Archive for September 8th, 2010

I grew up watching Ealing Comedies, Hammer Horrors and James Bond movies completely oblivious to the lack of a film industry here in Britain. Then in 1982 the Chariots of Fire screenwriter Colin Welland declared “the British are coming” during his Oscar speech forecasting a rebirth of British cinema. His promise failed to materialise but in recent years British directors seem to have snuck under the wire and following in the footsteps of Alfred Hitchcock and Charlie Chaplin are making movies from within Hollywood.

Christopher Nolan was born in London forty years ago. His first film Following (1998) may have grossed less than $50,000 but when you put it into prospective it is pretty impressive; the film was shot at weekends over the course of a year and cost around $6,000 to make. After great word of mouth following its premier at the 1998 San Francisco Film Festival it was picked up by various distributors around the world including Zeitgeist Films in America. Off the back of this and in some ways more importantly this resulted in a script being optioned by Newmarket Films, the resultant film was Memento (2000). The rest as they say is history: Next came a remake of the 1997 Norwegian film Insomnia (2002); Batman Begins, the movie that reinvented, rebooted and resurrected the Batman franchise killed by Joel Schumacher in 1997; Based on a novel by Christopher Priest and set in the 19th century The Prestige (2006) was a change in direction for Nolan; Then came film that no one expected, The Dark Knight (2008), an intelligent action thriller that just happened to be a comic book movie, oh and it grossed a billion dollars; His most recent movie Inception (2010) is still going strong in Cinemas so may also hit the billion dollar mark when it makes its way onto DVD. Amongst other future projects a third Batman film has been announced.

Sam Mendes: In 1990 at just twenty-five years old Sam Mendes was directing stage productions for the RSC (Royal Shakespeare Company), just two years later he became artistic director of the Donmar Warehouse theatre in London. His most famous production there came in 1998 with David Hare’s The Blue Room starring Nicole Kidman. He made his directorial debut with American Beauty (1999), the film was a critical and financial success grossing over $350million and won the Oscar for best picture and best director. Based on a comic book Road to Perdition (2002) was nominated for six Oscars. Although it failed to live up to the critical and financial success of his debut Jarhead (2005) was a cutting and irreverent satire based on a true story and well worth seeing if you haven‘t allready. Revolutionary Road (2008) was notable for great acting without being a great movie, Away We Go 2009 failed to find an audience but didn’t stop Mendes from getting the dream job of directing the next James Bond movie. Now in abeyance it remains to be seen if the Sam Mendes 007 movie ever happens but he does have other projects on the way including movie based on the graphic novel series Preacher and a movie remake of the ITV mini series Lost in Austen.

Ridley And Tony Scott: Born in the north east of England seventy-two year old Ridley Scott has been making movies for over thirty years following a successful career making television commercials. With nearly twenty directing credits to his name I will just give you the highlights: Alien (1979); Blade Runner (1982); Thelma & Louise (1991); Gladiator (2000); Black Hawk Down (2001); Kingdom of Heaven (2005). With two Alien prequels announced it looks like there is still more to come from Scott. Although commercially successful younger brother Tony has failed to receive the critical acclaim of his elder brother (sometimes unfairly), his movies include: The Hunger (1983); Top Gun (1986); Revenge (1990); Days of Thunder (1990); True Romance (1993); Crimson Tide (1995); Spy Game (2001). Keeping it in the family Ridley’s daughter Jordan Scott directed her feature debut last year Cracks (2009).

Danny Boyle: Now joining the infiltration: Born in Lancashire in the ‘50’s to parents of Irish decent Boyle worked in theatre and television before making his feature with Shallow Grave (1994), he quickly followed it up with Trainspotting (1996) based on a novel by Irvine Welsh. His first move to Hollywood to make A Life Less Ordinary (1997) is probably his only misstep. The Beach (2000) was unfairly panned by critics and was a commercial success, it was also the first collaboration with British novelist turned screenwriter Alex Garland. Going back to basics 28 Days Later (2002) was shot on digital video with a budget of just $5million. A commercial and critical success it has allread spawned a sequel 28 Weeks Later with a possible second sequel 28 Months Later on the way. Family friendly Millions (2004) represented change of direction but retained Boyles flair. Sunshine (2007) was popular with the critics but wasn’t a hit with cinema goers, I think a lot of people just didn’t get it. Then out of nowhere came Slumdog Millionaire (2008), eight Oscars including Best Picture and Best Director and a box-office approaching $400million has promoted Danny Boyle to the big-time and sent him back to Hollywood. His next movie 127 Hours (2010) is based on the true story of Aron Ralston an American mountain climber who has to make an impossible decision following and accident.

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