European film directors discuss Stanley Kubrick
03.26.2014
12:11 pm

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Movies

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Stanley Kubrick
George Sluizer

kubstan1.jpg
 
European filmmakers, including George Sluizer (director of Spoorloos, aka The Vanishing. and Utz), Peter Delpeut (Felice..Felice..)  and Harry Kümel (Daughters of Darkness, Malpertuis) discuss the films and famously obsessive work practices of Stanley Kubrick.

Kubrick thought Sluizer’s The Vanishing the most terrifying film he had seen—even more frightening than The Shining, and it led to Kubrick ‘phoning the Dutch filmmaker to discuss editing.

There is also an interview with Johanna ter Steege, who was set to star in Kubrick’s so-called “lost Holocaust” movie The Aryan Papers, which was dropped after Steven Spielberg made Schindler’s List.

The Aryan Papers was adapted from Louise Begley’s semi-autobiographical novel Wartime Lies, and it has been said that had Kubrick made this movie, then ter Steege “would have become a huge international star.”

“He [Kubrick] was convinced that he had found an actress whose performance would catapult a new star to the forefront of international stardom and give this dark and serious film the needed ‘gloss’,” Kubrick’s brother-in-law and producer Jan Harlan has said of Ter Steege. He believes that it was “devastating” for her that the film wasn’t made. “It’s like a young musician getting his first Carnegie Hall [concert] and then being told you can’t do it. It must be terrible, after you’ve prepared yourself for months and months.”

It ends with (who else?) Malcolm McDowell in performance, recounting a tale of working with Kubrick.
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
The nose knows: John Waters’ brilliant ‘Odorama’ gimmick in ‘Polyester’ remembered
03.25.2014
06:39 am

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Movies

Tags:
John Waters

Polyester, Odorama
 
I think most cinematically literate people are aware that John Waters exploited the decades-old yet ignored concept of making the nose an integral part of the cinematic experience when he made his sixth feature, Polyester, in 1981. I’ve known that since I was a teenager, and I knew that it relied on the use of scratch and sniff cards distributed to the audience. But I’ve never been to a screening where that happened; how often do those happen? I don’t even know what the smells represented on the card were, although I can well imagine at least a couple of them.

Whether consciously or otherwise, Polyester refers back to the grandaddy of all olfactory motion picture experiences, Scent of Mystery, which exploited the exciting and surely soon-to-be-ubiquitous technique called “Smell-O-Vision,” which featured the immortal tagline, “First they moved (1895)! Then they talked (1927)! Now they smell!” Smell-O-Vision used a far more ambitious system involving pipes and stuff. (When the mechanism didn’t work properly on the first night, the fate of Smell-O-Vision was sealed.)  Oddly, Scent of Mystery had a pretty good cast, including Elizabeth Taylor, Peter Lorre, and Denholm Elliott. (I was about to write, “in the title role”—but caught myself. Elliott was the star of the movie.)
 
Polyester, Odorama
 
The ten smells on the Polyester Odorama card seem very witty to me: they were, for the record, “1. Roses, 2. Flatulence, 3. Model Airplane Glue, 4. Pizza, 5. Gasoline, 6. Skunk, 7. Natural Gas, 8. New Car Smell, 9. Dirty Shoes, and 10. Air Freshener.” I also didn’t know about this gleeful bit of prankishness on Waters’ part:
 

In the original theatrical showings, the scents were arranged by number, with audiences instructed to scratch the card when the appropriate number flashed onscreen. Audiences never knew what they’d be smelling, which was half the fun: While flowers might be onscreen when the number flashed, a pair of smelly tennis shoes would be shoved into the scene at the last second. No one wins a prize for guessing what the gleefully subversive Waters wanted his audience to smell.

 
I’d bet money that there are DM readers out there who have attended screenings of Polyester with the original cards—anyone care to report on the experience? Did Waters fake out the audience, as reported above?

