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Posts Tagged ‘Quentin Tarantino’

Spoiler warning – I have avoide any final act spoilers, but do talk about many aspects of the film in detail.  If you intend to see the film but have not as yet, I recomend you watch it before reading this.  once upon a time in hollywood poster

I was really concerned when Once Upon a Time in Hollywood was announced.  Firstly we don’t need another movie about Charles Manson, but more significantly, is Quentin Tarantino capable of the sensitivity needed to tell the story of the horrendous murder of actress Sharon Tate?  My fears were exacerbated  by the fact I didn’t particularly enjoy his last film, The Hateful Eight (2015).  Quentin Tarantino has been self indulgent ever since  Kill Bill (2003 and 2004) got so long the studio forced him to cut it in half.  Django Unchained (2012) is a good 165 minute movie that could have been a great 100 minute movie.  The Hateful Eight, just dragged!  But I am always hopeful of a return to form, after all, I love Tarantino’s first six movies (Kill Bill is officially one movie), and despite their problems Django Unchained, and The Hateful Eight had some really good moments.  It is has been suggested that his work is also hollow and shallow, and totally lacking in sensitivity.  As for lacking in sensitivity, he would probably say guilty as charged and proud of it.  Shallow, is unfounded, but they are certainly hollow, this isn’t a problem, and shouldn’t be considered a criticism.  This is partly because they are so entertaining, but mainly because it is the intention, it is part of the art, the idea of l’art pour l’art suggests true art, is free from any didactic, moral, or function.  The lack of sensitivity was a bigger hurdle to overcome knowing what happed to Sharon Tate and how it could have been depicted.  However, I had overlooked one thing: Once Upon a Time.  The title evoked the Sergio Leone Once Upon a Time movies, I had forgotten that Tarantino had started a movie Once Upon a Time, and that movie, Inglourious Basterds was revisionist at very least, bordering on a fairytale.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, falls very much in this category, revisionist and, or fairytale, and like Quentin Tarantino’s best movies Pulp Fiction (1994) and Jackie Brown (1997), its full of characters you want to spend time with.  The film is littered with a mixture of real and fictional characters, it is told from the prospective of two of the fictional characters Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio), and Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt).  Dalton is an actor who had been the star of a TV western, until he quit to pursue a movie career, think Steve McQueen in Wanted: Dead or Alive.  Unlike McQueen who within a couple of years of leaving TV was making The Great Escape, Dalton’s career is in a slow but undoubted descent, playing villain of the week on other peoples shows.  Booth is Daltons stunt double whose work has dried up in line with Daltons.  He now works as a driver and general gofer for Dalton, who finds himself without a driving licence thanks to a string of DUI charges.  If not an alcoholic, Dalton is on his way to becoming one!  Racked with insecurity, Booth is also a crutch, the friend who will tell him how it is, but with a positive spin, an ego massage.once upon a time in hollywood dicaprio and pitt

The film is set at the turning point in cinema after the death of the Golden Age, and in the early days of New Hollywood when young filmmakers were making films like Bonnie and Clyde (1967),  The Wild Bunch, and Easy Rider (both 1969).  This is symbolised by Dalton who doesn’t know his place in the new order:  Idols like Clark Gable and Humphrey Bogart are a thing of the past.  At the same time, he is too old to be a star of new Hollywood like Al Pacino (who appears in the film as Daltons new agent), and Dennis Hopper (who is referenced in the film).  He isn’t as good, or possibly just as lucky as Steve McQueen (who appears as a character played by Damian Lewis).  The actor who isn’t mentioned, is Clint Eastwood who went from the TV show Rawhide (1959–1965) to Sergio Leone’s Dollars Trilogy of spaghetti Westerns (between 1964 and 1966).  But then neither is James Arness who was the star of Gunsmoke for twenty years but never found anything like that success on the big screen.TV Cowboys

In the film, Dalton lives next door Roman Polanski (Rafal Zawierucha), and his new wife Sharon Tate (delightfully portrayed by Margot Robbie).  This both brings the story together and gives prospective to the Daltons character.  Polanski is the hottest director in town thanks to his previous film Rosemary’s Baby (1968).  His young wife Tate, is something of an enigma, groomed as a studio ingénue, in a system that no longer existed.  Married to, and working with Polanski, what could have happened if not for her tragic death?  Polanski is largely absent from the story concentrating more on Tate as she drifts through the film, an ethereal presence in the background of the story.  It has been suggested that she doesn’t have enough lines of dialogue, but that somehow misses the point of what this story is, she is the heart of the movie, not the subject of it.  The film portrays Tate purchasing a first edition of Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the d’Urbervilles as a gift for Polanski.  A fan of Hardy’s work, she recommended the story to her husband for a movie adaptation.  Ten years later, he made the film, with Nastassja Kinski in the title role.  It was nominated for six Oscars, winning three of them.  Would this have been a project they worked on together?  once upon a time in hollywood margot robbie

