Massive epic movie preview!
SPIDER th -MANe ama 2 GIFTzing PACK
june 2014 issue 219 TOTALFILM.COM
world s b t’ moevsie reviews H H
28biggest blockbusters! 50wildtales! 17scorching exclusives!
We get a walk-on role in summer's monster smash!
Angelina Jolie's up our… Maleficent heads
e u s s i r e t s u epic blockb the hobbit: there and back again
dawn of the planet of the apes
avengers: Age of ultRon • nolan talks interstellar sin city 2 • meet the new sarah connor... *Terms and conditions apply. See p.61 for details.
Nicolas Cage talks us through his career, p.114.
June 2014 Issue 219
We take a look at Marvel Phase 2 and beyond.
We hit the set of Godzilla. TF
= on the cover
62 | Maleficent TF Angelina gets horny as a peed off fairy out for revenge. Big, bold and yes, epic. 68 | Godzilla TF Total Film tootles off to Hawaii and ends up with sunburn and a part in Gareth Edwards’ monster actioner. 74 | Dawn Of the planet of the apes TF Andy Serkis talks through the monkey business that goes into creating awesome, believable apes. 78 | CLASSIC Epics The biggest, the costliest, the sprawling-est... Hollywood’s big ‘uns lined up.
cover credit: © disney 2014
84 | Epic Preview TF What the.....? The huge-scale heart-palpitators on the horizon that will rock your cinema seat. You’re gonna need a bigger coke... 88 | sabotage TF Yes, it’s Arnie toting a gun. But different. The Austrian Oak gets thespy. 114 | tf interview: Nicolas Cage Having a renaissance of his own with Joe?
6 |6Total | Total Film Film | April | June 2014 2014
Angelina gets evil in Maleficent.
12 | Avengers: Age of Ultron TF Lookin’ good, Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver!
29 | 60 second screenplay 300: Rise Of An Empire gets a clobbering.
20 | the art of smaug How Weta created an epic fire-breather.
140 | classic scene That heart-in-mouth opener from war drama The Hurt Locker.
24 | Interstellar TF Nolan’s latest head-scratcher.
>Agenda Views 35 | Ben Affleck Gone Girl’s protagonist. Also in a little film about a superbeing and a cowled crusader. 40 | The wind Rises Inside Studio Ghibli.
42 | agenda Hero the essential Ye ha, Robert Duvall. movie website
totalfilm.com news reviews videos trailers forum
142 | Instant expert Little Gertie got all grown up. Everything you need to know about Miss Drew Barrymore. 143 | Is It Just Me? Prometheus – much maligned and actually great. Discuss. 146 | TF LOVES Lawrence Of Arabia’s stirring charge into Aqaba. Dramatic licence but what a result...
Arnie’s back in Sabotage.
American Hustle hits DVD and Blu-ray.
>Screen In cinemas
45 | There’s shoot-outs in Sabotage and Divergent but both promise different bangs for your buck – and how’s Cap’ 2 measuring up? Plus is Tom Hardy’s car drama Locke revved up? And is Noah a wash out?
>Lounge At home
121 | American Hustle and Anchorman 2 duke it out in the ’80s costuming department, Raimi’s Spider-Man films gets a re-appraisal and we try to prise S4 spoilers out of the Game Of Thrones gang. Now fully interactive on your iPad!
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Scale and scales
his issue we’re all about proportion and ratio… and all of it on the behemoth side. Which is why we’re celebrating Angelina Jolie’s big bad in Maleficent, gargantuan monster movie Godzilla, the most silly-huge movies in history and future epics coming your way; plus Arnie’s bulging biceped blockbuster, Sabotage, and the most excessive Hollywood behaviour ever. See, at TF we believe in ‘go big or go home’ – which is why we got over-stuffed on enormous burritos, tried to hit those big, high notes of ‘Let It Go’ at karaoke (epic fail), ate our weight in treats and made ourselves feel like giants by getting Lilliputian action figures of ourselves made this month. Big is better! Jane Crowther, editor-in-chief Enjoy the issue!!
Arnie’s muscles: we like ’em big...
What you wrote to us about this issue… Leo worship
Hidd me baby one more time
8 | Total Film | June 2014
Spurious terminal disease notifications
I just don’t get it! Why do people want to see Batman vs Superman in the Man Of Steel sequel? Why would Batman be upset with Supes or vice versa? Even if that were possible, Supes is from another planet, with super powers. And he’s indestructible. Batman is a man with gadgets and he knows karate. Let’s imagine Supes loses his power, so now he’s just a man against another man. Wow, that’d be awesome… Not. Please someone help put my mind at ease with some answers. I can only think Richard Pryor has slipped Supes some bad Kryptonite and he’s fighting Batman in a scrapyard… But even that wouldn’t work. There’s no possible answer. JA MIE GARROD , NORWICH We’re assuming they’re going to spend the movie punching each other in the codpiece, but maybe it’ll be more emotional. Everyone with a letter printed will receive a copy of The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug, out on 3D Blu-ray/ Blu-ray/DVD and digital download on 7 April from Warner Home Entertainment. Didn’t send an address? Email it!
Total Film, help me! I’m confused! Escape From Planet Earth was only released on 7 March, yes? But if I’m not mistaken this was released almost a year ago, wasn’t it?! I watched it on a plane back from the States but I swear it was released here? And more recently, we haven’t often had to wait too long after our friends across the pond get a movie. Please shed some light on this matter! RYAN , VIA EMAIL You’re right and wrong, Ryan. The sci-fi ’tooner only made it to the UK last month after being rolled out all over the rest of planet Earth. We wouldn’t have minded, but Snake Plissken appears to have been replaced by an attitudinal three-eyed snail. Subscribe Subscribe atat www.totalfilm.com/subs www.totalfilm.com/subs
Mail, rants, theories etc...
What you’re saying online...
totalfilm.com On our website… The 50 Most Dramatic Movie Weight Changes http://bit.ly/1i04SML Christian Bale morphing into a xylophone, Ryan Gosling being sacked for being fat… Jared Leto and Matt Damon get two entries each, the greedy guts. The 50 Scariest Horror Movie Houses http://bit.ly/1jagtvm Dodgy domiciles where that bump in the night is usually a severed head rather than the cat attacking a photo frame. Poltergeists, cannibals and the odd laughing window.
The art of Wahlberg
I must admit to being quite intrigued by Irene Malcolm’s challenge (Dialogue, TF218) to find a less than brilliant Leonardo DiCaprio movie. Obviously, everyone is entitled to their opinion and to love what they love, and I can’t claim to have seen everything he has done. However my experience of Leo has been quite different from Irene’s. For me, Gangs Of New York was an average film spoiled by a disappointing ending, Titanic was an average film spoiled by too much hype and The Departed was both inferior to the original and just a little bit boring. I did like Django Unchained and The Man In The Iron Mask, though; it’s not like every film I’ve ever seen him in makes my brain dribble out of my ears with its averageness, like with Mark Wahlberg. JO N WILLIA MS , RYE
‘There are some long movies that are good, but could be better with a cut version’
writing them on recent films and having spoilers I rarely get to read them as I want to see the films in question first. So, by the time I have seen each film, I have also bought three magazines in between and forget to return to a back issue. How about writing them on classic films instead? Something that most people have seen, or at least most have been able to. Thank you. TH OM AS BEC H M A NN , NORWAY We’ve 60-Seconded older films in franchise retrospectives, though you may quibble over how well Batman Forever wears the label ‘classic’. But just for you, here’s news reviews our take on the very first motion videos trailers picture, Workers Leaving The OK, maybe this is the time for me to recant my previous Lumière Factory In Lyon (1895): statement. I concede, maybe Leo has Fade in. EXT: Lumière Factory, Lyon. Gates done some shoddy films. But at least in open, workers leave. BLOKE IN OVERALLS: every single one of them, from This Boy’s Shit, I’ve forgotten my man-bag. You guys, Life to The Wolf Of Wall Street, his acting I’ll catch you up. END. has been impeccable. Prove me wrong. IRE N E M ALCOLM , BISHOPBRIGGS Insight story Mark Wahlberg average? That seems a little Re: Citizen Zane column in TF218. We unfair; we’ll think you’ll find he was several think Alex forgot to do an internet search notches below that in The Happening. But for 12A. Our website bbfc.co.uk advises then great in The Fighter, The Other Guys, parents to check the BBFCinsight for any Boogie Nights… a high scorer place on the film before taking a child to see it. If we rate Nic Cage Human Yo-Yo Acting-o-meter. something 12A we think it’s suitable for children of 12 and over, but parents can take Second thoughts younger children if the content is right for I have a thought concerning the 60 them. BBFCinsight for every film is available Second Screenplay you run each month. on our website and free BBFC app. It As a gag it works wonderfully by putting expands on the short BBFCinsight found on films under the microscope. However by film posters and DVD/Blu-ray packaging,
have your say at
10 | Total Film | June 2014
20 Upcoming Trailers We’re Most Excited About: http://bit.ly/1huQD3J Oh, that magical question-raising first look at a big movie… Here’s our wishlist of the trailers we’re watching for, 24/7.
facebook How did we find the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles trailer? “Looks like Transformers with turtles.” – Sunil ‘Travis Bickle’ Sunda “Cowa-bollocks!” – Dan Dodge “I think this might be all right” – Jason Jenkins
There’s a rumour that Bradley Cooper could be the new Indiana Jones… Whoa whoa whoa ! @manoftomorrow01 I would dislike this. Harrison Ford or no go @SamanthaThirwin Ooo… not sure, although he was great in Alias and Limitless is one of my fave films, so maybe… @beccacaddy
Chatter ‘gems’ overheard in the Total Film office this month...
“I wouldn’t care about the no-touching thing if I was Rogue. You could still dry hump people.” “What sort of monster doesn’t like a Milky Way?!?” “There’s a sex ad for a cat. ‘Must be fluffy.’” “If I had a female cat I’d call it Maureen. Male, Les. Thoughts?” “I look like a fat Gollum. Ladies?”
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rex, getty, PA
Django Unchained: one of Leo’s best films?
What’s your favourite epic movie?
Get two FREE issues of Start your 30-day trial today on iPad, iPhone or Android Search for Total Film on your device telling you how and why a film was rated at any given category. There’s a video about how to use BBFCinsight available on our website. We spoke to more than 10,000 people as part of research we carried out last year. The results showed that 73 per cent of the public understand what 12A means; we’re looking to grow this even more in 2014. We also asked the public to tell us what they thought about the 12A rating for The Woman In Black – 89 per cent supported the 12A. We tweet all ratings for films with links to BBFCinsight; readers can follow us @BBFC. C ATHERINE ANDERSON (BBFC) VIA EMAIL
Catherine, we’ll be sending you a copy of The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug, rated 12A for moderate violence and threat. BBFCinsight flags up the bladed weapons, leg wounds and giant spiders, yet there’s no mention of the distress and confusion that may result from trying to work out which dwarf’s which. Look, there’s four basic types: a) usually plays a bull dog-faced ITV detective; b) would be quite fit if he didn’t look like a yak in trousers; c) bound to die in part three; d) Jimmy Nesbitt.
Long stories short
It occurred to me watching Watchmen that there are some long (over two and a half hours) movies that are good, but feel
a little super-saturated and could’ve been better, even great with a cut version. I feel the same way about Heat and The Place Beyond The Pines. If you decide to do this topic as a feature, I’d be curious what you come up with. JOE , VIA EMAIL We did come up with a feature, but it came in at 167 pages plus a bookazine, which felt a bit pot/kettle, so here’s the cut-down version: Titanic (1997): too long. Start with the iceberg. Or the sinking. Or just the old woman going, “Yeah, I was on that ship but I got home in the end and lived to be 194, so no biggie.” Avatar (2009): too long. Lose any scene with a tree. We’re not picking on Jim Cameron by the way – we’d gladly have sat through Arnie shooting his way through at least 12 more pages of the phone book in The Terminator (1984).
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Editor-at-Large Jamie Graham Fanny And Alexander Hollywood Correspondent Jenny Cooney Carillo (JCC) Contributing Editors Kevin Harley (KH), James Mottram (JM), Matt Mueller (MMu), Neil Smith (NS), Josh Winning (JW) Contributors Richard Ayoade, Paul Bradshaw (PB), Tim Bradford, Edward Carden (EC), Ali Catterall (AC), Nick Chen, Emma Dibdin (ED), Nathan Ditum (ND), Matt Glasby (MG), Ed Holden (EH), Sophie Ivan (SI), Rob James (RJa), Emma Johnston (EJ), Richard Jordan (RJ), Stephen Kelly (SKe), Philip Kemp (PK), Simon Kinnear (SK), Andrew Lowry (AL), Joseph McCabe (JMc), Ken McIntyre (KM), Katherine McLaughlin (KM), Jayne Nelson (JN), Jason Pickersgill, Libby Plummer (LP), Stephen Puddicombe (SP), Catherine Simpson (CS), Kate Stables (KS), Lizzy Thomas, Curtis Woloschuk (CW), Josh Winning (JW), Alex Zane Thanks to Paul Bradshaw Lawrence Of Arabia (editorial/subbing), Richard Sands (subbing); Alison Christie, Graham Dalzell, Patrick Minnikin (art), Pippa Day, Keira Simpson (work experience) TO APPLY FOR WORK EXPERIENCE Please email your CV, covering letter and a 250-word review in the style of Total Film to firstname.lastname@example.org *we are fully booked UNTIL SEPT 2014*
Everyone loves Mr. HIddleston...
Firstly, can I say I love your magazine and spend many a time looking at all the pictures. But two hours, yes two hours my lovely fiancé Lee spent reading your magazine the other night. I was just about to go into full (fake) sulk mode then I noticed the article he was reading was about the lovely Tom Hiddleston, with pictures and everything. I was happy he was happy, so please Total Film, please put Tom in every issue and keep everyone happy. JEA N E TT E SCOTT , HAMPSHIRE No problem – there’s a gratuitous pic next to this month’s The Pie (see p.8), and we’ve made our review of Exhibition (see p.58) all about him, even though it’s not really about him at all. Get that cheque in the post, Hidds. Or just let us wear the Loki helmet on our next Match.com date and we’ll call it even.
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June 2014 | Total Film | 11
buzz Welcome to the movies!
new films! edited by matt maytum
‘Scarlet Witch is a messed up lady’ elizabeth olsen
for the latest movie news
totalfilm.com news reviews videos trailers forum
Evil twins: (main) Concept art for Avengers: Age Of Ultron showing Quicksilver and (opposite) Scarlet Witch in action.
Magic hour new pics!
Avengers: Age Of Ultron | Meet the new kids on the Marvel block: the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver…
Having done the unthinkable by uniting Iron Man, Thor, Black Widow, Hulk et al for one of the most ridiculously exciting (and surprisingly coherent) superhero movies ever made,
Avengers writer-director Joss Whedon has given himself one heck of a challenge for Avengers 2. In a word? Magic. For his second Marvel movie, the Buffy maestro has plucked super-siblings Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver from the pages of the comics to give the A-team a run for its money
as it reassembles after a batch of Phase Two solo outings. “I’m not putting any characters in the movie that will make things easier,” Whedon has said of his ever-expanding cast list, hinting that though Scarlet Witch (real name: Wanda Maximoff) has magical powers, she won’t be using them for house cleaning. >>
September June 2014 2011 | Total Film | 13
buzz Welcome to the movies!
Super-siblings: Aaron Taylor Johnson and (below) Elizabeth Olsen on set and in character as the Maximoff twins.
More new artwork from the Marvel-verse
Guardians Of The Galaxy
14 | Total Film | June 2014
Though plot details for Avengers: Age Of Ultron remain murky at best, we know that the titular Ultron – an AI bad guy voiced by James Spader – will be the film’s focal point. Could he be responsible for sending Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver to take down the Avengers? More importantly, will they be successful? With Robert Downey Jr. hinting that Avengers 2 could be his final outing as Iron Man (“sooner or later, they’ve got to start over and get somebody young,” he teased), and sequels inevitably having to up the ante, we imagine the Maximoffs will be responsible for a fair bit of damage – something confirmed by further on-set snaps that show the pair apparently facing off against Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and a robotic baddie. “Introducing the new characters is going to be a lot of fun for the movie,” says Marvel boss Kevin Feige. “Also, our bad guy is great. People are going to be very, very excited to see what we’re doing with [Ultron].” Though it’s still unclear just what Avengers 2 will have in store for our superheroes, rumour has it that Whedon will be back to direct them again in the all-but-certain Avengers 3. Seems like he’s got Marvel well and truly under his spell… JW ETA | 1 May 2015 Avengers: Age Of Ultron opens next year.
If you were at Comic-Con last year, you’ll have already been given a glimpse of Edgar Wright’s Ant-Man adaptation via the director’s slick test reel. If not, the first official concept art is pretty curiosity baiting, showing just what Wright has in mind for the diminutive hero. The suit will be familiar to fans, staying true to the character’s page-bound look – namely the metal, mandiblestyle helmet and silver-red colour scheme. Though we’ve yet to see Paul Rudd donning the outfit, this gives us a great indication of what he’ll look like when he suits up later this year for the start of principal photography in Georgia. ETA | 2014 & 2015 Guardians Of The Galaxy opens on 1 August 2014. Ant-Man opens on 17 July 2015.
As the moody official concept art suggests, the spell-chucking vamp is no Mary Poppins; plumping for a grungy red jacket (of course) and fetching elbow-length black gloves. While her abilities in the film remain something of a mystery, various incarnations of the comics’ Scarlet Witch can warp reality and astral project. “She’s a messed up lady,” confides Elizabeth Olsen, the indie darling Whedon’s cast in the role. “She’s got more shit to deal with than anybody else I know.” Luckily, she’s also got back-up in the rubber-burning form of brother Quicksilver (real name: Pietro Maximoff), who boasts the power of super-speed and is played by Olsen’s Godzilla co-star Aaron Taylor-Johnson. On-set snaps have shown the Brit star with dyedblond locks and a sporty outfit that wouldn’t look out of place at the Olympics. “They had a rough beginning,” says Whedon. “They’re interesting to me because they represent the part of the world that wouldn’t necessarily agree with the Avengers.” He can’t refer to the duo as ‘mutants’, though, despite the fact that they’re written as Magneto’s children in the comics. Red tape means that 20th Century Fox owns the rights to the X-Men, and hence the word ‘mutant’ (Fox’s X-Men: Days Of Future Past also features Quicksilver, played by American Horror Story regular Evan Peters). Whedon’s way around that? Check out his post-credits scene in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which briefly introduces the siblings and refers to them as ‘miracles’ instead of mutants. Sneaky.
The first teaser trailer has landed, and ‘Hooked On A Feeling’ is still earworming its way through our brains but, if anything, we’re even more excited than ever for Marvel’s first sci-fi epic. That excitement has only been stoked by snazzy new concept art for the film, which shows anti-hero Peter ‘Star-Lord’ Quill (Chris Pratt) striking a gun-toting pose with other anti-hero Rocket Racoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper). Drawn by illustrator Charles Wen, the Star Wars vibe couldn’t be any clearer as the two Guardians check out a cantina-like setting that may or may not be the site of an explosive action scene. Considering the amount of firepower on display, we’ll say a bum-kicking is pretty likely.
September 2011 | Total Film | 14 Subscribe at www.totalfilm.com/subs
buzz Welcome to the movies!
Dean idol first look!
Spider-Man BFF/nemesis Harry Osborn isn’t the only film role that Dane DeHaan shares with James Franco: he’s adding James Dean to his CV, with Franco having found fame (and won a Golden Globe) playing the silver screen legend in a 2001 TV movie. After being nommed for the Bafta Rising Star Award this year, DeHaan will appear alongside Robert Pattinson in director Anton Corbijn’s (Control) biopic, which views Dean from the 16 | Total Film | June 2014
perspective of photographer Dennis Stock (Pattinson), who was assigned to shoot the star. The pair embarked on a road trip from LA to New York to Indiana, and Stock came back with some iconic black-and-white photos. DeHaan isn’t worried about being compared to Franco though, telling Buzz, “I don’t think we look alike and I don’t think we’re that similar people, so I don’t really expect that many comparisons.” After all, avoiding ground already trodden on by multi-hyphenate Franco is a tall order for any fledgling actor. “He does a lot of stuff!” laughs DeHaan. “It’s hard to find a project that he hasn’t already done.”
While the first image suggests DeHaan’s captured the bequiffed star’s look, the Chronicle actor has also been taking coaching to get the voice just right. “He had a very specific voice, so I’ve gotta have it too! It’s a challenge,” DeHaan explains. “His voice was a lot higher than mine. It’s a big task, but luckily I’ve had a lot of time to work on it and I feel like it’s coming on.” With DeHaan and Pattinson likely to attract an audience of Dean newbies, Life could give a younger generation a whole new cause to check out the ultimate movie rebel. MM/JW ETA | 2015 Life opens next year. Subscribe at www.totalfilm.com/subs
dennis stock/magnum photos
life | Dane DeHaan channels James Dean in a new biopic set to capture the icon.
Robert Pattinson plays Life magazine photographer Dennis Stock, who met, befriended and photographed James Dean in 1955.
‘Getting James Dean’s voice right is a challenge’ Dane DeHaan
June 2014 | Total Film | 17
buzz Welcome to the movies!
‘It’ll blow people’s minds’
from Killer moves: (clockwise a), main) Nancy (Jessica Alb vitt) -Le Johnny (Joseph Gordon ). and Marv (Mickey Rourke
Still sinning FIRST Look!
SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR | Jessica Alba is out for vengeance.
“She’s sick of being treated as a piece of ass,” says Frank Miller of Jessica Alba’s return to the seedy dives of Sin City. “You see a little girl in the first film. By the end of this, she’s the avenging angel…” Like most of the characters in Miller’s hardboiled underworld, she’s got plenty to avenge. Nancy (Alba) wants payback for the death of her 18 | Total Film | June 2014
protector, Hartigan (Bruce Willis); femme fatale Ava (Eva Green) has unfinished business with her ex (Josh Brolin); Johnny (Joseph Gordon-Levitt as “a quintessential Rodriguez badass”) is on the rampage after beating the wrong guy at poker; and Marv (Mickey Rourke) wakes up in the gutter nursing a sore head and another violent streak. Taking two of his own graphic novels (A Dame To Kill For and Just Another Saturday Night) and writing two new stories with co-director Robert Rodriguez (The Long Bad Night and The Fat Loss),
Miller promises his sequel will be a “ferocious film experience” – in glorious, graphic 3D. “I’ve wanted to return to the world since the day we wrapped the original,” says Rodriguez. “But [we] felt a duty to the fans to wait until we had something truly exceptional, that would exceed what have become epic expectations. A Dame To Kill For will certainly be worth the wait… It’ll blow people’s minds.” PB ETA | 29 Aug Sin City: A Dame To Kill For opens this summer. Subscribe at www.totalfilm.com/subs
The Tom Hardystarring adap of Tom Clancy videogame series Splinter Cell has tapped Doug Liman to direct. The Edge Of Tomorrow and Bourne Identity helmer’s experience should make the espionage actioner stand out from the videogame-movie crowd. A fake press release and trailer named Bond 24 as ‘Come And Dive’, and had film journos spluttering in disbelief until Sony confirmed that the information was false. 20th Century Fox has announced release dates for a slew of comic-book movies, including sequels for The Wolverine and the upcoming Fantastic Four reboot in 2017, plus an untitled Marvel film for 2018. X-Force, perhaps? Ivan Reitman won’t be returning to direct Ghostbusters 3, following the death of Harold Ramis. He’ll stay on as producer, with the LEGO Movie directing duo Lord and Miller reported to be in talks to take the helm.
Author George R.R. Martin has suggested that the Game Of Thrones TV series could conclude with a big-budget movie. “It might need a feature to tie things up,” he reasons. “Those dragons get real big.” MM
Film quotes pose as questions. Film stars try to cope. In the crosshairs this month: Malcolm McDowell You talkin’ to me? Um, I hope so. Do you feel lucky, punk? I do feel lucky. A very fortunate and very privileged life, I feel that, yeah. You talk the talk, do you walk the walk? I believe I do, some may disagree but I’m reasonably happy in my own skin. There are certain people that maybe I’ve crossed over the years for whatever reason. You can’t go through this life without pissing somebody off. You can either surf, or you can fight… I find surfing a real bore because you spend most of the time paddling out looking for a wave that may or may not come. I like more instant fun, like driving a nice car, something like that: instant gratification, the top down, your hair blowing every which way. I’d rather do that than surf.
Do you like what you do for a living? These things you see? I LOVE what I do for a living, that’s why I feel so privileged, working at something that pays me very well, that I absolutely love and I’d
‘I’m really happy that If…. is still being talked about 45 years later, it’s fantastic’ probably do for nothing. Don’t tell them that? Well, they probably know by now! What’s the last thing that you do remember? Of course, If.... is very fond in my heart. They had a retrospective of my work and If.... is always
the first film I mention, before A Clockwork Orange and any of the others. Not only is it a great film, but it’s my first, and it introduced me to [director] Lindsay Anderson. He was a great friend and I miss him every day. When do we live? That’s what I want to know... Beautiful line. One of [If.... screenwriter] David Sherwin’s best. It’s funny, we had to do that a few times, because I screwed it up, then it became a thing of discussion, but I think I did it with a wry smile, and it’s such a great entrance. It’s an extremely important social document and I’m really happy that it’s still being talked about 45 years later, it’s fantastic. I’m very proud of it. MG ETA | 19 may If.... is out on Blu-ray next month.
Have you ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight? Ahhhhh, what a beautiful image that would be. Oh yeah, I’m sure I have. I’m not going to tell you what it is though! What’s your favourite scary movie? I always loved Wait Until Dark. Audrey Hepburn, Alan Arkin, the refrigerator... I don’t particularly like slasher movies. Halloween [2007 remake], which I was in, that doesn’t scare me as much as psychological movies do.
edd westmacott/photoshot, rex
What’s stopping, what’s starting in movieland…
You talkin’ to me?
Smart aleck: McDowell as school rebel Mick in If….
Questions taken from Taxi Driver, Dirty Harry, Full Metal Jacket, Apocalypse Now, Batman, Scream, Se7en, Memento, If….
red Light Green Light
buzz Welcome to the movies!
Creating a monster exclusive!
THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG/THERE AND BACK AGAIN | How Weta Digital created the ultimate movie dragon in Smaug.
‘It all starts out with a pencil and paper’
They don’t mess around down there, those Weta digital boys…” reckons Martin Freeman, who goes toe-to-claw with the titular dragon in The Desolation Of Smaug’s most thrilling sequence. “Smaug is brilliantly rendered,” he adds. “The combination of the voice and the look works fantastically.” The sequel’s MVP, Smaug, was the character that everyone was looking forward to meeting from the moment that the film was greenlit. His creation is documented in new book, Smaug: Unleashing The Dragon, and we had Gino Acevedo, Weta Digital’s Creative Art Director and Textures Supervisor, talk us through how they built the mighty firebreather from concept drawing to millions of digital scales.
20 | Total Film | June 2014
1. The little things
“The Textures Department do all of the fine details like the scars and the colouration. On the team we had John Howe [legendary Middle-earth illustrator] who’s been chasing this dragon for longer than anybody. I’m a bit of a fanboy, so being able to work so closely with him was amazing: we called ourselves ‘Team Smaug’. “John said that he really didn’t want to overdesign it. The whole design process was very true to [Tolkien’s] books.”
2. Real-world influences
“Nobody does it better than Mother Nature, so references were based on real creatures: lizards, alligators, crocodiles and snakes, plus a lot of different creatures for colouration. Sequence Supervisor Eric Saindon even found a red cowboy boot that had exactly the kind of buffed specularity – not too shiny, but not too dull.
“Benedict Cumberbatch’s casting didn’t influence the design, but it was really interesting with his voice – and they captured some of his movements in Smaug’s animation: you can tell that he’s really into it.”
3. Major redesigns
“A lot of things have to be worked out logically, like, ‘how is this creature going to move?’ ‘Can his arms bend correctly?’ ‘Will his wings work?’ When he came to us the first time, Smaug had four legs, and then finally Peter [Jackson] just said, ‘Hmm, I wonder what he’d look like with two legs?’ And as always, Peter knows best, and he looked great. That redesign really made him feel more animal-like, and a lot more powerful. In the first film when he was rendered, he’s obviously a four-legged beast, and so for the extended DVD, we went back in and fixed him with the two legs.” Subscribe at www.totalfilm.com/subs
4. Early sketches
“It all starts out with a pencil and a bit of paper, the old traditional way. And once something finally starts to get locked down, it goes through what we call the ‘noodling’ stage, where it gets picked apart. Then, finally, it gets handed over to us at Weta Digital for 3D modelling and texturing. “We took those interpretations and added more details on top of that. We really wanted to have the feel of the scales and the skin to be very realistic, but very natural, so we didn’t want to just multiply everything in a computer. My team are still going through a bit of therapy after hand-drawing over a million scales…”
5. Into The Light
“In some of the first renders that we ever did of Smaug he was quite vibrant – a brilliant red – and Peter saw those and said, ‘Nah, he looks too much like a fresh baby dragon, he needs to look ancient.’ And that’s where Peter started bringing in some of the details. He said, ‘What about some scars, like maybe at one time he had battled another dragon from a long time ago?’ “A lot of tears were shed on this project because we spent all this time on all this detail, and then we saw the finished shots… and it was really dark in his cave! “Obviously there’s going to be lots of fire in There And Back Again. So I think there’s going to be some really beautiful shots of Smaug in there. Just to be able to see the glow from the fire and the reflection on his skin… I’m really, really looking forward to that.” MM
ETA | Out now The Hobbit : The Desolation Of Smaug is available now on DVD, Blu-ray and 3D Blu-ray. Images and concept designs extracted from Smaug: Unleashing the Dragon by Daniel Falconer, published by HarperCollins. The Hobbit: There And Back Again opens 12 December. totalfilm.com
June 2014 | Total Film | 21
buzz Welcome to the movies!
Emilia Clarke on the future of Game Of Thrones and Terminator…
Are you worried that Game Of Thrones Season 4 won’t match the intensity of Season 3? Just the opposite. I hoped we could build on everything in series three and I think we have. We are all so excited for everyone to see it now! What’s next for Daenerys? She has to deal with the difficulties that come with being a leader. She has to figure out the answers to questions like ‘who do you trust?’ Were you worried about taking on a character that has such a devoted fanbase? I knew that all those people who love the books would be watching my every move. They’ve lived with these characters for years and have definite ideas about what they should, and shouldn’t, do. The books have been so helpful to me to get a sense of her. Is it difficult to make fantasy believable? We’re so lucky to have such great writers. They are able to make this world so believable that we never question ourselves, we just accept that dragons exist… And the writers have to juggle so many storylines... I don’t know how they do it. So many of them haven’t intersected yet so I just love watching the show. I still can’t get over the intensity of the Red Wedding. What you are doing next? I am getting ready to start the new Terminator movie. I loved watching those when I was younger so to get to be in one is amazing. What can you tell us about it? It’s called Terminator: Genesis and I play Sarah Connor. I am lucky that Alan Taylor, who directed me in Game Of Thrones, is making this movie. Taking on this iconic role is a little less scary! PS ETA | 7 April Game Of Thrones Season 4 airs on Sky Atlantic this month. Terminator: Genesis opens next year.
‘I loved watching The Terminator films, so to be in one is amazing’ Subscribe at www.totalfilm.com/subs
tf tf tf Take our advice tf
Contains Charlotte Gainsbourg and Shia LaBeouf, so you know it’s going to get messy before they’ve even got out the love eggs or whatever.
Contains a dog in a bow-tie, like a butler in the buff, but he doesn’t have his lipstick out so we’ll let it go.
Contains probably less violence than you’d like. You’ll just have to imagine Liam beheading someone with a tray table.
Contains dangerous driving but really, you’d need to plan like a decade ahead and have more limbs than an octopus to copy some of this nonsense. Answers: Nymphomaniac, Mr Peabody & Sherman, NonStop, Muppets Most Wanted, Need For Speed.
AP/press association images, rex
Contains a frog with a birthmark you’ll stare and stare at. Moley moley moley!
Name Stephen Mangan Job Actor Films Billy Elliot, Confetti, Rush TV Green Wing, I’m Alan Partridge, Dirk Gently, Episodes Upcoming Postman Pat: The Movie
Comedy heroes on what makes them laugh. This month: Stephen Mangan
My comedy present
POSTMAN PAT’s iconic, isn’t he? I have a six-year-old and a three-year-old and there is almost nothing I’ve ever done that they can watch. Most of the stuff I do on television is pure filth, so they’re going to have to be 35 before they’re allowed to watch any of that. They still don’t believe I’m Postman Pat.
My Comedy Past
Green Wing and Alan Partridge are the things I get recognised for most. Because of that one scene in I’M ALAN PARTRIDGE – with Steve [Coogan] shouting ‘Dan!’ repeatedly at me – I still get that every day of my life. For a while I thought everyone in the world was called Dan because I always heard ‘Dan!’ being shouted out.
My favourite funny movie
I find some of FESTEN hilarious. It can be by turns hilarious and soul-wrenchingly despairing. It’s extraordinary. I think it’s my favourite film. I think comedy is one of the best vehicles for dealing with the bigger issues in life. People use comedy in their day-to-day lives to get through.
My Funniest Co-Star
That’s easy: Nick Frost. I only did one scene with him in Green Wing but I couldn’t get through it. We were improvising, so we were making each other laugh, but the man is made of funny. I laughed so much it was shaming. The outtakes are about somewhere, but I can’t even remember what we were talking about now.
My Comedy Hero
PETER SELLERS inspired me. I think he’s an extraordinary actor. Especially if you look at films like I’m All Right Jack, Lolita, Being There... So many great performances, and the early Pink Panther films are works of genius. I wouldn’t want to be him, and I wouldn’t want to be his son; but I’m in awe of his talent.
The Film That Makes Me Cry With Laughter
Zoolander makes me laugh a lot. But the film that will get me in hysterics every time is YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN. I’ve watched some scenes 40 times and I still haven’t seen it enough. It’s the work of a total genius. MM ETA | 23 May Postman Pat: The Movie opens next month. June 2014 | Total Film | 23
buzz Welcome to the movies!
Shooting for the stars first word
INTERSTELLAR | Christopher Nolan heads to Las Vegas’ CinemaCon to talk sci-fi, Star Wars and the big-screen experience…
On Interstellar’s post-production state... “We’re right in the thick of the most interesting part of the process, which for me is that first cut 24 24 || Total TotalFilm Film || June June2014 2014
that you put together… We’re at a fairly early stage because we don’t come out until November. This is gonna take a little longer [than usual] to finish due to the extensive visual effects.” On casting Matthew McConaughey as his lead actor... “For the character he’s playing I needed someone who’s very much an everyman, very much somebody who the audience could experience this story with, experience the extraordinary events of the film and see them through his eyes; and who could be relatable. Matthew has those qualities, where he’s just a phenomenal, charismatic presence in the movie, and his performance is shaping up to be something very extraordinary.”
On Interstellar’s practical sets… “We have spaceship interiors in the film. We decided that we wanted to have the real environments that the actors were going to be seeing out of the windows. We built closed sets of the scale that these ships would be at, and we put the reality outside the windows for the actors. So we’d just shoot it like a documentary – they were really there. I think it pays huge dividends for the actors in terms of performance and their ability to understand what we’re doing. But it put a huge burden on the visual effects guys…” On his love of big screen space travel… “Star Wars was a very seminal film, certainly my experience of going to see that in a movie theatre. But when 2001 was re-released they put it in the Subscribe at www.totalfilm.com/subs
Christopher Nolan abhors spoilers, hellbent on delivering the most entertaining filmgoing experience possible. It’s fitting then that the perennially suited and softly-spoken director chose CinemaCon – the National Association of Theatre Owners’ annual Las Vegas convention – to drop just a few hints about his upcoming sci-fi epic Interstellar…
This month, ID FOREVER. Buzz pitches four ideas for the alien-invasion sequel… INDE-TRENDING DAY
of wormholes in particular. He was in at the beginning of the project and has been a valuable ally in a way. Really it’s about using a wormhole to travel to other places to which you couldn’t normally travel through space, because the time expanse is far beyond anything you could conceive of.” On Interstellar as an all-ages film… “The tone of the film is something I’ve been interested in getting to in my work. It’s very different for me. I grew up in the era that was really a golden age of the blockbuster, when something being a ‘family film’ didn’t have any derogatory connotations. It could be very broad-based and very universal in its appeal. That’s something I want to see again. That’s something I want to explore… Something that really looks at where we are as people and has a universality; and it [is] a visual experience and it really tries to not just be a film that somebody sits and watches, but experiences. An experience that they’ll carry with them. For me it’s really about harkening back to the films I grew up with, that took me to places I’d never even imagined.”
Leicester Square theatre, and my dad took my brother and I to see that. I remember very, very clearly the feeling of magnitude, the feeling of this otherworldly experience. I remember the Star Child and how big the screen was and that immersive quality. I just had this extraordinary time being taken away to another world.” On his continuing collaboration with screenwriting brother Jonathan… “He’d been working on [the Interstellar script] for years before I came onto the project, and he graciously allowed me to take it and combine it with some other [ideas] I’d been working on and make it into something a little bit different. But it was a pretty fantastic collaboration. I love working with him.” On the science behind Interstellar… “It’s about interstellar travel, and Kip Thorne is an executive producer on the project. He’s a very brilliant scientist, who’s dealt a lot with the science totalfilm.com
On his continued preference to shoot on celluloid rather than digitally... “Film is the best way to capture an image, it’s the best way to project an image. I could go through facts and figures with you… but it’s based on my assessment of what I see as a filmmaker… I’m in favour of any kind of technical innovation, but for me it’s always going to have to exceed the thing that came before. None of the new imaging technologies have done that yet.”
The first Independence Day nailed the ’90s zeitgeist (disaster, aliens, Will Smith) so the sequel needs to equally chime with the times. Found footage? Obvs. Simulcam IMAX sequences shot in native 3D (not post-conversion, FFS)? Natch. Andy Serkis as a mo-capped space monster Instagraming no-make-up selfies? #hellsyeah!
MARVEL’S INDEPENDENCE DAY You can’t be a franchise without superheroes. Emmerich needs to outsource to Kevin Feige and the crew, who’ll style it up into the first of a trilogy (of trilogies), with cameos outnumbering main cast and a mid-credits tease for a one-shot featuring Randy Quaid’s character. He died in the first one? Yeah, we’ll just Agent Coulson that shit.
Hopping on the Hunger Games/Divergent bandwagon, we turn the focus to heroine Kris (or Tish, whatever), who’s dirt-poor and a bit sad and stuff, but has mad skills with a javelin. Can she defeat the rich alien overlords who hate love? Eddie Marsan plays a drunk jujitsu trainer in rainbow guyliner.
Pre-boot of the ’96 original that retrofits the main trio with more grit: Will Smith’s fighter pilot accidentally grenades his BFF’s face off in Iraq; Bill Pullman’s pres is shagging half the White House kitchen staff and Jeff Goldblum’s tech boffin piggybacks his neighbour’s WiFi. Meanwhile, the aliens’ origin stories show them as bastards but it’s America’s fault. ML
On his exhibition plans... “We shot quite a lot of the film in IMAX, more than we’d ever done in the past… With the sound mix, we have very ambitious plans for how we’re going to take a very unique approach to how we maximize the potential of existing sound systems in theatres… Which I think is going to be very important to the technical presentation of the film… The technical aspects of how the film is presented are going to be more important than on any film I’ve ever made before.” JMc ETA | 7 November Interstellar opens later this year. June 2014 | Total Film | 25
buzz Welcome to the movies!
Head case exclusive!
FRANK | Michael Fassbender dons a giant papier-mâché
head for the wonderfully weird story of an avant-garde band on a musical odyssey, inspired by the story of eccentric entertainer Frank Sidebottom. Director Lenny Abrahamson takes us behind the scenes of his fantastic curio…
film. H ve h job in the Close shaleeson] has a really tougd it’s through him that
26 | Total Film | June 2014
artist [G tiate band, an “I’d seen M “Domhnall has to nego able ins Frank’s ich e jo h t o h ye w d , n n A ‘Twist And Sh ael Fassbender singin plays Jo uite despic ole story. g. He d out’ nce the wh n being occasionally q d n A Ta t. n u we experie k. You could on a chat-show. And I id a version of line betwee tify with and care abo te e ll fin ve ry ry ve quickly he’s think he sings in Fish He can croo this iden got n re ody that we Michael McD ally well. And he does a very strong voice. and someb ard thing to do.” a grea onald. And ly h al re a ’s w m at h ad en I met him t imitation of th into music.” , it turns ou t he’s Subscribe at www.totalfilm.com/subs
t takes – it go d between Headgear ry easy to k off the hea o – ve “Michael to ly low-tech visibility. It’s incredib bloody hot. f! What was tricky was ere so of d ey , but th w take on an e in the eyes to look out of one uz ga as w e Ther oose you could ch see down through wide apart, could u yo r o e, eye at a tim mouth.” through the the neck or
Sound st age
“That’s on th e stage, as w though we e set up for sho th all this… I’ve t in New Mexico. What at big gig in SXSW – lost about tw ’s really bad about this film. I’m o-and-a-half stone si nce just They do feed looking at this going I shot ‘Fat b you incredib so stressed ly on a film... astard!’ and tired, ea and you’re ting you can man age that stre is one of the ways ss!”
Domhnall Gleeson on Fassbender, bands and those Fantastic Four rumours…
The origins of Frank come from Chris Sievey’s novelty act Frank Sidebottom. Had you heard of him?
No, I hadn’t. I watched a couple of Frank Sidebottom things on YouTube just out of curiosity. But I think you have to leave all that behind.
Have you ever been in a band, like your character? to
free k ere we were Field wore days into the shoot wh this was one of those
m d “I built in so play and improvise an field work, band doing ks, just take ris ea of this avant-garde at there is e id u’re looking days. It’s th ds. What yo y noises with un so g in er gath ing tin ass, lenhaal mak Maggie Gyl ping back pieces of gr rip st e, d la ” b s. er rd h co McNairy re while Scoot
I still write these terrible country music songs with my friends. We call ourselves Duke Governs And The Legislators. We record really bad songs, but only for ourselves! It’s not for anyone else!
Was it strange to be around Michael Fassbender wearing a giant head?
The weird thing is that it wasn’t. But the first time he put it on I thought ‘This is fucking nuts!’ He had it on, when we were doing the music rehearsal, and his physicality would change. Once he started going, he was a real front-man. I’m in every scene, but I am essentially the keyboardist. He’s the lead singer – of the band and the film.
Did you try Frank’s head on?
Hilariously, my head is too big! So everyone got a chance to try it on – I was squashing my nose trying to get it on!
ETA | 9 may Frank opens next month. totalfilm.com
“Here we’re in Wicklow, Ireland, where we shot the scenes where the band record. As much as the film is inspired visually by Frank Sidebottom, and the anarchic spirit of his creator Chris Sievey, it’s just as much influenced by outsider musicians like Captain Beefheart, and his recording of Trout Mask Replica, which he did in a cabin in the woods.”
There’s a lot of talk that you may be up for playing Dr. Doom in Fantastic Four. True?
I don’t know. All that stuff happens somewhere that isn’t Ireland, where I live! I’ve no clue. I haven’t read a script. It’s as far off as me playing Indiana Jones next. JM June 2014 | Total Film | 27
buzz Welcome to the movies!
‘It was a really emotional experience for me’
A serious man FIRST Look!
Uncivil war: Ejiofor stars alongside Thandie Newton (above) in Half Of A Yellow Sun.
One-hundred-and-thirtyseven nominations. 131 wins. The cast and crew of 12 Years A Slave have been pretty busy over the last few months. But for Chiwetel Ejiofor – speaking to Buzz between gruelling shoots in America and New Zealand – the ever rolling awards season has been a welcome change of pace. “It’s an amazing time,” smiles the 36-year-old Londoner. “It’s one big crazy celebration at the moment.” But what about that agonising moment at the Oscars? “It wasn’t about winning – or not winning,” laughs Ejiofor, “it genuinely was a compliment to even be there.” Finishing work on 12 Years A Slave in 2012, it’s a film even longer in development that’s closest
28 | Total Film | June 2014
to his heart. Adapted from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s historical novel, Half Of A Yellow Sun is a tragic love story set against the brutal backdrop of the Nigerian civil war. Squeezed in directly before 12 Years, Ejiofor had a very personal reason for fitting the film into his schedule. “It’s my family history. It’s my history. My grandfather was travelling with his family, without a penny to his name, and he didn’t know if there was any possibility of surviving. It was a really emotional experience for me.” With the Nigerian shoot plagued with malaria, it wasn’t an easy experience for anyone. “Some of the locations were incredibly remote,” agrees Ejiofor, “some that you could only reach by boat, some with no running water, no electricity. But it was completely worth it.” Leaving Calabar to fly straight to the 12 Years shoot in Louisiana, the journey gave Solomon
Northup’s story even greater significance. “A lot of people that were taken out of Nigeria ended up in New Orleans. When I arrived, that was all I could think about. It suddenly felt so and alive… so obvious what my responsibility was.” Just wrapping post-apocalyptic sci-fi Z For Zachariah with Chris Pine and just prepping John Hillcoat’s gangland heist movie, Triple Nine – not to mention fending off an increasing barrage of Star Wars: Episode VII rumours (the publicist shut us out of asking about the Abrams-directed sequel…), this year is all about variety for Ejiofor. “Audiences will let us know if they want to see things they’ve seen before” he reflects, “and sometimes they do! But people seem to be much more engaged with stories that haven’t been told before. And I think that’s pretty exciting.” PB ETA | 11 April Half Of A Yellow Sun is out now. Subscribe at www.totalfilm.com/subs
jay l.clendenin/los angeles times/contour
HALF OF A YELLOW SUN | Chiwetel Ejiofor has no shortage of weighty material.
