Reviews, articles, rants & ramblings on the darker side of the media fringe

Posts tagged “Oscars

True Detective – By Juan Hugo Martinez

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Superior Firepower – The making of Aliens

In this behemoth of a documentary (3 hours) we get to see everything that went into making Aliens, from the construction of the APC to the Queen her slobbering self. The doc is packed with great information on the scripting, set building, and shooting of the film, so free up a block of your time and check it out.


R.I.P. James Gandolfini

James Gandolfini_Tony-SopranoActor James Gandolfini died suddenly after a suspected heart attack while on holiday in Rome to attend the Taormina Film Festival in Sicily. He was 51. Gandolfini will be forever known for his portrayal of mob boss Tony Soprano on the seminal HBO series The Sopranos, which eventually won him 3 Emmy Awards and a $1,000,000-an-episode paycheck. Overweight, balding, rough around the edges with a thick New Jersey accent, Gandolfini was the opposite of a marquee leading man, destined to be a character actor. Yet he proved through his masterful acting that he could make Tony Soprano sexy and smart, towering and powerful. Chris Albrecht who greenlighted the crime family saga at HBO in 1999 and approved Gandolfini in the role, just emailed Deadline: “Absolutely stunned. I got the word from Lorraine Bracco and just got off with Brad Grey who had just heard from David Chase. We had all become a family. This is a tremendous loss.” (Grey was the executive producer and Chase the creator of The Sopranos.) And Gandolfini’s managers confirmed the actor’s death.“It is with immense sorrow that we report our client James Gandolfini passed away today while on holiday in Rome, Italy,’ said Mark Armstrong and Nancy Sanders. ”Our hearts are shattered and we will miss him deeply. He and his family were part of our family for many years and we are all grieving.”

David Chase, the show’s creator, issued this statement today: “He was a genius. Anyone who saw him even in the smallest of his performances knows that.  He is one of the greatest actors of this or any time.  A great deal of that genius resided in those sad eyes. I remember telling him many times, ‘You don’t get it.  You’re like Mozart.’ There would be silence at the other end of the phone. For [wife] Deborah and [children] Michael and Lilliana, this is crushing. And it’s bad for the rest of the world. He wasn’t easy sometimes. But he was my partner, he was my brother in ways I can’t explain and never will be able to explain.” Gandolfini reunited with Chase for The Sopranos creator’s feature film debut Not Fade Away, a 2012 drama in set in 1960s New Jersey in which the actor co-starred as the father of a teenage rock ‘n’ roll band lead singer. Fans anticipated a Sopranos movie from the pair, possibly a prequel about the Sopranos’ grandparents first coming to America from Italy and starring Gandolfini.

Brad Grey, The Sopranos‘ executive producer who’s now chief at Paramount, told Deadline: “Jimmy was one of the most talented, authentic and vulnerable actors of our time. He was unorthodox and truly special in so many ways. He had the sex appeal of Steve McQueen or Brando in his prime as well as the comedic genius of Jackie Gleason. I’m proud to have been his friend and grateful for the extraordinary years I was lucky enough to work with him. My heart and support goes out to his wonderful and loving family.”

Gandolfini’s fellow actor on The Sopranos, Tony Sirico who played “Paulie” had this to say: “Tony was one of my best friends in life, he was there whenever I needed him. Not only did he help me with my career, but also in life, god bless  him. He and I were always helping the troops, we even went to combat zones to visit the Marines. He will be missed.”

Gandolfini’s portrayal of Tony Soprano was one of TV’s largest-looming TV anti-heroes — the schlub we loved, the cruel monster we hated, the anxiety-ridden husband and father we wanted to hug in midlife crisis when he bemoaned, “I’m afraid I’m going to lose my family. Like I lost the ducks.” In the most maddening series finale in recent history – an episode chock full of references to mortality (life, death, a William Butler Yeats reference to the apocalypse, a bathroom reference to a “Godfather” bloodbath) — his was the show’s last image, seen just as the words “Don’t stop” were being sung on the jukebox. It generated such extreme reaction that the series’ fans crashed HBO’s website for a time that night trying to register their outrage that it ended with a black screen, leaving them not knowing whether Tony Soprano had been whacked. In large part to Gandolfini’s charisma (“Jimmy was the spiritual core of our Sopranos family,” Chris Albright, who is now CEO of Starz, noted today), that Season 5 of The Sopranos in 2004 remains the most watched series in HBO history with 14.4 million viewers on average.


Terminator 2 Judgment Day – An Interview with Stan Winston

Terminator 2_Arnold Schwarzenegger_Stan WinstonFor Terminator 2: Judgment Day, in addition to the T-1000 puppets and effects, Stan Winston Studio created a series of appliance makeups for Arnold Schwarzenegger that would reveal the 800-series Terminator’s deterioration through the course of the story, as well as animatronic Schwarzenegger puppets for gags that couldn’t be performed by the actor or his stunt man, and full-sized, articulated endoskeletons for an opening future war sequence.


Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Gary OldmanGary Oldman is joining Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, the Matt Reeves-directed sequel to Fox’s successful ape reboot Rise of the Planet of the Apes. William Clarke and Kodi-Smit McPhee have already been set. Oldman will play Dreyfus, leader of the human resistance after the apes have taken power. Fox has set the film for release on May 23, 2014. Oldman seems to be everywhere at the moment, he most recently starred in Lawless and The Dark Knight Rises, and will next be seen in the Robocop remake for MGM.


Oscars Infographic

Congratulations to Argo, winning a well deserved Best Picture Oscar… and shame on the Academy for not nominating Ben Affleck in the Best Director category.

Oscars Infographic


John Boorman

John Boorman_movie bannerJohn Boorman (born 18 January 1933) is a British filmmaker who is a long time resident of Ireland and is best known for his feature films such as Point Blank, Deliverance, Zardoz, Excalibur, The Emerald Forest, Hope and Glory, The General and The Tailor of Panama.

