Mike Bloomfield of moviepostermem.com is pleased to announce the launch of a new
website www.fiskenposter.com This website is dedicated to a single owner
collection of movie posters. We're showcasing posters in the collection &
trying to explain something about the artists behind the posters & the
market in general. Hopefully people will enjoy browsing & find it a useful
resource base. Of course, if you have any posters that you think would fit
into the collection. please contact me on email@example.com
(For a special tribute article to the legendary British movie poster artist Tom Chantrell, see Cinema Retro issue #25)
With his long-planned remake of A Star is Born seemingly stalled, Clint Eastwood appears to be looking at another big screen musical: the movie adaptation of the Broadway smash hit Jersey Boys. The play tells the story of the meteoric rise of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons to the top of the American pop charts in the 1960s. The show received widespread acclaim for not simply presenting a catalog of the group's greatest hits, but for also showing many of the unsavory, behind-the-scenes aspects of Valli's career and personal life. This would be Eastwood's first foray into the musical genre since the ill-fated 1969 big budget Paint Your Wagon in which he starred with Lee Marvin and Jean Seberg, although this time, he would be behind the cameras. For more click here
Plans are going forward to relaunch the National Lampoon 'Vacation' film series that was all the rage in the 1980s. Christina Applegate and Ed Helms will star. Producers are in negotiations with the films' original stars, Chevy Chase and Beverly D'Angelo to reprise their roles as Clark and Ellen Griswold, though their appearance is being planned as a cameo throwback to the original series. For more click here
We straight guys have spent inordinate amount of hours drooling over scantily-clad cavegirls in B movies. Seems only fair that gay guys can exercise the same right when it comes to cavemen. Inspired by a new scientific theory that there may have been gay cavemen, writer Chris Eggersten cobbled together a slide show of "Ten Hot Cavemen Who Can Club Us Anytime!" From Victor Mature to Brendan Fraser to Robert Vaughn, click here to view the slide show
Although he has collaborated with Quentin Tarantino on several films, legendary composer Ennio Morricone says he will never team with the mercurial director again. Morricone accuses Tarantino of lumping music into his films "without coherence". He is especially miffed that, after he declined to compose a score for Django Unchained, Tarantino simply used a previous Morricone composition in the film. Morricone, who is not known for personal restraint when it comes to expressing his opinion, says that he didn't care for the Oscar-winning Western, saying there was "too much blood." Click here for more
Although not intended to be seen by the public, costume test photos of Nicolas Cage were leaked to the web, resulting in mockery by fans of the notion Cage could be a credible Superman. This, along with other factors, may have led to Warner Brothers pulling the plug on the Tim Burton production.
It was announced with great fanfare. Back in 1998, a theatrical blockbuster titled Superman Lives was to go into release through Warner Brothers with red-hot Tim Burton in the director's chair and Nicolas Cage starring as the legendary D.C. Comics hero. Kevin Smith would be among those contributing to the screenplay. Then, after sinking $30 million into the heavily-hyped production, Warners pulled the plug on the film. The exact reasons remain murky and now an independent filmmaker, Joe Schnepp, is raising funds on-line for a documentary about the Supey would-be blockbuster that never was. Many people attribute the cancellation of the film to the failure of the mega-budgeted Batman and Robin, which also sunk that franchise for a number of years before it was revitalized by director Christopher Nolan. Burton himself theorized that his version of Superman may have been deemed "too dark", a notion he now finds ironic, given the overwhelmingly depressing mood of the Nolan Batman movies. Superman spawned two major hit films in 1978 and 1980 for Warner Brothers. Both starred Christopher Reeve. The third Reeve film, Superman III, released in 1983, was successful but turned off fans with its silly storyline featuring Richard Pryor. A relatively low-budget 1987 flick sub-titled The Quest for Peace was an outright bomb. The next time Superman would appear on film was in the 2006 production Superman Returns. The movie was only modestly successful, but the Man of Steel will get another chance to lure fans to theaters later this year with the appropriately titled Man of Steel. For more on the checkered screen history of Superman click here
They were the most prolific of many prolific singing duos that came to prominence in the 1960s. However, it was a movie that led to the breakup of Simon and Garfunkel shortly after the release of their masterpiece "Bridge Over Troubled Water". Both men had aspired to acting careers. Director Mike Nichols had cast them in key roles in his 1970 film version of Joseph Heller's anti-war novel "Catch-22". However, shortly thereafter, Nichols made the decision to cut Simon's part. Feeling hurt, Simon spent his time in New York City while Garfunkel filmed in Europe. The resentment led to Simon writing the song "The Only Living Boy in New York City", an allusion to the loneliness he felt writing the songs without the presence of his partner. Making matters worse, Garfunkel went immediately on to star in another Nichols film, Carnal Knowledge. This resulted in the duo splitting up, though they have had numerous (sometimes tension-filled) reunions in the years since. For more click here for Vanity Fair's report.
