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Behind-the-scenes photographs from the set of ‘Alien’ (1979)
08.12.2014
07:25 am

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Movies

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Ridley Scott
H R Giger

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The man who wore the creature suit in Ridley Scott’s classic film Alien in 1979 was 6’10″ Nigerian Bolaji Badejo.

As soon as Scott saw Bolaji, he knew he had found the right person to play the Alien. Badejo was allowed to rehearse and practice his movements on the set of the spacecraft “Nostromo” prior to filming. Wearing a mock-up of the Alien head, Badejo moved gracefully, slowly, slithering and creeping through the spaceship’s corridors, as he later told Cinefantastique:

“The idea,” says Bolaji, “was that the creature was supposed to be graceful as well as vicious, requiring slow, deliberate movements. But there was some action I had to do pretty quick. I remember having to kick Yaphet Kotto, throw him against the wall, and rush up to him. Veronica Cartwright was really terrified. After I fling Yaphet Kotto back with my tail, I turn to go after her, there’s blood in my mouth, and she was incredible. It wasn’t acting. She was scared.”

These photos come various sources, and show Bolaji in his Alien outfit, along with Ridley Scott setting up shots and artist H. R. Giger preparing the sets.
 
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More behind the scenes pics, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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The video Jim Jarmusch made for Big Audio Dynamite


 
1986’s No. 10, Upping St. was kind of an amazing album for Big Audio Dynamite. That was the band Clash Guitarist Mick Jones formed upon his ouster from that seminal punk band, and he used the freedom that came with being HMFIC to explore a mix of club and hip-hop influences with the rock and reggae influences he’d already been known for. And yet, Upping was co-written and produced by his evidently no-longer-estranged former bandmate Joe Strummer! Jones would never re-join the Clash (who, as a result, would suck mightily until they packed it in), and so that B.A.D. LP would be the only Strummer/Jones reunion that ever took place. Jones revealed last year that he and Strummer were working together again in the 21st Century, but that renewed collaboration was cut short by Strummer’s 2002 death.

Three videos were made from that album, “C’mon Every Beatbox,” “V. Thirteen,” and “Sightsee M.C!” That last was noteworthy for having been directed by the pioneering independent filmmaker Jim Jarmusch. The director had already become a celebrated figure for Stranger Than Paradise and Down by Law, but the only music video he’d made before was for Talking Heads’ “The Lady Don’t Mind.” In spite of Jarmusch’s high status among indie musicians as well as film afficionados, and his frequent casting of musicians (including Joe Strummer) as actors in his features, ”Sightsee M.C!” remains one of only seven music videos he’s directed in his long career. In a 1992 issue of Film Comment, he had this to say on the matter:

I don’t generally like music videos because they provide you images to go with the songs rather than you providing your own. You lose the beauty of music by not bringing your own mental images or recollections or associations. Music videos obliterate that. That said, one of the better videos I’ve seen is not a music video at all: it’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues” where Dylan just stands there with the cards - it’s one single shot. They lifted that out of Don’t Look Back and showed it on MTV. I saw a good video the Butthole Surfers did, directed by the actor from Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Alex Winter; very weird, not your MTV fare. Julia Haywood’s Talking Heads video “Burning Down the House” was interesting - projecting fire onto the house itself, and images onto the road and re-photographing them. Zbigniew Rybczinski has done amazing things. But mostly I like videos that don’t get too complicated.

 

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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A video montage of every Alfred Hitchcock cameo
08.11.2014
08:47 am

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Alfred Hitchcock


 
Here’s a nice little montage of all (or nearly all) of Alfred Hitchcock trademark cameos in his films. By far, his most clever cameo is in the 1944 film Lifeboat, IMO. Just watch.

