john hurt

IntroActorSpoofs

When an actor nails a certain role in his career it can be both a blessing and a curse. Anthony Perkins, for a no-brainer example, rarely picked up any roles after Psycho due to being typecast as the lunatic he so exquisitely played. That’s why it’s also great to know when actors have a sense of humor about their more iconic roles – taking up the burden of spoofing themselves so no one else has to.

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Snow Piercer artwork

Whether due to coincidence or collusion, 2013 is the year three of South Korea’s best film directors will premiere their English language debuts. Kim Jee-woon’s The Last Stand will hit screens first in January, while Park Chan-wook’s Stoker will follow suit a few months later. Both films look to exist firmly in their director’s respective wheelhouse leaving Bong Joon-ho‘s Snow Piercer as far more of an unknown entity. One of the biggest questions has now been answered though as The Weinstein Company has reportedly picked up distribution rights for the film in North America, the UK and a few other English-speaking regions. No official release date has been set, but Deadline seems to believe a Summer 2013 premiere is to be expected. Snow Piercer is based on a French graphic novel called Transperceneige and plays out almost exclusively aboard a futuristic locomotive. The world has become an iced-over post-apocalyptic wasteland, and the only real safety is on this train which is constantly in motion. The last vestiges of humanity live aboard distinctly divided along class lines, but rumors of a rebellion from the lower decks reach the one-percenters living above and threaten to derail mankind’s last hope.

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Jayne Mansfield

Back in 1996, when Billy Bob Thornton directed Sling Blade, its success seemed like a pretty big opportunity for the actor to change up his career focus and start accumulating awards by sitting in the director’s chair. That didn’t happen, though. Thornton has only made a handful of films since, and none that have come close to being as well-regarded as his first. However, it’s looking like this year could serve as Thornton’s best chance since Sling Blade at accumulating some more awards, because his latest film, Jayne Mansfield’s Car, looks like it’s got all of that good stuff that people who give out golden statues like. It’s a comedy of manners that throws excitable Southerners and stuffy Brits in the same space and examines the ways they chafe against each other, it’s set in the ’60s (so it’s got that oh-so-important element of nostalgia going for it, and there are plenty of period sets and costumes, shot with glowing gold light, which puts you in the perfect mood to squirt some tears at all of its ham-handed drama), and – probably most importantly – it boasts a cast of actors including names like John Hurt, Robert Duvall, Kevin Bacon, Irma P. Hall, Thornton himself, and many others. These are not untalented folk.

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According to Deadline Oceania, Imagine Entertainment has come one step closer to our totalitarian future-past. Noah Oppenheim has been chosen to pen the script for the upcoming remake of 1984. To quote Deadline, this film is a “cautionary tale about a totalitarian future society, and a man whose job it is to rewrite history tries a bit of rebellion by falling in love, a move that runs afoul of Big Brother.” Okay, so there’s a lot more to it than that Mickey Mouse explanation. George Orwell’s dystopian classic novel from 1948 is a seminal piece of literature about the dangers of government intrusion, totalitarian rule, and the control of the media. It’s not as much a love story but rather one about a world where free thought is crushed, and one man dares to love. You should really just read the book.

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Ridley Scott Alien DVD Commentary

Prometheus is Ridley Scott‘s latest magnum opus, a groundbreaking cinematic achievement beyond our wildest imaginations. At least that’s what we’re all hoping for with the film. At the very least we’ll take a return to the sci-fi terror Scott unleashed on audiences earlier in his career, but Prometheus is a film moviegoers all over will be talking about. We’d love to hear Scott talk about it, probably along with screenwriter Damen Lindelof. We’ll take Jon Spaihts just because he comes with the package deal, but it’ll be a commentary that delves into the depths each man had to go to craft yet another legendary, sci-fi tale. That will be amazing. Anyway, here’s the commentary for Alien. Seriously, though. How can you introduce Alien?

