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61  Other/Miscellaneous / Off-Topic Discussion / Re: The Road (2008) on: August 08, 2008, 05:22:01 AM
Thanks for that link. The book is quite brilliant, though utterly grim, and I'm looking forward to the filmed results. My first reaction though was that they didn't look smelly enough. The odour of the characters is constantly insisted on in the novel.
62  Other/Miscellaneous / Off-Topic Discussion / Re: Bond 22: Quantum of Solace (2008) on: July 09, 2008, 04:40:09 PM
I've been meaning to post some info on this film for while now. I can reveal that the opening action sequence will involve a car chace with Bond in a black Aston Martin, and the baddies in black Alpha Romeos. The chase is one of those geographically impossible ones the movies often dish up, taking in Lake Garda, the marble quarries of Carrara and ending in Sienna, a string of locations hundreds of miles apart. When Bond arrives in Sienna, would you believe it, the Palio, the city's historic horse race is under way.

This opening, pre credit scene was directed by former stunt man Dan Bradley, who also directed some action sequences for THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM and the new Indiana Jones film. Indeed many of the tricks he pioneered on the former film were re-worked for the Bond gig. Dan Bradley is now to fat to be a stuntman, and put most of the crew's backs up (who were almost entirely British)  with his constant anti-British bitching. His mood wasn't improved as he fell badly behind schedule leading to an early bollocking from the producers.

While in Italy the film drew a few headlines for the wrong reasons back in April. While shooting at Lake Garda the weather was often terrible, with torrential rain. One evening one of the stuntmen “borrowed” an Aston Martin and took it for a midnight run, only to drive 80 thousand pound's worth of motor into 50 meters of water in the lake. He escaped but was on the next plane home. More seriously just a few days later while a filming a crash stunt something went badly wrong with a prop car smashing into a wall, resulting in a stunt man in hospital with serious brain damage. It was feared he would never get better, but in the last couple of weeks he has made an amazing recovery, though he can't remember anything about working on the film.

Dan Craig also suffered for his art. During a stunt leaping onto a balcony in Sienna (suspended on a safety wire) he suffered concussion when he bashed his head during the jump. Later his nose was bloodied when a stuntman failed to pull a punch, and also found himself on the next plane home. He was laid off work for a few days with a black eye when another stunt went wrong, though he was punched by one of his co-stars this time, so the guy kept his job. Later in Pinewood, while shooting blue screen stuff involving material shot in Italy he lost part of one of his fingers. Apparently the fella was rather dejected after this.

I was surprised too to learn that he is a little bloke, only around 5' 6, and not the god he appears to be in CASINO ROYAL emerging from the sea. By all accounts a nice guy though, who commanded the crew's respect with his willingness to do as much of his own stunt work as he was allowed. He was slightly uncomfortable doing some of the blue screen work, saying he felt stupid while doing things like sitting on fake motorbikes and being shaken around. These will be used so that CGI animators will be able to put his face onto the stunt man who did the driving on a bike chase sequence filmed in Columbia.

I hope to post a few behind the scenes photos soon, mostly from the Italy shoot.
63  Films of Sergio Leone / Duck, You Sucker / Re: my opinion on the friendship, growth of the two characters on: June 02, 2008, 07:09:02 AM
But Juan was thick and, frankly, that made him boring.

Or like an animal? "Because that's all they are... animals."

Some of the points brought up have been addressed already so I'll try and add something new. This is arguably Leone's first film with any sort of character development. Prior to GIU LA TESTA only two passions ruled, greed and revenge. Here both characters ultimately transcend these base motivations and the film becomes about friendship and even love. Mallory does not save Juan from the firing squad for any other motive other than that he cares about him.

