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Posts Tagged ‘Kathryn Bigelow’

In the early 90’s Ralph Fiennes, then in his early 30’s became an apparent overnight star. after years on stage his first big break was in the TV show Prime Suspect. he then went on to a lacklustre adaptation of Wuthering Heights with a sadly miscast Juliette Binoche who was far too French for the part. Then out of nowhere came his career defining performance of Amon Goeth in Schindler’s List (1993). He was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar, I have never been able to comprehend how he didn’t win. This was followed by a starring role in Robert Redford’s Quiz Show (1994) and Kathryn Bigelow’s Strange Days 1995. Both of these were interesting parts that demonstrated Fiennes’ range. He came to the attention of a lot of people with The English Patient (1997), the second of three movies he appeared in to win best picture Oscar, the others being Schindler’s List. The film also reunited him with Wuthering Heights co star Juliette Binoche. I am happy to report both were perfectly cast this time. Ralph Fiennes Schindler's List

In 2005 he reached a whole new audience when he played Lord Voldemort in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, a role he would reprise in all the remaining film series. The interviews that he did around the films suggested he had little knowledge or interest in phenomenally successful film franchise. His directorial debut came with Shakespeare’s tragedy Coriolanus. Fiennes also took the leading role, a man with a great dislike of being praised, a trait that it has been suggested comes from the belief that the acceptance of praise may be an admission that he places value on others opinion of him! An interesting character for Fiennes to chose. Despite this varied array of work, one thing he has never been accused of is being funny. Having heard him in many interviews he clearly hates the publicity machine that goes with the industry, preferring to let his performance do the talking. In fairness he was very funny as Harry in, In Bruges. This however was achieved by playing the part deadpan straight complete with a preposterous accent. He also had some funny moments in Strange Days, but that was more an uncomfortable laugh out of pity and despair.Ralph Fiennes Coriolanus

None of this prepaid me for Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel. totally camping it up, Fiennes gives a note perfect performance. The history of movies has shown that comic actors taking on serious roles (Adam Sandler in Punch-Drunk Love, Bill Murray in Lost In Translation, Robin Williams in Good Will Hunting and Dead Poets Society) has been far more successful than straight actors trying to be funny. I don’t know and will probably never know if his impeccable timing is down to Fiennes’ performance of Andersons direction and editing. The film is hugely over stylised and is all the better for it, this is probably what allows Fiennes to escape the shackles and confines of the parts he normally platys. Allowing his young co-star Tony Revolori to play the straight role Fiennes appears to be having fun with the part.GHB_9907 20130130.CR2

I’m not sure Ralph Fiennes can step effortlessly from comic to dramatic performances like Jack Lemmon and Alec Guinness did but I would certainly like to see him in a few more comic roles if the results are anything like The Grand Budapest Hotel.

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Groovers Video VaultFor the first time in what seems like ages I have had time to sit down and watch a movie at home. I thought I would combine it with a long overdue entry into my “Groovers Video Vault” series. If you scroll down you will see my last article where I suggested Kathryn Bigelow should direct the next Bond movie, and furthermore she should make it a dumb action movie. One of the commenter’s suggested “Bigelow just doesn’t work well in that area. She’s tried it several times before and ultimately failed with most of it” he goes on to suggest that the closest she came was Point Break but suggested that it was “just decent, nothing great”. I’m glad to report that I stand by my original assessment that not only does Bigelow do dumb action, but she does the best dumb action. Point Break, is dumb but it the best made and most fun dumb ever, in other words, it is great.point break

On his first day in the LA field office, rookie FBI Agent and former star college quarterback Johnny Utah (Keanu Reeves) is partnered with veteran maverick agent Angelo Pappas (Gary Busey). The pair are hunting a gang of bank robbers known as the Ex-Presidents (they were masks of former Presidents Reagan, Carter, Nixon and Johnson during robberies) who have robbed thirty banks in three years without the authorities coming close to catching them. Following Pappas’ theory that the Ex-Presidents are surfers Utah goes undercover finding a way in through troubled surfer girl Tyler (Lori Petty).