John BoormanBoorman first began by working as a dry cleaner and journalist in the late 1950s. He ran the newsrooms at Southern Television in Southampton and Dover before moving into TV documentary filmmaking, eventually becoming the head of the BBC’s Bristol-based Documentary Unit in 1962.

His feature debut was Catch Us If You Can (1965), about competing pop group Dave Clark Five, a rip-off of Richard Lester’s ‘A Hard Days Night’. Boorman was drawn to Hollywood for the opportunity to make larger-scale cinema and in Point Blank (1967), a gritty, powerful and brutal film, he brought a stranger’s vision to the decaying fortress of Alcatraz and the proto-hippy world of San Francisco. Lee Marvin gave the then-unknown director his full support, telling MGM he deferred all his approvals on the project to Boorman.

Deliverance_poster_1After Point Blank, Boorman re-teamed with Lee Marvin and Toshiro Mifune for Hell in the Pacific (1968), which tells a fable story of two representative soldiers stranded together on an island. Returning to the UK, he made Leo the Last (US/UK, 1970). The film won him a Best Director award at Cannes.

Boorman achieved much greater resonance with Deliverance (1972), the odyssey of city people played by Jon Voight, Burt Reynolds, Ronny Cox and Ned Beatty as they trespass into the Appalachian backwoods and discover their inner savagery. This film became Boorman’s first true box office success, earning him several award nominations. He followed with the cult film Zardoz (1973), starring Sean Connery, a post-apocalyptic sci-fi piece, set in the 24th century.

Exorcist II The Heretic_posterBoorman was selected as director for Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977), but the resultant film was widely ridiculed and regarded by many as a failure. The film is set four years after The Exorcist, and centers on a now 16-year-old Regan McNeil who is still recovering from her previous demonic possession.

Exorcist writer/producer William Peter Blatty and director William Friedkin both had no desire to involve themselves in an Exorcist sequel. According to the film’s co-producer Richard Lederer, Exorcist II was conceived as a relatively low-budget affair: “What we essentially wanted to do with the sequel was to redo the first movie… Have the central figure, an investigative priest, interview everyone involved with the exorcism, then fade out to unused footage, unused angles from the first movie. A low-budget rehash – about $3 million – of The Exorcist, a rather cynical approach to movie-making, I’ll admit. But that was the start.”

Exorcist 2_Linda Blair_John BoormanPlaywright William Goodhart was commissioned to write the screenplay, titled The Heretic, and based it around the theories of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (the Jesuit paleontologist/archaeologist who inspired the character of Father Merrin when Blatty wrote The Exorcist). Boorman was unhappy with Goodhart’s script, and asked Goodhart to do a rewrite, incorporating ideas from Rospo Pallenberg. Goodhart refused, and so the script was rewritten by Pallenberg and Boorman. Goodhart’s script was being constantly rewritten as the film was shooting, with the filmmakers uncertain as to how the story should end. Actress Linda Blair recalls “It was a really good script at first. Then after everybody signed on they rewrote it five times and it ended up nothing like the same movie.”

British filmmaker Boorman signed on to direct, stating that “the idea of making a metaphysical thriller greatly appealed to my psyche.” Years before, Boorman had been considered by Warner Bros. as a possible director for the first Exorcist movie, but he turned the opportunity down as he found the story “rather repulsive.” Boorman, however, was intrigued with the idea of directing a sequel, explaining that “every film has to struggle to find a connection with its audience. Here I saw the chance to make an extremely ambitious film without having to spend the time developing this connection. I could make assumptions and then take the audience on a very adventurous cinematic journey.” He should have left it alone…

Deliverance_postersBoorman returned with Excalibur (1981), a retelling of the Arthurian legend. For the film he employed all of his children as actors and crew and several of Boorman’s later films have been ‘family business’ productions.

Deliverance_poster 2The Emerald Forest (1985) saw Boorman cast his actor son Charley Boorman as an eco-warrior, in a rainforest eco-adventure. Hope and Glory (1987, UK) is his most autobiographical movie to date, a retelling of his childhood in London during The Blitz. The film proved a Box Office hit in the US, receiving numerous Oscar, BAFTA and Golden Globe nominations. However his 1990 US produced comedy about a dysfunctional family, Where the Heart Is, was a major flop.

Boorman won the Best Director Award at the 1998 Cannes Film Festival for The General, his black-and-white biopic of Martin Cahill. The film is about the somewhat glamorous, yet mysterious, criminal in Dublin who was killed, apparently by the IRA. Released in 2006, The Tiger’s Tail was a thriller set against the tableau of early 21st century capitalism in Ireland.

In 2004, Boorman was made a Fellow of BAFTA.


Julianne Moore

Julianne Moore_movie bannerJulianne Moore (born Julie Anne Smith; December 3, 1960) is an American actress and a children’s book author. She has been nominated for four Oscars, six Golden Globes, three BAFTA’s, nine Screen Actors Guild Awards, and has won two Emmy Awards.

julianne-moore-1Moore was born at the Fort Bragg army base in North Carolina. Her father, Peter Moore Smith, was a paratrooper in the American army, and later a colonel and military judge. Her mother, Anne McNeil McLean, was a psychiatrist and social worker who emigrated from Scotland to the United States as a child. She is a dual citizen of Britain and America, by way of her Scottish ancestry. Moore applied for British citizenship in 2011 to honor her deceased mother (“it would have meant the world to her”).