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The Proposition

You see, Ray Winstone plays Captain Stanley – and delivers an amazing monologue – in The Proposition, but he’s also one of the dwarfs in this Friday’s Snow White and the Huntsman. Yes, that is a stretch, and it’s not the real reason we decided to cover The Proposition in this week’s Commentary Commentary. It’s the John Hillcoat connection. It’s the fact that the director’s latest, Lawless, played Cannes last week and guess who saw it. We can all torch Simon out of jealousy later. There’s a commentary to get to first. The Proposition, a Western set against the Australian backdrop and a very realistic depiction of life at that time, was Hillcoat’s first feature film collaboration with Nick Cave, singer, songwriter, screenwriter, rustic harbinger of death. Friends call him Nicky. The film is every bit as somber and depressing as you would expect from the head of the Bad Seeds. The Proposition is so melancholic, you half expect Lars Von Trier to throw a planet in its general direction. You also can’t wait to see what went on with the making of this movie. And that’s where we come in. So sit back, crack open a Foster’s – which no decent Australian would be caught dead drinking. – and have a gander at all the wonderfully tenebrous and fly-ridden items we learned from listening to Hillcoat and Cave talk about The Proposition.

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South Korean filmmaker Bong Joon-ho‘s English-language debut was always going to be a hotly anticipated feature, but as the cast for Snow Piercer rounds out, it’s become obvious that The Host director is really going all out for this one. The next star to join the sci-fi indie film is Octavia Spencer, who just won a SAG Award for Best Supporting Actress and is viewed as the frontrunner for the Oscar in the same category for her work in The Help. She joins an already impressive (both in terms of talent and how wonderfully varied it is) cast that includes Chris Evans, The Host star Kang Ho Song, and veteran talents John Hurt and Tilda Swinton. The film, which has been adapted from the French graphic novel Le Transperceneige has been co-scripted by Bong (with the most recent draft coming from Kelly Masterson), and is set in a future world ruined by a failed attempt to finally stop the fallout from global warming. The experiment to end global warming has led to an Ice Age that has destroyed all living creatures, except for those who live on the Snow Piercer, ” a train that travels around the globe and is powered by a sacred perpetual-motion engine.” The film will center on a revolution that stirs up between the train’s inhabitants, who had previously settled into an uneasy class system. Spencer’s role will be that as a mother who takes up with the revolution ” in order to save her son” […]

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Tilda Swinton and John Hurt

South Korean director Joon-ho Bong is set to make his English language directorial debut with a train thriller set in an ice covered world called Snow Piercer. Normally if you told me there was a movie about train travel on an ice covered world called Snow Piercer, I would assume that we were talking about a Syfy channel original with a B-list cast and some hilarious attempts at digital effects; but that’s certainly not the case here. Joon-ho is pretty much the man when it comes to moviemaking skills, so despite its outlandish premise, Snow Piercer is very rapidly amassing an impressive cast. I mean, duh, Hollywood actors have probably been lining up around the block to audition once it was announced they could work with this guy.

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With my review and claim that Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is a near-masterpiece, I don’t believe it’s possible to get more hyperbolic about this film. Perhaps my fourth viewing, which will inevitably take place soon, could make that happen. Why such grand enthusiasm for a slow-burn “thriller” that’s splitting plenty of folks? Well, go see for yourself. Thankfully for you lot, director Tomas Alfredson‘s film is expanding into 800 theaters today. To further urge you wise readers to go see the film, Focus Features was kind enough to give us these exclusive behind-the-scenes shots of Alfredson shooting the breeze and working with Gary Oldman and John Hurt on set. They’re black and white, meaning they’re all prestigious and such.

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Tomas Alfredson hasn’t made your typical spy thriller. Not only is that due to the lack of explosions, a fast pace, shootouts, or any other convention the genre tends to call for, but because Alfredson hasn’t really made a “thriller.” Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, in actuality, is a dark ensemble love story about lonely spies. The best character who represents everything the film says is Jim Prideaux (Mark Strong). At first, Jim, a towering field operative, is played with a quiet intensity. He’s calculating and observant like the rest of his spy brethren, but once stripped down of his serious spy mode and once revealed at his most vulnerable, Jim’s an emotionally and psychologically tortured guy. The world of espionage is a vicious place, so says the film. At one point, for great reasons I won’t spoil, Jim ends up going from pivotal spy missions to teaching school children in an instant. For one, how emasculating and damaging that must be. The character goes from a life of importance and violence, and then goes off to teach children. The system chewed him up and spat him out like he was nothing.