Waters’ Odorama had a curious coda in 2003, when Nickelodeon decided to use the general concept in the third installment of their Rugrats franchise, Rugrats Go Wild. The trouble is, they didn’t stop with the general concept; they also used the copyrighted term Odorama as well as the logo. Irritated, Waters threatened to sue but was stymied when he learned that New Line Cinema, the studio that released Polyester, had let the copyright lapse. In any case, Rugrats Go Wild executive producer Julia Pistor somewhat conveniently claimed that it was a heartfelt homage: “We loved all that great stuff William Castle and John Waters pioneered. ... We loved that low-tech interactivity. That’s what inspired our ‘Odorama.’ ” In the movie John Waters: This Filthy World, Waters is heard to grumble, “a check would have been an homage.”
 
Here is a theatrical trailer for Polyester:

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
Bleak new cult comedy ‘Cheap Thrills’: What doesn’t kill you makes you richer
03.24.2014
05:06 pm

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Movies

Tags:
Pat Healy
Cheap Thrills

peachpos111222.jpg
 
If you are going to see one film this year, make it Cheap Thrills. You won’t be disappointed.

Cheap Thrills kicks in the door and takes the whole room (and its contents) out for a car ride, through the back roads, the dirt roads, with the lights off and the pedal floored. As soon as I saw a trailer for this film, I knew I had to see it, and knew I would not be disappointed. I wasn’t. Isn’t it great when you’re right? Might not happen often, but when it does…

So, what’s it all about?

Well, dear reader, the premise for the film is simple: What would you do for money? How far would you go to pay rent and bring up baby? Noam Chomsky has tried in vain to give a critique of capitalism that is as brief, comic, clever, and as memorable as Cheap Thrills. Now instead of giving his endless lectures, he should shut up and screen Cheap Thrills.

Cheap Thrills was written by schlock actor Trent Haaga and his writing partner David Chirchirillo, who together have produced a lean, taut, brilliant script, which is as edge-of-the-seat thrilling, as it is darkly comic.

First time director, E. L. Katz has skillfully blended this mix of horror and comedy to create powerful iconic film that is undoubtedly destined to become one the best cult films of the decade. Indeed, Katz’s handling of the material suggests a talent to watch.

But it’s not just the script and the director that are key, it’s the tight band of actors who make Cheap Thrills come to life in a disturbingly visceral and unforgettable way.

The film centers around Craig (Pat Healy), the aspirant middle class family man who finds himself out of a job, out of money and with imminent foreclosure on the apartment he shares with his wife and baby. Craig meets up with an old high school friend, the low-life proletarian Vince (Ethan Embry), who offers to help Craig by getting him drunk.

This is is when Craig and Vince meet a the uber rich couple, Colin and Violet (David Koechner and Sara Paxton) who celebrate a birthday by betting hard cash on whether Craig or Vince will be able to carry out small tasks. At first these tasks appear rather easy to do, which makes Craig think he has found a way to solve his money problems…

Ms. Paxton (The Innkeepers, The Last House on the Left)  and Mr. Koechner (yes, him from The Office and Anchorman) give a masterclass in menacing, subtle, manipulative behavior. These are two characters you do not want to meet on a bright day. Ethan Embry shows he is a tremendously gifted actor who brings a magnetic, vital force to Vince that makes his character bounce out of the screen.

But it’s Pat Healy that the film hangs on, and it is his subtle, disturbing and utterly brilliant performance takes the audience on one hell of a ride.

“I am interested in playing it for real,” Healy says when I talk to him about his performance in Cheap Thrills. “And committing to it, and showing something that people haven’t seen before and showing myself that too.”

“I think that I am really aware that there’s so much acting now that’s like ‘Well, we know what the scene is, and it’s written that way, and here’s the performance you expect the actor to give.’ That’s fine, that gets the job done, but there’s nothing really interesting or surprising about that, and I’m not really interested in that.”

In case you missed it, Healy made an indelible impression last year with his twisted psycho Officer Daniels in Craig Zobel’s film Compliance. But it wasn’t this, but an earlier collaboration with Zobel The Great World of Sound, that made Evan Katz think Healy was perfect for the role of Craig in Cheap Thrills

“He thought that I was a good ‘Every Man’ having seen me in other films. I don’t think that he necessarily knew I could go to the depths that I go to in this film.”