Coupled with this is Leone's preoccupation with violence and it's relationship to childishness and an inability to grow up, something he would develop to a greater extent in his final picture. Looking back at Juan's "visions" of Mallory and Mesa Verde, yes the animations are cheesy, however as seen as point of view shots they are perfectly apt. Juan is a peasant with no formal teaching. As a child much of his imagination would have been formed by the Church. From a Catholic country with a Fascist past, Leone and his collaborators would have been perfectly aware of the way Church and state can conspire to keep a population in a never ending state of immaturity (the theme of Fellini's AMACORD which came out two years after Leone's film). As such a character like Juan would have though in the Gothic imagery we see here, with the Eucharist appearing in the bank at Mesa Verde and the holy scroll hanging over Malloy's head (Leone is cheating though, we see a text, but Juan is illiterate and he wouldn't be able to read it). As such he is remains as much as an impulsive child as his extended family. One of the most moving moments of the film is when the Mirandas blissfully arrive at the beautifully tiled station of Mesa Verde to Morricone's haunting tune of the same name. And anyway, is a violent spaghetti western really the place we expect to see a bandit as a role model to his children??

Leone is never really known for his dialogue. Yes we can all rattle off some classic, pithy one liners but not whole blocks of oratory. His illiteracy aside, Juan gives the best speech of any character in any Leone picture when he delivers his opinion on revolutions, a fantastic slab of cynicism to which Mallory has no reply ("They're DEAD! That's your revolution"). He is not as thick as either the coach passengers nor Mallory originally think he is. As the whole "present" of the narrative is revolutionary based and reflected Leone's own disillusioned world view at the time, Mallory's backstory is essential not only for establishing his immensely complex feelings of guilt, but also to bring that classic Marxist preoccupation, class into the mix.

Some more debate on this subject was here:

 Anyway, great to be talking Leone again, and obviously I'm a little bit partial to this character myself. Viva Miranda!
64  Other/Miscellaneous / Off-Topic Discussion / John Phillip Law RIP on: May 15, 2008, 05:28:33 PM
Co star of DEATH RIDES A HORSE, John Phillip Law died on Tuesday the 13th this week, he was just 70 years old:,0,4156367.story?track=rss

He'll also be remembered for roles in other movies such as DANGER:DIABOLIK and THE GOLDEN VOYAGE OF SINDBAD, however he's still possibly best known as Pygar, the blind angel in the far out Fonda flick BARBARELLA. Not much cop in the acting skills department, but he was a good looking fella and as such a notable presence in whatever he was in. I see on the IMDB he was still performing in movies up 'till this year, in a new Western with another "old timer", Ernie Borgnine.
65  Films of Sergio Leone / Other Films / Re: Terror In A texas Town (1958) on: April 30, 2008, 05:21:39 AM
It managed to out weird JOHNNY GUITAR when it comes to the hysteria and Freudian motivations. It's love at first sight for Cabot when this crippled bad guy claps eyes on Hayden, and spends the rest of the picture begging him to stick his big harpoon in him (the film even opens with this plea), much to the bafflement of Sterling. It's low budget contributes even more to the bizarre feel of thing, awash with desolation.

Actualy written by blacklisted Dalton Trumbo (JOHNNY GOT HIS GUN) and fronted by Ben Perry.
66  Films of Sergio Leone / Duck, You Sucker / Re: Giu' La Testa on: April 27, 2008, 04:12:13 PM
One unforseen consequence of being a Leone fan surfaced on my recent trip to Milano. I was in a workshop and walked upstairs to a room with a very low ceiling and was warned to watch my head (I was told by my host "Giu la testa!"). I instantly thought she was talking about Sergio's film, totaly got distracted and banged my bloody head on the roof.
67  Other/Miscellaneous / Off-Topic Discussion / Re: The Train (1964) on: April 27, 2008, 06:13:46 AM
"Frankenheimer is a bit of a whore, but he'll do what I want."

Ouch! Thanks a producer talking alright.

Frankenhiemer's take on the subject, from the book THE CINEMA OF JOHN FRANKENHEIMER (Gerald Pratley).