Variety, the legendary "bible" of show business, has been struggling to survive in the internet age. It's gone through different owners, management staff and several bold business plans- but none of them has staunched the bleeding. It has been announced that Variety will cease publication of its daily edition, once a must-read in the industry, but will continue to publish its weekly issue as well as special editions throughout the year. Variety also becomes the latest publication to concede defeat in its efforts to build a base of paid subscribers for its web site. The site has now reverted to a free service. For more click here
Despite bold attempts by influential directors and cinematographers to keep the 35mm format alive, it is going the way of the dodo bird- and taking with it projectionists and any theaters that can't or won't convert to digital.
Cinema Retro has extensively covered the rapid conversion from 35mm film to digital technology. There is no doubt that, despite the determination of acclaimed directors like Christopher Nolan and Quentin Tarantino to keep shooting movies in the traditional method, digital is winning big time. The format results in crystal clear imagery (too clear for some) and the guarantee of a great picture. It also does away with the disruptive process of cinematographers having to pause filming every ten minutes to change film stock. However, purists still like the traditional look and feel of film and find the digital format a cold and rather uninteresting way of shooting movies. Regardless, writer Jonathan Owen of The Independent boldly pronounces 35mm film as officially dead. He says this year's Oscars may well be the last to feature any films shot in the 35mm format. Click here to read more
It's been a long time since Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves was in theatrical release-- 22 years, to be precise. However, star Kevin Costner is suing the production company Morgan Creek over alleged hanky panky when it comes to royalties still due to him from the film. Costner says the production company was tardy in providing accounting records, and in some years didn't provide them at all. A judge ruled that Costner has enough validity to his argument to proceed with his suit, but cautioned him he needs to provide more compelling evidence if he hopes to win a financial award. For more click here
Don Fearney, the man
behind “Legend Of Hammer Vampires” documentary and Amicus style anthology movie
“Grave Tales”, is preparing a feature length documentary on Amicus films.
Amicus titles include The House That Dripped Blood, Tales from the Crypt
(1971), Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors, Asylum, The Skull, Dr. Who and the
Daleks, Daleks: Invasion Earth, The Land That Time Forgot, The People That Time
Forgot, The Mind of Mr. Soames, At the Earth’s Core, Madhouse, The Vault of
Horror and more. Check out IMDB
under Amicus Productions for a complete list of titles.
Don is currently at the pre-production stage and is on the look out for high
resolution scans from Amicus’ history. Any image from poster artwork to front
of house and behind the scenes photos would be greatly appreciated.
Those who are aware of Don's previous productions or of his numerous events
such as Bray Days, will know how much effort he puts in to ensuring the best
possible product for genre fans.
If you can assist in this project Don can be contacted in writing at Don
Fearney, 25 High Hill Ferry, Bakers Hill, London E5 9HL. Credit will, of
course, be given.
For e-mail enquiries contact firstname.lastname@example.org
The Hollywood Reporter presents an amusing article in which an anonymous director allows a reporter to review his Oscar ballot with him while he decides what to vote for. His candor is refreshing and insightful, as he lambasts some Oscar favorites and speaks up for other films he feels are being neglected. He says Django Unchained was fun but really just "Tarantino masturbating". He thinks Alan Arkin shouldn't be nominated. He likes Life of Pi but disdains the film's religious message and he threatens to fillet his neighbor's dog if Skyfall doesn't win Best Song (he's been angry at the Academy ever since they passed over Live and Let Die for Best Song back in 1973). Click here to read
The tradition started benignly enough in 1994 with a short segment on the Oscar broadcast paying tribute to notable people in the film community who passed away the previous year. The segment is now a mainstay of the Oscar telecast. Although the Academy keeps it a closely guarded secret regarding who is on the committee that decides who will be included in the tribute and who will not make the cut, friends, family and colleagues of the dearly departed routinely launch PR campaigns to ensure certain individuals are honored with the fleeting, multi-second photo or film clip. No matter how inclusive Oscar tries to be, someone is always insulted that a loved one has been excluded. In some cases, major names like Harry Morgan and Peter Graves were eliminated, but AMPAS argues that's because some stars became primarily known for their work in TV as opposed to feature films. The New York Times provides insight into the lobbying efforts some people initiate in order to influence the Academy. Click here to read
