Posts Tagged ‘Hollywood’

Photo Actor Anthony Hopkins, smoking cigar. 1997Welsh greats, there’s been a few notably Richard Burton, although he made some dud films (Exorcist 2, ew) he was rightly known for his Epics, small dramas, drinking, marriages to Elizabeth Taylor and infamously narrating Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds. And not forgetting his rendition of Dylan Thomas’ Under Milkwood. Surprisingly he never got a star on Hollywood’s walk of fame which is outrageous. There’s not been a Welsh man like him since. Anthony Hopkins is extremely different – very personal, arguably unfathomable yet captivating, however, he wasn’t blessed with the leading man Hollywood looks of Burton but struck gold with the character of Hannibal Lecter (see the faces of Lecter).
ANTHONY HOPKINS 11X14 PHOTOOver the years Hopkins has threatened retirement several times but never followed through, maybe the money draws him back being the son of a baker and coming from less than affluent Port Talbot. Incidentally it was Burton who encouraged Hopkins to become an actor and he enrolled at the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama in Cardiff graduating in 1957. He has always had a love of music and in 1986, he released a single called ‘Distant Star’.
SpartacusAs well as many other acting parallels with Burton and sadly some personal ones. Sadly they both had an alcoholism problem and failed marriages. That said, Hopkins overcame his addiction. In 1992 he narrated a Jeff Wayne musical Spartacus with fellow Welsh girl Catherine Zeta Jones. While not as successful as War of the Worlds it was paradoxically significant mirroring Burton’s 1978 collaboration with Wayne due to his smooth, weighty Welsh tone.
Magic [Blu-ray]It would be difficult to comment on Hopkins varied and rich body of work, a star himself he has worked alongside the many of the most renowned names. Personally, for me the aptly titled Magic (filmed the year Burton was recording War of the Worlds) which in my opinion is Hopkins defining film moment, encompassing an array of balanced emotions including a creepy, mesmerizing and venerable performance, that no stage play can capture for all time. Thanks to film it’s there forever to be enjoyed. For me even though he picked up an Oscar for Silence of the Lambs it’s the aforementioned that is arguably award worthy (it sadly only picked up a Saturn and Edgar award).
ANTHONY HOPKINS 11X14 PHOTO
Since Lambs he’s had much success although many performances appear to be Sir Hopkins picking up a pay cheque, and rightly so. Each line could easily have been replaced by “okey dokey” with equal effect. “Okey dokey Mr Hunt”; “Alexander was Great, okey dokey”, “okey dokey CGI Beowulf”; “okey dokey Mina Harker”;“okey dokey Clarice”; “okey dokey you Wolfman” and “I am Odin okey dokey Thor my son”; you get the picture.
Thor Movie 11x17 HD Photo Poster Anthony Hopkins Odin #24Debateably Fracture, Remains of the Day, Nixon and The Edge aside many of Hopkins films have the okey dokey factor that I can’t help feel is Sir Anthony Hopkins cheeky Welsh boy smiling way of saying – thank you very much Hollywood, you are the embodiment of everything I am not…Tee-hee, while laughing all the way to the bank… and good for him!

John Carpenter: The Prince of DarknessThe American film director, John Howard Carpenter was born in New York on January 16, 1948. As well as making successful thrillers he is creator of both Science-fiction and Horror film classics.
It was Carpenter who’s Halloween character, Michael Myers spawned a franchise, and anti-hero Snake Plissken became a cult character.