"The Train was a film I had no intention of ever doing. There was another director on the film and he'd been shooting for two weeks and he left. I don't really know to this day exactly what happened. There was a conflict of personalities, a conflct over the type of film being made. I think the director, Arthur Penn, wanted to do one film, the producer and Lancaster wanted to do another. Penn has certainly proved he can make the type of film he wants to do with Bonnie and Clyde, so I think it was a difference of concept rather than anything else. Burt called me and asked if I would come over to France and direct it. I'd just finished Seven Days in May, I was quite tired. I didn't want to do it, yet he asked me to do it as a favour to him. And also, I wanted to go to Europe. On the way I read through the script. It was delivered to me just as I got on the plane. I thought it was almost appalling, neither fish nor fowl. The damned train didn't leave the station until page 140. When I arrived in Paris we shut down the production and re-wrote the script. I'd brought over Ned Young (he's dead now), and Howard Infell, and we re-wrote it."

He goes to reveal that shooting in the autumn proved impossible due to fog, freezing conditions and the leaves falling off all the trees (the film takes place in August). Incredibly the entire film was shut down again and shooting re-started in the spring next year for more re-writes and re-shoots. Frankenheimer took the opportunity for a long holiday tour of Europe with his wife, which he fondly recalled as "most revealing and enjoyable". He also remembered that seven movie cameras were demolished in accidents when shooting the train wrecks. He also laments that "Ideally, it should have been spoken in French with English subtitles, but you cannot do this with an expensive film made for the mass market."
68  Other/Miscellaneous / Off-Topic Discussion / Re: Eureka (1983) on: April 27, 2008, 05:41:48 AM
Happy belated to you btw.

Thanks N_SS. Spent it in Milano, eating way too much ice cream...
69  Other/Miscellaneous / Off-Topic Discussion / Re: Attn: P.T. Anderson haters on: April 24, 2008, 03:27:52 PM
As one of the accused I'm afraid I can't put up much of a defence. I saw BOOGIE NIGHTS on telly one night years ago and found it dull. I can honestly not remember a single thing about it now. MAGNOLIA however I hated almost from its first second. It's ultra hyper cutting, almost a pastich of Thelma Schoonmaker's editing style rapidly gave me headache and I gave up watching the Scorsese light mess after 15 minutes. To give a more reasoned response would involve me watching these films again, and I'm afraid life is just too short.

As for the other things he's made I've never even heard of them before, though will look out to avoid in future.  Afro
70  Other/Miscellaneous / Off-Topic Discussion / Eureka (1983) on: April 24, 2008, 03:20:42 PM
Gene Hackman plays gold prospector Jack McCann, a determined individualistic ego maniac (he always refers to himself in the third person) who we see violently struggling to break away from humanity, with the opening chilling lines yelled by his former partner, "Murder! Murder!"

The end

He sets off into the wilderness of Alaska alone. Freezing, he survives an attack by wolves when a meteorite handily lands nearby scaring away the pack. Clutching the heaven sent rock he staggers into an unlikely snow bound, Xanadu like brothel,complete with a chimney smoking as though fed with a hundred Rosebud sledges.

The spell of the Yukon

It's Madam is the dying consumptive Frieda, who seems to be able to see into the future via a crystal ball, warning Jack of his fate through a series of gnomic utterances. She and Jack once had a great romance in Paris, and it's through this split in their passions that the movie's preoccupation's are outlined. "Are you interested in men and women?" she asks, and later the supine miner reveals as couples joylessly copulate for money in the brothel, that for him "Gold smells stronger than a woman." With his luck seemingly changed after finding the meteorite, in one moment of unique and utterly dazzling fulfillment he then strikes it rich beyond his imagination. Jack's tragedy is however, in the words of Robert Service quoted at the end of the picture

"It isn't the gold that I'm wanting,
just so much as finding the gold."

and is cursed with, in Frieda's words, "some leftover life". Cut to the "the war" she predicted, and it's 1945. Jack, one of the wealthiest men in the world lives on Eureka, a private Caribbean island. However his wife is a bored alcoholic, his business associate is  tied into the Miami Mafia and his daughter, whom he has dangerously jealous and unhealthy feelings for is married to a refugee from Nazi occupied France whom he hates, the priaptic and smug Claude Malliot Van Horn.