The films are as follows: The Lodger (1927), Easy Virtue (1928), Blackmail (1929), Murder! (1930), The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934), The 39 Steps (1935), Sabotage (1936), Young and Innocent (1937), The Lady Vanishes (1938), Rebecca (1940), Foreign Correspondent (1940), Mr. & Mrs. Smith (1941), Suspicion (1941), Saboteur (1942), Shadow of a Doubt (1943), Lifeboat (1944), Spellbound (1945), Notorious (1946), The Paradine Case (1947), Rope (1948), Under Capricorn (1949), Stage Fright (1950), Strangers on a Train (1951), I Confess (1953), Dial M for Murder (1954), Rear Window (1954), To Catch A Thief (1955), The Trouble With Harry (1955), The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956), The Wrong Man (1956), Vertigo (1958), North By Northwest (1959), Psycho (1960), The Birds (1963), Marnie (1964), Torn Curtain (1966), Topaz (1969), Frenzy (1972), Family Plot (1976).

 
Via The World’s Best Ever

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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Breast Man: Will Ferrell to play Russ Meyer in film about making of ‘Beyond the Valley of the Dolls’
08.05.2014
02:54 pm

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Will Ferrell


 
According to Deadline Hollywood, comic actor Will Ferrell is rumored to be circling the role of Russ Meyer in Russ & Roger Go Beyond, an indie biopic focusing on the breast-obsessed softcore auteur’s working relationship with film critic Roger Ebert on their 1970 cult classic, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls.

Writing about the film years later in a 1980 issue of Film Comment, Ebert had this to say:

Remembered after 10 years, “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls” seems more and more like a movie that got made by accident when the lunatics took over the asylum. At the time Russ Meyer and I were working on “BVD” I didn’t really understand how unusual the project was. But in hindsight I can recognize that the conditions of its making were almost miraculous. An independent X-rated filmmaker and an inexperienced screenwriter were brought into a major studio and given carte blanche to turn out a satire of one of the studio’s own hits. And “BVC” was made at a time when the studio’s own fortunes were so low that the movie was seen almost fatalistically, as a gamble that none of the studio executives really wanted to think about, so that there was a minimum of supervision (or even cognizance) from the Front Office.

We wrote the screenplay in six weeks flat, laughing maniacally from time to time, and then the movie was made. Whatever its faults or virtues, “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls” is an original—a satire of Hollywood conventions, genres, situations, dialogue, characters and success formulas, heavily overlaid with such shocking violence that some critics didn’t know whether the movie “knew” it was a comedy.

Although Meyer had been signed to a three-picture deal by 20th Century-Fox, I wonder whether at some level he didn’t suspect that “BVD” would be his best shot at employing all the resources of a big studio at the service of his own highly personal vision, his world of libidinous, simplistic creatures who inhabit a pop universe. Meyer wanted everything in the screenplay except the kitchen sink. The movie, he theorized, should simultaneously be a satire, a serious melodrama, a rock musical, a comedy, a violent exploitation picture, a skin flick and a moralistic expose (so soon after the Sharon Tate murders) of what the opening crawl called “the oft-times nightmarish world of Show Business.”

Simpsons and SNL writer Chris Cluess wrote the script. Speculation so far is that Edgar Wright wants to direct and that Jonah Hill and Seth Rogen are both being considered for the role of Ebert, who interestingly, got the job in the first place because he’d written positive reviews of Meyer’s previous films for the Chicago Sun Times.

Ebert and Meyer stayed friends throughout their lives. Meyer passed away in 2004 and Ebert, after a long battle with cancer, died in 2013.

Below, the trailer, heavy on behind the scenes, for Beyond the Valley of the Dolls:

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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Gordon’s Gin makes Gilbert & George very, very drunk
08.04.2014
09:59 am

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Drugs
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Gilbert and George
Gordon's Gin


 
Are Gilbert and George the Ralf und Florian of the visual arts world? As imperfect as that analogy may be, I’m sticking with it. In this 1972 short, titled Gordon’s Makes Us Drunk, Gilbert and George paid homage to their beloved gin & tonics. It conforms to a style one might call “high deadpan”: as sweeping music by Elgar and Grieg plays, the viewer is treated to a single static shot of G&G consuming several G&Ts in front of a stately window, presumably revealing a London thoroughfare; meanwhile the sentence “Gordon’s makes us drunk” is intoned many times (as time passes, the word “drunk” is modified by the word “very” and “very, very,” etc.—perhaps the number of times “very” is said correlates to the number of G&Ts they’ve consumed?).