Moore frequently moved around the country as a child, due to her father’s profession, and as a consequence, Moore attended nine different schools. When Moore was 16, the family moved to Frankfurt, Germany, where she attended Frankfurt American High School. She appeared in several plays, and upon the encouragement of her English teacher she chose to pursue a theatrical career. She was accepted to Boston University, and graduated with a BFA in Theatre in 1983.

julianne-moore-2Moore moved to New York City after graduating, and worked as a waitress while auditioning for roles. Moore began her acting career in 1983 with minor roles, before joining the cast of the soap opera As the World Turns, for which she won a Daytime Emmy Award in 1988. She began to appear in supporting roles in films during the early 1990’s, her feature debut was a small role in 1990’s Tales from the Darkside: The Movie, which Moore has described as “terrible”. Her visibility increased in 1992 when she was had her first substantial feature film role in The Hand That Rocks the Cradle (1992). The film was a US box office number one, and Moore caught the attention of several critics with her performance.

She followed up with a role in Robert Altman’s Short Cuts (1993), Vanya on 42nd Street (1994), Safe, Nine Months and Assassins (1995), Jurassic Park 3 (1997) but it was her performance in Boogie Nights (1997) that brought her widespread attention and her first Academy Award nomination.  Director Paul Thomas Anderson was not a well known figure before its production, with only one feature credit to his name, but Moore agreed to the film after being impressed with his script. The ensemble piece features Moore as Amber Waves, a leading porn actress and mother-figure who longs to be reunited with her real son.

Anthony-Hopkins-Julianne-Moore-hannibalHer success continued with such films as The Big Lebowski (1998), Magnolia (1999), and in the huge commercial success Hannibal (2001), a sequel to the Oscar winning film The Silence of the Lambs. After Jodie Foster declined to return as Agent Clarice Starling, director Ridley Scott cast Moore in the lead role. The change in actress received considerable attention from the press. Moore was excited to be given the part but claimed she was not trying to upstage Foster: “Jodie was magnificent… It’s an honor to be asked to repeat something after she’s done it. But I’m not going to be able to do what she did. There’s just no way.”

Academy Award nominations later came for her two 2002 films, The Hours (Best Supporting Actress) and Far From Heaven (Best Actress).

blindness_poster2006 also saw the releasing of three of her films: Freedomland, which opened to mixed reviews, followed by Trust the Man, directed by her husband Bart Freundlich, and the critically acclaimed science fiction feature Children of Men. The following year she appeared in Next, a science fiction film based on a short story by Philip K. Dick; and the controversial film Savage Grace, the story of a high-society mother and son whose Oedipal relationship ends in tragedy.

In 2008, Moore starred alongside Mark Ruffalo in Blindness, a thriller from director Fernando Meirelles. Moore received great reviews, the movie generally, did not. Moore plays as doctor’s wife, the only person immune to the epidemic of blindness. Her sight is kept a secret by her husband and others, though as time goes on, she feels isolated in being the only one with sight. Moore described her character’s responsibility: “Her biggest concern in the beginning is simply her husband. But her ability to see ultimately both isolates her and makes her into a leader.” The director also gave Moore’s character a wardrobe that would match the actor’s skin and dyed blond hair, giving her the appearance of a “pale angel”.

Carrie_posterMoore has since appeared in the well-received American drama A Single Man, for which she received her fifth Golden Globe nomination. Her most recent notable roles include Chloe (2009), The Kids Are All Right (2010), Crazy, Stupid, Love (2011), and the HBO film Game Change (2012), in which she portrayed Sarah Palin.

Moore has several upcoming film projects, including the fantasy film The Seventh Son based on the book series The Wardstone Chronicles, co-starring Jeff Bridges, in which Moore will star as the “most dangerous 1700’s witch” Mother Malkin. In March 2013, she will be seen as Margaret White in the remake of Carrie, an adaptation of the Stephen King horror novel.


Sympathy For Lady Vengeance Remake News

DEADLINE NEWS: Charlize Theron will star in an adaptation of Park Chan-wook’s Sympathy For Lady Vengeance, the last in Park’s revenge trilogy. The original 2005 film centered on a woman who for reasons of her own completes a prison term for a murder she did not commit, re-emerging to punish the killer and avenge the dead. “This will be very American — and very unexpected,” said scriptwriter William Monahan in the release announcing the deal. “Park is a genius; it’s the Everest of adaptations and I’ve got blood in my teeth to do it.”

Monahan, recently completed the screenplay for The Gambler for Martin Scorsese at Paramount and Robert Rodriguez’s Sin City: A Dame To Kill For.


Jessica Lange Wins Emmy for American Horror Story

Congratulations to Jessica Lange on her Emmy win for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie for American Horror Story. Well deserved, can’t wait for season 2.


James Cameron – Aliens and T2

Cameron next began the sequel to Alien, the 1979 film by Ridley Scott. Cameron named the sequel Aliens, and again cast Sigourney Weaver in the iconic role of Ellen Ripley. According to Cameron, the crew on Aliens was hostile to him, regarding him as a poor substitute for Ridley Scott. Cameron sought to show them The Terminator but the majority of the crew refused to watch it and remained skeptical of his direction throughout production. Despite this and other off-screen problems (such as having to replace one of the lead actors, Michael Biehn from Terminator took James Remar’s place as Corporal Hicks), Aliens became a box office success, and received Academy Award nominations for Best Actress in a Leading Role for Weaver, Best Art Direction, Best Film Editing, Best Original Score, Best Sound, and won awards for Best Sound Effects Editing and Best Visual Effects.

Cameron’s next project stemmed from an idea that had come up during a high school biology class. The story of oil-rig workers who discover otherworldly underwater creatures became the basis of Cameron’s screenplay for The Abyss. Initially budgeted at $41 million U.S. (though the production ran considerably over budget), it was considered to be one of the most expensive films of its time, and required cutting-edge effects technology. Because much of the film takes place underwater and the technology wasn’t advanced enough to digitally create an underwater environment, Cameron chose to shoot much of the movie “reel-for-real”, at depths of up to 40 feet (12 m). For creation of the sets, the containment building of an unfinished nuclear power plant was converted, and two huge tanks were used. The main tank was filled with 7,500,000 US gallons (28,000,000 L) of water, and the second with 2,500,000 US gallons (9,500,000 L). The cast and crew resided there for much of the shooting.