New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd generally sticks to provocative political matters in her columns but she's fed up with filmmakers who change major historical facts in their movies then hide behind the "artistic license" excuse as a defense. Critically acclaimed films such as Argo, Zero Dark Thirty and Lincoln have all come under fire for changing key facts. In the case of Argo, director Ben Affleck admitted to one and all that he inserted an action-packed climax that never occurred in real life. At least that makes sense, but in the case of Lincoln, screenwriter Tony Kushner is livid over criticisms deriving from the fact that he presents the state of Connecticut as having voted against the Emancipation Proclamation when, in fact, it voted for it. Kushner tells Dowd it's a minor trifle equivalent to arguing over the color socks Lincoln wore. Dowd doesn't buy his argument, and frankly, neither do we. Its a completely avoidable mistake that doesn't have any justification, but Kushner is digging in and defending the decision not to alter the DVD edition of the film- even though director Steven Spielberg is sending this flawed historical record into Connecticut schools through a program whereby the DVD is being donated to educational institutions. Still, nothing beats Oliver Stone's JFK, which made up entire key characters and "facts" that didn't exist in order to support Stone's conspiracy theories. As for Lincoln, we're quite upset at another historical omission: the President's well-known career as a vampire hunter, which isn't even mentioned. - Lee PfeifferFor more click here
A Fox News Hollywood reporter is standing by his claim that Harrison Ford will return as Han Solo in the new Star Wars feature film currently in the works for Disney. The reporter could not say whether Ford will have a starring role in the film or just a cameo, but other reports indicate that both Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher, who starred with Ford in the original film, will also be appearing the new production. If true, it will spur fan interest into another galaxy. For more click here
Director Lars von Trier is preparing two version of his highly-anticipated new film Nymphomaniac. The first version will be soft-core but it's the second, hardcore version, that has audiences eager to see just how far everyone goes. Charlotte Gainsbourg's character is introduced as a 50 year-old self-professed nymphomaniac who reviews her erotic escapes in flashbacks. The cast of notables includes Uma Thurman, Shia LaBeouf, Willem DaFoe, Stellan Starsgard and Jamie Bell. The real suspense is in seeing who ends up doing what to whom on screen. Major actors in a hardcore film isn't unprecedented. In 1979, Bob Guccione produced Caligula featuring Malcolm McDowell, Peter O'Toole, John Gielgud and rising young actress Helen Mirren. When the film was released, it contained hardcore sex sequences. The principals argued that they were unaware that this footage would be added after the fact. Not so with Nymphomaniac - all the participants have gone into the project aware of von Trier's vision. Click here for more
Pierce Brosnan will star in Last Man Out, a new action film that casts the former James Bond star as a reformed IRA hit man who is released from jail after serving a twenty-year sentence. Plagued by guilt over the people he has killed, the character decides to make amends by avenging them through violent means. For more click here
A new biopic of Grace Kelly makes the claim that her marriage to Prince Rainier III, presented to the public as a fairy tale come true, was, in fact, a loveless union of convenience designed to produce an heir so that Monaco would not fall under French rule. The royal family has denounced what they claim are historical inaccuracies in the film, which stars Nicole Kidman as Grace, the Hollywood superstar-turned-real life princess. According to the script, Grace was secretly miserable and had accepted Alfred Hitchcock's offer to star in Marnie, for the then staggering fee of $1 million. Grace missed Hollywood and felt she was like a bird in a gilded cage, trapped in her royal residence in Monaco. Rainier is presented as a cold womanizer in the new film and his objection to her returning to Hollywood won out because Grace was advised that she would see very little of her two young children again, as they would remain under Rainier's care. For more click here
Disney, the new owners of LucasFilm, has canceled plans to to bring 3-D versions of the films to theaters following the weak box-office performance of The Phantom Menace in that format. Disney is sensitive to fan's criticisms that George Lucas was going to the well too often in attempts to milk more profits from the series while showing little enthusiasm for getting new entries off the ground. Instead, the studio will go all out to reboot the franchise now that J.J. Abrams has agreed to direct the first of the new films in the franchise. For more click here
The Huffington Post has compiled a list of 15 movies released in recent years during the month of January, long regarded as the elephant's graveyard for premiering a new film. With the holidays over and bills pouring in, movie-going generally declines, leading studios to dump some questionable entries onto the market. Click here to view
British director Michael Winner passed away recently. Although he had not been a force in the film industry in decades, the larger-than-life director remained one of the best-connected people in show business and could pretty much induce anyone to socialize with him. Click here to access some great stories about his relationships with Michael Caine, Sophia Loren, Sean Connery and Burt Lancaster.
