have. I wanted the tower to creep over the top of them to suggest a presence and power in the background. A very simple design and a touch of cold temperatures prevented a complex design, Still I think it has a presence.
All that was left to do was find a place for the tower to sit. I’m still undecided after moving the piece about the town. A few positions just don’t work at all, standing out more than it should. Whereas other it really fits in providing a sense of menace in a post-war city.
I’ve narrowed it down to around two or three locations. Either behind the diner, near the station, or far back in the minor road to look over people in their homes.
On reflection of the work so far which started out as just a brief shot in a classic romantic film to take on a far sinister life. When it came to bringing the work to life there is a sense of fun to the work, at least in the making process as I animated the cars. I still need to add the people which maybe before or after the new year begins. I know it’s in the closing stages, moving into the editing stage before fine-tuning it. I have been looking into a new work which needs some refining before I really share my idea, its too lose to really understand myself, inspiration has struck again and in an unlikely place.
I went into this film mainly for the direction of Billy Wilder for Sabrina (1954), not so much the female lead of Audrey Hepburn who I saw as a woman with her head in the clouds, which now is all part of her charm. My eyes are more open to her appeal as a film-star. In terms of acting my mind is yet to be made up completely.
Beginning with my old perceptions I began this film wondering where it who Sabrina Fairchild (Hepburn) would fall for, I knew this was the aim of the film, I wasn’t put off by how straight forward it appeared, knowing there was more to the longing of a chauffeurs Thomas Fairchild (John Williams) who had devoted her affections from afar for the Larrabee’s charming son David (William Holden) very much a ladies man with a big heart, who had already been through 3 marriage, not exactly good material for someone who is blind to what David may really be like.
To stop her going mad with her obsession that would never come true her father sends her away to a French cooking school to learn new skills and more importantly to get her mind of David. A very dated idea today but that doesn’t matter in the world of Hepburn who tries her best to concentrate, her mind always being thousands of miles away, until an elderly man takes her under his wing, she begins to blossom and grow as a woman.
Whilst back home in Long Island the industrial Larrabee’s are hoping to invest in the new and exciting possibilities of plastic, which is far away from the world of Paris. Lead by the hard-working Linus Larrabee (Humphrey Bogart) who will do what ever it takes to make it happen. Even marrying off his brother David to the partner companies daughter Elizabeth Tyson (Martha Hyer) who is remains oblivious to the films events. Especially when Sabrina returns home, unintentionally stirring things up. Coming back a new and confident woman, complete with new hair cut, her dreamy outlook has been pulled back to reality.
David soon rediscovers the chauffeurs daughter, a new woman stands before him, he knows she is the one. Its love at first sight for him, a dream come for a resolved Sabrina. Spelling nothing but bad news for the plastic deal, so much is on the line. Linus steps in to start “damage limitation” ensuring the deal goes through. However he doesn’t intend to fall for the affection of Sabrina. Unwittingly a love triangle takes form and fast and only she doesn’t even know it.
Wilder again works his charm with material which would on the face of it be disgraceful and depressing. Crossing the boundaries of class to the 20th century as Linus promotes over his fathers wishes. The heart is more important, even in matters of business, as exciting as they can be. Choosing plastic a then new material which was just being discovered, here exploited for comic effect. Wilder takes the innocence of Hepburn not long out of Roman Holiday (1953) starting to mould her on already forming perception of an angel. Which he also did similarly with Marilyn Monroe. The script doesn’t so much sizzle and spit, usually tight, there is room here for a looser story to be told, it’s romance, with a spot of business to lift it up from just another romance. Satorising the class system and business in the process. It’s not has hot as some of his other works, still standing up with his others with pride. Along with interesting casting, of course William Holden had become a regular, the choice of Bogart a straight actor heading into his 3rd decade on screen, a chance that Wilder has taken before with great effect. Finally if it takes one film to start to change my mind on one actress then I’m glad it was this one to get me on my way, all courtesy of Wilder.
- All About Audrey (healthyjeaned.wordpress.com)
- My blog name and Audrey Hepburn (kinsfavorite.wordpress.com)
- Paris is Always a Good Idea (fmyazbek.wordpress.com)
- Roman Holiday (1953) (theblondeatthefilm.wordpress.com)
- On 70th anniversary of ‘Casablanca,’ son Stephen Bogart recalls great romance of Bogie and Bacall (miamiherald.typepad.com)
It’s been a very productive and fun day, albeit for just over an hour when I set out to film the cars in the film noir town, which was the aim. I knew straight after the first few shots for this to come alive, I needed motion in the cars, which means animation, which I was going to begin with the figures. I could only get away with a few stationary shots of cars, suggesting they were parked. When we see cars they are either parked or on the move which is where I went.