Point break utah and tyler

 

There is a moment that comes to all surfers when they wipe-out and as they surface a big wave crashes down on them with such ferocity that they are pushed back under water. The power of the wave counters the bodies natural buoyancy and they don’t know witch way is up. I’m glad to report when this happened to me, I worked it out and came found my way to the surface before running out of air. This is the situation Utah finds himself in and it is this central relationship between his character and Bodie (Patrick Swayze) the leader of the Ex-Presidents that forms the heart of Point Break. This relationship is far more important than his interactions with Pappas and Tyler or even the relationships between the members of the Ex-Presidents. The overriding theme of the movie is Utah getting too deep and too close to Bodie to be blinded to his guilt, but look deeper and you will see from early on that it is Bodhi that sees something in Utah that he is attracted to something in his character. The only character who sees this is Tyler. Point-Break Utah and Bodhi

As you would expect of a Kathryn Bigelow it has a Visual Style that sets it apart from other movies of the genre. This is helped by the locations used, forgoing recognisable LA imagery and sticking with coastal  towns making it that little bit different to the norm. Littered with quotable lines and fun references it actually has a far better script than it is ever given credit for. The casting is perfected Matthew Broderick, Johnny Depp, Val Kilmer and Charlie Sheen were all considered for Johnny Utah, but Keanu Reeves totally nails it, as Ben Harp (John C. McGinley) describes the character as “a real blue flame special – Young, dumb and full of come” as much as Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, it is the movie that galvanised Reeves’ image. As an action star famed for doing his own stunts Patrick Swayze was the perfect choice for Bodhi. He takes it a stage further giving depth to the character and having the crazed look in his eyes that few actors (Mel Gibson and Jack Nicholson?) can pull off. Gary Busey, himself the star of one of the greatest surf movies ever, manages to provide both gravitas and comic reliefpoint break gary busey

But all this is secondary, it’s the action that the movie is all about. The surf photography is good as is the skydiving. The best scene, and one that has been imitated may times happens back on terra firma. The foot chase through back streets (and peoples houses) is perfectly executed and comes as a surprise when you are expecting a car chase. Equally well handled is the raid on the other gangs house and the bank robberies. It is also worth remembering that all the action is integral to the plot of the movie, this gives it a stable grounding that helps us invest in the action the same way we do in the characters.point break the Ex Presidents

As fun now as it was when I saw it two decades ago, action movies don’t come much better than this. For those that see Point Break as a guilty pleasure, come out and declare your love for it, you may just find you are not alone. Those who haven’t seen it, take a look, it is a true classic of the genre.

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I have written about possible Bond directors on a couple of occasions, but now Sam Mendes has ruled himself out of “Bond 24” it’s a good time to bring the subject up again. While there are lots of names doing the rounds, there is only one that stands out for me: Kathryn Bigelow. There is however a problem, it isn’t what you may think, it isn’t her sex, its her nationality! Born in San Carlos, California, she is too American. Yes that’s right, no director from the home of cinema has ever helmed a movie from cinemas most iconic franchise. The closest was Irvin Kershner, who made Never Say Never Again, but this was not part of the Bond, EON franchise.Kathryn Bigelow

If the producers can overcome fifty years of history and hire Bigelow they need to insist she brings Zero Dark Thirty and The Hurt Locker writer Mark Boal with her. They also need to dispense with the intelligence of Mendes, the grit of Marc Forster and the slick of Martin Campbell and produce a simple, dirty and possibly even dumb action movie. Having celebrated the 50 year milestone with gusto and splendour it would be impossible to top it, it would be foolish to try. I am not suggesting Bond becomes a purely action based franchise, but this is the time to make a one-off 90 minute genre movie.Bond

The plot possibilities are endless but a few thoughts on where they should go: stick with the minimal use gadgets, scale back the plot to something simple and personal, keep Moneypenny and M’s role to a minimum. Two possible outlines that would work in the spirit of the character and in line with some of the stories from Ian Flemings novels would involve Bond on his way home from a mission, shown in the obligatory pre credit sequence where he is either, A: distracted by something he sees happening and decides to investigate or B: is called to the aid of a friend who needs Bonds help. A setting for the film is obvious, America. Bond hasn’t spent any significant screen time “stateside” since Licence to Kill in 1989.James Bond Action Movie

I fear none of this will happen, as the filmmakers will fall into the usual trap of trying to make a bigger and bolder movie than what went before. Only time will tell, the one hope, they did listen to me once (in my dreams).