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Tomas Alfredson‘s directorial follow-up to the beloved Let the Right One In is, on the outside, appears to be a drastically different film. Taken at face value, Let the Right One In is about a boy following in love with a vampire and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is about the search for a high-powered government mole. Digging deeper, both films are startlingly, but beautifully similar. They’re stories about repressed loners, even down to the smallest of characters and the most intimate of moments. At the center of the lonely bunch is George Smiley, played by Gary Oldman, in an all internal and “it’s-in-the-eyes” performance. Very few spies are as emasculated, cold, and unsuave as Smiley & Co. Unlike the Bonds and Bournes of the spy world, by the end of this film, no one will wish they were these characters of the Circus. A few weeks ago I had a chance to sit down with both Alfredson and Oldman for a quick interview where we discussed the paranoia-causing structure of the film, the gray enigma of George Smiley, and how much politer British spies are.

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The last time Lars von Trier explored a relationship in decay, the divisive auteur could not have been more in your face. While parts of Antichrist were labeled as pure button-pushing, it was button-pushing in the greatest way possible. The director made a 2-hour endurance test, a great one at that. His latest, Melancholia, is not an endurance test. Right from the beginning prologue, which paints a picture of events to come, von Trier sucks one into his world of emotional and cynical chaos. The whole film, despite von Trier’s bombastic filmmaking nature, is surprisingly grounded. This isn’t about the destruction of earth, but of these characters. The apocalypse is only used to symbolize all of the characters’ emotional deterioration.

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Writer-director Rowan Joffe must love to challenge himself. With The American and his feature film debut, an adaptation of Brighton Rock, Joffe tackles the trickiest of characters: internal, cold ones. Like Jack (a.k.a. Mr. Butterfly), Pinkie is a lead that is always at a distance. He will never let anyone in. Everything remains internal. However, Pinkie is not a sucker for the ladies. Pinkie is a character that is not sympathetic, or likable, and is most likely insane. The gangster is a walking horror film; unpredictable, and will do anything he deems necessary out of fear. He’s insecure, which makes him a serious threat. This idea is, once again, expressed internally. Jack and Pinkie present their own challenges, both to the man behind the typewriter and the audience. Here’s what Rowan Joffe had to say about his enigmatic leads, writing a character-driven film versus a plot-driven film, and correcting Roger Ebert:

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Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy comes to us thanks to Tomas Alfredson, who is best known to horror freaks as the director of the original Let the Right One In, which is nervy and terrifying and better than just about any other vampire film made, oh, well, pretty much ever. Now it looks as if Alfredson is trying to do for the spy genre what he did for the vampire genre – basically, make it exciting and interesting again. The loverly Rob Hunter showed us the first trailer for the film back in June, and I proceeded to slobber all over it like I’d never seen a piece of movie marketing before. The film features an all-star cast packed with badasses, including Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, Mark Strong, Benedict Cumberbatch, Ciaran Hinds, Mark Strong, Toby Jones, John Hurt, and Stephen Graham. It’s essentially as if every single actor you’ve ever wanted to see in a spy flick got together and made that spy flick, but made it much more clever than you would have been able to craft on your own.

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“Coming this fall: an action event from the director of The Cell and The Fall.” Yeah, it still sounds odd to me, too. Once it was announced that Tarsem would be tackling a big swords and sandals epic, it elicited a feeling of both excitement and confusion. As for the exciting part — wouldn’t it be interesting to see how such a visionary can put a spin on this genre and what he could do with an action beat? As for the confusion — isn’t this a big studio picture? With epics such as this, directors have countless people to answer to. But Tarsem didn’t seem interested in answering to those people. This a director that couldn’t have a greater distaste for by-the-numbers filmmaking. As he says below, he’s a polarizing filmmaker. Both The Cell and The Fall received both wild appraise and heaps of venom. Can Tarsem still bring that interesting polarization to a sizable fall release? From the sound of it, yes, he can. When I approached Tarsem to discuss The Fall and wish him luck on Immortals, the very funny and honest filmmaker ended up giving me a quick and unplanned 1-on-1 about not dealing with studio suits, his work ethic with actors, and the methods of Mickey Rourke.