Forgoing a traditional three act structure, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood has one prolonged act, a time jump and a montage followed by a final act.  The less you know about the final act the better, I am therefore not going to mention it further.  The montage that separates the two acts is Tarantino at his best, it is snappy and fun where it could have been clunky and distracting.  Narrated by Kurt Russell, it gives a great insight into the “spaghetti” film industry, filled with too clever for their own good in jokes.  What we see is the natural conclusion to the first act, and a perfect setup for the conclusion.  This is no surprise as one of  Tarantino signatures, and expertise is the juxtaposition of narratives.   The brilliance of the montage is how it blends a little truth, and a lot of in jokes into the fiction.Rick Dalton Movie posters (1)

Quentin Tarantino has an interesting history of shooting people in cars talking, and making it really interesting, his first two movies, Reservoir Dogs, and Pulp Fiction are full of them.  The latter even had a key scene in a restaurant where old cars had replace booths.  This isn’t anything new, he would have grown up watching movies like American Graffiti (1973), and Two-Lane Blacktop (1971), that latter making great use of the smaller Techniscope cameras to get inside the car and changing the way cars were shot.  Here we see great conversations in cars, or one particular car, Rick Dalton’s Cadillac Coupe DeVille.  We see Dalton talking to Cliff Booth, these conversations centre around Dalton’s insecurities and fears.  But we also see Booth picking up Pussycat (Margaret Qualley) a hitchhiker; their conversations are frivolous and fun in the vein of what we expect from Tarantino.  Tate however is more a mystery, we see her driving with Polanski in his old MG, and in her Porsche giving a lift to a hitchhiker.  The two journeys have destinations, the first at the Playboy Mansion, the second at valet car park.  Despite the lack of dialogue we learn so much about the character in this moment.  The hitcher and Tate embrace and wish each other luck, an instant if temporary friend.  At the Playboy Mansion, Tate is greeted by friends Mama Cass (Rachel Redleaf) and Michelle Phillips (Rebecca Rittenhouse), the trio immediately go off to dance joyously.  We learn a little more, thanks to some exposition from Steve McQueen (Damian Lewis).  That is where we start to understand, the film is Rick Dalton, and Cliff Booth’s fictional story that we follow while the real world happens around them.  They, like everyone are witnesses to history unfolding, and they are our way into this world separated from us by almost exactly fifty years.  The reason to stay with the film, is that you want to spend more time with these people.  Booth is described as a war hero, it is suggested he may have committed, and got away with a terrible crime.  He comes across as a nice guy, the type you would like to have a beer with, but there is something under the surface, is he totally zen, or is this anger management?  Is he a coiled spring waiting to explode?  As always, Tarantino writes characters better than he rights stories, this is probably why Jackie Brown, based on Elmore Leonard’s novel Rum Punch remains his most accessible film.  But, as all successful people are, he understands his limitations and works with them, sometimes embracing them.  Structure is his his friend, his collaborator. talking in cars

Like all the best Tarantino movies, Once Upon a Time is as much about look and mood as it is about story and character, and that is what he has created so well.  You believe that Rick Dalton, lives in that house, and that Tate and Polanski live next door (and he is afraid to talk to them), and that Booth lives out in the valley behind a drive-in.  The streets look like the 1960’s and look like a real world, not a set (except the E-type Jaguar, on Daltons road that never moves in six months), the people dress like they are from the 60’s not dressing up to look like the 60s’, and listen to music of the time.  Music has always been a big thing in Tarantino movies, and he is famous for his deep cuts, there is no exception here.  He wisely stayed away from The Beatles (referred to as, The White Album) and we get a perfect blend of Paul Revere & The Raiders, Bob Seger, Neil Diamond.  a lot of the songs I recognise, but don’t really know.  This vague recognition is all part of the shorthand that drags us in, as is Booth’s T-shirt bearing the logo for Champion spark plugs (I’m sure I had one when I was a kid, and expect to see people wearing them again now).  But, I suspect it goes deeper than that.  Tarantino isn’t just saying “remember the 60’s?” He is saying “this is what the 60’s were, and this is what they could have been!”. He is reminding us of the ideas and ideals of the day, and how they were lost, forgotten and destroyed, but for the smallest things, those ideals could have been realised.  And most significantly, he is telling us that we are at a similar tipping point today and asking the question, “what the fuck are you going to do about it”.  This is possibly the first time since Inglourious Basterds that he has had something to say.  Am I reading too much into this and attributing Tarantino depth that he doesn’t have?  I don’t think so.  This is a film that needs a second and a third viewing, and like Pulp Fiction, and Inglourious Basterds one that film students will be debating and deconstructing for a generation.