Beginning slowly with a scene from straight down a road was captured as two cars passed out the camera’s view, one towards and another away. This kind of thinking with two second shots of very clunky animation that references early C.C.T.V. which would reflect the period that is being filmed more. I left the cars where the went, moving the camera around, picking up more action, either from previous cars, or new ones.
The most fun I had been with a car-crash outside the cinema with a blue car into a larger burgundy car which went onto its side. before making a crazy wide turn into the petrol/gas station. I won’t give any-more away, I have really loosened up, letting the action of the cars and my 5-year-old self tell me what to do. Bringing to that a need to get more angles of the action, the camera moves around to get more of the action before it disappears from view.
I’ve thought for sometime now that a watch-tower is needed to really complete the look, instead of just being an ordinary office block. A watch tower would fit into the look of the town and the genre. That will be my last model, maybe of the year as I will be moving my work for the winter now back home very soon. I have enough footage to work with for a while, to organise and animate.
Before I wrap up this post I thought I would share a few images of how I left the film noir town, it was quieter when I arrived.
Another film that has been sitting on myself for a few weeks now, needing literally the time to view such a long film as Patton (1970) wanting to give it my full attention instead of breaking away from it. Having seen already the biopic on General Douglas MacArthur played by Gregory Peck. I had to seek out this biopic on the equally bombastic WWII time general George S. Patton who helped incredible bring success to the allies.
We see from the start a man who was larger than life as he speaks to his army of fresh faced soldiers ready to “kick ass” against the Nazis. It’s inspiring almost off the cuff poetry full of fowl language that speaks to the anger inside the men we see later on in the historic victories and failures of the generals army.
From the outset we see we are in for one hell of a ride with one of Americas history makers whilst at war. A man who lived very much in the past to influence his present. Wherever he went we learn of past battles that influences his own plans of attack, even going to an old battleground in Tunisia. Much to the dismay of General Omar N. Bradley (Karl Malden) who stands in awe of this man of sheer determination who would stand in the line of fire as the Luftwaffe would attack over head. Very much a man of legend and madness.
In terms of cinematography we are treated to some glorious work by Fred J. Koenekamp who helped to portray Patton as a great historical figure of the battlefield, standing far greater than is already immense height would take him as played by George C. Scott who breathes life into this figure who went far beyond the average general, out there directing the men when the got stuck in the mud, to giving them what they needed, encouragement to carry on. Matched with the military inspired soundtrack by Jerry Goldsmith who stripped it back to a few signature pieces that are heard and mixed throughout.
Of course it’s not all about the glory, with all that came his big mouth that lead to his downfall from grace with the top-brass. Becoming a liability who wouldn’t stop from insulting the Russians and even his own people. Raising him to the status of maverick, a title that is rarely granted to people.
He is given one last chance to prove himself as the D-day approaches he is given an army to drive through France, aiming all the while to get to Berlin, nothing, not even a shortage of fuel will stop him for long. Having trained his men to fight to the bitter end.
Much like his maverick contemporary he is both celebrated as a war hero, who got out of control, causing trouble for the army and government. In Patton he is portrayed as a great man, in terms of the his physical presence provided by Scott who earned and refused the best actor Oscar. Everything comes together with an non-stellar cast who allow him to shine even more. I hoped it could have covered more of his career, such as the lead up to WWII and previous engagements. What we see is still more than enough to paint an image of a man who was even feared by Field Marshal Erwin Rommel (Karl Michael Vogler) who we see with others deep underground follow his every move, not many struck fear into the third Reich’s failed campaign more than Patton, that alone is enough to warrant a film.
I was very aware of this film when it was released, reawakening the controversial debate into the legacy of the first woman Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Margaret Thatcher who is believed to have destroyed Britain, bringing it to it’s knees, never really recovering. Whilst others believe she changed it to become a world super-power, helping to end the cold war. Which-ever side you are that’s a debate for another time.
On the face of it The Iron Lady (2011) looks like a biopic of the first woman Prime Minister, as it charts her rise to power through the ranks of the conservative party all the way from being failed candidate to be a councillor, all the way to the top to become the most powerful woman in the world. Quite a feat in anyone’s eyes from starting out as a grocers daughter, it sounds like the stuff Hollywood would eventually turn into a film. In the hands of British filmmakers and an all British cast, bar Meryl Streep in the lead role we see more flashbacks of her life than a review of a career.