And Healy does go to some depths, but he saw it as “A unique opportunity to play someone form A-to-Z, someone who goes from zero to a thousand in short period of time. That is really appealing to me.” This was how Healy started out in Chicago theater making his “bread-and-butter” doing “really intense work.”

Cheap Thrills was filmed over fourteen days, and as most of the action occurs in one room (either a bar or an apartment) it meant that all four actors went through an intense and emotionally and physically exhausting time.
 
11yylleah.jpg
 
Dangerous Minds: What was your preparation for the role of Craig?

Pat Healy: “I did a lot of physical preparation because I knew it was a fourteen day shoot, a very short shoot, and it was coming up a month after I got cast, so I had to be really physically prepared.

“You make sure you are physically and emotionally and mentally sound, so that you know that every day you can go bananas without hurting yourself.

“When I act, I do all this preparation and know the script, and know the character, and do research for what it’s worth, and a lot of day-dreaming. Then you go up on a day when you have these moments that will be there, you just have to trust that you’re experienced enough and that the director has the confidence in you that you will do it, and you just summon it up somehow.

“For me, an actor plays the reality of the situation. And if you play the truth or the reality of the situation in every scene it will work, then it will be funny it’s meant to be funny and scary when it needs to be scary.”

Pat’s character goes through a long journey into the dark of night, and it’s difficult to discuss the film without giving to much away. All you need know is that Mr. Healy mines deep to bring forth Craig’s character, and he delivers a performance of quality that is rarely seen on screen. To do this he used elements form his own experience.

Pat Healy: “I come from a long history with psychoanalysis, I have been in psychoanalysis for many years, and I certainly understand the person that I was before I started psychoanalysis to the person I am now, and it has a lot to do with person you set yourself up to be in the world, you know the face we show to the world, and the one we show to ourselves, and knowing that there’s a lot of anger, a lot of simmering tension builds over many years of holding that inside, and it really only takes a few well placed sharp kicks for it to explode. And I had a really grasp on that. So, it was about knowing that at the beginning that person, that character had who he is at the end inside him.

“I had the good fortune of shooting the film mostly in sequence, at least all the stuff in the house. I shot the stuff with my wife at the beginning, so I knew what I was like and who I was at the beginning of this film, and knew who I was at the end of this film. I knew where I started and where I had to get to. That made it, with having the script as a guideline, that made it, I wouldn’t say easy, it was difficult to do, but it definitely had certain goalposts that I knew I needed to hit every day in order to be that person.”

Cheap Thrills’ is in cinema now, and is available on VOD from Drafthouse
 

 
More cheap thrills from Pat Healy, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
The lost art of surfer movie tickets
03.24.2014
02:00 pm

Topics:
Art
Movies
Sports

Tags:
Surfing
Endless Summer


 
Movie tickets are not something to which we give a lot of thought from an aesthetic point of view, and really why should we?  They exist to be torn in half within minutes of purchase. The generic, bluish, thermally printed and perfectly utilitarian stubs we’re used to today were preceded in my youth by the classic red “ADMIT ONE” tabs that did the job just fine in the days when most cinemas had only one or two theaters.

So it was a truly pleasant surprise to find The Gallery of Surf Classics’ trove of 1960s surf movie ticket stubs. Many are very plain, but some of the graphic tickets are marvelous. Now, apart from breakouts like Bruce Brown’s classic The Endless Summer, surf movies weren’t nearly as mainstream as the Frankie & Annette beach party movies that simplified the culture for America’s landlocked. (As a Cleveland kid and a great indoorsman who doesn’t doesn’t tend to much get hung up on the whole So-Cal vibe, movies formed the basis of my knowledge of surf culture, to which I’m a consummate outsider.) These were essentially niche sports documentaries that screened in high school auditoria and civic rec centers, so I find it pretty amazing that anyone would have taken the time and expense to craft such elaborate tickets for these films.
 

The Endless Summer, 1964
 

Walt Phillips’ Once Upon a Wave, 1963
 

Grant Rohloff’s Too Hot To Handle, 1963
 
More after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
Telly Savalas takes a cinematic trip around Great Britain
03.21.2014
07:58 am

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Amusing
Movies

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Telly Savalas


Who loves ya, baby?

