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Posts Tagged ‘Johnny Depp’

What will I be doing this Halloween? It won’t be trick or treating, in fact I have never been trick or treating in my life. Growing up Halloween was never really on my radar. I was aware of it but it wasn’t anything important. As I remember we grew pumpkins and made lanterns out of them one year (I think I was about eight). When I was a student there was usually something going on around Halloween, often involving lots of heavy metal music and dressing like a character from a horror movie. The most notable of these was when a couple of girls in the bar where I worked made me up to look like Eric Draven, it wasn’t difficult, I already had the hair. Fast forward a decade or so, and I have my own hallowed tradition, for the best part of a decade I have visited my local cinema at Halloween to watch a classic horror movie. Last year was Stanley Kubrick’s classic The Shining (1980) (on a side note, if as reported Stephen King doesn’t like the movie he is an idiot. I don’t care that it is different from his book, it is still a fantastic movie. Other opinions are available, they just happen to be wrong!). The other highlight was the first Hammer Dracula (released as Horror of Dracula in America to avoid confusion with the Universal Dracula) (1958 film) directed by Terence Fisher and starring Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing.Dracula and The Shining

So, what am I going to see this year? Wes Craven’s seminal and influential horror A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984). An ingenious and original riff on the American horror slasher film originated by Alfred Hitchcock with Psycho (1960) and perfected by John Carpenter in Halloween (1978). The notable thing I have to say I have never seen A Nightmare on Elm Street in a cinema and it has been about twenty years since I have seen it in any format.A Nightmare On Elm Street Poster

To give it my relationship to the movie a little context: I started watching Hammer Horror movies when I was bout eleven years old and then started watching other horror movies soon after. I first saw A Nightmare on Elm Street in the late 80’s when I was twelve or thirteen years old (thanks Mom for renting it for me). I then watched most of the rest of the movies as they came out but have never got around to seeing Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994). To the best of my memory I have seen it a handful of times, the last in the early 90’s when it was shown uncut on TV (I think it was Channel 4). I remember talking about it at school the next day (a biology lesson as I remember it, with Matt, Matt and John). Having all seen the movie before, we all had the same initial reaction, “fucking hell was that Johnny Depp?” beyond that, as cynical teenagers we all thought the it was fun horror movie but not scary in the way we remembered it when we were kids.nightmare_on_elm_street_johnny_depp

Looking back at the movie now my thoughts are mixed with memories of watching the Nightmare on Elm Street films as a kid, and looking at their influence now. Horror has changed a lot in recent years, many of Craven’s seminal movie have been remade, rebooted or ripped off. He was at the forefront of the so called Meta-Horror that became prevalent in the 90’s with the Scream movies. It has been suggested that on a primal level there are only two fears that we are born with, the dark and loud noises, all other fears are developed along the way. Horror movies have always played on these fears, but with A Nightmare on Elm Street, Craven took it a stage further, he took the fear from the real world into the dreams, the nightmares of the characters. And that’s the genius of the movie, Leatherface, Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees all stalk the real world but Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) appears in your dreams, how can you outrun your own mind? Although groundbreaking and shocking in their day they suddenly looked quite mild in comparison to the nasty torture porn movies of the 00’s. There has been a trend more recently for more mainstream horror movies that rely on cheap jump-scares rather than tension and a sense of jeopardy. This makes me yearn more for the horror of the 70’s and 80’s like A Nightmare on Elm Street.

I look forward to seeing the movie on Thursday and hope it doesn’t disappoint me.

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The greatest revelation of the month; The Lone Ranger isn’t a bad film, in fact its actually quite enjoyable. Armie Hammer’s deadpan, fish out of water portrayal of the Lone Ranger is good. Johnny Depp does some great physical comedy in the vain of Chaplin and Keaton. It’s great to see the brilliant Ruth Wilson on the big screen and she makes what she can of the thinly drawn clicked character. And William Fichtner is William Fichtner which is all you ever want him to be in a movie! There are some great sets used for real set pieces and physical special effects rather than overused CGI (doubly a good thing because the CGI is shaky at best). So why am I glad the movie is “underperforming” ? Lots of reasons:The_Lone_Ranger_Banner

The runtime is a few minutes short of a week, well actually it is only 149 minutes. This doesn’t even feel that long when you are watching the movie especially when you compare it to Gore Verbinski’s oh so long and dull Pirates of the Caribbean sequels. But, at 100 minute movie would have been so much better. I have often said that the greatest art comes from overcoming constraints, if you have creative freedom to make a film on as bigger budget as you want and no real constraints on the runtime you will become lazy as a filmmaker and that is what Verbinski has become, lazy. To such an extent that I don’t even remember why I loved the original Pirates of the Caribbean movie, but I do remember loving it. Had they taken all the little quirks that do nothing to progress the plot or develop the characters out of the movie, it would have been so much better. Had they been restricted on running time we would have seen the best bits of the chain chase and not the whole convoluted thing.The Lone Ranger and Pirates of the Caribbean

