I love Nic Roeg movies. Along with Ken Russell he was an artistic touchstone in the British film industry through the 70’s and 80’s, they were provocative, original, broke new ground, caused trouble and most important, were never boring. Nic Roeg died on Sunday aged 90, rest in peace.
From his early years as a clapper boy, Roeg had progressed to world-class cinematographer, working for second unit camera under Freddie Young on David Lean’s masterpiece Lawrence of Arabia (1962). Roeg’s work on this led to important credits including Roger Corman’s The Masque of the Red Death (1964), Francois Truffaut’s Fahrenheit 451 (1966) and on John Schlesinger’s Far From the Madding Crowd (1967).
By the late 60s, after a career in cinematography which would have been quite enough for most mortals, he came to directing remarkably late: Performance (1970) Walkabout (1971), Don’t Look Now (1973), The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976) and Bad Timing (1980). And even after that he continued to make excellent movies, including Eureka (1983), Insignificance (1985), the fantasy of Marilyn Monroe meeting Albert Einstein, Track 29 (1988), the sensually charged Dennis Potter drama with Gary Oldman and Roeg’s partner Theresa Russell, and his excellent Roald Dahl fantasy The Witches (1990) with Anjelica Huston.
After his run of brilliant films in the 70s, the British antipathy to experimentation, and films lacking conventional narrative-based realism, resulted in the comparative neglect of Roeg had no liking for self-publicity, which resulted in some projects falling to other directors. As he remarked, he “refused to join the club”.
What an extraordinary film-maker Nic Roeg was, a man whose imagination and technique could not be confined to conventional genres. He should be remembered for a clutch of masterly films, but perhaps especially for his classic Don’t Look Now, not merely the best British scary movie in history, but one infused with compassion and love.
Still fresh off The Machinist, it became necessary for Bale to bulk up to match Batman’s muscular physique. He was given a deadline of six months to do this. Bale recalled it as far from a simple accomplishment: “…when it actually came to building muscle, I was useless. I couldn’t do one push up the first day. All of the muscles were gone, so I had a real tough time rebuilding all of that.” With the help of a personal trainer, Bale succeeded in meeting the deadline, gaining a total of 100 lb (45 kg) in six months. He went from about 130 lbs to 230 lbs. He then discovered that he had actually gained more weight than the director desired, and dropped his weight to 190 lbs by the time filming began.
Bale had initial concerns about playing Batman, as he felt more ridiculous than intimidating in the Batsuit, he dealt with this by depicting Batman as a savage beast. To attain a deeper understanding of the character, Bale read various Batman comic books. He explained his interpretation of the young boy: “Batman is his hidden, demonic rage-filled side. The creature Batman creates is an absolutely sincere creature and one that he has to control but does so in a very haphazard way. He’s capable of enacting violence — and to kill — so he’s constantly having to rein himself in.” For Bale, the most gruelling part about playing Batman was the suit. “You stick it on, you get hot, you sweat and you get a headache in the mask,” he said. “But I’m not going to bitch about it because I get to play Batman.” When promoting the film in interviews and public events, Bale retained an American accent to avoid confusion.
Batman Begins was released in the U.S. on 15 June 2005 and was a U.S. and international triumph for Warner Bros., costing approximately US$135 million to produce and taking in over US$370 million in returns worldwide. Bale earned the Best Hero award at the 2006 MTV Movie Awards for his performance.
Bale reprised his role as Batman in Nolan’s Batman Begins sequel The Dark Knight. He trained in the Kevsi Fighting Method, and performed many of his own stunts. The Dark Knight was released in the U.S. on 18 July 2008 and stormed through the box office, with a record-breaking $158.4 million in the U.S. in its first weekend. It broke the $300 million barrier in 10 days, the $400 million mark in 18 days and the $500 million mark in 43 days, three new U.S. box office records set by the film. The film went on to gross over $1 billion at the box office worldwide, making it the fourth-highest grossing movie worldwide of all time, before adjusting for inflation.
Bale reprised his Batman role in The Dark Knight Rises released on 20 July 2012, making Bale the actor who has played Batman the most times in feature film. Bale has given the same opinion as Nolan that, if the latter was forced to bring Robin into the films, he would never again play Batman; even though one of his favorite Batman stories, Batman: Dark Victory, focuses on Robin’s origin.