In the 1980s, Hollywood legend and Kojak star, Telly Savalas showcased a series of promotional films made to boost the fortunes of three very different British cities: Aberdeen, Birmingham and Portsmouth.

Each of these cities was undergoing major changes and it was hoped the films would promote each one as “a city of the future.” Telly Savalas Looks at Aberdeen captured the “Texas of North Scotland” during its oil boom; while Telly Savalas Looks at Birmingham looked at life in the post-industrial “workshop of the world”; Telly Savalas Looks at Portsmouth examined the great sea-faring port.

The films were produced by Harold Baim, king of the quota quickies—short features originally intended to help stimulate the flagging British film industry—which ran as B-movies in local cinemas.

Each of these shorts captures some delightful period charm, even, if Mr. Savalas was enthusing about a world of oil rigs, concrete shopping malls, tower blocks and newly built freeways.
 

 
Telly looks at Aberdeen and Portsmouth, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
Steely Dan’s hilarious tongue-in-cheek ‘open letter’ to Wes Anderson
03.21.2014
07:17 am

Topics:
Movies
Music

Tags:
Steely Dan
Wes Anderson


 
I think I have the same relationship with Wes Anderson movies as a lot of people my age. We saw The Royal Tenenbaums as teenagers, and having never seen a François Truffaut film, it blew our minds. The colors, the shots, the soundtracks, the ennui—we were absolutely certain no one had ever made movies like this. Of course, age, experience and Netflix eventually set us straight, and Anderson’s movies never quite glowed the same way again—for me, they feel pretty cloying at this point.

Conversely, I grew up thinking of Steely Dan as my mom’s lame-o jazz-rock “mellow gold” relics. But at some point I listened to Aja on a whim of childhood sentiment and found myself really enjoying it. You might say, I had a change of heart. (Sorry, I had to do that.)

Had you told teenage Amber that someday late-20s Amber was going to laugh with Steely Dan, at Wes Anderson, she would have rolled her eyes harder than she had ever rolled them before—quite the feat for an adolescent of such practiced disdain and sprezzatura.

And yet, here I am, laughing my ass off at an open letter from Walter Becker and Donald Fagen, posted from their very own website in 2006. The pair start off with some heavy-handed praise, then transition to a brilliant back-handed concern-troll; they were of the opinion he had lost his touch. Honestly, it’s a little difficult to tell if they’re being sarcastic or earnest—right up until the point that they offer to save Anderson’s career with some custom-written Steely Dan originals for the low price of $400,000.

When questioned about their offer in a 2007 interview, Anderson said that he “appreciated their advice.” But when pressed, he admitted, “I can’t say that Steely Dan made me feel like a million bucks actually; but, I think it was kind of funny.” At least he’s a good sport about it?

From: W. Becker and D. Fagen [AKA Steely Dan© ]

To: Wes Anderson

Maestro:

As you may know, we are the founders of the celebrated rock band “Steely Dan”©.  If for some reason you don’t know our work, check with Owen and Luke Wilson - they’re both big fans.  Here’s something you may not know about us: when not distracted by our “day job” – composing, recording, touring and so forth – we like to head downstairs into the paneled basement of our minds and assume the roles we were born to play - you may have already guessed it by now – the roles of Obsessive Fans of World Cinema.

That’s right. Eisenstein, Renoir, Rene Clair, Bunuel, Kurosawa, Fellini, Godard, Tarkovsky, Ophuls the Elder, Blake Edwards, Ophuls the Younger, you name it. Sat there, dug it.

Maestro, we give to you this Message: there was a time when Giants walked among us. And, damn, if you, Wes Anderson, might not be the one to restore their racial dominance on this, our planet, this Terra, this… Earth.

You may have heard that we have recently made it our personal project and goal to deliver a certain actor of no small importance to your past and present work from a downward spiral of moral turpitude from which it seemed there might be no escape. We are delighted to report that, with the news of Mr. ________’s participation in your new film (which we understand to be entitled, indeed, charmingly,  “Darjeeling Limited”), our efforts have been repaid, and How.