After the success of The Terminator, there had always been talks about a sequel to continue the story of Sarah Connor and her struggle against machines from the future. Although Cameron had come up with a core idea for the sequel, and Schwarzenegger expressed interest in continuing the story, there were still problems regarding who had the rights to the story, as well as the logistics of the special effects needed to make the sequel. Finally, in late-1980s, Mario Kassar of Carolco Pictures secured the rights to the sequel, allowing Cameron to greenlight production of the film, now called Terminator 2: Judgment Day.

For the film, Linda Hamilton reprised her iconic role of Sarah Connor. In addition, Schwarzenegger also returned in his role as The Terminator, but this time as a protector. Unlike the T-800, who is made of a metal endoskeleton, the new villain of the sequel, called the T-1000, was a more advanced Terminator made of liquid metal, and with polymorphic abilities. The T-1000 would also be much less bulky than the T-800. For the role, Cameron cast Robert Patrick, a sharp contrast to Schwarzenegger.

Cameron had originally wanted to incorporate this advanced-model Terminator into the first film, but the special effects at the time were not advanced enough. The ground-breaking effects used in The Abyss to digitally depict the water tentacle convinced Cameron that his liquid metal villain was possible.

Like Cameron’s previous film, it was one of the most expensive films of its era, with a budget of about $100 million.Terminator 2, or T2, as it was abbreviated, broke box-office records (including the opening weekend record for an R-rated film), earning over $200 million in the United States and Canada, and over $300 million in other territories, and became the highest-grossing film of that year. It won four Academy Awards: Best Make-up, Best Sound, Best Sound Effects Editing, and Best Visual Effects.

James Cameron announced a third Terminator film many times during the 1990s, but without coming out with any finished scripts. Kassar and Vajna purchased the rights to the Terminator franchise from a bankruptcy sale of Carolco’s assets. Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines was eventually made and released in July 2003 without Cameron’s involvement, although Schwarzenegger returned as the Terminator.

Before the release of T2, Schwarzenegger came to Cameron with the idea of remaking the French comedy La Totale! Titled True Lies, the story revolves around a secret-agent spy who leads a double life as a married man, whose wife believes he is a computer salesman.

Cameron’s Lightstorm Entertainment signed on with Twentieth Century Fox for production of True Lies. Cameron’s least successful film in terms of returns against budget, from a budget of $115 million, the film earned $146 million in North America, and $232 million abroad.

Cameron decided to script and film his next project based on famous sinking of the ship RMS Titanic The picture revolved around a fictional romance story between two young lovers from different social classes who meet on board. Before production began, he took dives to the bottom of the Atlantic and shot actual footage of the ship underwater, which he inserted into the final film. Much of the film’s dialogue was also written during these dives.

Cameron’s budget for the film reached about $200 million, making it the most expensive movie ever made at the time. Before its release, the film was widely ridiculed for its expense and protracted production schedule.


Dustin Hoffman – Part 1

Dustin Lee Hoffman (born August 8, 1937) is an American actor with a career in film, television, and theatre since 1960. He has been known for his versatile portrayals of antiheroes and vulnerable characters.

Hoffman was born in Los Angeles, the second son of Lillian (née Gold) and Harry Hoffman. His father worked as a prop supervisor/set decorator at Columbia Pictues before becoming a furniture salesman. Hoffman was named after stage and silent screen actor Dustin Farnum. He graduated from Los Angeles High School in 1955 and enrolled at Santa Monica College with the intention of studying medicine, before leaving after a year to join the Pasadena Playhouse where he worked alongside future Academy Award-winner Gene Hackman.

After two years there, Hackman headed for New York City, with Hoffman soon following. During this time period, he got an occasional bit television role, but left acting briefly to teach in order to support himself. Hoffman then studied at the famed Actors Studio and became a dedicated method actor.

He first drew critical praise for the play Eh?, for which he won a Theatre World Award and a Drama Desk Award. This was soon followed by his breakthrough movie role as Benjamin Braddock, the college graduate who apparently “has it all” but is deeply troubled in The Graduate (1967). Hoffman received an Academy Award nomination for his performance and became a major star.

In December 1968, Hoffman returned to Broadway to appear in Jimmy Shine, for his performance in the production Hoffman won another Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Performance. Just a few weeks after leaving the production, it was Hoffman’s next major film, directed by John Schlesinger, Midnight Cowboy (1969) that would cement Hoffman as the actor to watch. For his role as Ratso Rizzo in the film, Hoffman received his second Oscar nomination and the film won the Best Picture and best Adapted Screenplay honours. It is the only X-rated film to win an Oscar in any category, and one of two X-rated films to be nominated for an Oscar (the other being Stanley Kubrick’s 1971 film A Clockwork Orange).

This was followed by his role in Little Big Man (1970) where Jack Crabb, his character, ages from teenager to a 121-year-old man. The film was widely praised by critics, but was overlooked for an award except for a supporting nomination for Chief Dan George. Hoffman continued to appear in major films over the next few years. Who Is Harry Kellerman and Why Is He Saying Those Terrible Things About Me? (1971), Straw Dogs (also 1971), and Papillon (1973) were followed by Lenny (1974), for which Hoffman received his third nomination for Best Actor in seven years.

Less than two years after the Watergate scandal, Hoffman and Robert Redford starred as carl Bernstein and bob Woodward, respectively, in the superlative All the President’s Men (1976). Hoffman next starred in Marathon Man (also 1976), a film based on William Goldman’s novel of the same name, opposite Laurence Olivier, with whom he had a few run-ins about acting styles, most famously in the story, true or false, that Olivier said to the method actor Hoffman: “Try acting dear boy”. Hoffman’s next roles were less successful, as a thief in Straight Time (1978), and as journaisy Wally Stanton in Agatha (1979).

