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Real Life Film Curses

Posted by LiveFor on February 16, 2010


Whether you have been turned in to a hairy beast because you could not love, or have sold your soul for eternal youth, curses have been the basis for many a film plot. Sometimes it has been said however that the likes of Mrs Ganush herself have infiltrated movie sets causing some strange goings on during and after production has ended. Are these a series of unfortunate events, bad publicity stunts, or is there something more sinister going on? Carrying on from last weeks Film Production Nightmares, Live for Films brings you The Real Life Film Curses…

The Exorcist

The Exorcist – Widely regarded as a horror classic, William Friedkin’s adaptation of William Peter Blatty’s novel of a young girl possessed by a demonic spirit had its fair share of creepy tales.  The set itself was thought to be cursed after a fire burnt down and destroyed it forcing production crews to rebuild.  It is also believed that a priest was asked to come in and bless the set as well as the actors themselves.  A handful of cast and crew members are rumoured to have died during production, including actor Jack MacGowan who played Burke Dennings, but perhaps the strangest thing is Linda Blair, who played the possessed Regan, apparently foretold the deaths of crew members’ weeks before.

The Omen – You really have to wonder if making films about demonic children is a smart move.  The events surrounding this Richard Donner directed film were scarier than your friends’ kid with redeye in a birthday snapshot.  Along with trained Rottweiler’s attacking their handlers and the principal cast members being involved in a head on crash first day of filming, Donners hotel was bombed by the IRA,  star Gregory Peck and writer David Seltzers planes were struck by lightning in two separate events.  Peck would again have another close escape when a flight he cancelled at the last minute would later crash killing everyone on board.  But perhaps the most frightening was that Visual Effects Supervisor John Richardson’s wife was beheaded on the set of A Bridge Too Far a year later, in a scene eerily reminiscent of that from The Omen.       

Rosemary’s Baby – Another classic film another troubling aftermath for Roman Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby.  The critically acclaimed tale of a woman (Mia Farrow) who believes she is carrying the son of Satan has been linked to some horrifying events following its release in 1968.  Director Polanskis pregnant wife, actress Sharon Tate, was murdered by Charles Manson at their home in 1969.  This was part of an infamous killing spree for the Manson Family which he named Helter Sketler after the Beatles song.  On the 8th December 1980, Mark Chapman killed Beatles legend John Lennon outside the Dakota Building where Rosemary’s Baby was filmed.  Make of it what you will.

Poltergeist – Along with The Omen, Steven Spielberg and Tobe Hoopers Poltergeist is probably the most publicised example of the film ‘curse’.   The film which features ghosts communicating to the other side through a television set spawned two sequels and the basis for the curse comes from the fact four actors have died during the six year years between the first and third film.  Dominique Dunne who played the older daughter in the first film was strangled by her boyfriend in 1982, Julian Beck (Poltergeist 2) died aged 60 from stomach cancer in 1985, Will Sampson (also Poltergeist 2) died from post op complications from a kidney operation in 1988 and Heather O’ Rourke who played Carol Anne in all three films sadly died also in 1988.   

Superman – The Man of Steel may be able to stop, but the men who have played them have not been so lucky.   George Reeves portrayed Superman in the US television series in the 50’s, but was found dead in mysterious circumstances on his wedding day in an apparent suicide.  Ben Affleck would portray Reeves in Hollywoodland in 2006.  Perhaps the most well know incarnation of Clark Kent was that of Christopher Reeve who starred in Superman (1978) directed by Richard Donner, as well as three sequels.  In 1995, Reeve was involved in a tragic horse riding accident which left him paralysed from the neck down.  Reeve did however battle on, defying the odds and continued to star in TV and film before his death in 2004. Reeves co-star Margot Kidder who played the role of Lois Lane was found by police in undergrowth in LA after suffering a manic breakdown; she was later diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

The Dark Knight – Christopher Nolan’s follow up to Batman Begins was a success both critically and commercially when it was released in 2008, but the death of Heath Ledgers just shortly after filming wrapped left a black cloud hanging above it and was the starting point for another curse rumour.  More strange incidents followed; a stunt driver was killed during filming, Morgan Freeman was involved in a car accident which would break his arm and at the opening premiere, Christian Bale would be arrested for allegedly assaulting his mother.

Rebel without a Cause – It is a well known fact that James Dean died while driving the Porsche Spyder used in Rebel Without A Cause in 1955, while co-stars Sal Mineo and Natalie Wood both died prematurely years later.  However was the car itself cursed? A real life Christine? The mechanic who recovered the wreck apparently had his leg broken as the vehicle collapsed on him.  Later, parts of the car were sold to two separate buyers; both the cars also crashed claiming the lives of the drivers.

The curse is also known to have struck Quantum of Solace, Valkyrie and Blade Runner; in which companies like Coca Cola that were used for advertising suffered big losses. Shame.

So what do you guys think? Real, or desperately made up by people who should be doing something better with their time like working out what is going on in Lost or something?  Check out Good Actors Turned Bad next week…

By Richard Bodsworth.

Posted in Film, news | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Legion – News on how the cast of the Angels at War film came to pass

Posted by LiveFor on February 16, 2010


A dusty diner in the Mojave Desert becomes ground zero for earth’s final showdown in Legion, a startlingly original and terrifying vision of the Apocalypse from director and writer Scott Stewart (Priest). As mankind destroys itself in a savage fury, a small group of people trapped on the edge of nowhere prepare to make a last stand—with the help of a mysterious and powerful stranger.