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Here’s a fun fact: Prior to 2001′s releases of Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s/Philosopher’s Stone, fantasy movies were frequently silly, low-budget shlockfests that actors only wanted to make so they could eat something other than whatever they scraped from under their fridge for another month. (For the record, I am told that this lifestyle — I like to call it Underfridging — is good for bolstering your immune system. On the other hand, high potential for scurvy. Your call.) And since the Harry Potter series has spanned eight films and employed every single actor in Britain at least once (twice in the case of Warwick Davis), you know there’s a treasure trove of painfully cheesy fantasy movies lurking in their collective resumes. Let’s take a look at some of them!

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Billy Bob Thornton hasn’t directed a non-documentary since 2001’s Daddy and Them. That’s kind of a shame, because it seems like the guy could be pretty good at it. Dude made Sling Blade after all. I take it as good news then, that Thornton has a cast in place and funding secured for his next feature Jayne Mansfield’s Car. Not much is known about the film yet, but Thornton co-wrote the script with his writing partner Tom Epperson, and it’s said to be about two families from different parts of the world experiencing a culture clash in 1969. Young actor John Patrick Amedori is set to star in the film and names like Robert Duvall, Kevin Bacon, Robert Patrick, Ray Stevenson, John Hurt, Dwight Yoakam, and Dennis Quaid are locked in to round out the cast. That’s a ridiculously impressive list of actors, but where are all the ladies? Perhaps that’s a mystery for another day.

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This trailer is a trip. It seems completely unnecessary considering the source material but absolutely believable considering the year of release. Nineteen Eighty-Four is an incredible film, but it’s not one you want to show at two in the morning when everyone’s already feeling sleepy. It’s a slow-burn featuring some damnable performances from John Hurt, Suzanna Hamilton, and Richard Burton (in his last film appearance). There are a ton of fascinating things about this adaptation of George Owell‘s seminal novel, but the best piece of trivia involves the shooting schedule. As most know it was released in 1984, but it was also shot in 1984, and the days (which you can keep track of by watching Winston write in his journal) are the actual days they filmed on. An example? When Winston jots down that it’s April 4, 1984, it’s because the cast and crew were shooting that scene on April 4, 1984. Pretty clever. Has any other movie shot in fake real-time?

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Despite assertions that I would never consciously put myself through the draining experience of watching one of his films again, this morning saw the first screening of Lars Von Trier’s Melancholia, a film about the end of the world, as well as one that presents the triumph of melancholia, or the feeling that everything we know is hollow. So, now the credits have rolled, the world has ended and again, I find myself challenged by the dichotomy of a film that consciously aims to jar and jolt, rather than be pleasurable (is there any other way for this director though?). Like Malick’s The Tree of Life, Melancholia is experiential cinema, a film that has limited commercial appeal aside from the names attached to it, that is as much a manifestation of Von Trier as an artist as it is a film in its own right, and long after this film festival is done, it will be those two films that will command the most debate, side-by-side. Both are endurance tests, but Melancholia is something entirely different to that other film, even though both will no doubt split the festival. Is it successful? Incredibly so. Though it’s certainly not an enjoyable experience. But at the end of the day, that’s exactly what the infamous director set out to achieve.

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Jim Jarmusch is a polarizing figure among the film-going public. His films are all a little off the beaten path, a little bit inaccessible to general audiences, and usually some people end up loving them and some people end up hating them. I think what everybody can agree upon though, is that there are always several interesting things going on with every project that he takes. That’s why new reports that he is planning to helm a vampire movie have left me scratching my head a little. He’s making a vampire movie? Right in the middle of a time where every hack director who can find funding is making a vampire movie? That just doesn’t seem like Jarmusch’s bag. But still, despite all of that, I certainly can’t argue with the cast he’s compiling. This new vampire project is still untitled, but it’s set to star Tilda Swinton, Michael Fassbender, and Mia Wasikowska as the children of the night. Those are some good vampires. Also, the extremely British John Hurt has been cast in an undisclosed feature role. I don’t know about you, but if I was going to be casting a distinguished gentleman like John Hurt in my new vampire film you better believe it would probably be as some grizzled old vampire hunter. In addition to the casting news, Jarmusch let a little bit slip about the setting by calling the film a, “crypto-vampire love story, set against the romantic desolation of Detroit and Tangiers.” Say what you […]

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