Hoffman next starred in Robert Benton’s  as workaholic Ted Kramer whose wife (Meryl Streep) unexpectedly leaves him; he raises their son alone. Hoffman gained his first Academy Award, and the film also received the Best Picture honor, plus the awards for Best Supporting Actress (Streep) and Director.

In Tootsie (1982), Hoffman portrays Michael Dorsey, a struggling actor who finds himself dressing up as a woman to land a role on a soap opera. Tootsie earned ten Academy Award nominations, including Hoffman’s fifth nomination.

In 1984, Hoffman starred as Willy Loman in the Broadway revival of the 1949 Arthur Miller play, Death of a Salesman, a role he later reprised in a TV movie of the same name, for which he won the 1985 Emmy Award in the category of Outstanding Lead Actor in a TV Movie or Miniseries, and a Golden Globe.


Ernest Borgnine – R.I.P.

Oscar-winner and Emmy-nominated movie and legendary character actor Ernest Borgnine, has died of renal failure at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center with his wife and children at his side. He was 95. Borgnine made his mark as the vicious Fatso Judson who beat Frank Sinatra to death in From Here To Eternity. But he also won the Best Actor Oscar for playing against type as a lovesick butcher in Marty in 1955. Modest despite being a household name Borgnine registered shock when in 2011 the Screen Actors Guild called to bestow on him the annual Life Achievement Award. “Heck, I’m just a character actor for God sakes. I’m no big star,” he told Deadline at the time.  “It was my mom who told me, ‘Ernie, if you make even one person happy with your smile or a funny thing you did every day, you’ll have accomplished a great deal.’ And that’s all I’ve ever tried to do.”

Some of my personal Borgnine favourites include: The Vikings (1958), The Dirty Dozen (1967), The Wild Bunch (1969), Escape From New York (1981), Gattaca (1997), Red (2011) and of course Mermaid Man in SpongeBob SquarePants (1999-2011). Rest in Peace.


Griffin Dunne

Griffin Dunne (born June 8, 1955) is an American actor and film director. Dunne was born Thomas Griffin Dunne in New York City, New York, the son of Ellen Beatriz  (née Griffin) Dunne and Dominick Dunne. His mother founded the victims’ rights organization Justice for Homicide Victims and his father was a producer, writer, and actor. He is the older brother of slain actress Dominique Dunne and the nephew of John Gregory Dunne and Joan Didion.

Dunne had a couple of minor support roles in the late 70’s before he co-starred with David Naughton in the classic An American Werewolf in London (1981). The film starts with two young Americans, David (played by Naughton) and Jack, (played by Dunne) on a backpacking holiday in England. Following an awkwardly tense visit to a village pub, the two men venture deep into the moors at night. They are attacked by a werewolf, which results in Jack’s death and David being taken to a London hospital. Through apparitions of his dead friend and disturbing dream sequences, David becomes informed that he is a werewolf and will transform at the next full moon.
Critics generated mostly favourable reviews for the film. The film won the 1981 Saturn Award for Best Horror Film and an Academy Award for Outstanding Achievement in Make-up by Rick Baker. The film was one of three high-profile wolf-themed horror films released in 1981, alongside The Howling and Wolfen. Over the years, the film has accumulated a cult following and has been referred to as a cult classic, and is still the best werewolf movie ever made.

Dunne followed up with the under-rated comedy Johnny Dangerously (1984). The movie stars Michael Keaton as an honest, good-hearted man, Johnny Kelly, who is forced to turn to a life of crime to finance his neurotic mother’s skyrocketing medical bills and to put his younger brother Tommy (Dunne) through law school.

Dunne’s last great role was that of Paul Hackett in After Hours (1985), a black comedy film directed by Martin Scorsese. Paul Hackett, a New Yorker, experiences a series of adventures and perils in trying to make his way home from a night out in SoHo. Though it was not received well by audiences, it was given positive reviews at the time and went on to be considered an “underrated” Scorsese film, and a cult classic in its own right. The film did, however, garner Scorsese the Best Director Award at the 1986 Cannes Film Festival and allowed the director to take a hiatus from the tumultuous development of The Last Temptation of Christ.

Dunne had roles in the awful Madonna movie, Who’s That Girl (1987), My Girl (1991), Quiz Show (1994) and Game 6 (2005) but has never hit the heights of those early 80’s roles.

As of 2004, he has appeared in nearly 40 films and TV movies. He has produced and/or directed more than 10 other features and has made numerous TV appearances. In 1995, Griffin Dunne was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film for Duke of Groove, which he directed and co-wrote. He shared the nomination with producer Thom Colwell. He is also a known producer along with his producing partner, actress Amy Robinson (Mean Streets) for producing After Hours, Running on Empty and Game 6. 


Prometheus ***½

In 2089, a team of scientists led by Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) discover cave drawings that appear to form a clue to the origins of mankind on Earth. Shaw believes that the beings indicated on the paintings have visited Earth and are inviting us to their planet. Cut to 2093, on board the spaceship Prometheus (named after the Greek god who gave fire to mortal man), the scientists and small crew are heading towards the distant star system. As the crew awake from hyper sleep we are introduced to Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron), the chief executive of the Weyland Corp., the mega-corporation funding the mission, Janek (Idris Elba), the ship’s captain, and other token crew members. Vickers is the corporate face of Weyland Corp., she’s remote, cold and dismissive, mainly of the Shaw and Holloways theory.

The other crew member is David (Michael Fassbender), an android with a penchant for Peter O’Toole’s Lawrence of Arabia, a quick, dry wit and more unnervingly, a hidden agenda.

Shaw and Holloway disagree on precisely where we came from and how, they believe these visitors hold the key. At stake is the origin of human creation itself.

When they arrive at moon LV-233 they find a huge alien labyrinthine construction in which they hope to find answers… however, they must fight to save the future of the human race.

Ridley Scott, director of Alien and Blade Runner, returns to the genre he helped define with those early landmark films. With Prometheus, he creates another beautifully rendered near future. The cinematography, sets, props and costumes are all superb and set a new bench mark, as do the exemplary special effects which blend beautifully .