As mentioned at the top, I am not going to go into the final act, but have said enough to indicate that it isn’t an accurate depiction of events, it doesn’t try to be.  If you are interested in what happened, and how this was a turning point for the era and movies, listen to Karina Longworth’s amazing podcast You Must Remember This, where she dedicated a who season to the lead up, events, and aftermath.

If this is to be Quentin Tarantino’s penultimate movie (I don’t believe it is), it is truly a return to form, and an amazing springboard to his swansong.  Taken on its own merits it is a fun, and often funny film that somewhat recaptures my favourite of his films, Pulp Fiction.  It is also a fitting love letter to the Hollywood as a whole, and the birth of New Hollywood.  A director who has always had an eye on late 60’s,a and 1970’s cinema, he has finally visited, and it was a rich and rewarding trip.  The film has its issues, but they are easily forgotten simply because they are outweighed by everything else that is so good.  Not Tarantino’s masterpiece but an accomplished work and for only the second or third time in his career, he isn’t just entertaining us, he has something to say.  Thank you Quentin!

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Whilst watching Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them I rapidly came to the conclusion that Queenie (Alison Sudol) and Kowalski (Dan Fogler) are more interesting than the main characters.  This got me thinking of the supporting characters that have enhanced movies this year:queenie-alison-sudol-and-kowalski-dan-fogler

Rocky: Let’s start with the strangest, Rocky as a supporting character in a Rocky movie! Creed is a Rocky movie, but it’s also its own beast and Michael B. Jordan is excellent as Adonis Johnson/Creed and was unlucky not to receive an Oscar nomination, but Sylvester Stallone was fantastic as Rocky and truly was a supporting character.sylvester-stallone-creed

Ringer: The 5th Wave was a poor film with little to recommend it but Maika Monroe was brilliant as ever playing the most fun character in the movie.ringer-the-5th-wave-maika-monroe

Sheriff Chris Mannix: Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight is a truly ensemble movie and it is hard to call any of the characters supporting, however, in a dialogue heavy movie one of the less well known actors stands out: Walton Goggins. Anyone who has seen Justified won’t be surprised.sheriff-chris-mannix-walton-goggins

Penelope Lannier: Like many people the first I heard of Dakota Johnson was Fifty Shades of Grey, like many people I thought she was the only good thing about the film.  In A Bigger Splash not only does she stand out, but she does it against some seriously amazing actors: Tilda Swinton, Marianne Lane, Ralph Fiennes.penelope-lannier-a-bigger-splash-dakota-johnson

Howard: 10 Cloverfield Lane: is a seriously leftfield sequel.  Mary Elizabeth Winstead is fantastic in the lead but the film would have fallen apart without the brilliant John Goodman.howard-10-cloverfield-lane-john-goodman

Isabelle: In Louder Than Bombs, Isabelle Huppert is never less than sensational and has therefore set the bar pretty high for herself.  playing a dead character, we only see her in flashbacks, but she is the focus of the film and it wouldn’t work unless she is good.  The film is mesmerising and she is monumental.isabelle-huppert-louder-than-bombs

Tanya Vanderpoel: Margot Robbie‘s best moment in Whisky Tango Foxtrot is in the trailer.  To add to this she is supporting the brilliant Tina Fey in the first movie role worthy of her talents in years.  To be honest the offhand delivery of her line in the trailer is enough to give her a place on this list, but she also provides great support in to Fey’s lead.tanya-vanderpoel-margot-robbie-whisky-tango-foxtrot

St Clair Bayfield and Cosmé McMoon: If Meryl Streep gets within a mile of a movie she picks up an Oscar nomination, it is therefore hard to stand out in her presence, however, in Florence Foster Jenkins two performances stand out; Hugh Grant and Simon Helberg.st-clair-bayfield-and-cosme-mcmoon

Jane Clayton: The Legend of Tarzan: is a good old-fashioned action adventure film that was unfairly derided on release.  Alexander Skarsgård is good as John Clayton / Tarzan, Christoph Waltz and Samuel L. Jackson do a really good job playing Christoph Waltz and Samuel L. Jackson.  However, I would happily have watched a movie about Jane played by Margot Robbie in one of three standout performances this year.jane-clayton-the-legend-of-tarzan-margot-robbie