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We are a few hours away from the BAFTA awards, in advance of that here are a few thoughts on who I think will and should win:
Best Filmbafta awards
Zero Dark Thirty is the best film and should win, I would also be happy to see Argo win but actually think it will go to: Les MisérablesZero Dark Thirty
Alexander Korda Award for Outstanding British Film of the Year
Skyfall is by far the best film in the category and is unlucky not to be in the best film category. It stands a good chance of winning but if Les Misérables doesn’t get best film, it will be in with a chance too.skyfall
Best Actor
Hugh Jackman and Ben Affleck were both great and in any other year would be worthy winners, but there is really only one contender this year: Daniel Day-Lewis for Lincoln (2012)Daniel Day Lewis as Lincoln
Best Actress
A really strong category, I think it will go to Jessica Chastain for Zero Dark Thirty.Zero Dark Thirty Best Supporting Actor
I would be happy to see any of the nominees win this one, but think Tommy Lee Jones edges it for Lincoln.Tommy Lee Jones Lincoln
Best Supporting Actress
The shoe in for the equivalent Oscar is Anne Hathaway for Les Misérables, she stands a good chance here too, the only competitor could be Judi Dench for Skyfall.Judi Dench Skyfall
David Lean Award for Achievement in Direction
I would chose Kathryn Bigelow for Zero Dark Thirty with Ben Affleck for Argo as a close second. However, I have a feeling Michael Haneke for Amour may sneak it.Michael Haneke Amour
Best Screenplay (Original)
Only one choice here, Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola for the magical Moonrise KingdomMoonrise Kingdom
Best Screenplay (Adapted)
Another strong category, I would go for David Magee for Life of Pi and think it should win, as much for the complexity of adapting the screenplay as for the final result.Life Of Pi
Best Cinematography
It easy to forget that cinematography is about hw well shot and lit and film is not how pretty the finished result is. With this in mind it has to be a straight fight between Janusz Kaminski for Lincoln and Roger Deakins for Skyfall. My vote goes to Deakins.Roger Deakins Skyfall
Best Editing
To clarify for the people who nominated Django Unchained, this catergry is for the best editing, not the movie most in need of editing. Again I think it’s a straight fight between Skyfall (Stuart Baird) and Zero Dark Thirty (Dylan Tichenor, Billy Goldenberg). I would lean towards Zero Dark Thirty.zero dark thirty
Best Production Design
I would like to see Dennis Gassner and Anna Pinnock for Skyfall as they avoided all the usual lazy clichéd pitfalls usually associated with the franchise. However the design of Anna Karenina (Sarah Greenwood and Katie Spencer) is both clever and stunning so will probably win.annakarenina-sets-various
Best Costume Design
All the nominees tick all the relevant boxes Jacqueline Durran for Anna Karenina looks like a good bet.annakarenina_poster-header Anthony Asquith Award for Film Music
None of the nominated scores was that memorable for me.
Best Make Up/Hair
Forgoing the flash and flair of the other nominated movies, Lincoln had a believable look of the era.Lincoln
Best Sound
Skyfall had the most amazing sound design , especially noticeable when seen in Imax but Les Misérables will most likely win for the original way in which the songs were recorded.Les Misérables
Best Achievement in Special Visual Effects
All the nominated movies could put up a strong argument for this award, but Life of Pi edges it.life-of-pi
Best Film not in the English Language
I liked Untouchable and Headhunters but thought Rust and Bone was considerably better than both. However, I havent seen Amour (the favourite) or The Hunt so can’t accurately predict this one.Marion Cotillard  Rust and Bone
Best Animated Feature Film
I have seen two of the nominated movies. Frankenweenie was better than Brave.It's a dog's death … Frankenweenie
Best Documentary
I have only seen two of the three nominated movies so will go with the favourite: The ImposterThe Imposter
EE Rising Star Award
Her Killer Joe performance is enough for me to give it to Juno Temple but wouldn’t mind seeing Andrea Riseborough or Elizabeth Olsen win as they are both brilliant in everything they do. I would like to see more of Suraj Sharma and Alicia Vikander before deciding on their future stardomJuno Temple Killer Joe
Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer
I would love to see Dexter Fletcher, Danny King win for the excellent but under seen Wild Bill. Dexter Fletcher

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The Oscar for Cinematography is not a beauty contest, it isn’t about how pretty a film looks, it is about how well it is lit and photographed, in the same vein, the best director Oscar doesn’t go to the best film, that’s what the best film category is for! While, the Best picture Oscar is really the sum total of all the awards, the acting, the music, the photograph, the script, the direction and all the other elements that make up a film, the best director Oscar, is based purely on the process of directing. It is worth remembering that although the winners are selected by the Academy membership as a whole, the nominations are made by the academy’s directing branch. In other words, the nominations come from the directors and their contemporaries.