Disney heroes “No matter how many times you save the world, it always manages to get back in jeopardy again…” Mr Incredible should have seen this coming. Ten years after Bob, Helen, Dash and Violet left the suburbs to save the world, the Parr family are going to have to squeeze into their super-suits again. With the announcement that original director Brad Bird has already started work on the script, The Incredibles 2 has been added to Pixar’s already crowded sequel slate (along with Cars 3 and Finding Dory also on the way). But they’re not the only Disney vets coming out of retirement, with the live-action reboot of The Little Mermaid finally getting the greenlight. Lost In Translation director Sofia Coppola’s at the helm (and regular Tim Burton collaborator Caroline Thompson is writing the script), meaning it’s unlikely we’ll see Sebastian the singing Rasta crab in this version… PB
ETA | TBC The Incredibles 2 and The Little Mermaid are currently in production
<< flashback issue 94, 2004
ON THE COVER Alexander and lots of asterixed rude words, for f**k’s sake. INSIDE Christopher Walken cops to being a “pussycat”; Batman vs Jesus in our blockbuster preview; Temple Of Doom monkey brains revealed to be whipped cream; picture of Samantha Morton in her bra in a phonebox.
60 second screenplay
words: matthew leyland
The Incredibles: they’re back!
TF saves you a night out every month. This issue, 300: Rise Of An Empire gets cut down. _______________ FADE IN EXT: CGI BATTLEFIELD. In a voiceover, LENA HEADEY recounts the Battle Of Marathon, or as modern historians know it, the Battle Of Snickers. LENA HEADEY ‘Twas a time when one group of Men’s Health pin-ups had it out with another group of Men’s Health pin-ups. Some had beards and some didn’t, if that helps. Scenes of shouty stabbiness. 3D Aero bubbles of blood assault the viewer.
spoiler alert! No, what he meant was, ‘Get yourself a full back/sack/crack wax and some bling then help mad Eva kill all the Greeks.’ One-hundred per cent. RODRIGO enters the CAVE OF VAJAZZLE and emerges like the lovechild of Pinhead and Mr T.
Mind you, all that baby oil they’re caked in, one match would probably do it. EVA’s tar attack repels SULLIVAN’s forces, leaving one of his interchangeable deputies dead. Trevor? Big Chris? Little Chris? One of them, anyway.
RODRIGO [Addressing his kingdom] For glory’s sake… WAR! For God’s sake, don’t let me drink too much with all these piercings, I’ll turn into a colander. EXT: AEGEAN SEA Greek ships ram Persian ships. Or maybe vice versa, it’s hard to say.
LENA HEADEY The gods, or someone, did decree that the fighting would be all, EVA GREEN Wheee! Fast! Then, Good ramming skills. Wh-o-o-a! Slow! Fast! Underlings! Inform their Slow! Fast! Slow! That’s leader that if he joins totes how it went down. our side he can have Anyhoo, long story a go on mad Eva! short, one big cheese her stuck a spear in anot SULLIVAN STAPLETON big cheese, in front agrees to meet EVA of his son. Them apples, to talk shop until ‘twere not to it’s sexy o’clock. his liking. SULLIVAN STAPLETON INT: PERSIAN COURT Come, let us add to OF MOPING the internet’s surplus of naked Eva Green RODRIGO SANTORO screengrabs! Dad’s dying words were, ‘No more fighting with Alarming sex ensues the Greeks. Those and SULLIVAN goes back Greeks, leave ‘em be. to his boat. Turn the other Greek. d coul Got it?’ What EVA GREEN he have meant? He rejected my job offer! Let’s blitz them EVA GREEN with flaming tar bombs! It’s all Greek to me!
SULLIVAN STAPLETON ‘Tis a tragedy. [Pause] Anyone else’s nipples cold? Mine are like bullets. You could hang saucepans on them. EXT: SPARTA SULLIVAN STAPLETON Can I have some help sorting out mad Eva? LENA HEADEY No, I’m too busy being sad about Gerard Butler not being in this film. Wow, bet those words have never been said before. SULLIVAN and EVA’s forces have a rematch, resulting in EVA’s death. LENA HEADEY [Voiceover] And lo, the filmmakers did proclaim, ‘Might as well end there.’ Just time for me to drone some more about the winds of war… the winds of freedom… the winds of long-windedness… never mind Persians and Greeks, this film’s a Dutch oven! ENDS
June 2014 | Total Film | 29
buzz Welcome to the movies!
Alex takes on Hollywood. This month: the big-screen experience. I was on a plane last week and saw the most troubling thing. The young man sitting across the isle from me was watching Gravity on the in-flight movie screen. Gravity! He also had one of those massive hollow ear piercings that stretched the lobe out by about 2in and those things make me queasy, but FAR worse was the Gravity situation. Even the Gravity naysayers can’t deny what a visually stunning experience it is to watch, but only when it’s seen on the big screen at the cinema and not, for example, on a 4in monitor in the back of a plane seat. This was also the first time he was seeing it. I know this because I heard him say to his companion (lots more piercings but normal sized, fine) “They’ve got Gravity on here, that’s supposed to be dank!” Google informed me that ‘dank!’ means ‘good!’ – if you’re a heavily pierced 17-year-old. Gravity is not a film that should EVER be watched for the first time on a plane. This might be an extreme example, but worryingly more and more people are shunning the cinema in favour of watching a movie at home, often on their laptops, and in doing so are ruining their experience of that film forever. You can never watch a movie for the first time again. You owe it to yourself, and the film, to see it in the cinema. You don’t think when Scorsese is putting the finishing touches to his latest picture he’s going, “This is going to look so good on an iPad on the 14.55 to Doncaster.” He imagines it being seen on the big screen. 30 | Total Film | June 2014
Gravity: should only be viewed in the cinema.
‘Watching a film on an IMAX screen is worth leaving the house for’ Hollywood realised the home entertainment behemoth was growing more powerful and, under King Cameron’s leadership, threw their lot in with 3D to keep audiences loyal, only to then (when his back was turned) start delivering shoddy conversions. This short-sighted attempt to make a quick buck involved shooting themselves in the foot in the process. Less than four months after Avatar changed the way we watch movies, Clash Of The Titans in, ahem, 3D followed. Anyone
expecting that film to be good should have simply looked at the poster, which featured the laziest tagline ever: ‘Clash Of The Titans. Titans WILL clash.’ Someone was paid money to write that. (The only positive we can take from this is that should our chosen careers fall apart, we can clearly all get jobs writing taglines for movies. Here’s mine for the runaway train movie Unstoppable: If you think it’s stoppable… you’re wrong.) Anyway, these cheapo cash-ins forced films like Gravity, which
simply need to be seen in 3D, to work even harder to convince people to head to the cinema. And while 3D done right is good, for me the future of cinema lies with increasing the number of IMAX screens – that is an experience truly worth leaving the house for. I’m certainly not saying every film should be watched at the cinema – it can be an expensive night out. But I believe more than ever film reviewers have a huge responsibility to really let people know which films need to be seen at the cinema and which can be happily viewed in your pyjamas, in bed, with your laptop balanced on top of a Dominos pizza box. That would be dank. Agree or disagree with Alex’s take on the big-screen experience? Tweet us with your thoughts: @totalfilm Subscribe at www.totalfilm.com/subs
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9 details for the sharper movie fan...
edited by matt maytum 1 I Ben Affleck is suiting up 2 I Will Poulter’s on the rise 3 I TF and Latitude reunite 4 I The best of SXSW 5 I Sara Paxton is a scream queen 6 I Ryan Reynolds hears Voices 7 I Miyazaki’s final bow 8 I Robert Duvall is a hero 9 I Richard faces FAQs
The One To Watch
Ben Affleck is taking on the world. uperman. Captain America. The US Senate. Ben Affleck clearly isn’t scared of anyone at the moment, getting ready to fight the Man of Steel and Marvel as Batman Vs. Superman goes head to head with Captain America’s second sequel in summer 2016. If that’s not enough, he’s also taking on the American government by testifying on Capitol Hill for aid organisations in the Democratic Republic Of Congo. But with filming on Zack Snyder’s DC Comics bash-up commencing imminently, the biggest battle Affleck has on his hands at the moment is still the army of Bat fans that don’t want to see the Dark Knight trilogy besmirched. “If I thought the result would be another Daredevil, I’d be out
fabrice dall’anese/corbis outline
there picketing myself!” laughs Affleck. “The idea for the new Batman is to redefine him in a way that doesn’t compete with Bale and Chris Nolan but still exists within the canon.” According to Affleck, his Bat will be “an older and wiser version” (or the “Biggest/ Leanest/Baddest Batman Eva”, according to his personal trainer’s Twitter feed), which should be good preparation for his next directorial effort, Live By Night – a Boston-set Prohibition crime saga written by Gone Baby Gone author Dennis Lehane. Affleck vs the Mob? We know who we’d put our money on. PB ETA | 6 may 2016 Batman Vs. Superman is out in two years.
agenda 9 details for the sharper movie fan...
The Talking Point
Plastic | Will Poulter is taking over the movies... n case you hadn’t noticed, Will Poulter’s having a good couple of years. Riveting in Wild Bill and riotously funny in We’re The Millers with Jennifer Aniston, his fledgling career hit a high this February when he claimed the coveted public-voted EE BAFTA Rising Star Award. And with four films set for release this year alone, the 21-year-old Londoner’s star is still on the climb. First up is Plastic, a Miami-set crime caper in which Poulter, Ed Speelers and Alfie Allen head to Miami to con the rich out of their, uh, riches in order to repay a dangerous mobster. “It’s quite a funny film,” Poulter tells Agenda. “It’s a nice blend of comedy and drama, and in many ways it’s a thriller as well.” The action keeps on coming in The Maze Runner, aka ‘The Hunger Games for boys’. Based on the book
The Fantastic Four
Our picks from 2014’s SXSW Festival.
36 | Total Film | June 2014
by James Dashner, it’s a post-apocalyptic sci-fi in which a group of kids – among them, Poulter’s Gally – are trapped in a monster-stuffed labyrinth. “It’s really cool,” Poulter enthuses. “It’s ultimately a kind of adventure film.” With human trafficking drama Glassland and Brit flick Kids In Love also on the way, Poulter’s not getting boxed into a genre anytime soon. “I’m really enjoying doing drama at the moment. That’s kind of where my passion lies,” he says, adding: “I always wanted to play a Batman villain, that’s a really big one for me. I may have missed the boat, but I always wanted to do that.” Our advice? Watch this face. ML/JW ETA | 2 May 2014 Plastic opens next month. The Maze Runner, Glassland and Kids In Love all open later this year.
Total Film is teaming up with latitude festival once again, giving moviegoers the chance to leave the dark of the cinema for the sunshine of the Suffolk countryside. While details are under wraps, we’re going to be hosting some very special events in the Film and Music tent. Beyond that, music fans will naturally have the chance to see some great artists performing, with Damon Albarn, Haim and Two Door Cinema Club among the names already announced. The festival runs from 17 to 20 July at Henham Park, Southwold, Suffolk. For tickets and more info go to www. latitudefestival.com MM
Space Station 76
Among the Living
Patrick Wilson captains a highly dysfunctional crew in this deadpan soap opera set on a space station in a 1970s version of the future. He plays a man struggling to come to terms with his sexual identity seeking counsel from a droid who dispenses Valium. Featuring Liv Tyler as an assistant captain, the set design is impeccable and the humour is drier than a Martini.
This dark, tense drama features two great performances from Leland Orser and Mary Elizabeth Winstead who battle one another in a sick mind control game. Orser plays down on his luck Ansel Roth who once made his dime deprogramming cult members and is tempted back when he finds himself in a bind. Maintains an unsettling ambience and keeps you guessing till the end.
Mark Duplass and Patrick Brice breathe new life into the found-footage format with this taut character-driven thriller which is equally hilarious and terrifying. Duplass is on fine form as an oversharing cancer survivor whose online ad for a filming service entices the lonely Aaron (Brice) to his cabin in the woods. A power play ensues and you never know who’s fooling who...
Amblin kids get into trouble in this brutal French horror from the directors of Inside and Livid. In stark contrast to the fun adventures of Spielberg’s latchkey kids, three school friends come across a disfigured, super-strong serial killer living on an abandoned movie lot. Directors Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury turn nostalgia into a disturbing nightmare with this gruesome mash-up. MM
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Sara Paxton names her price
pamela littky/cpi syndication
“Being that creepily sexy is hard,” says Sara Paxton, of playing violent psycho Violet in upcoming morality horror-com Cheap Thrills. Next up, The Innkeepers and The Last House On The Left scream queen is having a go at romcoms with It’s All Relative – it’s a shock to the system: “It’s weird whenever I’m not screaming and running away from something.”
Were you hesitant about taking on another horror role? It was intense and gross but it’s not for nothing, there’s a message behind the whole thing. “Everybody has a price, what’s yours?” It was so dark, it really made me think. What would I do? $35,000 to cut off your pinky? Maybe I would do it, I don’t know! How much to eat a dog? If it was home-cooked dog served up on a plate, we’d need some serious zeroes. I’d slap a girl’s butt, I’ll do that for free! It really put me in a dark place thinking about that stuff… Was it a change of pace doing It’s All Relative? Yes, this is my hand at being the girl in a romcom. I loved it! It was fun. My hair and make-up is done all nice. I’m like what is this? Normally I’m covered in blood. RF ETA | 6 June Cheap Thrills opens this summer. It’s All Relative opens later this year.
‘It was fun to look nice. Normally I’m covered in blood’ June 2014 | Total Film | 37
agenda 9 details for the sharper movie fan...
THe voices | Persepolis director Marjane Satrapi talks Agenda through her offbeat comedy-thriller that features a murderous Ryan Reynolds, a talking cat and Gemma Arterton’s severed head…
Off with her head I absolutely didn’t want to have the severed head on greenscreen, because the actors are working with nothing, they’re not doing things together. It’s boring for me, boring for the cinematographer, boring for everyone. You have to have a very good actress to understand that she’s a severed head. And it happened that Gemma [Arterton] is a great actress. She’s very beautiful and she has a sense of humour, but she’s really professional. At one point she was on the table next to the double of the head and I came in and I didn’t know which one was her.
Signing on I read this script and I really thought that it was completely fucked up. I was like, ‘What is that’? But I couldn’t put it down. Early in the morning I woke up and I said, ‘Ok, this script is so fucked up and I really want to do it’. Because for me it was a challenge – the whole idea was to take a serial killer and make him a lovely guy. It gave me the possibility to create a whole world for Jerry [Ryan Reynolds] and at the same time I thought it was a very good description of mental problems and schizophrenia.
Clean living The first time that you see this apartment [for real] it should look so nasty. He keeps everything, but he doesn’t see it because he’s a psycho. Before making the movie, I tried to imagine what I would do if I were a psychopath. I realised that every time I asked myself this question in my kitchen, I put the knives parallel to each other. It had to be two on one side, two on the other side. I thought that was what gives you the feeling that something is wrong. So obviously he would do things like stack his pizza boxes one over the other.
38 | Total Film | June 2014
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‘‘The idea was to take a serial killer and make him a lovely guy” Marjane Satrapi
Perfect cast Ryan Reynolds was the perfect guy because I needed somebody with the most innocent smile. He really was invested in the role and he wanted to make the best thing that he could. He was like a Ferrari – you press him a little bit and then watch him go – but he has so many ideas himself. He was telling me all the time,“I am Jerry, I am Jerry!” and I was thinking maybe he shouldn’t say that to me, because if he is Jerry, he’s going to cut my head off in a couple of minutes… Getting dark Normally you have a comedy or a horror or a thriller, but here the story leads you in different ways. I tried to do something coherent with different genres, but it goes deeper and deeper into his dark side. From the beginning I said, “OK, I’ve got no problem with killing, but I don’t want to see a blade going into the meat.” You never really see what he’s doing, it’s always out of frame, but you’re imagining it. And imagining it is 10 times worse. So I was thinking about Psycho and Hitchcock. And then for the final scene, maybe Monty Python…
Working with animals You won’t believe it but the cat is almost never in the same room as Ryan. I work with Stéphane Roche who filmed the cat separately. Because as much as you say to the dog, ‘Sit’, and the dog sits, you say to the cat, ‘Sit’ and the cat says, ‘Go fuck yourself’. Cats never listen to you. I’m very much a cat person. I was very scared of the dog. I don’t trust them at all. I was really scared that Bosco would look at me and say, “I don’t like you bitch” and then come and bite my throat.
The real stars Ryan does all the voices. He makes Bosco, he makes Mr Whiskers, he makes the deer, he makes Bunny Monkey. Bosco is like a nice, republican, American guy who knows right from wrong. Ryan came up with a voice and he makes this dog big and beautiful and at the same time a little bit dumb. And then you have this small, tiny orange cat that doesn’t look so interesting, but then his voice… You know sometimes you have these Scottish men that are really thin and they look a little bit mean, but they have a very big voice… RF
ETA | 26-27 ApriL The Voices is screening at Sundance London in April, with a national release expected later this year. For tickets go to sundance-london.com. June 2014 | Total Film | 39
agenda 9 details for the sharper movie fan...
‘‘We spent three to six months on most of the big scenes”
Up, up and away… The Wind Rises | Why Miyazaki’s final film could be his greatest. “This time I am quite serious.” Hayao Miyazaki, the 73-year-old Japanese master of animation has retired many times before – but now he really means it. The Wind Rises is his story of Jirô Horikoshi, the man who designed fighter planes in WW2 and survived the Great Kantõ Earthquake. Studio Ghilbi animator Kitaro Kosaka discusses the challenges of getting Miyazaki’s final flight of fancy off the ground. How would you describe the film? It’s very difficult to categorise. Miyazaki is always telling his staff that ‘there’s no need to have a theme or story for the film.’ But 40 | Total Film | June 2014
then he confuses them by saying, ‘I don’t understand what the main character is thinking about.’ I think The Wind Rises is not built on the story but created rather like a portfolio or an album in which a period in time has been captured. How did you approach the look of the film? Miyazaki doesn’t do it all the time, but [most] films have a motif of an illustration or a painting. This time it was taken from the Russian painter Isaac Levitan. In the scene when Jirô and his colleagues are on the Trans-Siberian railway, we copied one of Levitan’s paintings almost exactly.
The film features a lot of big set-pieces. They must have been incredibly difficult to animate… It depends on the content and the skill of the people involved – but we spent about three to six months on most of the big scenes. One especially challenging moment was having to animate the crowds after the earthquake in Ueno. We spent a whole year on that. I don’t think I’ll experience such a challenging, yet enjoyable, job for a while. None of the planes in the film really exist. How did you go about designing all the make-believe machinery? We visited an aviation museum and touched the airframes so we could feel the planes, but the fact is, we depicted the shapes differently from Subscribe at www.totalfilm.com/subs
From pencil to pixels: (above left and below opposite) exclusive sketches by Kitaro Kosaka of Jirô Horikoshi and Naoko Satomi, and (below) the fully realised characters.
scene to scene. We wouldn’t even refer to photographs if we felt something didn’t look right. The images seen through the lens of a camera and the lens of the human eye are very different. We have to take the impression of the director, and that of the object, and chisel off the differences. How much of a challenge is it to animate something so intangible as ‘wind’? ‘Wind’ is a common theme in Miyazaki’s work and he’s been drawing it throughout his career. Rather than calling it a challenge, I would say that this film gives it a greater meaning; it showcases his lifetime achievement. We spend a lot of time in the air. Did you and the other animators at Studio Ghilbi have to take any research flights? I’ve only flown in commercial planes but I’m always in work mode, so I always take in my surroundings. I’ve climbed mountains to totalfilm.com
observe the clouds at eye-level, but I feel like I am flying whenever I see the sky. What’s Miyazaki like as a director? Does he really try to do everything on his own? He likes to do a lot of things by himself but he also knows that he cannot remain closed. I’m working with Miyazaki to learn from him. His attitude of constantly seeking out new things is what keeps our work fresh. It’s a film about a dreamer and an artist. Is it fair to paint a comparison between Jirô and Miyazaki himself? Especially as this is his final film… It’s interesting, isn’t it? Miyazaki enters into his own imagination and transfers from one character after another during each scene. His work is his alter ego. PB ETA 9 May | The Wind Rises opens next month. BFI Southbank is running a complete Studio Ghibli retrospective throughout April and May.
The film that inspired Studio Ghibli
Started in 1948, finished in 1980 and only now getting a theatrical release, French classic The King And The Mockingbird has to be the most long-awaited animation of all time. Directed by Paul Grimault and written by surrealist poet Jacques Prévert, it’s a bizarre story about cross-eyed kings and wisecracking wonderbirds. It might be a rarity, but the film has influenced generations of animators that have managed to seek it out – not least Isao Takahata, co-founder of Studio Ghibli. “It showed me the possibilities of animation,” says Takahata. “Refined colours, exquisite visual perspectives, a series of unexpected ideas, spectacular characterisation, the intense verticality of the world, unique humour… this film was way beyond established ideas at the time. I was obsessed because I realised these images were concealing the harsh reality of modern history. How sad is it that the warning which came out before 1950 still makes sense?” ETA | Out Now The King And The Mockingbird is in cinemas now.
June 2014 | Total Film | 41
agenda 9 details for the sharper movie fan...
Which films in your vast canon are you most proud of? There are quite a few I’m proud of and some I want to forget about. I’ve always figured if I didn’t fit in this country I could fit into your country, as I always considered myself a character actor. I played Joseph Stalin [Stalin], a Cuban barber with Richard Harris [Wrestling Ernest Hemingway], a Texas Ranger [Lonesome Dove], I’m proud of those. I once talked to an actor who had done 35 films and considered them all good: I can’t say that.
The legendary Texan is still in search of character work. Robert Duvall was gifted one of cinema’s most iconic lines in Apocalypse Now [“I love the smell of napalm in the morning…”], won an Oscar for his performance in Tender Mercies, has worked with some of the great directors and, at the age of 83, his latest film A Night In Old Mexico has just had its world premiere at SXSW. You’ve reunited with writer-producer William Wittliff for A Night In Old Mexico, who you also worked with on the Lonesome Dove miniseries. Why was this project important to you? It was now or never. We had the script for years, at one point Dennis Hopper was going to direct it, and then Emilio Aragón [director/producer] came along with his expertise, money and his crew and we did it. It’s the part I always 42 | Total Film | June 2014
wanted to play. Very Texas, very American and this character was a descendant of my favourite guys from Lonesome Dove. We waited 25 years to do it and shot it in 23 days.
Robert’s roles: (from top) Apocalypse Now (1979); Tender Mercies (1983); A Night In Mexico (2013).
You co-star with War Horse actor Jeremy Irvine. What was he like to work with? He loved Texas, he rode those mechanical bulls, and we said, ‘You can’t do that till the movie is over for insurance reasons!’ It’s good to work with young people. How would you say your approach to roles has changed over the years? Pretty much the same, a little more relaxed. I try and let the process take me to the result, rather than going directly to the result. I let it evolve and stay loose.
‘My Oscar sits on the mantle next to a letter from Brando’
You won an Oscar for your role in Tender Mercies. Does it feel like it happened yesterday and do you have fond memories of that moment in your career? On the night when I won I had to get to the urinal, I had to go so bad. The next day I was driving down the highway with some friends in a convertible and some guys working high up on the electrical wires shouted, ‘Yeaaahhh!’ It’s interesting now because I don’t tell a lot of people that I have it. The Oscar sits on my mantle in Virginia and there’s a letter from Brando next to it, and I think I almost like the letter from Brando more than the Oscar. He was like a hero to my generation. You worked with Francis Ford Coppola on the Godfather films and Apocalypse Now. How important was your relationship with him? Francis Coppola and Horton Foote, the great Texas playwright who wrote the To Kill A Mockingbird and Tender Mercies screenplays, are very important to me. I kind of had a career before but those two guys helped me. Two totally different people but they both really helped me. KM ETA | 2014 A Night In Old Mexico is expected to open later this year.
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matt carr/getty images, allstar
Why do you think you’ve had such longevity in your acting career? I don’t know. It could be hanging out with younger people or being married to a younger woman. My father-in-law said I don’t know whether to call you father or son. Wilfred Brimley, the old cowboy actor who was the bodyguard for Howard Hughes, used to say, ‘The only thing worse than being an old man is being married to an old woman.’ You hang out with young people because you can learn from young people.
agenda 9 details for the sharper movie fan...
The Furious Quandaries Of Richard Ayoade Our columnist answers some frequently asked questions. I’ve given more As to Qs than I’ve had hot Fs (although the reference here
is to FAQs, please feel free to use these letters as a jumping-off point for your own tired wordplay). Herewith my most compelling responses.
How was directing The Double? It was all shot at night, so I was able to direct as a werewolf, which in turn meant I spent less time agonizing about my outfits. I quickly formulated my new look: cut-off denim shorts teamed with a ripped-open flannel shirt. Sometimes I’d sport a sweatband and ride on top of cars (or am I just misremembering Teen Wolf?) How did you find the Dostoyevsky novella? It was Avi Korine’s idea. Everything I’ve read of Dostoyevsky is alarmingly brilliant and unique. I think if he’d been alive now he could’ve scripted Keeping Up With The Kardashians. He’s that good. We just feel lucky we were born so long after him that we were able to profit from his ideas without encountering any legal problems, but not so long that we became embroiled in a future apocalypticeco-war that rendered all films a trivial irrelevance when weighed against the struggle for our planet’s survival. Why is the topic of a doppelganger ripe for exploration in film? 1. The actor has to do twice the amount of work for the same fee. 2. Ripeness just makes me want to explore, especially in film. I guess I just love topics, and that combined with the ripeness made the whole idea irresistible. And I can’t resist the irresistible as a direct consequence of that word’s definition! And I’ve always loved doppelgangers! totalfilm.com
Director’s cut: Richard with Jesse Eisenberg on set of The Double.
‘Eventually I’d like to see the interviews about the film replace directing’ And the idea of cinematically combining that with a topic was just so exciting!! Why were Jesse Eisenberg and Mia Wasikowska the right choice for the cast? They’re two of the best actors in the world; they are a pleasure to be around; and they’re surprisingly tolerant of my acrid body odour. Jesse’s one of the few actors who thrives on sarcastic eye-rolls.
What kind of tone were you aiming for? I like things that are funny and frightening. Sort of the opposite of Scary Movie. I always have a selection of tuning forks in my director’s satchel. I will sound one before each take and say, ‘That’s it. This is our truth today. D sharp.’ How was it working with Terry Gilliam on the look of the film? He was my art director on the Fast
And The Furious 9 pre-viz sessions and we just see things the exact same way, so it made sense to use him as a consultant on every decision I made. What’s next for you? I want to bring out another knitwear range. And I’m hoping to do more and more interviews. Eventually, I’d like to see the interviews replace the directing because I’m becoming increasingly frustrated during the gaps between junkets. The prospect of needing to make a whole film before a stranger tapes my thoughtless utterances (and transcribes an approximation thereof) makes me very sad. The Double is out now. June 2014 | Total Film | 43
THURSDAY 17TH SUNDAY 20TH JULY 2014
THE AFGHAN WHIGS
BOOKER T. JONES • TINARIWEN
BBC RADIO 6 MUSIC STAGE
SLOWDIVE • ANNA CALVI GOAT • TEMPLES • SOHN HOZIER • SAN FERMIN
(DO IT AGAIN 2014)
JAMES VINCENT MCMORROW DARYL HALL & JOHN OATES JUNGLE • CONOR OBERST AGNES OBEL • DAMIEN JURADO
CLEAN BANDIT THE WAR ON DRUGS PARQUET COURTS GEORGE EZRA • VALERIE JUNE
MUSIC APPEARING ACROSS OTHER STAGES
CASS MCCOMBS • CATE LE BON • JULIA HOLTER • NILS FRAHM • RY X
BOHICAS • BONDAX • CATFISH AND THE BOTTLEMEN • CIRCA WAVES • DAWES • EAGULLS • EAST INDIA YOUTH • ELLI INGRAM HISS GOLDEN MESSENGER • JOHN WIZARDS • JOSEPHINE FOSTER • KORELESS • KWABS • LUKE SITAL SINGH • MARIKA HACKMAN • MIGHTY OAKS MOKO • NORMA JEAN MARTINE • ONLY REAL • OLIVER WILDE • SLAVES • SOAK • SON LUX • SUMIE • TEEN • THE ACID • THE FAT WHITE FAMILY • TOM VEK FILM & MUSIC
BOB AND ROBERTA SMITH • THE ART PARTY! • TOTAL FILM PRESENTS DIRECTOR’S Q&A’S • KATE TEMPEST • BEARDYMAN SHLOMO & FRIENDS • ESBEN & THE WITCH SCORE LA ANTENA (LIVE) • WHITE MINK COMEDY
DARA O BRIAIN MORE COMEDY HEADLINERS TO BE ANNOUNCED MILTON JONES • AL MURRAY’S SALOON SHOW • JOSH WIDDICOMBE • TIM KEY MARCUS BRIGSTOCKE & ANDREW MAXWELL • JOSIE LONG • KATHERINE RYAN • TREVOR NOAH
SEANN WALSH • TOMMY TIERNAN • HENNING WEHN • JEREMY HARDY • MILES JUPP • DOC BROWN • CARDINAL BURNS
THE PAJAMA MEN • SARA PASCOE • FELICITY WARD • JAMES ACASTER • ARTHUR SMITH • ROB BECKETT • NICK HELM KERRY GODLIMAN • GLENN WOOL • HANNAH GADSBY • TIFFANY STEVENSON • JARRED CHRISTMAS • PAPPY’S • ROISIN CONATY
ROMESH RANGANATHAN • JOE LYCETT • MIKE WOZNIAK • MAX & IVAN • JOHN KEARNS • JOEL DOMMETT • LIAM WILLIAMS
TOM ROSENTHAL • AISLING BEA • JOHN ROBINS • NISH KUMAR • ERIC LAMPAERT • CELIA PACQUOLA • SUZI RUFFELL • JAMIE DEMETRIOU THEATRE & DANCE
FORCED ENTERTAINMENT • RSC • THE ROYAL EXCHANGE • TOLD BY AN IDIOT ENGLISH NATIONAL BALLET • WAYNE MCGREGOR’S RANDOM DANCE • DIRTY DANCING
SADLER’S WELLS PRESENTS NATIONAL YOUTH DANCE COMPANY & JAMES COUSINS COMPANY • BATTERSEA ARTS CENTRE PRESENTS JOHN BERKAVITCH AND WILL DICKIE
MARK THOMAS • LUKE JERMAY • DRYWRITE • CLEAN BREAK • FLANAGAN COLLECTIVE • WISHBONE THEATRE • FOREST FRINGE • DASH ARTS LYRIC, GDIF & WATFORD PALACE THEATRE PRESENT BUCKET CLUB, LIGHT THE FUSE, FLIPPING THE BIRD AND PAGE ONE THEATRE • GAGGLEBABBLE • THE LETTER ROOM POETRY & LITERARY
ROGER MCGOUGH • BEN OKRI • GILLIAN CLARKE • MICHAEL ROSEN • HOLLIE MCNISH • LEMN SISSAY SCROOBIUS PIP • REEPS ONE • POLARBEAR • LUKE WRIGHT • DIZRAELI • TIM CLARE • SABRINA MAHFOUZ • LUKE KENNARD JON RONSON • LAUREN BEUKES • JAMES BANNON • ROB EVANS • SALON LONDON • FESTIVAL OF THE SPOKEN NERD CABARET
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Every new movie reviewed & rated
edited by Matthew Leyland
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‘Sabotage is the best of Arnie’s post-Governator comeback era’ of the month
> New releases 11.04.14-07.05.14 out now
Almost Married Captain America: The Winter Soldier Divergent Haunter The Motel Life Noah The Quiet Ones Rio 2 Veronica Mars
Half Of A Yellow Sun Khumba: A Zebra’s Tale The King And The Mockingbird The Last Days On Mars The Lunchbox Pioneer The Strange Colour Of Your Body’s Tears
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East Of Eden Giant Locke The Love Punch Magic Magic Rebel Without A Cause The Sea We Are The Best! Wrinkles
After The Night Cupcakes An Episode In The Life Of An Iron Picker Exhibition The Informant Looking For Light: Jane Bown Tracks We Are The Freaks You & Me Forever
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Blue Ruin Ilo Ilo Patema Inverted Paths Of Glory Plastic Pompeii A Thousand Times Good Night Willow Creek
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For more reviews visit totalfilm.com/reviews
Return of the Mackie: Captain America: The Winter Soldier, p52
June 2014 | Total Film | 45
Sabotage HHHHH Out 7 May
Schwarzenegger keeps it real…
ot since 1987’s Predator has Arnold Schwarzenegger been surrounded by so many bulging alpha males, none of whom would look out of place in the Austrian Oak’s Mr. Universe doc, Pumping Iron. But while the guns – of bicep and M4 variety – are one of the main reasons to indulge in Sabotage, it has more in its locker. For as much as it’s a new Arnie movie (the best of the post-Governator comeback era), it’s also the latest foray onto America’s mean streets by David Ayer (Training Day, End Of Watch), and as such it explodes with colourful lingo, immersive camerawork and sudden, brutal violence. Approaching his end of days in law enforcement, John ‘Breacher’ Wharton (Schwarzenegger) is a living legend, his body covered in Vietnam-era tattoos and his record in the DEA unimpeachable. Or so he thinks. But he becomes a target for Internal Affairs when he leads his task force – Monster (Sam Worthington), Grinder (Joe Manganiello), Neck (Josh Holloway), Sugar (Terrence Howard), Pyro (Max Martini), Tripod (Kevin Vance), Smoke (Mark Schlegel) and, er, Lizzy (Mireille Enos, who parades the biggest balls of the lot) – into an Atlanta mansion owned by a Mexican cartel, and steals $10m. But IA is the least of Breacher’s worries. A more pressing concern is that someone’s nicked the $10m that he just nicked, and his team is now being killed off one by one. Breacher is in over his buzz-cut head, his only option to trust a workaholic cop (Olivia Williams) who’s not about to take any macho shit.
task force has stormed a mansion, blown shit up, eviscerated a bunch of goons, set fire to hundreds of millions of dollars, Up in smoke escaped through a sewer and lit their cigars. Clearly of the school of thought that a good Then things get really gnarly, with the screenplay should start with a bang, Skip ritualistic killing of Breacher’s men proving Woods, whose script was polished (or as imaginatively nasty as anything in the roughed up?) by Ayer, tosses us straight into debut season of Hannibal, and suggesting the action. Ten minutes in and Breacher’s that Woods’ pitch might just have been ‘Commando-meets-Saw’. Of the swinging dicks on show, Worthington, “You’re one This is fucked up bitch” a 15? Holloway and Manganiello Really? duke it out for the title of Money Trained alpha-male, the former to burn to die almost unrecognisable Destruction You call that a derby Lover, not with his bald head and Consider this cigar? THIS… a fighter a divorce death-metal goatee, and all three proving so physically 0 22 44 66 88 110 imposing you can almost
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see Arnie standing on tiptoe. But it’s the ladies who steal the show, with The Killing’s Enos – a real-life black belt – giving better than she gets and the Cambridgeeducated Williams undergoing a startling makeover to convince as a haggard, hard-ass Atlanta detective. It is, however, Schwarzenegger’s refashioning that will invite the most scrutiny. The tats, the haircut, the grizzled appearance as the muscles shrink and the jowls fatten… Ayer, obsessed with authenticity, here attempts to give us the man behind the icon, even demanding his star exhibit genuine pain and regret in an effort to legitimise Breacher’s sorrowful backstory. Arnie is, in short, required to act, and he damn well almost does it, at times displaying sides we’ve not seen in a career spanning five decades. Subscribe at www.totalfilm.com/subs
reviews see this if you liked... Predator 1987 Arnie and a band of highly trained musclemen fight a superior foe. It’s the same movie! Cop Land 1997 Stallone dials it down to play a sheriff in a corrupt town and earns his acting spurs. End Of Watch 2012 Two cops on the mean streets of LA… Ayer’s documentary style spills into Sabotage. For full reviews of these films visit totalfilm.com/ cinema_reviews
But let’s not get carried away: Breacher, while presenting a minor stretch, is hardly the kind of transformative turn that wins over the Academy – and there’s no getting around the fact that Arnie’s bombastic, heavily-accented delivery is just too familiar to allow the superstar persona to completely disappear. (A line that apparently got cut was Breacher spitting, “Who stole my fucking stapler?” Just reading it in his voice shows how any dialogue, no matter how mundane, becomes an Arnie one-liner.) Sabotage is not for everyone. Some will see it as a laudable mix of ’80s action staples and fast, modern, experiential filmmaking, while others will feel it falls flatly between the two stools. The brass-balls banter will no doubt be accused of misogyny and the totalfilm.com
‘Arnie is required to act, and he damn well almost does it, at times displaying sides we’ve not seen in his career’ bloodletting (this is the messiest 15-cert since Saving Private Ryan) will appal the faint-hearted, though it should be remembered that Ayer, who grew up in South Central LA and spent time in the armed forces, has seen violence first hand. talking But go with Sabotage and point it’s a crashing good thrill ride Ayer encouraged improv but – indisputably so in the case Joe Manganiello came to dread of an epic street chase that it: “Sam Worthington would always climb onto a desk and sees Arnie, no longer launch himself at me. He always indestructible, spraying went for the big guy…”
Filming had to stop whilst Arnie rebooted the microprocessor in his neck.
bullets at drug lords from the back of a tilting truck with Ayer favouring Class-A stunt work over CGI. This scene, like the entire movie, was shot on the real streets of Atlanta, and crystallises Sabotage’s ethos: old-school Arnie action performed by a new(ish) Arnie in a real world. Rob James
THE VERDICT An ageing Arnold Schwarzenegger ‘does a Clint’ and allows mortality to creep up… while still kicking inordinate amounts of ass. Get to the chopper and instruct the pilot to head for the nearest cinema for a bruising, blistering ride. › Certificate 15 Director David Ayer Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Olivia Williams, Sam Worthington, Joe Manganiello, Josh Holloway, Mireille Enos, Terrence Howard, Max Martini Screenplay Skip Woods, David Ayer Distributor Lionsgate Running time 109 mins June 2014 | Total Film | 47
see this if you liked… 25TH HOUR 2002 Can you change your whole life in a day? Spike Lee’s searing drama sets out to answer exactly that.
“What a lovely, lovely steering wheel.”
BURIED 2010 Claustrophobics should avoid, but Ryan Reynolds haters will be pleasantly surprised. IN FEAR 2013 Improvised and escalating eeriness on a car journey to nowhere. For full reviews of these films visit totalfilm.com/ cinema_reviews
Locke HHHHH Out 18 April
headlights strafe the windscreen, and details of Locke’s life accumulate, but we never leave the car and barely leave Hardy’s face. It’s a bold move, one that’s only possible because of the depth of Knight’s script (he also wrote Eastern Promises, Dirty Pretty Things and Peaky Blinders), and the strength of Hardy’s performance, perhaps his best yet. As a man, Locke is far from glamorous: he has a cold, he wears a cardie and he’s often unfeasibly pedantic. But he exists in three dimensions, and there’s something about his determination that starts to seem heroic as the night wears on (in this he brings to mind David Cronenberg’s gasman in 1998’s Last Night, calling to thank each and every customer even as the world ends). Locke’s Job Driving Run! an unexceptional man, but a solid one – so much Confessions so his wife complains F***! Family Issues Hello Goodbye about him leaving little Folder pieces of concrete behind him wherever he goes. Hardy fills the role – 0 20 40 50 60 85 and the screen – with ease,
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The other cast members performed their voice roles from a hotel room, while Hardy read his lines from cue cards in the front of the car.
One for the road…
NE EVENING, CONSTRUCTION foreman Ivan Locke (Tom Hardy) leaves his building site, gets in the car and starts driving. As he hits the motorway, he fields anxious phone calls from his wife (Ruth Wilson) and kids, waiting at home to watch the football with him; his boss (Ben Daniels), who’s nervous about the huge concrete pour scheduled for the morning; and his colleague Donal (Andrew Scott), whom he asks to oversee the operation in his absence. For the first time in his life, he’s going to let them all down. Why? “I have no choice,” he says. And this is not a man given to deviating from the plan. And that, give or take, is your lot in writer/director Steven Knight’s (Hummingbird) extraordinary real-time one-man drama. Voices blur in and out,
but there’s only a few moments where he really lets rip, playing out some ferocious father issues in the rear-view mirror (no accident there). In fact, he’s just as impressive when he’s calm, patiently trying to keep his life on track even as everything starts to veer off-map. Most dramas are about people forced into taking decisive action by their circumstances, but few have the courage to strip away so much of the bullshit. After 85 minutes you’ll have witnessed one man’s whole world shift its foundations while he – and you – were sitting still. Matt Glasby
‘An extraordinary one-man drama. Perhaps Hardy’s best performance’
THE VERDICT As engrossing as any thriller, this quietly shattering character study, like Locke himself, achieves exactly what it sets out to, with the minimum of fuss. › Certificate 15 Director Steven Knight
Starring Tom Hardy, Ruth Wilson, Olivia Colman, Andrew Scott, Tom Holland, Ben Daniels Screenplay Steven Knight Distributor Lionsgate Running time 85 mins
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reviews The original Jack Bauer had to torture terrorists with his finger gun.
Pompeii HHHHH Out 2 May
Only lava’s left alive
HE IDEA OF TAKING A contemporary action-thriller plot and planting it under the ashengrey skies of a deadly volcano in 79 AD is so gloriously stupid that it’s sort of impossible to resist. Sadly, by the end of Pompeii, you may find yourself cheering for the volcano. Paul W.S. Anderson bashes out this goofy disaster-romance mash-up with such a ruthless, heavy metal artlessness that it makes his popcorn-chomping Resident Evil series look Haneke-esque by comparison. The Titanic-by-way-of-Die Hard plot sees muscle-bound slave turned gladiator Milo (Game Of Thrones’ Kit Harington) fall for gorgeous rich girl Cassia (Emily Browning). After meeting on the roadside and being instantly smitten, Milo is sent to a lavish feast thrown by Cassia’s family. One of the party’s main events is a to-the-death battle between Milo and the reigning gladiator champ, Atticus (Adewale AkinnuoyeAgbaje). Also on deck for added intrigue: crooked Roman senator Corvus (Kiefer Sutherland), who just happens to be the evil bastard that slaughtered Milo’s family... That’s a lot of love, lust and murder for one man to handle, and things get even more complicated when Mount Vesuvius
decides to crash the party. Unlike the actual volcano, which smothered the residents of Pompeii under clouds of ash, the cinematic Vesuvius takes a more blockbuster-friendly approach to death: spewing molten missiles at the city in an orgy of fiery destruction. This alarming new development leaves our hunky hero with the task of having to kill bad guys and find his damsel in distress before he’s swallowed by lava or flash-melted into ash, all while wearing sandals. Essentially, the entire movie is a delivery system for the CGI-created eruption, which is indeed very impressive. Everything else? Blandly beautiful people and zero emotional involvement. It’s like the world’s longest videogame trailer. Ken McIntyre
THE VERDICT While it offers spectacular CGI devastation and a chiselled hero, Pompeii is so soulless and empty that you won’t shed any tears when the ‘cano blows its top. › Certificate 12A Director Paul W.S. Anderson
Starring Kit Harington, Emily Browning, Kiefer Sutherland, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje Screenplay Janet Scott Batchler, Lee Batchler, Michael Robert Johnson Distributor EOne Running time 104 mins
paths of glory
after the night
HHHHH Out 2 May
HHHHH Out 25 April
BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOUR IN Carlos Saldanha’s good-hearted, gorgeously animated, samba-packed sequel, in which Blu (Jesse Eisenberg) and his macaw family journey up the Amazon to find their relatives. With a father-in-law (Andy Garcia) and a love rival (Bruno Mars) both menacing Blu, there’s a touch of Little F(l)ockers – but the predictable plot gets an enjoyably venomous boost from Jemaine Clement’s revenge-obsessed cockatoo Nigel. The swooping 3D musical numbers pop with colour – but it’s hard to see where this feathered-family franchise could fly next. Kate Stables
STANLEY KUBRICK MADE HIS WW1 drama in 1957 – but it wasn’t shown in France till 1975. You can see why. One of the most bitterly angry anti-war movies ever made, it’s based on a true event on the Western Front in 1916 when three French privates chosen at random were scapegoated for the incompetence of their senior officers. The scenes of trench warfare are frighteningly vivid, and Kirk Douglas gives a searing performance as the officer assigned to the hopeless task of defending the three men. Look out for Kubrick’s future wife Christiane in the moving final scene. Philip Kemp
EVERY NATION HAS ITS MEAN STREETS. Here, the spotlight falls on Portugal, where wired ex-con Sombra (Pedro Ferreira) attempts to dodge violent debtors. Director Basil da Cunha’s debut is distinguished by its striking sense of place, use of non-professional actors and night shoots to uncover a forgotten corner of Europe. It’s a shame the accompanying story falls so flat. Some half-hearted magic realism paints Sombra as a tragic urban vampire – but da Cunha never fully embraces it. Instead, he settles for an over-familiar gangland saga, deep in hock to City Of God. Simon Kinnear
THE GREY POUND IS STILL CLEARLY A rich BO vein to be tapped judging by the desperate mugging of this farcical middle-aged caper. Emma Thompson and Pierce Brosnan star as bickering/ flirty exes who rope their neighbours (Celia Imrie and Timothy Spall, working hard) into a plot to steal a diamond from a dastardly businessman. Recalling the woeful Gambit remake, The Love Punch makes a virtue of its leads’ considerable charm and gorgeous French locations but is tonally wonky, comedically creaky and confuses light-as-a-soufflé with just plain silly. Bring on The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel 2. Jane Crowther
› Certificate U Running time 101 mins
› Certificate PG Running time 88 mins
› Certificate 15 Running time 99 mins
› Certificate 12A Running time 94 mins
HHHHH Out now
the love punch
HHHHH Out 18 April
June 2014 | Total Film | 49
see this if you liked… The Descendants 2011 Alexander Payne’s tragi-comedy gave Shailene Woodley her big break.
Crowd-surfing had always been top of her bucket list.
