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Archive for November, 2011

Ridley Scott – Part 2

Taking a step back from lavish sci-fi and fantasy, Scott made the under-rated, romantic police drama, ‘Someone to Watch Over Me’, starring Tom Berenger, Lorraine Bracco and Mimi Rogers in 1987, and the stylishly violent ‘Black Rain’, a 1989 cop drama starring Michael Douglas and Andy Garcia, shot partially in Tokyo and Osaka, Japan. Both achieved mild success at the box office.

Initially perceived as a miss-match, Scott then made ‘Thelma & Louise’ (1991) starring Genna Davis as Thelma, and Susan Sarandon as Louise. The movie was successful, and revived Scott’s reputation. However, his next project—an independent movie, ‘1492: Conquest of Paradise’ —was less so. It is a visually striking film telling the story of Christopher Columbus. However, it was a box office failure, and Scott did not release another film for four years.

In 1995, with his brother Tony, Scott formed their own film and television production company, Scott Free Productions in Los Angeles. All his subsequent feature films, starting with ‘White Squall’ and ‘G. I. Jane’,starring then-superstar, Demi Moore, were produced under the Scott Free banner. Also in 1995 the two brothers purchased controlling interest in Shepperton Studios, which later merged with Pinewood Studios. Scott and his brother have produced the CBS series ‘Numb3rs’ (2005–2010), a crime drama about a genius mathematician who helps the FBI solve crimes, and critical and commercial hit, ‘The Good Wife’ (2009–), a legal drama concerning an attorney continuing her law practice while coping with her husband, a former state attorney trying to rebuild his political career after a major scandal.

The huge success of Scott’s film ‘Gladiator’ (2000) has been credited with reviving the nearly defunct “sword and sandal” historical genre. The film was a massive commercial success and earned Best Actor Awards around the globe for leading man Russell Crowe. 

Scott then turned to ‘Hannibal’, the sequel to Jonathan Demme’s ‘The Silence of the Lambs’. In 2001, Scott released the war film, ‘Black Hawk Down’, which further established his position as a critically and financially successful film maker. The film won two Oscars.

In 2003 Scott directed ‘Matchstick Men’, starring Nicholas Cage, Sam Rockwell and Alison Lohman. It received mostly positive reviews and performed moderately at the box office. In 2005 he made the modestly successful ‘Kingdom of Heaven’, a movie about the Crusades which consciously sought to connect history to current events. The Moroccan government sent the Moroccan cavalry as extras in the epic battle scenes.

Unhappy with the theatrical version of the film (which he blamed on paying too much attention to the opinions of preview audiences), Scott supervised a director’s cut of Kingdom of Heaven, which was released on DVD in 2006. In an interview to promote the latter, when asked if he was against previewing in general, Scott stated: “It depends who’s in the driving seat. If you’ve got a lunatic doing my job, then you need to preview. But a good director should be experienced enough to judge what he thinks is the correct version to go out into the cinema.”

Scott teamed up again with Gladiator star Russell Crowe, directing the movie ‘A Good Year’, based on the best-selling book. The film was released on 10 November 2006, soon after, Rupert Murdoch, chairman of News Corp and Subsidiary studio 20th Century Fox (who backed the film) dismissed A Good Year as “a flop” at a shareholders’ meeting only a few days after the film’s release.

Scott’s next directorial work was on gritty ‘American Gangster’, the story of real-life Harlem drug kingpin Frank Lucas. He was the third director to attempt the project after Antoine Fuqua and Terry George. Denzel Washington and Benicio del Toro had been cast in the initial Steven Zallian scripted project under the working title Tru Blu, both actors having been paid salaries of $20 m and $15 m respectively without doing any production on the film. Following George’s departure, Scott took over the project in early 2006. He had Zaillian rewrite the script to focus on the dynamic between Frank Lucas and Richie Roberts. Washington signed back on to the project as Lucas, and Crowe signed on to play Roberts. The film finally premiered in November 2007 to positive reviews and good box office.