Unaware of the chaos unfolding around the globe, Bob Hanson (Dennis Quaid), the owner of a remote roadside café, and his partner Percy (Charles S. Dutton) go about business as usual. The restaurant’s beautiful and very pregnant waitress, Charlie (Adrianne Palicki), serves breakfast to Sandra and Howard, a well-heeled suburban couple (Kate Walsh and Jon Tenney) and their teenage daughter Audrey (Willa Holland), as they wait for their car to be repaired by Bob’s son, Jeep (Lucas Black).

When the television goes on the fritz and the phones go out, the group realizes they have lost all communication with the outside world. As they attempt to make sense of what’s happening—An earthquake? A terrorist attack?— an elderly woman (Jeannette Miller) arrives and sweetly orders a steak from Charlie. When her meal arrives, she begins spewing shocking obscenities. In a heartbeat, the fragile old lady develops superhuman strength, launching a grisly attack that leaves Howard critically injured.

A desperate attempt to get medical help ends when an impenetrable cloud of flying insects turns the diner into the only safe haven for miles. As the horrifying truth of their situation sinks in, a stranger (Paul Bettany) joins them with an arsenal of stolen weapons. He informs Charlie that her unborn baby is now humanity’s only hope, and he’s willing to do whatever it takes to save it.

The world is about to become a waking nightmare for the last remnants of mankind as rolling caravans of crazed killers arrive in search of fresh victims and an army of warrior angels bent on total destruction follows close behind them in a unique and terrifying glimpse of the End of Days.

Director Scott Stewart and Producer David Lancaster agreed from the beginning that in order for Legion to fulfill its potential as a character-driven action-thriller with supernatural themes, it would require an outstanding, highly committed cast. “The most important decisions a director makes are in casting a film,” says Stewart. “If you cast it right, so much is going your way from the start. To that end, Rick Montgomery, our casting director, was absolutely fearless. He understood that we were trying to aim high and defy expectations with the casting of the movie.”

The filmmakers succeeded in bringing together a first-rate cast that includes award-winning actors from both sides of the Atlantic. “We have the dream-come-true cast,” says Stewart. “It was so important to get these actors. We spend the whole movie locked in a diner with them, so the audience has to care about them. There are no disposable stock characters; everybody is there for a specific reason.”

The catalyst for the action of the film is Michael, a larger-than-life figure who seems to appear out of nowhere. “Michael has such conviction that the other characters follow him without question,” says Stewart. “I didn’t want him to be an enigma. He is the Archangel Michael, but you can’t play that abstraction.”

Paul Bettany, perhaps best known for his powerful performance as Silas in The Da Vinci Code, is a highly respected British actor who has worked with the Royal Shakespeare Company. Convincing him to play Michael seemed an audacious goal for the filmmakers. “Paul has the authority we needed, but given his pedigree, we weren’t sure he would be interested,” says Stewart.

Stewart had planned his presentation meticulously in an all-out effort to capture Bettany’s imagination. The actor was as intrigued by Stewart’s vision as he was by the film’s premise. “Scott pitched his movie better than anybody has ever pitched a movie to me before,” the actor says. “He had all kinds of visual aids. He’s a very impressive human being. There were rumors going around the set he went through Harvard and M.I.T. and Cambridge and Oxford by the time he was nineteen.”

The unusual thematic elements were icing on the cake for the actor. “It’s a really slick, fast-paced movie that is in no way stupid,” he says. “Traditionally Michael is the defender of mankind. He is known as the first in all heaven to bow down before mankind and he still has faith in humanity despite all the war and horror he sees. So he’s having a massive crisis of allegiance.”

Bettany’s unique qualities as an actor made him an ideal choice to play the conflicted archangel, says the director. “Paul has an incredible stillness that only the greatest actors possess. His work is almost surgical in its exactness and specificity. That helped make Michael a commanding, mysterious figure you immediately trust, even if you don’t fully understand why. He turned out to be the most tremendous partner a filmmaker could have, because he cared a lot about the film and about his character—but he also wanted to shoot a machine gun and have a good time.”

Having Bettany on board sent a message to the film community about the project. “It said that we were up to something very different,” says Stewart. “His presence made it easy to attract other high-caliber actors.”

Dennis Quaid, who plays Bob Hansen, the diner’s owner was one of the first to join Bettany. Quaid has been a popular leading man for more than 30 years, winning praise for performances in projects ranging from the 1979 classic Breaking Away to the recent summer blockbuster G.I Joe: Rise of the Cobra. But Stewart believes Quaid’s reputation as a movie star sometimes obscures his acting ability. “Because he’s been such a big star for so long, I think some people take his talent for granted,” says the director. “That’s a mistake. He’s incredibly entertaining to watch. And in Legion, he is able to play totally against type. Audiences are so used to him playing heroic characters that it will be a surprise to see him as Bob, a man who has taken several wrong turns in his life and lived to regret it. And he brought his crackerjack comic timing as well. There are some humorous moments in the script and Dennis made them all work.”

The opportunity to work with this cast was a major selling point for Quaid. “Working with really good actors makes you better,” he says. “With the emphasis that Scott put on creating realistic, three-dimensional people, we could really kick ass as far as where we went with our characters.”