Limitless 2011 Bradley Cooper gets brainy in this head-trip from Divergent director Neil Burger. The Hunger Games 2012 More dystopian YA fun, as Jennifer Lawrence causes pandemonium in Panem. For full reviews of these films visit totalfilm.com/ cinema_reviews
Divergent HHHHH Out now
one their parents belong to. “It all works,” sighs our heroine Beatrice Prior (Shailene Woodley). “Everyone knows where they belong – except for me.” Though ostensibly part of the Abnegation faction that currently runs the government, she takes a test that reveals her as ‘Divergent’ – a rare mix of personality types seen as dangerous. Beatrice makes a decision that’s bad news for parents (Tony Goldwyn, Ashley Judd) but good news for stunt junkies, joining Dauntless (“our protectors, our soldiers, our police”), who seem to spend most of their time jumping out of moving trains. And that’s only the beginning: most of act two is Tris (as she renames herself) trying to survive basic training under two unforgiving instructors, Eric (Jai Courtney) and Four (Theo James), or risk “Dauntless being ejected for good. never give up” Zippy Burger handles The Birds set-pieces with panache, Judd-ment day from an exhilarating Roof-roll Erudite army zip-lining scene to a I am numb Four mind-trip that recalls Hitchcock’s avian classic. 28 56 84 112 140 But with a plot that’s more
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“Trust the test”
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Divergent scored a $54.6m opening weekend in the States, renewing the industry’s faith in YA adaps after a string of duds: The Host, Beautiful Creatures, The Mortal Instruments…
Lights, camera, faction.
ollywood’s YA obsession continues unabated, and for viewers still famished after two servings of The Hunger Games, here’s Divergent. Neil Burger’s movie follows Games’ blueprint to the letter: female teen lead coming of age in a dystopian future, with revolution and romance in the air. And there’s a hit trilogy of books, by Veronica Roth, to draw from. Where The Breakfast Club once divided teens into brain/athlete/princess/criminal/ basket case, Roth puts the adolescent notion of finding your place into a political context. Set in Chicago, 150 years into the future and a century after a war ravaged the land, a system is now in place to keep the peace, dividing society into five factions: Erudite, Candor, Dauntless, Abnegation and Amity. While every person is free to choose their faction, 95 per cent remain with the
set-up than pay-off, the final third never quite gels, as the intellectual Erudites, led by Kate Winslet, plot to claim power. Woodley is solid, but not able to prevent giggles during a particularly cheesy romantic clinch (“I don’t want to go too fast,” she simpers). What’s really missing are The Hunger Games’ hard edges. Moments that should be emotional aren’t; actors that are usually good (Miles Teller, as Tris’ Dauntless rival) aren’t. But with the world now established, there’s enough promise here to make film two, Insurgent, worth a punt. James Mottram
‘What’s really missing are The Hunger Games’ hard edges’
THE VERDICT Loyal to the novel, but welcoming enough for newbies, Divergent does a decent if not jawdropping job of bringing its dystopian world to life. Should stave off the Hunger pains for a while, anyway… › Certificate 12A Director Neil Burger Starring Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Kate Winslet, Zoë Kravitz, Miles Teller, Jai Courtney, Ashley Judd, Tony Goldwyn Screenplay Evan Daugherty, Vanessa Taylor Distributor EOne Entertainment Running time 139 mins Subscribe at www.totalfilm.com/subs
reviews His bid to smuggle red wine across the border had failed.
Blue Ruin HHHHH Out 2 May
A bumbling rampage of revenge...
here’s a scene in Blue Ruin where our vengeful hero, Dwight Evans (Macon Blair), is shot in the leg by a crossbow. Hobbling to a late-night store, he purchases pliers and a hacksaw and sets about some self-surgery. Only he’s not Rambo and Blue Ruin is not your everyday, predictable thriller. Cut to Dwight screaming and stumbling to hospital, his ragged leg now five times worse than it was before. A hit on the festival circuit, Jeremy Saulnier’s low-budget stunner starring his best mate from school is a compelling hybrid. It starts off as a slow-burn character study, offering little exposition as we track a bedraggled homeless guy with mental health issues. Then the mists of mystery drift away and Blue Ruin morphs into a revenge thriller splattered with moments of black comedy and existential horror. The plot, when it finally reveals itself, sees Dwight looking to take some Old Testament vengeance when the man who killed his parents is released from jail. But pulling a trigger is no simple feat and all is not as black and white as it first appeared. If Dwight was after closure he’s about to miss the target by some distance, while the whole figurative mess turns literal as violence
begets violence and Dwight finds himself taking on a clan of gun-toting rednecks. Along the way, Virginian native Saulnier makes bullseye comments on US gun culture and carefully undercuts the genre thrills by zooming in on the psychological after-effects of taking lives. Lensing the movie himself, he eschews stylistic quirks that might distract from his story and characters, and instead holds his handsome compositions as surely as the drama holds the viewer. Funny, violent and lobbing narrative curveballs like a young Schwarzenegger tossing hand grenades, Blue Ruin exerts its tension so covertly you’ll be shocked to discover that gasping noise in the cinema is being made by you.
THE VERDICT A cunning, suspenseful thriller that bears comparison to the Coen brothers’ Blood Simple, Blue Ruin is an impossible-to-ignore calling card from writer/director Jeremy Saulnier. Hollywood awaits. › Certificate 15 Director Jeremy Saulnier
Starring Macon Blair, Devon Ratray, Amy Hargreaves, Kevin Kolack Screenplay Jeremy Saulnier Distributor Picturehouse Entertainment Running time 90 mins
HHHHH Out now
HHHHH Out 18 April
a thousand times good night
Winner of last year’s Camera d’Or in Cannes, Anthony Chen’s touching 1997-set debut tells of a Filipino maid, Terry (Angeli Bayani), who comes to work for a Singapore family buckling under the pressure of economic recession. Painting a tough-but-realistic portrait of life as a domestic, Chen doesn’t simply trade on hardships, with the put-upon Terry’s bond with the family’s son Jiale (Koh Jia Ler) providing the film’s heart. As their early fights give way to growing respect, it’s a beautifully calibrated relationship, with small moments gradually building into something much bigger. A gem. James Mottram
when a mix-up in Mumbai’s famous ‘dabbawalla’ lunchbox delivery system leads to widower Sajaan (Irrfan Khan) receiving a stacked tiffin box assembled by unappreciated housewife Ila (Nimrat Kaur), it sparks an exchange of letters. A romance centred on a mix-up of lunchboxes? It’s as slight as it sounds, but there’s enough warmth and wit packed in to suggest this Indian charmer could have breakout potential. First-time writer/director Ritesh Batra deserves credit for mining gently captivating drama from a pitch that could have just ended with passive-aggressive Post-its left on the office fridge. Matt Maytum
Fraught and confusing to begin with, writer/director Sebastián Silva’s trippy arthouse horror doesn’t settle down for a good while – or at least before you realise that it’s fully intended to be a nervous-breakdown movie. Steeped in off-key intrigue, it follows Juno Temple’s tourist to a Chilean island, where’s she’s tormented by Michael Cera and pals, the local wildlife and, perhaps, something less tangible. Bringing to mind urbanoia flicks (eg 2008’s Long Weekend) and psychosexual dramas (eg 1971’s Let’s Scare Jessica To Death), it ebbs away at the climax, but there’s 45 minutes where it sings loud and strange. Matt Glasby
The ethical and emotional repercussions of war reporting come under fire when photographer Rebecca (Juliette Binoche) is injured on a shoot. Hubby Marcus (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) urges her to quit – but Rebecca’s compulsion isn’t so easily shrugged off. Director Erik Poppe’s worthy intentions are nearly undone by an undisciplined screenplay. Still, he marshals two strong performances: Binoche’s subtlety in unpacking her character’s complexity is no surprise, but newcomer Lauryn Canny, as Rebecca’s daughter, matches her co-star’s every beat. Simon Kinnear
› Certificate 12A Running time 99 mins
› Certificate PG Running time 104 mins
› Certificate 15 Running time 94 mins
› Certificate TBC Running time 113 mins
HHHHH Out 2 May
HHHHH Out 2 May
June 2014 | Total Film | 51
Captain America: The Winter Soldier HHHHH Out now
Cap tries to do the right thing on a mission impossible…
f Captain America solo movie cleverly positioned him as was still suffering a rep a propaganda tool in a move that toned as Marvel’s most boring down the comic character’s sometimes Avenger, this Phase 2 unpalatable patriotism. In The Winter Soldier sequel takes that notion he finally convinces as a badass. Even if and smashes it to dust he’s still driven to do the right thing, he’s with its super-shield. Post-Avengers Assemble, not going to sit back and take orders. A suit the Marvel Phase 2 movies (Iron Man 3, upgrade is the first step towards a leaner, Thor: The Dark World) have faced mounting meaner hero; its darker hue and practical pressure to deliver. And while The toughness make it an instant improvement Winter Soldier might not reach on the royal-blue lycra he was saddled the giddy heights of that with for Avengers Assemble. team-up, it works on its From the opening set-piece, talking own terms as a very dropping in on a ship captured point CA3 is set to go head-to-head satisfying blockbuster. by pirates, Cap sends goons with Warner Bros’ BatmanDo-gooder Steve flying via his super-serumboosted Man Of Steel sequel, Rogers’ (an earnest but assisted punches and kicks, with a US release dates of 6 May 2016. Unless one or other likeable Chris Evans) first while his trademark shield is backs down in the meantime…
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exploited more effectively as a weapon – think killer frisbee – than it has been on previous outings. The impact of the fight choreography is a pleasant surprise, given that directors Anthony and Joe Russo (taking over from Joe Johnston) have a background in comedy (Welcome To Collinwood, You, Me And Dupree, TV’s Community).
Some assembly required
And while this might be a solo outing, Marvel still understands the value of teamwork, and here Cap’s flanked by returnee ass-kicker Natasha Romanoff/ Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and newcomer Anthony Mackie’s Sam Wilson (AKA The Falcon). The central trio are forced into a fugitive alliance when the Subscribe at www.totalfilm.com/subs
reviews see this if you liked... CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER 2011 Chris Evans’ first outing as Steve Rogers features a satisfying origin story before some forgettable action montages. MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – GHOST PROTOCOL 2011 Cruise and co. go off the grid in an espionage actioner that makes a virtue out of teamwork. AVENGERS ASSEMBLE 2012 Cap barely has time to get to grips with the modern world before he’s drafted in to duff up aliens. For full reviews of these films visit totalfilm.com/ cinema_reviews
The ‘shocked and surprised’ acting masterclass had really paid off.
threat of a seemingly unstoppable assassin (the bionic-armed, Thrilled guyliner-sporting baddie Entertained of the title) points to a bigger conspiracy Nodding Off within S.H.I.E.L.D. itself. In a Mission: ImpossibleZzzzzzzzz... esque spin, Cap and running Time Widow (with the help of former veteran Wilson) go off the grid Ghost Protocol-style to sniff out the root of the problem. Mackie makes for a nice addition, stealing several of the funniest lines, and getting a clutch of nice action moments in the flying supersuit (replacing the comics’ red spandex). Johansson, meanwhile, crackles once again, her Widow continuing to more than hold her own against her superpowered counterpart. An equal to Cap himself in totalfilm.com
predicted interest curve™ Security measures
Elevated pulse The Winter Soldier unmasked
Credits sting #1 Credits sting #2
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terms of her importance to the mission (and almost in screentime), she delivers another killer turn that even a drab wig fails to dampen. A spin-off movie is starting to look more essential than inevitable. Scar-Jo’s been on an astonishing and varied run of form recently (Don Jon, Her, Under The Skin) and it’s to her credit that Romanoff feels like another string on her bow rather than a blemish on her CV.
‘Consistently entertaining, it clips along with a swagger’ Despite its running time (it’s Marvel’s second longest movie, after Avengers Assemble), it never drags thanks to a consistent line in bruising set-pieces. From explosive car chases to heli-jet scrambles (via some relentless shield-slinging antics), TWS works best as an action film. Unsurprisingly, given their backgrounds, the Russo brothers manage to inject a fair amount of humour into a property that’s not as gag-friendly as Iron Man or Thor. Most of the laughs are delivered via the snappy dialogue, and the documenting of Rogers’ continued efforts to keep up with the modern age (“the internet’s so helpful…”).
While the conspiratorial antics are effective enough to drive the story forward, it’s hardly likely to appeal to anyone looking for the next Three Days Of The Condor (even if Robert Redford does add some welcome, old-school star power as S.H.I.E.L.D. top dog Alexander Pierce). A handful of plot swerves can be predicted a mile off, and whether or not you already know the ‘secret’ identity of The Winter Soldier, the reveal rings a tad hollow. In fact, if the sequel suffers anywhere, it’ll be attracting superhero-adverse outsiders. Casual references to Marvel mythology are batted about so faintly in the background that they’ll be totally unnoticed by the uninitiated. Quibbles aside, the movie hits all the Saturday-night blockbuster beats so effectively, it’s hard to complain. Consistently entertaining, it clips along with the swagger that Marvel has earned as the dominant force in modern blockbusters, steamrolling the sillier plot points. And the end result does at least help to bring around some seismic shifts to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a brave move from a studio unwilling to rest on their (ridiculously successful) laurels. Matt Maytum
THE VERDICT With a string of gratifying action sequences, and a breakneck pace leavened by a frequently witty script, The Winter Soldier stands alone as a solidly entertaining blockbuster. › Certificate 12A Director Anthony Russo, Joe Russo Starring Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Redford Screenplay Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely Distributor Disney Running time 136 mins June 2014 | Total Film | 53
Worst ‘no make-up’ selfie ever.
Willow Creek HHHHH Out 2 May
Bobcat searches for Bigfoot…
ust when you thought it was safe to go back in the woods – or, more likely, just when you thought you couldn’t stand one more found-footage film set in the woods – along comes Bobcat Goldthwait (World’s Greatest Dad, God Bless America) with a scruffy little mockumentary to scare your cynicism away. What’s even more surprising is that it’s so very charming, with chuckle following chuckle as we meet the oddball characters (real locals, mainly) that populate the titular home of Bigfoot and the schlocky tourist trade that pumps lifeblood into the community. Jim (Bryce Johnson) is a Sasquatch nut. Dragging his girlfriend Kelly (Alexie Gilmore) to the North Californian town of Willow Creek, he sets about interviewing the natives for a YouTube documentary. With footage bagged and a ginormous Bigfoot Burger snaffled (toes and all), he then insists Kelly accompany him as he re-tracks the route taken in the (in)famous Patterson-Gimlin film – considered the holy grail of Bigfoot recordings. Night falls and the tone begins to darken… As in The Blair Witch Project, Willow Creek’s terror tactics are all about what you
don’t see, while the source of the chills is kept ambiguous: over-active imagination, pissed-off locals or honest-to-God beastie? What is for sure is that a DIY movie that has just 67 cuts culminates in a 19-minute static take that is damn-near unbearable to watch; the actors’ genuine fear (also like Blair Witch, they didn’t have a clue what was coming) proving all too infectious. If you like subtext with your scares, there’s plenty here to chew on, with the real fear on display (perhaps) being Jim’s terror of commitment, which (arguably) manifests itself in alarmingly oedipal form. The truth, like Bigfoot himself, is a slippery beast that will take a different form in each viewer’s mind. But whatever your theory, Willow Creek is a movie to believe in. Jamie Graham
THE VERDICT Zed from the Police Academy movies again proves he’s a capable, versatile filmmaker with a comedy-horror that’s both warm and chilling. Hunt it down. › Certificate TBC Director Bobcat Goldthwait Starring Bryce Johnson, Alexie Gilmore Screenplay Bobcat Goldthwait Distributor Kaleidoscope Running time TBC
you & me forever
we are the freaks
This Kickstarted-funded resurrection of the TV show plays as equal parts fan service and stand-alone triumph. Nine years on from the series’ downbeat end, formerly law-bending PI Veronica (Kristen Bell) has gone legit – but she’s pulled back to her California hometown by a murder mystery involving several ex-classmates. The filmmakers are plainly conscious of the literal debt they owe their fans, but newbies won’t be alienated. This is a taut, sharp-tongued, characterdriven thriller that makes a compelling case for its heroine’s continued existence. Catherine Simpson
We know new girl Maria (Frederikke Dahl Hansen) is trouble the second we see her necking absinthe straight from the bottle after school. Before long, she’s driving a wedge between virginal Laura (Julie Anderson) and her best friend Christine (Emilie Kruse) with intoxicating tales of gender-bending and staying up past 10 on a homework night. Charting the passage between late-adolescence and adulthood, this blisteringly realistic Danish coming-of-age drama is smarter than most and superbly performed – parental bust-ups, excruciating seductions and all. Ali Catterall
A group of small-time crooks fall foul of a powerful crime lord and have to pull off their biggest job yet to pay their debts… Sound familiar? Trading the mean streets of East London for the picture-postcard hotspots of Miami, Plastic remains a Brit crime flick in the well-worn Lock, Stock tradition. Trouble is, much as it tries to prove otherwise, it’s nowhere near as subversive, stylish or witty as Guy Ritchie’s debut – hampered by thoroughly unlikeable characters that not even its talented young cast (Ed Speleers, Will Poulter, Alfie Allen) can make you root for. Richard Jordan
“I hate films where people talk to camera!” misfit Jack (Jamie Blackley) talks-to-camera in an opening monologue that sets the self-referential tone for Justin Edgar’s comedy. What follows continues in the same vein as this feckless bank clerk and his two ineffectual pals embark on a wild night in Birmingham to only marginally amusing effect. The Thatcher-era detail is the only fresh element in a film that otherwise sticks to the Inbetweeners Movie template. Mohawked rich kid Chunks (Sean Teale) is alone in leaving an impression, though only by being the most obnoxious one. Neil Smith
› Certificate 12A Running time 107 mins
› Certificate PG Running time 106 mins
› Certificate TBC Running time 102 mins
› Certificate 15 Running time 80 mins
HHHHH Out now
54 | Total Film | June 2014
HHHHH Out 25 April
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HHHHH Out 25 April
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HHHHH Out 25 April
HHHHH Out 25 April
an episode in the life of an iron picker
Bette Davis. Winston Churchill. The Beatles. Just a few of the many famous faces captured on film with understated drama by photographer Jane Bown during her time at The Observer. This gentle, no-frills doc eschews music to let the images do the talking – Bown’s striking snaps are the real stars. Through interviews with a frail-looking Bown (she’s now 89), we’re also given insight into her fascinating personal history, which suggests just why she was so good at capturing people at their most vulnerable and interesting. Josh Winning
Based on the true story of drug trafficking in Gibraltar, featuring two charismatic leads, and written by A Prophet scribe Abdel Raouf Dafri, Julian Leclercq’s French thriller should be unmissable, rather than merely – and sometimes just nearly – competent. Marc (Gilles Lellouche) is a broke bar owner who starts selling smuggling tip-offs to government spook Redjani (Tahar Rahim) but soon finds himself sailing into stormy waters. Though there are exciting sequences, the roles are underwritten, the dubbing’s disastrous and the tension lessens even as the net tightens. Matt Glasby
Eytan Fox’s feelgood Israeli musical-comedy follows six friends, united by their love of a Eurovisionesque song contest, who stumble into becoming their nation’s official entrants. The giddily entertaining, cheerfully camp result is infused with the spirit of early Almodóvar in its brash décor, knockabout plotting and surprising substance. As the band rebels against a focus-group makeover, Fox subtly shifts from kitschy fable to breezy satire on the gap between private liberalism and public conservatism. The subtext is worn lightly, though; this is a natural crowd-pleaser. Simon Kinnear
The title of this docudrama, set in rural Bosnia, may be unwieldy but it’s also laced with bitter irony: that understated ‘episode’ describes a real-life national scandal in which an impoverished Roma couple, portraying themselves, frantically attempt to pay for the wife’s life-saving surgery after she miscarries – facing red tape and prejudice at every corner. Played out with agonising matter-of-factness against a wintry backdrop of chimneys and tips, it’s a grim, if quietly compelling affair. (It also makes you terribly grateful for the NHS.) Ali Catterall
› Certificate TBC Running time 90 mins (tbc)
› Certificate 15 Running time 116 mins
› Certificate 15 Running time 90 mins
› Certificate 12A Running time 74 mins
Looking for light: Jane Bown HHHHH Out 25 April
She wasn’t letting him off the lead again…
Tracks HHHHH Out 25 April
A whole new meaning to ‘camel toe’…
n 1977, Robyn Davidson attempted the insane: trekking 1,700 miles across the Australian Outback with just four camels and a dog for company. With Davidson turning her nine-month odyssey into a bestselling book, Tracks is now brought to the big screen. Under John Curran’s (The Painted Veil, We Don’t Live Here Anymore) direction, Mia Wasikowska plays this intrepid lady – a case of Alice In Wonderland in Alice Springs, you might say… Anchored by a voiceover, we begin with Davidson’s prep: saving her cents, working for a foul camel rancher and facing sexism from just about anyone she encounters. Craving solitude, the only way she can fund her expedition is by petitioning National Geographic. The magazine agrees to bankroll the journey on one condition – that American photographer Rick Smolan (Adam Driver) occasionally joins her. It’s soon clear that the spiky Davidson has little interest in sharing her desert exploits with the chatty snapper, though their occasional get-togethers give Tracks some much-needed fuel. While it’s not quite Cast Away or All Is Lost, Wasikowska still has to hold the screen alone for much totalfilm.com
HHHHH Out 25 April
of the time (or at least alongside her animal accomplices), something she does with her usual quiet grace. Cinematographer Mandy Walker shoots the widescreen landscapes with an almost hallucinogenic beauty – echoing Davidson’s own increasing dizziness (in one scene she meets a hyperactive biker – a moment that deliberately feels like a mirage). The trouble with Tracks is that it suffers from a necessary monotony – a consequence of Davidson going walkabout across miles of endless sand dunes. There are moving moments (especially if you’re a canine lover) but Davidson’s unwillingness to open up never makes her the most amenable Queen of the Desert. The result, emotionally speaking, leaves you a bit parched. James Mottram
THE VERDICT Right down to the sunburn and chapped lips, Tracks is an authentic desert drama. A little more psychological insight wouldn’t have gone amiss, though. › Certificate 12A Director John Curran
Starring Mia Wasikowska, Adam Driver, Emma Booth, Jessica Tovey, Rainer Bock Screenplay Marion Nelson Distributor E1 Entertainment Running time 112 mins
June 2014 | Total Film | 55
see this if you liked... the bible: in the beginning 1966 Actor/director John Huston turns Genesis into cinema, playing Noah to boot.
There was nothing worse than getting your outfit wet in the rain.
THE fountain 2006 Aronofsky gets to grips with metaphysics via a bald Hugh Jackman. Take shelter 2011 Another vision-plagued man (Michael Shannon) battens down the hatches. For full reviews of these films visit totalfilm.com/ cinema_reviews
Noah HHHHH Out now
Aronofsky takes liberties with scripture and indulges in some bold stylistic choices. Roaming the devastated landscape are The Watchers, monolithic fallen angels who seem to have crawled off a workbench in Ray Harryhausen’s studio. Elsewhere, the story of Genesis is recounted via strobing time-lapse images and Clint Mansell’s spacey score proves conducive to the odd hallucinatory flourish. That said, Aronofsky’s riskiest – and most rewarding – decision is positioning the flood as the centrepiece of his film rather than the climax. A ferocious onslaught of CGI and practical effects, it’s one of the more impressively orchestrated disasters unleashed on the big screen. Furthermore, it makes no bones about the casualties associated with this act of In the beginning… God. A shot of doomed souls hopelessly clinging to First Will he? the last vestiges of land is wave Won’t he? sure to rattle even the most Give yourself Family feud hardened moviegoer. to the dark side But it’s with good Lerman difficulties reason that Aronofsky’s 52 78 104 130 film draws its name from
predicted interest curve™ Creator asks a favour
Arc of the ark
Fallen angels fight dirty
Zzzzzzzzz... running Time
Prophetic dream 0
56 | Total Film | June 2014
Without Aronofsky’s knowledge, Paramount test-screened various cuts. After every version met with disapproval, they relented and allowed the director to retain final cut of his film.
Ark of darkness...
arren Aronofsky’s Noah couldn’t be accused of being slavishly faithful to its source material. At the same time, it hasn’t taken the greatest deluge ever told and reduced it to fodder for mindless spectacle. Rather, it’s a work of remarkable ambition and often awesome execution that uses its themes to anchor its lavish visuals and sweeping drama. Having watched the world be corrupted by Cain’s cold-blooded descendants, The Creator has decided to cleanse it with a vengeance. Noah (Russell Crowe, well-suited to such sombre material) receives his divine orders through a corpse-strewn vision: assemble an ark that can withstand the impending great flood and preserve the animal kingdom. Recognising that the Bible has left itself somewhat open to interpretation,
the deeply conflicted man who survives it (and provides Crowe with his best role in years). Noah is reimagined here as a proto-environmentalist whose values and beliefs are an affront to Tubal-cain (a fearsome Ray Winstone) and his barbarian hordes. As the outsider determines the fate of his family (Jennifer Connelly, Emma Watson and Logan Lerman), guilt and doubt tear at his conscience. As such, the film’s most tumultuous scenes actually arrive once the waters have stilled. While there’s still a formidable adversary for Noah to overcome, the film hinges on his struggles with his devotion. Mustering elemental levels of anguish, Crowe ensures it’s a riveting showdown. Curtis Woloschuk
‘The flood is an impressively orchestrated screen disaster’
THE VERDICT Aronofsky’s first bona-fide blockbuster is a sweat-stained labour of love. Audacious and uncompromising, it’s a legitimate epic. › Certificate 12A Director Darren Aronofsky Starring Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Ray Winstone, Emma Watson, Logan Lerman Screenplay Darren Aronofsky, Ari Handel Distributor Paramount Running time 138 mins Subscribe at www.totalfilm.com/subs
rebel without a cause
east of eden
Adapted for the screen by the author, John Banville’s Booker Prize winning novel becomes a heavy, sometimes gruelling meditation on memory and grief. Historian Max (Ciarán Hinds) seeks to recover from the death of his wife by returning to the Irish seaside location of a dark childhood tragedy. We live out both timelines over 90 minutes with a colourful filter on the childhood arc and lots of grim shots of a near-suicidal Hinds wandering the beach in the present. He carries it easily, but it’s impossible to escape the sense that Banville’s work is best experienced on paper. Ed Holden
Of the three movies James Dean starred in before his tragically early death at 24, this is the one he’ll always be remembered for. Incarnating, even more so than Marlon Brando, the post-war crazy mixed-up kid, at odds with his family, his school and with society at large, Dean’s Jim Stark is maybe the closes ’50s Hollywood ever got to existentialism. Nicholas Ray’s 1955 film extends sympathy to all its characters, not just the kids, though the central trio of Dean, Natalie Wood and Sal Mineo focus our emotions. Uncannily enough, Dean’s co-stars would also both meet with premature violent deaths. Philip Kemp
James Dean’s final film, released in 1956 after his death, makes for a disappointing epitaph. The combination of director George Stevens and source novelist Edna Ferber, both given to expressions of overblown high seriousness, yields a long, slow, achingly self-important movie. Rock Hudson is a cattle baron, Dean is a maverick rancher who strikes oil, and Liz Taylor is the woman they both love. The triangle plays out down the years – and feels like it – with Dean bizarrely portraying a middle age he never reached. Compensations are Dimitri Tiomkin’s epic score and William Mellor’s widescreen lensing of the Texan landscapes. Philip Kemp
The 1955 film that launched James Dean into his brief, doomed stardom was adapted from a bloated novel by John Steinbeck about two brothers, one bad and one good (Cain and Abel, right?) competing for their dad’s love in 1917 Salinas. Elia Kazan’s movie version is almost equally turgid and portentous, but catches fire in the clashes between Dean (as the bad brother) and Raymond Massey as his stiff-necked dad. The two actors loathed each other, and Kazan wasn’t above exploiting their hostility to up the tension. Jo Van Fleet reaped an Oscar as Dean’s estranged mother turned brothel-madam. Philip Kemp
› Certificate 12A Running time 86 mins
› Certificate PG Running time 111 mins
› Certificate PG Running time 197 mins
› Certificate PG Running time 115 mins
the strange colour of your body’s tears
the quiet ones
There’s good news and bad for fans of Amer (2009), Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani’s hallucinatory art-horror debut. The good: this super-strength second helping features even more bodily tears and even stranger colours. The bad: it’s even more indulgent. The plot sees Klaus Tange’s Dan searching for his wife in a Brussels apartment building beset by stabby, psychosexual intrigue. Though gorgeously shot and soundtracked, the fetishisation of sensation over sense gets frustrating, fast. The result is a love letter to the giallo genre spelled out in cut-up ransom-note writing – striking, but impossible to read. Matt Glasby
What seems like a promising homegrown horror turns out to be just another shaky-cam shock-fest. Produced by Hammer, featuring a fine young cast and painted in stylish ’70s hues, it certainly looks the part, with grainy Super 8 stock putting a vintage sheen on a choke of clichés. There’s creepy dolls, cameras tipped on their side, blasts of white noise and a horny teenage Scooby gang helping Jared Harris’ Oxford prof stir up a poltergeist in the mind of a moody emo girl (Olivia Cooke). Sam Claflin plays the videographer whose occasionally found footage adds bursts of atmosphere, but jump-heavy scares numb the nerves long before the finale. Paul Bradshaw
Set in the ‘70s and early ‘80s, this conspiracy thriller recounts the true-life tale of the Norwegian divers who risked their lives to lay a pipeline on the ocean floor when oil and gas were discovered in the North Sea. Headhunters’ Aksel Hennie rocks a quality moustache as star frogman Petter, determined to blow the whistle on corporate foul play. Pioneer features underwater sequences so breathless they’ll thrill even James Cameron (director Erik Skjoldbjærg made the original Insomnia) but Petter’s truth-chasing is at times too frantic and melodramatic. The string score, meanwhile – all frets and threats – drowns the action. Jamie Graham
Kirsten Dunst’s 2012 mirrorworld movie Upside Down was slammed in the US, but Yasuhiro Yoshiura’s anime fable makes nifty work of a similar world-inverted motif. At heart it’s a coming-of-ager about two teens and their oppressive elders, with the clever spin that youngsters Age and Patema occupy alternaworlds with opposing gravitational pulls. The themes (rebellion, prejudice...) and panto villains lapse into broad strokes, but Yoshiura’s world-building doesn’t: from the texture of the underground havens to the idea that our leads have to – literally – cling to each other lest gravity tears them apart, it’s a wonder of detail and ingenuity. Kevin Harley
› Certificate 18 Running time 102 mins
› Certificate 15 Running time 98 mins
› Certificate 15 Running time 111 mins
› Certificate pg Running time 98 mins
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It obviously gets chilly upstairs.
Exhibition HHHHH Out 25 April
rit director Joanna Hogg’s latest features a dapper estate agent played by the god of mischief himself, Tom Hiddleston. Dark worlds? Hogg’s movies are full of them. In her earlier films, Unrelated and Archipelago, Hogg anatomised repressed tensions between posh relatives abroad. Her third is an equally pointed, acutely acted exploration of reticence. But the location is a London home and the subject is the unease created by a lack of family. A discomforting sense of voyeurism sets in as Hogg uses odd camera angles to introduce D (Viv Albertine) and H (Liam Gillick), a mid-life couple who work from a designer home. He’s an architect and she’s an artist, but other issues divide them. He communicates his sex needs by intercom while they work in separate offices. H wants to know what D is working on; D worries H will belittle her. When they decide to sell their home, the pending upheaval threatens to expose the fissures. As D strikes curious art-dance poses, masturbates and escapes from dinner dates, the after-effects of some unstated past trauma are carefully suggested. These subtle currents gain traction from non-
professional casting: conceptual artist Gillick makes no-nonsense work of the curt H, but it’s the sight of former punk extrovert Albertine in an introverted role that strikes the quietest ‘off’ note. Despite leaning towards over-stylisation, Hogg’s studied images capture the tension of a precarious relationship. The restraint makes every minor eruption roar: arguments outside and sound-mix rumbles inside (H’s office door is a third player in the partnership) speak volumes. True, Hogg humanises the set-up with ripples of warmth, but it’s her evocation of a horror-style psychodrama through hints of domestic disquiet that lingers with you. Even Loki would feel on edge in this haunted home. Kevin Harley
THE VERDICT Hogg’s third film mounts a dead-on study of disconnection. You wouldn’t know the leads are non-pros: Gillick and Albertine nail all the fine details of a push-pull dynamic with magnetic precision. › Certificate 15 Director Joanna Hogg
Starring Viv Albertine, Liam Gillick, Tom Hiddleston, Harry Kershaw Screenplay Joanna Hogg Distributor Artificial Eye Running time 105 mins
we are the best!
the motel life
A Spanish animation about Alzheimer’s disease, set in a care home, this bleak, funny, sympathetic and desperately sad film is based on a comic book by Paco Roca. Redubbed here by an American cast lead by a brilliantly bewildered Martin Sheen, its shuffling pace and basic animation all add to the heartbreak as the protagonists slowly unravel, even as they fight to keep a grip. At one point the old folk make an ill-fated break for freedom, and their confusion, defiance, fear and longing for a normal, dignified life make this nothing less than Juan Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. Emma Johnston
Lukas Moodysson scores a crowd-pleaser after a few years in the wilderness with this return to the tender, bittersweet nostalgia of the rep-making Together (2000). Centred on the iron bond between three teen girls (Mira Barkhammar, Mira Grosin, Liv LeMoyne) who form a punk band in 1982 Stockholm, We Are The Best! sees Moodysson’s terrific way with young performers again on display. This is a refreshingly bullshit-free look at life as a 13-year-old misfit, with all the volcanic and silly passions that emerge. And yes, it sails through the Bechdel test. Andrew Lowry
If you didn’t know an Americana songwriter – Richmond Fontaine’s Willy Vlautin – wrote the source novel for Alan and Gabe Polsky’s debut, you might guess. Focused on two troubled but tight brothers (Emile Hirsch and Stephen Dorff) who flee a hit’n’run in Nevada, it unfolds like a minor-key folk ballad. As our runaways drift, drink and ponder their life-bruised hopes, the Polskys’ mix of surreal fantasy and rugged US iconography (railroads, Kris Kristofferson) makes up in emotional pull what it lacks in propulsion. Fans of indie cinema’s mood-movie fringes, check in. Kevin Harley
Trapped in a groundhog day hell that’s an endless loop of the same meatloaf, lame jokes, chores and reruns, a teenage ghost (Abigail Breslin) incurs the wrath of a spectral serial killer (Stephen McHattie). Sadly, Vincenzo Natali never quite replicates the claustrophobic dread he conjured in Cube. He also struggles to disclose the backstory without sacrificing forward momentum. And yet… though his haunted-house tale ultimately lacks the strong storytelling its high concept calls for, it still compels with its ambition, occasional eloquence, and heart-in-theright-place vibe. Curtis Woloschuk
› Certificate 15 Running time 89 mins
› Certificate 15 Running time 102 mins
› Certificate 15 Running time 90 mins
› Certificate 15 Running time 97 mins
HHHHH Out 18 April
58 | Total Film | May 2014
HHHHH Out 18 April
HHHHH Out now
HHHHH Out now
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khumba: A ZEBRA’S TALE
half of a yellow sun
HHHHH Out 11 April
HHHHH Out 11 April
A tyrannical king living in a labyrinthine castle comes between a beautiful shepherdess and a brave, good-hearted chimney sweep. Only a plucky mockingbird can save the day. Sixty years in the making (it was started in 1948, partially finished in 1952 and reworked by director Paul Grimault for a limited 1980 release), TKATM is a masterpiece of animation and imagination. Hayao Miyazaki cites it as a major influence, and fans of Studio Ghibli will thrill to the tenderly explored themes – class, nature, love, grief – and poetic, witty visuals. Jamie Graham
This likeable but limp South African ’toon about a half-striped zebra aims to reclaim its continent’s wildlife from Hollywood safaris like The Lion King. Sadly, it’s too timid to survive against feistier competition. Everything is leftovers, from the lazy casting of dependable but typecast stars (Liam Neeson, Steve Buscemi), to a quest structure Robert McKee would dismiss as formulaic. Even the film’s key source of charm, its heartfelt allegory about tolerance, becomes a flaw when rare flashes of anarchy (notably a tribe of crazed rodents) are eclipsed by over earnestness. Simon Kinnear
A film of two halves, too. Chiwetel Ejiofor stars in Biyi Bandele’s ambitious but unbalanced adaptation of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s multi-angle novel about the Nigerian Civil War, where personal ructions between two sisters (Thandie Newton, Anika Noni Rose) and their men (Ejiofor, Joseph Mawle) suffer the further ructions of political strife. Bandele’s keen handling of cast and domestic conflict makes for a nuanced historical epic, but he’s less sure on the big stuff: tedious newsreel footage punctuated by jolting explosions doesn’t, alas, quite add up to a full picture . Kevin Harley
› Certificate U Running time 84 mins
› Certificate U Running time 85 mins
› Certificate 15 Running time 111 mins
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the king and the mockingbird
There’s no ‘almost’: this horrendously misjudged, far-fromromantic comedy fails totally. When hubby-to-be Kyle (Philip McGinley) gets an STD on his stag do, he has to resist the advances of fiancée Lydia (Emily Atack) until he gets the all-clear. The resulting farce relies on siding with a cheat’s outlandish attempts to hide his indiscretion. Director Ben Cookson adopts a tone of blithe jollity at odds with the film’s bitter gender politics and the sniggering laddishness makes for an unpleasant date movie even before a predictable twist reveals the misogynistic core. Simon Kinnear
› Certificate 15 Running time 97 mins
HHHHH Out 11 April
He was pleased with his Apollo 13 costume.
The Last Days On Mars HHHHH Out now
Night of the living red planet…
t’s a question even David Bowie couldn’t answer. Is there life on Mars? Well if Irish director Ruairí Robinson’s debut feature is anything to go by, there is indeed – and it ain’t pretty… Nearing the end of a research mission to Mars, the crew of the Tantalus Base look set to return home empty-handed when science officer Petrovic (Goran Kostic) finds evidence of a new strain of bacteria on the surface. His field trip for a live sample doesn’t go quite as planned, forcing the captain (Elias Koteas) and his first officer (Liev Schreiber) to lead a rescue mission. Just who needs rescuing, however, is soon up for debate. Playing like an indie Prometheus without the grand concept, TLDOM is a zombies-inspace movie that wears its influences on its sleeve. From Alien to The Thing via every claustrophobic sci-fi thriller and living-dead infection horror of note, no genre cliché is left unturned as, one-by-one, the Tantalus employees fall victim to the pathogen. While the film’s derivative plot certainly doesn’t win any points for originality, Robinson’s solid direction (no doubt a talent totalfilm.com
to watch) ensures there’s at least a palpable sense of atmospheric tension – helped by the impressively ambitious production design and Max Richter’s eerily sombre score. There’s some effective stalk-andslash/maim/eat sequences too, especially once the rabid, infected crewmembers force their way back into the Tantalus. The multi-national ensemble cast – led by a suitably gruff Schreiber – are also game, with Olivia Williams’ tactless hard-ass and Johnny Harris’ snivelling survivalist managing to rise well above their stock-character limitations. Even they can’t overcome the film’s major stumbling block, though – you really have seen it all before. Richard Jordan
THE VERDICT A taut, tense yet hugely indebted debut, Ruairí Robinson’s survival horror manages to break free from its low-budget limitations but is hamstrung by its own love of the genre. › Certificate 15 Director Ruairí Robinson
Starring Liev Schreiber, Elias Koteas, Romola Garai, Olivia Williams, Johnny Harris Screenplay Clive Dawson Distributor Universal Running time 98 mins
June 2014 | Total Film | 59
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> Box office charts 24.02.14 – 23.03.14
MR. PEABODY & SHERMAN
Good job it’s done well, given it reportedly cost a splutter-worthy $145m. What…? How…? Server downtime? Long lunches? Did Leslie Mann’s voice melt the recording booth?.
1 The LEGO Movie HHHH 2 Non-Stop HH 3 300: Rise Of An Empire HHH 4 The Grand Budapest Hotel HHHH 5 Ride Along H 6 Need For Speed HH 7 The Book Thief HHH 8 Mr. Peabody & Sherman HHH 9 12 Years A Slave HHHH 10 Tinker Bell And The Pirate Fairy HH
weeks out there
Uk Top 10
£10.8m £31.1m 6 £8.1m £8.1m 4 £6.9m £6.9m 3 £6.3m £6.3m 3 £3.9m £3.9m 4 £3.7m £3.7m 2
300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE
Lots of carping over historical inaccuracies; the biggie being the digital FX, when they would have course done it all ‘in camera’ (bath toys for boats, etc), in those ancient times.
£2.1m £12.6m 7 £1.5m £19.2m 11 £1.3m £5.1m 6
1 300: Rise Of An Empire HHH 2 Mr. Peabody & Sherman HHH 3 Non-Stop H H 4 The LEGO Movie HHHH 5 Son Of God N/A 6 Divergent HHH 7 Need For Speed HH 8 The Monuments Men HH 9 3 Days To Kill N/A 10 Muppets Most Wanted HHH
weeks out there
NEED FOR SPEED
No current scheduled UK release for this biopic of Jared Leto’s doppelganger (a cut-and-shut of TV’s The Bible) so we’ll have to park our ‘coming soon’ gag for another time.
A not-quite-Twilight but still sizeable opening. Quick, someone re-edit Shailene Woodley back into The Amazing Spider-Man 2! Who’s got the USB stick?! Check the trash folder!
£3.4m £3.4m 5
Us Top 10
SON OF GOD
$93.6m $93.6m 3
Serious points on the licence for this underperforming racing-game adap; most put it down to a script that does for the English language what motorways do for hedgehogs.
$81.1m $81.1m 3 $78.7m $78.7m 4 $60.4m $243.4m 7 $55.7m $55.7m 4 $54.6m $54.6m 1 $30.6m $30.6m 2 $17.8m $75.7m 7 $17.5m $29.7m 5 $17m $17m 1
MUPPETS MOST WANTED
Less wanted Stateside than 2011’s The Muppets, but sure to pick up the pace in the UK – so it’s not quite time to de-light the lights, stop the music or send Piggy to the Spam factory.
> Still out, still good… Our pick of the movies out now
The Raid 2 HHHHH “Sumptuously shot, perfectly paced and flat-out exhilarating, The Raid 2 cements Gareth Evans as the best action director working today. Fight aficionados should brace themselves for a bruising, blistering ride. Brilliant.” Calvary HHHHH “Anchored by a truly sensational performance by Brendan Gleeson, this unexpected blend of passion play, detective story, rural comedy and inquiry into faith is destined for classic status… Just maybe the best Irish film ever made.” Starred Up HHHH “The details ring true and the performances smart in David Mackenzie’s prison movie. You wouldn’t meet star Jack O’Connell’s tasty glare in a boozer, but try taking your eyes off him here. Consider this a break-out.” 60 | Total Film | June 2014
> Reviews just in!
Head to www.totalfilm.com for up-to-the-minute movie reviews Not that you’d know it, unless you have eyeballs, ears and the internet, but there’s a new Spidey movie coming out: The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (18 April), which is a supercut of all the teasers, trailers and footage previews released over the last 24 months, plus some other bits. This time it’s Jamie
Foxx wanting to pull our hero’s legs off/wash him down the sink, as human pylon Electro. The Other Woman (23 April) is the new John Tucker Must Die, if that means anything to anyone. Cameron Diaz, Leslie Mann and Kate Upton team up for revenge on three-timer Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, including
spiking his coffee to give him moobs. Male pectorals will also loom large in Tarzan (2 May), a mo-cap take on the legend starring Kellan Lutz and other famous people. Produced by ex-Tarzan Christophe Lambert, Brick Mansions (2 May) is a Paul Walker-led remake of parkour classic District 13.
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gift pack for total film readers * limited edition bag tag, double-sided poster and interactive dvd!
t’s great to be Spider-Man (Andrew Garfield). There’s nothing quite like swinging between skyscrapers, being the hero and spending time with Gwen (Emma Stone), but being a superhero comes at a price, as only he can protect his fellow New Yorkers
from the formidable villains that threaten the city. With the emergence of Electro (Jamie Foxx), Peter must confront a foe far more powerful than himself. And, as his old friend Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan) returns, Peter comes to realise that all of his enemies
have one thing in common: OsCorp. As he struggles between the ordinary obligations of Peter Parker and the extraordinary responsibilities of Spider-Man, a great conflict lies ahead for our hero in The Amazing Spider-Man 2.
