Welcome to my blog . . . . my ability to mix it up a little and express my bottomless movie knowledge with some unexpected flavour combinations every time has led me to entitle my blog 'movie chef' . . . enjoy the latest seemingly random associations below . . .
When Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk hits Cineworld this July, there will be one name alongside fan favourites Tom Hardy and Cillian Murphy that might surprise you.
Tucked away within that first feature length trailer is one Harry Styles. A man of singular direction, possessor of boy band charisma in buckets and pretender to the Bowie throne. Combining the self-awareness and physical posturing of a latter day Mick Jagger, Harry is defined by reality television success and possesses the sort of charisma to grab the mighty Nolan’s attention.
With that in mind here is our list of silver screen-stealing musical icons past and present, ones who nabbed their respective movies from under the nose of the A-listers.
One man, one microphone, a grey jumpsuit and wrap around moccasins. With nothing more than that Canadian actor Charles Ross brings you Peter Jackson’s ‘Lord of The Rings’……
Throughout the ninety minutes and change Ross stalks his stage breathing life into Jackson’s world, through a combination of careful choreography, vocal mastery and mental agility. With minimal lighting changes we are transported from the mountainous outcrops of Moria, to the White City of Minas Tirith.
Be warned, not knowing the films going in is not detrimental but means some jokes will be lost in translation. His interpretation is faithful, very funny and poignant in equal measure, making this experience a home coming for the Middle Earth obsessive. Having watched the extended versions numerous times these characterisations are definitely more homages than impersonations, which go by at such lightning speed that a mere approximation is all you get. However this is more than enough for the faithful while laymen may find it a touch bewildering but none the less amusing. At times it is like witnessing a schizophrenic stage production as the combination of personalities, expressions, vocal work and body movement creates a wall of noise, from which Ross conjures Oriki, Elf and Wizard alike.
For those who frequently go to the theatre be aware there are no intermissions and Ross does not stop. I imagine there are many reasons for this chief amongst them being momentum. He is after all trying to keep your attention by creating a world from thin air. There is literally nothing on stage with him, so once he starts to metaphorically paint that canvas for you there can be no stopping. It is as much for him as anyone else.
George Lucas has retired apparently. Having sold his empire to Disney making him wealthier than a barely developed principality with minimal infrastructure, we are now being treated to phase two in the Lucas mid-life crisis.
When I first heard that Norman Rockwell, foremost painter of post war Americana was being placed alongside original ‘Star Wars’ miniatures and props it made no sense. Rockwell was known for capturing perfect moments in life which told a story or narrative beyond the confines of the frame. How could Lucas have the temerity to place his work alongside that of a real artist?
Informally known as ‘The Lucas Museum of Narrative Art’, it will be situated in Chicago, cost one billion dollars to build, have a further four hundred million dollars left in trust by Lucas after his death and be an eternal monument to one man’s search for artistic validation. You see my contention is similar to one made by Peter Biskind in ‘Easy Riders and Raging Bulls’. George Lucas is a serious film maker with a ‘blockbuster’ mentality. According to some, financial independence from the studios has cost Lucas his artistic integrity, which he is attempting to claw back by erecting this tourist attraction soon to be dubbed ‘The ‘Star Wars’ Museum’.
Joe Eszterhas once said of the man that his one true talent lay in making money, suggesting that Lucas was creatively barren. You see I like Eszterhas and agree in part with his statement, but have issues with the implication. After all it was Lucas who came up with the concept for ‘Indiana Jones’ as a Saturday afternoon matinee idol, suggested ‘McGuffins’ for all four films and spearheaded effects house ‘Industrial Light and Magic’. He also backed Steven Spielberg when Universal had concerns about hiring him for ‘Raiders’ and has stuck around ever since. Consider also the part he played in developing digital film making and archiving techniques and suddenly Eszterhas’ implication begins to unravel.
Movies used to be a mystery. Stars were considered untouchable by mere mortals swathed in opulence only dreamt of by the average person. Information was scarce and magazines represented the only reliable means of learning about these silver screen icons. Studios would nurture, protect and invest sums of money to develop talent, much the same way football clubs still do. Acting, singing, elocution and dancing lessons were attended and stars produced. This was much more civilised and cost effective for studio heads, who controlled every aspect of a film in-house. Scandals if there were any had a limited impact or were eradicated completely. How times have changed.
The film 'business' is slowly being stripped of its mystique. Due in part to internet smart phones and the widespread over saturation of information, movies are becoming mundane. This has nothing to do with the amount of original ideas but merely the amount of unscrupulous individuals prepared to burst the bubble. It is now a fact that anybody with half a brain can tweet images, footage or film set stills around the globe in seconds. For those who have witnessed filming on any scale can testify, it is without doubt one of the slowest procedures on earth. There are lights, cameras, fifty plus people standing around watching and until recently filming itself only occurred in ten minute bursts. Every film fan knows this however and chooses to suspend disbelief for their own benefit.
With the emergence of a rumoured schedule from Warners for their Justice League franchise, there was
something more concerning announced recently worthy of comment. Jason Momoa, familiar as either Khal Drogo from 'Game of Thrones', or Conan in the ill-advised rehash of the Barbarian movies has
been cast as Aquaman. Firstly there is the question of his acting ability.
With Khal Drogo he had little to do apart from look fierce, kill the occasional person, dry hump Emilia Clarke and phonetically learn a different language. Conan demanded little more apart from physical training to bulk up and some additional sword and sandal workouts. However at least Momoa had some phyiscal resemblance to Drogo and Conan, whereas Aquaman is tall, blonde pale as the driven snow and looks like something out of a 'Flash Gordon' comic strip. Now I am not saying Momoa is not suited, but that historically only Tom Cruise and Keanu Reeves managed to play characters their complete physical opposites and remain unscathed. However aside from how appropriate or not Momoa is for the role there are other questions to ask.
For one is Aquaman a wise addition to an already overcrowded rosta for 'Justice League' warm up 'Batman vs Superman'? With former Miss Israel Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, chiselled Henry Cavill playing Superman alongside Ben Affleck's Batman, it seems unlikely Momoa will get much screen time. Then there is the question of what Aquaman will actually do.
I have just finished watching True Romance. As an early example of Tarantino it's not bad. Razor sharp dialogue, memorable performances beyond those of Christian Slater and Rosanna Arquette from a true ensemble cast. Christopher Walken, Dennis Hopper, James Galdolfini, Gary Oldman, Samuel L Jackson (who gets shot in the first ten minutes) all feature, but I have chosen to single out Brad Pitt as a topic of debate. Before people say anything let me give you my reasons why the others are not in the frame.
Let's start with Gandolfini. Other critics, reviewers, writers, call them what you will, have said that his role in 'True Romance' was essentially a blueprint for Tony Soprano, who Gandolfini went on to play for something silly like eight seasons. I don't know the exact number because honestly it never interested me. Of the myriad episodes which aired I watched maybe two and those by accident. My aim here is not to diminish Gandolfini's contribution to popular culture, or undermine his ability but merely to illustrate my point. Apart from 'The Soprano's', 'True Romance' and turning up in a film called 'In The Loop', itself a film version of political satire 'In The Thick of It' which was very funny, my knowledge on Gandolfini is limited. Solid actor but not a large enough body of work and for this reason his presence will forever on the periphery of discussions.