In 1973, G&G published a multiple in an edition of 200 called “Reclining Drunk” that utilised melted down Gordon’s gin bottles. One of these will typically sell today for around $7000 at an art auction.
 

 
You have to admire the commitment to conceptual rigor here, not to mention to the glories of inebriation. (I love the touch of adding their names to the Gordon’s Gin label.) It might not exactly be as exciting as Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe, but I like it.
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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‘48% Bug-eyed, unblinking, creepy staring’: Werner Herzog movies in chart form
08.01.2014
06:10 am

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Fitzcarraldo
Fitzcarraldo
 
The editorial brain trust of The Dissolve has released an amusing feature breaking down sixteen mostly early Werner Herzog movies and presenting them as bar graphs. The sixteen movies correlate to the ones selected for Herzog: The Collection, the new box set from Shout! Factory.

Herzog is so prolific that many recent favorites aren’t represented, so no Grizzly Man, no Cave of Forgotten Dreams, no Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans. However, you can still learn that Aguirre, The Wrath Of God is 2% “Klaus Kinski intimidating a horse” and that Stroszek is 50% “Thinly populated corners of Wisconsin.” (Have to say, those numbers seem about right to me.) Every movie gets points for “Beauty,” “Terror,” “Madness,” “Ambition,” “Success,” and “Reality,” which is what the bar charts represent.
 
Stroszek
Stroszek
 
Nosferatu the Vampyre
Nosferatu the Vampyre
 
Woyzeck
Woyzeck
 
My Best Fiend
My Best Fiend
 
The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser
The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser
 
Cobra Verde
Cobra Verde
 
Aguirre, the Wrath of God
Aguirre, the Wrath of God
 
Catch the rest at The Dissolve.
 
via Biblioklept

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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‘The Mind Benders’: The true story behind the cult classic psychological thriller

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The writer James Kennaway was working as a publisher’s agent when he first heard talk of the sensory deprivation experiments carried out at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, during the early 1950s.

Kennaway’s job entailed traveling across England seeking out academics and scientists to contribute texts for Longmans catalog of books. The stories he heard at Oxford University were just idle chat shared over cups of milky tea or warm beer in pubs. Rumors someone had heard from somebody else that students were being paid to undergo a week of sensory deprivation—so far no one had succeeded. Though still an unpublished author, Kennaway knew he had found material for a very good story.

James Kennaway was born on 5 June 1928 in Auchterarder, Scotland.  His father was a successful lawyer, his mother a graduate of medicine. The younger of two children (his sister Hazel was born in 1925), Kennaway’s early childhood was one of tradition and privilege, with the expectation that he would one day follow in his father’s footsteps.

His childhood idyll ended when Kennaway’s father died in January 1941. Though at a preparatory school in Edinburgh, the twelve-year-old felt obliged to take up the role as “male head of the household.”  He suppressed his own emotional needs and began to write letters to his mother full of the advice and emotional support he felt his father would have given.

The untimely death made James feel that he too would die young, and this early trauma, together with the pressure he felt to succeed at school led to a fissure in his personality that would widen with age. Kennaway’s biographer, Trevor Royle described this gradual change of character as:

James was the sophisticate, Jim the “nasty wee Scot”. Later, he came to characterize the split as James the domesticated man constrained by society and Jim the artist who should be allowed any amount of license.

Or, as Kennaway later described it:

James et Jim, man and artist, wild boy and introvert.

At school “James” was the likable, eager-to-please pupil; while “Jim” was beginning his first thoughts towards a career as a writer—as Kennaway explained in a letter to his mother:

...I feel I have been granted with more than one talent; in such a life my talent of sympathy would shine but my other talents would lie buried. On my part I would get lazier and fatter every day. I might however do this at the same time as I write and really go in for writing, but I must learn more about the English language before I can write any stuff worth reading.

After school, Kennaway carried out his National Service in the Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders before going up to Oxford to study Modern Greats (Politics, Philosophy and Economics or P.P.E.). It was here he met Susan Edmonds, whom he married in 1951.

After university, Kennaway worked for a publishing firm, and in his spare time, started work on his first novel Tunes of Glory.
 