To celebrate the release of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 on 18 April we have teamed up with Sony Pictures Releasing to bring you a stunning special offer. Get your web shooters on a free gift pack of limited edition goodies including a bag tag, double-sided poster and interactive DVD packed with videos, downloads and social media content. To claim your gifts, simply email your name and address with the subject header ‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2 free offer’ to email@example.com Alternatively you can claim your gift pack online at www.mediapromos.co.uk/ amazingspiderman2 (P&P applies if you claim through the website).
the amazing spider-man 2 in cinemas 18 april Spider-Man and related characters and elements: TM & © 2014 Marvel. The Amazing Spider-Man 2, the Movie © 2014 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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words james Mottram
Angelina Jolie oozes sex and sadism as the 13th fairy in this magical epic – Total Film spins the yarn of “Disney’s version of the Dark Knight”…
horned shadow is cast over the floor. The candle light extinguishes. And a chill wind blows into the castle. Her skin pale-white, her lips blood-red and her costume jet-black, one of Disney’s all-time evil characters has just emerged from the gloom. “Well, well,” she intones, a deadly smile spreading across her face – the sort that will give all children bad dreams – as she glides towards the screen. Unquestionably, Angelina Jolie makes for a magnificent Maleficent. “Thirty years from now, there will be a montage of her films with this clip of her walking into the camera,” says
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director Robert Stromberg. “It’s so iconic and powerful.” Move over Lara Croft. The curse-spreading 13th fairy from Disney’s own classic 1959 cartoon Sleeping Beauty is the role Jolie’s destined to be associated with for the rest of her days. “I loved Maleficent when I was a little girl,” says Jolie, returning to screens for the first time in four years (last heard voicing Tigress in Kung Fu Panda 2). “She was my favourite Disney character. I was afraid of her and I loved her.” It’s this complicated love/hate notion that powers Stromberg’s new film Maleficent. One of the summer’s most anticipated blockbusters, it’s a sumptuous live-action 3D/Imax twist on
a Walt Disney classic – retelling Sleeping Beauty from the point-of-view of its antagonist. At the time, Sleeping Beauty, at a cost of $6m, was Disney’s most expensive project ever, taking nine, almost 10 years to complete. “It’s really one of the core stories, along with Cinderella, Peter Pan and Snow White,” says executive producer Don Hahn. So much so, when Uncle Walt was building Disneyland, he put Sleeping Beauty’s castle in the middle. “That’s how deep it goes in Disney culture.” Of course, Sleeping Beauty pre-dates Disney, with traces of the character as far back as Italian author Giambattista Basile’s Sun, Moon And Talia (1634) and Charles Perrault’s >> Subscribe at www.totalfilm.com/subs
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‘It’s our version of The Dark Knight’ don hahn
The Beauty Sleeping In The Wood (1697), which the Brothers Grimm borrowed heavily from for their 1812 story Little Briar Rose. But the character of Maleficent? That was left to Disney’s animators, who took Perrault’s wicked fairy and ran with it. In the Disney cartoon, the story sees King Stefan and Queen Leah welcome the birth of their only daughter, Princess Aurora. At the christening, the unwelcome fairy Maleficent turns up, despite not being invited to the 64 | Total Film | June 2014
ceremony. Angered, she lays a curse on the infant child: on her sixteenth birthday, she will prick her finger on a spinning wheel and die before sunset (later tempered by a good fairy, so that she’ll fall into a deep slumber). “With complete respect to the original Disney film, Maleficent is the most interesting thing about it,” says Hahn, who first originated the idea for this spin-off back in 2005, when he got together with Sean Bailey, now the president of production at Walt Disney. Their conversation was simple. “We said, ‘What’s our version of The Dark Knight?’ – where you go back and do an origin story, where you find out, ‘Who is this person? What made her that way?’”
isney’s Dark Knight? Now do we have your attention? “There’s so much about her that isn’t known,” says Jolie of the character. “I think what I like about her is she is an awkward person. She’s an awkward orphaned little girl, who doesn’t really fit in. So I think a lot of children will identify with that. She doesn’t know who she really is and she deals with a certain amount of abuse in her life. Then she’s unable to handle it.” For Jolie, a one-time outsider rebel herself, there was a sense that she knew this character. “There’s a part of her that’s struggling for what she thinks is right. She’s not a fighter or a warrior, just because. She actually does have a sense of belief.” Hahn even reports that Jolie spent time working with her acting coach “trying to understand what it would be like to be a fairy and grow out of the ground”. Subscribe at www.totalfilm.com/subs
Angie’s big year How the most famous woman in the world is about to up her game.
Once upon a dream: (main) Elle Fanning as the cursed Princess Aurora, (above) Sharlto Copley as King Stefan and (opposite) Imelda Staunton, Lesley Manville and Juno Temple as pixies Knotgrass, Flittle and Thistletwit.
One thing’s for certain. Unlike recent fairytale spins, like Mirror Mirror or Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, Jolie wanted to ensure that there were no winks to the audience or funky fight scenes. “It wasn’t like she was doing a pantomime,” says Hahn. “She really felt we had to try to make a movie for the ages. We had to try to make a movie that could sit on your shelf alongside your DVD of Peter Pan, Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella.” Ironically, Maleficent was born before the Mouse House paid $4.05 billion to Lucasfilm to acquire the rights to the Star Wars franchise, announcing that alongside the forthcoming Episodes VII, VIII and IX will be spin-off films (with an origin story for the young Han Solo expected). At the time, Hahn went straight to screenwriter Linda Woolverton, whom he’d worked with on The Lion King and Beauty And The Beast years earlier. totalfilm.com
Intriguingly, Woolverton had just finished scripting Alice In Wonderland for Tim Burton and Hahn had just worked with him on Frankenweenie. “The first person I went to was Tim,” says Hahn (who denies he ever spoke to Brad Bird, as reported elsewhere). “The three of us sat down and talked about it. In the end, there were some scheduling issues and Tim had to pull out. It would’ve been fine with Tim…” While it would’ve been more than “fine” with a visual stylist like Burton, when he stepped aside, it made way for one of his collaborators. Already, Robert Stromberg’s credits read like a Hollywood who’s who: from a matte artist on Martin Scorsese’s Cape Fear and The Age of Innocence to visual effects designer on films like Master And Commander: The Far Side Of The World and There Will Be Blood. And that’s before he became a production designer, winning back-to-back Oscars for Avatar and Burton’s Alice before working on Sam Raimi’s Oz The Great And Powerful. Moreover, helming a Disney film was something he’d been preparing his whole life for. The son of low-budget director William R. Stromberg (The Crater Lake Monster), when he was in elementary school he met Bruce McIntyre. A retired animator who had worked for Disney during the golden age, producing drawings for Snow White And The Seven Dwarves and Pinocchio, McIntyre became his art teacher, regularly showing him his old sketches. “I had a very early training in how the Disney world was created,” says Stromberg. All of this makes him an intriguing choice to direct Maleficent. “He’s such a world-builder,” comments Hahn, and Stromberg admits that he loves allowing audiences to immerse themselves in “some dream-like place that doesn’t exist” for a couple of hours. “That’s why I’ve always not been afraid to push things more than others. Alice In Wonderland, for example, is pushed to this place that’s on the brink of craziness. >>
How does she do it? Mother-of-six, humble humanitarian and A-List star – you have to wonder why Zack Snyder didn’t cast Angelina Jolie as Wonder Woman. “She’d make anybody feel lazy, the amount she can get done in a day,” laughs Sam Riley, and he’s not wrong. This year is threatening to be a pretty major one for Jolie, who may well be starting her Oscar campaign early – adding to her nomination for Changeling and her win for Girl, Interrupted – with her return to the big screen in Maleficent. God only knows how she’s found time to launch a range of children’s clothes. What’s more, the better half of Brangelina (sorry Brad) has just wrapped Unbroken, her second film as director. The true-life tale of Olympic track star and WW2 hero Louis Zamperini (Starred Up’s Jack O’Connell) – re-written by the Coen brothers from the biography by Laura Hillenbrand – it looks certain to be bothering the Oscar race next year alongside her Maleficent performance. Taking a chance on the relatively unknown O’Connell, in a cast that also includes Garrett Hedlund and Jai Courtney, also hints at the sort of risks she’s willing to take. “Angelina has to be one of the most empathetic actor’s directors I’ve ever worked with,” says the 23 year-old Brit, whose protagonist survives a plane crash only to spend two years in a Japanese POW camp. Any doubts that Jolie is merely cranking out a vanity project, however, can be dismissed, judging by Jolie’s directorial debut, 2011’s In The Land Of Blood And Honey, a hard-hitting Bosnian war drama which stemmed from her time as a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador. Last year, she spoke to the UN security council on the issue of war rape – a subject the film dealt with unsparingly. For Jolie, who picked up the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award for her contributions to causes at this year’s Academy Awards, it’s just another stitch in her increasingly impressive career tapestry.
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‘It was important that she didn’t look traditionally pretty’ angelina jolie Avatar, of course, is its own unique place. And the land of Oz also.” Building the world of Maleficent took Stromberg and co. to England, with the entire film shot over five months across six massive soundstages at Pinewood Studios. With 16-year-old Elle Fanning cast as Princess Aurora and Sharlto Copley, the South African anti-hero in District 9, as her father, King Stefan, the production also plundered a wealth of high-end British acting talent for much of the support – from Peter Capaldi and Miranda Richardson to Mike Leigh stalwarts Imelda Staunton and Lesley Manville. Then there’s Sam Riley, the 34-year-old actor better known for indies like Control and On The Road than Disney blockbusters. He can still recall his first meeting with Jolie. “I don’t tend to bump into many movie stars that often,” 66 | Total Film | June 2014
he says. “They kept coming to me and saying ‘She’s going to come in half an hour’. And then it was ‘20 minutes’, then ‘15 minutes’, and I was like ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah – I can read the time!’ It was as if they wanted to egg me on, and then they came back in and said, ‘She’s a bit delayed – it’ll be another 20 minutes!’ It was kinda surreal.” Even so, who could turn down playing the role of Diaval? “I’m Angelina’s lackey!” he winks. “There are worse jobs in the world!” Maleficent’s pet raven, who occasionally makes it into human form when her mistress feels so inclined (“I appear, looking all raven-y”), it was an entirely different sort of movie for Riley. Spending four hours in make-up every day to apply the prosthetics, “It’s the first film where I don’t smoke or die,” he laughs, “and I had to try to be amusing…”
hen there’s Juno Temple, who had been one of the finalists for auditioning for the lead role in Alice In Wonderland. She plays the “naïve and innocent” nature-loving Thistletwit, joining Manville’s mischievous Flittle and Staunton’s bossy Knotgrass to make up a trio of magical pixies that King Stefan chooses to look after Aurora when Maleficent curses her, hiding her away until her sixteenth birthday passes. It meant motion-capture for all three actresses. “That was crazy!” says Temple. “I had to go on wires and wear one of those suits with the bobbles. It was a real learning experience, because [usually] I’m attracted to doing these independent films where you sweat and bleed.” While she’s no total newbie when it comes to blockbusters – appearing in The Dark Knight Subscribe at www.totalfilm.com/subs
Bad guy origin stories we’d love to see… Rumpelstiltskin
The impish creature with an alchemic ability, this origin tale will not only explain where he got that stupid name, but take us to his time working in a Malaysian sweat-shop, where he learns how to spin straw into gold. Expect Ken Loach to direct, with Martin Compston to star.
Black magic: Designers based the film’s castle on Disney’s Sleeping Beauty; (opposite) Angelina Jolie as Maleficent, alongside her daughter Vivienne Jolie-Pitt as the young Aurora.
Rises – Temple was particularly taken with shooting at Pinewood. “I’d never done shooting in a studio in England,” she says. “It felt old school. I loved it.” While the film will be using CGI, Stromberg was keen to use practical sets as much as possible, with production designers Dylan Cole and Gary Freeman recreating the castle where Aurora’s christening takes place almost exactly from the 1959 cartoon. Then there was the inclusion of legendary make-up and effects man, Rick Baker – a seven-time Oscar-winner (including his iconic work for An American Werewolf In London) and friend of Stromberg’s filmmaker father. Part of Baker’s contribution was crafting Maleficent’s horns, which Jolie thought a vital part of the costume (even if she did keep banging them on everything as she walked totalfilm.com
about). “It was really important for me that she didn’t look normal or traditionally pretty – that she looked odd,” she says. Together with a nose piercing, false cheeks, pointed ears and coloured contacts, it was enough to make any child cry that came to the set. “One of them said, ‘Mummy, please tell the mean witch to stop talking to me!’” It’s why, says Jolie, she wanted to put her own five-year-old daughter Vivienne in the film – playing the young Princess Aurora – so other kids wouldn’t be scared. “Brad and I both came to set as parents and spent most of the day off camera trying to coach her,” she laughs. As for the teenage Aurora, Jolie calls Elle Fanning “sunshine”; a perfect way to describe the blonde star of J.J. Abrams’ Super 8 (the film Stromberg saw that convinced him she was right for the part). “It’s been sort of everything that I dreamed of,” says the young actress. Likewise Sharlto Copley, who was “thrilled” to play a more PG-rated character after his hired killer in Elysium. “I’m so excited about the fact that I have a nephew who can watch a film that I’m in,” he cries. “Thank god! He’s playing with the Murdock action figures [whom Copley played in The A-Team], but he’s never seen anything I’ve done.” With Stefan going from innocent young commoner to ambitious and vengeful monarch, his might just be the film’s most interesting journey. Meanwhile, with Stromberg promising “epic battles, creatures and monsters” his Maleficent sounds as if it’ll keep Disney’s more sugary elements at arm’s length. But one question remains; if this hits big, will Hollywood deliver a whole new batch of live-action fairytales? “You never know,” chuckles Hahn. “It is called show-business. But it keeps these stories alive. And the one thing about fairytales… It’s almost our obligation to retell these stories for our generation.” TF Maleficent opens on 28 May.
The Big Bad Wolf
Focusing on the three little pigs’ hungry nemesis, this backstory delves deep into how he fostered his porcine hatred (due to a bad bacon sandwich that gave him the runs) before threatening to huff and puff and blow their houses down. Benicio Del Toro, after The Wolfman, will go all hairy on us again.
Tailor-made for Peter Jackson to reteam with Weta and Andy Serkis, giving him a slimy-skinned mo-cap makeover, this prequel to ‘Three Billy Goats Gruff’ will show us just what led the goats’ hungry troll bully to live under that bridge. Think The Lovely Bones, but much, much better.
The Wicked Stepmother
This Cinderella spin-off (a ‘Spinderella’?) takes us back to the days when her stepmomto-be married her first husband, bore two minging daughters and basically got the right hump. Ideal for Julia Roberts and Chris Columbus to reunite, following their time together on Stepmom, it’s got ‘Oscar’ written all over it.
In this grisly backstory, we learn how Hansel and Gretel’s captor became a psychopathic, child-eating old crone with a sugar fixation and a serious home baking hobby. David Fincher will direct, in a Se7en reunion with Gwyneth Paltrow as a diabetic witch, whilst showing the famous Gingerbread Cottage half-built, like the Death Star in Return of the Jedi. June 2014 | Total Film | 67
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raham Jamie G Words
went on y l l a e r ist and ern world. x e d i d a really ge in the mod onsters, l l i z d o ven is M e if G Imagin rampage of re who knows h ction of the g u n a roarin dwards, a ma visits the destr creen… E s Gareth hat. Total Film he carnage on t t did just et and joins in s Hawaii
onolulu, Hawaii. Canoes glide over emerald water, holidaymakers stroll in bikinis and shorts, a swimwear-clad yoga class strike poses on a raised platform stretching out into the surf. These are real people enjoying real vacations, most of them turning a blind eye to the cordoned-off stretch of beach housing a downed helicopter, snapped in two. You have to admire their determination to block out such a blot on paradise. Beyond the broken-backed chopper is a procession of splintered palm trees and a mountainous mound of rubble dotted with shoes, luggage and golf clubs, all of it flanked by hundreds of feet of yellow police tape. And then the real carnage begins: medic tents, fire engines, military jeeps, ambulances, a FEMA registration tent, pillows, blankets, bottles of water, gurneys, drips. A 400-strong film
crew intermingle with 300 Polynesian and occidental extras. It’s easy to tell crew and background artists apart: the extras are burned, bloodied and bandaged. Director Gareth Edwards scales a 10ft stepladder and sweeps a viewfinder across the wreckage before turning it skywards. There’s nothing up there but a wide expanse of monotonous blue. But there will be. Oh yes, there will be… Total Film is on the set of Godzilla to witness action that will occur approximately halfway through the movie as the galumphing gecko heads from Japan to San Francisco via Hawaii. Hollywood’s new take on the King of Kaiju has nothing to do with Roland Emmerich’s 1998 effort – a disaster movie in every sense – and little to do with the 27 increasingly camp sequels, riffs and reboots that followed Godzilla’s 1954 debut. It is, like Ishiro Honda’s black-and-white original, a deadly serious affair, its character-based action possessing >> June 2014 | Total Film | 69
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a strong ecological message and its destructionimagery rooted in the tsunamis, hurricanes and earthquakes of the past 10 years. At a cost of an estimated $160m, Godzilla boasts the best team in the business: cinematographer Seamus McGarvey (Atonement, Avengers Assemble); VFX supervisor Jim Rygiel (The Lord Of The Rings trilogy, The Amazing Spider-Man); production designer Owen Paterson (The Matrix trilogy) and composer Alexandre Desplat (The Tree Of Life, Zero Dark Thirty). But the real story is that it’s being directed by a 38-year-old filmmaker from Nuneaton who boasts just one DIY feature, Monsters, to his name. Back on terra firma, Edwards pauses to wave his viewfinder at the 30-storey hotels in the distance. “The buildings in the background will still be there but they’ll conveniently be missing chunks,” he says. “Like a Bugs Bunny path of destruction.” Sure, if Bugs Bunny was 350ft tall... Earlier that morning, Edwards shot a scene in which leading man Aaron Taylor-Johnson, playing Navy lieutenant Ford, approaches the FEMA tent clutching a lost child. It was an uncomplicated scene involving a basic exchange of dialogue but the director filmed it again and again, reviewing each take on the monitor and pointing out background details to McGarvey: “He’s walking too fast”; “Maybe he shouldn’t look over his shoulder?” Such perfectionism is mind-boggling but what Edwards is actually waiting for is that moment of imperfection. “You’re trying to find that little curveball that will put a spin on a scene,” he says. “The accidental, the real. The more you can do that, the more the film feels different and not something you’ve seen a thousand times.” At last the moment comes. “Can we keep those birds in?” Edwards asks when some winged interlopers gatecrash McGarvey’s frame. “We’ll be replacing parts of the background,” the DoP replies. “Yeah, but can we keep the birds? They’re amazing.” “Absolutely.” McGarvey grins. “Audiences are gonna think those birds are CGI,” he says. Edwards grins back. “They flew the wrong way. They’re meant to fly left to right.” Later that day, at 4.30pm, the sky begins to darken and a wind whips up. Production has moved half a mile down the beach to a bar, where orange lanterns glow on wooden tables and extras drink and chat. “We’ve got five, 10 minutes of shooting,” warns McGarvey. His low-slung camera points out to sea then pans across the beach and past the bar until it finds an old couple sat
in deckchairs just as they look up at a pair of skyscrapers. Jets will be added in post-production, strafing the sky between the buildings as they arrive to meet the threat of Godzilla rising from the ocean (the Hawaii sequence is the atomic lizard’s first full frontal). This shot, like many in Godzilla, was mapped out in pre-production. Given Edwards shot £500,000 debut Monsters on the hoof and off the cuff, it took time to adapt to the logistics of making a blockbuster. “You get all these emails saying ‘Where
to write a poem and them saying, ‘You don’t have to write it now but we need to know the 47th word so we can illustrate it.’ So you have to write the poem…” The next day is blisteringly hot. Edwards wanders over wearing jeans, trainers, t-shirt and a khaki hat. “How long you here for?” he asks. Until Friday. “What day is it today?” Wednesday. He scans the 300 wounded extras. “You wanna be in it?” Ten minutes later, Total Film is striped in blood and grime and joins the throng as the First AD calls out, “No smiles, please – you’re meant to be devastated.” Meanwhile, camera operator Mitch Dubin approaches Total Film and says it’s OK to wander as the mood takes. “I’ll pick you out,” he promises.
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do you want so-andso truck?’” he says, explaining how every detail is run past the director. “It’s like, ‘Whatever’, and then you get there and the truck is in the wrong place. It’s like being asked
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d n i f o t g n i n y i r p t s e a r ‘ yYo u ’ e b a l l t O p u t d s a c u r v e n e ’ g are th edwar on a sc
s u c o f ford Showing bottle: (main) Director Gareth Edwards on set with Total Film’s Jamie Graham, who (after a spot of make-up, above) braved it as an extra; (left) a jaw-dropping moment for Elle Brody (Elizabeth Olsen).
This is the man who’s operated camera on 12 Spielberg films, so it’s a surreal moment. Action. Everyone shuffles forward in a daze. A military jeep veers into shot, marines disembarking. Taylor-Johnson quickly trades information with one of their number, who informs him that everybody’s moving out to California. Edwards shoots the scene 20 times, then shoots from the reverse angle 20 times more. No detail escapes him as he pores over the monitor. The extra in front of Total Film is told not to drag his leg and then, when he settles for a limp, is instructed, “Just walk.” Total Film again shuffles forward 20 metres, clutching a water bottle and staring into the middle-distance in a concentrated effort to appear ‘naturalistic’. Everyone is sunburned despite the constant attentions of a gadfly crew member applying sunblock. Twenty metres forward, cut, back to position, again and again. This is what working for Fincher must be like. But then it happens: the curveball. Taylor-Johnson is once more delivering his line to the marine when an unexpected background noise makes him flinch. Johnson stays in the moment until ‘cut’ is called, then runs over to his director, saying, “That’s the one!”
New York, six months later. Edwards is sitting on a sofa on stage 10 of Chelsea Pier. totalfilm.com
To his left, Taylor-Johnson and Ken Watanabe. To his right, Elizabeth Olsen and Bryan Cranston. Since the conclusion of the fourmonth shoot in Canada and Hawaii, details of Godzilla’s plot have risen into sight, and we now know the backbone of a script worked on by the likes of Max Borenstein, David S. Goyer and Frank Darabont. After a pre-title sequence set in 1954, the action jumps to 1999 as disaster befalls a Japanese nuclear power plant that homes US physicist Joe Brody (Cranston) and his scientist wife, Sandra (Juliette Binoche). The why and who – or rather, what? – of the disaster remain a mystery but, 15 years on, Brody remains obsessed with finding answers, his journey bringing in scientists Watanabe and Sally Hawkins, and military commander David Straitharn. But the principal player in the unfolding drama is Ford, who happens to be Brody’s estranged son and who is desperate to get back to his wife (Elizabeth Olsen) and small son in San Francisco when all the warning rumblings climax in the arrival of Godzilla. “It’s given when you’ve got Godzilla that you’re gonna have this giant, crazy spectacle,” starts Edwards when asked about a cast you’d more expect in the new Woody Allen than a tent-pole actioner. “But to me, the carnage and destruction are utterly pointless unless you care about the outcome, and you care about the people. It was like ‘let’s treat this like a really serious drama’, so I had to get the best actors. It’s funny, because this is going to sound like an insult and it really isn’t, but there was no part of me that wanted to get good-looking people [Cranston gets up and flounces out the room]. I wanted genuine actors.” Cranston returns, laughing. “As a boy, I loved Godzilla, more so than King Kong, but initially I didn’t think it was something I should do,” he says. “I mean, this subject has been mishandled in the past. But this >>
Godzilla’s human star Aaron Taylor-Johnson playing hero Ford Brody… The film feels grounded for a blockbuster… It’s good to use real people, because you want that raw, natural vibe. Gareth’s great at doing that. He did it in Monsters, you know? I asked him how he got those performances. He asked people a bunch of different questions and filmed it. So you’d have Scoot [McNairy] asking them about aliens but really they were talking about where the nearest McDonald’s was.
How did you get into shape to play Ford?
Jim Beaver has worked on a lot of army movies, from Black Hawk Down to Battle: Los Angeles. He’s been a marine since he was a kid. He trained me on how to use weapons, wear the gear, the military mindset… I touch base with him every day. The role is physically demanding – I’m in helicopters, trucks, trains; we’re moving giant missiles, stuff like that.
You’ve pumped up. Lots of time in the gym? I train twice a day, in the morning and in the evening. An hour and a half each session. Six days a week. When you start filming, it’s fucking tricky. You have to get up at five in the morning to slip in an hour.
How have you found working on a movie of this scale?
There’s not been a lot of greenscreen. They’ll smash up the fucking buildings instead of doing it in a studio. You feel it a lot more. There have been a few things where it’s like, ‘OK, the creature’s rising up, he’s attacking…’ But again, you talk about it and they have pre-viz, so you’re like, ‘I see, oh fucking hell, he’s doing that…’ At first I did too much. I was like, ‘OK, I’m looking at that and I’m fucking shocked!’ But the chaos is already all around you. Keep it simple. June 2014 | Total Film | 71
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film is steeped in character. It is both a monster movie and a character dilemma. You’re invested in the people. Once I read the script and saw Monsters and talked to Gareth, I thought, ‘Why not?’” Cranston’s initial reluctance, and his subsequent excitement, is shared by all. Taylor-Johnson’s first thought was [rolls eyes] “Godzilla, pffft, some big monster movie” but he now stresses, “I’ve been pushed more in a monster movie than any independent film.” Olsen almost laughed off the offer until she met with Edwards in New York, bought into his vision and “approached this like I’d approach anything”, realising her scenes would require the level of intensity she brought to Martha Marcy May Marlene. Watanabe, meanwhile, cites the original as “a really serious film” about the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and points out that “in Japan, right now, the nuclear power element is a really serious problem. I needed to join this project.” (The nuclear theme is still very much present in Godzilla 2014.) As for the movie’s other lead character, Godzilla, Edwards decided he should stand at 350ft because it’s as big as you can go while still allowing him to hide behind skyscrapers – or else there would be no suspense. Back in Hawaii, McGarvey explained, “We’re on the ground, shooting a lot of handheld, with a human modesty to it. Gareth likes the fact you can’t see all of Godzilla, you can just see part of him and have to tilt up through him.” Effects supervisor Rygiel, meanwhile, stressed, “We studied YouTube videos of
there, and someone in 1954 saw it, ran to Toho Studios and tried to explain it, like a witness to a crime, and then they went and made the movies. But in our film, we’re going to show what they really saw, and you go, ‘I see how they got that guy in a suit from that, but this is real.’ It was trying to rotate this silhouette until you could see it from every angle.” Edwards, who comes from a special effects background and who created all of his own creatures for Monsters, knew what he was after… but Godzilla’s sphincter-splintering roar is a mystery to him. “Erik [Aadahl], the sound designer, won’t tell me!” he laughs. “I think he’s scared that it will kill the magic. But the original Godzilla was a double bass scraped with a leather glove with a bit of resin on it. So we bought a double bass and a leather glove and some resin, and we did a whole session… I don’t know if they used any of that in the film!” Whatever it might consist of, it sounds badass. Not that the Big G is a villain... “Is Godzilla good or bad?” smiles Edwards. “To me, it’s like saying, ‘Is a hurricane good or bad?’ Godzilla is a force of nature and anything else in the movie represents our abuse of nature. Godzilla’s come in to put things right.”
o t g n i o g s a w i e I r t o h g m u t o ‘ iI t h t r o l l e d a l o d s b e c o n w a s ’ g are th edwar than i bears fighting, and Komodo dragons fighting. We’re going after this realistic approach.” Now Edwards outlines why he chose to honour the design of Toho’s original beast – upright, broad snout, a Mohican of stegosaurus-style plates running down his spine – while bringing it into the age of digital effects via Weta, MPC, Double Negative and Andy Serkis’ motioncapture facility The Imaginarium. “My goal was to make it as if this creature really existed,” he says. “I imagined it’s out
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What’s that coming over the hill?
London. Six weeks have passed since Total Film met with Edwards and his cast in New
Eyes to the sky: (main) Bryan Cranston, Edwards and Aaron Taylor-Johnson on set; (above) Godzilla makes waves; (right) the behemoth roars into town.
York, and the director is now on home turf to show off 20 minutes of footage: the disaster at the Japanese power station draws audible gasps; the trailer’s HALO dive into hell plays on for several immersive minutes as the troops get their boots on the ground and go into battle; beasts besides Godzilla [we shall say no more for fear of ruining the surprise] flaunt their freaky stuff; and the handling of a Ford-Godzilla interaction on the Golden Gate Bridge recalls a young Spielberg with its wonderment and suspense. “That’s why I went to the cinema,” Edwards tells Total Film later that day. “I’m not sure if it’s because I’m getting older or films are doing it less and less, but it’s rare to come out of a film these days and feel it gave you genuine goosebumps. I’d be really proud if people said that about this movie.” A few visual effects touch-ups aside, Godzilla is finished. Three years ago, Total Film had lunch with Edwards when he was first pitching to Legendary Pictures, excited but also a touch wary of making his first studio blockbuster. So how has the experience been? Subscribe at www.totalfilm.com/subs
’zilla s r e l l i thr The five Godzilla movies you need to see.
US nukes create a giant beast that stomps all over Tokyo via the magic of ‘suitmation’ (ie, a man in a suit). The original G smuggled toxic themes to a traumatised nation.
Mothra vs Godzilla 1964
The third sequel (the second pitched Godzilla against King Kong) sees our atomic hero take on a mammoth moth (!) and corrupt businessmen. Packed with colourful, wacky-baccy action.
Ghidorah, The Three-Headed Monster 1964
“I thought I was going to be controlled a lot more than I was,” he says. “You hear all these horror stories about filmmakers who are hired because a studio loved a certain film they made, and then they get handcuffed. It wasn’t like that at all. I was amazed. I remember chatting to Seamus on the set, saying, ‘Is this normal? We seem to be getting away with a lot.’ Seamus was like, ‘This is not normal at all. I’ve never worked on a film that has this much freedom.’” For Edwards, it’s been an incredible journey. And like all good journeys, it’s been about the interior as much as the exterior. “I always wanted to make films but I was really worried about my personality because I’m not someone who shouts, or likes arguments,” he confides. “I thought that was going to make me a bad filmmaker because all the behind the scenes that I saw growing up, the directors were shouting, freaking out, and they made masterpieces.” Out comes that boyish grin. “One of the big reliefs was seeing George Lucas totalfilm.com
on Star Wars, because he seemed so quiet and shy. I realised that you don’t have to be a dick.” He’s too modest to say it, but the man from Nuneaton is clearly proud of his finished film, while the buzz escaping Legendary and Warner Bros is through the roof. Edwards’ dream of realising an epic creature feature peopled by three-dimensional characters and sporting robust themes has, it seems, become a reality. But perhaps the greatest balancing act of all is making a very modern, digitally dazzling blockbuster set, for the most part, in America, while honouring the tradition of the muchloved Japanese franchise. When asked if Toho Studios have seen his film, Edwards flashes a radioactive grin. “They saw it yesterday and I got an email saying that they thought it was fantastic!” Then he remembers his modesty and quickly rearranges his face into an expression of repose. “So that was a relief…” TF Godzilla opens on 16 May.
The Big G takes on one of his most fearsome foes – a, um, three-headed monster named Ghidorah. Notable in the franchise because it’s the movie where Godzilla first became a goodie.
Destroy All Monsters 1968
Set in 1999, all the world’s monsters are now contained on one island – until aliens set them free to destroy mankind. Absolutely bonkers. Think Jurassic Park directed by Ed Wood.
Godzilla vs Destroyah 1995
When Roland Emmerich wanted to reboot Godzilla, he was told by Toho Studios that the lizard was not allowed to die. But he already had, here having a nuclear meltdown.
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Heâ€™s quietly revolutionising the film industry and Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes promises the most ambitious performance capture effects ever seen. Now Andy Serkis is set to direct a groundbreaking version of The Jungle Book. Total Film catches up with the King of The Swingers... words ROSIE FLETCHER
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e’re used to seeing Andy Serkis cavorting around movie sets. Hunched over, clutching his arm extensions so he can leap about the place on all fours, a camera attached to his head, his face covered in white dots, mouth piece shoved in his gob, imitating an ape. We’ve also seen him crouched, sneering and genuflecting dressed in a condom-esque white body stocking to play The Lord Of The Rings’ slimy mutant traitor, Gollum. We’ve even seen him lumbering around a fake jungle wearing giant gorilla hands and a clingy black body suit with massively padded-up biceps and shoulders, like a dodgy kids’ Hulk costume, to play King Kong. So it’s understandable that not everyone realises the genial 49-year-old West Londoner is actually the future of cinema. Finished shooting on Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes, Matt Reeves’ sequel to 2011’s smart franchise reboot, where we last met Serkis; he’s now he’s back in Ealing at The Imaginarium, the studio he founded with his producing partner Jonathan Cavendish. totalfilm.com
“It’s a performance capture lab. It’s a hub for directors, writers and actors to experience performance capture technology – where we can research and develop it; develop new software, develop new tools, hardware and cameras. And also to create an academy to train up a new talent pool, because it’s still a burgeoning industry,” Serkis explains with characteristic passion. Formed in 2011, as well as fostering talent and lending pioneering performance capture services to movies such as Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes and its predecessor Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes, The Imaginarium is also developing its own original films. Already, Serkis has been working hard on two high profile projects which he’ll produce. direct and might possibly appear in: both performance capture led and both almost certainly set to be like nothing film fans have ever seen before. A production of George Orwell’s dark allegory about communist Russia, Animal Farm has been in the pipeline for sometime, but first, for Warner Bros, a brand new adap of Rudyard Kipling’s classic collection of stories about anthropomorphic animals, The Jungle Book. >> June 2014 | Total Film | 75
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“There really is no limit because there’s always a solution to creating a digital character,” Serkis effuses when we delve into how he plans to tackle creature characters so far removed from the humanoid creations we’ve grown used to – figures like Shere Khan the tiger, Baloo the bear or Kaa the snake. “We’ve been working on the methodologies for creating different forms of animals: quadrupeds and, you know, it doesn’t have to be human or like an ape. It really can be anything. It can be much more abstract than that.” Experimenting with a range of mediums from videogames to live theatre, working with choreographers, dancers and parkour artists, Serkis is effusive about the capabilities of the tool. And really the possibilities for film alone are endless. While Avatar made leaps and bounds in 3D CGI and became the highest grossing movie of all time, Serkis has taken the concept and run with it, promising “Creatures of all sizes, of all designs, of all manifestations – which are underpinned and have the emotional backbone of a truthfully acted performance.” For the future of sci-fi, fantasy, kids’ movies and creaturefeatures, and just about anything your imagination can stretch to, it’s positively mind-blowing. And then there are the implications for actors themselves (character actors Toby Kebbell and Judy Greer have already taken on performance capture parts in DOTPOTA). “You’re not tied down by your size, your shape, your sex, your colour, your whatever,” Serkis explains, clearly inspired. “You’re an actor. It’s whether you’ve got the chops and the imagination to get into whatever role you’ve taken.” Not bad for a bloke from Ruislip. The son of a gynaecologist and a teacher of disabled children, Serkis studied visual arts at Lancaster University and earned his equity card in his third year by working backstage at a local playhouse. Touring with various theatre companies before playing bit parts in TV shows, he moved into film – making his debut in 1994’s Royal Deceit opposite Christian Bale and Kate Beckinsale. A handful of character roles followed until 2001 marked the start of Serkis’ long standing relationship with Peter Jackson and the birth of Gollum – a digital creation based on Serkis’ own features, expressions and movements which threw performance capture into the limelight – with many calling for a Best Supporting Actor nod for Serkis. It’s a relationship which has grown 76 | Total Film | June 2014
Great ape: Andy Serkis as rebel leader Caesar on the set of Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes.
and developed over the years with Serkis and Gollum back for the first of Jackson’s Hobbit movies and Serkis taking second-unit directing duties on all three parts of the new trilogy. “We shot for 200 days on The Hobbit. It was an extraordinary crew shooting in amazing locations, shooting all manner of things,” Serkis grins. “It was an education, and I’ll never forget that I owe an enormous amount to Peter and Fran [Walsh] and Philippa [Boyens].” His humility is appealing but it’s undeniable that somehow, Serkis has become a maven and a trailblazer at the forefront of an incredibly fast growing and exciting cinematic movement. Like the acting practitioners he studied at college, Brecht and Stanislavski, he has essentially developed an entirely new school of performance (literally and figuratively), which we’re likely to keep seeing the influence of for decades yet to come.
“If you said to me 15 years ago this would be the direction [I’d take], it really wouldn’t have occurred to me,” Serkis laughs, though he too seems somewhat amazed at how the capabilities have made huge leaps and bounds. “Originally, on The Lord Of The Rings, I’d rehearse scenes and shoot scenes on location and then have to repeat it on a motion capture stage. Over the years, with King Kong, and obviously a film I wasn’t involved in, Avatar… facial capture has moved on hugely. And then of course Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes was the first proper film to shoot outside, real-time performance capture with live action. That was a big leap forward. And now it’s grown again.” Subscribe at www.totalfilm.com/subs
ith Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes new frontiers are being pushed once more. Shot in Vancouver and New Orleans (where TF visited the towering, overgrown, postapocalyptic, Katrina-ravaged set), it’s set 10 years after the planet of the apes rose. The Simian virus has wiped out great swathes of humanity, forcing survivors into tiny, desperate, disparate groups, while the apes, freed by Serkis’s Caesar, have thrived under his benevolent leadership and begun to evolve into an organised mixed-primate community – aided by the intelligence enhancing drug that Caesar inherited from his mum, Bright Eyes (a reference to the original Charlton Heston Apes series…). Caesar has a wife, Cornelia (Judy Greer) and a teenaged son, River (Nick Thurston), as well as a battle scarred second in command, Koba (Toby Kebbell), and the group is blooming. “He’s tried to bring the best things about humanity into the ape culture, whilst trying to really engage with who he is as an ape as well.” Serkis describes. “And then he has his counsel around him. He’s brought all the species together: the orangutans, the chimps and the gorillas are living peacefully side-byside. But then that peace is shattered when human beings arrive in their territory.” Cue the start of a conflict that will eventually lead to full on person-on-primate warfare. “The whole movie was an enormous challenge. There
are only one or two sets that were shot in studio interiors. The rest was all shot on location, which is a huge ask,” he says. “It’s groundbreaking in that respect, in terms of setting up performance capture equipment in a freezing cold rainforest in Vancouver, and then in 100 per cent humidity – boiling, literally boiling weather – as you witnessed in New Orleans. It was a fantastic technical achievement. And the number of apes that were being performance captured as well! You’re not just shooting scenes once, you’re shooting them multiple times because of the way it works with performance
performance to get the drama. It still holds together like that”), and Serkis promises us a “highly ambitious, very mythic and pretty powerful film.” And that’s the thing. At heart, performance capture is not about flashy technology, conspicuous CGI or getting a bigger bang for your buck, it’s about creating meaningful characters without being restricted by physical constraints. For cinema it’s groundbreaking but it’s also rather lovely on a human level – a move away from the traditional Hollywood focus on good looks, homogeneity and normalcy, to an emphasis on talent and soul. Ready and raring to pick up the directing reins after his time on The Hobbit and the videogames and short films he’s been directing for the past decade, Serkis assures us his approach for The Jungle Book and Animal Farm will stick to Reeves’ focus on story, heart and emotional truth. And just like the gorgeous, life-like familiar/strange simians from his two Apes movies, Serkis’ new creations certainly won’t slip into the uncanny valley. “Digital humans are the hardest thing to pull off. Because we know the human face extremely well. We’re not fooled if it’s 99 per cent there – that one per cent that’s not is the thing that takes away from it and undermines it. “Generally, the more abstract and further away from the human a creature is, it’s much more forgiving. You’re still allowing that character to be imbued by a human performance and a human soul without getting hung up on the physiognomy and the eyes and so on. It is all about the eyes at the end of the day,” he says. “Moving into the directing side, it’s all about enabling others to [create characters] to the best of their ability while being able to tell a story visually. Lead from the front, as it were – which I’m loving!” And where Serkis leads… the whole of the film industry will follow. TF
It's extraordinary. It's like wearing a digital layer of makeup' Andy Serkis
capture. The Weta guys had to hang cameras in very difficult places. It was huge. And yet throughout all of that, Matt [Reeves] was an extraordinarily sensitive director. He always made it about the drama – always focused it back onto what was important. He never got completely bamboozled by the scale and scope and all the technology.” Serkis ponders. “What Weta do now is extraordinary, how close it is to the actor. It is like an actor is wearing a digital layer of makeup.” Serkis has seen an early cut of the movie without the visual FX added (“I’ve seen all of our performances cut together, which still tells a story. Matt cuts with just the actors’
Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes opens on 17 July. June 2014 | Total Film | 77
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As a director, Richard Attenborough didn’t really do small. His 1969 debut, Oh! What A Lovely War, essentially re-enacted WW1 in the guise of Oliver!, while his follow-up, Young Winston (1972), took 157 minutes to track Mr Churchill to the ripe old age of 26. But he really surpassed himself with this 1982 classic – and he needed to – for not only does it depict the forging of modern India, it dramatises 50 years in the life of Mohandas Gandhi (Ben Kingsley), a man who changed the world. “The only kind of epics that work,” believed Attenborough, “are intimate epics.” Although it begins with the disclaimer, “No man’s life can be encompassed in one telling. There is no way to give each year its allotted weight, each person who helped to shape a lifetime...” Attenborough’s 183-minute behemoth gives it a bloody good try. It’s such a weighty subject, director Gabriel Pascal died trying to make it in the 1950s, while David Lean failed several times, moving on to the not-exactly-bijou Lawrence Of Arabia instead. Attenborough himself worked on the film for 18 years, and eventually his vision was rewarded with eight Oscars, including Best Director and Best Picture. And what vision. For Gandhi’s funeral, 100,000 Indian extras were hired, but 200,000 more showed up and worked for free – an astonishing number that bests the competition by a factor of a hundred. You can do wonders with CGI these days, but you can’t beat the raw spectacle of half a continent beefing up your background, even if the finished scene only lasts two minutes – roughly one extra for every 0.0004 seconds screen time. See Also Intolerance (1916), The Ten Commandments (1923), Metropolis (1927), Cimarron (1931), Ben-Hur (1959). Subscribe at www.totalfilm.com/subs
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The Matrix Reloaded
Disney’s Mars Needs Moms may have lost more money ($130,503,621); Battlefield Earth more credibility, but none failed so publicly as this giddily immoderate $44m Elizabeth Taylor vehicle, the only highest-grossing of the year ever to make a loss – of $18m! The extravagant, stop-start production was mounted twice, once in London under Rouben Mamoulian (yielding no usable footage), then again in Rome under Joseph L. Mankiewicz because the English weather encumbered Taylor’s recovery from pneumonia. “I really don’t remember much about Cleopatra,” she said. “There were a lot of other things going on.” Too right. Taylor embarked on a high-profile (and much frowned-upon) affair with co-star Richard Burton, Mankiewicz delivered a six-hour cut and got sacked – then re-hired – and his lumbering colossus almost bankrupted 20th Century Fox. At least the English sets were re-used, in Carry On Cleo. See Also Heaven’s Gate (1980), Cutthroat Island (1995), Town & Country (2001), John Carter (2013).
Directed by the Andy and Larry (now Lana) Wachowski, 1999’s jaw-dropping sci-fi flick The Matrix came out of nowhere to gross more than $460m worldwide. The problem the super-secretive brothers faced when shooting the sequels (back to back, no less) was how to top the original’s space-bending SFX. What they came up with, The Matrix Reloaded’s ‘Burly Brawl’ sequence, cost $40m (approximately half the budget of the original film) and blew ‘bullet-time’ out of the water. Named in honour of ‘The Burly Man’, a script glimpsed on the desk of the Coen brothers’ character Barton Fink, this extraordinary smackdown shows Neo (Keanu Reeves) fighting hundreds upon hundreds of Agents (all played by Hugo Weaving) who multiply into a mob, then a melee. As Neo bounces off the brickwork, swings a tetherball post and whirligigs through the air, it’s not so much a fight as an extremely bellicose Quidditch match. Said SFX guru John Gaeta: “The point is not to knock you over with a visual trick. The point is to be able to construct events that are so complex, in terms of what human bodies need to do, that the total ‘effect’ is impossible choreography: ‘My God! It looks real, but it just can’t be.’” In which case, bingo. To bring the sequence to life, Gaeta and his team turned the decommissioned Naval Air Station Alameda in California into a huge motion-capture arena. But rather than using lots of cameras to record Reeves and Weaving fighting (as they did in bullet-time), they scanned every piece of information, from the actors’ expressions to the fibres of their clothes, into computers, creating a 3D scene by a process called Universal Capture. They then created a virtual viewpoint that could whizz through any aspect of the action as it unfolded. Or, in other words, they faked the actors, then they faked the camera. In fact, once Neo and Smith face off, everything that happens after is, in its own way, computer-generated. The result is an Uncanny Valley of virtuoso showmanship that stops viewers, and the movie itself, in their tracks as if to say: after this, anything is possible. See Also Pearl Harbour (2001), Swordfish (2001), I Am Legend (2007). totalfilm.com
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After the critical kicking his visually overblown The Cell received, director Tarsem Singh went back to basics for the follow-up, about a sick stuntman (Lee Pace) spinning an epic tale to a little girl (Catinca Untaru) from his hospital bed. However, Tarsem’s idea of ‘basics’ does differ slightly from everyone else’s. As a celebrated advertising director, his work took him to exotic locations across the world, where he’d film segments of The Fall with his commercials crew, on his own dollar. The result is a sumptuous, free-wheeling fantasy, shot on the fly in a carbon-footprint-shaming 20 countries from France to China over four years. Still, the divisive helmer couldn’t please everyone. “Some people thought it was the best thing since sliced bread,” he said. “Some people thought it was absolute shit.” Full marks for effort, though. See Also Bond films (1962-the present) The Endless Summer (1966), >> Around The World In 80 Days (1956). September June 2014 2010 | Total Film | 79
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Known as ‘Kevin’s Gate’ and ‘Fishtar’ after two famous flops, this wishy-washy action flick, directed by Kevin Reynolds and starring Kevin Costner, is set in the distant future after the polar icecaps have melted. Water has been the undoing of many ambitious productions, from Jaws to Titanic, and so it proved here, with costs swelling from $100m to an estimated $175m. There are no hard-and-fast rules for making a hit film, but here’s two decent guidelines: when Roger Corman predicts budget problems (he passed on the script in the 1980s, worried it would cost as much as $10m), listen. Another might be: don’t build your own island. Weighing 40,000lbs and measuring 365ft in diameter, the 40ft-tall floating set was moored off the coast of Hawaii (so it could be towed out to sea for wide shots) and required so much steel that more had be flown in from California. There were no toilets, so cast and crew had to be ferried to a nearby barge, heavy winds constantly threw it out of position and, supposedly, part of it sank completely. That wasn’t the end of the Kevins’ troubles though: Costner and his co-stars nearly drowned, his stunt double – a famous surfer – was briefly lost at sea, the score was junked and when Joss Whedon (among others) was flown in for rewrites he called it ‘seven weeks of hell’. Versions of the set can be seen in Universal Studios theme parks around the world where, so far, they’ve managed to stay afloat. See Also Intolerance (1916), The 10 Commandments (1956), Titanic (1997), Stalingrad (2013).
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The Lord Of The Rings trilogy
Time was, New Zealand was something of a niche concern in world cinema. Then Peter Jackson’s unprecedented TLOTR trilogy completely redrew the map, leaving a legacy based on much more than just pop-cultural kudos. Jackson’s Weta Digital is now one of the foremost VFX house in the world, the Kiwi screen industry is worth an estimated NZD$3bn and Tourism New Zealand estimates the country’s seen a 50 per cent increase in visitors. Tourists can do an official tour of the Hobbitton set at Matamata, explore Rivendell (Kaitoke Regional Park) or Lothlorian (Fernside Lodge), among other stunning cine-vistas. They can even get a ‘Welcome To Middle-earth’ passport stamp at customs. All of which is only fitting for a film about a little guy venturing out into the big, bad world and coming home a hero. See Also The Matrix (1999), Life Of Pi (2013).