Quaid was also drawn to the script’s deft mixture of high-octane thrills and serious undertones. “The story really has resonance,” he adds. “And at the same time, it’s very entertaining and a great action movie. Scott Stewart came up an original twist on the Biblical apocalypse.”

Quaid’s presence raised the film’s profile yet another notch, says Lancaster. “He immediately understood what we were trying to do. He would never just do a generic action-horror movie. What he and Paul both recognized was the opportunity to appeal to a wider audience. These are really fine actors who engaged in this because they see it as something special.”

Michael has come to the diner to find Charlie, a young, pregnant waitress he believes will figure prominently in the future of humankind. “We searched long and hard for an actress to play that key character before we found Adrianne Palicki,” says Lancaster. “Charlie is a girl from the wrong side of the tracks; she’s is pregnant, but doesn’t know who the father is, and has struggled with whether to keep her baby or give it up for adoption. Adrianne captured all of that in her performance.”

Stewart was initially unfamiliar with the actress’ work, but was immediately impressed by her authenticity. “She is not a Hollywood type,” he says. “She’s from Ohio and she brings a grounded realism to her work. And she’s also gorgeous in a very approachable way.”

For Palicki, one of the stars of the critically acclaimed television drama “Friday Night Lights,” the character of Charlie sealed the deal. “First and foremost, she was fantastic to play,” says the actress. “It’s one of the best female roles in my age group that I’ve seen and to be able embody such a strong, intricate character was very satisfying.

“In fact, every character in this movie has a strong arc,” she adds. “Every single person is trying to find their path. Scott was really great about letting me find my own voice. He was adamant about what he wanted, but he also did such a great job of letting us discover our characters for ourselves.”

Palicki was apprehensive about one scene in particular. “The childbirth scene was maybe the scariest thing I’ve ever done as an actor,” she admits. “I had a panic attack the day before we shot it, but there were plenty of women who supported me through that.”

The filmmakers were looking for a young actor who would embody honesty and integrity for the role of Jeep Hansen, Bob’s son and Charlie’s protector, when they met with Lucas Black. “With Lucas, what you see is what you get,” says Stewart. “He grew up in Alabama and now lives in Missouri. So he’s not a Hollywood-type guy and it shows in how real he is as Jeep.”

Black, who was barely a teenager when he starred opposite Billy Bob Thornton in Slingblade, was drawn to the script by Jeep’s journey over the course of the film. “He starts out as someone who pretty much keeps to himself, until Michael comes along and becomes a kind of mentor,” observes Black.

Black was also thrilled by the opportunity to work with an actor whose work he has admired for years. “Dennis Quaid is awesome,” he says. “Our father and son moments really fell into place. The real relationships between the characters bring a sense of realism to all the action—and there’s tons of it.”

The Biblical themes were very familiar to Black, who was raised a Southern Baptist in Alabama. “There’s some deep stuff in this movie,” he says. “Scott has put a really interesting twist on it that I think is going to interest a lot of people and create a lot of buzz.”

Bob’s partner in the diner, Percy, is played by Charles S. Dutton, a three-time Emmy® winner who has moved effortlessly between film, stage and television during a career that includes a recent appearance in Fame, as well as leading roles for acclaimed directors Robert Altman (Cookie’s Fortune) and John Sayles (Honeydripper). Stewart calls the actor “a force of nature.” “Charles has a great deal of integrity and maturity,” he says. “It’s awesome to have him in a genre film, because he really makes you believe the reality of any situation. When his character believes something in a film, no matter how fantastic, the audience believes it too.”

Dutton also brings a gravitas to his scenes, adds Lancaster. “He grasped the concept immediately,” says the producer. “Charles was able to speak very fluently about the fact that his character reads and studies the Bible. He responded strongly to the fact that a person of faith could identify with this movie.”

In fact, Percy’s uncomplicated faith was central to Dutton’s understanding of the character. “He says he knew this day was coming, he just didn’t think it would be in his lifetime,” points out Dutton. “He’s the only one willing to say a prayer, the only one willing to believe what’s occurring.”

Stewart’s script provided Dutton with a clear road map throughout the production, says the actor. “The characters are so well written that you immediately knew where you were. You didn’t have to ask a thousand questions. You just had to try to make each scene as emotionally believable as you could. And when you add it all up, you discover it’s the Apocalypse. The beauty of the script to me is that this bunch of misfits has to save the world. It’s audacious.”

But audiences needn’t take all of that too seriously, he adds. The film has a great deal of fun to offer as well. “It’s also a good old-fashioned horror film,” he says. “We’re trying to scare the hell out of audiences. I call it a three-pronged joy ride. It’ scary, it’s funny and it gives you something to think about.”

The director was also unaware of “Grey’s Anatomy’s” Kate Walsh before she auditioned for the role of Sandra. “I’m not a big TV watcher,” he confesses. “But the moment she came in, I knew I would never find a better actor to play Sandra. She was unafraid to go to a very dark place with the character.”

Lancaster says he was extremely excited Kate Walsh agreed to play Sandra, an upscale suburbanite trying to keep her daughter out of harm’s way, without much success. “I can’t think of a more interesting actress working in television right now than Kate,” says Lancaster. “She’s sexy and fun. She brought so much to that role and worked so well with Jon Tenney, who plays her husband, Howard.”

Walsh was won over by the script’s combination of well-defined characters and action. “There’s so much action in this movie and the circumstances are so extreme,” she says. “But it’s not only a great action story, it’s also a supernatural thriller and a love story. It has everything: birth, life, death. It’s very dense and very exciting.”