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Published in 1956, Tunes of Glory was the story of a psychological battle between bully Major Jock Sinclair and war-wounded Lieutenant Colonel Basil Barrow for control of over a peacetime battalion stationed in a Scottish army barracks. The story had been inspired by many of the people and events Kennaway encountered during his National Service.

Max Frisch noted in his novel Montauk that a writer only ever betrays himself; this is true for Kennaway who channeled the experiences of his life through the prism of his writing.

The book’s overwhelming success brought Kennaway more work as a writer: a commission to write an original screenplay. This became Violent Playground, which was filmed in 1957 with Stanley Baker, David McCallum, Anne Heywood and Peter Cushing. Its story of a juvenile delinquent holding a classroom of children to ransom was inspired by real siege in Terrazanno, Italy, when two brothers, armed with guns and dynamite, held ninety-nine pupils and three teachers to ransom. The brothers threatened to kill their hostages unless various demands were met. The siege ended after a teacher attacked and disarmed the brothers allowing the police to rescue the children. Kennaway followed the story in the papers, keeping numerous press clippings, and using the story for a key scene in his screenplay.
 
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The following year, Kennaway was commissioned to write another film, this time he relied on the stories he had heard from academics at Oxford in the early 1950s.

The term “brainwashing” was first used by journalist (and CIA stooge) Edward Hunter in an article he wrote for the Miami News, 7th October 1950. Hunter used the term to bogusly describe why certain U.S. soldiers had allegedly co-operated with their captors during the Korean War. Simply put, Hunter was suggesting the Chinese had used various psychological techniques to create a false sense of friendship with which they could undermine, reprogram and brainwash American soldiers. This led to Western governments commencing their own brainwashing experiments.
 
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In June 1951, a secret meeting at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Montreal saw the launch of a CIA-funded, joint American-British-Canadian venture to fund studies “into the psychological factors causing the human mind to accept certain political beliefs aimed at determining means for combating communism and democracy” and “research into the means whereby an individual may be brought temporarily or perhaps permanently under the control of another.”

Dr. Donald Hebb of McGill University received a grant of $10,000 to examine the effects of sensory deprivation. Volunteers were paid to lie on a bed, cradled in a foam pillow (to block out external sounds), their arms wrapped in cardboard tubes (to limit movement and sensation), whilst wearing white opaque goggles. Without any external stimuli and only short breaks for testing, feeding and use of the toilet, the volunteers quickly began to hallucinate—seeing dots, colored lights, and faces. The experiments had disturbing affects on the volunteers with only a few managing to continue beyond two or three days—no one lasted the week.

The experiments progressed with the use of flotation tanks that became central to Kennaway’s screenplay.
 
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In an article “The Pathology of Boredom” published in Scientific American, one of Hebb’s associates wrote:

Most of the subjects had planned to think about their work: some intended to review their studies, some to plan term papers, and one thought he would organize a lecture he had to deliver. Nearly all of them reported that the most striking thing about the experience was that they were unable to think clearly about anything for any length of time and that their thought processes seemed to be affected in other ways.

It was also noted during these experiments that the volunteers were overly susceptible to external sensory stimulation—making them open to ideas or beliefs they may have once opposed. In A Question of Torture, professor Alfred McCoy of Madison University, noted that during Hebb’s experiments “the subject’s very identity had begun to disintegrate.”
 
More on James Kennaway’s ‘The Mind Benders’, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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United States of Jedi: Liam Lynch vs. ‘Star Wars’
07.30.2014
07:24 am

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Liam Lynch

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It’s possibly the anticipation of the next Star Wars movie that’s brought this mash-up from circa 2007 back into the ether. Whatever…is generally how I feel about the series of Star Wars movies, which is maybe why I quite like this mash-up of Liam Lynch’s “United States of Whatever” with sample dialog from Star Wars.

Some of you will remember a similar mash-up between Lynch and Darth Vader’s “Noooooooooooo!” back in 2011, but this one has the edge.

It comes via Bootie Dragon, who has a variety of similar mash-ups over on Sound Cloud, along with a rather tasty mix tape that includes samples of Kraftwerk, William Burroughs, Doctor Who and The Beastie Boys all dovetailed together.
 