This unqualified victory has inspired us to address a more serious matter. Let’s put our cards on the table -  surely, we are not the first to tell you that your career is suffering from a malaise. Fortunately, inasmuch as it is a malaise distinctly different than that of Mr.______ , and to the extent that you have not become so completely alienated from the intellectual and moral wellsprings of your own creativity, we are hoping that we - yours truly, Donald and Walter - may successfully “intervene” at this point in time and be of some use to you in your latest, and, potentially, greatest, endeavor.

Again, an artist of your stripe could never be guilty of the same sort of willing harlotry that befalls so many bright young men who take their aspirations to Hollywood and their talent for granted. You have failed or threatened to fail in a far more interesting and morally uncompromised way (assuming for a moment that self-imitation and a modality dangerously close to mawkishness are not moral failings, but rather symptoms of a profound sickness of the soul.)

Let’s begin with a quick review of your career so far, as it is known to us and your fans and wellwishers in general.

You began, spectacularly enough, with the excellent “Bottle Rocket”, a film we consider to be your finest work to date. No doubt others would agree that the striking originality of your premise and vision was most effective in this seminal work. Subsequent films - “Rushmore”, “The Royal Tenenbaums”, “The Life Aquatic” - have been good fun but somewhat disappointing - perhaps increasingly so.  These follow-ups have all concerned themselves with the theme we like to call “the enervated family of origin”©, from which springs diverse subplots also largely concerned with the failure to fulfill early promise. Again, each film increasingly relies on eccentric visual detail, period wardrobe, idiosyncratic and overwrought set design, and music supervision that leans heavily on somewhat obscure 60’s “British Invasion” tracks a-jangle with twelve-string guitars, harpsichords and mandolins. The company of players, while excellent, retains pretty much the same tone and function from film to film. Indeed, you must be aware that your career as an auteur is mirrored in the lives of your beloved characters as they struggle in vain to duplicate early glories.

But, look, Mr. Anderson, we’re not trying to be critical – dammit - we just want to help.

Enter the Faboriginals©, Donald Fagen and Walter Becker of Steely Dan©. The muse is a fickle mistress at best, and to leave her high and dry, with just a “lick and a promise” of the greatness of which one is capable - well, sir, it’s just plain wrong.  It is an Art Crime© of the first magnitude and a great sin against your talent and your Self.  We just don’t want to see it go down that way. 

So the question, Mr. Anderson, remains: what is to be done?  As we have done with previous clients, we have taken the liberty of creating two alternative strategies that we believe will insure success -  in this case, success for you and your little company of players.  Each of us – Donald and Walter - has composed a TITLE SONG which could serve as a powerful organizing element and a rallying cry for you and Owen and Jason and the others, lest you lose your way and fall into the same old traps.

STRATEGY 1:

Donald believes that you are at a crossroads and that you must do what none of your characters has been able to do - namely, let go of the past: leave it as it lies with no concern for the wreckage, and move boldly forward towards new challenges and goals. To this end he has composed a fresh, exciting title song for your new film, “Darjeeling Limited”. It’s rousing, it’s hip, by turns, funny and sad, and then funny again. Although the music is not entirely out of line with the chic “retro” pop you seem to favor, it’s been fire-mopped© clean of every last trace of irony and then re-ironized at a whole new level – “post-post-post-modern” if you will. The lyrics are as follows:

[CHORUS ]
Darjeeling Limited©
That’s the train I wanna get kissed on
Darjeeling Limited©
But I’ll be lucky if I don’t get pissed on

This is a country of starving millions
We’ve got to get ‘em their tea on time
I know romance should be on the back burner
But girl I just can’t get you off my mind
Cause baby every single time I’m with you
I’d like to have as many arms as Vishnu
(Arms as Vishnu)

[CHORUS ]
Darjeeling Limited©
That’s the train I wanna get kissed on
Darjeeling Limited©
But I’ll be lucky if I don’t get pissed on

You told me you’d be mine forever
That we’d get married in the Taj Mahal
The minute I’m done baggin’ this tea, babe
Then I’ll be makin’ you my Bollywood doll
Forget the Super Chief, the China Star now
Give me the choo-choo with the Chutney Bar now
(Chutney Bar now)