80 | Total Film | June 2014
Saving Private Ryan
Steven Spielberg called WW2 ‘the most significant event of the last 100 years’, and SPR’s unforgettable first 15 minutes hammer home its horrors to Oscar-winning effect. A re-staging of the 1944 Omaha Beach landings, the scene shows Tom Hanks and his soldiers spilling out on the Normandy shores, only to be ripped apart by gunfire. Costing $12m and featuring 12 genuine WW2 landing craft, the sequence was shot in Wexford in Ireland, and used 1,500 army extras (plus members of a local re-enactment group playing the Germans). In a decision of questionable taste, but maximum effect, local amputees were drafted in to have their limbs blown off anew. Ultimately, it’s horrifying details such as the soldier looking for his severed arm that count as much as the scope. See Also Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970), A Bridge Too Far (1977), Apocalypse Now (1979), TLOTR: The Two Towers (2002). Subscribe at www.totalfilm.com/subs
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Close call this one, but clinching victory by a (big furry) head from the Jurassic Park animatronics is Carlo Rimbaldi’s mechanical King Kong. A whopper at 40ft tall and 6.5tons, it was also something of a flopper, costing $1.7m, taking four and a half months to build and barely cameoing in the film because it continually conked out. Separate mechanical arms were created to fondle Jessica Lange, and when producer Dino De Laurentiis visited the set, the operators stuck out Kong’s hand and extended the middle finger. Much merriment was had, until they realised it was stuck in that position. Kong 2’s stats are all the more impressive when you consider the fact that his forefather, the 1933 model, measured just 18in, and his successor (Andy Serkis in Peter Jackson’s 2005 film) about 5ft 7in. See Also Jaws (1976), Aliens (1986), Jurassic Park trilogy (1993-2001), Free Willy (1993).
Based on Tennyson’s epic poem, Michael ‘Casablanca’ Curtiz’s Crimean yarn features rampaging elephants, tiger hunts and a vast equine supporting cast. Star Errol Flynn called it ‘physically the toughest picture I ever made’, but it was much worse for the horses. The climactic Battle Of Balaclava depicts hundreds of British cavalry troops cantering across the plains only to be felled by Russian guns. Obscenely – but not, yet, illegally – the ground was set with wires to ensure the horses tripped on command, breaking their legs and killing dozens. Flynn complained and Congress was forced to ensure animal safety in future films. Curtiz’s battle cry of, ‘Bring on the empty horses!’ became the title of co-star David Niven’s excellent – and epically revealing – second autobiog. See Also The Birds (1963), War And Peace (1967), Waterloo (1970). totalfilm.com
Everything about James Cameron’s Terminator sequel was bigger, faster, better – this time he could even afford to show the apocalypse. But despite the leaps in CGI that birthed Robert Patrick’s morphing T1000, it’s this simple model shot that lingers longest in the memory. Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) dreams she’s watching her younger self in a playground with her son. Then the sky flashes white, bodies disintegrate and LA vaporises. After studying real footage of nuclear damage, the filmmakers created a scale model, then blew it to smithereens with pressurised air (the debris was made of Shredded Wheat), taking two days to re-set. It was worth it. Nuclear laboratory workers called it the most accurate depiction of a blast ever created for a fictional motion picture. Who are we to argue? See Also Zabriskie Point (1970), Star Wars (1977), Die Hard (1988), Independence Day (1994),The Dark Knight (2008).
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The Charge of the Light Brigade
Terminator 2: judgment day
Art projects aside – Modern Times Forever by Danish artists Superflex lasted 240 hours (10 whole days) – the longest film shown commercially in its entirety is Edgar Reitz’s 25 hour, 32 minute Heimat II, which premiered in Munich in September 1992. Though made for TV and comprising 13 separate episodes, it qualified for the Guinness World Record, taking 557 days to film and featuring a 2,143-page screenplay. A sequel to the popular (and comparatively brisk 15 hours, 24 minutes) Heimat (1984), HII follows 71 overlapping characters through the shifting landscape of ’60s Germany, with each episode covering a period of one to two years. It certainly must have felt that way to anyone who sat through it. See Also How Yukong Moved the Mountains (1977), Shoah (1985), >> Resan (1987). June 2014 | Total Film | 81
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William Wyler’s Biblical slave drama, a remake of the 1925 silent film, cost a (then) whopping $15.17m, won 11 Oscars and starred Charlton Heston. But it required some equally muscular music to ensure that its 212 minutes raced by like a spiked chariot. Step forward MGM composer Miklós Rózsa who melded Greek and Roman tunes of the period to create a stirring piece of bombast, echoes of which can be heard in the work of John Williams and other next-gen talents. For the 2.5 hour score, Rózsa directed the 100-piece MGM Symphony Orchestra over 12 recording sessions lasting 72 hours, winning his third Oscar for his efforts. It was released as three LPs, then later as the shorter Ben-Hur Suite. See Also Gone With The Wind (1939), The Fall Of The Roman Empire (1964), Wyatt Earp (1994).
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After Hitchcock’s Rope, shot in 10 short takes but intended to look continuous, an arms race began to see how long filmmakers could hold shots without the narrative collapsing. Sometimes they even cheated with invisible cuts. The antidote? Alexander Sukurov’s historical drama consists of one unbroken 96-minute shot. Dazzlingly choreographed, it follows the POV of the camera (essentially a ghost) as it glides through Russia’s Winter Palace, interacting with and eavesdropping on Tsar Nicholas II, Joseph Stalin and others from a 300-year period. Mike Figgis’ 90-minute Timecode pulled the same trick using a split-screen device, but it was shot on VHS, so Sukurov’s staggering achievement seems unlikely to be surpassed. See Also Rope (1948), GoodFellas (1990), Snake Eyes (1998) Timecode (2000), Children Of Men (2006), La Casa Munda (2010).
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The 12-minute unbroken opening shot that leaves Sandra Bullock and George Clooney stranded in space was, like the rest of Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity, a technical achievement of which Nasa would be proud. Tim Webber of London’s Framestore VFX unit estimated that 80 per cent of the film was CG (Avatar was just 60 per cent). Besides the actors’ faces, everything you see in this first scene is computergenerated, but the filmmakers still pioneered new ways to shoot and light the actors in Zero-G. “The technology involved is the worst possible scenario of animation and a live-action shoot,” said Cuarón who, four-and-a-half years after dreaming up this simple movie, received a much-deserved Best Director Oscar. See Also 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988), The Abyss (1989), Avatar (2009), Inception (2010).
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Filmmakers have long travelled to the ends of the earth to find the perfect location, but Rapa Nui is – almost literally – off the charts. Directed by Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves’ Kevin Reynolds and co-produced by Kevin Costner, it was set and shot among the indigenous tribes of Easter Island, one of the most remote places in the world. “That’s probably the most difficult picture I’ve ever done,” Reynolds conceded. With only one flight from mainland Chile (3,512km away) per week, “There were times we ran out of food,” recalls the director. “It was very bad.” Critics more or less agreed. For their next extravaganza, the Kevins moved closer to home, to Hawaii. The movie? Waterworld. See Also Apocalypse Now (1979), Fitzcarraldo (1982), The Dead (2012), South Of Sanity (2012). Subscribe at www.totalfilm.com/subs
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Last Action Hero
The makers of this winking, limping mega-turkey didn’t do anything by halves, including an ad campaign so OTT even Arnie’s Jack Slater character might have urged caution. As well as the usual tie-ins – a $12m Burger King promotion, a $5m Mattel toy line, pinball machines, video games, beach towels, trading cards – Columbia Pictures paid to have a Last Action Hero poster placed on the side of a space shuttle. Unfortunately, as often happens in space travel, the launch was delayed until almost two months after the film came out. This wasn’t the only gargantuan mis-step: a 75ft balloon in Times Square depicting Slater holding sticks of dynamite had to be re-designed because, three days previously, the World Trade Centre had been bombed. It’s possible that Columbia knew the film was terrible but, faced with an immovable 18 June release date (just one week after the equally well-promoted, but crucially non-shit, Jurassic Park), had no choice but to hype the hell out of it. All the same, there is such a thing as bad press, or at least too much press. The media were primed to rip the film apart, and such was the expectation of catastrophe that Columbia sent round a press release ‘to cut off the endless string of calls from around the world on the very same tired subject’, swearing, ‘We will absolutely make our date on Last Action Hero’. The film tanked, and it remains a testament to Hollywood’s unofficial adage: if you’re going to fail, fail big. See Also The Blair Witch Project (1999), Fight Club (1999), Cloverfield (2009), Tron: Legacy (2010).
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‘Columbia Pictures paid to have a poster of the film placed on the side of a space shuttle’
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Kubrick hastily referred to his pet project as ‘the best film ever made’. If only. In the late ’60s/early ’70s, he spent years amassing research, reading more than 500 books and watching every film ever made about the subject. His plan was to dramatise Napoleon’s entire life, reasoning, “If you have a truly interesting film, it doesn’t matter how long it is”. The master envisaged thousands of extras for the battle scenes, even taking samples of mud from the real Waterloo to plausible locations. Over the years, David Hemmings, Ian Holm and Jack Nicholson were all considered as stars (and, post-mortem, Spielberg, Scorsese and Mann have shown interest in directing). Sadly spiralling costs and rival films scuppered it, and the ‘best film ever made’ remained in its creator’s head. See Also Sergio Leone’s Leningrad, Francis Ford Coppola’s Megalopolis, Paul Verhoeven’s Crusade, Mira Nair’s Shantaram.
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The swords-and-sandals genre had been languishing in the VHS bargain bin since its 1960s heyday but Ridley Scott’s opus revived it in style, paving the way for the likes of TLOTR, 300 and Game Of Thrones. Deeming the original Colosseum ‘too small’ for his needs, Scott set about rebuilding Rome, a process which took way more than a day. The filmmakers burned down a forest in Surrey, built a 30,000-seat arena in Morocco and a replica of ancient Rome in Malta, including a 53ft, $1m Colosseum of plaster and plywood (the other two-thirds were added in digitally). That wasn’t the end of the SFX skulduggery. When Oliver Reed died during filming, they recreated him too. See Also Spartacus (1960), The Fall of the Roman Empire (1964), Braveheart (1995), 300 (2006). TF June 2014 | Total Film | 83
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“When I was a kid, Hercules was always a hero of mine,” says Dwayne Johnson, “I always thought that the version of Hercules I would want to play was one that was more dramatic, that survived in barren lands, that wasn’t slick in any way. It's been on my mind for some time…” This summer, Johnson finally gets his chance – starring in Brett Ratner’s version of the legend adapted from Steve Moore’s graphic novel. Whilst few would deny there’s anyone better suited to play the mountainous demi-god who conquered the 12 labours, Johnson’s hero won’t be the Hydra slaying superstar from the storybooks. To start off, he’s not really even a hero. Jaded, moody and exiled from his homeland, the Grecian hulk is left to wander around the dark-age world, hiring himself out as a mercenary and reminiscing about the good ol’ days. In fact, the good ol’ days didn’t happen the way he remembers either – with Ratner de-stressing the mythical parts of his backstory, suggesting he might have made the whole thing up. When John Hurt’s petty warlord offers him a fistful of gold to help him break up a people’s rebellion, Herc joins the dark side before he starts to re-discover what it means to be a hero. He isn’t on his own either – surrounded by a faithful band of travelling mercs, bards, marathon runners, archers and cannibals including Ian McShane, Joe Anderson, Ingrid Berdal, Aksel Hennie and Rebecca Ferguson. Ratner’s dusty, brutal retelling of the Greek mythmaker might be stripped down, but it’s certainly not small-scale. Boasting Gladiator sized battles, Ben-Hur style chariot races and a colossal citadel set bigger than the real colosseum – Hercules is a proper epic. And yes, the Rock gets to layeth the Smackdown too… 84 | Total Film | June 2014
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They don’t come much bigger than Moses. Following Cecil B. DeMille’s legendary 1956 epic The Ten Commandments with his own old-Hollywood take on the crusading prophet, Ridley Scott helps Christian Bale step into Charlton Heston’s sandals on a monster scale with a historical blockbuster (currently known by the working title, Exodus). “It’s epic, because we wanted to do justice to the epic scale of the story,” says production designer, Arthur Max. “You hear Ridley Scott, the expectation is large.”
It’s hard to imagine any film could look more at home in the multiplex than the armrest-rattling Transformers trilogy, but Michael Bay promises part four is going to be “much more cinematic”. Swapping Shia LaBeouf and jivetaking sidekicks for Mark Wahlberg and Dinobots, hopes are high that Age Of Extinction can lift the series out of the rubble of Dark Of The Moon. “It’s its own standalone thing,” says Wahlberg, keen to stress that the robots aren’t the biggest thing in the movie anymore. “I think the emotional core of it, the human element, is going to be extremely powerful.”
Scott’s clearly been pulling it off according to an impressed Aaron Paul. “Every day I walk on set mesmerised, when Ridley does something he does it big. It’s like nothing I’ve seen before.” Despite the lofty source material, expect lavish battle scenes, a sea-parting set-piece and an emotional rollercoaster. “It’s a raw story when you break it down,” says Bale, “I certainly wouldn’t want to call it an action film, but let me put it this way: any of us living today who arrived back then would be scared shitless.”
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Director Colin Trevorrow confirmed that BD Wong’s Dr Wu will be the only Isla Nubla survivor to join Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard in the new JP adventure. “Fans want to see the original characters back, but this isn’t about three people who keep getting into the same situation,” explains Trevorrow. “I grew up on Amblin movies,” he adds, “they’re a part of who I am as a filmmaker. This film will have a lot of new ideas, but I think it will have an old soul.” Life finds a way…
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R2-D2 is definitely in it, Adam Driver is probably in it and Lupita Nyong’o might be in it. A Millennium Falcon may also have been built to scale at Pinewood – the rumour mill for the most eagerly awaited sequel since Episode I just keeps turning. The last official word from Disney confirmed that the new chapter will be set 30 years after Return Of The Jedi and a “trio of new young leads” will star alongside “some very familiar faces”. J.J.Abrams is set to start filming next month at the legendary Pinewood Studios (and maybe in Hoth, according to the Icelandic tourist board…) so something this big won’t be under >> wraps for too much longer. June 2014 | Total Film | 85
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What’s more epic than a movie about an exploding volcano? (Dante’s Peak, anyone?) A movie about an ancient, real-life exploding volcano, obviously. Set in the first century AD, Paul W.S. Anderson reheats Vesuvius and sends molten lava flowing over an already sizzling love triangle between a gladiator (Kit Harington), a sexy socialite (Emily Browning) and a lechy old Senator (Kiefer Sutherland). “We tried to be historically accurate,” says Anderson, who matched SFX shots to real eruption footage and based all the characters on the real-life casts of people who perished in the actual event and were entombed forever in lava – but it’s the big screen visuals he’s most proud of: “Hand over heart, I’d be shocked if you’ll see better 3D in a cinema this year…” 86 | Total Film | June 2014
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“I didn’t want to meet God in the first one,” says Ridley Scott, thinking even bigger than Exodus for his prequel sequel. “I’d love to explore where [Noomi Rapace’s Dr. Shaw] goes next and what she does. Paradise cannot be what you think it is…” With the script being reworked by Green Lantern writer Michael Green (originally written by Transcendence scribe Jack Paglen) and the Red Sea parted, Scott is on track to return to Prometheus again – potentially joining the loose ends in the Alien universe to make an even bigger world and possibly featuring multiple Fassbenders.
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The Dwarves are in the Lonely Mountain, Smaug is in the air and the five armies are gathering for the biggest rumble Middle-earth has ever seen. “Everything that we’ve established in the first two movies is going to be played out in a very grand way,” teases Peter Jackson of his monumental trilogy concluder. With nothing left in Tolkien’s text but one big pay-off, expect the final film to get loud. “The action gets to a place that we haven’t seen it reach before,” promises Evangeline Lilly, returning as lovelorn Elf warrior Tauriel, “but it’s emotionally spectacular too… your heart breaks.”
James Cameron knows his epics. Eclipsing the previous biggest box-office film of all time (his own Titanic) with the first Avatar, the only way he could possibly top it is with an entire trilogy of consecutive sequels. “It just makes sense to think of it as a two or three film arc,” says Cameron, still busy designing an underwater ecosystem for his return trips to Pandora. “The CG plants and trees and the musculo-skeletal rigging of the main characters all take an enormous amount of time to create. It’d be a waste not to use it again.” TF
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For anyone who hasn’t played one of the 55m copies of the videogame series sold so far, Assassin’s Creed is the story of a New York bartender who gets kidnapped by a secret organisation and forced into a machine that lets him live out his ancestors' memories – free-running through history, stabbing people in the neck and standing wistfully on top of all the tall buildings. Michael Fassbender and Daniel Espinosa (Safe House) are tipped to star and direct, with the story’s massive span, breathless action and decidedly cinematic bent already on track to break the game/movie curse. totalfilm.com
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With close-cropped hair, tattoos and emotional baggage, in David Ayerâ€™s war-on-drugs thriller Sabotage. Total Film
88 | Total Film | June 2014
sabotage The A-team: John ‘Breacher’ Wharton (Arnold Schwarzenegger) heads up an elite DEA task force.
Arnold Schwarzenegger is the real deal interrogates Arnie and his badass team...
words Jamie graham
The lift is packed and Total Film is standing shoulder to shoulder – or rather head to shoulder – with Arnold Schwarzenegger. In front of Arnie, two of his entourage are messing around, a smaller guy is slapping a bigger guy repeatedly in the chops. Everyone in the lift laughs nervously. Schwarzenegger, stone faced, leans away each time the big guy’s head rocks back. The big guy cranes his thick neck around to grin at Arnie, who stares back expressionless. The big guy faces front again. Slap! His head rocks back, Arnie leans away. Then, as the lift doors slide open on the 14th floor of the Four Seasons Hotel, Beverly Hills, Schwarzenegger rotates his head Terminator-style to look at Total Film. He smiles slyly, rotates his head forward and leans in to sink his teeth into the big guy’s shoulder before >> June 2014 | Total Film | 89
MAKING OF pushing him sprawling out of the lift. Everyone bursts out laughing, as much in relief as anything, and the big guy laughs hardest of all. Such macho horseplay was the norm on the Atlanta set of David Ayer’s thriller, Sabotage. Another of the writer/director’s gritty street tales (Training Day, Harsh Times, End Of Watch) soaked in violence, expletives, adrenalin and testosterone, it tells of a crack DEA task force taking the fight to the Mexican cartels that use Atlanta as the hub of their Eastern seaboard operations. The film opens with John ‘Breacher’ Wharton’s (Schwarzenegger) team of animalistic anti-heroes (including Josh Holloway, Joe Manganiello, Sam Worthington and The Killing’s Mireille Enos – a real-life black belt) breaking into Ready to roll: (clockwise from a cartel mansion and seizing millions above) the team hunkers down; of dollars in drug money. However, Joe Manganiello and Terrence Howard on set; Breacher gets $10m of that cash then goes missing. emotional; (opposite) Wharton And things go from bad to worse and detective colleague Caroline when Breacher’s squad start getting Brentwood (Olivia Williams). offed one by one and are left with no choice but to accept the help of workaholic detective Caroline Brentwood (Olivia Williams, convincingly hardass). It’s a pretty standard concept but there are two major selling points: 1) Ayer keeps everything grounded and immediate with his thrillingly experiential approach, all handheld camerawork and POV shots; and 2) this is Schwarzenegger as we’ve never seen him before. “Skip Woods had done the script and it seemed like a fun world for me to play in,” says Ayer, wearing a navy USS HADDO baseball cap and a tight grin. “Arnold was attached. He’d seen End Of Watch and felt like I could do something for the script, and for him. He wanted me to ground him, make him seem like a real person. was when we did Terminator, or Paul Verhoeven We developed an internal life, with a history and with Total Recall. He’s really brilliant and I want loss, and we surrounded him with this amazing to move with him while he’s on the climb.’” cast. He was willing to do a lot of preparation Reality was the watchword. Shooting on the work, rehearsals, and to workshop the scenes streets of Atlanta, which really is used as a base with the other actors. He acts, he performs, he by the Mexican cartels, Ayer insisted his actors delivers, he has soul.” looked and acted the part by first immersing Schwarzenegger nods. Wearing a brown themselves in four months’ worth of research and leather jacket and blue jeans, his belt boasting training. Josh Holloway (Sawyer in Lost) and Joe a huge silver buckle and his right wrist encircled Manganiello (sexy werewolf Alcide Herveaux in by a thick silver chain, he’s relaxed and True Blood) recall the period fondly. surprisingly softly “That’s the exciting thing about being an actor, spoken. It’s hard you acquire skills,” Manganiello says. “It was to believe he was all day, every day: martial arts, MMA, stand-up chomping on fighting, ground fighting, hand guns, shotguns, someone’s arm full automatics, building sweeping with SWAT just a few minutes teams…” Holloway cuts in, speaking with a strong before. “The movie southern drawl. “It was awesome! It was like man was appealing,” he camp. Disneyland for men. Guns and tobacco and says. “David is very good Arnold! We were like, yes! It was interesting to go at making things realistic. He’s through training together and to figure out where a great director. I thought, ‘This we fitted, cos we’re all alpha males and we ain’t guy is where John McTiernan giving that up. What other movie has its cast was when we did Predator, hitting each other between takes? I mean, c’mon, or where Jim Cameron we’re all ego! It was hilarious.”
When it came to the prep work, no exceptions were made for Schwarzenegger. He wouldn’t have had it any other way. “It was really terrific,” he says. “David was fanatical about us training with the SWAT team in LA, and having experts on the set all the time to always remind you that you’re holding the gun the wrong way, or the hat’s the wrong way, or the shirt has to be this way [adjusts collar by half an inch and rolls his eyes, smirking].” But there’s a serious side to it all. Manganiello – who Schwarzenegger tips as the next big action hero – went on several ride-alongs with a SWAT team, watching their tactics up close and personal. He’s not willing to discuss details of the violence he saw first-hand, but is adamant that “evil does exist” and that Sabotage “pays tribute to the men and women who are fighting this war on our behalf so we can sit at home and watch network TV”. It is of course inevitable that the brutality on show in Sabotage will once more resuscitate the age-old debate of violence in the movies. This is a thriller in which everyone is welded to their M4 and blood doesn’t so much spatter the movie as drench it. Holloway says he does worry Subscribe at www.totalfilm.com/subs
‘this isn’t just an action movie’ arnold schwarzenegger about violence in films but here feels it’s “wholly appropriate”, and Ayer is uncompromising on the subject. “There’s blood? I told them to take that out…” he jokes, before shaking his head. “I’ve seen a lot of violence in my life. I was in the armed forces, I grew up in South Los Angeles. You see things. It’s part of life. I don’t think that all entertainment should be scrubbed clean because some people take offence. The violence in my movies is fast and brutal, which is how it is in the real world. It’s not gratuitous. And when people die there’s emotional impact, loss, grieving.” Schwarzenegger’s Breacher carries more grief than most. His history, as alluded to by Ayer earlier, is that he lost his wife and son to the cartels, and he’s now seeing his DEA team – a makeshift family, no less – torn apart. Ayer stressed to his star that Sabotage was not Commando and he’d be required to live his backstory and therefore undertake some heavy emotional lifting. “This was a very, very challenging role,” Schwarzenegger admits. “It isn’t just an action movie. It’s a very complex character. A guy who has his own problems. The movie has so many different layers.” Sam Worthington insists Arnie pulled it off, saying, “David brought out in Arnold this kind of grizzled, hardened warrior, like Clint Eastwood totalfilm.com
can do. But he actually cares about his family… a nurturing force. That’s something no one’s seen from Arnold and it’s exciting to act alongside that because it’s not just a caricature. He’s an actor exploring what his potential is.” Covered in Vietnam-era tattoos and flaunting his age as he portrays an enforcer at the fag-end of his career, Schwarzenegger brings an authentic world-weariness to the part. Just don’t make the mistake of suggesting he’s now too old to do his own stunts… He narrows his eyes. “I don’t get on the truck and go, ‘OK Arnold, you’re now 66 years old, so be careful you don’t fall over because you’re going to break your hip’,” he says. “I’m not like the retired person that you see in some movies, where you sit there in your rocking chair with a pipe and doze off every few minutes.” Thankfully he smiles. “The stunt department and production come to an agreement about what I should do and what I should not do, and that’s the way it always was because no one wants to have the star get injured and be out of production for six months. Other than that, you get in the back of the truck and you figure out what it takes when you make the turn at 50mph, how you have your feet, what boots should you wear... You think about that, not ‘I’m 66 and I shouldn’t be on the back of a truck in a shootout’.”
Schwarzenegger’s director and co-stars are in no doubt that Arnie still has the goods. “In that epic car chase through downtown Atlanta, he was standing in the back of this truck, firing an M4 carbine, banging away, and we were racing around corners with him barely strapped in the back,” whistles Ayer. He smiles wryly. “Fortunately we didn’t dump him. That would have been bad…” Holloway grins. “Arnold was fine, he’s made of steel. I asked how he stays so lean. He said, ‘Clear broth’. Working with him was a blast. I’d look over and it was, ‘Wow, I’m blowing off rounds with The Terminator!’” And that’s the thing. Sabotage shows a raw side to Schwarzenegger that we’ve not been privy to before, but he’s still an icon. Manganiello says it best. “After the first day of shooting, I was out on a date and Arnold was at the restaurant. I said to my date, ‘Hey, I know him, let’s go say hi’ – to impress her, you know? So we went over and I said, ‘Hey Arnold, it’s Joe from today, the shotguns, you know?’ And he said [launches into a perfect Arnie impression], ‘Look at you, biceps, triceps, you’re all pumped up.’ It was perfect! I had to get out of there and call everyone I knew: ‘Arnold said I was pumped up!’” TF Sabotage opens on 7 May. June 2014 | Total Film | 91
words matt maytum
Oscar-winning cinematographer Wally Pfister is best known for lensing Christopher Nolanâ€™s movies. Now, he takes Total Film through the mind-blowing ambition of his directorial debut. 92 | Total Film | June 2014
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transcendence Screen time: Wally Pfister directs Cillian Murphy, Morgan Freeman and Rebecca Hall.
or a first-time director wrapping production on a hugely complex sci-fi blockbuster, Wally Pfister is remarkably relaxed when Total Film catches up with him in the dark of a screening room in the basement of London’s Charlotte Street Hotel. “I had no idea that I’d start with this ambitious a project…” he considers, grinning. While you’d be right to expect his directorial debut to look incredible, Transcendence is as far-reaching in ideas as it is in scale. With a budget believed to be north of $100m, it stars Johnny Depp as Dr Will Caster, an artificialintelligence specialist whose consciousness is uploaded to a computer mainframe after a fatal shooting by extreme anti-tech activists, >> totalfilm.com
June 2014 | Total Film | 93
MAKING OF giving his mind access to unparalleled power. “Johnny’s just an extraordinary actor,” Pfister explains. “I knew he could pull off the human side as well as the machine side.” For someone whose work is known for its gritty precision (he pulled cinematography duties on every Christopher Nolan film from Memento to The Dark Knight Rises), Pfister is surprisingly easygoing and talkative, chatting with the enthusiasm of a first-time filmmaker and the authority of an award-winning pro. Sharing a glimpse into his own thought processes, here Pfister talks us exclusively through his own upgrade from cinematographer to director…
“I got into the business wanting to be more involved in storytelling. I really kind of slipped into cinematography because I loved doing it. And I, of course, enjoyed the success I had in it. “But there was something nagging at me, and something that drew me back and was tapping me on my shoulder as the years passed, saying, ‘Hey, there are other things you wanted to do.’ So eventually I knew I had to do this. “In hindsight, I’m glad I started with such an ambitious, large-scale project. I didn’t expect it. I was just looking for a good screenplay. I just wanted to tell a story with characters. “The scale of the film can seem daunting – when you start thinking of the sets you have to build, those expensive days with effects and stunts, the managing of four or five major movie stars on a set at once. It’s scary and it’s intimidating and you have to be on your game and clear-headed. And you’ve got to do your homework. You’ve got to be prepared. And that’s the one thing I learned as a cinematographer: the extraordinary importance of discipline in the process.”
‘Johnny got the film and the character right away’
the Nolan influence
“I wouldn’t say that I learned anything specifically from Chris [Nolan], but he was a great friend and mentor for many years. I feel really fortunate to have been working for him for 15 years. I didn’t go to him for advice on Transcendence, but he was there for me if I needed him. 94 | Total Film | June 2014
“I had already made the decision to do Transcendence before Chris was on Interstellar, so it was never a choice for me to do the cinematography on that. I had already moved on. I basically told him I was going to start directing, and he was very encouraging. And that was that. “When Chris told me he was hiring Hoyte Van Hoytema to do the cinematography on Interstellar, I was like, ‘Fantastic choice.’ I’m really looking forward to seeing Interstellar as an audience member. I’ve always been a great fan of Chris’ films, as well as a collaborator. And I’m really excited to sit back and not know anything about the film and experience it on the screen for the first time.”
honing the script
“Jack Paglen came up with the initial concept and wrote the original screenplay. We started meeting and I started changing things. I changed the setting, and changed the focus of the main character and what he was sort of about. “What Jack’s original story had that remains
intact in the picture – and was probably the single most important element – was the relationship between the husband and wife [Johnny Depp and Rebecca Hall]. And that remains the most important thing to me. And that was a foundation that Jack had built in the first screenplay. “The concept of the technological singularity is the foundation of the film. But without an emotional connection, a film can’t exist. I rewrote the screenplay several times, and finally had something in hand that I was happy with when it came to shooting. “Am I worried that Transcendence might draw comparisons to Chris’s films? It’s irrelevant.”
“You don’t want spoilers coming out. People in Hollywood always fuck it up. Someone leaked the script early on. But at the same time, nobody really grabbed onto that, and it was an old draft Subscribe at www.totalfilm.com/subs
Controlled chaos: (main) Pfister on set; (opposite, from top) Dr Will Caster (Johnny Depp) and wife Evelyn (Rebecca Hall); Caster’s mentor Joseph Tagger (Freeman) and best friend Max Waters (Paul Bettany).
The Brit actress talks Johnny Depp, blockbusters and special effects.
What can you tell us about your character, Evelyn? “She’s tenacious and ambitious, and thinks she’s morally righteous. She has quite an unusual journey. She’s strong-willed, and loves her husband and wants to keep him alive at all costs. And there begins the movie...”
excitement of a first-time filmmaker, plus years and years’ worth of experience being on massive movies.” Wally’s best known for his cinematography on Christopher Nolan’s films. Did you find any similarities between their directing styles? “They had quite different directing styles; they’re quite different people, but I think they have quite similar sensibilities, which is inevitable or they wouldn’t have worked together very much. I think you can’t underrate how much the two of them were collaborators on the films they worked on together.”
You worked with Wally Pfister on The Prestige. Did you know him well from back then? “He was a kind and brilliant presence when I didn’t really know what I was doing. I remember him being very, very tolerant of that [laughs]. So when I heard that he was going to direct something, I thought I could return the favour – watch him be a novice for a bit [laughs]!”
What was it like starring opposite Johnny Depp? “For a lot of my scenes with him, he’s in a computer screen, and on every set that was built, there would be a small room just to the side where Johnny would sit with a camera on him and it would shoot him from the shoulders up and beam him live onto the monitors inside the set. Everything you see between myself and Johnny in the film is shot live, and we’re actually acting together.”
So how was he as a debut ‘novice’ director? “I found him to be the most unique combination, and unlike any first-time director I’ve ever worked with. Wally just had all of the enthusiasm and all of that
Are we going to see you working with him again in Pirates Of The Caribbean 5? “No. Not to my knowledge. Nobody’s mentioned anything to me about that, so I have no idea [laughs].”
of the script. So it ended up being very different. So anybody who judged the film on that draft didn’t know what the real movie actually was. It ended up being very different. “You owe it to the audience. If you want any kind of twists or surprises or anything to generate or sustain interest, you want to keep a few secrets. Why would you put the whole thing out there? “The director is the most powerful person on the set. But in the machine, when you’re making a movie this big, you don’t have a say over the marketing. The team at Alcon and Warner Brothers is extraordinary, and they’re the best in the world at it. “So I have to trust their judgement in getting people into the theatre that opening weekend. It’s up to me to get them subsequent weekends…”
“Johnny [Depp]’s an incredible artist. A smart, smart guy. He got the film, he got the character right away. There was a great level of trust between us. I love his sensibilities, and I think he really trusted me and believed that he was >> June 2014 | Total Film | 95
Read-through: Pfister discusses a scene with Hall and Bettany.
‘i wanted to do something original… not derivative’ in a safe place with me. It made for a great working experience. I was very excited to have him play the sort of regular guy and not a character per se. I would relish the opportunity to work with him again. “I got to know some of the cast members well through my work in cinematography. Morgan [Freeman] in particular. Both Cillian [Murphy] and Morgan I’ve worked with for 10 years now. We had a good working relationship and a fun time, so I think that helped me cast this picture with such great names. To be able to get Morgan as a slightly smaller part in the film was an extraordinary coup. “It’s the same thing when I worked with Rebecca Hall on The Prestige, and Cillian on three Batman movies. There was a nice comfort factor having these guys there for my first film. “I didn’t know Johnny or Paul Bettany before this experience and Kate Mara was new to it as well, and I ended up loving these guys 96 | Total Film | June 2014
and having a terrific time with them. I’d work again with every one of them.”
“It’s a lot trickier to get funding for an original idea. It’s a great risk for an investor to put this kind of money on the table and not have any guarantee of a return. And there is a guarantee of a return on a superhero movie. An original concept like this is much riskier. “I think that basically it pays off. The interesting thing too is that it seems risky and scary, but then you end up with a pretty commercial product. You’ve got a big star attached and some action sequences. You know, touch wood, we’ve got something that has the potential of being successful. “One thing I felt adamant about was that I wanted to do something original. It’s a hugely important thing. I’m not interested in derivative material. And that was something that struck me about Jack’s original screenplay. It felt fresh to me. It felt like it was very current and very much in the zeitgeist. That’s what drew me to it.”
“The sci-fi elements and the visual effects were an enormous amount of fun. I had a great, great team working with me on those elements. As much as I really always felt I wanted to be a grounded filmmaker with no visual effects
and stuff, the work that those guys did got me excited; wanting to push the envelope more. “I had something in my mind, and it was a lofty ambition in terms of what we wanted to present with visual effects. I had a fantastic visual effects supervisor, Nathan McGuinness, and his team at Double Negative exceeded my expectations using that as a creative tool, not as a gimmick.”
“I don’t know if there’s room for a Transcendence sequel. I think sequels are based on whether the film has box-office success or not. I leave that up to the producers to decide, though I think there’s a lot of room creatively. I could do anything next. I can do a little Working Title period piece set in England. I’d be happy with that if it had a story or character development or a great twist. I think it’s just about great storytelling. Whatever tickles your fancy in that area. “There’s some great filmmakers, and you just watch the projects they’re doing. Paul Greengrass can do the Bourne movies, and then do Captain Phillips. He’s always got a bit of action in there, but they’re grounded stories and they’re well told. So I’d like to keep it loose; keep my options open. “I don’t plan to go back to a cinematographer role. You move forward, you move on. I’ve other things I want to do as a director…” TF Transcendence opens on 25 April. Subscribe at www.totalfilm.com/subs
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Charming Man He has leading man looks but never makes a predictable choice, tapping into his darkness to play off-kilter paramour and paeodophile, scream king and superhero. With Ant-Man and Space Station 76 on the horizon, Total Film tries to pin down PatrickWilson...
hen Patrick Wilson made his self-deprecating keynote speech at Carnegie Mellon University (his alma mater) in 2012, he introduced himself as “a semi-famous actor who is usually recognised not by name but by ‘hey, weren’t you in a movie?’” Wilson, with his looks straight off a Mills & Boon cover and a prolific, mutable CV, has one of those faces (like his ‘who’s that?’ dopplegänger, Will Arnett). You’ve seen him in loads of things, he’s that guy – always turning up in unexpected projects or perverting what appears to be a straight-forward ‘hot guy’ role, a character actor trapped in a romantic-lead body. Think about his roles in Hard Candy, Insidious, Little Children, even The A-Team and there’s a certain, compelling darkness that lies beneath the handsome face. Even playing Jennifer Aniston’s love-interest in soapy romcom The Switch, Wilson manages to evoke a certain off-kilter creepiness,
98 | Total Film | June 2014
Words Jane Crowther Additional reporting Katherine McLaughin potrait kurt iswarienko
while audiences are never certain if former high school hottie Buddy might actually leave his wife for Charlize Theron in Young Adult… In the flesh, Wilson is less of an enigma, greeting Total Film with a strong handshake, a steady blue-eyed gaze and infectious warmth when we catch up with him in Austin during SXSW promotion of his indie space-set soap opera, Space Station 76. A six-footer with easy, inclusive charm and a booming laugh, Wilson is movie star good-looking, has charisma in spades and is more endearingly goofy than creepy. When asked what college course he would teach on any subject he declares; “I would teach the importance of hair metal, specifically the significant contributions that heavy metal has had to the music world. The journey of Mötley Crüe coming out from the success of the New York Dolls, then we’d get into Cinderella and how they were unsung heroes of metal and how their talents were denied because of the rise of MTV and glam.” Unexpected, right?
But unexpected is a trademark of this 40-year-old’s career path who may have started out as a romantic sap in The Phantom Of The Opera in 2004, but told Dread Central back in 2006 that, “Success to me is not defined by the box office nor is the idea that I’m going to be defined by a certain role”. Hell, even when he played superhero Nite Owl in Zack Snyder’s Watchmen he gamely gained 20lbs and got buck naked in an embarrassingly long sex scene. And Hard Candy wasn’t exactly going to cement heartthrob status, playing as he did a suave charmer who is revealed as a sexual predator and gets his balls in a clamp for his trouble. The shocking switch is only possible thanks to his deft handling of the role; “I figured I’d play him as a three-dimensional character. I don’t know how else to play somebody. If you’re playing a good guy, you want to find the dirty parts. If you’re playing a bad guy, you want to find vulnerability,” he explained >> at the time. Subscribe at www.totalfilm.com/subs
aybe it’s that mining for filth that makes him so unpredictable as a screen presence and powers his magpie-like role-picking – flipping easily from indie drama to jumpy horror, film to TV. From being terrorised by Samuel L. Jackson in Lakeview Terrace to harbouring the devil in Insidious and then onward to recently screwing Lena Dunham’s Hannah over his pristine brownstone kitchen in HBO’s Girls. Even cast in a conventional leading man role, Wilson unsettled viewers, prompting scoffs that Hannah could never pull such hot, rich, successful man. Wilson was bemused himself by the bile, saying at the time the episode aired, “I really wasn’t expecting so much response. I didn’t expect people to have such an opinion on my taste. As a person, not just a character. That was really strange and invasive and weird.” In his latest role, he’s u-turning on demonic possession to play a gay space captain struggling to come terms with his sexuality in Jack Plotnick’s ensemble comedy, Space Station 76. He heads up a highly dysfunctional crew who are each dealing with their own issues in this soap opera style sci-fi set in a 1970’s version of the future, which owes a debt to Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey and Douglas Trumball’s Silent Running via John Carpenter’s Dark Star. “It was really thrilling because I knew doing this film it would be different to any other I had done before. And that happens so seldom. It was such a wonderful, specific experience and all these characters had such crazy emotional arcs, yet told through this 100 | Total Film | June 2014
‘I resisted horror films for a long time because I didn’t think they were actor friendly’ device in space,” he enthuses as crates of vodka rattle behind him for the premiere party later that evening. It’s yet another change of pace for Wilson: “I think they’re very similar, seriously, in a strange way,” he says of the switch-up from scares to laughs. “They’re both have to be so technical. In crafting a horror movie and in crafting the scares… I think James Wan can craft scares extremely well, whether it’s on
a bigger budget like The Conjuring or a tiny budget like Insidious. I resisted horror movies for a long time because I didn’t think they were actor friendly. I think you have to have knowledge of the genre, you’ve got to know it. A good horror movie has to be done in the language of a horror movie. You’ve got to commit to it. [Shouts theatrically] ‘Damn you, Bathsheba!’ You’ve got to chew it. You can’t chicken out of [those lines] or it just falls flat.” Admittedly, there could also be comedy in some of dialogue and situations in Wilson’s devilish turns in Insidious…”Oh, certainly!” he laughs. “With something like Insidious: Chapter 2, where I’ve got a knife behind my back, saying [adopts hammy sinister voice] “What did the dice tell ya?” You can’t run from that. In the same way in good comedy you’ve got to set up the joke.” That eye for the dirty laundry and the mechanics of comedy/drama should serve him well in his next project – rumoured as he is to be getting into the Marvel fraternity by joining Edgar Wright’s Ant-Man, possibly as the young Hank Pym (despite his friendly loquaciousness, he’s keeping enticingly schtum on this). He’s also embracing his inner perv again with Zipper, playing a married man who risks everything for another woman opposite Game Of Thrones’ Lena Headey. And there’ll be more chewing of horror tropes with a return to The Conjuring 2: The Enfield Poltergeist. After that, who knows? Wilson isn’t out of surprises yet but he’s sure to continue his that guy streak finding deliciously ‘dirty parts’… TF Space Station 76 opens later this year. Subscribe at www.totalfilm.com/subs
kurt iswarienko/trunk archive, getty, pa photos, rex
Lost in space: (main, l-r) Marisa Coughlan, Patrick Wilson, Liv Tyler and Matt Bomer in comedy Space Station 76; (below inset) with co-star Rose Byrne in horror Insidious (2010).
Other actors who are in everything – can’t think what, dunno their names, oh, you know the one…. Greg Kinnear
Not to be confused with Jeff Daniels or Bill Pullman A gay painter in As Good As It Gets (1997), a conjoined twin in Stuck On You (2003) and a dysfunctional life coach in Little Miss Sunshine (2006), Greg Kinnear still seems to be typecast as a nice guy in a suit. “I'm just doing the best I can with what I have,” says Kinnear. “There are certain physical limitations to being a WASPy-looking dude from Indiana… ‘Travis Bickle: Part 2’ probably ain't coming my way...”
Not to be confused with James D’Arcy, Colin Firth and Hugh Grant He went to Oxford, he’s got curly hair and he’s a bit posh – so obviously everyone in Hollywood confuses him with Hugh and Colin. “The comparisons are odious but also quite flattering,” Dancy admits, standing out in indie hits like Shooting Dogs (2005), Martha Marcy May Marlene (2011), and TV’s Hannibal. “I don’t have any aspirations to be a leading man… I’ve realised I just don’t want to be ‘that guy’”.
Not to be confused with Lili Taylor or Judy Davis “That girl from that movie/ tv show” according to her Twitter profile, Judy Greer has certainly done a fine line in not-so-fine fluff (13 Going On 30 (2004), 27 Dresses (2008), Love Happens (2009)). But she’s also pretty good at picking interesting roles, from Alexander Payne’s The Descendants (2011) to the Duplass brother’s Jeff, Who Lives At Home (2011). Next up, that chimp from Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes. totalfilm.com
Not to be confused with James Cromwell, James Rebhorn or Bradley Whitford A favourite of the Coens and the Farrellys (and a scene stealer in The Cabin In The Woods (2012)) Jenkins has carved out a niche of respectable looking oddballs in over 70 movies. “Scripts always describe my characters as ‘strange-looking’, says Jenkins, “Or they say, ‘mild-mannered but crazy’. And then I see things like, ‘Not even attractive when he was young’…”
Not to be confused with J.K. Simmons, Philip Baker Hall or Craig T. Nelson “Everyone’s favourite scumbag” according to Playboy, J.T. Walsh only acted for 15 years before his death in 1998, but nearly every one of his roles was in a memorable movie. Good Morning Vietnam (1987), Misery (1990), A Few Good Men (1992), Hoffa (1992), Nixon (1995), Sling Blade (1996) and Pleasantville (1998) – if it came out in the ’90s and it was good, chances are he had a hand in making it better.
Not to be confused with Taylor Kinney, Taylor Lautner or Kellan Lutz Just because he’s a generic looking pretty-boy who went down with Battleship (2012) and John Carter (2012), it doesn’t mean he’s happy to be a box-office bomb. “I’m going to keep swinging for the fences,” says Kitsch, hoping to get his Friday Night Lights cred back with HIV activist drama The Normal Heart, as well as looking to develop his self-directed short, The Pieces, into a feature.
Not to be confused with David Morse or John Hawkes “It’s not the genre of or the size of a part,” says Fichtner, “it’s the character”. Taking small roles in big films (from Heat (1995) to The Dark Knight (2008)) throughout the ’90s and ’00s, it was his role as an FBI agent in TV’s Prison Break that kickstarted his career. Bad guy roles in The Lone Ranger (2013) and Elysium (2013) have prepped him to take on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles next summer as arch villain, Shredder.
Not to be confused with Catherine Keener, Allison Janney or Molly Shannon “No one really knows who I am!” says Ms Hahn, “So that’s a positive. I love not being pigeonholed”. A comedian on the fringe of the frat pack, she made her (forgettable) name in the likes of Anchorman (2004) and Step Brothers (2008) before a recurring role in Parks And Recreation led to bigger credits in We’re The Millers (2013) and Brad Bird’s super-secret Tomorrowland.
Not to be confused with Patton Oswald “I don’t want to play fat cops for the rest of my life,” says Will Patton, badge-wearing star of TV shows like The Agency, Numb3rs and 24. Struggling with small screen typecasting since bigger turns in The Postman (1997), Armageddon (1998) and Remember The Titans (2000), Patton has since found his most fans as the alien bashing Captain Weaver in Steven Spielberg’s sci-fi series Falling Skies. PB June 2014 | Total Film | 101
t hH e two jJ aA kK e s
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Jake Gyllenhaal’s world turns inside out when he meets his doppelgänger in a moody, menacing thriller from the director of Prisoners. Total Film sees double on the set of Enemy... Words Jamie Graham
otal Film is in Jake Gyllenhaal’s bedroom. It’s a square, good-sized room, high-end and modernist. The king-size bed is immaculately made, flanked by matching lamps, and the dark sliding doors of a built-in closet almost act as a mirror, if you want to get kinky about it. The walls are bare. Total Film is sitting on the bed. Gyllenhaal stands just inside the doorframe, ready for action. It’s the kind of scenario thousands have dreamed about but it is of course make-believe. This isn’t really Gyllenhaal’s bedroom, it belongs to his character, Daniel, and is built on a soundstage in Toronto. The film is Enemy, based on José Saramago’s bestselling 2002 novel The Double, and it’s Gyllenhaal’s biggest brain-scrambler since Donnie Darko. Part Lynch, part Cronenberg, part Kafka and all fucked up, its psychosexual thrills unspool like a sinister fever dream.