John Carpenter has always been a film-making influential anomaly, a film-maker, writer producer and musician that has both box office indiefilm success and mainstream. Interchanging between them both. He’s managed to make B-films that are far from cheap, they have been high concepts with lofty production values and stories that are also thought provoking. He has stayed on the fringe of Hollywood, to ensure that his stories are portrayed the way he envisages them. While sometimes the aesthetics maybe criticised the compelling stories are always the driving force and why he’s has stood the test of time.
Of course there are many great Carpenter films including, Prince of Darkness (1987) and Escape from New York (1981) to name a few, but below are my thoughts on my personal favourites.
They Live (1988)
They Live [Blu-ray]Humanlike, skeleton looking, extraterrestrial’s have taken over the Earth and walk among us, but are cloaked by a transmitter that makes ‘them’ appear like us. A drifter discovers a pair of sunglasses that allows him to see what is being hidden.
Halloween’s (1978) horror legend writer/director John Carpenter does his best with a limited budget. The film for the most part has an urban realistic look, due to the on location shots, however, at times it appears very cheap and lacks the production values of The Thing (1982) or The Fog (1980). In true Carpenter tradition there’s a heart pumping and relentless score.
Amongst all the 80’s cheese there is a fantastic story based on Ray Nelson’s short story. They Live themes reflects consumerism, class and corruption to name a few. Underneath, Carpenter’s bland screenplay lay a fear that we are not in control and our society is led by ‘them’, echoing Invasion of the Body Snatchers and ‘V’. To join them would be to give I and we would benefit but we’ll pay a greater price. They Live is high concept sci-fi with great ideas, the sunglasses touch is genius, that’s original and allows some great visuals and interesting moments. There’s also the intriguing secret society aspect and space travel.
Suffering from the 80’s macho testerone Roddy Piper is entertaining as the lead but he’s no great actor, lucky there’s the likes of Meg Foster and Keith David to gives the film some weight and there are some good performances from the supporting cast.
Carpenter though a simple story immerses the viewer in the conspiracy and connects us with the heroes search for the truth which has a fantastic, un-Hollywood brave and downbeat ending. In addition, the effects are of the time but are still effective, there are some stand out set-ups, the supermarket, the underground segment and the discovery of the sunglasses. I’m hesitant to use the word, but They Live is cool.
With so many remakes in recent years They Live would benefit from a serious and heavier version. That said, taken at face value it’s a great fun ride, with one-liners, action and aliens.

The Thing (1982)

 
The Thing [Blu-ray]An atmospheric understated sci-fi at it best. I’ll never understand how Carpenter lost the lustre in some of the other film he made, nevertheless, his Thing is one of his best movies and also once of the best sci-fi movies ever. Despite being based on the same source material (before remakes were popular) the thing has a look and feel of it’s own and is very different from its 50’s counterpart.
 