[CHORUS ]
Darjeeling Limited©
That’s the train I wanna get kissed on
Darjeeling Limited©
But I’ll be lucky if I don’t get pissed on

STRATEGY 2:

Walter believes that the best strategy for you now would be to return to the point in your career when it was all good, when all was working as it should, when there was magic in every song you sung, so to speak.  Youthful idealism, jouissance©, original spirit - these will be your watchwords.  “Birth is residual if it is not symbolically revisited through initiation” - it’s an old French proverb.  In other words, your new film will be called “Bottle Rocket Two©” and will be the logical continuation of the first film which was so well loved. (“Bottle Rocket” was our fave among your movies, did we mention that?) You pick up where you left off and find a new continuation that takes you elsewhere than to ruin.  The eponymous title song would reframe the important existential questions which are at the core of your artistic vision and would go something like this:

Bottlerocket Two©

Any resemblance
Real or imagined
People or places
Living or dead

Any resemblance
As-if or actual
Characters or circumstance
It’s all in your head

Flying out to India
Trying to get into you
Old Bombay
It’s a very long way
To chase a “bottlerocket” to©

Precise simulations
Possible parallels
Never intended
Co-incidentals

Persons and places
Present or otherwise
Comrades in comedy
Brothers in crime

Hiding out in India
Babycakes they’re watching you
This is our latest -
It may be our greatest -
It’s called “bottlerocket” too©!

Who pitched the story?
Who built the scenery?
Who raised the money?
Whose movie is it,
Anyway?

[Guitar Solo ]

Come to think about it, these songs are both so fucking strong that you may wish to consider a hybrid approach that uses both of them - after all, they’re both set in India, which is where your company is setting up shop now.  You could go with some kind of “film within a film” or even a “film within a film within a film” or some such pomo horseshit, just like Godard’s “King Lear” or whatever.  That’s your call, you’re the director.

Please note that all these lyrics and titles have been heavily copywritten, trademarked, registered, patented, etc., etc., so anybody using them will have to negotiate the rights from the legitimate Faboriginal© owners, which is us.  We are currently represented by Michael “Mickey” Shaheen, Esq., of Howard Beach, Queens County, New York NY.

The other change that we would have to make would concern Mark Mothersbaugh.  Everyone in Hollywood knows that he is a first class professional musical supervisor.  Obviously you and he have a lot of great history together and we can imagine there is a certain rapport both professional and personal.  But we certainly can’t work with him, anymore than he would consent to work with us.  Same thing for the mandolins and the twelve-string stuff and the harpsichord, they’re out.  You yourself may be partial to those particular instruments. We’re not. Remember, we saw “Tom Jones” in its original theatrical release when we were still in high school, we had to listen to “Walk Away Renee” all through college and we fucking opened for Roger McGuinn in the seventies, so all that “jingle-jangle morning” shit is no big thrill for us, OK?

Argh!...goddammit…sorry, guy! We kinda lost it for a minute there.  Look - Mark is probably a swell guy.  But you, Wes Anderson, must remember that Mark and his music are part of the old way of doing things, the old way of being, the old way that has brought you to the precipice. Mr. Anderson, you must be fearless in defense of your creations and your genius, absolutely fearless, and not give in to sentimental considerations.

So - let’s get going, shall we?  Send the check for US$400,000 (advance on licensing fees) out by Fedex to Mickey by tomorrow and we’ll talk a little later in the day about merch, percentages, backend, soundtrack, ASCAP, etc. Mickey himself doesn’t need any kind of an advance but he’ll probably take a couple of points on your net career action.  It’s a little expensive - and Mickey certainly doesn’t need the bread - but just pay the points, okay?  It’s a lot better than the alternative.

We remain your abject servants,

W. Becker and D. Fagen AKA Steely Dan©

Below, the Dan on The Midnight Special in 1973:
 

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
Little rascal: Christopher Walken, child actor
03.18.2014
08:58 am

Topics:
Movies

Tags:
Christopher Walken

Christopher Walken
 
Christopher Walken is in a very special group of beloved actors…. really, only Bill Murray is in the same category in terms of having an almost spooky ability to touch and delight us, sometimes without doing anything at all. What those two actors share, it occurs to me, is a knack for complete and utter freedom; they don’t seem tethered at all by the normal constraints.