Jillian Holtzmann: Ghostbusters is a week film.  Its problems have nothing to do with the casting or the gender of the stars and has everything to do with flabby direction and a week unfunny script.  To give an actress as talented as Kristen Wiig such a poor part is a crime .  There is one good thing about the film and this comes from the one actor I had never heard of; Kate McKinnon.jillian-holtzmann-ghostbusters-kate-mckinnon

Jake: Star played by Sasha Lane is the star (pun intended) of American Honey but the standout performance comes from the supporting cast as Shia LaBeouf finally fulfils the promise of the talented young actor we saw in A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints and glimpsed in Nymphomaniac: and The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman.american-honey-shia-labeouf

Miss Peregrine: Eva Green was the only good thing about Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows, although she plays the eponymous role, she is a supporting character in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, but a memorable supporting character.MISS PEREGRINE'S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN

Bobby Andes and Ray Marcus: Amy Adams is the focus of Nocturnal Animals, it will be a crime if she doesn’t pickup her sixth and seventh Oscar nominations for this and Arrival, but there are other standout performances that really make the film tick: Michael Shannon and Aaron Taylor-Johnson.michael-shannon-aaron-taylor-johnson-nocturnal-animals

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The New Beverly Cinema in Los Angeles, California is a world famous “revival houses”.  Its legend is helped by the fact it is owned by Quentin Tarantino.  He purchased the 1920’s building that includes the cinema in 2007 to save it from redevelopment but acted more as a landlord than proprietor, until now.  The director had always vowed to show double features in 35mm, but has now taken it a stage further and has taken over programming and will be showing double features from his own  35mm private collection.  I’m sure he will show some of his own movies from time to time, but what would he pair them with?  Here are my ideas:

Reservoir Dogs  (1992) and The Killing (1956)

Three films are often credited with influencing Reservoir Dogs: Ringo Lam’s City on Fire (1987) (undercover cop and the suits), Joseph Sargent’s The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974) (the Mr [insert colour here] names) and Stanley Kubrick’s The Killing (the overall plot).  All great films but I am going with my favourite and possibly the least well know, The Killing.Reservoir Dogs  and The Killing

Pulp Fiction (1994) and Go (1999)

There are so many films I could pair with Pulp fiction, I am going with Doug Liman’s Go.  The narrative structure is different to the one used in Pulp Fiction but does use a group of intertwined stories in a similar way.  For all the films that have influenced Tarantino, it is nice to include a film that is most probably influenced by him.Pulp Fiction and Go

Jackie Brown (1997) and Nikita (1990)

The obvious choice, Out of Sight (1998), both are based on Elmore Leonard novels and even feature a shared character Ray Nicolette (Michael Keaton).   However I am going for Nikita, a very different film but with a similar thread, both films are about woman who get drawn into worlds that they don’t want to be in.Jackie Brown and Nikita

Kill Bill: Vol. 1  (2003) and Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (2004)

I am not going to pair these films with anything , instead I am going to put them together the way they should have been originally, as one film.Kill Bill Vol 1 and Kill Bill Vol 2

Death Proof  (2007) and Doomsday (2008)

Death Proof started life out as part of the  Grindhouse project and therefore already has a paired film, Planet Terror.  My first thought for a paired film was the movie it most directly references Vanishing Point (1971), but I went a different way, of recent films Neil Marshall’s Doomsday is the film that best captures the exploitation cinema vibe that Tarantino was looking for in Grindhouse.Death Proof  and Doomsday

Inglourious Basterds  (2009) and Casablanca (1942)

I considered various movies: resistance films, Flame and Citron (2008) or Black Book (2006), WWII behind enemy lines story Saving Private Ryan (1998) or ludicrous comedy Tropic Thunder (2008), however I went with Casablanca (1942) for no particular reason, I could just see these very different WWII movies working together.Inglourious Basterds and Casablanca

Django Unchained (2012) and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)

The obvious choice Django (1966) (original Django, Franco Nero has a cameo in unchained) but when you strip away the themes of Django Unchained you are left with a buddy movie disguised as a western and the best buddy movie disguised as a western has to be Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.Django Unchained and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

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While having a conversation about X Men: Days of Future Past I mentioned how impressed I was that the films finale had not reverted to the now standard robots/superhumans hitting each other and blowing shit up. I was met with a some strange looks. It seems everyone I was talking to like the action and explosions and see the talking between them as filler.X-Men-Days-of-Future-Past-chess-game

I then asked about Captain America: The Winter Soldier, a film that combines a 70’s thriller with a modern comic book movie. Most of those who had seen it liked it, but liked it for its action and adventure and not for its character studies and the tension it creates. I mentioned the great conversations between Chris Evans, Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson and Robert Redford. My argument fell on deaf ears.redford-capn-america

I then decided to pull out the big guns; Quentin Tarantino and Steven Spielberg. With the exception of The Showdown at House of Blue Leaves, all the best Tarantino moments have been dialogue and not action based: The diner in Reservoir Dogs, the Royale with cheese conversation in Pulp Fiction, The tavern scene in Inglourious Basterds, all of Jackie Brown.