Its Scott’s best movie since American Gangster (2007), however it doesn’t quite manage to reach the heights achieved by his breakthrough original. Having said that, Prometheus came pre-loaded with so much hype and expectation, partially tempered by Ridley denying this was a direct prequel to Alien, that it would be almost impossible for the film to deliver on all fronts. There are a few incredible set-pieces unlike anything you’ve ever seen before that have to be seen to be believed. No spoilers here.

The cast are good, Noomi Rapace is a strong, believable lead, Theron is suitably cold, however Michael Fassbender steals the movie, his android is not as cold as HAL (2001), or Ash (Alien) or as likeable as Bishop (Aliens), he reminded me more of David from Spielberg’s Artificial Intelligence, I can’t recall him blinking. After the film ended I wondered how his character would/could fare in Scotts proposed Blade Runner sequel.

The script was reworked from a direct Alien prequel into a standalone effort that remains firmly within the same universe. This is the film’s smartest idea, as it immediately removes the usual prequel shortcomings of your audience knowing exactly how it’s going to end. However, while striving for its own identity, it still references to both Alien and James Camerons sequel Aliens. The screenplay, credited to both Jon Spaihts (who apparently wrote the first, more prequel-like draft) and Damon Lindelof (who revised the story and mythology), is an uneven affair. The general plot structure is solid, but some characters are underdeveloped and given some poor dialogue. Not all bad, however, as Scott is so adept at creating incredible imagery that it is easy to ‘go along for the ride’ and enjoy the film as a visual spectacle.

Big ideas are thrown around, the creation of human life, God, Darwinism and more; there are more questions posed than answered, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, although I’d expect answers from the inevitable sequel, to the not-direct-prequel.

I can see it annoying some viewers, I really enjoyed it and overall I loved it as a spectacle; it’s not as smart as it set out to be, but it’s still better than most of the other sci-fi we’ve seen lately, and the 3rd best Alien movie of the franchise.

Quality: 3 Stars

Any Good: 4 Stars


Tim Roth

Simon Timothy “Tim” Roth (born 14 May 1961) is an English film actor and director. He is best known for his roles in the films Made in Britain, Legend of 1900, Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Four Rooms, Planet of the Apes, The Incredible Hulk and Rob Roy, receiving an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his scene-stealing role in the latter.

Roth was born in London, England, the son of Ann, a painter and teacher, and Ernie, a Fleet Street journalist, and painter. Roth’s father was born under the surname “Smith” in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, New York, to a British immigrant family of Irish descent. He changed his surname to “Roth” after World War II “partly through solidarity with the victims of the Holocaust, partly because the British were far from welcome in some of the countries to which his job took him”. As a young man, he wanted to be a sculptor and studied at London’s Camberwell College of Art.

Roth made his acting debut at the age of 21 playing a racist skinhead in the Alan Clarke TV film Made in Britain (1982)In contrast to his Made in Britain role, Roth then played a desperately shy and introverted character in the Mike Leigh film Meantime (1983). In 1984 he co-starred with Terence Stamp and John Hurt in Stephen Frear’s The Hit, in which he played Myron (Tim Roth) a hot-blooded apprentice to John Hurts Braddock, a world weary veteran hit man. The role earned him an “Evening Standard Award for Most Promising Newcomer”.

In 1985, he appeared in the television film Murder with Mirrors opposite the legendary Bette Davis and John Mills. With that recognition, he appeared in several other films during the end of the decade. Roth starred in King of the Ghetto which was made by the BBC. This four-part drama was shown in 1986 on national television, based on a novel by Farukh Dhondy. Partly set in Brick Lane, the drama caused a sensation among the public, especially amongst the Bengali community.

In 1989, he had a memorable supporting role as the buffoonish lackey Mitchell in Peter Greenaway’s controversial, The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover. In 1990, Roth began to enjoy international attention with starring roles as Vincent van Gogh in Robert Altman’s Vincent & Theo and as Guildenstern in Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. Roth and other young British actors who were becoming established film actors such as Gary Oldman, Colin Firth and Paul McGann were dubbed the Brit Pack, a nickname based on the US Brat Pack of the mid-80’s.

Roth impressed director Quentin Tarantino and was cast as Mr. Orange in his 1992 ensemble piece Reservoir Dogs (1992). This film paved the way for more work in Hollywood. In 1994, Tarantino cast him again as a robber in the acclaimed Pulp Fiction. and they worked again in the 1995 film Four Rooms, where Roth played the extremely physically animated role of Ted the Bellhop. Roth was very successful playing viciously evil English nobleman Archibald Cunningham in Rob Roy opposite Liam Neeson; for which he earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor, a Golden Globe nomination and won a BAFTA.

In 1996, he went a different way, starring in Woody Allen’s musical comedy Everyone Says I Love You. He also starred as Danny Boodman T.D. Lemon 1900 (or just “1900”) in The Legend of 1900, and in the same year co-starred with Tupac Shakur in the drama Gridlock’d. He made a critically acclaimed debut as a director in 1999 with The War Zone, a bleak and uncompromising look at incest starring Ray Winstone and Tilda Swinton.

In 2001, he portrayed General Thade in Tim Burton’s Planet of the Apes reboot. Roth was the original choice for the role of Severus Snape in the Harry Potter film series, but he turned it down for the Planet of the Apes job, although he was the best thing in the ‘Apes’ movie, you have to say that it was a bad choice. He was also considered for the part of Hannibal Lecter in the 2001 Ridley Scott film Hannibal before Anthony Hopkins returned to reclaim the role. Roth has more recently appeared in Francis Ford Coppola’s Youth Without Youth and Michael Haneke’s remake of Funny Bones, before starring opposite Edward Norton in The Incredible Hulk.