A couple of years ago, Stephen Collins, who acted on stage with Walken in two productions, was interviewed on Kevin Pollak’s Chat Show, and he made a fascinating comment about Walken’s utter lack of the usual actor’s vanity (quote starts at 42:30):
 

I did Three Sisters with Walken at Williamstown [in 1987]. ... He was playing Vershinin, and he got a lot of laughs. ... He would get a laugh—I mean a big, huge laugh—and the next night, I’d think, oh hey, this’ll be fun, I can’t wait for him to go for that again, because it’s fun when anybody on stage gets a laugh. And he wouldn’t do anything even remotely like what he did the night before. He would give up the laugh completely. It was like, it had never happened. And you’d think, God, how amazing. And then I swear, three seconds later, he’d do something else and get a huge laugh—that he would never go for again.

I never, ever have known an actor less possessive of his laughs. Because actors are usually really possessive. ... When you get a big laugh in a play, you kinda want to get it eight times a week. And you sort of want everybody to help you get it. ... He has none of that attachment. ...

When he was a chorus boy he worked with Beatrice Lillie, ... in a musical called High Spirits, the musical version of Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit, and he said she did that. He said, “Beatrice Lillie never got the same laugh twice. ... I always thought that was so brave, and so I guess it affected me, you know.” I guess it did! He’s like the bravest guy on stage I’ve ever, ever seen.

 
One of the secrets of Walken’s success and utterly distinctive persona may be an application of Malcolm Gladwell’s “10,000 hour rule”—in order to become a master at something, you have to put in ten thousand hours and then you have a chance to be really great.  Walken has been Walken his entire life!

I didn’t know before a couple of days ago that Walken has been acting since he was a child. Here are some amusing publicity stills from those early days, years before he would achieve such stellar results in movies like The Deer Hunter, True Romance, King of New York, The Dead Zone, Seven Psychopaths, a Fatboy Slim video and countless episodes of Saturday Night Live.
 
Christopher Walken
 
Christopher Walken
 
Christopher Walken
 
Here’s Walken’s portrait from his high school yearbook from “PCS”—Professional Children’s School in New York. (Clarification: Walken’s given name is Ronald; he adopted the name “Christopher” in 1964.) Walken was born in 1943, so I suppose this would have been about 1960. After a Shakespeare quotation, we encounter the following, which is somehow hilariously apt: “This tall blue-eyed cavalier” is “a watchful dreamer, he will speak up quite suddenly with some witticism, and then lapse back into silence.”
 
Christopher Walken
 
Here’s Walken in his first acting role, at least according to IMDb.com. It’s from 1953, and it’s called “Wonderful John Acton,” and it’s about “an Irish-American family in Ludlow, Kentucky in 1919.” It looks heavily influenced by Thornton Wilder’s Our Town, but what do I know. Only the first three minutes are here, you’ll see Walken walk across the stage around the 2:20 mark.
 

 
via Showbiz Imagery and Chicanery

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
Diana Rigg stars in bizarre German ‘stag films for Avengers’ fetishists’
03.18.2014
07:14 am

Topics:
Amusing
Movies
Pop Culture

Tags:
Diana Rigg
The Avengers

riggmindiaded.jpg
 
Diana Rigg was already well known as Emma Peel, the iconic kick-ass star of sixties hit TV series The Avengers, when she made these two short Super-8 films The Diadem (1966) and Mini-Killers (1969).

The Avengers was one of that decade’s most successful TV series, so why Ms. Rigg should have agreed to appear in these rather bizarre home-movies, I have no idea, but perhaps as Steven Puchalski suggests over at Shock Cinema, we should:

Think of these silent shorts as stag films for AVENGERS fetishists, who love watching Rigg beating the bejesus out of burly guys, amidst secret agent-style shenanigans.

That almost sums them both up. The Diadem is mainly an Emma-Peel-style showreel, with lots of fighting and not much plot, while Mini-Killers obviously had a bigger budget, was shot in color in exotic locations, with a bigger cast, some special effects, and a more convoluted plot involving killer dolls.