Then comes Steven Spielberg, the man who gave us: The D Day landings, a T-Rex, a girl in a red coat in an otherwise black and white movie, Harrison Ford being chased by a giant marble. But what is the best scene Spielberg ever directed? Ultimately that is a personal choice, but for me despite all these memorable and iconic moments, there is one scene that stands out to me:

Don’t get me wrong I love action and count Die Hard and Point Break amongst my favourite films, but there is so much more to cinema. If you don’t believe me sir down and watch your favourite Spielberg, Tarantino, Bryan Singer and Christopher Nolan movies and try to define what is great about them.

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The cinema has been awash with sequels in recent years some good, many bad! But are there any characters you would like to see again? Here are a few I would like to see:

Eden Sinclair – Played by Rhona Mitra – Doomsday (2008): A cynical and wisecracking, hardcore but emotionally detached soldier. Essentially she is a female Snake Plissken, when she says “if he touches me one more time, I will kill him where he stands” you know its true. With the character left open at the end of Doomsday, a sequel could follow, but only if written and directed by Neil Marshall, anything would be a mistake.Eden Sinclair Rhona Mitra

Dirk Pitt – Played by Matthew McConaughey – Sahara (2005): We have seen Dirk Pitt before, played by Richard Jordan in Raise the Titanic (1980), but that’s best forgotten. Sahara is an underrated and fun action adventure, the closest anyone has ever come to emulating Indiana Jones. The right blend of hero and comedian Matthew McConaughey was perfectly cast and had great chemistry with co-stars Penélope Cruz and Steve Zahn. Sadly the film “underperformed” at the box-office and was beset with legal issues mainly involving author Clive Cussler making a sequel unlikely but we can hope.Dirk Pitt Matthew McConaughey

The Bride – Played by Uma Thurman – Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003) & Vol. 2 (2004): The Bride aka Beatrix Kiddo codename Black Mamba is the character created by Thurman and writer/director Quentin Tarantino. A member of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad, a group of female assassins with a striking resemblance to “Fox Force Five” the group that Mia Wallace (played by Uma Thurman) describes in Pulp Fiction when talking about the TV pilot that she was in. There has been a lot of speculation about a Kill Bill 3, but who knows what Tarantino is thinking. Will we see a grownup Nikki Bell (Ambrosia Kelley) tracking down the bride?The Bride Uma Thurman

Wesley – Played by James McAvoy – Wanted (2008): When Russian director Timur Bekmambetov (The man responsible for Night Watch (2004) and Day Watch (2006)) made Wanted, James McAvoy was an unlikely action stat , but he really pulls it off. There has been talk of a sequel since before the release of the original film, but it has never happened. Their have been reports that both McAvoy and Bekmambetov are interested so it could happen.

Wesley James McAvoy

Nikita – Played by Anne Parillaud – Nikita (1990): We have already seen a lot of Nikita, there has been an American remake and two TV series, but what I would really like to see is a new movie written and directed by Luc Besson and starring Anne Parillaud. The plot possibilities are endless but one thing that could be interesting, Parillaud and Besson have a daughter, Juliette Besson who is in her mid twenties.

Anne Parillaud as Nikita and her daughter Juliette Besson

Anne Parillaud as Nikita and her daughter Juliette Besson

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When visiting my parents or talking to then on the telephone they often ask what movies I have seen, if I respond with the name of a film they haven’t heard of my mom, knowing I watch a lot of foreign language movies will ask “is it foreign”. On more than one occasion I have given the somewhat flippant and slightly rude response “yes, American”. It is funny that a movie made five thousand miles away in Hollywood is familiar and not foreign because it is in something similar to “The Queens English”, and yet something made across the channel in France, still on the same continent as England, is in some way foreign and exotic. Maybe we are two nations joined by a common language and not divided by it as George Bernard Shaw quipped. Whatever the reason, as we step below the surface of these idea we find an interesting thing, filmmaking does exist beyond the bright lights of Hollywood, both in Europe and in the rest of America.Mean Streets The Terminator Blood Simple Memento