In late 2008 Scott released the Middle-East set espionage thriller, ‘Body of Lies’ starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Crowe once again which opened to luke-warm ticket-sales and mixed reviews. Scott directed an adaptation of ‘Robin Hood’, which starred Russell Crowe in the title role and Cate Blanchett as Maid Marian, and Max von Sydow and Mark Strong in key roles. The movie was released on 13 May 2010 in Australia and 14 May 2010 in America to mixed reviews.

Scott’s next film is ‘Prometheus‘, touted as a semi-prequel to his breakthrough hit, Alien. The internet is buzzing with theories as to exactly what the movie is about. It is due for release in July 2012.

Scott has been nominated for three Academy Awards for Directing, as well as Golden Globe and Emmy Awards. He was knighted in the 2003 New Year honours.


Ridley Scott – Part 1

Sir Ridley Scott (born 30 November 1937) is an English film director and producer. His most famous films include ‘Alien’ (1979), ‘Blade Runner’ (1982), ‘Thelma & Louise’ (1991), ‘G. I. Jane’ (1997), ‘Gladiator’ (2000), ‘Black Hawk Down’ (2001), ‘Hannibal’ (2001), ‘Kingdom of Heaven’ (2005), ‘American Gangster’ (2007), ‘Body of Lies’ (2008), and ‘Robin Hood’ (2010).

Scott was born in South Shields, Tyne and Wear, England, the son of Elizabeth and Colonel Francis Percy Scott. He was raised in an Army family, meaning that for most of his early life, his father — an officer in the Royal Engineers — was absent.

He went on to study at the Royal College of Art where he contributed to the college magazine, ARK, and helped to establish its film department. For his final show, he made a black and white short film, ‘Boy and Bicycle’, starring his younger brother, Tony Scott, and his father. The film’s main visual elements would become features of Scott’s later work; it was issued on the ‘Extras’ section of The Duellists DVD. After graduation in 1963, he secured a job as a trainee set designer with the BBC, leading to work on the popular television police series ‘Z-Cars’ and the science fiction series ‘Out of the Unknown’. Scott was an admirer of Stanley Kubrick early in his development as a director.

He was assigned to design the second Doctor Who serial, ‘The Daleks’, which would have entailed realising the famous alien creatures. Working with Alan Parker, Hugh Hudson and Hugh Johnson at RSA during the 1970s, Scott made television commercials in the UK including most notably the popular 1974 Hovis advert, “Bike Round” (New World Symphony), which was filmed in Shaftesbury, Dorset.

‘The Duellists’ (1977) was Ridley Scott’s first feature film. It was produced in Europe and won a Best Debut Film medal at the Cannes Film Festival but made limited commercial impact in the US. Set during the Napoleonic Wars, it featured two French Hussar officers, D’Hubert and Feraud (played by Keith Carradine and Harvey Keitel). Their quarrel over an initially minor incident turns into a bitter, long-drawn out feud over the following fifteen years, interwoven with the larger conflict that provides its backdrop. The film was lauded for its historically authentic portrayal of Napoleonic uniforms and military conduct (often compared to the Stanley Kubrick film, ‘Barry Lyndon’), as well as its accurate early-19th-century fencing techniques recreated by fight choreographer William Hobbs. 

Scott’s box office disappointment with The Duellists was compounded by the success received by Alan Parker with American-backed films — Scott admitted he was “ill for a week” with envy. Scott had originally planned to next adapt a version of Tristan and Iseult, but after seeing ‘Star Wars’, he became convinced of the potential of large scale, effects-driven films. He therefore accepted the job of directing ‘Alien’, the ground-breaking 1979 horror/science-fiction film that would give him international recognition.

While Scott would not direct the three Alien sequels, the female action hero Ellen Ripley (played by Sigourney Weaver), introduced in the first film, would become a cinematic icon. Scott was involved in the 2003 restoration and re-release of the film including media interviews for its promotion. At this time Scott indicated that he had been in discussions to make the fifth and final film in the Alien franchise. However, in a 2006 interview, the director remarked that he had been unhappy about Alien: The Director’s Cut, feeling that the original was “pretty flawless” and that the additions were merely a marketing tool.