“When I read the script, I was terrified,” she admits. “I think the audience will be too. But there’s also great humor in it. That’s one of the best qualities of Scott’s writing. Everybody has some great kind of zingers.”

Willa Holland, who plays Howard and Sandra’s daughter Audrey, is familiar to television audiences as Kaitlin Cooper of “The O.C.” She says her character is different from most of the roles written for teens. “You get typecast as a teenager,” she says. “You can only get to a few different places. Audrey goes from the rebellious teenager to being her mother’s mother, and then being the savior of mankind.”

Holland confesses she has never seen a horror movie. “I’m deathly afraid of seeing scary movies,” she admits. “I get too freaked out. But I’m going to go to the theater for this one just to watch people’s reactions. “

The contingent trapped in the diner is completed by Kyle Williams, a divorced father trying to get to Los Angeles for a custody hearing. The filmmakers were happy to find Tyrese Gibson, one of the stars of the Transformer franchise and a Grammy winning recording artist, for the role. “Tyrese brings a clearly defined, through-line to his work,” says Lancaster. “He’s such a wonderful actor with so much presence that you just can’t take your eyes off of him. When he’s on screen, he fills it up.”

Michael’s nemesis in the film is also his brother, Gabriel, an archangel traditionally portrayed as God’s messenger and as the most faithful of His creations. A one-time ballet dancer who stands six feet, six inches tall, actor Kevin Durand brings both brawn and grace to the character. “Kevin is so compelling,” says Lancaster. “He moves beautifully but also has this incredibly menacing feeling about him.”

The filmmakers were impressed by Durand’s recent performances in X-Men Origins: Wolverine and as the cold-blooded mercenary Martin Keamy on the hit television series “Lost.” “We wanted somebody who could hold his own with Paul Bettany, who’s an imposing actor,” says Stewart. “Kevin has this awesome physical presence, and he backs it up with serious acting chops. He’s really a character actor inside the body of a major action star. What could be better than that?”

Legion appealed to Durand on a primal level, he says. “Gabriel is being sent to do God’s work, but in a way I don’t think we’ve ever seen before—by any means necessary.”

The through-line for the climactic confrontation between the two archangels could be called sibling rivalry taken to a cosmic extreme. “Paul and I played it like we were brothers who were always vying for the attention and love of their father,” says Durand. “Michael was the one who got most of the love, without having to abide by the rules. Gabriel always went by the book and never got the attention he thought he deserved. This battle comes down to eons of competition.”

The filmmakers secured the legendary character actor Doug Jones for an astonishing cameo. Jones, who played Abe Sapien in the Hellboy movies, as well as the Faun in Pan’s Labyrinth, embodies all that is terrifying in this film as an ice cream man in the throes of a dreadful transformation. And he may just be the most flexible man on the planet. “He’s incredible,” says Stewart. “I understand why Guillermo del Toro likes him so much. He’s a great actor, but he’s also the Cirque de Soleil of actors. He’s so elastic and expressive in his face and he can do things that you would normally think you’d need prosthetics for.”

Glenn Hetrick, who was in charge of special makeup effects, bolstered Jones’ natural talent with some innovative prosthetics to complete the transformation from man to supernatural phenomenon. “We didn’t try to make him Mr. Fantastic,” says Hetrick. “We wanted to convey that he was supernatural in a way that will hopefully be very disturbing for audiences when they see it. It should be an iconic piece of film villainy for everyone to enjoy.”

As menacing as the character is, Jones says he developed a good deal of affection for him. “When you meet the ice cream man, you think, well, there’s an unassuming looking fellow,” says the actor. “And then you tilt your head and realize something’s not quite right about him. And that’s kind of how people react to me in real life. I walk into the room and there’s a nice tall, skinny fellow, but something’s not right about him.”

Posted in Action, Fantasy, Film, Horror, news, Sci-Fi, Thriller, Trailer, War | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Martin Scorsese – Part 1: The Seventies and Eighties.

Posted by LiveFor on February 14, 2010

After almost four years since his last feature film, The Departed, the legendary Martin Scorsese returns this month with an adaptation of Dennis Lehane’s novel Shutter Island. Join Live for Films as we take a look at some selected works of a man who originally wanted to be a priest but went on to become one of the most influential filmmakers of his generation. Since Scorsese has made 21 feature films we have decided to split this in to three parts and will post them in the build up to Shutter Island out 12th March in the UK. 19th February in the USA

Mean Streets

Scorsese’s first feature film in 1967, Who’s Knocking at My Door?, would introduce him to Harvey Keitel and Editor Thelma Schoonmaker who he would continue to work with throughout his career. Before he made his breakthrough with Mean Streets, Scorsese tuned his skills and ‘business’ knowledge by making Boxcar Bertha for the legendary Roger Corman the man responsible for launching the careers of James Cameron and Francis Ford Coppola among others. Mean Streets burst on to the scene in 1973 featuring Scorsese’s signature themes of Catholicism and redemption along with what would later be referred to as his trademark style; gritty backdrops, raw camera work, rapid edits and a stylish rock soundtrack were merged to great effect which also featured a standout performance by a young Robert De Niro who would become a long term collaborator.