When I talk about American independent cinema it isn’t just the obvious and seminal movies like Easy Rider (1969) (Dennis Hopper) or Two-Lane Blacktop (1971) (Monte Hellman) or the small no budget movies that you have never heard of. Think of some of the biggest name directors working today: Martin Scorsese, James Cameron, Ethan and Joel Coen, Christopher Nolan, then look at their independent films Mean Streets (1973), The Terminator (1984), Blood Simple (1984), Memento (2000) . Sam Raimi may be making money movies for Disney now but it all started with Evil Dead (1981) and Evil Dead II (1987). Would George Lucas have made Star Wars (1977), if he hadn’t already made THX-1138 (1971) or the hugely profitable American Graffiti (1973)? Then there are directors like David Lynch, Quentin Tarantino and Darren Aronofsky that are just more comfortable outside or on the edge of the system. There was a time before he started believing his own publicity that Kevin Smith was the darling of the indie scene thanks to the cult status of Clerks (1994), but before that came Richard Linklater’s Slacker (1991). A day in the life of various social outcasts and misfits held together by loose strands and an even looser narrative, the style and the realistic dialogue became a blueprint for a generation. Linklater wasn’t seduced by Hollywood instead he remained in Austin and two years later he came up with Dazed And Confused (1993).Dazed And Confused Clerks THX 1138 Evil Dead

The same can be said for foreign language cinema, it isn’t all about weird esoteric art house movies, there are many accessible movies not in the English language. Not that the weird esoteric art house movies are a bad thing, they are just not the best place to start. The test as to if a movie is accessible and worth seeing is simple, would you watch it if it were in English? If the answer is yes, it is worth a look. There were two movies that seemed to cross the language barrier that came out within a year of each other just over a decade ago: Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) and Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s Amélie (2001). Many of the people who watched and enjoyed them wouldn’t normally have seen a movie in another language. There have been some interesting examples too; the French thriller Tell No One (2006) is very American in its style, no great surprise, it is based on an American novel (of the same name) by Harlan Coben. A Hollywood remake was supposed to have been made but it doesn’t appear to have materialised yet. The same can’t be said for Anything for Her (2008), it took just two years for the American remake The Next Three Days to hit cinema screens. Both Tell No One and Anything for Her benefited from the presence of actresses familiar to English speaking audiences Kristin Scott Thomas and Diane Kruger respectively. On the subject of remakes the terrible Queen Latifah movie Taxi (2004) is a remake of a great French movie also called Taxi (1998). It has spawned three sequels (the first of which is also really good) the movies are notable for lots of things including significant early roles for Marion Cotillard.Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon Amélie Tell No One Anything for Her

When I first saw Oldboy (2003) it immediately became one of my all time favourite films. I didn‘t expect it to have gained the following that it has, I also didn‘t think Hollywood would dare to touch it, but they have the American remake of Park Chan-wook’s vengeance movievis in production and is set for release later this year, it is directed by Spike Lee. The other movie that plays well to British and American audiences is Run Lola Run (1998). It put its German star Franka Potente and director and Tom Tykwer onto the international stage both have worked in American and their native Germany many times since. But I can trace my first experience of a foreign language movie back a little further than that. In 1990 I read a review of a film I really wanted to see Nikita (1990). At fourteen years old I didn’t have a chance of getting into see it at the cinema to see the eighteen certificate movie, but a couple of months later (when I was fifteen) renting the video was surprisingly easy. Its impact in America was such that it spawned a Hollywood remake and two television series. Its director Luc Besson’s next two films Léon (1994) and The Fifth Element (1997) were in English.Oldboy Run Lola Run Nikita Taxi

I have done little more than scratch the surface of independent and foreign langue movies, but I hope I have inspired at least one person to look below the tent-pole blockbuster and popcorn movie and towards the smaller films that don’t get all the publicity. Many of them will get limited runs in big multiplexes but others are harder to find, but if this means you are also helping to support your local independent cinema’s it’s an added bonus. As you grow to love them as much as I do you will look deeper and further back at older movies and a whole world of cinema will open up to you. I know that I am to a certain extent preaching to the converted as many readers are film fans and bloggers themselves and are far more cineliterate than me.

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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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As film fans we all have our favourite directors. When talking about a movie I am going to see, if someone asks me the usual question “who’s in in it” I tend to tell them who directed it before answering the question that is actually asked. There are certain directors that I would go and see just about anything they make, top of my list has always been Martin Scorsese. Quentin Tarantino, Kathryn Bigelow (yes, I am the person who saw The Weight of Water) and Christopher Nolan would also be part of the exclusive club. When a new film is announced I will look it up online and check back from time to time to see what’s happening. Is it in pre production or have they started shooting, who is in it, who will be writing the script? I will watch the trailer online as soon as it hit’s the internet, then eventually the movie will open and I will go and see it within a few days of opening.Martin Scorsese Quentin Tarantino Kathryn Bigelow Christopher Nolan