In 2006, Bale took on four projects: Rescue Dawn, by German film maker Werner Herzog, had him playing U.S. Fighter pilot Dieter Dengler, who has to fight for his life after being shot down while on a mission during the Vietnam War. Bale left a strong impression on Herzog, with the director complimenting his acting abilities: “I find him one of the greatest talents of his generation. We made up our own minds long before he did Batman.”
In The Prestige, an adaptation of the Christopher Priest novel about a rivalry between two Victorian stage magicians, Bale was reunited with Batman Begins‘ Michael Caine and director Christopher Nolan. The cast of The Prestige also included Hugh Jackman, Scarlett Johansson, and David Bowie. I’m Not There, a film in which Bale again worked alongside Todd Haynes and Heath Ledger (who would go on to play The Joker in The Dark Knight), is an artistic reflection of the life of Bob Dylan. He starred opposite Russell Crowe in a commercially and critically successful Western film, 3:10 to Yuma. Bale played John Connor in Terminator Salvation and FBI agent Melvin Purvis in Michael Mann’s Public Enemies.
In 2010, Bale portrayed Dicky Eklund in the biopic The Fighter. He received critical acclaim for his role and won several awards, including the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor and the Screen Actor’s Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role.
Nagisa Ōshima (大島 渚, born March 31, 1932, Kyoto) is a Japanese film director and screenwriter, best known for his 1983 movie Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence, starring musicians David Bowie and Ryuichi Sakamoto. After graduating from Kyoto University Oshima was hired by film production company Shochiku Ltd. and quickly progressed to directing his own movies, making his debut feature A Town of Love and Hope (愛と希望の街; Ai to kibō no machi) in 1959.
Ōshima’s cinematic career and influence developed very swiftly, and early watershed films Cruel Story of Youth (青春残酷物語), The Sun’s Burial (太陽の墓場) and Night and Fog in Japan (日本の夜と霧) all followed in 1960. Due to the political controversy surrounding the latter film, Ōshima left Shochiku and directed The Catch (1961), about the relationship between a wartime Japanese village and a captured African American serviceman. The Catch introduced a thematic exploration of bigotry and xenophobia, themes which would be explored in greater depth in the later documentary Diary Of Yunbogi, and feature films Death By Hanging and Three Resurrected Drunkards.
Ōshima produced a series of documentaries; notably among them 1965’s Diary Of Yunbogi. Based upon an examination of the lives of street children in Seoul. He followed with Band of Ninja (1967), Ninja Bugei-chō (1967), Diary Of A Shinjuku Thief and Boy (both 1969).
The Ceremony (1971) was a satirical look at Japanese attitudes. However, Ōshima is best known for In the Realm of the Senses (Ai no korīda; 愛のコリーダ 1976), a film based on a true story of fatal sexual obsession in 1930s Japan. Ōshima, who was openly a critic of censorship and his contemporary Akira Kuosawa’s humanism, was determined that the film should feature unsimulated sex and thus the undeveloped film had to be transported to France to be processed and an uncensored version of the movie is still unavailable in Japan.
His follow-up and 1978 companion film to In the Realm of the Senses, Empire of Passion (Ai no bōrei; 愛の亡霊), Ōshima took a more restrained approach to depicting the sexual passions of the two lovers driven to murder, and the film won the 1978 Cannes Film Festival award for best director.
In 1983 Ōshima had a critical success with a film made partly in English, Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence (known as Furyo in several countries), which is set in a wartime prison camp, and features rockstar David Bowie and electronic musician Ryuichi Sakamoto, alongside future director Takeshi Kitano, as examples of Western and Eastern military virtue. Furyo, as the movie is known in Europe and many other non-English speaking countries, has long since become a cult classic. Max, Mon Amour(1986), written with Luis Buñuel’s frequent collaborator Jean-Claude Carrière, was a comedy about a diplomat’s wife (Charlotte Rampling) whose love affair with a chimpanzee is quietly incorporated into an eminently civilised Ménage à trois
In 1996 Ōshima suffered a stroke, but he returned to directing in 1999 with the period piece Taboo (Gohatto), featuring Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence actor Takeshi Kitano and music by co-star and composer Ryuichi Sakamoto. Oshima has since suffered two more strokes, so future films are unlikely. Nagisa Ōshima currently lives in Fujisawa in Kangawa Prefecture.
A collection of Ōshima’s essays and articles was published in English in 1993 as Cinema, Censorship and the State. A critical study by Maureen Turim, The Films of Oshima Nagisa: Images of a Japanese Iconoclast appeared in 1998