Tag Archives: 30 Bird

An Afternoon With Bruce and Mike

……….So I arrive back in my homeland last night after 12 hours of travel preceded by 2 months of the most challenging work I’ve ever done.

Another 30 Bird project has been successfully completed. Check out their website HERE.

After spending 4 hours back at the day job this morning, the urge to go on a flick binge hit me like an angry woman, it was kept pretty contemporary.

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Based on the article “A Farewell To Arms” by John Carlin (check out the link incidently, it’s an interesting read) this flick brings back the unstoppable John McClane who is tasked, once again, with thwarting the intentions of a determined (and way too sharp looking) band of terrorists.

This is a quite different fight however.

Now there’s a hell of a lot of shooting and blowing up in this flick but the main fight, or should I say attack, is carried out by subverting the computer systems that run the mechanics of everyday life. Automated systems that are taken for granted to the point of being invisible are turned against the masses. From traffic lights, to the rail network to the FAA mainframe to every CCTV camera in any given place, these terrorists are all about remote devastation and they’re bloody good at what they do. With the click of a mouse and some furious key tapping, chaos reigns. It is, as John Carlin intimates in his article, I-War. Not to be confused, under ANY circumstances, with I-Robot………

Structurally the picture is simple. McClane is given a normal sounding job to pick up a computer hacker for the feds. Said hacker turns out to have unknowingly been writing programmes for the bad guys and is now a target for extermination as he’s served his purpose. Both worlds collide in a gorgeous example of overblown cinematic coincidence which leaves McClane and his weedy, but super smart sidekick to try to save the world with apparently no help at all from…… Well, anyone.

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Helicopter Pilots Beware: Cars CAN Kill

I found this film to be a lot of fun. you know what you’re getting from a Die Hard movie and this example makes no attempt to insert any Felliniesque flourishes. McClane survives so much in this flick that it’s often on the verge of becoming ridiculous (Jet fighter anyone?) but you forgive it as the action sequences are well constructed and work in the context of the flick. If you start poking holes in plot or character structure the whole thing collapses of course but, unlike Transformers, you don’t get bored and you don’t despise the filmmaker for burning / wasting enough cash to fund a decades worth of independant production……. The director here even waits until the final stand of scene to unveil the “Yippe-Ki-Yeh” …… We all knew it was coming.

Second up and sourced for free from the good folks at Lovefilm is the 2009 James Toback documentary Tyson

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Many reviews for this film berate James Toback for the pun loaded reason of pulling his punches, I completely disagree.

This movie is constructed like a confessional. The only time the camera diverts from Tyson is to show footage of either Mike at work in the ring or clips of the people that were influential in his life. Now he doesn’t confess to rape on film and goes so far as to call Miss Washington “wretched” and this is the main bone of contention amongst critics. “Why didn’t Toback press him on this?” they cry in blinkered unison. For me it’s clear. Tyson has, all through his life, been his own worst enemy and he does exactly the same here. The words are his, they’re said in the comfort of his home with no pressure on him forcing him into a corner. Toback’s camera is merely recording this man verbally fabricating the rope he’ll use to hang himself.

It’s a facinating insight into the mind of a man who was the perfect product of his environment, only to be plucked from that environment and be lauded as a king. For all his wrongdoing he is extremely candid, sometimes profound and occasionally sweet. All this despite honesty where it mattered most.

Here’s a taste.

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I’ve been away

The usual cinematic musings have been on the coolest of back burners due to an unprecedented amount of time spent hanging about theatre types at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. I’ve been working with the 30 Bird production company on their fantastic show PLASTIC, which they asked me to film.

Theatre doesn’t get a lot of press on the blog, not surprising considering it’s cinematic allegiances but I have to say folks, if you’re in Edinburgh just now and are looking for something to go see, don’t go watching the usual ridiculous amount of comedy on offer, you can get that any time, get yourself down to the Pleasance Undergrand and check out what is a very unique visual experience. Mehrdad Seyf has created a piece which lingers in your consciousness long after you leave the space, which is not the norm for a fringe show. A special mention should go to my ex flatmate and good friend Claire Hicks who has produced the show, god that girl works hard. (She drinks tea in nightclubs you know)

Check a review HERE.

I can’t let the post pass without mentioning at least one flick. During some rare and much needed free time I took in the 1992 Robert Altman film THE PLAYER starring Tim Robbins as Griffin Mill, a hot shot Hollywood producer and features cameo appearances from…. well just about everyone. During the making of documentary, it’s revealed that had all the stars been paid their normal fee for appearing in a film, the picture would have cost in excess of $100m in salaries alone.

I make no apology for the size of the movie poster, it is HUGE though, there can be no doubt about that. I particularly like what this poster does, it actually tells you something about the picture. The strip of celluloid fashioned into a noose captures the nature of the film. Hollywood has no soul and no moral. No matter how powerful you may think you are, there’s constantly someone behind you looking to take your place by giving you enough rope to hang yourself.

The way that Altman uses cameo appearances from the likes of John Cusack, Angelica Huston, Jeff Goldblum and Burt Reynolds as themselves, casually seen dining in the restaurants that Griffin frequents, is a clever authentication of Griffin’s world. Richard E. Grant also turns up (with Dean Stockwell as his agent) playing a ridiculously overplayed but highly believable scriptwriter who’s trying to get his film made. The shallow nature of Hollywood is portrayed perfectly as initially, he’ll not allow his self proclaimed work of art to be altered in any way but later on in the picture, we find out he’s sold his soul to progress himself by allowing the studio to butcher his work.

The film is full of these little comments on the “system” of Hollywood.

The main premise of the film however is Griffin’s obsession to find a disgruntled writer who, in an effort to repay him for ignoring his (or her) work, sends him increasingly threatening, anonymous notes. This series of hostile correspondence unnerves the normally callous executive so much that he decides to seek out the perpetrator.



This element of the film, although the main focus, is probably the weakest. The comments and observations of the selfish movie merry-go-round are far more engaging and interesting than the search for the poison pen. There’s so much going on in this picture however, that you forgive this weakness in appreciation of what it actually accomplishes.

THE PLAYER could have easily been used in a recent essay I wrote on postmodernism in film. The first 8 minutes is one of the strongest examples of homage in cinema. (Gus Van Sant’s version of PSYCHO maybe takes that prize) Not only does Altman use the same one shot opening that Orson Welles used in TOUCH OF EVIL, he actually has the characters reference the film in conversation during the shot.

I’ve uploaded the full scene onto youtube for your enjoyment. Just for the record, he apparently used take 3.