After Scorsese directed Elyen Burstyn to an Oscar in Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, he would again team up with De Niro in the controversial Paul Schrader scribed Taxi Driver. Charting the breakdown of Travis Bickel, the film featured the now immortal “you talking to me?” line and a young Jodie Foster as a prostitute. The film was criticised for its graphic violence, especially during the climatic sequence, and the fact thirteen year old Jodie Foster portrayed a prostitute and was on-set during the violent conclusion. Along with a host of other nominations, the film won the Palme d’Or at the 1976 Cannes film festival and solidified Scorsese as an established director.

Raging Bull

The following years were tough for Scorsese, after the financial failure of New York, New York he had developed a bad cocaine habit and entered a deep depression. He managed to make a pair of documentaries; The Last Waltz, following the final concert of musicians The Band, and American Boy in 1978. It is widely suggested that Robert De Niro insisted Scorsese kick his drug habit so the duo could bring the story of boxer Jake La Motta to the screen in Raging Bull. The story of the middleweight champion is one of, if not the greatest, of Scorsese’s career. Filmed in high contrast black and white it is visually stunning and it is obvious Scorsese put everything he had into it utilising a range of stylised camera techniques, it is widely considered a masterpiece. The film captured two Academy Awards including Best Actor for De Niro, however Robert Redford picked up Best Director.

Scorsese followed up Raging Bull with his fifth De Niro collaboration, The King of Comedy, a satirical look at celebrities and the media. Although not considered a commercial success, De Niro’s performance as aspiring comedian, Rupert Pupkin, is heavily praised by critics. Scorsese had hoped his next project would be an adaptation of Nikos Kazantzakis’ controversial novel The Last Temptation of Christ but due to pressure from religious groups the project was pulled by studio bosses right before shooting was to set to begin. Dismayed at Paramount Pictures decision to halt The Last Temptation of Christ Scorsese stayed away from studio pictures; going back to basics by filming the independent After Hours before venturing into music videos shooting the iconic Bad for Michael Jackson, eventually making a return with his first real mainstream attempt, The Colour of Money in 1987. A sequel to the 1961 film The Hustler in which Paul Newman reprises his role from the original, it also features Tom Cruise as a young pool player who is taught the ways of hustling by veteran Fast Eddie. Newman would go on to win an Oscar for the role; he missed out 25 years earlier for the same character in the original. The success of the film would give Scorsese the freedom to finally make his personal project The Last Temptation of Christ in 1988. Paul Schrader would pen the screenplay while Willem Defoe took on the role of Jesus Christ. The backlash from Christian groups was unprecedented with violence erupting during protests; Christian fundamentalists would firebomb a cinema screening the film. The anger came mainly from the sexual elements of the film and the depiction of Mary Magdalene as a prostitute; however Scorsese and Schrader set out to portray Jesus as a human being, rather than in the divine terms written in the Bible, showing his struggle with the temptation to sin like every regular man. Although not a commercial success the film was well received and continues to rightly win critical acclaim.

Join us for part 2 in a few days where we take a look at Scorsese in the 90’s, including Goodfellas, Cape Fear and Casino.

Shutter Island is in cinemas from 19th February. Be sure to check out our exclusive interview.

By Richard Bodsworth.

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Film Production Nightmares

Posted by LiveFor on February 5, 2010

By Richard Bodsworth.

Benicio Del Toro stars in the remake of the 1941 classic horror The Wolfman which is set to open next week but it has not been an easy ride to get the finished product to the screen.  Mark Romanek left the project right before principal photography was about to start citing the old chestnut “creative differences” and was replaced by Jurassic Park 3 helmer, Joe Johnston.  The Wolfman is not the only film due this year which has had major production problems; Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood has also been hit with issues, most notably constant script rewrites resulting in the release date being pushed back numerous times.  Of course this is not a new thing, so let’s take a look at some other films which have struggled in production…

The Island of Dr. Moreau (1996)

Marlon Brando and Val Kilmer in the tropical rainforests of Australia, what could possibly go wrong? Um, a lot actually.  Three days in to production of the H.G Wells adaptation director Richard Stanley was given the heave-ho (a move apparently forced by Val Kilmer who earlier, for no apparent reason, decided he wanted his part drastically cut) and was replaced by John Frankenheimer, never a good start.  Brando and Frankenheimer then rewrote the majority of the script before later clashing over the direction the film was taking; Frankenheimer would also have heated exchanges with Val Kilmer several times throughout the shoot before vowing never to work with him again. Brando and Kilmer both had their own personal problems on-set, Kilmer being issued divorce papers on location while Brando struggled with the suicide of his daughter.  Amazingly Brando, who by this time had given up on the film, was fed his lines through a frequency radio.  David Thewlis (a late replacement for Rob Morrow) who would later skip the premiere supposedly said “He’d be in the middle of a scene and suddenly he’d be picking up police messages and Marlon would repeat ‘There’s a robbery at Woolworths’”.  The film received negative reviews and barely managed to scrape back its budget, Brando went on to win a Razzie for his performance.   

Twilight Zone: The Movie

Produced by Steven Spielberg, this feature length film of the classic 60’s TV show was split in to four segments, part one directed by John Landis, the second by Spielberg himself, Joe Dante directed the third and George Miller the fourth.  The events that occurred during the filming of Landis’ segment overshadowed the film itself as a freak accident cost the lives of actor Vic Morrow and two child actors.  Whilst filming a scene featuring a helicopter, pyrotechnics were set off but the helicopter was flying too low causing it to spin out of control and crash to the ground killing the trio.  Legal action followed and many regulations were changed including those that featured child and stunts filmed at night. 