But something strange has happened recently, I suddenly realised that I had a new must see director. Not that strange in itself, but it came out of nowhere in 2008 I went to see the feature début of an actor turned director that had sat on the shelf for over a year. The movie was Gone Baby Gone the director Ben Affleck. I loved the film and praised Affleck to have the sense and restraint to not cast himself. Two years later he cast himself in his next movie The Town. I went with a certain trepidation, this was unfounded. Although never a bad actor, he has never been a great actor and was still living in the shadow of Pearl Harbor, Jersey Girl and Gigli, however in The Town he was really good. Following these two movies I found myself really looking forward to Argo, going out of my may to see a preview screening two weeks before its release. My enthusiasm was rewarded with one of my favourite movies of the year.ben affleck directing argo

And so the anticipation begins. Until today I had heard nothing of Affleck’s next project when I followed a link from IMDB to the Entertainment Weekly. The short article was actually about Affleck dropping out of a movie called Focus about a con artist and his young female protégée (Kristen Stewart). The reason given clashes with future directing projects “including the thriller Tell No One and an adaptation of Dennis Lehane’s Live By Night”.

For those who don’t know Tell No One is a novel by Harlan Coben that was filmed (in French) in 2006 by actor turned director Guillaume Canet (best know in the English speaking world as Étienne in The Beach). Telling the story of a man who was prime suspect in his wife’s murder. Eight years later the case is reopened following two further murders. He then receives an email suggesting his wife is alive. In the great tradition of innocent men in movies, he goes on the run to clear his name and find is wife. Great performances from François Cluzet and Kristin Scott Thomas in the first of a series of French movies she has made. I have nothing to go on about the Affleck movie other than the title of the movie so am not sure if it is the same story but assume it will be. While I don’t see the point in a remake of such a recent and good movie but am sure Affleck would handle it well.tell no one

Dennis Lehane’s Live By Night only came out within the last few months and I know nothing about it. A quick look at the synopsis tells me it is about “A small-time thief in 1920s Boston”. More important than the plot, is what has gone before it, Dennis Lehane’s previous novels that have been adapted into films are: Mystic River, Gone, Baby, Gone and Shutter Island.Dennis Lehane’s Live By Night

It is interesting that at given Hollywood’s frequent failure to adapt novels that Affleck seems to not only favour them (his first two movies were based on novels and his third on an article in LA Weekly), but do such a good job of adapting them. Whatever his next movie is, and I hope both these projects get off the ground I am sure to see Ben Affleck’s next movie and given his performance in Argo and The Town I would be happy to see him appear in them.

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For me (and many movie fans) the highlight of Danny Boyle’s spectacular Olympic opening ceremony was James Bond and the Queen. 

I had never thought about Danny Boyle as a potential director of a Bond movie, but now I think about it, he would probably do a great job. So not for there first time here are a few thoughts on who I would like to see direct the next Bond movie:

Kathryn Bigelow

What would it be like?

A Kathryn Bigelow Bond film would be like every other Kathryn Bigelow, full of action played out by troubled and conflicted characters. This is why she would be perfect as a Bond director, there is already a little bit of Johnny Utah, William James and Lenny Nero in Bond.

Who would play Bond?

Bigelow doesn’t seem to play the Hollywood favouritism game so she would probably go with who ever was incumbent in the role.

Will it happen?

Sadly, probably not.

Christopher Nolan

What would it be like?

As with Batman, I would expect a deeper darker more political Bond, possibly without the existentialism. The action would be big, grand and most importantly real (in camera, not CGI where possible). Like with Bigelow’s take on the character, Bond will be a complicated and conflicted one, but possibly more focussed and driven.

Who would play Bond?

Nolan has a reputation for returning to actors he has used in the past. This makes Christian Bale and Tom Hardy the most likely candidates. I’m not sure I can see either of them in the part, but am willing to give Nolan a chance as he certainly hasn’t let us down yet. I also like the idea of Anne Hathaway and Marion Cotillard as Bond girls and Memento star Guy Pearce as a villain.

Will it happen?

Given his ability to make profitable movies and his declared interest in the job I think it will happen eventually.

Quentin Tarantino

What would it be like?

I still want to see a 1950’s and/or 60’s set Bond series based on the original Ian Fleming Novels starting with Casino Royale. I can think of no director I would rather see take on (or at least start) such a project. He would make the movies fun without the silliness of Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan, the right blend on bonkers and brilliant.

Who would play Bond

I have no idea, when he spoke about his desire to have made Casino Royale (after the 2006 was had been made) he said he would have used Pierce Brosnan not Daniel Craig. Having worked with him on Inglourious Basterds, Michael Fassbender stands has a good chance but all bets are off if you hire Tarantino.