The isolated setting, the astounding cinematography and scenery creates intrigue; drawing you in from the very beginning. It’s a perfect horror/sci-fi cocktail of Ennio Morricone’s haunting foreboding score, Rob Bottin and Stan Winston (dog effect) benchmark practical effects (which are unsurpassed) Carpenters claustrophobic set ups and Bill Lancaster screenplay.
It’s rare that every single actor is exceptional and supplied with effective dialogue. All the cast from Kurt Russell to Wilford Brimley as Blair are all captivating, great casting by Anita Dann. The characters have their own issues and as the paranoia sets in relationships are forged and other broken, building to a bold and satisfying conclusion.
This is more than just a cult film with a ‘monster’ hiding in warm places surrounded by snow, it’s a finely tuned science fiction horror masterpiece.
The Fog (1980)
FOG (1980)A fog containing zombie-like ghosts seeking revenge on the 100th anniversary of their deaths besieges a small California seaside town. Halloween’s (1978) horror creative duo John Carpenter and Debra Hill reunite with Jamie Lee Curtis (in a smaller role) for this effective ghost tale.
Adrienne Barbeau’s character Stevie Wayne is centre to this horror chiller, even though she spends most of her time held-up in a lighthouse, transmitting her radio show. Carpenter’s The Fog is more about the story than central characters. The cast appear to get equal screen time, including Janet Leigh (Curtis’ mother) of Psycho (1960), Tom Atkins notable The Howling (1981) star and George ‘Buck’ Flower of They Live (1988) to name a few. Veteran actor Hal Holbrook gives a fine performance as the guilt-ridden priest Malone.
Despite the dated smoke machine-like fog the silent ‘zombie’ ghosts, brandishing blades, with their glowing eyes are eerily effective heightened by an accompanying typical Carpenter pulsing score.
There are a few effective kills but like most good horrors some of these happen off screen. It’s mostly shot on location this adds a realistic atmosphere of dread to the proceedings. There are some cheap ‘jump’ scares in there but what’s noteworthy of The Fog is it’s set ups, the spooky opening, the creepy gallon and the paranormal effects on the cars and electricity of the town. The Fog appears to be a series of great idea’s brought together with a single horror tale as its backbone.
It’s not perfect, but The Fog’s absorption makes it entertaining nonetheless. Perfect on a dark night.
Halloween [Blu-ray]John Carpenters 1978 textbook horror slasher film.
What make this different to many other babysitter stalker films is the production value, Carpenters direction and score that reeks of dread. Perfect leads include, heavy weight Donald Pleasence and ever reliable Jamie Lee Curtis as they try to out wit an escaped psychotic murderer.
Halloween is a well produced basic, yet essential horror that contains very little nudity or blood for this type of genre. What maybe a little tame for gore hungry audiences of today, it still remains defining archetype horror film, as without the masked Michael Myers there wouldn’t be many of the horror’s there are on your shelf right now.
A must see for any horror fan.
Big Trouble in Little China [Blu-ray]An everyday Truck driver Jack Burton gets caught up in a centuries-old mystical battle in Chinatown and must rescue his pal’s fiancée.
Made the same year as a flurry of fantasy adventure films, including the The Golden Child, Flight of the Navigator, Howard the Duck and Labyrinth to name a few, Gary Goldman’s & David Z. Weinstein’s Big Trouble in Little China screenplay is rich and director John Carpenter unknowingly creates a rounded personification of an 80’s adventure film.
The leads are perfectly cast, a young Kim Cattrall’s delivers a defining comedy performance and Kurt Russell is perfect as the All-American beer drinking reluctant hero. A make-up enhanced James Hong is outstanding as mystical evil Lo Pan, the rest of the supporting cast is full of familiar faces.
Although the special effects are of their time, some of the makeup effects hold up well. Veteran cinematographer Dean Cundey’s show all gritty, sweat of this pure piece of entertainment fun. There’s fantastically dressed sets, great costumes and neon lighting. Director Carpenter delivers outlandish set pieces, some great action scenes, magic and sword fights. Packed with comedy moments, one-liners and dark, creepy supernatural Chinese spirits.
Big Trouble in Little China packs a lot punch for a film that didn’t do big box office bucks but found an audience on VHS. It’s a fantasy adventure that’s production values add to Big Trouble’s charm.
Once upon a time independent film was just that, Independent. And in most cases still is.
Taxi Driver [Blu-ray]Usually independent filmmakers would beg, scrimp and borrow to get a vision on screen and it would be shown at a limited to a number of cinema screens. This has forced many independent studios to close or to be snapped up by bigger players. Even though the line has become more blurred between big Studio’s and independent ones in terms of look and feel it really isn’t a new thing. In the 70’s Hollywood simply produced films that looked like indie movies for example, Taxi Driver.
The big players and Hollywood system has adjusted making more changes to appease the movie goer with darker films and fewer happy endings, these have usually been produced under a subsidiarity company. Usually these films are more thought provoking, have a certain visual grit and are not PG friendly. Something that indie films have always lived up to. Also there is a difference between low budget film making and low budget indie films. It’s impossible for me to wrap it’s all up neatly and it would be pretentious to even think one could fit all the intracity of film making. in a small blog post.
Pot luck with Film festival and showcases aside it is so difficult to get a film on the big screen, especially in the UK.The process of film making is pretty much the same indie-film or not. Those who go blindly into it aways discover there’s a process that needs to be followed to achieve the completion of a great film. And don’t even get me started on distribution, another minefield of pros and cons. I digress…
Blood Hunger’s development is only aided slightly by the novel as a template, it means that research had been carried out, the characters are already broken down, motivations have already been explored etc. It’s just makes it slighty easier for an objective screen writer. There’s only so much a great glossy photo-shoot and a fantastic neo-noir indie-film Terminus can help the subject matters adataption. So Blood Hunger is now at a stage where the screen-play is being developed. I’ll be posting further updates so you can benefit and learn for our experiences.
Twilight (The Twilight Saga, Book 1)Remember novel source material is just that, the screenplay doesn’t have to be a true representation of the book. Most writers find this difficult to let go, it’s their baby and I can relate to that, however, I can see that it would be difficult to get everything on screen. I’ve also never professed to be a great writer, just a decent story teller. (ah the humbling noise of modesty)
Set in the present day I envisage and strive for Blood Hungers adaptation to be a grittier than the book and far removed from the recent popular vampire incarnations; Twilight; Vampire Dairies; True Blood to name a few. For example the flash back 1477 A.D segments have already been stripped out, not only for budget reasons (for it to have a wider investment appeal) but also because the screen play would become too long and possibly have to be trimmed so much it would loose it’s impact. Besides dependant on the budget, the detailed 15th chapters could always be revisited. It’s a shame they have to be omitted as Europe’s and America’s 1477 is very different. Most striking is the difference of London in mid 15th Century to Bram Stoker’s 19th century London that is so often portrayed.
So while the screenwriter(s) crack on, I’ll be on the hunt for further interested parties in order to deliver you a quality horror thriller. Over and out.