The Man Who Killed Don Quixote

Another well documented Gilliam nightmare, the guy seems to have no luck (here’s a nice article over at Hey You Guys http://tiny.cc/TerryGilliam). Being disrupted by a nearby NATO target area and a flash flood which would destroy equipment and locations were just the start before lead actor Jean Rochefort suffered a herniated disc cancelling production.  A blistering $15m insurance claim would later be brought and resulted in the company owning the rights to the film (these have since been transferred back to Gilliam). If you haven’t already seen Lost in La Mancha I recommend you do so, like now!  Gilliam has since resurrected the project however and hopes to start filming this year. Fingers crossed.

Alien 3.

One of the most obvious choices is Alien 3 because, well, it was a complete nightmare.  The film went through various writers starting with William Gibson, Near Dark scribe Eric Red to David Thwoy before Vincent Ward took over.  Ward had the idea of a wooden planet inhabited by monks, some of the set designs look great and it would have been very intriguing to see the finished product.  Ward however never got his chance as his idea was scrapped and he was replaced by David Fincher for his feature debut.  The script ended up as a mesh of various ideas from previous drafts which was thrown together by series producers Walter Hill and David Giler.  Since Fox wanted to rush the film out to hit their desired release date, Fincher went into the project without a set script and spent most of the time rewriting on set.  Trying the best he could, things got worse for Fincher when the film was reedited without his knowledge leaving him to basically disown the project.  The reception to the final cut was not great and generally regarded as the weakest of the four; you have to wonder how it would have turned out if Ward or Fincher were given full creative control.  If you can, try pick up the special edition DVD which features some interesting interviews and goes into detail about the early ideas and scripts; Fincher sadly does not feature in an interview.  

Apocalypse Now

The finished product may be classed as a cinematic masterpiece but all was not rosy during production of Francis Ford Coppola’s Vietnam War epic.  Martin Sheen replaced Harvey Keitel a few days into production before a typhoon destroyed some of the sets, including the Playboy Playmate set, leaving the project behind schedule and over budget.  That man Brando was at it again after he showed up on set far too fat to play Colonel Kurtz forcing Coppola into rewriting the ending which in itself would prove a mammoth task.  Things didn’t get much easier after star Martin Sheen suffered a heart attack on set and had to crawl in to the middle of the road to get help. But after a lengthy post production the film was released to both financial and critical acclaim winning the Palme d’Or in 1979 and still features on numerous “Best of All Time” lists. 

Caligula

A film starring Malcolm McDowell, Peter O’Toole and Helen Mirren charting the rise and fall of Roman Emperor Caligula sound like a classy affair right? Not quite.  Written by Gore Vidal as a historical drama the only we way to secure funding was by partnering with adult magazine, Penthouse, editor Bob Guccione which should have spelled trouble from the start.  Italian director Tinto Brass was hired but he would argue with both Vidal and art director Danillo Donati over both the script and set design.  Star McDowell and Brass would later try and rewrite the script and Vidal would subsequently have his name removed before launching legal action.  After Guccione saw Brass’ final cut he fired him and brought in Giancarlo Lui to reedit the film and reshoot about six minutes of hardcore pornography to replace Brass’ shots.  Before the film was released Brass would also launch a legal suit further delaying the films release.  When the film finally did make it to the screen it was universally panned.

Others include; almost anything to do with Edward Norton who has a tendency to rewrite his parts onset, he also tried to reedit American History X himself leading to director Tony Kaye unsuccessfully attempting to have his name removed from the credits.  Life on the Blade Runner set was also rather challenging for cast and crew with director Ridley Scott being a notorious hard-ass leading squabbles with Harrison Ford and protests from the crew, oh and then there was the infamous ‘final cut’.  Scott and our old chum Terry Gilliam have both suffered the tragic misfortune of an actor dying mid-shoot, Oliver Reed on Gladiator and Heath Ledger during The Imaginaruim of Dr. Parnassus.  There can’t possibly be anything worse than completing a film, a pretty good film at that, but having it shelved and reshot by Renny Harlin.  Well that’s what happened to Paul Schrader.  His film Dominion, a prequel to horror classic The Exorcist was deemed “too dark” by the studio and Harlin was brought in to hack together Exorcist: The Beginning

 So what others would you like to see on the list? The Wolfman hits cinemas from Friday 12th February (I believe there are advance previews Wednesday and Thursday) keep an eye out for the LFF review.

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Jeff Bridges – Is fifth time the charm for the Dude to get an Oscar?

Posted by LiveFor on February 3, 2010

Article by Richard Bodsworth

To many he is simply known as, The Dude. From his roles in The Big Lebowski and Tron it is easy to place him in the ‘cult’ category but Jeff Bridges is also a quality actor. This years Oscar nominations were announced yesterday and for the fifth time in his livelihood Bridges finds himself in prime position to win a golden statuette, an accolade that has eluded him at all previous attempts. Now seems as good a time as any to take a brief look at some of the performances that have solidified his sterling career so far.

Even from his first big role in Peter Bogdanovich’s 1971 coming-of-age drama, The Last Picture Show, Bridges proved he was an actor to be reckoned with. His performance of Duane Jackson earned him his first Oscar nomination in the Best Supporting Actor category but eventually lost out to co-star Ben Johnson. A couple of years later in 1974 he was nominated in the same category, this time for Deer Hunter director Michael Cimino’s crime drama Thunderbolt and Lightfoot opposite Hollywood legend Clint Eastwood. However the Academy rightly opted for Robert De Niro’s legendary performance as the young Vito Corleone in the second instalment of The Godfather trilogy, making it two for two against Bridges.