And this brings me onto the next thing. The budget, it is estimated at $250,000,000. What could they possibly have spent $250million on? Could they have told the story for half that amount? Had they done so the movie probably wouldn’t have gotten the backlash it has got from audiences and reviewers, it would have turned a profit and Verbinski would have been given the opportunity to do what he appears to like doing more than anything. Make a sequel or three. It’s not my place to tell Disney how to spend their money, but someone please tell them this does not make good business sense, did they learn nothing from John Carter? Before either Gore Verbinski or Andrew Stanton (director of John Carter) are let lose with another multi million dollar budget they should be made to prove they can remember how to work within constraints. I suggest something like “The Duel Project”. for those who don’t know, producer Shinya Kawai challenged Ryuhei Kitamura and Yukihiko Tsutsumi to make a movie each using just two principal actors/actresses and one location. They had a week to complete the project and came up with Aragami and 2LDK (both 2003).The Lone Ranger John Carter

I have more of a problem with the Monument Valley location than I ever thought I would. The real issue is John Ford, he famously used Monument Valley as a location for his westerns from his early silent days working with actor Harry Carey through his seminal movies including Stagecoach (1939), the “Cavalry Trilogy” (1948-1950) and The Searchers (1956). The first problem is where Monument Valley is (over 500 miles from any part of Texas). This really wasn’t a problem in the 1920’s and 30’s when ford first started using the largely unknown location as it was no less authentic than the Hollywood back lots that other filmmakers were using. It was new to audiences, where as today it is familiar and distracting. Ford was famous for his epic widescreen landscapes, Monument Valley was the most iconic of these but it was more than just a pretty backdrop. Located on the Utah, Arizona border Monument Valley represented freedom, freedom for the studios 650 miles away in Hollywood. It was also home to a Navajo Reservation that gave for access to extras for his films as well as helping fuel his interest in Interest in Navajo culture. This location along with a few others including the Colorado River became mainstays of Ford’s movies representing many different parts of the old west. Ford wasn’t just telling stories, he was creating a legend that endures to this day, Ronald L. Davis said it best in his book John Ford, Hollywood’s Old Master “He captured the nations creation myth on film”. this spirit of freedom and independence is trampled on by a movie made by Disney with a budget somewhere north of $200million. Then you have the biggest issue. If you are going to film a western in Monument Valley, whether you intend it or not you are invoking the spirit of Ford and his movies, and that is something that should be done with care. The silly tone of The Lone Ranger can be overlooked for the positive portrayal of Native American’s within the culture but that is one tick in a positive box against a lot of negatives.The Lone Ranger and Stagecoach

Finally, the real issue, the film is a mess. Although it condemns genocide, it does it in an almost cheerful and off hand way. Does the film wish to be a hard hitting commentary on the poor treatment of the native Americans, or does it want to be a fun romp? Unfortunately I can’t help thinking it wants to be the latter but pretends to be the former in defense of Depp’s casting as a Comanche.  To put it simply although an okay movie, its failure might just prompt film makers to think a little more and work a little harder to make good movies not just okay ones. Steven Spielberg and Christopher Nolan have proved that big budget movies can be fun and intelligent at the same time and still make a profit.

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As soon as the Golden Globe nominations were IMDB declared it “The Road To The Oscars”. I am never very excited by the golden globes for this exact reason, they truly are the starting point and an indicator for the Oscars but really have little or no right to be. For those who don’t know the globes are nominated, voted and presented by the 93 members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. But who are the Hollywood Foreign Press Association? In the words of Ryan McNeil from The Matinee they are “one hundred or so anonymous star-fucker fans”. In the 1960’s it was revealed that the selection of winners was less than fair, suggesting that if the winner wasn’t in attendance at the ceremony, a new winner would be selected.

There have also been more other accusations made against the group, earlier this year in an article in the telegraph Anita Singh picked up on a joke make by Ricky Gervais during this years ceremony “I’d like to quash this ridiculous rumour going around that the only reason The Tourist was nominated was so the Hollywood Foreign Press could hang out with Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp. That is rubbish. That is not the only reason. They also accepted bribes,” she went on to say “The HFPA is currently being sued for $2m by a publicist who claims its members accept lavish gifts in exchange for supporting particular films. The HFPA denies the allegations.” Having said all that I don’t think they have done a bad job this time around. Here are a few awards I think they got right this year:

  • Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy: The Artist (2011)
  • Best Actor – Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy: Jean Dujardin for The Artist (2011)
  • Best Actress – Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy: Michelle Williams for My Week with Marilyn (2011)
  • Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture: Christopher Plummer for Beginners (2010)
  • Best Director – Motion Picture- Martin Scorsese for Hugo (2011)
  • Best Screenplay – Motion Picture: Woody Allen for Midnight in Paris (2011)
  • Best Original Score – Motion Picture –Ludovic Bource for The Artist (2011):
  • Best Actor – Mini-Series or a Motion Picture Made for Television: Idris Elba for Luther (2010)
  • Best Supporting Actor – Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television: Peter Dinklage for Game of Thrones (2011)

There are three possible reasons for the categories I haven’t mentioned: I haven’t seen the winning film – I don’t agree with the winner – I don’t care who won in that category.

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