There will be blood

Fatally the father, daughter and son in law form an obsessed triangle, oblivious to the machinations of the organized crime cabal determined to build a casino on the island closing in on them, and so the story becomes as Freda predicted "a mystery" with a horrifying and brutal murder.

Based loosely on the real life, unsolved killing of millionaire Harry Oakes, EUREKA can easily be described as one weird chunk of film making. So much so its studio United Artists had absolutely no idea what to do with thing and shelved it. This lead to the reclusive Roeg personally taking it into cinemas in an international roadshow event as a means of getting it to an audience. It was in this way that I first saw it in Glasgow in 1984, an experience which left me both bedazzled and baffled, unsure of what I had seen exactly.

Utterly weird

Written by Paul Mayersberg who also scripted Roeg's THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH, the film is blocked fairly neatly into three unequal acts. Act one takes place in the 1920's in the snowy, very wild western deserts of Alaska, with Jack the poor but tough and potent miner seeking the gold. Act two takes place during the last days of WWII in a tropical paradise, with Jack living an utterly pointless and dull existence while the "wolves" who were cheated in 1925 circle him again in the form of his own family and the Mafia. Like in an Agetha Christie whodunit everyone becomes a suspect, and has a motive for killing Jack. Act three is a (somewhat overlong) courtroom drama, and it's in this structure that some of the film's problems arise. The early scenes in act one are so cinematically brilliant, with Roeg creating what is arguably his greatest ever sequence when Jack finds the gold, that the rest of the movie feels a little bit of a let down, just as the rest of Jack's life feels a let down for him, like a man "struck by lightning". Mayersberg's dialogue equally has it's problems, it lurches from the embarrassing and painfully pretentious, to the brilliant, insightful and moving, often in the space of the same line.

Aren't lovers necessarily under the spell of each other?

Both Roeg and he are interested in all sorts of esoteric ideas which can easily tip into mumbo jumbo but this is often the staple of many a horror film. All the characters, Jack and his daughter played by Theresa Russell excepted, are seeking some higher "truth". Joe Pesci as the Mafia boss is a pious and philosophical practicing Jew (Pesci also played a Mafia boss for Leone of course in OUATIA, and both films were released the same year). His lawyer henchman, the twitchy Mickey Rourke is a devout Catholic who studies the Cabala. The doomed Frieda has second sight (and playing her, Helena  Kallianiotes is saddled with some of the worst dialogue). Jack's drunken wife (played by Jane Lapotaire) reads tarot cards. Rutgar Hauer as Claude is the most troubled, casting horoscopes, participating in "forbidden" voodoo ceremonies and also dabbling in the Cabala.

D'you do voodoo?

Claude remains the film's most enigmatic figure, a bisexual coward, hated by most of the other characters, "a man who can't pass a mirror without looking into it." Whereas Jack never seems to notice the cold in the Arctic, Claude twice complains of feeling chilled in the tropics. Like Jack he is (possibly) a gold digger of a different order. And yet as played by Hauer he is sympathetic, charismatic and compared to the rest of the eccentrics he is surrounded by, vulnerable, witty and disdainful of wealth, comparing Jack's gold to shit.

Mirror mask

Hauer's performance is one of the film's strengths, along with Gene Hackman's superb portrayal of Jack, a driven, violent and tender Old Testament prophet like figure, "I'm the fellow who knew what he wanted and went out and got it. Tough act to follow." he tells his wife, who once had it all, "Now I just have everything." He is often compared directly with Charles Foster Kane, sporting a similar mustache, married to a drunk wife, living in his own isolated "No Trespassing" signed mansion with his own emblematic snow dome which is smashed on his death. This murder scene suddenly appearing in such a consciously "artistic" film is a real surprise and shock in it's savagery, protracted length and gore, and whenever I've seen it at the cinema there are many in the audience who can't bare to watch it.