Disney’s Tron followed in 1982, although not considered a blockbuster at the time it has grown to become a cult classic and Bridges is set to reprise his role of video game programmer Kevin Flynn later this year in Tron Legacy. Another nomination and another rejection in 1984 when he was up for Best Actor in 1984 for his performance as an alien who falls to Earth and takes the appearance of a dead man in John Carpenter’s Starman. This time pipped by F. Murray Abraham who featured in the award-hording Amadeus.

A string of performances over the 80’s and 90’s including Peter Weir’s Fearless, Against All Odds and Jagged Edge continued to build his reputation as a great actor. He would also team up with brother Beau Bridges in The Fabulous Baker Boys, in which the siblings play a pair of faltering jazz pianists who bring in a female singer (Michelle Pfeiffer, who would later lose out on an Oscar for her part) in hope of changing their fortunes. Later appearances in well crafted thriller Arlington Road with Tim Robbins and racehorse drama Seabiscuit would also add substantial clout to his resume. Bridges once more missed out on recognition for his skills in Terry Gilliam’s The Fisher King after again being beaten by a co-star, this time for a Golden Globe, the award would go to Robin Williams. He would later team up with Gilliam for 2005’s Tideland and also acted as narrator for Lost in La Mancha, the fascinating documentary following Gilliam’s failed attempt to bring the story of Don Quixote to life.

Perhaps his greatest, and certainly the most iconic role of his career was that of Jeffery ‘The Dude’ Lebowski in the Coen brothers 1998 classic The Big Lebowski. The film, which tells the story of an unemployed stoner and bowling lover who simply refers to himself as ‘The Dude’, was not a huge commercial success at the time, but over time the film, and the character have gone on to become an institution. Along with its instantly quotable lines (I could fill the page with, “that rug really tied the room together” etc. but I wont), the “way of The Dude” has even spawned its own religion, Dudeism. Yes that is correct, I was ordained last night, check it out www.dudeism.com

President Jackson Evans in The Contender, Rod Lurie’s political drama about the corrupt on goings in Washington during the search for a new Vice-President, was his fourth attempt at Oscar gold. Although a decent performance it was certainly not the greatest and Bridges eventually lost out to Benicio Del Toro for his portrayal in Steven Soderbergh’s Traffic.
Bridges has never been considered a ‘big movie’ type of guy, whether that is his own decision I don’t know, but over the past few years he has moved closer into the mainstream market. He would lend his voice to animation fare Surfs Up before featuring in teen-comedy Stick It and playing the role of magazine editor Clayton Harding in the underwhelming How To Win Friends & Alienate People. He also took on a supporting role in blockbuster Iron Man, playing villain Obadiah Stane and most recently an almost ‘Dude’ like role in the big screen adaptation of Jon Ronson’s The Men Who Stare At Goats.

So here we are in 2010 and ‘The Dude’ is back in Oscar contention for his turn as washed up country singer Bad Blake in Crazy Heart (check out the LFF review). Having already picked up a Golden Globe among other gongs he certainly has to be considered the front runner. Variety’s called Bridges “The whole show…” while Roger Ebert commented “Some actors are blessed. Jeff Bridges is one them.” Sadly and angrily, here in the UK we have to wait until February 19th to see the film! He will have to be cautious however if Mickey Rourke’s robbery last year is anything to go by. After cleaning up at essentially every award ceremony for The Wrestler, the Academy decided against awarding him the Best Actor Oscar. Will this year be the year, or will Jeff Bridges forever be the bridesmaid? We will find out in March.

What is your favourite Jeff Bridges performance (I hope someone says Blown Away) and what do you make of his chances of finally claiming Oscar gold?

Richard Bodsworth

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When Will Then Be Now

Posted by LiveFor on March 11, 2009

I was recently asked by This is Now, a unique European collaborative art project to give my thoughts on what Now means to a fan of film. I wrote a nice little piece for it and included a flm scene that I think defines Now.

This is the first part of my article

“Now. You’re looking at now, sir. Everything that happens now, is happening now.” – Col Sandurz, Spaceballs.

What is now?

Film is all about Now.

Every film has a scene that defines now. It is usually the quiet moments when the plot is well under way and the main characters wait for the inevitable. Whether it be bad or good, it is all now…..

Head on over and take a look at the full piece and leave comments or rate it if you wish. I’d love to know what you think of it. Thanks to Violette for getting it all sorted.

Leave a comment on this post below.

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What’s your viewing pleasure? Paul tells all

Posted by LiveFor on January 27, 2009

Here’s the second post on where you watch your films at home (here is the first one). This time it is regular LFF reviewer, Paul.

Describe the layout of the room where you watch films? Any unusual or cool pieces of furniture?

2 sofas, nice coffee table (restable leg height). a red fluffy dusty bin in the corner! (but with one arm missing) layout is close to the fire, and perfectly central for my stereo speakers. and i get to perv out the window, for free

Tell us about the screen, player and sound system.

tv, old but big, tend to run films through my amp (technics thingy) and speakers (jpw mothers, great bass soundin dudes, getting on a bit but still pack a mighty punch (in the face). im happy with them-

What was the first film you watched with your current setup?