Beside Total Film on the bed is Oscarnominated French-Canadian director Denis Villeneuve (Incendies, Prisoners) and all about the room huddle key crew members, their eyes switching from Gyllenhaal stood before them to a monitor showing co-star Sarah Gadon (A Dangerous Method, Cosmopolis) standing in the living room. Her character is six months pregnant. And… Action. Gyllenhaal whispers frantically into the phone. Whoever’s on the other end of the line is getting an earful, told in no uncertain terms to never ring here again. Ending the call, the actor strides out of the bedroom and enters the living room: widescreen TV; sparsely decorated shelving unit; glass table with transparent Perspex chairs. Gadon stands in the open-plan kitchen area, her arrestingly pale skin out-gleaming the polished tiles and stainless steel. >> “Who was that?” asks Gadon. June 2014 | Total Film | 103
on set Gyllenhaal is pacing. “It was him. The man who called earlier.” “Who was it?” “It was a man.” Gadon’s voice rises. “Who was it? Are you seeing her again?” “It was a man.” Silence. “I don’t want to get into this again,” he sighs. “Who was it?” “IT WAS A MAN!” Pause. “Who do you think it was, a jealous husband?” he spits. “Probably.” “I don’t want to get into it. It was him.” Gyllenhaal and Gadon spend the morning running the scene over and over, changing lines, intonation, positions. They don’t have to concern themselves with hitting marks as DoP Nicolas Bolduc finds them wherever they go, his gliding camera untethered from reality. Reviewed on the monitor, the scene has the quality of being an inch to the left of reality, its off-centre claustrophobia conjuring memories of Roman Polanski’s Repulsion, Rosemary’s Baby and The Tenant. In-between each take, Gyllenhaal returns to the bedroom and embarks on a hushed, earnest conversation with Villeneuve. This is very much a directorstar collaboration and the pair seem to be finding the film as they go along. “This movie is like, ‘What the fuck!’” laughs Villeneuve over lunch. The dining area is a din of clattering plates, chiming cutlery and lively talk, cast and crew pushing their trays along the food counter’s rails. Villeneuve is eager to discuss the scene he’s just shot. “It’s the first time we’ve worked with both characters. There’s a specific tension. I didn’t have any time to rehearse with the actors, so this morning was really a laboratory to explore the past, to explore the tension. I love to have space to explore. Spontaneity, creativity.” Gyllenhaal and Gadon settle into adjacent seats and put down their plates. Fish, couscous, salad. Gyllenhaal is friendly but serious, eager to explain the appeal of making Enemy with Villeneuve. “I met him in person and asked him a number of questions about what the story was about,” he begins. “He said, ‘To tell you the truth, I don’t know the answers to those questions. But I want to go find them with you.’ I was like, ‘Holy shit!’” Well might the actor ask what the film is about. Set in a smog-shrouded Toronto comprised of towering brutalist architecture and clogged freeways, it sees repressed history teacher Adam (Gyllenhaal) spy his double while watching a movie. Tracking actor Daniel Saint Claire (Gyllenhaal again) to his Toronto agency and then to his home, Adam discovers they are identical down to their voices, the way they part their hair and a scar on the left-hand side of their stomachs. Even their partners (Mélanie Laurent and Gadon) look strikingly similar. 104 | Total Film | June 2014
Look-alikes: Adam and Daniel (both played by Jake Gyllenhaal) study their striking similarities; (below) director Denis Villeneuve with Sarah Gadon.
The only differences are that Adam lives in rumpled clothes and a shabby apartment full of threadbare carpets and books piled high, whereas Daniel dresses in white shirts as pristine as his antiseptic home and is forthright and confident. Freaked by the arrival of this clone ‘stalker’ on his doorstep, Daniel turns the tables and starts to spy on Adam, making surreptitious forays into his life. Before long their identities seem to shift and merge until it’s at times hard to say who we’re watching and, indeed, if the action is real or fantasy. If it’s the latter, is it taking place in the subconscious of Adam or Daniel? To make matters still more complicated, Enemy is punctuated by a series of ominous sex dreams involving beautiful naked ladies doing odd things with tarantulas in front of an audience of seated, suited men, or drifting along dingy corridors with nothing on but a mask of a strange beast. Think Eyes Wide Shut with a real sense of threat. “‘Doppelgänger’ is a genre,” says Villeneuve, pointing to Fyodor Dostoevsky’s novella The Double (loosely turned into a film by Richard Ayoade) and movies like Dead Ringers, The Double Life Of Veronique and Black Swan. “I think everybody is concerned that we are several people inside us. We struggle with different forces inside us. The way I behave with a film crew and the way I behave with my family are totally different. It’s about our relationship with ourselves.” Gadon steps in, pointing out that Villeneuve sent his actors a synopsis furnished with an explanatory note before he gave them a script. “It was about the journey and the existential crisis and finding out who you are in your life,”
she explains. The memory gets Gyllenhaal excited, his fork freezing in mid-air. “It said, ‘It’s about a man who is married, his wife is pregnant, and he’s having an affair. He has to figure himself out before he can commit to life as an adult’.” But it’s also about identity and role-playing. One scene sees Daniel rehearsing a confrontation with Adam before meeting him and playing out his imaginary scenario word for word. This, naturally, appealed to Gyllenhaal. “With this movie I feel like it’s so relative to my life – there’s a reality to it for me,” he says. “Not that I’ve been a teacher, but I do know about being an actor, which is what the other character is, so the journey on this one has been about asking for honesty from myself.” But how did he differentiate between Adam and Daniel? “We made the decision very early on that there wasn’t going to be a great physical difference between them,” he explains. “I thought maybe one character can have a beard and the other doesn’t, but Denis said, ‘No, both characters will have beards. The difference between them will be a flick of a hand’.” He gathers his thoughts. “It’s difficult to describe, but one doesn’t exist without the other. Each is a reflection of the Subscribe at www.totalfilm.com/subs
Step by step: Villeneuve and Gyllenhaal collaborate on set.
other one, and each has influenced the other one. It’s not like I said, ‘This guy is this way, and this guy is that way’. We kind of moulded both of them off the reflection of the other.” It’s all rather strange. But then Gyllenhaal, it seems, is drawn to the unknown. Coming after Donnie Darko and Source Code, Enemy forms the third part of a personal trilogy investigating warped headspaces. “They appeal to me on a distinctive level,” he muses. “After three times, you can’t just say it’s something that’s random.” Those famously hooded eyes cloud over. “The world of the unknown,” he says. “There’s so much more going on than what we all say. Whatever we’re doing now, there are so many other things, so many more layers. That’s what appeals to me about sci-fi and fantasy – the idea of the unconscious as a very powerful thing.” With Villeneuve shaping the mood of the film, it’s powerful indeed. His images are oppressively grey and stained with sepia, while his use of soaring buildings and blank space to dwarf his lost protagonists in a world of concrete and metal is like Antonioni adapting a J.G. Ballard novel. “Denis sets up a space,” says Gyllenhaal. “Each time you walk into it, the possibilities are boundless. We can make choices without
having to worry about ‘oh no, the scene is blocked’. And the lighting is fucking incredible. There are lights and shadows. You can kind of hide in the shadow or walk into the light.” The director cuts in. “It’s easier to be a dictator,” he says. “To put the camera somewhere and say, ‘Like that.’ It was like that on my last film, Incendies [Prisoners, again with Gyllenhaal, was shot after Enemy but released before it] because I didn’t have any time. This is a big reaction to that because I felt so frustrated.” Gyllenhaal takes back the baton. “Working with someone like Fincher [on Zodiac], there’s
done on her first day of shooting was scrapped. The scene was re-shot, differently, the next day. “On the first day, Denis came up to me and said, ‘This is not the film I want to make’. I was, like [cries out], ‘Where am I?!’” Thankfully, the filmmaker and his actors found their film and created a truly nightmarish, haunting spectacle, its swelling malignancy leading towards a terrifying final shot that will scar viewers’ minds. Want to know just how weird Enemy is? Then listen to this… “Sometimes it can just be the light,” says Villeneuve. “A character enters the room and the way the light comes, it looks like the bed is alive. Very subtle.” Gyllenhaal interjects that he and his director would then have a conversation as to whether his character should talk to the bed. He’s not joking. Fortunately, they decided that would be taking it too far. “We shot in a motel room and I hated that room,” says the actor. “It was so creepy. The fucking bed was the star of the scene!” He grins, picking up his plate to return to work. “The movie hopefully feels like you’re dreaming. A very realistic dream. It’s a mood. Such an intense… fucking… mood.” TF
‘w ith this movie I feel like it’s so relative to my life’ JAKE gyllenhaal
an amazing world he creates with his sense of repetition. It creates a tone. With Denis, we experiment together to create something for him. I feel excited every day. I think, ‘How can I blow his mind farther than he thought was possible?’” It’s a way of working that requires trust. Gadon was nonplussed when all of the work
Enemy opens on 16 May. June 2014 | Total Film | 105
the naughty list
Sex and drugs, bodily dysfunctions, spatsâ€Ś and dogs. With excess all areas, Total Film brings you the 50 wildest tales in movie history. Hold on to your bongosâ€Ś Words kevin harley illustrations Tim bradford
key Animals AWOL Bodily functions Demands Destruction Drink Drugs Ego Excess Fighting
Grumping Injury Nudity Pranking Rage Revenge Sacking Sex Waste
dazed and amused Matthew McConaughey
Long before the McConaissance, the Magic Mike and Dallas Buyers Club hunk was more famous for an incident involving marijuana and music, man. He shimmied and expounded a hilarious stoner philosophy in his Oscar speech, but McConaughey was arrested in 1999 for what now looks like practice for that classic Academy Awards moment... When neighbours complained about the ruckus coming from his pad in Austin, Texas at 3am, police peered through the pot smoke to find McConaughey (plus a friend) undressed and banging his bongos. In an instance of what is technically known as “stating the bleeding obvious”, the police report declared both men “very intoxicated”. Officers accused him of resisting arrest, but the happy twist is that McConaughey and the bongos are still friends. “Of course I still play the congas naked,” he says. “I just close the windows.” To which we say: alright, alright, alright…
Rebel Without A Clue
Billy Wilder and Marilyn Monroe
“As far as I was concerned, I was the greatest fuckin’ film director that had ever been in America,” Dennis Hopper reflected on making Easy Rider in 1969. But as far as cast and crew were concerned, he was a fright-mare. Hopper held meetings with loaded guns to hand, ranted at co-workers, pulled a knife on original star Rip Torn and didn’t change his clothes for months. He didn’t have much experience, just marijuana and a temper. So was he a great director? Peter Fonda preferred another description: “Little fascist freak.”
Billy Wilder compared directing Marilyn Monroe in The Seven Year Itch to “pulling teeth”, but he liked her screen presence and later cast her in his cross-dressing mobcom Some Like It Hot in 1959. The teeth-pulling worsened. She arrived late and took 47 takes over two days to get one line right, and the presence of her acting trainer Paula Strasberg on the set infuriated Wilder. He got so exasperated that when George Raft couldn’t kick a toothpick out of George E. Stone’s mouth in one scene, Wilder tetchily showed him how – and accidentally hospitalised Stone.
47 Christian Bale
Mr Bale had a meltdown while filming Terminator Salvation in 2009 when lighting guy Shane Hurlbut upset him during a scene with Bryce Dallas Howard. Shouting, swearing and web fun ensued, but Bale apologised. “Unacceptable,” he said, echoing viewers’ thoughts about McG’s film.
46 John Huston
Director John Huston took an unorthodox approach to handling the romantic entanglements of Richard Burton, Deborah Kerr and Ava Gardner in The Night Of The Iguana (1964). He gave each a gun, plus bullets inscribed with their co-stars’ names.
Drag Act Sock It To ’Em
45 Trevor Howard
The star of Brief Encounter knew no reserve. His booze capacity startled even Robert Mitchum in Guy Hamilton’s drama Man In The Middle (1963). Sloshed, Howard arrived on set with odd socks, then went ballistic when was asked to change them. “Strange guy,” Mitch deadpanned. >> June 2014 | Total Film | 107
Lars Attacks! 44
Blotto Bluto 43
Lars von Trier
It isn’t just women who Von Trier unsettles on set. Paul Bettany experienced his director’s peculiarities when he arrived in Copenhagen in 2003 to shoot Dogville, and received a gift from von Trier: hardcore porn mags. Bettany’s attempts to resist the present failed, enabling von Trier to humiliate him when Nicole Kidman arrived at the actor’s hotel. “Nicole, has Paul shown you his porn collection?”, asked von Trier, pointing at the mags. Rumours that he threatened to direct some scenes naked also abound. Ewwwww...
John Landis’s wayward 1979 comedy The Blues Brothers started production without much of a script. But it did have a cocaine budget and John Belushi, whose AWOL appetites suited the AWOL mood. Belushi was prone to vanishing acts, like one time after a 3am Illinois shoot. In a nearby street, Dan Aykroyd knocked at a house and asked the owner if he had seen any actors nearby. The answer? “Oh, you mean Belushi? He came in here an hour ago and raided my fridge. He’s asleep on my couch.”
Man’s Best Friend Gary Busey
These days, he’s known as a ‘mad genius’ who wanted to make a mechanical dog on Celebrity Apprentice and the ex-coke fiend who imparts bonkers wisdoms (“Buseyisms”) on Celebrity Rehab. Back in his druggy day though, Gary Busey had an educational encounter with a dog when he came home and dropped three wraps of cocaine. “My dog, Chili, who has short hair, came in and laid on her back with her legs in the air, and she rubbed all my cocaine on her back and side,” Busey recalled. “I got a straw, and I started brushing her hair and snorting where I saw cocaine. Back, butt, side – not a spot was left. It took me 25 minutes to snort all the cocaine the dog had on her coat. The fringe benefits of this were that the fleas, the dog hair, the mud and the sweat went in my nose too.” And the lesson learnt? “It’s not a good flavour coming off the dog…” 108 | Total Film | June 2014
41 Kevin Smith and Bruce Willis Kevin Smith loved Bruce Willis until he had to direct him in his buddy comedy Cop Out (2009). Smith: “He turned out to be the unhappiest, most bitter meanest emo-bitch I’ve ever met...” Yippee-kay-no...
Punch Drunk Lush
40 John Barrymore
A Shakespearean actor and rampant caner, John Barrymore made headlines when he shot racist remarks at producer Myron Selznick and picked a scrap with him in 1928. Bad move: the fight lasted “10 minutes,” said Selznick, who blackened both Barrymore’s eyes.
Nil By Mouth
39 Bill Murray and Harold Ramis Ramis and Murray seemed perfectly matched, but they didn’t speak for years after 1993’s Groundhog Day. Ramis said: “What I want to say to him is what we tell children: ‘You don’t have to throw tantrums to get what you want...’” Ouch.
38 George Clooney and Ryan Gosling Ryan Gosling got pranked making Clooney’s political drama The Ides Of March (2011): pretending to have a chat with his co-star, George sprayed Gosling’s crotch with water, leaving him with an “I’ve just wet myself” look. Nice… Subscribe at www.totalfilm.com/subs
Off The Wagon
A boozer and brawler of renown, Lee Marvin seemed to carry a stormy micro-climate with him following his WW2 traumas. For a long time, the only wagon the ex-Marine embraced was the musical western Paint Your Wagon, where his sloshed vocal on ‘Wandering Star’ wandered rather effusively. A station wagon though, was another matter... When shooting the thick-ear thriller Point Blank in LA in 1967, Marvin and director John Boorman went out boozing. A tipsy kerfuffle ensued when Boorman decreed Marvin too pissed to drive. Marvin responded by assaulting Boorman’s Chrysler station wagon and climbing on to the vehicle’s roof after his director – wisely – locked himself inside. As Boorman turned on the engine, a policeman approached and asked, “Do you realise you have Lee Marvin on the roof of your car?” Boorman did realise, yes, thank you officer, and was served some warm advice by the sagely lawman: “Drive carefully.”
Bud Abbott and Lou Costello
No one expected vaudeville comics Abbott and Costello to take Hammer horror seriously in Charles Barton’s shock-com mash-up Abbott And Costello Meet Frankenstein in 1948. Even so, Bela Lugosi was put out when Costello started pie fights with the monsters, Abbott arrived on set pissed and the whole production, like Frankenstein’s monster that had been out on the sauce, lurched into chaos. “We should not be playing while we are working,” protested Lugosi, only for his complaint to become a running gag (“Vee should not be playingk vile vee are vorking”) for the shoot’s duration. totalfilm.com
34 Sharon Stone
Audiences gasped when they saw Sharon Stone’s leg-crossing in Paul Verhoeven’s Basic Instinct (1992). So did Stone, who claimed Verhoeven had said her privates would not be visible. The discourtesy earned Verhoeven a slap.
33 Mike Myers
The Love Guru (2008) stalled his luck, but by some accounts Mr Myers queered his pitch earlier. Reports of on-set behaviour ranged from control freakery to rages. But could Myers make a comeback? “I root against him,” says Wayne’s World director Penelope Spheeris. Denied!
32 Dr Strangelove Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb (1964)
Light Sleeper 35
Robert Downey Jr. Robert Downey Jr. is a hero to kids these days as Iron Man, but he didn’t have an iron constitution in his dazed-and-confuzzled days. In 1996 (when he was already on parole for a drugs charge), he got so sloshed one night that he accidentally fell asleep in a random bedroom in his Malibu neighbour’s house. The cloud had one silver lining: the 11-year-old boy to whom the bed belonged wasn’t in at the time. Downey’s later stint in prison was, surely, inevitable.
Stanley Kubrick’s satire was meant to end with a custard pie fight. Writer Terry Southern reckons 1,000 pies per day were wasted, but Kubrick sliced the scene. Seems the cast were having too much fun.
31 Humphrey Bogart
The shoot for John Huston’s much-loved adventure The African Queen in 1951 was a nightmare of sickness and insects. But, while most people on set got dysentery, Bogeie stayed fit. How? He avoided the drinking water, preferring whisky instead. >> June 2014 | Total Film | 109
Too Cool For School 30
Producer Don Simpson pulled off a highconcept revenge on his high school, reckoned Basic Instinct writer Joe Eszterhas. “A complete nerd” who “took a lot of shit” as a teen, Simpson became a Hollywood big shot. And he let it be known he was a Tinseltown top gun when he arrived at his class reunion by helicopter, a ‘Penthouse Pet’ on each arm of his expensive white suit and stayed for 30 minutes before flying off again. “Motherfucker!” crowed Simpson. “The best moment of my life!”
Dance Away The Hurt-ache 27
The Oscars love it when actors suffer. Sarah Lane claims she did Natalie’s Portman’s dancing in Darren Aronofsky’s ballet-shocker Black Swan (2010), but Portman got a dislocated rib, and worked on because the production couldn’t afford a medic.
Wild At Art
26 Andrei Tarkovsky
A taste for excess lies behind Tarkovsky’s seeming austerity. He shot sci-fi epic Stalker (1979) twice after bickering with his DoP. For The Sacrifice (1986), he shot a burning house with one camera… then had it rebuilt and re-burnt when the footage was unusable.
Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger
Romcom The Marrying Man (1991) may have drawn Razzies, but Kim Basinger and her lover Alec Baldwin’s on-set antics drew worse. Between takes, Basinger soiled crew members’ ears by telling Baldwin what she wanted to do to him. But creative feuds and tantrums led a crew member to describe the stars’ actions as “vile, deplorable, despicable”. Audiences said “I don’t.” 110 | Total Film | June 2014
Sympathy For Mr Octopus 25
The Wizard Of Oz (1939) Warning: animals were harmed during the making of this picture. Despite the cutesy, Christmas connotations for generations of fans, Hollywood’s adaptation of L. Frank Baum’s wistful wonder battled through chaos off-screen. Buddy Ebsen, the original actor playing the Tin Man, was hospitalised and replaced following an allergic reaction to his silver make-up. He got lucky: Margaret Hamilton,
the Wicked Witch of the West, suffered second- and third-degree burns to her face and hands when an explosion went awry. But if she was disgruntled, so were the actors playing the Munchkins. Never mind the gossip about them being pissed on set: the real outrage was that they received less remuneration than the dog playing Toto. Not that the mutt got off lightly either. The fourlegged Terrier suffered a broken foot when someone stood on his paw, resulting in the employment of a doggy double. Perhaps the studio needed a new health-and-safety officer, too?
Choi Min-sik chomped seven cephalopods for the octopus-munching scene in Park Chan-wook’s Oldboy (2003). Buddhist Choi prayed for atonement. “It took him a long time to recover,” said Chan-wook.
Hot In Here
24 Richard Pryor
In 1986’s Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life Is Calling, Richard Pryor played a stand-up burned in a drug-based suicide attempt. He wasn’t laughing: six years earlier, Pryor scorched himself for real in an incident involving free-basing and flammable rum. Ouch. Subscribe at www.totalfilm.com/subs
19 Billy Wilder
When Val Kilmer cameoed in the Ricky Gervais/Warwick Davis mockumentary Life’s Too Short, hustling for work in a Batman costume, the comedy schadenfreude rang clear. Kilmer relentlessly befuddled cult talent Richard Stanley by turning up late for the Hardware director’s doomed adap of H.G. Wells’ The Island Of Dr. Moreau (1996), fluffing his lines and, says Stanley, “insisting on odd bits and pieces of his wardrobe that didn’t make sense, like a piece of blue material wrapped around his arm”. Stanley was fired for reasons unclear, but he sneaked on to set as a disguised extra (Stanley: “I came back as a melting bulldog”) and watched more mayhem unfold under his replacement John Frankenheimer. Seasoned or not, Frankenheimer had no more luck. “There are two things I will never ever do in my whole life,” he said. “The first is I will never climb Mt. Everest. The second is that I will never work with Val Kilmer again.”
Wilder’s Double Indemnity was the prototypical noir. The 1944 Oscars inflamed Wilder’s cynicism further by awarding Leo McCarey’s heartwarming Going My Way. Wilder’s response? He tried to trip Leo up on his way to the podium.
18 Michael Cimino
Cimino exacerbated his critical roasting when he compared his western epic Heaven’s Gate (1980) to Picasso. But perhaps there was no salvaging its image: talk of Cimino’s arrogance, animal abuse and incitement of violence among extras sealed its image as New Hollywood’s last folly.
Ms. Bankhead was a one-woman riot: a pisshead, a coke fiend and liberated woman whose nearly fatal five-hour operation following a nasty case of VD wasn’t enough to change her. “Don’t think this has taught me anything,” she quipped when discharged. Even that old boundary-breaker Alfred Hitchcock didn’t know what to do with her on the set of Lifeboat (1944), when cast members noted that Bankhead was without her underwear. With drollery intact, Hitch quipped that he didn’t know whether to refer the matter to the costume, make-up or hairdressing department. totalfilm.com
If Hitchcock’s Vertigo is one of the greatest films ever, then his vertiginous trick on his daughter was one of the wickedest pranks ever. On the set of Strangers On A Train in 1951, Patricia wanted a go on the big wheel. Her dad issued a bet: $100 if she dared. Up she went, only for Hitchcock to stall the machine, lights and all, when she reached the top and leave her for an hour (so rumours claim) or three minutes (Patricia claims). Either way, Patricia’s father compounded the cruelty: “The only sadism involved was that I never got the $100,” she said.
17 Kiefer Sutherland
James Cameron “Life’s abyss… and then you dive,” declared crew members’ t-shirts on-set of The Abyss (1989). Or nearly die. Some crew suffered burns from the chlorine in the underwater set for Jim Cameron’s aquatic sci-fi, but Ed Harris almost suffered worse. When his tank ran out of oxygen and his safety diver fed him his regulator upside down, Harris nearly swallowed lungfuls of water. Meanwhile, Cameron insisted his cast pee in their diving suits to save time on the famously hairy shoot. They thought he was taking the piss.
He took down terrorists as 24’s Jack Bauer. Then he applied similar thinking to a plant. The worse for wear after a party in 2006, he assaulted a hotel Christmas tree, leaving onlookers wondering what the tree had been plotting.
16 John Travolta
A $17m payday wasn’t enough for John Travolta when he was cast in Roman Polanski’s comedy The Double (1996). When the star’s requirements stretched to a private jet, a $200,000 trailer shipped to Paris and creative control, the project nosedived. >> June 2014 | Total Film | 111
TF list 10
The Goonies (1985)
15 Harvey Weinstein
Weinstein’s reputation for cutting auteur films met resistance from Hayao Miyazaki. Distributing Princess Mononoke in 1997, Harvey received a sword with a note: “No cuts.” “I defeated him,” said Miyazaki of Weinstein.
14 Michael Bay and Megan Fox For pervs, every birthday came at once when Michael Bay draped Megan Fox over a hot car. But the party died. Fox compared Bay to Hitler after Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen in 2009 and he responded by (on Steven Spielberg’s advice) sacking her.
13 Sean Young
Sean Young scared even Tim Burton when she turned up at the Batman Returns set in 1992 dressed as Catwoman. Add reports of diva-ish behaviour on Wall Street (1987) and it isn’t surprising her career has fallen short of nine lives.
Penn’s Mighty Words 12
Penn trod a thin line when he moaned about his “hectic” promo schedule for Terrence Malick’s The Thin Red Line (1999) and Fox’s rejection of a private jet request. Whinges about commercial airline travel? Erm, diddums… 112 | Total Film | June 2014
He’s Not The Messiah
The kids were all-fright to director Richard Donner and their co-stars in Amblin’s much-loved knockabout adventure. “Those kids did terrible things to me,” laughs Donner, who suffered from their pranks when they unzipped and flooded his dry suit during the watery scenes. Pity poor John Matuszak, who endured five-plus hours in the make-up chair to play Sloth, only to be sent back when the kids disobeyed firm orders not to get him wet. “But he loved them,” said Donner. Sure he did...
When Time praised Peter O’Toole’s look of “messianic determination” during a camel-riding scene in Lawrence Of Arabia (1962), they misread his thousand-yard stare. Scared they might tumble from their mounts, O’Toole and co-star Omar Sharif had downed bottles of brandy for confidence. “This look of ‘messianic determination’ on my face was, in fact, a drunk actor,” said O’Toole. But it wasn’t all booze-based bonding: Sharif chased his co-star with a meat cleaver when O’Toole set him up with April Ashley – who, unbeknown to Sharif, was transsexual.
Wild Bill Friedkin wasn’t above a little devilry to get reactions from his cast on The Exorcist (1973). He fired guns on-set, to Jason Miller’s annoyance. Voice artist Mercedes McCambridge was, said Friedkin, “tied to a chair” and subjected to “various painful things” (like eating raw eggs) to get the devil’s voice right. Friedkin even slapped William O’Malley to make him look shocked, though he knew that such measures could damage his reputation if repeated. “I haven’t done it more than 570 times,” he later quipped.
Damning talk and t-shirts (see No.20 The Abyss) did not deter folks from working with Mr. Cameron on another watery yarn. But Titanic (1997) came laced with crises – and hallucinogens. Cast and crew suffered a choppy trip when their chowder was spiked with PCP, making them sick and, possibly, a bit trippy. A grumpy crew member was thought to have done the druggy deed. Cameron made himself vomit when he had imbibed – and carried on filming. “Filmmaking is war,” said Cameron. Unsinkable… Subscribe at www.totalfilm.com/subs
wild behaviour Murphy’s Law Unto Himself 7
Coming To America (1988) stayed in the red despite BO success. Murphy splashed $5,000 a week on a limo plus the same for ‘living’ expenses, including a $235.55 McDonald’s breakfast bill.
Had A Great Fall
6 Edward Norton and Tony Kaye Tony Kaye’s neo-Nazi drama American History X (1998) entered ruckus history when Norton did some editing. Kaye punched holes in the edit room wall, claimed Norton “raped” his film and demanded his director’s credit be changed to “Humpty Dumpty”.
5 Francis Ford Coppola
Apocalypse Now (1979) isn’t about Vietnam, said Coppola: “It is Vietnam.” The madness of fighting and film merged as crew members partied hard, corpses were used as props and Martin Sheen suffered a heart attack.
Flirting With Disaster
3 Jedi Gripe Alec Guinness
“I can’t say I’m enjoying the film,” Alec Guinness sniffed in private correspondences about his Sith experiences on Star Wars in 1977. “Fairytale rubbish”, he called it, with “rubbish dialogue” (“rubbish” was clearly a theme). But his misery did not end with having to recite George Lucas’ words. Mark Hamill was a young, enthusiastic neophyte at the time. Thrilled to be on set with a legend, he pestered the
old-timer about his career, much to the chagrin of Guinness, who offered him either a dollar or – according to Carrie Fisher – £20 “to go away”. Guinness shared the misery some more with fans after the film’s release. When one 11-year-old gushed to him that he had seen Star Wars 100-plus times, Guinness asked the boy to promise him something. “Do you think you could promise never to see Star Wars again?” he asked, making the lad weep. Maybe the cuts off the film’s backend made Guinness happier...
Lost In The Maze 1
Sam Peckinpah was determined to mythologise himself as an outsider rebel right from the day he was sacked from his job on The Liberace Show for dressing scruffily. And if that meant not accepting medical advice for his aggravated haemorrhoids while shooting The Wild Bunch in 1969, then so be it. “He’d climb up on the camera,” Warren Oates said, “and you could see all the way down the side of his leg this red, brown, dusty, bloody, stinking, smelling mess would drain out of him.” Grrrross…
“You can’t hurry genius” seems to have been Stanley Kubrick’s mantra, but this would have been little consolation to his cast on The Shining (1980). Kubrick’s intentions for the film proved a tantalising enigma to the theorising fans in terrific docu-essay Room 237, but Scatman Crothers found them less appealing: “What do you want, Mr Kubrick? What do you want?” he asked after 85 takes of one scene. While 127 takes of another scene was enough to make Robert Altman regular Shelley Duvall ill. TF
allstar, photoshot, kobal, rex
David O. Russell and George Clooney
Clooney snapped over Russell’s treatment of the crew on Three Kings in 1999. Headbutts and headlocks followed. Five years on, Russell’s shout-off with Lily Tomlin over I ♥ Huckabees helped his hothead rep. totalfilm.com
June 2014 | Total Film | 113
words James Mottram portrait fabrizio maltese
A Coppola. An Oscar winner. An action hero. From Bad Lieutenant to Big Daddy, Nicolas Cage’s 32-year Hollywood career has been weird on top and wild underneath. But as latest movie Joe shows, he hasn’t given up risk-taking. “I know what it means,” he says, “to get in front of the camera and bare your soul.”
rom his physique to his acting style, everything about Nicolas Cage is BIG. “He’s not an actor, he’s a performer,” said Sean Penn once, rather snippily. If that’s the case, Sean, then what a performance. Just take a look at YouTube compilation ‘Nicolas Cage Losing His Shit’ (10.4 million hits and counting), with some prime examples of Cage Rage, as the actor goes bat-shit crazy, from tipping over craps tables for his Oscar-winning turn in Leaving Las Vegas to threatening old biddies in Bad Lieutenant. This is the man who ate a live cockroach on Vampire’s Kiss, had two teeth pulled out for Birdy and wore a voodoo mask on Ghost Rider. And that’s just on film. Raised in the heart of Hollywood, he once admitted that he only eats certain animals that have “dignified” sexual relations (fish and fowl are good, “but pigs, not so much”). He married Elvis’ daughter Lisa Marie Presley after meeting her at Johnny Ramone’s birthday party – where else? – and filed for divorce 108 days later. “I like to take chances,” grins Cage, 50, when Total Film gets a sit-down with him (the actor dressed in black boots, jeans, white t-shirt and cream jacket). “I take enormous risks in my work and – three marriages later – in my personal life.” And it’s true. His first marriage,
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to Patricia Arquette, his co-star in Martin Scorsese’s Bringing Out The Dead, lasted six years. Post Presley, he’s found more stability: his third marriage to sushi waitress Alice Kim hits 10 years this July. Cage is not just Big Daddy in Kick-Ass, either. A father-of-two, when he and Kim named their eight-year-old son Kal-El (after Superman’s birth name, a reminder that he once came close to playing the character for Tim Burton), it was entirely in keeping with the actor’s decision to take his surname from Marvel character Luke Cage, dropping his own famous family moniker – Coppola – despite having worked with Uncle Francis on three occasions. If there’s something cartoonish about his appearance, with that wild stare and wacky hair, you might say when he turned into a $20m-apicture action star in the 1990s with The Rock, Con Air and Face/Off, his larger-than-life performances began to follow suit. Yet Cage has always had this side to him; it’s little wonder the Coen Brothers’ hired him for their 1987 Looney Tunes-inspired comedy Raising Arizona. Moreover, just about every five years, give or take, he’s turned in a gilt-edged classic: Wild At Heart (1990); Leaving Las Vegas (1995); Adaptation (2002), which brought him a second Oscar nomination for playing screenwriting twins, and Werner Herzog’s iguana-boasting remake of Bad Lieutenant (2009). With that in mind, it’s
about time for another. Enter Joe, the new movie from David Gordon Green. Set in Texas, Cage dials it right down to play Joe Ransom, a likeable but volatile ex-con who forms a bond with 15-year-old Gary (The Tree Of Life’s Tye Sheridan) when he hires him for some work clearing trees. Subdued, by Cage standards, Joe shows there’s no better actor out there than him when it comes to playing the tormented soul. Oh, and there’s an awesome snake scene… just in case you think he’s gone all sane on us. Joe is a character who is condemned from the beginning, right? Well, in a way, and in a way not. I think Joe is… he’s still pretty together. He’s not one of those guys that drinks himself to the state of drunk every day, like the other characters, like [Gary’s father] Wade. He has a job and he’s fair to his crew and he has a code of ethics, and he has an understanding of what’s right and wrong. But he still has an anger problem and he has to be careful with the anger. That’s something every man and every woman can relate to; it’s part of the human condition. One thing about Joe I like is how honest he is. But his honesty gets him into trouble. It’s interesting what that job is: poisoning trees. Yeah, at the beginning of the process, I would say to David, “This has got to have some sort of karmic effect on Joe and we have to play that. >> Subscribe at www.totalfilm.com/subs
We have to show he’s a little bit spooked by the ghosts of the trees.” So as he hits the axe, he’s looking around. For sure that takes a toll on him – I mean, everybody loves trees! There’s an amazing scene where you handle a live snake. How was that? That was a very interesting day. I discovered through doing adventure movies that stunts relax me. I’m one of those guys, the more coffee I drink, the more relaxed I get. And so I had a big scene to do with Tye; that was the introduction of the movie – it was a five-page scene. Originally, the snake was just supposed to be there in the grass. And I said, “Can we get a real one? A real cottonmouth.” And they did have one – and if you get bit by one, you die. I said, “Why don’t you let me use the real one?” David said, “Why?” I said, “Well, I think it will really relax me. It would help me get into the scene.” And I just happen to think that great story begins with a snake! He said, “Yeah, but if you get bit and you die, I’m going to look like the biggest jackass in Hollywood.” I promised him I wouldn’t get bit. But it was all about surfing the adrenaline to get to that moment of picking up the snake. It wasn’t anything to do with the glory of having picked up a real cottonmouth. It was about getting there and then getting in control of the adrenaline and then doing the scene with it. So every good story begins with a snake? That’s one way of looking at it, yes! Do you recognise anything of yourself in your young co-star Tye Sheridan? In Tye? Yeah, sure. I started acting when I was 15 and I was very serious about what I wanted to do with my career and the film process. This was before everybody had a cellphone with a camera in it and before things like reality TV and before
‘When I started growing up, I didn’t like my voice… I had to develop it. I had to hone it and find the idiosyncrasies’ criticism became a joke – like what difference does it make how many homes you’ve bought and sold? What does that have to do with Bad Lieutenant, Los Angeles Times? In the old days, criticism was still about discussion and film comment and not about gossip. Now it’s all infiltrated. But when I started, yeah, I was as serious as Tye is. Do you have the perception of how much violence and loneliness there is in Joe? No. I knew the movie was going to be tough, but the process was full of joy. It was cathartic. We were all in very light spirits and having a lot of laughs. I was only about the process and I was also very attracted to the friendship – there is still love and heart in the middle of all the violence. 116 | Total Film | June 2014
That was what was interesting to me. But I did not know what the final result would be and I wasn’t able to be objective about it. You can be objective about it, but because I was part of the process, I couldn’t be. How do you prepare for a role like Joe? Well, Joe was really about listening to my memories and not having to act. I didn’t want to act. I just wanted to be. Why was that? I feel it makes it easier to not act. I’m getting less and less interested in acting. Because to act implies to lie in some way to me, and I don’t want to have to act. So if I can find characters that I feel I can play honestly, by going within and finding some memory or some life experience
that informs the emotion of the scene… then it makes my job easier. I seem to be gravitating towards darker material because I understand it. Can you give some examples? Without going into too much detail… I’ve lived a life. I’ve done some good things and I’ve done some not so good things. But whatever the negativity is, in my mistakes in the past, I’ve got to find a way to take the lead and transmute it into gold, which is creative expression. So if I can take those memories and do a scene honestly, because I know what Joe is feeling or what he’s talking about, then that’s doing something positive with my life experience and it’s also making it easier to play the part. Why do you define yourself more by the dark side? It’s a matter of taste. I have in the past done comedies. As you know, I did Raising Arizona, Honeymoon In Vegas and It Could Happen To You. But I was always attracted to music like Led Zeppelin or punk rock. There was sincerity in that energy that I responded to, and the same goes with filmmaking. I guess I feel more comfortable in that environment. Even when you were making comedies, you were doing films like Wild At Heart… Yes, I’ve always tried to keep it eclectic by counterpoint. I don’t want to get trapped in Subscribe at www.totalfilm.com/subs
Still smokin’: Cage sports a beard to play a fiery ex-con in Joe.
any one style. Do I gravitate towards dark material? Yes, as a matter of preference, but I still want to be able to do everything. You’ve been acting since you were young. How have you survived in Hollywood? I had a long-growing experience in Hollywood. I guess you could say I’m from a showbiz family. Once I got past my intimidation of studio executives – they seemed larger than life to me, at first – I saw them as people. The way I like to treat people is with respect, and everything became easy for me. I don’t want to say anything bad about Hollywood, because it’s my neighbourhood. It’s a very small town. We all know everybody in Hollywood, and we talk about each other. Everyone knows about your famous uncle. But what was your father, August, like? He was a very progressive thinker. Everyone who knows anything about my family knows that he was the intellectual one in the family. And because of that, he was also someone who was encouraging exploration of the imagination and in art. Is it true you’re a good imitator? All my favourite actors have voices that I can imitate – people like Bogart, Brando, Cagney, Stewart, Eastwood. When I started growing up, totalfilm.com
I didn’t like my voice. I thought my voice was very boring. And I had to develop it. I had to hone it, and find the idiosyncrasies in my voice or the character-like qualities that might make you want to imitate me. Now I can’t get people to stop imitating me on YouTube! You won an Academy Award for your performance in Leaving Las Vegas. How important was that, to be recognised by your peers? I consider all actors my brothers, whether they like me or not! I know what it means to get in front of the camera and bare your soul and it’s not always an easy thing to do. So I get it and I have respect for my fellow actors, my brothers and sisters. So to be recognised by them is always nice. How did you celebrate that win? Well, the song by The Beatles, ‘Baby, You’re A Rich Man’… I wouldn’t listen to it. I vowed never to listen to it until I accomplished something where I could deserve to listen to it, and that happened with Leaving Las Vegas. I remember finding the song and getting in my Triumph Spitfire, putting it on my tape deck, and driving down to the beach, listening to it. After Leaving Las Vegas, you switched to action movies – The Rock, Con Air and Face/Off. Why? Well, I was excited by the idea of being in action movies, because nobody had seen me do that before. I had wanted to do it for quite some time, being an action type of guy. I like motorcycles and surfing. I also thought there was an opportunity to get my work out there to be seen by more people. More people tend to go see action movies. It seemed to be a genre that was suffering from a lack of acting. I thought I could go into this genre and build it back up with talented actors. Was it hard to shake off that ‘action man’ tag? It was funny. A lot of the movies I was making, the powers that be were perceiving them as action… but they weren’t action. 8MM was a psychological thriller and Windtalkers was dealing with a moment in history that was sensitive to John Woo. It was just a time that was going on where I was exploring a genre, and trying to find ways of making the genre more interesting than it had been. Going back and forth from that to more independently spirited films wasn’t easy – but I feel like I was able to do it. You just can’t care what people think. You just gotta do your own thing and just hope it works. You made conspiracy thriller Snake Eyes with Brian De Palma around this time – with that incredible opening, a 13-minute unbroken Steadicam shot. How was it to shoot that? I made Snake Eyes directly off the heels of City Of Angels. I was pretty tired from City. Then I got thrown into Snake Eyes with a week of rehearsal. There were very physical Steadicam shots, where I had mountains of dialogue. I suddenly realised I had to let go. I wanted to shed the subdued shackle of my City character, and get into this performance that was very high-energy. That was difficult because it was all one take. You’d have to do retakes. If there was a special moment in one of those shots it was lost, if the >>
Five star turns
Nic off the leash and at his finest…
Wild At Heart
Leaving Las Vegas
The Rock (1996), Con Air (1997), Face/Off (1997) HHHH
(1990) HHHH “I thought, ‘Let’s be Elvis’,” Cage says of outlaw Sailor Ripley in David Lynch’s cult road movie. “I’ve always called that my Warhol performance, because I tried to subvert the image.” Using a snakeskin jacket (inspired by Marlon Brando’s in The Fugitive Kind) to nail the runaway look, Lynch labelled him “the jazz musician of actors”.
(1995) HHHH Cage’s Oscar-winning turn as a self-destructive writer is a performance he believes he “channelled with the real guy”, John O’Brien, whose semi-autographical novel the film is based on. Starring as a (surprisingly charming) tortured alcoholic who moves to Vegas to drink himself to death, director Mike Figgis says the character “was perfect for Nic...”
The late ’90s saw Cage dominate the box office with three back-to-back action classics. The Rock marked the first of six future collaborations with producer Jerry Bruckheimer, but it was John Woo’s body-swap shoot ’em up Face/Off that was Cage’s favourite: “without tooting my own horn… I think it’s a masterpiece.”
(2002) HHHH “I got the script and I really wanted to walk around in that world,” Cage explains, donning a fat-suit for Spike Jonze’s metafilm. Cage plays Charlie Kaufman, the actual screenwriter of Adaptation, and his fictional twin, Donald, a challenging dual role that sees the actor subtly shift from mumbling self-loathing to manic self-confidence.
(2009) HHHH Reportedly under the influence of cocaine (for medical reasons) when he read the script, Cage threw himself into the role of a drug-fuelled crooked cop in Werner Herzog’s nightmarish crime drama. “I wasn’t sure I could play the part totally sober, which I was. On Leaving Las Vegas, I had a few drinks between scenes to get to a certain feeling… PB
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camera didn’t work, or the sound, or if I fluffed a line, you had to start over. Is it true you came close to working with Terrence Malick on The Thin Red Line? No, I passed. We talked about Thin Red Line, but it just wasn’t the right thing for me at the time. Malick may be a genius. He’s just not my genius. You received a second Oscar nomination for the dual roles of Charlie and Donald Kaufman in Spike Jonze’s Adaptation. Was that a huge pressure, as you were playing the screenwriter – and his fictional twin brother? There is always this feeling that when you’re making a movie with a budget of $120m, that if it fails you’ll be doing dinner theatre for the rest of your life. So I didn’t have that pressure on me, which was nice. But I did have the pressure of wanting to fit well into the original world of these two artists [Kaufman and Jonze]. That was something I wanted to accomplish, so I felt that. There was the pressure also of wanting to be believable as twin brothers, because I loved Jeremy Irons’ performance in Dead Ringers. After I’d seen that, I’d always wanted to do that, as an experiment. Still, even if you’re in a pressure situation, it’s important that you try to find the song in your heart that makes it enjoyable.
say, “Thank you for Lord Of War.” So it’s amazing how the movie can bring a little bit of something to the most diverse kinds of people. At one point you were going to make Superman with Tim Burton. The role has since been played twice. Is that one that got away? I would like to work with Tim. I feel like we need to work together at some point. I know it would be a good match. But I have no regrets. I’m a big believer that the right person for the part is the one that winds up making the movie. How did you plan to approach the part? Like Christopher Reeve? Well, he made an indelible impression in Superman. But when I was going to do Superman, I knew Christopher and we would talk – and he knew that I was going to somewhere else with it. At that time, it would’ve been OK. I was going to have giant black, Samurai hair – and make him very different! You ended up playing Ghost Rider instead. Are there any other superheroes you’d like to play? No. I’m happy with the one I did. I think that it’s a perfect match for me. Ghost Rider is so different than all the others. If you want to compete in the world of comic-book movies, you have to provide an alternative, and Ghost
The same year you made Adaptation, you directed your only film to date, Sonny. Will you direct again? I hope so. One day I’d love to go back. I’m talking about a couple of things. I haven’t had the time to do it, but it’s something that’s much more on my radar now. I had a great experience on Sonny, and I’m proud of that movie. I’m proud of all the performances; they’re some of my favourite actors of all time. And I think there’s some very powerful, emotional scenes, with Harry Dean Stanton, James Franco, Brenda Blethyn… so hopefully, sooner or later, it will happen again. How do you look back on 2005’s Lord Of War? I’m very happy with the results of that movie. I’ve seen old women who come out of a church congregation, saying, “Thank you for Lord Of War”. And I’ve seen young street gangsters, who wear the bullet pendant around their neck, and
118 | Total Film | June 2014
7 January 1964 Born Nicholas Kim Coppola in California. Nephew to director Francis Ford Coppola.
Rider does that. There’s really nothing quite like him. He’s the only superhero I know that was inspired by Goethe. He sold his soul to the Devil; he made a Faustian contract. His weapons are different. He has these hellfire chains and he looks so terrifying. The idea of something that scary using forces of evil for good… when you’re eight years old and you’re looking at that, it’s kind of like a philosophical awakening! Is it true you were an avid comic-book collector? I will always have a fond spot in my heart for them, because of their influence on me as a child. There’s been a little bit of perception about it that is blown out of proportion. I’m not reading them at four in the morning, with a tray of lemon cookies! They’re something that I admire, because of what they’ve done for me as a child, and also what they mean today. They’re a truly
1982-87 His films include Fast Times At Ridgemont High, Raising Arizona and Moonstruck.