After a year working on the film adaptation of ‘Dune’, and following the sudden death of his brother Frank, Scott signed to direct the film version of Philip K. Dick’s novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?. Renamed ‘Blade Runner’, starring Harrison Ford and featuring an acclaimed soundtrack by Vangelis, the movie was a disappointment in theatres in 1982 and was pulled shortly thereafter. Scott’s notes were used by Warner Brothers to create a rushed Director’s Cut in 1991 which removed the voiceovers and modified the ending. Scott personally supervised a digital restoration of Blade Runner and approved the Final Cut. This version was released in Los Angeles, New York, and Toronto cinemas on 5 October 2007, and as an elaborate DVD release on 18 December 2007. Today, Blade Runner is often ranked by critics as one of the most important science fiction films of the 20th century and is usually discussed along with William Gibson’s novel Neuromancer as initiating the cyberpunk genre. Scott regards Blade Runner as his “most complete and personal film”.

In 1985 Scott directed ‘Legend’, a fantasy film. Having not tackled the fairy tale genre, Scott decided to create a “once upon a time” film set in a world of fairies, princesses, and goblins. Scott cast Tom Cruise as the film’s hero, Jack, Mia Sara as Princess Lily, and Tim Curry as the Satan-horned Lord of Darkness. A series of problems with both principal photography, including the destruction of the forest set by fire, and post-production interference (including heavy editing and substitution of Jerry Goldsmith’s original score with a score by Tangerine Dream) hampered the film’s release. Legend received scathing reviews and was a box-office failure, however the movie found a cult following on VHS, largely due to Curry’s incredible demon.


C. S. Lewis

Clive Staples Lewis (29 November 1898 –  22 November 1963), commonly referred to as C. S. Lewis and known to his friends and family as “Jack”, was a British novelist, academic, medievalist, literary critic, essayist, lay theologian and Christian apologist from Belfast, Ireland. He is known for his fictional work, especially ‘The Screwtape Letters’, ‘The Space Trilogy’ and most famously, ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’.

The Chronicles of Narnia is a series of seven fantasy novels for children which are considered classics of children’s literature. Based around the adventures of a family of four young siblings during the second World War who live a fantasy life in a parallel world inhabited by fantastical, mythological creatures. Written between 1949 and 1954 and illustrated by Pauline Baynes, the series is Lewis’s most popular work, having sold over 100 million copies in 41 languages.It has been adapted several times, complete or in part, for radio, television, stage and most recently for the big screen as “The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe’, ‘Prince Caspian’ and ‘The Voyage of the Dawn Treader’.

The books contain Christian ideas intended to be easily accessible to young readers. In addition to Christian themes, Lewis also borrows characters from Greek and Roman mythology as well as traditional British and Irish fairy tales.

Lewis was a close friend of  J. R. R. Tolkien,  and both authors were leading figures in the English faculty at Oxford University and in the informal Oxford literary group known as the “Inklings”. According to his memoir ‘Surprised by Joy’, Lewis had been baptised in the Church of Ireland (part of the Anglican Communion) at birth, but fell away from his faith during his adolescence. Owing to the influence of Tolkien and other friends, at the age of 32 Lewis returned to the Anglican Communion, becoming “a very ordinary layman of the Church of England”. His faith had a profound effect on his work, and his wartime radio broadcasts on the subject of Christianity brought him wide acclaim.

In 1956 he married the American writer Joy Gresham, 17 years his junior, who died four years later of cancer at the age of 45. Lewis died three years after his wife, as the result of renal failure. His death came one week before his 65th birthday. Media coverage of his death was minimal, as he died on 22 November 1963 – the same day that U.S. President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, and the same day another famous author, Aldous Huxley, died. Lewis’s works have been translated into more than 30 languages and have sold millions of copies.