CITIZEN KANE, THE GOLD RUSH, RICH AND STRANGE are all referenced, but the movies most often quoted by Roeg are his own. Indeed his block of work, WALAKABOUT, DON'T LOOK NOW, THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH, BAD TIMING, EUREKA and to some extent INSIGNIFICANCE all seem to be remakes of the same film. Unlike Jack McCann, Roeg certainly is "interested in men and women".

Mrs. Roeg

His young wife Theresa Russell is superb in the picture, stunning to look at, though Roeg over indulges her performance in places, allowing her to become shrill and irritating in the court scene. Another of the film's stars is Alex (DEATH LINE) Thomson's stunning cinematography, with Roeg himself operating the camera in some scenes. A former cinematographer himself of course (MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH) Roeg's films (up to a date) always looked fabulous, and along with Leone and Robert Altman, he was one of the few directors who really understood how and when to use a zoom lens to heighten emotion. It will come as no surprise to anyone familiar with Roeg's other films that EUREKA is erotic, brutal, puzzling and closes with a vivid feeling of melancholy and tragic nostalgia. A very bloody masterpiece, and sadly Roeg's last truly great picture.

The lost traveller
71  Films of Sergio Leone / Other Films / Re: There Will Be Blood (2007) on: April 14, 2008, 10:30:41 AM
I see there is some polarisation on the board regarding TWBB. I can only point out what I though were the glaring faults that spoiled it for me, while freely admitting its qualities. Yet another piece of nonsense was the bowling alley itself. Why on Earth would a creature like Plainview, who is  as we have seen content to sleep on a Spartan floor even as a wealthy man have, of all things, a bowling alley built in his basment? I guess you could counter it was for his "son", but as we have never seen him give that poor shade a thing in any other part of the picture its a bit convinient that he's giving away bowling alleys now, just at the point he's about to self destruct. Painfully contrived.
72  Other/Miscellaneous / Off-Topic Discussion / Re: Rate The Last Movie You Saw on: April 10, 2008, 06:03:56 PM
THERE WILL BE BLOOD. Utter shite. 4 out of 10 for the cinematography and the bits where D Day didn't actualy growl and nothing else.
73  Films of Sergio Leone / Other Films / Re: There Will Be Blood (2007) on: April 10, 2008, 05:59:54 PM
HATED Anderson's previous films, so I was in no rush to see this. Imagin my surprise when I discovered that in this one the camera was often locked off and many shots lasted as long as ten or twenty seconds. Beautifull cinematography from Robert Elswit, nice use of one of Avro Part's best known compositions (though using an inferior performance), and fairly engaging; up to a point.

No idea why there are comparisons with CITIZEN KANE, as good old Charlie FK has his fortune handed to him on a plate. If anything it was more like Nic Roeg's EUREKA, however D Day aside all the other characters were bland to the point of not even existing, which lead to the third act, the bit in the 1920's sinking the whole bloodless film for me. And while D Day was great when not speaking, every time he opened his gob it was to deliver such an absurd John Huston impersonation (of which I do a not bad one myself) I was laughing out loud in places. Absolute shite, and I'm amazed that given the terrible script it ever got major studio backing.
74  Other/Miscellaneous / Off-Topic Discussion / Re: RIP Charlton Heston on: April 08, 2008, 07:26:56 PM
As said of another character in his best ever film, "He was some kind of a man". The land of the true Giants will be devoid of all life soon at this rate.
75  Other/Miscellaneous / Off-Topic Discussion / Re: Bond 22: Quantum of Solace (2008) on: April 08, 2008, 07:20:03 PM
And as I mentioned before, shooting in Italy even as I type. Well, maybe not. They're all asleep at this hour I hope...

My friend is working on the second unit. Based in Sienna he told me before he went that they would also be shooting in Lake Garda and the marble quarries of Carrera. I'll let you know any interesting location tales when he's back... and been paid. Doubt I'll see him now when I'm in Italy next week.  Sad
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