American original invention of mythology that has touched the world. And it’s no different in my mind to Nordic myths or Greek myths or Grimm’s fairytales. You also wrote a comic book with your eldest son, Weston, right? Weston [from Cage’s relationship to actress Christina Fulton] and I did something called Voodoo Child. I would love to make that into a movie but I tried and tried and no one seems to want to do it. But it would’ve been fun. I would like to work with my son – we’re talking about things. We’re very involved in music. He was in a band, now he’s starting another one, but he’s mostly composing. You mentioned punk and Led Zeppelin earlier. Were you very musically inclined when you were young? Yes, I loved music and it still informs my work today as an actor. I find that if you approach
1996 Wins the Best Actor Oscar for his role in Leaving Las Vegas.
1996-2000 His action era: The Rock, Con Air, Face/Off and Gone In Sixty Seconds.
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fabrizio maltese/contour by getty images, allstar, moviestore
‘I loved Jeremy Irons in Dead Ringers. After I’d seen him in that, I’d always wanted to do that, as an experiment’
On the case: with director Werner Herzog and co-star Eva Mendes in Bad Lieutenant (2009).
a scene musically you can find a rhythm and a melody to the dialogue and then you get the more enigmatic and emotional stuff to fill it with. But music is always a good idea. I know a lot of actors like to do that [listen to music to prepare] but that would get in the way of my own internal music. You’ve just turned 50. Is that a big marker for you? Yeah, to me… it’s been half a century, so a lot’s happened! It’s interesting to me. Given that you’re still regularly playing action roles, how do you get to grips with the physical demands of the job? I have to manage my lifestyle if I want to perform at top level. If I want to drink when I’m working, it’s Friday night and not after that. You have to have nothing in your body on Monday, because your anxiety levels go up. You have to stay relaxed
2003 Second Oscar nod for his dual role as Charlie and Donald Kaufman in Adaptation.
so you can get the dialogue out. The worst thing to impinge on your dialogue memory is anxiety. And you’ve got a camera rolling, and people relying on you, you’ve got to get the job done. So I’m serious about that. Like Joe’s David Gordon Green, you seem to find young hungry directors to work with. Is that easy? It is easier to find it in a younger person, because of the enthusiasm and the hunger. But it doesn’t mean it can’t happen in someone who is older. It’s about staying interested. Werner Herzog is extremely immersed in the process and is interested in all aspects of creative expression. He goes off and directs operas when he’s not directing a documentary or a film. My experience with him was also full of zest. The point is: ‘Where’s the hunger? Where’s the need coming from to express yourself? Are you driven?’
2004-08 Appears in 11 films, including National Treasure, The Wicker Man and Ghost Rider.
2009-11 Excessive shopping and a tax bill strain finances. Stars in 11 more movies including Kick-Ass.
Your remake of Bad Lieutenant with Herzog was remarkable. How did you approach his physicality? Werner and I thought a lot about that. At first I was thinking Richard III, with the shoulder. My mother was a modern dancer and dance and movement is very important to me, along with voice. So any chance I have to change myself physically, it helps me believe I can be this person. I go home at the end of the day, I leave the character on the set. But when I go to the set, it’s like a little uniform, like a chef who puts on the hat. I put on the gesture and the physicality and then I become the character. So it helps me get into the part. You’ve just worked with legendary stunt performerturned-director Vic Armstrong on Left Behind. Who do you play? I play a pilot who is experiencing the Rapture while he’s in flight on an airplane and his passengers are disappearing. Vic, I’d worked with on Season Of The Witch, and he is a legend! He was a great guy to work with. I could not have had a happier experience. He’s a total pro and he makes everyone feel comfortable on the set. It was amazing how much work we had to get through, all of us. Which actors working in Hollywood do you like? I think the actors that really appeal to me have what I would call that ‘nouveau shamanic edge’ [and they deliver] original and dream-like, hypnotic performances. Guys like Joaquin Phoenix, Ryan Gosling and James Franco. That’s a great group. I would like to be in that group too! Is there any specific director that you’d like to work with? I think Paul Thomas Anderson and I could do something remarkable together. I don’t know why we haven’t worked together. That would be really, really unique. He comes to mind. Is there anything you are as passionate about as acting? I’m passionate about my kids, my family and my wife. I’m passionate about red wine and books. I could be in Vegas and I’ll be passionate about red wine – though it is always Italian wine. And cars? I used to be. That was another life. Within this life, but another life! Any regrets in life? I don’t have any regrets. I’m at peace with everything. I’m at peace with my past and I don’t have any regrets. I see myself very much as a student. I’m always willing to learn something. If something doesn’t work, learn from that and move on. Don’t go back. TF Joe opens on 25 July.
2014-15 Stars in Joe, Left Behind, Outcast and The Dying Of The Light.
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The Total Film home entertainment bible
edited by matthew leyland
HHHHH Winning form HHHH Serious contender HHH Close but no cigar HH Also-ran H Epic fail
illustration by lizzy thomas
Why David O. Russell’s hit was the Oscars’ biggest loser.
Hustle and woe disc of the month
> New releases 11.04.14 -- 08.05.14 Lounge DVD & Blu-ray Ace In The Hole The Agony And The Ecstasy Alice In Wonderland All Is Lost American Hustle Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues Bastards Big Bad Wolves Cabin Fever 3: Patient Zero Child Of God The Curse Of The Cat People Day Of The Flowers The Family Gallowwalkers The Harry Hill Movie The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug Hustlers Kill Your Darlings Ladyhawke Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom The Missing Picture
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Muppets From Space The Muppets Take Manhattan Nebraska Nymphomaniac Part 1 & 2 Orca The Killer Whale Outpost III: Rise Of The Spetsnaz Querelle The Railway Man The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty The Secret Of Nimh Seven Samurai Spider-Man Trilogy Steelbook The Stuff Theatre Of Blood This Sporting Life Tunes Of Glory Walking With Dinosaurs What’s Eating Gilbert Grape White Dog Why Stop Now Wish You Were Here X-Men: The Last Stand
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Blu news p125 TV on location: Game Of Thrones Season 4 p134 TV reviews p137 On demand p138 Extras p139 Classic scene: The Hurt Locker p140 Instant expert: Drew Barrymore p142 Is it just me?: Prometheus p143
N/A Extras not available at time of going to press
Staying classy: Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) in Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues.
June 2014 | Total Film | 121
The Total Film home entertainment bible
Why David O. Russell’s winner lost at the Oscars.
AMERICAN HUSTLE 15 Film HHHHH Extras HHHHH Out 28 APRIL DVD, BD
here’s something grimly ironic about American Hustle coming away from the 86th Academy Awards empty-handed. For a while there it looked like a winner, entering the Oscars on 2 March with 10 nominations (the most, equal with Gravity, of any film on show), three Golden Globes wins, three BAFTAs and various critics-association gongs tucked under its sequinned belt. OK, it was third favourite to win Best Picture but, at the very least, Supporting Actress, Original Screenplay and Costume Design appeared to be in the bag. And 122 | Total Film | June 2014
the night being Martin Scorsese’s similarly screwy The Wolf Of Wall Street, left with zero wins from five nominations. Perhaps Jennifer Lawrence’s fierce, vulnerable, hilarious, sexy, poignant performance as a brash moll missed out because she won Best Actress last year for Russell’s previous then… nada. After a four-hour ceremony movie, Silver Linings Playbook, and two consisting of hyperactive showmanship, Oscars at 23 years of age is greedy. In all lip-smacking outfits and fake smiles likelihood, Michael Wilkinson’s gorgeously popping like flashbulbs, David O. Russell’s garish threads lost out to Catherine Martin’s celebrated picture, a film about con artists voluminous wardrobe for The Great Gatsby which offered 138 minutes of the same, by a handful of votes, and the same shuffled away from the Dolby Theater plausibly applies to Eric Singer and with its pockets empty. Nothing Russell’s insane, zany script is as it seems, nobody can being bested by Spike Jonze’s talking melancholy Her. be trusted… least of all point the Academy. So was American Hustle Method maestro Christian Bale Maybe it was because hustled by the Academy? put on 40lbs and slouched so Oscar rarely favours Or were the cries of ‘snub’ much he ended up herniating comedy over drama, with a journalistic scam, conjuring two discs. De Niro, apparently, failed to recognise Bale on set. the other notable loser on a story to plug the emptiness Subscribe at www.totalfilm.com/subs
dvd & blu-ray new
Showing off: Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence) extends a hand to husband Irving, Mayor Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner) with his wife Dolly (Elisabeth Rohm).
wife, Rosalyn (Lawrence), who knows just enough to get everyone killed.
All that jazz
‘A blast of invigorating entertainment, stuffed with riotous performances and quotable dialogue’ of the mundane truth: Russell’s movie missed out narrowly in an exceedingly strong year. Whatever the reality – and we have no way of knowing as the Academy chooses not to release voting tallies – it’s worth remembering that form is temporary, class is permanent. Russell’s seventh film is a champion and will enthral viewers for years to come.
Sting in the tale
Based, loosely, on the true story of the Abscam sting operation of the late ’70s and early ’80s (‘Some of this actually happened’ reads the opening title card), American Hustle introduces Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale), overweight, self-pitying, his life top-to-bottom flimflam, from his elaborate hairpiece to his business dealings in fake art and fraudulent loans. Decidedly small fry, Rosenfeld meets Albuquerque stunner Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams) at totalfilm.com
a pool party and the pair team up in bedroom and boardroom. This is big time, Prosser posing as Lady Edith, replete with English accent and elite banking connections, while Rosenfeld plays a consultant able to secure fantastic loans for the schmucks she reels in. But the stakes are about to rise again. Ensnared by FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper, his energy as tightly coiled as his perm), Irving and Prosser are forced to aid the government in orchestrating a prodigious scam to bring down the mayor of New Jersey, Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner, doing his best work since The Hurt Locker). As if entering the world of Congress, powerbrokers and the East Coast mafia – enter Robert De Niro in a steel-eyed cameo – isn’t dangerous enough, the pair’s tottering house of cards is further threatened by Rosenfeld’s stay-at-home
Con-hair: (above) Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale), Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams) and Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper).
With its exuberant crime story decorated by voiceover, jukebox hits and a careening camera, American Hustle has been compared (sometimes favourably, sometimes not) to Scorsese’s gangster movies. But there’s a shrill, unhinged quality to the action that is all Russell’s own, the director happy to linger on colourful details or take in funny asides or luxuriate in an amusing flashback – often at the detriment of the plot’s momentum. If Tarantino is cinema’s hip-hop artist, Russell is its jazz musician, his movies loose and spontaneous as he ricochets here, freeforms there and bops wherever he damn well pleases. This, married to larger-than-life characters who are forever on the verge of spectacular implosion, has won the filmmaker critics and plaudits alike, but never has his style been so suited to his material as in American Hustle. Oscars or not, the film is a blast of invigorating entertainment, 20 minutes too long but stuffed to bursting with brazen technique, riotous performances, startling clothes and pompadours, plunging cleavages and endlessly quotable dialogue (“Science oven!”). It perhaps doesn’t have the depth or significance that the American in the title implies, but moments of pain, love and bromance anchor the madness, while the shady nature of everyone on display as they shamelessly scrabble for a better life suggests government and gangsters are two sides of the same coin: the American Dream sold down the river. Extras comprise a short but pap-free Making Of and 20-odd minutes of deleted/ extended scenes – including a longer cut of Jennifer Lawrence’s showstopping ‘Live And Let Die’ mime. Jamie Graham
> Making Of > Deleted/extended scenes June 2014 | Total Film | 123
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see this if you liked...
The Blues Brothers 1980 The ultimate ‘reunite the gang’ comedy: freeform gags, cartoon violence and Princess Leia. Ashes To Ashes 2008-10 Another ’70s alpha male is cast adrift in the ’80s, as TV cop Gene Hunt deals with strong women and synth-pop. Despicable Me 2 2013 Steve Carell topped his annus mirabilis with another sequel, another Kristen Wiig romance and another hit. For full reviews of these films visit totalfilm.com/ cinema_reviews
Right and Ron
Burgundy is the funniest colour… most of the time.
ANCHORMAN 2: THE LEGEND CONTINUES 15 Film HHHHH Extras HHHHH
OUT 14 april DVD, Bd
t took confidence to subtitle 2004’s Anchorman as The Legend Of Ron Burgundy, yet a legend it has become – a word-of-quote cult hit that is arguably Hollywood’s most influential comedy of modern times, catapulting producer Judd Apatow and Steve Carell to the A-list and establishing the star-director team of Will Ferrell and Adam McKay as the go-to guys for rambling surrealism. With the long-delayed sequel, no chances have been taken. Forget the slow burn of discovery; Anchorman 2 arrives with the fanfare (and expectations) of a blockbuster. Yet comedy is the hardest genre to keep fresh. Should the one-time KVWN Channel 4 team seek out new headlines, or recycle the gags that everybody fell in love with? 124 | Total Film | June 2014
Ron and Veronica, rocking the fur.
The short answer: both. To their credit, Ferrell and McKay use the time lag to try something different, swapping the original’s 1970s setting for the big, bad 1980s. The sequel is hung on the birth of 24-hour rolling news, bringing new impetus to the newsroom scenes and a vein of satire about dumbed-down standards that emerges from Ron’s dim-witted exuberance. But this being Anchorman, Ferrell and McKay can’t stick to the autocue; the actual plot lacks a… well, anchor. When Ron recalls his misadventures – dating his boss (Meagan Boss), going blind, rearing a baby shark – you’d be forgiven for forgetting how these events occurred. Only the first bears any relevance to the film’s setting. The others? Just part of a sprawl that knows nor cares how to stop. Indeed, it’s worth noting that (as with original spin-off Wake Up, Ron Burgundy:
The 1980s setting isn’t the
only reason to get nostalgic. The Lost Movie) Anchorman 2 made history McKay has as the last release from Paramount Pictures to include assembled a 35mm release; the studio a new cut from is now all-digital. deleted jokes (included on Blu-ray, longer and raunchier than the theatrical edit), meaning there are now four Anchorman movies. Then again: why not? As Burgundy reunites his team, the chemistry remains intact, although the allocation of laughs has been focus-grouped by a near-decade of fan worship. So Carell’s Brick Tamland rivals Ferrell for screen time, stealing every scene he’s in and delivering the film’s funniest non-sequiturs in a romantic subplot with Kristen Wiig. Notable casualties, however, are Paul Rudd and Christina Applegate, who both now essentially play straight roles. Surprisingly, the in-jokes are restrained until the final act, when Ferrell and McKay get bored of resisting the fans: cue jazz flute, Sex Panther and the mother of all news team battles. While excessive in its A-list cameos and pyrotechnic bombast, there’s the sense by this point that Ron has run out of news. Simon Kinnear
Extras ›Alternative cut (BD) ›Commentary › Featurettes ›Gag reel
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dvd & blu-ray new She really wasn’t sure about the next scene...
Big awards movies, and one or two wooden spoon-ers.
THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY PG
Lars von Trier’s sexual odyssey really comes together.
Film HHHHH Extras HHHHH OUT 21 APRIL DVD, bd Advertising’s a funny thing – you can see all the tricks, keep yourself at one remove, then go out and buy Nike anyway. TSLOWM functions on a similar level, building brand awareness and delivering key messaging, only this time, instead of running shoes, the core product is syrupy self-improvement for director/star Ben Stiller’s meek office worker, who elaborately daydreams of a more exciting life. You keep expecting a logo to pop up at the end of every scene, but that said, it damn well works. The mode of uplift and fantasy it’s selling may be indistinguishable from high-end ads, but you have to admire the professionalism. Andrew Lowry Extras › Deleted/extended/alternative scenes (BD) › Featurettes › Music video (BD)
NYMPHOMANIAC VOLUMES I & II 18
Slave 4 U If you’ve been looking forlornly at the gap between Tom Jones and Unforgiven in your alphabetical collection of Best Picture winners on DVD, good news: come 12 May, you’ll be able to poke 12 Years A Slave in there. Steve McQueen’s tripleOscar-winner will be garnished with featurettes, plus the Blu-exclusive doc A Historical Portrait. A week later will see the release of Martin Scorsese’s ace-but-itwas-never-going-to-win The Wolf Of Wall Street, whose top bonus looks to be a round-table confab with all main players. The even-moreignored Inside Llewyn Davis follows on 26 May, with the inevitably titled Making Of, Inside Inside Llewyn Davis.
Film HHHHH Extras HHHHH
Out 28 APRIL DVD, BD
t’s explicit. It’s long. It’s self-indulgent. It’s got Charlotte Gainsbourg sucking off paedophiles and taking a fisting off Billy Elliot. As soon as Nymphomaniac opens with a three-minute shot of a drainpipe (before jolting into life with a snarling Rammstein track) it’s clear that none of the controversy means anything – and it’s clear Lars von Trier is behind the scenes, laughing at the headlines. For all its blatant provocation, von Trier’s two-part opus isn’t the dirty movie it pretends to be. This is a film that flirts with amorality, self-obsession and self-loathing with an academic’s eye – and not a little sense of humour.
‘This two-part opus isn’t the dirty movie it pretends to be’ totalfilm.com
Gainsbourg enthrals as Joe, a woman coldly narrating her grim sexual history to a dusty professor (Stellan Skarsgård) who compares her confessions to everything from Fibonacci numbers to fly-fishing. The first part beguiles, the second bruises – but both need to be watched together as one gruelling, exhilarating whole. Gainsbourg and newcomer Stacy Martin do the heavy lifting (via a few prosthetic vaginas), but there’s standouts in the support too: Uma Thurman utterly heartbreaking, Jamie Bell utterly creepy and Shia LaBeouf utterly out of his depth. As grandiose as Melancholia, as devastating as Breaking The Waves and as incendiary as Antichrist, it’s von Trier’s most ambitious film by far. Shooting straight from the heart, head and groin – this is cinema that leaves a mark. Paul Bradshaw
Extras › Interviews ›On-stage Q&A
ALL IS LOST 12
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OUT 28 APRIL DVD, BD After his ultra-talky, ultra-timely Margin Call, writer/director J.C. Chandor about-turns with a near-mute, timeless tale of man vs the elements. Given that our sea-stranded survivalist is a 77-yearsyoung, ruggedly capable Robert Redford, you might think it’s going to be Man 1, Elements 0. But aside from some greenscreen storm action that jars with the peerless realism, there’s a perpetual sense Bob is seconds from meeting his maker. With no navel-gazing, no backstory and no monologuing to any smiling volleyballs, few films are as in-the-moment as this. Blu-ray packs three featurettes, DVD none bar (never-more-vital) audio description. Matthew Leyland Extras ›Featurettes (BD)
Blu SEAL Late last year Oscar buzz gathered around Navy SEAL saga Lone Survivor. Alas, it wound up with the same number of noms as Jackass Presents Bad Grandpa (ie one). Anyway, now’s the time to warn your sound system that it’s about to be put through its paces when Peter Berg’s thunderous firefights hit Blu-ray on 9 June. The same day will see the RoboCop revamp ride into town, with Blu extras set to include a handful of deleted scenes, featurettes and what looks like lots of tech-specs on all the law-enforcing hardware. And if you’re in the market for more old ideas made fresh(ish), there’s Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2 June) and 47 Ronin (12 May).
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Verse case scenario Dan-Rad steps to the Beat…
KILL YOUR DARLINGS 15 Film HHHHH Extras HHHHH
Out 21 APRIL DVD, BD
“What rhymes with Hermione?”
aniel Radcliffe isn’t an obvious choice to play Beat poet Allen Ginsberg – far from it, in fact. But leaving Hogwarts further behind with each movie, he gives an affecting, believably cerebral performance in first-time director John Krokidas’ intoxicating biopic, which follows a wide-eyed Ginsberg through his early days at Columbia Uni. Dane DeHaan equally mesmerises as Lucien Carr, the rebel with a literary cause who takes the besotted Ginsberg under his wing and introduces him to future fellow Beats William Burroughs (Ben Foster) and Jack Kerouac (Jack Huston). Krokidas unfolds this comparatively little-known chapter of Ginsberg’s life in enthralling detail; discussions of poetic form sit comfortably alongside a murder plot that’s close to gothic romance. Carr, who would become known as the “fallen angel” of the Beats, is locked into
a suffocating relationship with former mentor David Kammerer (played with unsettling poignancy by Michael C. Hall). Even without the flash-forward opening, the violent conclusion would feel inevitable; DeHaan plays Carr like a coiled spring. Krokidas directs with a manicdepressive energy reflective of Carr, but while DeHaan is the driving force, Radcliffe is the heart of the piece; every moment of Ginsberg’s unrequited love feels painfully immediate. The rest of the cast fare less well, with Elizabeth Olsen under-served as Edie Parker and Huston’s Kerouac left to meander in a subplot. A heady, visually bold melodrama that pulls off the rare trick of depicting writing well on screen, Kill Your Darlings is an auspicious debut for Krokidas – and a new post-Potter high for Radcliffe. Emma Dibdin
Extras › Commentary › Featurettes › Deleted scenes
THE RAILWAY MAN 15
THE MISSING PICTURE 12
Out 5 MAY DVD, BD
Out 28 APRIL DVD, BD
Out 5 MAY DVD, BR
Out now DVD, BD
A WW2 drama, low-key romance and revenge thriller all in one, this adap of former Japanese PoW Eric Lomax’s harrowing memoir could hardly be accused of lacking ambition. If only the result did it justice: this sweeping chronicle of torture, trauma and reconciliation fails to convince, particularly in scenes centred on the middle-aged Lomax (Colin Firth). Wartime flashbacks featuring Jeremy Irvine strike truer notes, though not enough to offset the overcooked finale. As doting Mrs Lomax, meanwhile, Nicole Kidman looks like she’s on the wrong train altogether. Simon Kinnear Extras › Interviews
A moody French melodrama drenched in darkness, Claire Denis’ 2013 Cannes entry is a slow glimpse at the depths people sink to when the things they love are threatened. Marco (Vincent Lindon) unravels a conspiracy in the wake of his brother-in-law’s death when he returns to Paris and begins an affair with his neighbour (Chiara Mastroianni). After discovering his niece (Lola Créton) has been hospitalised with horrific injuries, he sets out to punish whoever inflicted them. A soupy nightmare of grim scenes, Denis’ 12th feature film is light on plot but hauntingly atmospheric. Josh Winning Extras › Featurette
Even if it hadn’t been delayed by Wesley Snipes’ legal troubles, this dud would likely have sat on a shelf long after its 2006 production. The tax-dodging star finished the film on bail, perhaps explaining why his undead-battling cowboy hero is hardly in it. A baffling mythology of damned gunslingers returning from the grave is established, then re-established, then re-re-established – but somehow only manages to make it more vague. Scene after scene unfolds with so little narrative drive, you have to wonder at the gall of the filmmakers to charge for their services. Andrew Lowry Extras › None
Nominated for this year’s foreign-film Oscar, French-Cambodian director Rithy Panh’s documentary revisits the unfathomable horror of the Khmer Rouge. Using newsreels and – poignantly – clay figurines, Panh attempts to come to terms with the communist regime that starved his family. The posed scenes of clay cruelty function as a coping mechanism as much as a visual tool. Any concerns that the figurines might be just a gimmick are soon washed away – the sense of raw pain, wrought by a wound that will never heal, feels very real.
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Extras › TBC
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dvd & blu-ray new
The round-up First up: Nazi zombies. And it gets grimmer…
BIG BAD WOLVES 18 Film HHHHH Extras HHHHH
WISH YOU WERE HERE 15 Film HHHHH Extras HHHHH
HUSTLERS 18 Film HHHHH Extras HHHHH
Out 28 April DVD
Out 12 MAY DVD
Out 21 APRIL DVD, BD
Like Prisoners with a blowtorch, Tarantino’s favourite movie of 2013 takes a scalpel to vigilante justice. Unlike Prisoners, it’s also bloody funny. Focused on a rogue cop and a vengeful dad who torture a teacher suspected of child murder, Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado’s (2010’s Rabies) Israeli thriller stirs satire into savage psychodrama. The political subtexts are blunt, but the filmmakers handle diverse influences – the Coen brothers, Korean revenge drama, Tarantino – with a seat-of-pants mastery of tone, tension and edgy titters. Be warned: just when you think you can relax, the murder victim’s granddad turns up... Kevin Harley
On a jolly to Cambodia, businessman Jeremy King (Antony Starr) goes missing, leaving new girlfriend Steph (Teresa Palmer), her pregnant sister (Felicity Price) and the latter’s hubby (Joel Edgerton), to figure/fight it out back home in Sydney. The shock of loss is brilliantly evoked, with a shot of Edgerton staring, devastated, at the embers of a full-moon party fire, but Kieran Darcy-Smith’s debut (co-written by Price) seems more concerned with its characters’ marital problems than the central mystery. Handsomely shot and well acted, particularly by Edgerton, it meanders a bit in the domestic sphere, but the climax makes the journey worthwhile. Matt Glasby
Three tales of grindhouse revenge linked by a pawn store and spliced, Creepshow fashion, with comic-book panels, Hustlers serves up meth-head racists (including the late Paul Walker going full redneck), a serial rapist (Elijah Wood in Sin City/Maniac nutjob mode) and a crappy Elvis impersonator (Brendan Fraser, bland) who strikes a deal with the devil. Matt Dillon, Vincent D’Onofrio and Thomas Jane round out a crack cast, but the script’s weak, the stories second hand. Director Wayne Kramer, who made one of Walker’s better vehicles, Running Scared, over-compensates with brash direction and catapulting camerawork. Jamie Graham
Extras › None
Extras › None
Extras › Commentary
WALKING WITH DINOSAURS PG Film HHHHH Extras HHHHH OUT 14 APRIL DVD, BD, 3D BD Although it cuts a visual dash, this big-screen treatment of the BBC’s documentary series is vandalised by the American, ‘keeping it real’ voiceovers for characters like Patchi (Justin Long), a young Pachyrhinosaurus migrating south with his family through the dangers of the Cretaceous period. Despite the action freezing occasionally to introduce each species, the movie panders to the patronising notion that kids prefer farting stupidity over entertaining education. Not a patch on Disney’s Dinosaur – and to add insult to injury, the dinos’ mouths don’t even move. Stephen Kelly Extras › Ultimate dino guide (BD) › Interactive map (BD) › Trivia track (BD) totalfilm.com
CHILD OF GOD 18
WHY STOP NOW? 15
Film HHHHH Extras HHHHH
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OUT 28 APRIL dvd
OUT now dvd
Kudos to James Franco (who directs, stars and co-writes) for tackling Cormac McCarthy’s first great novel, the eloquently grim tale of a Tennessee hillbilly’s descent into necrophilia. Scott Haze plays Lester Ballard, chuntering his way across forbidding landscapes until he happens upon a dead woman and hauls her home to play at relationships. A faithful adaptation with a keen sense of timelessness and place, Child Of God seeks to replicate McCarthy’s rough-hewn poetry through bleak photography, off-key cutting, anonymous voiceovers and the requisite banjo score. A touch ‘student-y’ in places, but Franco the filmmaker deserves to be taken seriously. Jamie Graham Extras › None
Maybe when he’s Lex Luthor, Jesse Eisenberg will be able to stop his indie gems going straight to disc. Low-key without feeling slight, tough-edged but rarely losing its screwball sense of humour, Why Stop Now? deserved much more than two years of limbo after its Sundance premiere. Eisenberg is the frazzled piano prodigy rushing to make it to his first big audition, get his junkie mum (Melissa Leo) into rehab, apologise to his girlfriend and run errands for Tracey Morgan’s inept drug dealer. Phil Dorling and Ron Nyswaner’s smart, sharp little script dips and wobbles, but Eisenberg’s quick-fire performance keeps the dramedy lines blurring nicely. Paul Bradshaw Extras › None
Soviet soldiers battle fascist corpses in Outpost III: Rise Of The Spetsnaz (HH, out now, DVD, BD), another glum entry in the Nazi-zombie saga. Saddled with minimal plot, clichéd characters and laughable dialogue, director Kieran Parker focuses purely on action. The combination of martial arts and the undead far-right proves a surprisingly dull one. A prequel to/reboot of Eli Roth’s 2002 schlocker, Cabin Fever 3: Patient Zero (HH, out now, DVD, BD) isolates Sean Astin on a Caribbean island (above). Infection breaks out when hotties arrive (cue icky oral sex). Genre fans might be tempted but everyone else should avoid like the plague.
The least essential De Niro/Scorsese team-up this side of Shark Tale, The Family (HH, out now, DVD, BD) sees Mob man Bob and his brood supposedly hiding out in France but drawing attention to themselves in a sometimes-funny, often-painful series of scrapes. Luc Besson directs; Marty produces – seemingly from a great distance. The best you can say for The Harry Hill Movie (H, out 14 April, DVD, BD) is that it’s not Keith Lemon: The Film. The worst you can say is… look, we’ve only got so much space here. Lastly, clunky dramedy Day Of The Flowers (HH, out now, DVD) will make you want to visit Cuba. So long as ashes-scattering sisters Eva Birthistle and Charity Wakefield aren’t there.
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One does not simply walk into Rupert Murdoch’s house...
see this if you liked... DRAGONHEART 1996 The grandfather of CGI dragons, even though the film is three stars max. THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RETURN OF THE KING 2003 Just the one spider, but you’d need a bloody big slipper to take care of her. SHERLOCK 2010More chances to see Benedict Cumberbatch being all superior and winding up Martin Freeman. For full reviews of these films visit totalfilm.com/ cinema_reviews
Beasts in show
Jacko lets Middle-earth off the leash.
nebraska 15 Film HHHHH Extras HHHHH Out 14 april DVD Last year’s starkest poster – a silhouetted Bruce Dern impersonating a scarecrow – belies the warmth, wit and sporadic slapstick of Alexander Payne’s movie. And for all the (much deserved) role-of-a-lifetime plaudits heaped on Dern, Nebraska’s at its bittersweet best as a two-man show: Will Forte is a revelation as the son who patiently follows Dern’s Woody on his quest to claim an obviouslybollocks million-dollar prize. If some of the strokes are broad (the piggy nephews, June Squibb’s TMI outbursts), Payne paints a watercolour-delicate portrait of father-son friction. Sole extra is a half-hour Making Of. Matthew Leyland Extras › Making Of
the hobbit: the desolation of smaug 12 Film HHHHH Extras HHHHH
Out now DVD, BD, 3D BD
piders. Dragons. Ursine shapeshifters… If you felt that An Unexpected Journey was somewhat lacking in the weird-and-wonderful creatures department, you’re sure to be placated by the second entry in Peter Jackson’s prequel trilogy. Picking up where first film left off, The Desolation Of Smaug sees Bilbo (Martin Freeman) and his dwarf companions continuing their quest to reclaim the treasure buried underneath the Lonely Mountain, while Gandalf (Ian McKellen) investigates the growing evil at the spooky fortress of Dol
Guldur. With our heroes’ travels taking them to the sinister forest of Mirkwood and the Venetian-style outpost of Laketown, TDOS sees Jackson exploring uncharted corners of Middle-earth, giving us a much fresher, more varied and wondrous journey than that of AUJ. It’s also stuffed with a host of inventive set-pieces – the encounter with Mirkwood’s giant arachnids offers genuine chills, while the barrel sequence is a masterclass in big-budget spectacle. With new surroundings comes a host of new (and old) characters. A younger Legolas (Orlando Bloom), headstrong warrior elf Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly) and heroic Bard the Bowman (Luke Evans) are welcome additions, but Mikael Persbrandt’s Beorn the Bear gets short-
‘A fresher, more varied and wondrous journey than the first film’ 128 | Total Film | June 2014
changed. The swelling cast also means Jackson comes close to losing focus on his furry-footed hero. Nonetheless, Freeman’s warm, witty adventurer is the trump card and his tense, funny and deliciously scripted exchange with Smaug (Benedict Cumberbatch, spitting out lines with great presence despite his impressive mo-cap mechanics) is this film’s high point. Of course, this theatrical-version release is a taster for the inevitable Extended Edition. For now, Blu-ray buyers will have to make do with a 20-minute featurette, production videos (already online), Ed Sheeran music vid and a five-minute New Zealand promo (the only DVD bonus of note). Richard Jordan
Extras › Featurette (BD) › Production videos (BD) › Music video (BD) › Tourism promo
mandela: long walk to freedom 15 Film HHHHH Extras TBC
Out 28 april DVD, BD In another year – or maybe in another film – Idris Elba and Naomie Harris would’ve been up for Oscars for their thundering turns as Nelson and Winnie Mandela. But Justin Chadwick’s biopic, following the future ‘father of the nation’ from Johannesburg lawyer to political prisoner and world icon, rarely stops to let the characters breathe. Even with the gravitas and passion Elba and Harris bring, Chadwick’s direction feels shackled by the responsibility of adapting Mandela’s Long Walk To Freedom. Yet whatever its flaws, after Mandela’s recent passing, it’s still a fitting tribute. James Mottram Extras › Commentary Subscribe at www.totalfilm.com/subs
dvd & blu-ray Kirk was a guest speaker at the big chin rally.
see this if you liked... SUNSET BLVD. 1950 Wilder’s savage masterpiece dissects the ‘big carnival’ that is the Hollywood dream factory. RADIO DAYS 1987 Woody Allen’s nostalgia fest also draws on a real-life rescue attempt with a tragic resolution. WORLD TRADE CENTER 2006 Oliver Stone boils 9/11 down to two ordinary Joes trapped under a mountain of rubble. For full reviews of these films visit totalfilm.com/ cinema_reviews
We’ve heard of burying the lead but this is ridiculous…
ace in the hole PG Film HHHHH Extras TBC
1951 Out 28 april Dual Format
n 30 January 1925, a man named William Floyd Collins became trapped underground while exploring a network of caves beneath his native Kentucky. Attempts to free him over the next two weeks became a nationwide sensation, thanks in part to regular wireless bulletins that fed news of the rescue effort to listeners across the country. Tens of thousands of tourists flocked to the site, creating a carnival atmosphere to match the talking media circus. By the time point diggers got to him on 17 Chuck Tatum made February, though, Floyd a comeback in 1994’s The Collins had already Big Story, a Bafta-winning starved to death. ’toon in which a reporter (young Kirk) begs his editor Twenty-five years (old Kirk) for a scoop. later a young writer called totalfilm.com
Walter Newman suggested to Billy Wilder, then riding high on the success of Sunset Blvd., that Floyd Collins’ story might make a good basis for a film. The end result was Ace In The Hole, a critique of gutter journalism in which a cynical reporter delays the rescue of a man trapped underground to boost his career. Harsh, cruel and coruscating, the film – retitled ‘The Big Carnival’ by Paramount in a doomed attempt to make it more palatable – was both a critical and a box-office flop. It also prompted legal action from bit-part actor Victor Desny, who claimed he owned the rights to Floyd’s story and successfully sued Wilder and Paramount for plagiarism. Now, of course, Hole is recognised as a majestic, prescient masterpiece: a cautionary tale on the perils of an unchecked press that also castigates the gawping, rubbernecking
zombies who feast on strangers’ tragedies. At its centre is one of Kirk Douglas’ fiercest and most dynamic performances. His amoral Chuck Tatum jumps at the chance to exploit another man’s misery only to eventually become sickened by the depravity he unleashes. “I met a lot of hard-boiled eggs in my life, but you – you’re 20 minutes!” gasps the trapped man’s wife (Jan Sterling), an opportunistic floozy who will willingly play the part of loyal spouse if it means a ticket out of this dusty New Mexico backwater. Richard Benedict, meanwhile, breaks the heart as Collins’ stand-in, expiring slowly before our eyes while pathetically cradling the deluded belief Chuck has his best interests at heart. A few years after their collaboration, Wilder bumped into Walter Newman on another backlot. “You know that picture we made, Ace In The Hole? That lost me power at the studio,” the former sighed, before shouting: “Fuck them all! It’s the best picture I ever made.” Neil Smith
Extras › Booklet
June 2014 | Total Film | 129
The Total Film home entertainment bible
Why Spidey’s first franchise remains a Raimi of sunshine…
SPIDER-MAN TRILOGY 12 Films HHHHH Extras HHHHH 2002-07 OUT NOW BD Steelbook
hat’s with superheroes these days? From Batman’s reclusive moping in The Dark Knight Rises to Superman’s existential woes in Man Of Steel, it seems our current crop of costumed crimefighters are getting a little, well, gloomy. Even Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man heaped added layers of grit onto the origins of our friendly neighbourhood wall-crawler. But way back in 2002, in the early days of the comic-book resurgence and just short of a year after the catastrophic events of 9/11, people were in need a bit of levity. And that’s what they got with Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man. 130 | Total Film | June 2014
super-powered spin on well-trodden adolescent pitfalls – unrequited love, money troubles and, er, ‘organic’ webshooters… There are some shades of darkness to be found, of course. Parker’s transition to the red-and-blue suit starts with tragedy. But Raimi doesn’t dwell, soon segueing into some spectacular, city-spanning acrobatics and inventive smackdowns with nemesis the Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe).
Bright, ballsy and full of the director’s almost childlike enthusiasm, Raimi’s first stab at adapting Marvel’s teenage hero for the big screen follows Peter Parker’s (Tobey Maguire) In arms’ way journey from nerdy high-schooler to masked Solid foundations for a franchise then, avenger via a chance encounter with but after Spider-Man broke records at a genetically-modified arachnid. It’s the box office, many wondered a perfect combo of material, director whether Raimi could keep up and star – Maguire is tailor-made talking the momentum for the sequel. for Parker, instantly relatable point Thankfully he did – and then as the awkward teen going Dr Curt Connors (played by some. Even in a post-Dark through an extreme identity Dylan Baker in Spider-Man 2 Knight and Avengers world, crisis. Meanwhile, Raimi gets and 3), aka The Lizard, was 2004’s Spider-Man 2 is still plenty of mileage (both comic originally pegged as the villain for Raimi’s sinceone of the best examples of and dramatic) out of the cancelled Spider-Man 4.
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dvd & blu-ray archive 3, 2, 1: Spidey goes dark; (left) comes to the aid of Mary Jane Watson; (far left) battles the Green Goblin.
‘Spider-Man 2 is still one of the best examples of the genre firing on all cylinders’ the genre firing on all cylinders. Replacing original DoP Don Burgess with his Army Of Darkness cohort Bill Pope, Raimi widened the screen (the newly instilled Cinemascope format adds a majestic quality to Spidey’s flights of fancy) and his ambition, concocting a perfectly paced, consistently exhilarating and impressively epic superhero sequel. Experiencing a crisis of confidence and still pining after girl-next-door Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst), Spidey is this time tasked with saving New York from friendturned-foe Dr Otto Octavius (Alfred Molina), a brilliant physicist who becomes a monster after a failed lab demonstration, in which the four, AI-driven robotic ‘tentacles’ he’s wearing are fused to his body – and his brain. Striking just the right balance between pathos and maniacal egotism, Molina is a revelation as the conflicted Doctor Octopus. He’s not the only one: more so than the first film, Raimi is given free rein to experiment, channeling totalfilm.com
the cheeky spirit of his own lo-fi horror roots in some scenes (see Doc Ock’s inspired, emergency-room rebirth) while breaking new ground in others. The subway-train scrap – arguably the film’s standout sequence – is a happy marriage of expert choreography and Oscar-winning visual effects, and remains one of the most iconic, comic-book inspired set-pieces ever put on screen.
Son of a beach
All of which made the disappointment of 2007’s Spider-Man 3 even more crushing. At the time, there were grumblings that Raimi had experienced creative disputes with the producers and had been forced to shoehorn fanfavourite villain Venom (Topher Grace) into an already busy story that tied up the trilogy-spanning arc of Parker’s vengeful best friend and Goblin-in-training
His Spidey senses were tingling – or was it just hayfever?
Harry Osborn (James Franco) while pitting Spidey against new foe Flint Marko, aka Sandman (Thomas Haden Church). Watching the film with fresh perspective, Church’s muscular, sympathetic performance gives the movie its heart, while the scenes between his granular villain and Maguire’s webhead count among the high points. In contrast, Grace’s Venom seems like an afterthought – an instantly unlikeable character with trite motivations powered by a sort of evil flubber, it’s a disservice both to Raimi’s previous good form and the character’s loyal devotees. And yet, despite Spider-Man 3’s frustrating inconsistencies and behind-the-camera politics, the director still manages to infuse the film with enough of his trademark wit and artistic flair to avert disaster. Sandman’s creation, which sees the accidentally disintegrated Marko desperately trying to re-form as he attempts to pick up his ailing daughter’s locket, is a thing of abstract, melancholic beauty, while Maguire continues to nail the irreverent sense of humour that made us root for his Parker in the first place (“Where do all these guys come from?” he deadpans after his first encounter with Church’s villain, casually shaking the sand out of his Spider-boots). It’s telling that, even though this represents the ‘darkest’ of the three films (with Spidey battling inner demons as well as three supervillains), Raimi still finds time for a tongue-in-cheek dance number to break up all the soul searching. Too much? Perhaps. But maybe today’s caped crusaders could learn a thing or two from Spidey’s twinkle toes. In short – why so serious? This new Steelbook edition of the trilogy comes with no new extras, but plenty ported over from previous editions – there’s enough bloopers to make up a fourth movie. Richard Jordan
> Commentaries > Featurettes > Music videos > Bloopers June 2014 | Total Film | 131
The Total Film home entertainment bible
The movie that made DiCaprio a contender.
WHAT’S EATING GILBERT GRAPE 12 Film HHHHH Extras HHHHH
1993 Out 28 APRIL BD
Breakout role: Leonardo DiCaprio as Arnie, Gilbert Grape’s kid brother.
asse HalLstrÖm’s quirky, small-town family drama generated surprisingly little box-office interest on its 1993 release. Yet it has proved to have extraordinary staying power. An archetypal slow-burn indie, it’s a warm but sharp-eyed portrait of the dysfunctional family weighing down Johnny Depp’s stoical slacker Gilbert – literally, in the case of his 500lb momma, played with real pathos and no padding by reality-talkshow find Darlene Cates. Like Hallström’s breakout hit My Life As A Dog (1985), it’s a character-driven piece that is sympathetic without being saccharine, underlining the offbeat charms and casual cruelties of molasses-slow daily life in a fading Iowa town (complete with über-cinematographer Sven Nykvist’s melting red sunsets). Adapted from a novel by schmaltz-meister Peter Hedges (Dan In Real Life, Pieces Of April), beneath its drifty, warm-hearted, plot-light charms,
it flaunts a darker vibe (there’s one hell of a cremation) that neither he nor Hallström have exhibited again. But the real key to its enduring appeal is as a showcase for uniformly superb acting. Depp, who championed the movie, underplays with wit and tenderness, as does Juliette Lewis’ road-tripping teen, whose flirty call to freedom kicks Gilbert’s life into touch. Their restrained turns are a fine foil for Leonardo DiCaprio’s exuberant, tic-laden, water-tower-shinning performance as Arnie, Gilbert’s mentally challenged brother (“Some days you want him to live. Some days… you don’t”). The role deservedly earned DiCaprio an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor (his first Academy nod) the following year, and this bare bones release is a reminder that he’s been a versatile, envelope-pushing talent for more than two decades now. Kate Stables
Extras › None
SEVEN SAMURAI PG
THE SECRET OF NIMH u
WHITE DOG 15
1954 Out 21 APRIL BD Steelbook, DVD
1982 Out NOW BD
1982 Out NOW Dual format
Akira Kurosawa’s classic adventure about the saviours of a bandit-plagued village is so good it’s been successfully remade as western, space opera and Pixar animation, yet it’s so brilliant that none has eclipsed it. Everything from Toshiro Mifune’s whirling-dervish performance to the closing battle is meticulously designed to thrive on light and movement. A perfect fusion of economy and scale, this functions equally well as exhilarating entertainment and social commentary, and is never less than gripping despite its epic length. Extras include critic Tony Rayns’ Kurosawa primer. Simon Kinnear Extras › Video essay › Booklet
Having left a stagnating Disney in 1979, this is the film Don Bluth and his team of breakaway animators produced – a beautiful, uneven and very unusual story of a field-mouse mum beseeching the local rats to help her sickly son. There’s a sense of passion and hard work battling a lack of Disney-style resources: gorgeous sequences of glowing light and painstaking shadow burst out of a rushed, small-scale whole. The end result is delicate rather than grandstanding, with a story lacking conventional conflicts and arcs but full of wonderfully detailed characters and just a sprinkle of magic. Nathan Ditum Extras › Commentary › Featurette
Sam Fuller’s (The Big Red One) last Hollywood movie isn’t perfect – but then that goes for most Fuller films. His tale of a young actress who adopts a beautiful white Alsatian, only to discover it’s been trained to attack black people, is riven with gaping plot holes, messages hammered home and some less than impressive acting (in the lead, Kristy McNichol is painfully inadequate). But as so often with Fuller, the sheer energy of the direction and his seething anger at ingrained racism carries the film over its flaws. Paramount were so dismayed by White Dog they withheld it from US distribution for years. Philip Kemp Extras › Booklet
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X-MEN: THE LAST STAND 12
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2006 Out 5 MAY BD Steelbook “I’m the Juggernaut, bitch!” Sadly, the Brett Ratner-directed third chapter in the X-Men saga will likely be remembered for Vinnie Jones’ lousy one-liners, but it’s not as bad as his clangers would suggest. The Last Stand sees the introduction of a mutant ‘cure’, which Magneto (Ian McKellen) uses as an excuse to start an all-out war with mankind. It’s riddled with plot holes, but there’s still plenty to satisfy X-fans – Kelsey Grammer’s Beast is a treat, while Professor X’s (Patrick Stewart) swansong (sort of) is a tense, emotional series standout. Richard Jordan Extras › Commentaries › Deleted scenes › Featurettes › Stills galleries Subscribe at www.totalfilm.com/subs
dvd & blu-ray archive
Beefcake, Bueller and bickering in the barracks.