Maybe it’s through the flashbacks of a woman with dementia we can see another side of her. For years she was seen as a tough woman who wouldn’t easily by pushed on an issue, something that became her downfall. The media image is one that people of my generation only have, besides those who either champion her or would have spat on her in the streets. Now relinquished of all her political and now mental powers we see a woman who is struggling to hold onto reality.
The flashbacks allow us to see into her view of the past, along with archive footage to create the events that she shaped and influenced. These take up a fracton of the running time, coming in quick bursts to give an overview of her career. Focusing on her present state of mind as she copes with dementia, fighting only the hallucinations of her husband Dennis Thatcher (Jim Broadbent) who is on top form, making her realise what is going on. Whilst in reality she has chosen with the help of her daughter Carol (Olivia Colman) to finally clear out his things (which we don’t know for sure happened). Using this more as a tool to see her more confused and on the edge.
It seems for a wide audience (mainly British) to see Thatcher she has to be in a poor state of mind, as in her final years she became a private person in her failing health. It does gives us an insight into how she maybe in her final years. Played wonderfully by Streep which saw her sweep the board that awards season, able to take on the role from her days in parliament to her eventual decline, shows real skill to her and the make-up which also was honoured. Supported by a strong British cast, which could have been the only route to take with such material, archive footage made up the rest while the film depicted and filled in the blanks. However it’s not an account of her life, an account of her life would be more over-reaching covering more events in greater detail. It’s a media friendly biopic with a gentle touch of reality to show even the great (which is debatable in this case) and once powerful are only human and fragile in the face of old age.
- Meryl Streep To Star As Susan Boyle In Biopic Film (popwrapped.wordpress.com)
- The Iron Lady (myoldaddiction2.wordpress.com)
- MM Top 5: Meryl Streep Roles (moviemetropolis.wordpress.com)
- The Iron Lady (cathonahottinroof.wordpress.com)
I was expecting something far darker, especially with Sigourney Weaver in the lead role of The Girl in the Park (2007), the write-up made the plot sound far darker than it actually was. It all starts happily enough, with a young family in New York, parents and two kids, seems perfect enough until Julia (Weaver) takes her 3-year-old daughter Maggie goes missing after a fun day at the park. We feel the gut wrenching pain that the mother is going through, only turning her back for a few seconds, which is all it took for her daughter to disappear.
We pick up the action 16 years later, the once happy family has been torn apart and happy once more in their broken form. The husband Doug (David Rasche) has remarried while their son Chris (Alessandro Nivola) is about to marry his fiancée Celeste (Keri Russell) having moved on, accepting that his younger sister is dead, starting a new chapter in his life. We learn that Julia was unable to move on and accept her loss, making her relationship with ex husband and son very distant, creating a string of disappointments.
With Julia coming back into her family’s life, all from afar, she meets a young woman who at first takes advantage of her good nature, after defending her in a difficult situation. Feeling her motherly tendencies are coming through for Louise (Kate Bosworth) who unwittingly assumes the role of Julia’s lost daughter. It could be darker than it really appears, feeling very normal, taking this woman who has no home, going from one mans bed to another each night. There are times when you want to shout at Julia to stop her in her tracks. There are of course similarities between the young Maggie and Louise now. It’s a hard call to make as we make our way through the film, we are made to doubt our own thoughts on the identity of the woman.
When she is introduced to her son who comes to fix a cupboard door, the real doubt starts to slip in, as if two siblings are being reunited, under the guise of a white lie. For a brother who had to move on, accepting an important person his in life has died, to found this woman who does bear a resemblance.
It’s subtly frightening over time. A lonely woman only starts to really come to terms with her loss when she finds a substitute, which is really a form of denial. Its a dream come true for parents who have lost their children to be reunited with them years later. Whilst in the meantime a degree of normality is needed to carry on with life, as much it is emotionally possible. The Girl in the Park takes this idea and brings into the screen sensitively, from the mothers point of view as her family have moved on and she, the one who feels responsible for her daughter going missing, changing her into a guilt ridden woman who is the pale version of her former-self.
- The Girl In The Park (07barringtonco.wordpress.com)
With Ridley Scott‘s latest film The Counsellor receiving a critical mauling, it was just coincidence that I caught an earlier film of the director Black Rain (1989) which at times looks like another take on Blade Runner (1982) in terms of the look and urban locations as we are in the middle of a Japanese mob-war, something that two New York cops weren’t expecting to be involved in.
- Review: The Counsellor – 2/5 (moviequibble.wordpress.com)
- ‘The Counselor’ Review: 10 Things to Know About the Cormac McCarthy Thriller (art3867.wordpress.com)
- The Counsellor – Movie Review (lucasfothergill.wordpress.com)
- Blade Runner – The Aquarelle Edition (biblioklept.org)