When I was in high school back in the 1970s, rumors went around that Rock Hudson was dating Jim Nabors. I laughed them off as ludicrous...the world knew that neither man was gay! Well, while it's clear Hudson and Nabors were friends and colleagues, we don't know if they ever did date. But the idea that these two iconic American entertainers had to hide their true sexuality from the world now seems bizarre. However, at the time, the knowledge that one of Hollywood's on-screen lady killers, not to mention Mayberry's beloved mechanic, were anything but straight-as-arrow would have been the death knell to both men's careers. Hudson sadly didn't live to see the changing social values toward homosexuality, but Nabors has. He's proud to say he's just married his partner of 38 years. - Lee Pfeiffer
Warner Brothers is getting cold feet about their next potential big budget comic book adaptation, Justice League. The studio seems to be a bit nervous about the fate of the forthcoming Man of Steel, the latest attempt to revive the Superman franchise. While word of mouth on the movie is good and red-hot Christopher Nolan executive produced the film, the track record of its director, Zack Snyder, is mixed, having overseen some big budget disappointments. Warner Brothers has made it clear that it is taking a wait-and-see attitude and will evaluate how Man of Steel performs before deciding whether to proceed with Justice League. Click here for more
Hollywood devours its older, most respected filmmakers. Take acclaimed director Paul Schrader, the man who wrote memorable films like Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, The Yakuza, Obsession and The Mosquito Coast. (He also directed Hardcore and Affliction). Schrader has other stories he wants to tell, but can't find financing for them despite the fact that the productions he has in mind can be produced for amounts that total less than Brad Pitt's coffee budget. Schrader has used innovation to his advantage, however, raising private funds on-line for his new film, The Canyons, a daring look at modern sexuality and depraved behavior in troubled relationships. He not only cast a male porn icon in the lead role, but has given the female lead to Lindsay Lohan. In an extensive piece on the making of the film for the New York Times, writer Stephen Rodrick lays bare the amount of trials and tribulations that Schrader has gone through to deal with Ms. Lohan in his obsession to bring this small film to the screen. Those trials included having to deal with Lohan's insecurities, her penchant for taking off on a minutes notice and having to direct naked in order to make her feel comfortable filming a sex scene. Click here to read
Andy Griffith, an American acting and comedy icon, seen here receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George W. Bush in 2005. (Click here for video of the ceremony)
Film critic Rex Reed pays his annual tribute to the great artists lost in the previous year. Among the great talents who left us in 2012: Whitney Houston, Ernest Borgnine, Phyllis Diller, Andy Griffith and so many more who will never be replaced. Click here to read the tribute article.
Lovelace, the bio pic of porn legend Linda Lovelace, premiered this week at Sundance. Amanda Seyfried plays the title role of the tortured Lovelace, a woman whose peculiar sexual talent resulted in Deep Throat grossing hundreds of millions of dollars in the 1970s. Lovelace saw none of the profits, however, beyond the paltry sum she was paid to perform in the film. The fame and notoriety did elevate her to a household name and put the debate over government censorship into high gear. Lovelace's personal life was also defined by controversy and destructive relationships. She passed away in 2002 at the age of 53. Click here to watch a clip of Seyfried as Lovelace.
Cinema Retro's Eddy Friedfeld fulfilled his life's dream by taking the Batmobile for a spin a few years ago.
George Barris, the man who turned a 1955 Lincoln Future concept car, into one of the most iconic vehicles in screen history is $4.2 million richer today. His original Batmobile, driven by Adam West and Burt Ward in the 1960s smash hit Batman TV series, sold for that eye-opening price last week at auction. Click here for details
The international rollout for Steven Spielberg's Lincoln will differ slightly than the version seen by American audiences. It will feature a special prologue that is designed to inform foreign audiences about the historical context of what was going on in America during the period of the Civil War. The film centers primarily on Lincoln's obsession with getting the 24th Amendment to the Constitution passed by Congress so that slavery would be banned throughout the entire United States once the country was reunited. For more click here
Jerry Lewis' big screen comeback film, Max Rose, is finally going into production this week in Los Angeles. However, if you look for Nutty Professor-like antics from the 86 year-old comedy legend, you won't find them in this indie film written and directed by Daniel Noah. It's a dramatic tale about a widowed pianist who is haunted by a revelation about his late wife. Lewis played it straight before, leaving the laughs to Robert De Niro in Martin Scorsese's underrated classic The King of Comedy (1983). For more click here
This is a trying time for all labor unions. Once the backbone of the American workforce, unions could point to so many quality of life issues they negotiated for that now benefit most working Americans, from the 40 hour work week, overtime, health benefits, family leave and many other progressive policies. However, the recent trend against employing union members has now extended to the entertainment industry. Variety's music critic Jon Burlingame reports that studios are balking at using union musicians for film scores, preferring to have the music recorded overseas where musicians make more money up front but don't get residual payments. The work in L.A. for musicians is drying up fast, but ironically, the American Federation of Musicians points out that it has brought in the highest total of residuals ever last year. The problem is that the work and money is going to a smaller and smaller pool of musicians. There is a movement afoot to try to convince the AFM to offer studios an alternative to the residual programs, which would make Hollywood more competitive with overseas orchestras. There is also criticism of the studios, which take major tax incentives from the U.S. government to shoot films on American soil but use a loophole to outsource the music. For more click here
Oscar favorite: Daniel Day Lewis as Abraham Lincoln.
