BBC - Mark Kermode's film blog

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Ben Hur & Tora! Tora! Tora! True classics

My movie enlightments have continued over the chritmas break - I'm aiming to watch films made before 1980 whenever possible I chose 2 true epics in the last 2 days:

Ben Hur
Ben-Hur (1959) is MGM's three and a half hour, wide-screen epic Technicolor blockbuster - a Biblical tale, subtitled A Tale of the Christ(
It stars Charlton Heston and is directed by William Wyler

Jewish prince Judah Ben-Hur is betrayed by his childhood pal, who gets him thrown in the galleys. He escapes, gets adopted by a Roman captain and returns to confront his betrayer. (Empire Magazine)

It changed my view of Charlton Heston who's performance is one of the strongest I've ever seen - I feel it is a sign of a great actor who can flip your opinion of them through one performance.

Tora! Tora! Tora!

This 25-million dollar epic collaboration accurately recreates the events that led to the Japanese attack on the American naval base during World War II. With Germany's invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939, the wheels are set in motion by Japan to plan the attack. After internal differences in the government, the Japanese quickly mobilize plans for the assault. Key American personnel ignored warnings of the possibility of Japanese aggression. The first part of the film divides scenes from both countries. Part two contains spectacular battle scenes of the bombing that destroyed the American naval base of operations in Hawaii. Governmental errors on both sides add to the confusion, but the Japanese ultimately carry out the deadly mission.

At the time of its initial movie release, Tora! Tora! Tora! proved to be a major box office flop in U.S. theatres although it was a major hit in Japan; however, over the years, video releases provided an overall profit.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Closer, please. Clo-ser...

Having watched the original in the Thomas Harris Saga - 'Manhunter' with Brian Cox as Lector, I want to reminisce on the Trilogy and the origin story of the good doctor and my favourite film series of all time.

Lector has been played by Brian Cox (Manhunter 1986, Brian Cox) Sir Anthony Hopkins (Silence of the Lambs 1991, Hannibal 2000 and Red Dragon 2002) and Gaspard Ulliel (Hannibal Rising)

In Michael Mann's Manhunter, Cox based his portrayal of "Hannibal Lecter" on Scottish serial killer Peter Manuel. It holds a very different feel to that of the famous trilogy, it feels more contemporary and edgy with Mann's unique style. I felt the stark whites of Lectors cell left it feeling too clinical and clean for Dr. Lector, having said that Cox was chilling.

'Best Picture of 1991' at The Oscars, 'The Silence of the Lambs' is Directed by Jonathan Demme (The Manchurian Candidate, Philadelphia) an sees Lector portrayed by Anthony Hopkins, a theatre actor, made famous on the Big Screen by David Lynch's 'The Elephant Man' a decade previously, plays his most iconic role, and one of my favourite actors of all time. Even though Hopkins' screen time in the entire film is just over 16 minutes he won an academy award and he was voted #1 on the American Film Institute's Villains list in its compilation of the 100 Years of The Greatest Screen Heroes and Villains. Here is a the screenplay (by Ted Tally from July 28th 1989) note: Dr. Hannibal Lecter is called "Dr. Gideon Quinn." for legal reasons.

You see a lot, Dr. Quinn. But are you
strong enough to point that high-powered
perception at yourself? How about it...?
Look at yourself and write down the truth.
(She slams the tray back at him)
Or maybe you're afraid to.

You're a tough one, aren't you?

Reasonably so. Yes.

And you'd hate to think you were common.
My, wouldn't that sting! Well you're far
from common, Officer Starling. All you
have is the fear of it.
Now please excuse me. Good day.

And the questionnaire...?

A census taker once tried to test me. I
ate his liver with some fava beans and
a nice chianti... Fly back to school,
little Starling.

He steps backwards, then returns to his cot, becoming as still
and remote as a statue. Frustrated, Clarice hesitates, then
finally shoulders her bag and goes, leaving the questionnaire
in his tray. But after just a few steps, as she passes -


she sees that creature at his bars again, hissing at her.

I b-bit my wrist so I c-can diiiieeee!
S-ee how it bleeeeeeeeds?

The dark figure suddenly flings his palm towards her, and -


is spattered on the face and neck - not with blood, but with
pale droplets of semen. She gives a little cry, touching her
fingers to the wetness. Stunned, near tears, she forces her-
self to straighten up and walk on, fumbling for a tissue. From
behind her, Dr. Quinn calls out, very agitated.

This famous scene has one element missing, and that's Hopkins infamous unnerving effect he has Jodie Foster when he mocked her character's West Virginia accent; the distorion of the word "chianti" and the vile slurping sound he makes after he describes eating the "census-taker." Hopkins also notes that Hannibal never blinked his eyes when he spoke. these are all improvisations made to highten this already brilliant screenplay.

In 2001, Julianne Moore, revives the role of FBI Agent Clarice Starling, in 'Hannibal'. Silence Of The Lambs director Jonathan Demme and original Starling Jodie Foster turning it down. There's no denying the high level of talent among those who are involved (Ridley Scott, Julianne Moore, writers David Mamet and Steven Zaillian and, of course, Anthony Hopkins). One of my all time favourite films is due to some of the most beautiful shots, by Ridley Scott, from Mason Verger’s estate: Biltmore House, North Carolina.

Pazzi is hanged – “Bowels in or bowels out?”: Palazzo Vecchio, Florence

Filmography 2010 - A year in 6 minutes

Friday, 10 December 2010

Cool, original video!
Now. I know it's only the first day of the holidays, but I had a brainwave whilst at the pub for our quiz. I thought, for 'as-live' project pitch, why not a 'student wine club' kind of set up... I worked with Olly Smith once (Iron Chef UK, Saturday Kitchen) and he's brilliant! Check out his style!
Anyway, Im freinds with him on Facebook so i decided to email him it kind of somes up what Im thinking at the moment.. here it is

Hi Olly,
I don't know if you remember me, but I was a runner on Saturday Kitchen and I helped out with you guys on a shoot in Sussex? Im studying Broadcast media in Kent and we're making an 'as-live' show to air at the Maidstone Studios in May. I was considering creating a wine club exclusively for students and young people - Im sure your extremely busy but I wandered if you have any thoughts/ideas about it? I really love your enthusiasm and your fresh and exciting way of talking about wine, which inspired me to look into creating a show dedicated to good (affordable!) wine for young adults. Hope you're well and keep up the great work.
All the best,

My house mate Charlie told me about his 'cheap wine club' which was kind of a joke (no wine over £3!) but this got me thinking, there is no wine shows for the younger (poorer) student/professional. I know of a few vine yards around Kent/Sussex/Surrey and I think it would make for great viewing. Perhaps wine nights/taster evening shot in the SU. A clash of cultures - maybe film the boys at maidstone rugby club partaking in a fine wine night? All to be shown as a VT between guests on the live show?!