Michael Haneke Benh Zeitlin Ang Lee Steven Spielberg David O Russell

This years nominations are: Michael Haneke – Amour, Benh Zeitlin – Beasts of the Southern Wild, Ang Lee -Life of Pi, Steven Spielberg – Lincoln David O. Russell -Silver Linings Playbook. I am yet to see Lincoln and Amour so will reserve judgment on the strength of the category but have selected five directors I would have liked to have seen nominated:

Kathryn Bigelow – Zero Dark Thirty
Wes Anderson – Moonrise Kingdom
Ben Affleck – Argo
Sam Mendes – Skyfall
Christopher Nolan – The Dark Knight Rises

Each of them has crafted a fantastic movie that would have been run of the mill in lesser hands if they even existed. All would have been worthy winners.

Kathryn Bigelow Wes Anderson Ben Affleck Sam Mendes Christopher Nolan

Should Steven Spielberg win it will put him the elite company of : William Wyler and Frank Capra with three best director Oscars and just one behind John Ford with four. Ang Lee has picked up one win and one other nomination in the category previously (Brokeback Mountain and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon respectively), David O. Russell has been nominated before (The Fighter), it is Michael Haneke’s first nomination. Not only is it Benh Zeitlin’s first nomination, it is his first feature.

Whoever loses, or indeed those who weren’t nominated, it is worth remembering they are in good company, despite thirteen nominations between them Alfred Hitchcock (5), Federico Fellini (4) and Stanley Kubrick (4) didn’t win a single best director Oscar.Alfred Hitchcock Federico Fellini Stanley Kubrick

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As 2012 got underway I was looking forward to some well publicised movies like Skyfall, The Dark Knight Rises, The Avengers and The Hunger Games. I had heard good reports from across the Atlantic about The Artist, Young Adult and The Descendents. But, I had never heard of what turned out to be some of the best movies of the year: Moonrise Kingdom, Argo, Haywire, Rust and Bone, Café de Flore, End of Watch and Killer Joe. Hopefully there will be some pleasant surprises this year too, if not there is still a lot to look forward to:

Django Unchained
When Quentin Tarantino decides to make a western, he doesn’t just make a Weston, he makes a Blaxploitation Spaghetti Western. The cast includes Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz and Leonardo DiCaprio as well as a cameo from the original Django, Franco Nero. And did I mention Quentin Tarantino.Django Unchained

Zero Dark Thirty
I saw Near Dark when I was about 13, I have seen every other Kathryn Bigelow since (yes I am the person who saw The Weight of Water ) and would now watch anything she makes . It also stars Jessica Chastain who I had never heard of before The Tree of Life but is fast becoming one of my favourite actresses.Zero Dark Thirty

The Counselor
A Ridley Scott crime thriller based on a novel by Cormac McCarthy starring: Brad Pitt, Michael Fassbender, Javier Bardem, Cameron Diaz and Penélope Cruz. Any one of these would be a reason to watch it.The Counselor

The Wolf Of Wall Street
Its Martin Scorsese what more do I need to say.The Wolf Of Wall Street

Cloud Atlas
Most readers probably know more about this than me as it was released three months ago in some countries. The story looks bonkers but Tom Tykwer and the Wachowski’s were responsible for two of my favourite movies of all time (Run Lola Run and The Matrix).Cloud Atlas

Star Trek Into Darkness
There have been a couple of great Star Trek movies, but the franchise had really run out of steam until the J.J. Abrams’ 2009 reboot that was far better than I ever expected it to be. Lets hope he can do it again.Star Trek Into Darkness

The Great Gatsby
As proved by previous adaptations The Great Gatsby (like all F. Scott Fitzgerald stories) is better on the page than the screen, however I am intrigued by what Baz Luhrmann will do with it.The Great Gatsby

The Last Voyage of Demeter
The Demeter was the Russian ship that carried Dracula from Transylvania to England in Bram Stoker’s novel. By the time it reached Whitby all the crew had disappeared presumed dead. Neil Marshall’s movie tells their story. One thing you can guarantee about Neil Marshall movies is that they are fun. (they don’t appear to have started shooting yet so I  Neil Marshall

Stoker
Chan-wook Park, the director of my favourite movie of the 00’s (Oldboy) finally makes an English language movie. It looks bonkers; and that’s a good think if you were wondering!Stoker

Pacific Rim
Guillermo del Toro’s giant robots v alien invaders movie. Enough said.Pacific Rim

And the next ten:
World War Z
Snowpiercer
A Field In England
The Paperboy
Machete Kills
Kick-Ass 2
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Iron Man 3
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
The Wolverine

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A few thoughts on the nominations. Firstly I am always a little disappointed when films are nominated before they have been released in the UK (Lincoln, Zero Dark Thirty, Django Unchained). I am surprised and disappointed that Sam Mendes/Skyfall isn’t nominated in the best film/best director categories. I didn’t expect it to get anything at the Oscars but held out hope the British Academy would recognise it. Fantastic to Marion Cotillard’s monumental performance in Rust and Bone nominated despite not being in an English language movie. Also pleased to see actor turned director Dexter Fletcher (director/writer) nominated for the debut British writer/director/producer category. A strong year for documentaries and foreign language movies. The rising star award has a heavy female bias with woman in four of the five places. Its also a strong category presenting a problem. It is awarded via a public vote, at least three of the five might get my vote.