The Oscar nominations have been announced- and the biggest surprises came with the directors who were not nominated despite having been considered to be shoo-ins for the honor. Kathryn Bigelow, Ben Affleck and Tom Hooper were all denied nominations for Best Director and long-shots Ang Lee, Benh Zeitlin and Michael Haneke did receive nominations. The "James Bond Curse" was also lifted, with Skyfall nabbing five nominations, none in the major categories. However, it did get nominations for Best Song, Score, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing and Cinematography- the most nominations ever accorded a 007 film. For more click here
Christian Slater's name above the title couldn't pull 'em in.
The film Playback has the dubious distinction of being the lowest-grossing movie released in 2012. Never heard of it? Apparently, only a handful of people did. The film, starring Christian Slater, took in an opening night gross of $252 with $12 earned during the week. In fairness, however, the movie only played in one theater for one week. In some cases, movies get limited theatrical releases in order to fulfill contractual obligations or to aid in the marketing of a DVD release, whereby the studio can technically say the movie played theatrically. No matter how you cut it, however, Playback offered no payback for investors: its budgeted was $7.5 million. For more click here
Director Robert Zemeckis has dropped plans to remake the Beatles' animated 1968 feature film Yellow Submarine. The Oscar-winner has been developing the project for several years but confirmed recently that he has changed his mind. "That would have been a great one, to bring the Beatles back to life," he said. "But it's probably
better not to be remade — you're always behind the eight-ball when you
do a remake." Thus, the original Blue Meanies will still reign supreme.
The messy, long-running mutual lawsuits between Paramount Pictures and the estate of author Mario Puzo have now been settled by mutual agreement, though the terms have not been made public. Paramount had sued the estate trying to prevent publication of The Family Corleone, the latest literary sequel to Puzo's legendary best-seller The Godfather. The studio contracted with Puzo in 1969 to bring his book to the big screen. The 1972 blockbuster movie was the biggest money maker in screen history until being displaced by Jaws three years later. The Paramount suit claimed the studio had rights to any literary sequels based on the original book. The estate claims that Paramount has forfeited those rights. Both parties have agreed to pay their own legal expenses as part of the settlement. For more click here
If the year 2012 was one of the most volatile in terms of American politics, some of that tension has seeped into the race for the Best Picture Oscar. The nominees have not been announced yet but front runners include Lincoln, Zero Dark Thirty and Argo, each of which is drenched in historical political overtones that critics and pundits say have relevance to contentious issues going on today. The New York Times analyzes how those political undercurrents may effect what films get nominated and which one may win. Click here to read
Cinema Retro has received the following press release from the producers of the outstanding indie Western The Scarlet Worm (click here for review):
December 17, 2012
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
ORIGINAL 'DJANGO' ACTOR FRANCO NERO
ATTACHED TO NEW WESTERN
Contact: Mike Malloy,
Eric Zaldivar and Mike Malloy, two
producers of the offbeat 2012 Western The Scarlet Worm, have received a
Letter of Interest from original Django star Franco Nero to topline a
gritty new Western project, tentatively titled Django Lives!Should the
sequel rights be secured, the feature would be the third “official” entry in
the saga that made Mr. Nero an international star.
Since the release of the original Django in 1966, over thirty films have
included the character’s iconic name in their titles, most recently Quentin
Tarantino’s Django Unchained, in
which Mr. Nero makes a cameo appearance.Until now, however, only the 1987 Western Django Strikes Again is considered to be an official sequel.
The story would have former gunslinger Django, in his twilight
years, ending up as a silent-movie consultant in 1915 Hollywood and meeting an
aspiring filmmaker with whom he reluctantly goes into business. When the
filmmaker gets killed by racketeers, the young man's gambling debts are
considered transferred to Django, who must now flee for safety to a small rural
community. But that town's sharply divided inhabitants have their own problems,
and Django becomes embroiled in a bloody conflict immediately upon arrival.