From 2009 to 2011, he starred in a series on Fox called Lie To Me, wherein he played Dr. Cal Lightman, an expert on body language who assists local and federal law organisations in the investigations of crimes. In early 2012, Roth was announced as the President of the Jury for the Un Certain Regard section at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival.


Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) was formed 85 years ago. The Academy is a professional honorary organization dedicated to the advancement of the arts and sciences of motion pictures. The Academy’s corporate management and general policies are overseen by a Board of Governors, which includes representatives from each of the craft branches.

The notion of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) began with Louis B. Mayer, head of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM). He wanted to create an organization that would mediate labor disputes and improve the industry’s image. So, on a Sunday evening, May 11, 1927, Mayer and three other studio big-wigs – actor Conrad Nagel, director Fred Niblo, and the head of the Association of Motion Picture Producers, Fred Beetson – sat down and discussed these matters. The idea of this elite club having an annual banquet was tossed around, but there was no mention of awards just yet. They also established that membership into the organization would only be open to people involved in one of the five branches of the industry: actors, directors, writers, technicians, and producers.

After their brief meeting, Mayer gathered up a group of thirty-six people involved in the film industry and invited them to a formal banquet at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles on January 11, 1927. That evening Mayer presented to those guests what he called the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and it was open to those who had contributed to the motion picture industry. Everyone in the room that evening became a founder of the Academy. It wasn’t until later, when Mayer’s lawyers wrote up the charter, did the name change to “Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences”.

Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. was elected as the first president of the Academy. As one of his first acts, he added an activity of bestowing “awards of merit for distinctive achievement.” However, they were on the brink of forming something historical. A year later the voting system for the Awards was established, and the nomination and selection process began. This “award of merit for distinctive achievement” is what we know now as the Academy Award.

In 1929, the Academy, in a joint venture with the University of Southern California, created America’s first film school to further the art and science of moving pictures. The School’s founding faculty included Fairbanks (President of the Academy), D. W. Griffith, William C. deMille, Ernst Lubitsch, Irving Thalberg, and Darryl F. Zanuck.

The Academy is composed of over 6,000 motion picture professionals. While the great majority of its members are based in the United States, membership is open to qualified filmmakers around the world.

The Academy is known around the world for its annual Academy Awards, informally known as the “Oscars”. In addition, the Academy gives Student Academy Awards annually to filmmakers at the undergraduate and graduate level; awards up to five Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting annually; and operates the Margaret Herrick Library (at the Fairbanks Center for Motion Picture Study) in Beverly Hills, California and the Pickford Center for Motion Picture Study in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California.


The Dark Knight Rises – Official Trailer # 3

Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Legendary Pictures’ “The Dark Knight Rises” is the epic conclusion to filmmaker Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy. Leading an all-star international cast, Christian Bale again plays the dual role of Bruce Wayne/Batman. The film also stars Anne Hathaway, as Selina Kyle; Tom Hardy, as Bane; Marion Cotillard as Miranda Tate; and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, as John Blake. Returning to the main cast, Michael Caine plays Alfred; Gary Oldman is Commissioner Gordon; and Morgan Freeman reprises the role of Lucius Fox. “The Dark Knight Rises” in theaters July 20.


Daniel Day-Lewis – Part 2

In 1992, three years after his Oscar win, The Last of the Mohicans was released. Day-Lewis’s character research for this film was well-publicized; he reportedly underwent rigorous weight training and learned to live off the land and forest where his character lived, camping, hunting, and fishing. He even carried a long rifle at all times during filming in order to remain in character and learned how to skin animals.

He returned to work with Jim Sheridan on In the Name of the Father, in which he played Gerry Conlon, one of the Guildford Four who were wrongfully convicted of a bombing carried out by the Provisional IRA. He lost a substantial amount of weight for the part, kept his Northern Irish accent on and off the set for the entire shooting schedule, and spent stretches of time in a prison cell. He also insisted that crew members throw cold water at him and verbally abuse him. The film earned him his second Academy Award nomination, his third BAFTA nomination, and his second Golden Globe nomination.

Day-Lewis returned in 1993, playing Newland Archer in Martin Scorsese’s adaptation of the Edith Wharton novel The Age of Innocence, opposite Michelle Pfeiffer and Winona Ryder. In 1996, Day-Lewis starred in a film version of The Crucible, the play by Arthur Miller, again opposite Winona Ryder. Daniel met his wife, Rebecca Miller, while filming “The Crucible”. He followed that with Jim Sheridan’s The Boxer as a former boxer and IRA member recently released from prison. His preparation included training with former boxing world champion Barry McGuigan.

Following The Boxer, Day-Lewis took a leave of absence from acting by going into “semi-retirement” and returning to his old passion of woodworking. He moved to Florence, Italy, where he became intrigued by the craft of shoemaking, eventually apprenticing as a shoemaker. For a time his exact whereabouts and actions were not made publicly known. Day-Lewis has declined to discuss this period of his life, stating that “it was a period of my life that I had a right to without any intervention of that kind.”

After a five-year absence from filming, Day-Lewis returned to act in multiple Academy Award-nominated films such as Gangs of New York, a film directed by Martin Scorsese (with whom he had worked on The Age of Innocence) and produced by Harvey Weinstein. In his role as the villain gang leader “Bill the Butcher”, he starred along with Leonardo DiCaprio, who played Bill’s young protegé. He began his lengthy, self-disciplined process by taking lessons as an apprentice butcher, and while filming, he was never out of character between takes (including keeping his character’s New York accent). His performance in Gangs of New York earned him his third Academy Award nomination and won him the BAFTA Award for Best Actor.

After Gangs of New York, Day-Lewis’s wife, director Rebecca Miller (daughter of playwright Arthur Miller), offered him the lead role in her film The Ballad of Jack and Josie, in which he played a dying man with regrets over how his life had evolved and over how he had raised his teenage daughter. During filming he arranged to live separately from his wife in order to achieve the “isolation” needed to focus on his own character’s reality. The film received mixed reviews, and is the only Day-Lewis film I’m yet to see.