 

 
H/T Nerdcore
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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‘The 10th Victim’: Violent, campy 1965 battle of the sexes satirizes reality TV decades in advance


 
For reasons I cannot fully articulate, even to myself, one of my favorite things ever in life is the (relatively) little-known 1965 French-Italian film, The 10th Victim (La decima vittima) starring Ursula Andress and Marcello Mastroianni and directed by Elio Petri. I have movie posters, lobby cards and various pulp paperback books with different great covers (Part of my fascination with the film, obviously, has to do with Ursula Andress—at the absolute height of her considerable beauty here—that much I do know…)
 

 
The plot (clearly the “inspiration” for The Running Man) revolves around the reality show assassins of “The Big Hunt,” a wildly popular futuristic TV spectacle sponsored by the Ming Tea Company of Japan. For five hunts you are the killer, for five hunts the victim.
 

 
To win the tournament, the assassins must complete ten kills, but they never know if they are the hunter or the victim. The Andress character’s kills are elaborate—one of them was even ripped-off for an Austin Powers movie—and she becomes the most popular of the contestants. Her kills are used as TV advertisements for the Ming Tea Company and she wants her tenth killer to be a spectacular one.
 

 
Next up is Mastroianni’s character, Polletti… or is he? You can’t kill the wrong victim, you see, or else you lose.
 

 
You can’t kill the wrong killer in preemptive self-defense, either, or else you lose. What if she is to be his victim? Neither of them know for sure, so of course they have an affair!
 

 
The SpyVibe blog calls The 10th Victim a “cocktail of groovy music, op art, pop art, space-age fashion, and modern design.” It’s not even that The 10th Victim is all that good of a film (say, a “six” out of a possible “ten”) but man does it LOOK GREAT. If you’re into things like Danger Diabolik, Fathom, Modesty Blaise or the “Matt Helm” or “Flint” movies, this might be for you. Although not an over the top “funny ha ha” kind of comedy, The 10th Victim is a fun, campy feast for the eyes that was a decades-before-its-time satire of reality TV and our violence-obsessed mass media.

You could also see it was an elaborate metaphor for male-female relationships and the battle of the sexes. I’m pretty sure that part was intentional, especially when Marcello’s mistress helps Ursula’s character—who is fucking him—to stalk her philandering lover. How dare he three-time her!
 

 
The soundtrack to The 10th Victim was one of my “Holy Grail” records for many years before I was generously gifted with a copy by Pizzicato 5‘s Yasuharu Konishi when I was visiting Tokyo back in 1994. The score by Piero Piccioni is one of my favorite film scores of all time, consisting as it does of an incessantly repeated loopy organ motif and “la la la la” scat singing by the great Italian singer Mina. Piccioni thought this would sound like jazz in the future. I think the maestro was right:
 

 

 
Below, the original trailer for The 10th Victim.
 

 
The entire film is online at Daily Motion. Blue Underground have released The 10th Victim on Blu-ray which is the way you really want to want this puppy…
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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Stanley Kubrick faked the Apollo 11 Moon landing?

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So, did Stanley Kubrick fake the Moon landing?

Well, that’s the proposition of William Kare’s documentary (mockumentary?) Dark Side of the Moon, which originally aired on French TV channel Arte in 2002 as Opération Lune.

According to Karel’s (fictional?) film, Kubrick was hired to fake the Apollo 11 mission by the U.S. government. The evidence? Well, secret documents alluding to Kubrick’s involvement in the “fraud” were discovered among the director’s papers after his death in March 1999.

Moreover, Kubrick apparently left clues to his involvement into the scam: firstly, his being loaned lenses by NASA to recreate the candle-lit scenes in his film Barry Lyndon—how else could have got hold of these unless NASA owed him a BIG favor?; secondly, Kubrick allegedly made a confession of his involvement in the conspiracy that is contained in his film version of Stephen King’s The Shining.

Adding substance to these alleged facts, Karel wheels out a highly convincing array of contributors: Henry Kissinger, Buzz Aldrin, Jan Harlan, Richard Helms, Vernon Walters (who is claimed to have mysteriously died after filming) and Christiane Kubrick.

It’s a great romp, and for those who are tempted to believe, watch the bloopers reel at the end.
 

 
Via Open Culture

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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