Looper star Noah Segan, an aficionado of
Spaghetti Westerns and friend of the production, has expressed interest in
co-starring as a younger character with mysterious intentions who befriends the
Zaldivar and Malloy most recently
worked with Nero on the award-winning cinema documentary Eurocrime! The
Italian Cop and Gangster Films that Ruled the '70s, which kicked off its
festival run of eight countries at the Atlanta Film Festival in March of this
“Everyone we met on the festival
circuit wanted to know first and foremost about what it was like to interview
Franco Nero,” said Malloy. “He still holds a mythical tough-guy intrigue for a
large audience. Nero is to European action cinema what Eastwood is to the
United States. And he's taken excellent care of himself.”
Zaldivar adds: “I gave Franco a Blu-ray
of The Scarlet Worm and showed him what we were able to achieve on a
microbudget. And he loved the new story we’ve developed for his return to the
screen as the legendary Django. Plus, he knows that Malloy and I are two of the
biggest students of Italian action cinema working today.”
The project aims for arthouse, VOD and
Blu-Ray releases, and the producers are hoping to lens the picture in Utah. Scarlet Worm cinematographer Michael A.
Martinez will return to that post for this film.
Mr. Nero, who rose to stardom in the
1960s with such films as Warner's Camelot, has remained a popular figure
in cinema and television, with recent roles in Letters to Juliet, Cars 2
and Law & Order SVU.
The Scarlet Worm was released in North America through Unearthed Films/MVD
and has pending releases in the U.K. via Trash House Cinema and in Germany via
The piano played by Dooley Wilson in Casablanca while he crooned the iconic love song As Time Goes By has sold for more than $600,000 to a Japanese collector on the film's 70th anniversary. The price was actually lower than the anticipated price over $1 million, but represented a tidy profit for the owner, who purchased it years ago for $154,000. For more click here
We recently reviewed Ernest Borgnine's final film, The Man Who Shook the Hand of Vicente Fernandez. Here is a statement about the making of the film and director Elia Petridis' reflections on working with Borgnine in his last appearance on the silver screen.
The Man Who Shook The Hand Of Vicente Fernandez.I’ll never forget the moment the title
blossomed in my brain.Just after two in
the afternoon and I was driving through Toluca Lake, a neighborhood I wouldlater poke fun of in the screenplay.Pierre Gonneau had just told me a funny story.The actor in my graduate thesis film had
emerged from his valley home earlier leaning on a cane.I had asked him the cause.The funny anecdote he answered me with was,
all at once in its telling, a faint sketch of what the film would eventually
become; an unlikely hero, hailed as a star, because he had once long ago shaken
the hand of the legendary Vicente Fernandez.
The moment I had the title, I (almost) knew what it was, and where it
belonged in film history, who its compatriots were and what kind of an
experience it was going to be for the audience.I wanted to tip my hat, and stick my tongue out, to all those great
westerns that had peoples’ names in their titles.
I love films that know they are films.And they don’t make them like that anymore.I’m a modernist, self-reflexive filmmaker atheart.Heavily reliant on the grammar of
its celluloid predecessors, the film stands on the shoulders of giants, but it
is those giants, giants like Mr. Ernest Borgnine, that make the work
complete.The mandate had always been to
cast an old movie star of the west to heighten the irony of Rex’s failure and
create a space where the audience knew better than Rex himself, for they
remembered Borgnine’s iconic turns in the genre Rex loves so much, creating a
metaphysical relationship of melancholy between viewer and protagonist.
And what a dream come true, as a first timer, to work with a true
legend, one that even surpassed the man in the film’s title.Ernest never left the set.He wouldn’t be caught dead in his
trailer.At ninety-four he recounted to
us all that Jimmy Stewart had an ethic to always be on hand, near the camera, ready
to shoot.And if it was good enough for
Jimmy, it was good enough for Ernie.He
was always tireless, spirited, and devoted to every moment of the work.And we had the same style and approach to the
process.We just wanted to work.We didn’t want to covet or worship the act,
we just wanted to perform it, like balancing a checkbook or digging a
ditch.So it was ties worn on set every
day, just as if we were going to the office.And especially so because we were working with Hollywood royalty.That’s the way I like it, all else leads to
analysis paralysis.That’s a little secret
I love about the movie; it truly is, if nothing else, a living document of an
extremely charismatic ninety-four year old man caught on film.With Ernie in almost every scene, anyone whohas ever survived the rigors of a film shoot knows that just showing up at that
age is a feat unto itself, let alone turning in an incredible performance that
any thespian would envy.Ernie’s example
set the watermark of professionalism and a devotional tone for the entire shoot.