In 2007, Day-Lewis appeared in director Paul Thomas Anderson’s adaptation of the Upton Sinclair novel Oil!, titled There Will Be Blood. Day-Lewis received the Academy Award for Best Actor, BAFTA Award for Best Actor, Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Drama, Screen Actor’s Guild Award for Outstanding Performance (which he dedicated to Heath Ledger, saying that he was inspired by Ledger’s acting and calling the actor’s performance in Brokeback Mountain “unique, perfect”), and a variety of film critics circle awards for the role. In winning the Best Actor Oscar, Day-Lewis joined Marlon Brando and Jack Nicolson as the only Best Actor winners awarded an Oscar in two non-consecutive decades.

In 2009, Day-Lewis starred in Rob Marshall’s musical adaptation Nine as film director Guido Contini. In November 2010, it was announced that Day-Lewis was cast to play Abraham Lincoln in Steven Spielberg’s upcoming biographical film Lincoln. Based on the book Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, the film is scheduled for release in late 2012.


Michael Caine – Part 2

Although Caine also took better roles, including a BAFTA-winning turn in Educating Rita (1983), and an Oscar-winning one in Hannah and Her Sisters (1986) and a Golden Globe-nominated one in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988), he continued to appear in notorious duds like the thinly veiled skin flick Blame It on Rio, and the critical-commercial flop Jaws: The Revenge (1987) (in which he had mixed feelings about the production and the final cut) and Bullseye! (1990); his appearing in so many films that did not meet with critical or box office acclaim made him the butt of numerous jokes on the subject. Of the former, Caine famously said (primarily about Jaws: The Revenge) “I have never seen the film, but by all accounts it was terrible. However I have seen the house that it built, and it is terrific.” All these film failures later became cult films among his fans today. His other successful films (critically and/or financially) were the 1978 Academy Award-winning California Suite, the 1980 slasher film Dressed to Kill, the 1981 football/war film Escape to Victory, the 1982 film Deathtrap, and the 1986 Academy Award-nominated Mona Lisa. He also starred in Without a Clue, portraying Sherlock Holmes.

The 1990s were a lean time for Caine, as he found good parts harder to come by. A high point came when he played Ebenezer Scrooge in the critically acclaimed The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992), which he apparently considers to be one of his most memorable roles. He played the beleaguered stage director Lloyd Dallas in the film adaptation of Noises Off (1992). He also played a villain in the Steven Seagal film On Deadly Ground (1994). He was also in two straight to video Harry Palmer sequels and a few television films. However, Caine’s reputation as a pop icon was still intact, thanks to his roles in films such as The Italian Job and Get Carter. His performance in 1998’s Little Voice was seen as something of a return to form, and won him a Golden Globe Award. Better parts followed, including The Cider House Rules (1999), for which he won his second Oscar.

In the 2000s, Caine appeared in Miss Congeniality (2000), Last Orders (2001), The Quiet American (2002), for which he was Oscar-nominated, and others that helped rehabilitate his reputation. Several of Caine’s classic films have been remade, including The Italian Job (okay), Get Carter (awful), Alfie (pointless) and Sleuth (okay). In the 2007 remake of Sleuth, Caine took over the role Laurence Olivier played in the 1972 version and Jude Law played Caine’s original role. Caine also starred in Austin Powers in Goldmember (2002) as Austin’s father and in 2003 he co-starred with Robert Duvall in Secondhand Lions. In 2005, he was cast as Bruce Wayne’s butler Alfred Pennyworth in Christopher Nolan’s reboot of the Batman series, in Batman Begins. In 2006, he appeared in the films Children of Men and The Prestige. In 2007 he appeared in Flawless, while in 2008 he reprised his role as Alfred in the critically acclaimed Batman sequel, The Dark Knight as well as a fantastic performance in the British drama Is Anybody There?, which explores the final days of life.

It was reported by Empire magazine that Caine had said that Harry Brown (released on 13 November 2009) would be his last lead role. Caine later declared (in the Daily Mirror) that he had been misquoted by the magazine… he has continued to disprove the quote.

Caine had a cameo appearance in Christopher Nolan’s science fiction thriller, Inception. He voiced Finn McMissile in Pixar’s 2011 film Cars 2 and also voiced a supporting role in the animation, Gnomeo and Juliet. He also starred in the 2012 family film Journey 2: The Mysterious Island. Caine will reprise his role as Alfred Pennyworth in the Batman sequel, The Dark Knight Rises, due for release in mid 2012.

Caine has been Oscar-nominated six times, winning his first Academy Award for the 1986 film Hannah and Her Sisters, and his second in 1999 for The Cider House Rules, in both cases as a supporting actor. He was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 1992 Queen’s Birthday Honours, and in the 2000 New Year Honours he was knighted as Sir Maurice Micklewhite CBE. On 5 January 2011, he was made a Commander of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by France’s culture minister, Frederic Mitterand. He also worked with my mate Brad who says he’s a cool guy…


Oscars – VFX Shortlist

Yesterday, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced that 10 films remain in the running in the Visual Effects category for the 84th Academy Awards®. The films are listed below in alphabetical order:

Captain America: The First Avenger
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2″
“Hugo”
“Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol”
“Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides”
“Real Steel”
“Rise of the Planet of the Apes”
Transformers: Dark of the Moon
The Tree of Life
X-Men: First Class

All members of the Visual Effects Branch will be invited to view 10-minute excerpts from each of the 10 shortlisted films on Thursday, January 19. Following the screenings, the members will vote to nominate five films for final Oscar consideration.

The 84th Academy Awards nominations will be announced live on Tuesday, January 24, at 5:30 a.m. PT in the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater.

If Doug Trumbull for Tree of Life and the guys from Rise of the Planet of the Apes aren’t on the shortlist, the Academy are as dumb and insular as ever…