Joe Dante

Joseph “Joe” Dante, Jr. (born November 28, 1946) is an American film director and producer of films generally with humorous and science fiction content. His films are well known for their movie in-jokes and their special visual effects.

Dante began his movie career working for Roger Corman, similar to Francis Ford Coppola and James Cameron, however unlike those directors, Dante has always maintained hi love of the ‘B’ movie. He worked as an editor on films such as ‘Grand Theft Auto’ before codirecting ‘Hollywood Boulevard’ with Allan Arkush.

His films include ‘Piranha’ (1978) and ‘The Howling’ (1981), both from scripts by John Sayles. Though the film has been noted for its semi-humorous screenplay, it began life as a more straight forward 1977 novel by Gary Brandner. After drafts by Jack Conrad (the original director who left following difficulties with the studio) and Terence H. Winkless proved unsatisfactory, director Joe Dante hired John Sayles to completely rewrite the script. Sayles rewrote the script with the same self-aware, satirical tone that he gave Piranha, and his finished draft bears only a vague resemblance to Brandner’s book.

After the release of The Howling, he was noticed by Steven Spielberg for whom he directed the third segment of ‘Twilight Zone: The Movie’ (1983), wherein a woman is ‘adopted’ by an omnipotent child. His first really big hit, Gremlins, which was also produced by Steven Spielberg, was released in 1984. ‘Gremlins’ (1984), his first major hit. The first Gremlins film is about a young man who receives a strange creature—called a Mogwai—as a pet, which then spawns other creatures who transform into small, destructive, evil monsters. Gremlins was a huge commercial success and received positive reviews from critics. However, the film was also heavily criticized for some of its more violent sequences. In response to this, and to similar complaints about other films (Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom), Steven Spielberg suggested that the MPAA reform its rating system, which it did within two months of the film’s release.

He would work with Spielberg again on Innerspace and a Gremlins sequel, ‘Gremlins 2: The New Batch’, released in 1990. In contrast to the lighter sequel, the original Gremlins opts for more black comedy, which is balanced against a Christmas-time setting. Both films were the center of large merchandising campaigns.

Films of varying success followed, ‘Explorers’ (1985), ‘Innerspace’ (1987), ‘Amazon Women on the Moon’ (1987); ‘The ‘Burbs’ (1989), ‘Matinee’ (1993), ‘Runaway Daughters’ (1994), ‘The Second Civil War’ (1997), ‘Small Soldiers’ (1998), ‘Looney Tunes: Back in Action’ (2003), and ‘Homecoming’ (2005). In 1995–1996, Dante worked on ‘The Phantom’, and when he was removed from the film, he chose screen credit (as executive producer) rather than pay. He was creative consultant on ‘Eerie, Indiana’ (1991–1992) and directed five episodes. He played himself in the series finale.

In 2007, Dante launched the web series, Trailers From Hell, which provides commentary by directors, producers and screenwriters on trailers for classic and cult movies. His last major release was the excellent, ‘The Hole’ (2009) which did quite well in the UK but was otherwise generally overlooked.


Prometheus – ‘Leaked’ Trailer and Images

Yesterday, AvP Galaxy reported on the existence of a brand new trailer for Prometheus. This new trailer lasts for around one minute and features a handful of scenes from the footage that was shown at Comic-con this year, scenes from the recently leaked 18 seconds teaser trailer and much more. You can watch it  at this link now. The quality isn’t ideal but the video is definitely worth a look.


The Lords of Salem – Update

Check out this nice little article on Cinemart featuring a new still from Rob Zombie’s new horror feature, The Lords of Salem, and the movie within that movie: ‘Frankenstein Vs. The Witchfinder’ and it’s excellent exploitation style poster. Oh, and just for good measure, they’ve included Zombie’s fake Grindhouse trailer for ‘Werewolf Women of the SS’


Slasher Poster Art

Two more great posters from the Alamo Drafthouse, for slasher classics ‘The Burning’ and ‘Sleepaway Camp’