A film needs a brain, but it also needs a heart and a soul too.The greatest storytellers of all time refuse
to ascend beyond pulp.Kubrick,Spielberg, Chabon, King, and Radiohead all concern themselves with mass
entertainment.So I read Louis
Lamour.I wanted the whole thing to feel
like a dime store paperback.The story
turns were familiar enough, but the manner in which I wanted the film to sneak
up on you was fresh.I wondered if a
western, a genre known for anything but, could make you cry.I
wanted this genre that had very rarely
ascended up the ranks of high art, like a comic book or Harlequin novel,
togive the audience the turns they had paid to see but also grow the
occupy a space in the their hearts intrinsically unique to our film.And if you didn’t get to the core of it, it
didn’t matter because the outer layers were enough on their own.
I wanted to re-mythologize the western.Where the genre had hereto concerned itself
with the white man taming America’s infant wilderness by way of taming the savages
and natives of the west, this film was about the modern wilderness taming the
white man.It represents the wild west
of the present, where the person formerly in control has a lot to learn from
the new, dominant cultures that surround him.
When I’m asked to describe the film I liken it to a mixed tape, a
“greatest hits” of the western genre.Yet, I don’t see the film as a postmodern collage, I see the work as
something “Neo-Classical”, for the self-reflexive references are conveyed with
sincerity and idealism, not irony, cynicism, or nostalgia.The film never fuses western iconography with
anything else, and its endeavor remains true and pure to its own marrow andspirit, just like the cowboy at its heart.
The film is an examination and ultimate celebration of the
imagination; of Clem’s imagination, and Rex’s lack thereof.Their imaginations inform the way our
characters interact with their everyday world.The film indulges Rex’s western fantasy for him, he becomes transported
into a western of his imagination’s own making, but it makes no apologies for
using this device on its own, without permission from its central
character.And so the film itself has
its own brand of imagination.
The title is a tall order, for the film assumes greatness, sight
unseen!It proclaims to introduce the
world to a legend, and having an acting legend portray its central figure
didn’t hurt.Ultimately, it’s the cult
of Fernandez and his relation to it that gives Rex access to the courage that
lies within.But, like the entire
pursuit, its title encompasses the irony of a nondescript, mundane occurrence,
places us firmly in the realm of pulp from where it takes its cue, while also
speaking to the most universal, transcending truth of all.For one day, one way or another, we all will
shake the hand of Vicente Fernández.
In Memory of
On July 6th,
2012 the great
Ernest Borgnine embraced the film’s metaphor on a profound level. Those
he left behind had waited on pins and needles throughout the weekend,
with the sudden turn his health had taken, not quite believing that the
would leave. In the casting process it had become evident that Ernie
always working, and in my brief time spent with him I realized that it
constant motion that kept him happy and virile to the very
end. Although, as artists, we were both aware of the element that
Ernie’s career and
public persona added to the metaphysical intent of the film, I was
even considering his age, that ours would take at least fifth or sixth
behind the finish line of his work. The film’s final act and ending, as
it played out with Ernie's own bow, was an element of metaphysics I
thought would occur in terms of this being his last.
It just goes to show that there can
be something bigger at work, something more divine at play, than lights,
camera, and action; that there can exist magic and meaning in this world beyond
our imagination, comprehension, or articulation. Rex’s march to the afterlife
was the last scene we shot. I remember Ernie approaching me, strung out
and pacing because we were shooting slow motion and only had so much film, a
fact I don’t think, thankfully, that registered with him. He whispered in
my ear, “I’m going to remove the hat before I kiss her, you know, because Rex
is a gentleman.” This was a last minute addition to a scene we had
blocked many times with film feet in mind. But it’s the best moment of
that whole scene; it’s climax. That decision retains so much residue of
am so proud that Ernie’s final
performance was captured on glorious 35mm, celluloid, befitting of one
medium's great giants. Oh, were I to have rued the day were his last
distilled to ones and zeros. Ernie is a legend and the film bills
himthat way, sending him off to become so much greater than the sum of
an hour before
his father passed, Chris Borgnine called to tell me that Ernie was
and had insisted on reaching out to me to say how proud he was of his
final film and that it had been made with my crew and I. As a sensitive
individual constantly in tune with the grand narrative of my existence
choices, this moment changed my life forever. Knowing Ernie, having had
access to his heart and love, changed my life forever. This is
strong stuff; art, soul, creativity, passion, expression, ambition.
ingredients, have the power to reverberate throughout time and the
microcosmically and transcendentally. As much as one might think
they toil in obscurity, or that they’re giving too much of their marrow,
nothing compared to what may happen at the other end of the divide.