Will it happen?

Extremely unlikely.

Nicolas Winding Refn

What would it be like?

The leftfield choice. The Danish director would make a very different Bond movie. It would certainly be slick stylish and violent but it could also take it back to a smaller more concise story.

Who would play Bond?

Again I would go with Michael Fassbender.

Will it happen?

Probably not commercially viable.

David Fincher

What would it be like?

A darker and more thoughtful Bond with more of an eye to conspiracy and investigation than action but with an underlying brutality. Stylish looking with stunning photography and great acting.

Who would play Bond?

Having worked well together on The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, stick with Daniel Craig.

Will it happen?

Stands a chance.

But before that, we have Skyfall set for UK release on 26 October.

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The Spy Who Loved Me from yesterday was a repost from three years ago. When I originally posted the treatment for a movie based on the un-filmed Bond novel (the film of the same name is not based on Ian Fleming’s novel) I promised a similar idea based on Moonraker. Better late than never here it is after three years.

So you think you know Moonraker? As the great Ross McG from Ross v Ross once said, ‘Oh, Star Wars is huge! Lets put Bond in space with Moonraker!’ That’s not far off the mark. But back in 1955, just ten years after World War II and during the Cold War Ian Flemings’s third Bond novel was very different. The only way this would work as a movie would be to reboot the series and set the movie in the 1950’s, something I have wanted to see for a long time.

M asks Bond to join him at his club, Blades to sit in a game of bridge. Millionaire businessman Sir Hugo Drax has been winning a lot of money, M suspects him of cheating and wants to know why. Bond confirms M’s suspicions and turns the tables by cheating himself winning a large sum of money.

The mysterious Drax was a British soldier who made his fortune in the aerospace industry after being injured and suffering amnesia during World War II. A national hero because of his backing for the Moonraker project, Britain’s first nuclear missile intended as a nuclear deterrent during the cold war. (Britain’s first nuclear missile the Blue Streak was actually announced around the time the novel was published). Bond is sent to Drax’s factory near Dover to replace security officer working on the project who was shot dead. While there he meets Gala Brand, a beautiful (isn’t everyone in the Bond world) Special Branch agent working undercover as Drax’s personal assistant. It appears Bonds predecessor was killed to stop him revealing a sighting of a submarine off the coast. Bond also makes the surprising discovery (remember this is only ten years after the war) that all the scientists working on the Moonraker project are German. Meanwhile, Gala discovers the truth about the Moonraker, its first test flight will be aimed at the heart of London fitted with a Soviet nuclear warhead. She is captured and imprisoned in the building containing a beacon the missile will be aimed at.

Bond’s attempt to rescue Gala fails resulting in his capture and the destruction of his beloved Bentley. It is then that Drax, in true megalomaniac villain style reveals is back-story and his plans: he was not a British soldier and did not have amnesia. He was the leader of the commando unit (dressed in British uniform) that caused the explosion he was injured in. The amnesia, a cover story while he recovered in a British hospital. After the war he took up a new identity as cover but retained his Nazi beliefs and conceived the Moonraker to destroy London in revenge. In the process he also intends to make a killing on the stock market. To destroy all evidence Brand and Bond are moved to the area under the Moonraker’s engines just before it is fired. They promptly escape and with the help of Soviet Intelligence change the coordinates to redirect the Moonraker safely into the sea. Drax is killed attempting to escape in a Russian submarine. Bond meets up with Gala but is snubbed in favour of he fiancé.

So how have I come up with such a great story? Put simply I haven’t, this is not a treatment for a movie this is an overview of the plot lifted straight from the novel. So who would make it? Director Quentin Tarantino has often mentioned his interest in directing a Bond film. If anyone can make the 50’s setting work it is him. And to reboot the series again we need a new bond. Already a contender for the next James Bond, Michael Fassbender cemented his period credentials in X-Men: First Class and Inglourious Basterds. Gala Brand needs to be played by a talented and attractive British actress with Hollywood credibility, it has to be Emily Blunt. I’m not sure on who should play Sir Hugo Drax, maybe I am getting hung up on the red hair described in the Novel, but I am thinking Damian Lewis.

Financially rebooting the series to a 50’s or 60’s setting would be a huge risk that I can not see the studio taking. But artistically the franchise has already done all it can and said all it has to say, a new direction will give it new direction and new life. And if you are wondering the poster at the top is from a 2004 Internet hoax that claiming to have found 40 minutes of footage from an unfinished 1956 version of Moonraker directed by Orson Welles staring Dirk Bogarde as Bond, Welles as Drax.

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