Both films were made for distribution as Super-8 home movies in Germany. The question is why did Rigg make them? Mini-Killers was filmed after she had starred in The Assassination Bureau with Oliver Reed, and appeared with the George Lazenby in the James Bond classic On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, so we can scrub lack of money off the list of possible reasons why. Who cares why, it’s just some wonderful and bizarre fun from the 1960s.
 

 
‘Mini-Killers’ plus Emma Peeler photo shoot, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
Behind-the-scenes photos of prototype Boba Fett costume, 1978
03.17.2014
08:23 am

Topics:
Movies

Tags:
Star Wars
Boba Fett


 
Here are some behind-the-scenes photos taken in June of 1978 of either a costume fitting or screentest for badass Star Wars character Boba Fett. Apparently these images were shot at George Lucas’ home.

Interesting to see Boba Fett as all white.

Redditor RandomMovieTriviaGuy brought up this interesting Star Wars factoid I did not know:

George Lucas was so sure the original film would flop that instead of attending the premiere, he went on holiday to Hawaii with his good friend Steven Spielberg, where they came up with the idea for Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981).


 

 
More images after the jump…
 

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
Fear is Just the Beginning: John Carpenter, Master of Horror
03.17.2014
08:07 am

Topics:
Movies

Tags:
John Carpenter


 
John Carpenter originally wanted to direct westerns just like his hero Howard Hawks. But those kind of movies weren’t so popular when Carpenter first started making films at the University of Southern California in 1968.

It was here he made Dark Star, a homemade science-fiction black comedy, which Carpenter later described as “Waiting for Godot in space.”.

I didn’t see Dark Star until it turned up one Monday night on BBC TV in the late 1970s. By then I was a believer at the First Church of John Carpenter having seen his second and third movies Assault on Precinct 13 and Halloween. I saw Assault on Precinct 13 at the Edinburgh Film Festival 1977 and knew, as the credits rolled and I drifted out into the warm-breathed night, this was the work of modern American cinematic genius.  After Assault on Precinct 13, I had to see every movie Carpenter made. His work inspired a near religious devotion.

Unlike today where we have multiple outlets to view films in amongst the distractions of everything else, back then there was only the cinema, which were usually built like temples to magic and light. Without disc or tape to pause and stop and rewind the scenes to be scrutinized frame-by-frame-by-frame, we had to memorize film sequences and dialog from (usually) one viewing. Such extracts we would later recreate and spool through in our minds like fundamentalists who learn-by-heart and recite long religious tracts.

So, it was with Carpenter—he was a name, an auteur, whose films, like those of Hitchcock, Fuller, Powell, Russell, Fassbinder, Anderson, Kubrick, Boorman, Peckinpah, Polanski, Fosse, Fellini, Richardson, Truffaut, Chabrol, Pasolini, Jarman, Brooks, Waters, Wajda, Friedkin and Scorsese, demanded to be seen.
 
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After Halloween (with Jamie Lee Curtis and Donald Pleasance) everyone knew what to expect from a “John Carpenter Movie,” and he didn’t disappoint. Next up was The Fog, a perfectly thrilling ghost story, and then in 1981, Escape from New York, with Kurt Russell channeling his inner Clint Eastwood as Snake Plissken.

And then Carpenter made (arguably his greatest movie) a remake of Howard Hawks’ The Thing from Another World.

The Thing is his masterpiece, a film of such cinematic brilliance, it is near perfect.

And yea, I have kept the faith, and enjoyed Big Trouble in Little China, was thrilled by Prince of Darkness, They Live, In the Mouth of Madness, and even kept true to some lesser works such as Ghosts of Mars, Vampires, and so on. John Carpenter is one of America’s greatest film directors, whose movies have made cinema better. You can’t ask for much more than that.

This documentary with a mouthful of title, John Carpenter: Fear is Just the Beginning, The Man and His Movies was made in 2004, and features everyone you could hope to have in a tribute to the great man, including Jamie Lee Curtis, Kurt Russell, Adrienne Barbeau, Nick Castle, and the late, great producer Debra Hill.
 

 
A clip from They Live after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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