MUPPET MOVIES PG Films See below Extras HHHHH 1984/99 Out now BD Or lost in space. 12 years before their 2011 comeback, the Muppets felt stale in Muppets From Space (HH), a Gonzobased flop with its few sly gags (“Mice Girls”) outweighed by dated Close Encounters quips and the sense that the frog had had his day. The better bet is 1984’s The Muppets Take Manhattan (HHHH), a fizzy Broadway romp where Kermit gets amnesia, Miss Piggy gets a perm and Broadway gets a Muppet show. Still-fresh ingredients abound: the diner rats predate Ratatouille, ‘Together Again’ deserves its Muppets Most Wanted revamp and the chickens’ ‘William Tell Overture’ never gets old. Kevin Harley
Extras › Featurettes (The Muppets Take Manhattan) › Outtakes (Muppets From Space)
ORCA THE KILLER WHALE PG Film HHHHH Extras HHHHH
THE CURSE OF THE CAT PEOPLE U Film HHHHH Extras HHHHH
1977 Out 14 APRIL DVD
1944 Out 14 APRIL DVD
From the moment the titular beast kills a Great White, there’s little doubt which film producer Dino De Laurentiis has in his sights. Clearly, the result is no Jaws, but this unlikely whale tale, charting Orca’s psychological duel with fisherman Richard Harris, has pleasures of its own as a trashy update of Moby Dick. For such a shameless knock-off, Michael Anderson directs with pace, solidity and remarkable seriousness. It’s all the more entertaining for the disconnect between its artistic aspirations (notably Harris’ full-blooded thesping) and the ludicrously kitsch sight of the vengeful predator leaping in delight as it blows up a power station. Simon Kinnear
A box-office flop on its release, Robert Wise and Gunther von Fritsch’s extraordinary sequel to 1942 horror classic Cat People utilises a few of the same characters but is almost totally removed. Producer Val Lewton wanted to call it ‘Amy And Her Friend’, the plot focusing on a sensitive young girl (Ann Carter) who’s visited by the ghost of the first film’s Irena (Simone Simon). Redeploying sets from Orson Welles’ The Magnificent Ambersons, TCOTCP features zero werecats and favours visual poetry over stalk ’n’ slash as it wanders a chimerical netherworld between Cocteau and del Toro. Jamie Graham
Extras › None
Extras › None
ALICE IN WONDERLAND PG THIS SPORTING LIFE 12
THEATRE OF BLOOD 15
Film HHHHH Extras N/A
Film HHHHH Extras HHHHH
Film HHHHH Extras N/A
1966 OUT 28 april DVD
1963 OUT 5 MAY BD
1973 OUT 28 APRIL BD, BD STEELBOOK
“It’s a film about children,” said Jonathan Miller of his un-Disneyfied version of Lewis Carroll’s classic, made for BBC TV, “not explicitly for them.” Behind the talkative animals and playing-card royalty he saw a picture of bourgeois Victorian society, pompous, stuffy and irascible, as it might appear to a smart kid. The Caucus Race offers a parody of high-church religion; the Queen of Hearts becomes a deranged version of Queen Victoria. Great cast, including Michael Redgrave’s irritable Caterpillar, John Gielgud’s sweetly melancholic Mock Turtle, Peter Sellers’ goonish King of Hearts and Peter Cook hamming it up as the Mad Hatter. Philip Kemp
Richard Harris bagged Cannes’ Best Actor and an Oscar nom for this titanic turn as Frank Machin, the cocksure Yorkshire rugby player who thrusts his way through Lindsay Anderson’s startling feature debut. Produced by Karel Reisz (director of that other landmark kitchen-sinker Saturday Night And Sunday Morning), it’s an evocative portrait of British working-class life. Harris is sensational, but so is Rachel Roberts (also Oscar-nommed) as Frank’s embittered landlady-cum-lover. It might lack the surreal touches of Anderson’s If.… and O Lucky Man!, but rarely has a film so perfectly captured male aggression, on and off the field. James Mottram
Between 1968 and 1973, Vincent Price made some of the campest, cultiest, most dazzlingly baroque films of his career, including this horribly funny little masterpiece, released here in a special steelbook version with a chat-track from über-fans The League Of Gentlemen. In one of his greatest roles, Price plays a ham actor who rises from the dead to exact Shakespearian-style revenge on his critics – a veritable who’s who of British thespian royalty. Memorable for its lurid set-pieces (notably Robert Morley being forced to eat his own poodles), it also remains a favourite among critics; suggesting, perhaps, a certain guilty conscience. Punish us! Ali Catterall
Extras › TBC totalfilm.com
Extras › Booklet › Vintage promo material › Image galleries
Everything is ultra-stylised in Querelle (above, HHHH, 1982, out now, BD, DVD), from the Village People costuming to Brad Davis’ deliberately stilted, beefcake performance as a murderous sailor. Divisive on release, Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s brazen Jean Genet adap now feels like a touchstone for modern gay cinema. Imagine a film where Ferris Bueller, Roy Batty, Rumpole of the Bailey and Catwoman hang out in medieval times. That’s Ladyhawke (HHH, 1985, out now, BD), a bizarre romantic fantasy that’s so ’80s it’s wearing legwarmers. Larry Cohen’s cult horror-comedy The Stuff (below, HHH, 1985, out now, dual format) sees a delicious but mysterious new foodstuff turn out to be… alive! Plenty of playful satire to wrap your gums around, with a pleasingly light aftertaste.
The warfare’s strictly psychological in Tunes Of Glory (HHH, 1960, out now, DVD), a tale of mutiny on the bagpipes as senior officers John Mills and Alec Guinness lock horns over command of a Highland barracks. Lastly, The Agony And The Ecstasy (HHH, 1965, out now, BD) is a sandy Cinemascope epic centred on Michelangelo’s (Charlton Heston) struggle to redecorate the Sistine Chapel. Less grand than bona fide Biblical blockbusters, it’s most interesting as a film about the torture of creative endeavour.
Extras › Tbc June 2014 | Total Film | 133
The Total Film home entertainment bible
Lounge finds out why no one is safe in Game Of Thrones Season 4…
hen HBO released the teaser posters for the new season of Game Of Thrones, they came emblazoned with two words: ‘Valar Morghulis’. Which, if you don’t know your High Valyrian, translates as “All men must die.” Forget what you saw at the Red Wedding in Season 3; this fourth series adapted from George R.R. Martin’s fantasy books (collectively known as A Song Of Ice And Fire) promises one thing: there will be blood. talking “You’re never safe point in this show,” laughs When GOT’s trailer for Season German actress Sibel 4 debuted in January, it Kekilli, who plays had 2m hits inside its first six hours online. Since this viral Shae (mistress of Peter explosion, it’s had 20m Dinklage’s iconic Tyrion). views on YouTube. “I was afraid from the first season. That’s why I’m telling George… he thinks I’m a pain in 134 | Total Film | June 2014
the ass, but I keep saying, ‘Don’t kill me!’” She’d do well to keep reminding him, with Martin still busy cracking out The Winds Of Winter – the sixth of an intended seven volumes. In the meantime, Kekilli and her co-stars are bracing themselves for the unveiling of Season 4. “It’s one of the biggest TV series in the world now,” remarks Irish actor Aidan Gillen, who plays the scheming Littlefinger. He’s not kidding, either. The most recent season of Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s animated South Park spent three episodes ribbing GOT – riffing on the Red Wedding and Martin’s obsession with flaccid male genitalia. “That’s a good sign when shows are starting to copy [us],” says Rory McCann, better known as scar-faced warrior The Hound.
TV parodies are one thing. But when the Season 3 finale debuted, it was 2013’s most pirated show by episode (5.9m downloads, according to TorrentFreak) for the second year in a row – beating even the last-ever episode of Breaking Bad. Even Jeff Bewkes, CEO of HBO’s parent company Time Warner called the illegal activity “better
‘In order to survive this brutal world you have to expect the unexpected’ than an Emmy” for stimulating interest (ironically, the show was nominated for 16 Emmys last year, but only won two – for make-up and visual effects). Not that HBO, the show’s creators D.B Weiss and David Benioff or their enormous Subscribe at www.totalfilm.com/subs
television parallel storylines which have yet to dovetail. Things happen and players are eliminated – all that stuff gets closer together.”
When Lounge joins up with a select band of the GOT cast, the series’ scale becomes clear. “A military campaign,” is how the genial Liam Cunningham (beleaguered seaman Davos) describes it. While the majority of each season’s shoot remains primarily at Titanic Studios in Belfast, it’s grown exponentially, says Kekilli. “The first season we had one stage in Belfast, and every time it’s getting bigger. Now we have a second stage and a third stage, and the bathroom is not outside anymore!” It doesn’t stop there. Just as the story throws us across the far reaches of Westeros, beyond The Wall and across the Narrow Sea to Essos, so the production bounces around the globe. To Iceland, where Jon Snow (rising star Kit Harington) and his Night’s Watch keep the zombie-like White Walkers and the tribal wildlings at bay. To Morocco, with scenes shot near Ouarzazate, where the dragon-nurturing Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) continues to win the hearts and minds of the freed slaves of Yunkai. And to Dubrovnik in Croatia, where scenes set in Westeros’ capital King’s Landing are shot. Just don’t mention this to some of the cast. “I didn’t get to shoot in Iceland, unfortunately,” sighs Thomas Brodie-Sangster, the 23-year-old British actor who joined GOT in Season 3 to play Family affair: Bad King Joffrey Jojen, the mentor-of-sorts (Jack Gleeson); (above) Jaime to the crippled Bran Stark Lannister (Nicolaj Coster-Waldau) (Isaac Hempstead-Wright). and sister Cersei (Lena Headey). “But we did have a lot of fake snow.” Most of which was cast need piracy or prizes to tell them how provided by snow candles, a firework-like see this if you liked... much fans are drooling at the prospect of device that produces throat-irritating ash a return to the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros. TROY 2004 particles. “We were doing the scene, and Swords, sandals and “You get comments from all over the world, coughing, and they said ‘Cut!’ and we family angst scripted from Malaysia to Peru,” says Dutch actress looked around and all the crew had by GOT co-creator Carice van Houten (aka spellbinding gas-masks, and we didn’t have anything!” David Benioff. priestess Melisandre). “It has everything. Perhaps because of the knotty nature KINGDOM OF It’s never dull. It’s always very dangerous of the storylines – the actors testify to HEAVEN 2005 and you never know what’s around the next Less sex than GOT, scenes spanning seven-to-eight pages but similar violence, corner. It’s like an addiction you can’t stop.” long, far longer than most movies – the plus a pop-in from It’s also an addiction that’s bloody hard joking around is kept to a minimum. Jaime Lannister (as a sheriff). to recap, its ever-shifting series of political “It’s not like a Jim Carrey set,” says and power struggles adding up to a plot of Brodie-Sangster. It is, says, Cunningham, GAME OF THRONES SEASONS 1-3 byzantine proportions. Even the number a show made for adults by adults. “You 2011-2013 of those teaser posters released – 19, each need to know what you’re doing. You need Well, duh. But any spotlighting a different major character – to be able to act. You can’t just walk in. viewer brave enough to start with S4 may shows at just how complex GOT has That’s why there are a lot of people who find themselves become. “The intensity is building,” says are quite experienced. It’s not a movie star a little bit lost… >> Gillen. “There are, quite bravely, several show. It’s an actors’ show.” totalfilm.com
Broadcast news... All the big events in tellyland on air, and off.
You’re producing a new HBO miniseries about Martin Luther King. Who do you get to develop it, then? The Wire’s David Simon, that’s who! The miniseries is slated to last for six hours, is based on book series America In The King Years by Taylor Branch and takes in King’s most famous activities.
CASTING THE ‘NET
Yet another CSI spin-off is on the way to sate the appetites of all those people who like to eat, sleep and drink crime forensics. This time the franchise gets its first female lead in the shape of Patricia Arquette who will focus on solving crimes that started online. Sounds far-fetched? Not so: her character is based on real-life cyber-psychologist Mary Aiken.
ANGELS AND DEMONS
The new TV show based on the Constantine comic series has been reeling in cast members. Welsh actor Matt Ryan has nabbed the role of the Hell-dodging demon-magnet, while Lost star Harold Perrineau plays an angel and True Blood’s Lucy Griffiths is the female lead.
THE TRUTH ABOUT CHARLIE
If ever there were two people more suited to a project than these two, we can’t think of them. Bret Easton Ellis and Rob Zombie have teamed up for a new TV show about Charles Manson. Ellis will write and Zombie will direct. “I’ve been obsessed with this insane story since I was a kid,” says Zombie.
June 2014 | Total Film | 135
The Total Film home entertainment bible
Five things you need to know about Season 2 of zombie kitchen-sink drama In The Flesh.
IT’S KEN LOACH DOES ZOMBIES (SORT OF)
Played deadly straight, In The Flesh follows the story of Kieren Walker: a ‘partially deceased syndrome sufferer’ who is being reintegrated back into society 10 years after a zombie apocalypse. “We always said it was what would happen if Alan Bennett and Ken Loach got together and did a zombie show,” writer Dominic Mitchell explains. “It’s not just your standard shoot-em-up gore-fest.”
Dragon lady: Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) with her servant Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel).
What’s clear is that Season 4 promises action. Previous seasons delivered shock and awe late on – [SPOILER ALERT] the shocking fate of Ned Stark (Sean Bean) in Season 1; Season 2’s Battle of Blackwater; and last season’s jaw-hanging Red Wedding massacre. With many major characters shown the exit in one cull, viewers who didn’t know Martin’s books were aghast. Cue Twitter meltdown and fans posting reaction shots on YouTube. “The passion and the horror – it was so much fun to watch,” smiles Nikolaj CosterWaldau. His character, the swaggering Jaime Lannister, returned to King’s Landing at the end of Season 3, and the actor promises the upcoming 10 episodes will be very Lannister-centric. “The whole dynamic in that family is at the core of Season 4,” says Coster-Waldau. In particular, he highlights the homicidal nutter currently sitting on the Iron Throne, King Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) – who happens to be the spawn of Jaime’s incestuous liaison with sister Cersei (Lena Headey). That’s just one corner of GOT’s expansive world, though. “Another big thing that’s been set up is to do with The Wall,” Coster-Waldau continues, referring to the 700ft icy edifice that separates the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros from the dark, inhuman forces that lie beyond. “The wildings are starting to attack, so that’s going to come to a…” He pauses, realising he may have said too much. “Well, let’s see what happens!” Judging by the trailer, Jon Snow and his wilding ex-lover, Ygritte (Rose Leslie) will see their story continue, as The Wall becomes a focal point for invasion. One of biggest names joining the cast in Season 4 is Sherlock’s Mark Gatiss (reportedly as banker Tycho Nestoris), but most intriguing for fans will be the arrival of Prince Oberyn Martell aka The Red Viper of Dorne, who holds a grudge against the Lannisters for murdering his sister, Princess Elia of Dorne, long ago. “He’s very dangerous,” says actor Pedro Pascal, who can be glimpsed in teaser footage demonstrating his fighting prowess against a warrior twice his size. 136 | Total Film | June 2014
IT’S ONE OF BBC Three’S final shows
Vengeance, it seems, is on many minds. For any Stark family members lucky enough not to be invited to the Red Wedding, things are going one of two ways. If you’re Bran (Isaac Hempstead-Wright), you’ll be heading to The Wall with your misfit friends. Or if you’re his sister Arya (Maisie Williams), last seen stabbing to death a soldier who dared desecrate her brother’s corpse, you’ll be undergoing a major personality change. “I feel like I’m playing a completely different Arya to the one I auditioned with,” says Williams, a breezy 17-year-old. “She was constantly taking the piss out of [her sister] Sansa, having a laugh and telling it as it is. Now I feel that’s stripped away and it progresses in Season 4. She’s slowly losing that loveableness about her and turning into something quite different.” Then there’s the fate of everyone’s favourite anti-hero, Tyrion Lannister, who is looking in increasing jeopardy in Season 4. And for those needing to, er, chase the dragon, Daenerys’ firebreathing creatures are growing by the day, ready to turn just about anyone she commands into toast. Another spectacle to look forward to is the fan-named Purple Wedding. Joffrey and Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer) are finally set to tie the knot, in one of the biggest scenes GOT has ever mounted. “I was shocked by the scale,” says Gwendoline Christie, who plays Jaime Lannister’s escort Brienne of Tarth. “I’ve never seen anything like that in GOT before.” Already fans are debating on the web where the Purple Wedding will come in the series; Weiss and Benioff have, after all, never been afraid to shuffle events or create composites. It’s just like the characters have discovered: in order to survive in this brutal world, you need to expect the unexpected. “This is what they’re doing; surprises for the actors, surprises for the viewers,” grins Rory McCann. “I’m prepared these days for a sharp left turn…” James Mottram
> Game Of Thrones Season 4 is showing on Sky Atlantic HD.
BBC Three may be getting the chop in 2015, but In The Flesh shows that, alongside the likes of Being Human, the channel was beginning to get bolder with its commissions. “I think BBC Three gets a lot of flack,” Mitchell says. “But the channel supported us so much.” At the time of writing, the show’s future is unconfirmed.
IT TACKLES BIG THEMES
What with Kieren’s family having first lost him to suicide and his home village, Roarton, being full of xenophobic curtain-twitchers, In The Flesh offers a novel take on the sensitive issues of prejudice, identity and suicide. “I wanted to do something very real that talked about real issues,” Mitchell explains, “but do it in a way that wasn’t going to be too bleak.”
IT’S GETTING BIGGER…
Season 2 has been awarded a bigger six-part format to spread its wings. Although the action never strays too far away from the rural microcosm of Roarton, a new political scheme by fictional party ‘Victus’ offers a snapshot of how a world would be segregated by the dead brought back to life. “It’s more about the present, and what’s happening in the community and the outside world now,” Mitchell says.
…AND COULD GO ON AND ON
Since the beginning, Mitchell made sure he kept a ‘bible’ documenting the entirety of In The Flesh’s universe – from characters’ childhoods, right down to the medicine ingredients PDS sufferers take to curb their ravenous tendencies. “That series bible was so big,” Mitchell says, “that I sort of planned five series ahead...” Here’s hoping he gets the chance to make them. SKe
> In The Flesh Season 2 begins on BBC Three on 4 May.
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dvd & blu-ray tv He might be suave, but he still needed help with his tie.
Dramatic licence Prepare to raise an eyebrow…
FLEMING 15 Show HHHHH Extras HHHHH
2014 Out NOW DVD
irst things first: Dominic Cooper looks nothing like author Ian Fleming. But that’s OK, because Fleming, Sky’s super-glossy dramatisation of what James Bond’s creator got up to during WW2, bears little relation to Ian Fleming’s early years, either. A fanciful concoction of half-truth, sexed-up biography and glorious, shameless codswallop, this four-parter imagines Fleming to be like 007 himself: a ruthless, resourceful ladies’ man who carries out clandestine espionage against the Nazis while enjoying a hedonistic, Bondian lifestyle. At one point, it even has him sneaking across enemy lines to recover some top-secret documents – quite a feat for a man who, in reality, spent pretty much every minute from 1939 to 1945 parked behind a Whitehall desk. If this were really a Bond film, then, it would be Thunderballs or Dr No-No.
CONTINUUM: SEASON 2 15
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DA VINCI’S DEMONS: SEASON 1 15
Show HHHHH Extras HHHHH
That’s not to say Fleming doesn’t entertain. Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll director Mat Whitecross makes sure things move at a decent clip and that not a scene goes by without a James Bond nod (casino confrontation, far-fetched gadgets, Moneypenny-style secretary et al). True, Cooper comes across as a bit of an arse as our chain-smoking, authoritydefying hero, not least in his petulant dealings with his intimidating mother Eve (Lesley Manville) or when subjecting London high-society hostess, and future Mrs Fleming, Ann O’Neill to some kinky S&M. In the latter role, however, Lara Pulver proves her Irene Adler in the Beeb’s Sherlock was no mere one-off. Imagine a combo of Pussy Galore, Vesper Lynd and Tatiana Romanova and you’re halfway there. Neil Smith
Extras › None
30 ROCK: SEASON 7 15 Show HHHHH Extras N/A
2012-13 Out 5 MAY DVD
2013 Out NOW DVD
2013 Out now DVD, BD
This excellent Canadian sciencefiction series doesn’t hit its second year running. It hits it flying. Last season we got to know future-cop Kiera Cameron (Rachel Nichols) as she coped with being sent back in time to our era with a bunch of terrorists; this year we uncover more juicy stuff about the bad guys, who might not be quite as bad as previously thought. With gloriously chewy plots, charismatic performances and snazzy FX, Continuum is highly intelligent sci-fi. Shame, then, about the conspicuous lack of a UK Blu-ray release. Rob James
Dark Knight trilogy co-writer David S. Goyer’s historical fantasy is a re-imagining of Leonardo Da Vinci’s early years that depicts the young polymath (played by Tom Riley) as more of a Tony Stark action hero than a painter. As such, its story of Renaissance politics, religious cults and – in one episode – Dracula owes a debt to populist, dark-edged shows such as Sherlock, but only begins to stand on its feet after four episodes of formulaic plotting. Stick with it, though, and you’ll be rewarded with some slickly stylised, fast-paced fun. Stephen Kelly
A half-season finale for the Emmy-winning showbiz satire that, despite the awards, America refused to watch in large numbers. It’s their loss – this 13-episode run sees the show back to its frantic best after a wobbly middle age, with hard-earned character pay-offs giving weight and closure (children, marriages and Tyler Perry allusion feature prominently) as well as a typical supply of quick-fire gags and big laughs. Winningly, this final stretch bites the hand that feeds it like never before: the digs at host network NBC are excruciatingly specific. Nathan Ditum
Extras › TBC
Extras › Commentaries › Featurettes › Deleted scenes
Extras › TBC
HEMLOCK GROVE: SEASON 1 18
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2013 Out 21 APRIL DVD, BD Centred on the murder of a high-school girl, Netflix’s horror series owes more to Twin Peaks’ brand of soap noir than it does to exec producer Eli Roth’s grindhouse style. Unlike Peaks, however, Hemlock Grove (based on the book by co-creator Brian McGreevy) is tonally erratic: the main narrative motor – an investigation by teenagers Roman (Bill Skarsgård) and gypsy werewolf Peter (Landon Liboiron) – gets lost in a barrage of gory, fragmented ideas. Still, there’s enough inventiveness here to give hope for series two. Stephen Kelly
Extras › TBC June 2014 | Total Film | 137
The Total Film home entertainment bible
15 HHHHH 2013 FROM 25 APRIL
Available on Sky Movies
It’s surely one of the hoariest stories in the cine-book: an agent infiltrates a group of crooks/Na’vi/mean girls then starts going native. Zal Batmanglij smartly updates the template for the Occupy age, keeping good/ evil boundaries blurry as Brit Marling cosies up to Alexander Skarsgård’s eco-activists. It’s like Sound Of My Voice with a budget for crowd scenes, like the pharma-company party where it’s not wise to quaff the champers…
HHHHH 2002 AVAILABLE NOW Available on Netflix
Despite the A-list line-up, this is the Christopher Nolan film people usually forget about, maybe because it’s a relatively untricksy police procedural, with Al Pacino huffing about on a murder case in an Alaskan town where it’s daylight 24/7. There’s a rare integrity for a remake, Robin Williams is unsettlingly low-key as the villain and Pacino looks convincingly knackered – you could fit your whole week’s shopping into his eye-bags.
Strutting their stuff: Simon Pegg and co in The World’s End.
Our pick of the films and shows to download or stream.
y the time you read this, the prank-tastic silliness of April Fools’ Day will have been and gone. And yet! In internetland, there are movies galore whose qualities of daftness – be they by accident or design – will rage on long after that day has passed. Right now on Sky Movies, a question that would stump the great philosophers is being posed: which is more juvenile, Grown Ups 2 (2013, H) or The Smurfs 2 (2013, H)? Meanwhile, the most bankable burblers since the Teletubbies, the Minions, prop up Despicable Me 2 (2013, from 25 April, HHH), and on 2 May clueless men sink into a quicksand of chaos in Michael Bay’s good-bad Pain & Gain (2013, HHH) and Edgar Wright’s good-good The World’s End (2013, HHHH). Available now on Virgin Movies, we have: Gerard Butler playing jolly games of F-off with terrorists in the thrillingly ludicrous Olympus Has Fallen (2013, HHH); seemingly clever people thinking dinosaurs and holidaymakers can co-exist in Jurassic Park (1993, HHHHH); kids being kids in Project X (2012, HH); self-mocking ageing action stars being self-mocking 138 | Total Film | June 2014
ageing action stars in RED (2010, HHH) and The Expendables 2 (2012, HHH); and Will Ferrell being Will Ferrell in Step Brothers (2008, HHH) and the first Anchorman (2004, from 1 May, HHHH). Talking of media personalities with a hilarious lack of self-awareness and outmoded hair, Lovefilm is currently offering Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa (2013, HHHH); by contrast, there’s terrific hair and blatantly pre-planned ‘wackiness’ (“Oh no Mr Security Man, don’t chase me!”) in One Direction: This Is Us (2013, HHH). Then there’s all eight seasons of 24 (2001-10, HHHH), which raises the bar for daftness at regular intervals. Netflix has spandex spoof Superhero Movie (2008, HH), but if you want a comic-book flick that’s truly ridic, you can’t beat Nic Cage channelling his performance as Ghost Rider (2007, HHH) through the medium of Elvis. Post-Oscar win, Matt McConaughey probably won’t be leaping bug-eyed at dragons any time soon, so make the most of him doing so in Reign Of Fire (2002, HHH). As for A.C.O.D. (2013, HHH), perfectly sensible dramedy about Adult Children Of Divorce, so why give it such a fishy title?
12 HHHHH 2012 FROM 26 APRIL
Available on Amazon Prime
Cross those fingers that Josh Trank’s Fantastic Four reboot will see fewer scenes of Mr Fantastic disco-dancing and more of the teen-strop edginess that powers his debut. New Human Torch Michael B. Jordan is one of three mates who use their telekinetic abilities to dick around then go ego-tripping. The found-footage format skirts plausibility, but if you’re willing to leave some nits unpicked, this is a genre-revitalising rush.
FATAL ATTRACTION15 HHHHH 1987 AVAILABLE NOW Available on Blinkbox
Adrian Lyne knows how to push buttons, whether it’s the fridge-based sex games of 9 ½ Weeks or Flashdance’s health-and-safetyflouting shower routine. But he really kicked the hornets’ nest with this AIDS-era infidelity parable. Recently adapted for the London stage, it retains shock value thanks to Glenn Close’s unhinged, career-defining performance, which transcends hell-hathno-fury cliché. Lock up your bunnies…
U HHHHH 2001-10 AVAILABLE NOW
Available on Virgin Movies
Jeffrey Katzenberg’s recent talk of a fifth chapter in DreamWorks’ green-ogre saga may have felt more like a threat than a promise, but it’s worth remembering that Shrek Forever After wasn’t so bad; mind you, it did follow the nadir of part three. The real gems are the first two: anti-fairytale fairytales with a pleasingly miserable hero who’s upstaged by one sidekick after another. And getting the word ‘Farquaad’ into a kid-flick is sick genius. Subscribe at www.totalfilm.com/subs
dvd & blu-ray
The other stuff we’re excited about this month…
MARVEL ENCYCLOPEDIA BOOK OUT now
© 2013 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All rights reserved. SUPERMAN and all related characters and elements are trademarks of and © DC Comics.
‘The Definitive Guide To The Characters Of The Marvel Universe’ becomes definitive-er with this big, fat updated and expanded edition (you might have an easier time lifting Thor’s hammer). Amid all the character bios, they’ve added in rundowns on the sprawling crossover events that the comics can’t get enough of, from World War Hulk (the Hulk vs everyone) to Civil War (everyone vs everyone). As well as a She-Hulk, there’s also a She-Thing? She-it!
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WOLFENSTEIN: THE NEW ORDER GAME OUT 23 MAY
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Missed a movie at the flicks? No problem – the NOW TV Sky Movies Month Pass brings you over 800 movies you can stream at home. No contract. There’s premieres every week, like Man Of Steel, and all of the favourites you want to watch again and again. With the NOW TV box you can watch unlimited movies on your TV in big picture quality. Plus you can watch live and catch up TV like BBC iPlayer, Demand 5 and 4oD. You can also enjoy no contract sports and entertainment, with the Sky Sports Day Pass and Entertainment Month Pass. Try it now – everyone can get a 30-day free trial of NOW TV Sky Movies Month Pass at nowtv.com/totalfilm. Meanwhile, we’ve got a special prize up for grabs: a 12-month NOW TV Sky Movies pass, plus a NOW TV Box streaming player, a Samsung 32in LED TV and a Samsung Galaxy Tab 3. For a chance to win, answer the question or enter online… Who plays newspaperman Perry White in Man Of Steel? A Laurence Fishburne NOWTV A B Kevin Costner NOWTV B C Russell Crowe NOWTV C
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Rescuing us from the barren early summer gaming season is shooter royalty Wolfenstein, the ninth installment of which arrives at the end of May sporting a big grin and a sackful of bullets. Once a pioneer of first-person violence, the Nazi-flaying franchise has since settled into second-tier blockbuster territory, and The New Order embraces this trashiness with flying gore and mad B-movie plotting. Expect walloping guns, evil Germans and stupid fun.
SOUNDTRACK OUT now
Following their baroque scores for earlier Darren Aronofsky films (Requiem For A Dream, The Fountain), Clint Mansell and the Kronos Quartet reach new fever pitches here. Cellos batter, violins stab, percussion clangs and chorales evoke dread/wonder like – brilliantly – a heavy-metal Hans Zimmer. Meditative laments and rising melodies illuminate Mansell’s dark material by contrast, culminating in ‘Mercy Is’, a lullaby graced with Patti Smith’s authoritative vocal.
CAMERA TABLE DOLLY CAMERA OUT NOW
Remember that brilliant bit in Jaws when the camera zooms into Roy Scheider’s shocked face just after Bruce has gone and ruined someone else’s beach holiday? Ever wanted to recreate the moment? Well, now you can* - thanks to this compact little dolly that will hold your DSLR, compact or smartphone. Two sets of rotating wheels, a sturdy base and a clamp for your photo equipment means you can add some silky-smooth panning shots to your home movies (*shark not included, sadly).
STAR TREK PIZZA CUTTER KITCHEN UTENSIL OUT NOW
On screen, that big saucer-y bit is where all the important people sit, firing lasers and Skype-ing with strange green men. Here, it ingeniously becomes a piece of kitchen weaponry itching to bisect any pepperoni slice that dares get in its way. Modelled after the USS Enterprise from the original series of Star Trek, this galactic pizza cutter packs a stainless steel blade that’s as sharp as Mr Spock’s logic. And it’s got quite a comfy feel too. But if Trek’s not your thing, Star Wars lightsaber BBQ tongs are also available. June 2014 | Total Film | 139
The Total Film home entertainment bible
The big bang: Staff Sergeant Thompson (Guy Pearce) runs for cover.
THE LOCATION Iraq was deemed unsafe, so in order to get as close as possible, the team shot just a few miles from the border. Iraqi refugees with theatrical backgrounds were hired as extras.
THE SLOW MOTION For the slow-motion shots of sand and rust, the crew used a Phantom Flex high-speed digital camera which shoots up to 10,000 frames per second.
THE HURT LOCKER | Baghdad is dangerous. Very dangerous.
ar is a drug,” insists a stark title card, before Kathryn Bigelow’s Oscar-winning 2008 Iraq drama thrusts us straight into the action on a bustling Baghdad street. Amid ruined cars and curious goats, an American EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) squad comprising Thompson (Guy Pearce), Sanborn (Anthony Mackie) and Eldridge (Brian Geraghty) are using a remote-controlled robot to investigate a suspected IED (improvised explosive device). Even when it breaks down, and Thompson suits up to get a closer look, there’s a casual, almost everyday, element to the procedure, which Bigelow undercuts with tense, twitchy cuts to watching locals and low-flying helicopters. “Let’s give these people something to think about,” threatens Thompson, starting the long and painful walk to “the Kill Zone”. Charges placed, Eldridge spots a civilian with a mobile phone. “Burn him!” shouts Sanborn, too late. Thompson tries to run, but the street explodes around him, soil and rust dancing in slow-motion as the blast engulfs him, splattering his visor red. If war is a drug, the comedown starts now… Matt Glasby The Hurt Locker is available now on DVD and Blu-ray.
setting the scene l American journalist Mark Boal – whose article about US troops inspired Paul Haggis’ In The Valley Of Elah – toured Baghdad with a bomb squad for two weeks in 2004. l Boal and Bigelow decided to turn his experiences into an authentic war movie. Budgeted at $15m, the film was shot no-frills style in the scorching Jordanian desert. l It won six Oscars, (including Best Picture) but also sparked controversy. Military vets complained about inaccuracies, while OED expert Jeffrey Sarver sued – unwisely – claiming Jeremy Renner’s unstable lead was based on him.
“Out there, it’s 120°F [49°C] heat. You’ve got on 20 pounds of Kevlar and guns. It was very, very difficult... We didn’t have trailers, we didn’t have craft services and there was no Starbucks.”
THE BOMBSUIT Weighing 45kg and reaching temperatures of up to 50 ºC, the bomb suit had to be removed every 20 minutes so Pearce wouldn’t pass out.
Anthony Mackie, actor
140 | Total Film | June 2013
“It’s kind of like a horror film where you can’t see the killer. You know a bomb could go off any minute, but you never know just when it’s going to happen.”
“It’s odd, I’m just here for three days. I’ve never done a cameo before. I kept looking through the script thinking surely there’s more of me somewhere?”
Chris Innis, editor
Guy Pearce, actor
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dvd & blu-ray archive THE ROBOT The HD-1 ANDROS is real, and is genuinely used in counter-IED missions. The robot POV shots were taken from the HD-1’s in-built camera.
THE ERRORS Look closely and you’ll see that shots were taken at different times of day, because the sun has changed position – particularly noticeable in the helmet reflection.
“My intention was to put the audience into the soldiers’ shoes, into the Humvee, almost asking them to be the fourth man on the team and experience what those soldiers experience.”
THE FILMING Bigelow had four units constantly shooting Super 16mm footage to get multiple perspectives of the action and to create feelings of confusion and immersion.
THE EDITING The precious footage was handcarried on flights from Amman to London to be developed, then back again. These “rushes” took three days to arrive.
“We really parachute the audience into the middle of this tense sequence, and it feels very real because it is realistic – that’s a real bomb suit and those are real weapons.” Mark Boal, writer
THE CAST Famous actors were killed off to underline the unpredictability of conflict. Anthony Mackie’s character wasn’t originally black, but he argued, “war has no race.”
illustration by Jason Pickersgill/acute graphics
Kathryn Bigelow, director
June xxx 2011 2014| |Total TotalFilm Film|| 141
The Total Film home entertainment bible
REALLy instant expert
> Makes the world go “Aaah” as E.T.’s Gertie and becomes a child star... > ...then falls foul to drugs and is in rehab at 14… > …before resurrecting her career playing first bad girls and then loveable kooks in a string of romcoms. > She becomes a powerful producer, and makes her directorial debut with Whip It… > …winning further critical kudos for her award-winning performance in HBO movie Grey Gardens.
E.T. The ExtraTerrestrial 1982 HHHHH
Little Drew became best friends with E.T., and her emotional honesty is heartbreaking. She provides the movie’s best laugh (E.T. in drag!).
Horror was dead and buried when Wes Craven made Kevin Williamson’s slasher movie. By the time Barrymore carked it in the first 10 minutes, genre fans knew the truth: “It’s alive!”
Drew Barrymore Nutshell...
One of the most famous child stars of all time, who derailed then got back on track both in front of and behind the camera.
orn in Culver City, California on 22 February 1975, Drew Blyth Barrymore was a star by the time she was 11 months old. OK, so starring in a dog food commercial didn’t quite match up to the screen and stage work of her famous forbears Lionel, John and Ethel, but more was to come: an episode of The Waltons, aged three; her film debut in Ken Russell’s Altered States (1980), aged five; and winning hearts the world over as Elliott’s little sister Gertie in Spielberg’s 1982 smash, E.T. - The Extra-Terrestrial. With her blonde locks and cute lisp, Hollywood’s favourite child star could do no wrong – she even bagged a Golden Globe nomination for her work in Irreconcilable Differences (1984), playing a girl who divorces her parents. 142 | Total Film | June 2014
But the pattern of having it all at a ridiculously young age was to take a turn for the worse. As detailed in her 1990 autobiography Little Girl Lost Barrymore was a regular at famed nightclub Studio 54 before she could see over the bar, and was soon addicted to cigarettes, booze and cocaine. By 14 she was in rehab and the following year she sought real-life emancipation from her parents. No second acts in American lives? Think again. Sober, Barrymore rebuilt her career in the early ’90s, playing a teenage femme fatale in Poison Ivy (1992) and nabbing a second Golden Globe nom for her deadly lover-on-thelam in Guncrazy (1993). Little Drew was all grown up, mentally, physically, and Hollywood wasted no time in casting her in mainstream movies such as all-female western Bad Girls (1994), comedy/drama Boys On The Side (1995) and superhero romp Batman Forever (also ’95). Even her decision to turn down the lead in Wes Craven’s horror hit Scream (1996) proved astute – she instead opted to get gutted like a fish and stole the movie in the opening credits. Barrymore never looked back. For while her lovelife has been topsy-turvy
Angel face: as Dylan in 2000’s Charlie’s Angels.
(two failed marriages and several high-profile relationships, though she’s now settled in her third marriage and expecting her second daughter with art consultant Will Kopelman), her career has been rock solid. On top of carving out a reputation as a dependable, likeable romantic lead – most notably alongside Adam Sandler in The Wedding Singer (1998), 50 First Dates (2004) and the upcoming Blended – she’s a capable producer, having formed Flower Films with partner Nancy Juvonen in 1995 and made Never Been Kissed (1999), both Charlie’s Angels films (2000 and 2003) and Donnie Darko (2001). In the ’00s she was earning $10-12m per movie (she has a career box office of $2.3bn), while a recurring role as Brian Griffin’s dim girlfriend in Family Guy (2005-2013) upped her cool quota. If one question mark remained it was over her ability as a dramatic actress, but a transformative, pain-etched turn in TV movie Grey Gardens (2009) saw her prove doubters wrong and finally win her Golden Globe. To cap a stellar year, she also made her directorial debut with grrrl-power roller derby drama Whip It. Simon Kinnear
The Wedding Singer 1998 HHHHH
Even people who despise Adam Sandler have a soft spot for The Wedding Singer. But Barrymore deserves the credit, hitting all the right notes.
2000 HHHHH This actioner proved Drew could mix it with the big boys (starring and producing). Her ass-kicking Dylan is the best thing about McG’s revved-up juggernaut, and the same in the sequel.
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Underrated: (main) android David (Michael Fassbender); (below) Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron) and ship’s captain Janek (Idris Elba).
Is it just me? ...or is Prometheus the best Alien movie?
In TF218, Paul Bradshaw said The Lone Ranger was 2013’s best summer flick. You respond…
asks Sam Ashurst
et’s face it: to slam dunk this argument faster than Ripley throwing a basketball over her shoulder, all I have to do is prove that Prometheus is better than two Alien movies – the first one, and the second one. Alien 3 was launched out of the airlock by its own director, Alien: Resurrection featured a character that looks like big wet white dog poo and the Alien Vs. Predator franchise was so terrible it’s been scientifically proven that no human has watched any of them without glancing at their smartphone at least once. Seriously, I’d rather leap out of a plane into a jungle full of alien hunters with only a face-hugger for a parachute before I’d even watch a trailer for one of those things. Which brings me to Prometheus. Glorious, misunderstood Prometheus. A film so good it not only contains the greatest ever Michael Fassbender performance, it allows him to continue on with that performance even after he’s been decapitated. But I’m not going to use that fact in my argument, because a) obviously Ash gets his head lopped-off in Alien as well and b) frankly, I don’t need it.
That’s because Prometheus is a great film. Sure, Alien and Aliens have had longer to become a part of pop culture. More people have seen the chestburster scene in Alien than have watched the actual film, and I’ve quoted “Game over, man” so many times it was cited during my last divorce. But I have a feeling that, in 30 years time, people will be reappraising Prometheus so heavily that this article will be held up as the wisdom of a prophet. It’s a heavy burden, but let’s do this. Alien is an excellent haunted house horror movie. Seriously, it’s great. Aliens is a constantly entertaining war movie. But Prometheus manages to combine spooks (that creepy first act), action (that flame-filled second act) while adding the element that makes it transcend for me – philosophy. Yep, Ridley Scott was brave enough to shove a philosophical exploration of the very nature of human existence into his summer blockbusting Alien movie sequel/prequel/ reimaginequal. And for that he should be applauded.
‘Just because you don’t get it, doesn’t mean it’s a bad film’
When some people look to the sky, they see God. Others just see stars. That dichotomy is at the root of Prometheus’ big question: If there’s no God, where did we come from? And it goes further: can God exist in a scientific world? Prometheus is Scott’s attempt to splice the wide-minded wonder of Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey with the DNA of the summer-movie template. I’ll concede that it’s an experiment that didn’t work for everyone, but just because you didn’t get it doesn’t mean it’s not a good film. There’s so much to love in Prometheus, whether it’s the subtle theme of creators rejecting their creations, the jaw-slackingly beautiful visuals (as pretty as anything in Scott’s back catalogue), or the mindbending implications of that key conceit. In your typical blockbuster set-up, humans create their antagonists. Here, the antagonists create humans. That’s a brilliant twist. All of these factors certify that Prometheus is obviously the best Alien movie. Or is it just me?
Agree or disagree? Have your say at totalfilm.com. A selection of your views will be printed next issue.
gaz plant Large chunks of it were boring, but the finale was worth the price of admission. No one can resist humming to that theme! ros firth It definitely wasn’t the best movie of last summer, but it did feel like the longest. alex evans It has its problems, but there were at least two spectacular set pieces and it probably features the best of Johnny Depp’s ‘costume’ performances. joe griffin It might have been, if it had been 40 minutes shorter... Geoffrey jacks It serves as a reminder of Depp’s failed attempt to revive himself as a summer draw. ross ferguson I liked it more than I thought I would . It was an easy watching, fun film but wouldn’t be considered a classic. Definitely one of the better films of the summer.
June 2014 | Total Film | 143
Lawrence Of Arabia’s Battle of Aqaba
Desert storm: Peter O’Toole as Lawrence of Arabia, riding into battle.
“They’re behind you!” around him, all the while thinking “what a squashed thing I should look when all that cataract of men and camels had poured over”. Later he realised why his camel had collapsed: waving his gun around wildly, he’d shot it in the back of its head. Oops. None of this matters, of course, because the version of the battle you see in Lawrence Of Arabia has become, ironically, the definitive one. It’s the moment that the first hour and 45 minutes of the film has been building towards: the first real union of Arabs on the side of the British; the first walloping of the bad guys; the final, triumphant destination reached after we’ve followed our heroes through miles upon miles of burning desert. In real
“The filmmakers take the already fascinating story of Lawrence and turn it into the stuff of legend” depicted in Lawrence Of Arabia, David Lean’s 1962 retelling. In the film it’s a day of glory; the Turks garrisoned in the town are defeated by Arabs riding out of the desert behind them while their heavy, unmoveable artillery points out to sea. Safe from the guns, the movie’s force of Arab soldiers, led by their English ally – played by the late, great Peter O’Toole, bouncing up and down on his camel as though he was born to ride – sweep into Aqaba and take it in minutes. Except they didn’t. In actuality the battle took several days, and Lawrence didn’t even ride into the fray. Well, he tried, but his camel was shot out from under him and he cowered behind it on the ground while the battle surged
The desert quicksand scene
Lawrence leads companions Daud and Farraj into quicksand and Daud is sucked under to his death. Stirring stuff... except it never happened. Also, quicksand doesn’t exist in this form – it’s a contrivance invented by Hollywood, and is far easier to escape. So Daud’s death is a clumsy fiction. Subscribe at www.totalfilm.com/subs
n T.E. Lawrence’s book Seven Pillars Of Wisdom, the true story of his time fighting alongside the Arabs during WW1, he describes what happened during the battle for the port town of Aqaba in July 1917. You might be surprised to hear that it was nothing like the way it’s
life, Lawrence and the Arab tribes fired on the town from the hillsides for days before charging into it, but in the film they ride screaming out of the desert, taking the Turks completely by surprise. By ignoring what really happened and mythologising the events – to the annoyance of history buffs, but to the delight of filmgoers – Robert Bolt’s poetic script and Lean’s flair for the epic beef the incident into a gorgeous spectacle. While we see some of the action from the ground, our best view of the fight, and the one that stays with us, comes from a camera perched on an outcrop overlooking the town. From this vantage the battle is made to fit neatly into a Panavision format. We see Turks run like ants far below us followed by a tsunami of Arabs – this isn’t a battle, it’s a swarm. The music builds as the camera pans to the right, following the riders through the town as they hack and slash their way towards their goal of the sea. The camera finally stops moving as the Arabs reach the beach, contrasting them with the giant guns pointing impotently out over the waves, incapable of turning back to fight the real threat. It’s a masterful way of making a point: Lawrence and his bickering, ‘savage’ tribes have united to overwhelm a town that was relying on modern technology to defend itself. The Turks are so unconcerned by the people living in the land they’ve invaded that they’re caught with their pants down (literally: we see a washing line filled with clothes blowing in the breeze beside the guns). If the Arabs can take this town, what else can they conquer? Damascus, perhaps? For the real T.E. Lawrence, Aqaba was a daring, bloody victory in a complicated campaign. In Lawrence Of Arabia, it’s presented as something far more simple: an example of his greatness. By massaging the truth, the filmmakers take the already fascinating story of Lawrence and turn it into the stuff of widescreen legend.