I have seen a place where life and
art have no distinction, and I have met the cowboy who purveys over this magic
prairie. He taught me about significance, gratitude, humility and grace;
the myth, the legend, the man who shook the hand of Vicente Fernandez.
Tom Chantrell is regarded as one of the foremost
British cinema poster artists of the 20th century.As such, there is likely to be great interest
in an early prototype poster he produced for the classic 1966 Hammer film “One
Million Years BC” which has just been listed on the Chantrell archive website
Studios often used Chantrell artwork in their pitches for finance, this is a
rare example of a poster featuring prototype artwork, being printed, not for
advertising to the public but to be used as a prop in a financing presentation.
miss Issue #25 (Jan 2013) of Cinema Retro for a feature on poster artist
Scarface first came to theater screens in 1932 with Paul Muni as the notorious gangster. In 1983, Al Pacino starred in Brian De Palma's campy cult favorite (loose) remake. Now, make way for yet another variation on the story: this one involving the drug cartels in Mexico. For more click here
Kirk Douglas is truly one of the last of the Hollywood icons, representing the industry's Golden Age. Incredibly, he's never won a competitive Oscar but was given an honorary one for an impressive career that has lasted from the 1940s until today. Although Douglas is retired from acting, he's still an omnipresent force at classic movie screenings and industry events. Today he marks his 96th birthday and writer Bob Greene provides a wonderful tribute along with a personal experience he shared with Douglas relating to 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Click here to read
Click here to watch the teaser trailer for director J.J. Abrams' forthcoming Star Trek: Into Darkness. Not surprisingly, the teaser concentrates on action and spectacle as opposed to characterizations or plot points. Additionally, the Armageddon-like look of the teaser poster suggests a sequel to I Am Legend as opposed to any space age thrills. However, if Abrams comes close to what he achieved with the last Trek film, the revitalized franchise will live long and prosper. We'll have to wait until May to find out.
The 1995 sci-fi epic Waterworld starring Kevin Costner and Dennis Hopper is one of the era's legendary, costly flops. Yet, it may float again, as the SyFy company is closing in on getting the rights to a remake, either for the big screen or for one of the TV network's cheesy productions. Click here to read The Guardian's cynical take on the remake possibilities.
"John Carter" has its fans and defenders among the sci-fi/fantasy set but there weren't enough of them to prevent Disney from incurring a $165 million loss on this film.
On Thanksgiving, everyone has turkey on their mind. However, in Hollywood, there is an obsession with different kinds of turkeys- the celluloid ones that eat up studio revenues through costly flops. The Huffington Post takes a look back at the biggest cinematic flops of the year. It doesn't mean some of these movies weren't artistically worthy of a better reception, but for whatever reason, audiences avoided them in droves. Click here to read.
The Hollywood Reporter has a major article that takes readers inside the world of agents who represent porn stars. It's not all glitz and glamor for anyone involved. The article points out that sex is treated coldly as a business and there is little evidence anyone involved considers it a lark. As with "normal" actresses, porn stars have their tiers of top-earners and those who are more in demand than others. Agents negotiate on their behalf, discussing everything from whether there will be a professional makeup artist available on set to whether their clients will be paid extra for performing anal sex or double penetration scenes on camera. Such is the bizarre world of porn star management. Click here to read the entire article.
The Wrap reports that the film industry is breathing a sigh of relief because a downturn in ticket sales has been halted by a rebound in boxoffice dollars due to the late year releases of several blockbuster films that have drawn large audiences. There are some big films waiting in the wings, as well, including potential blockbusters such as the latest Twilight flick and The Hobbit. Click here to read
George Clooney will star in and direct The Monuments Men, a dramatic story about the attempts to save European art treasures that were pilfered by the Nazis in the closing days of WWII. Clooney has assembled an impressive cast that includes red-hot Daniel Craig, Cate Blanchett, Jean Dujardin, John Goodman and Bob Balaban. The subject matter has been touched on before, most notably in John Frankenheimer's classic 1965 film The Train starring Burt Lancaster. For more click here
Michael Arndt, who won the Best Screenplay Oscar for Little Miss Sunshine and who was nominated for Toy Story 3, has been formally announced as the screenwriter for the forthcoming Star Wars: Episode VII, according to Lucasfilm. The film will mark the first entry in the franchise since George Lucas sold the rights to Disney. Steven Spielberg dismissed rumors that he would consider directing, stating that the films are the domain of his friend George Lucas and that he doesn't feel qualified to direct a Star Wars movie. For more click here