Here is a Full list of nominees:

BEST FILM
Argo
Les Miserables
Life of Pi
Lincoln
Zero Dark ThirtyZero Dark Thirty

OUTSTANDING BRITISH FILM
Anna Karenina
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Les Miserables
Seven Psychopaths
Skyfallskyfall

LEADING ACTOR 
Ben Affleck – Argo
Bradley Cooper – Silver Linings Playbook
Daniel Day-Lewis – Lincoln
Hugh Jackman – Les Miserables
Joaquin Phoenix – The MasterJoaquin Phoenix  The Master

LEADING ACTRESS 
Jessica Chastain – Zero Dark Thirty
Marion Cotillard – Rust and Bone
Jennifer Lawrence – Silver Linings Playbook
Dame Helen Mirren – Hitchcock
Emmanuelle Riva – AmourMarion Cotillard  Rust and Bone

SUPPORTING ACTOR 
Alan Arkin – Argo
Javier Bardem – Skyfall
Philip Seymour Hoffman – The Master
Tommy Lee Jones – Lincoln
Christoph Waltz – Django UnchainedAlan Arkin Argo

SUPPORTING ACTRESS 
Amy Adams – The Master
Dame Judi Dench – Skyfall
Sally Field – Lincoln
Anne Hathaway – Les Miserables
Helen Hunt – The SessionsAnne Hathaway Les Miserables

DIRECTOR 
Ben Affleck – Argo
Kathryn Bigelow – Zero Dark Thirty
Michael Haneke – Amour
Ang Lee – Life of Pi
Quentin Tarantino – Django Unchained

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Amour – Michael Haneke
Django Unchained – Quentin Tarantino
The Master – Paul Thomas Anderson
Moonrise Kingdom – Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola
Zero Dark Thirty – Mark Boal

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY 
Argo – Chris Terrio
Beasts of the Southern Wild – Lucy Alibar, Benh Zeitlin
Life of Pi – David Magee
Lincoln – Tony Kushner
Silver Linings Playbook – David O Russell

OUTSTANDING DEBUT BY A BRITISH WRITER, DIRECTOR OR PRODUCER
James Bobin (director) – The Muppets
Dexter Fletcher (director/writer) and Danny King (writer) – Wild Bill
Tina Gharavi (director/writer) – I Am Nasrine
Bart Layton (director) and Dmitri Doganis (producer) – The Imposter
David Morris (director) and Jaqui Morris (director/producer) – McCullin

ANIMATED FILM
Brave
Frankenweenie
Paranorman
DOCUMENTARY
The Imposter
Marley
McCullin
Searching for Sugarman
West of Memphis

FILM NOT IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE
Amour
Headhunters
The Hunt
Rust and Bone
Untouchable

CINEMATOGRAPHY
Anna Karenina
Les Miserables
Life of Pi
Lincoln
Skyfall

COSTUME DESIGN 
Anna Karenina
Great Expectations
Les Miserables
Lincoln
Snow White and the Huntsman

EDITING
Argo
Django Unchained
Life of Pi
Skyfall
Zero Dark Thirty

MAKE UP AND HAIR
Anna Karenina
Hitchcock
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Les Miserables
Lincoln

ORIGINAL MUSIC
Anna Karenina
Argo
Life of Pi
Lincoln
Skyfall

PRODUCTION DESIGN
Anna Karenina
Les Miserables
Life of Pi
Lincoln
Skyfall

SOUND
Django Unchained
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Les Miserables
Life of Pi
Skyfall

SPECIAL VISUAL EFFECTS
The Dark Knight Rises
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Life of Pi
Marvel Avengers Assemble
Prometheus

SHORT ANIMATION
Here to Fall
I’m Fine Thanks
The Making of Longbird

SHORT FILM
The Curse
Good Night
Swimmer
Tumult
The Voorman Problem

RISING STAR (public vote)
Elizabeth Olsen
Andrea Riseborough
Suraj Sharma
Juno Temple
Alicia VikanderRISING STAR

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