Henvy V – branagh version (the posh fella, misspelt) of course

The top 5 essential films people should own on DVD?

Requim For a Dream, Henry V, Matrix1, 8 Mile, Top Gun

If you were Supreme Overlord of the Earth what would your first decree be?

make Phil The Beard my right hand man. otherwise, free tabs n booze

If you were going to be killed by any movie villain or monster who or what would it be? What would your last words be?

id like to be killed by Batman, who is a kinda villain deep down. he’d proper have to take me down in unarmed im-gonna-kick-ya-ass style. as for traditional ‘villians’, gotta be a Martian – quick but warm. final words? – fck that hurts

Do you watch the extras on the films you buy? What have been the best? The most interesting? The worst?
only extras ive watched were on Partridge and The Office, and Spaced. enjoyed, but i didnt buy the thing for extras!

What snackage do you favour while watching a film?

savoury stuff – cheese n ham toasties, butties (with crisps). otherwise choc eclairs, bon bons and pear drops

Is there anything else you wish to share about your home cinema viewing?

i like it really loud and warm. and pausable (for the stella wees)

Thanks Paul. If you want to share your home viewing setup send me details. Here are the questions – answer as many or as few as you wish and a photo would be cool:

-Describe the layout of the room where you watch films? Any unusual or cool pieces of furniture?
-What inspired the layout?
-Tell us about the screen, player and sound system.
-What was the first film you watched with your current setup?
-The top 5 essential films people should own on Blu-Ray / DVD?
-If you are Blu-Ray what film most surprised you with it’s improvement on the new format?
-If you were Supreme Overlord of the Earth what would your first decree be?
-If you were going to be killed by any movie villain or monster who or what would it be? What would your last words be?
-Do you watch the extras on the films you buy? What have been the best? The most interesting? The worst?
-What snackage do you favour while watching a film?
-Is there anything else you wish to share about your home cinema viewing?
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What’s your viewing pleasure? Andy D tells all

Posted by LiveFor on January 22, 2009

Many, if not all of you, watch films at home. With the prices for cinema tickets increasing and the credit crunch, it does save a bit of cash once you have all the kit sorted out to watch it. With that in mind I thought it would be cool to see how, where, what, why, when, if and more single word type questions that apply, people watch films at home. Are you DVD or Blu-Ray? Still holding onto VHS? Does download rule? Plasma, LCD or cathode ray? Surround sound or mono? Deckchair or luxury recliner? You get what I mean.

What I would like is for you to drop me a line with an answer to the questions at the bottom of this post. Also if you could include a photo of your setup that would be fantastic (I’ll try and get some kind of form thing set up to make it easier for you to send the details, but at the minute email is king).

To get us started here is regular LFF reviewer Andy D’s home cinema set up.

Andy, as a major user of the Blu-Ray format I understand you have devoted a room to all things blu-ray. Could you take us through your cinema room? I hear you have a rather cool sofa

The sofa was a genius find. I couldn’t believe how perfect it was when I saw it. I had just moved house into my current affair, which was where the idea of a dedicated movie room really began and I had minimal decent furniture from my old house to bring over, so it was a case of seeing the sofa whilst shopping at DFS and being blown away. It looked awesome, not just for its resemblance to the curved couch in the Millenium Falcon, but for the fact that it would span wall to wall of the room and neatly curved into and out of the bay window. The curve to the sofa enables all views to have a comfortable view of the TV on the opposite wall.

Tell us about the player and surround sound system.

The player is a Panasonic DMP BD30 which was the first affordable one to be released which bitstreamed true HD audio through the HDMI cable and had final profile compatibility (except the Ethernet thing). I previously had a Samsung BDP1000 which was the single most expensive waste of money I’ve ever experienced. Except for maybe the rusty left hand drive Toyota Surf I bought which blew a head gasket. The Samsung was a borderline impulse purchase which would only play first gen single layer Blu Discs, even after several firmware updates.

The cinema amp is an Onkyo TXSR 605 which was an upgrade from the bundle LG cinema system which Currys threw at me when I bought my first HD TV. The LG was a combined dvd player and amp and got binned when the Samsung Blu ray player came along. I bought the Onkyo because it was the best priced amp on the market that actually processed the HDMI signal, hence didn’t need a separate Optical lead or anything for audio. The magazines gave the Onkyo such a good review plus it heats the room up really well after a couple of hours of use! I landed on my feet with the Onkyo as it turned out it could process full HD audio and was capable of 7.1 surround, which is the best blu discs will put out. I gradually bought more speakers to put into the system and now it’s running the full 7.1ness. I have 2 tall floor standers behind the couch giving rear left and right, I have 2 floor standers either side of the couch giving exact left and right, two half decent Tangent monitors wall mounted either side of the screen giving the front stereo, plus a center speaker and a half decent Dale powered sub woofer. The whole thing sounds awesome when its cranked up.

Aren’t you going to ask about the TV???? I just need to tell everybody to buy plasma not LCD’s. I had a 42” Plasma that wasn’t full HD but it beat the Cr@p out of the 57” all singing full shebang 24fps, 1080p LCD screen I upgraded to. And all because of LCD motion blur. Even at a supposed 120hz or something the LCD leaves horrible traces on pans and fast movement. I should have spent more and got the big boy Kuro plasma instead. If I change anything I will change that, but not until I’ve got some spare cash to throw at it. I’ll stick with my choice for as long as it’s necessary.

What inspired the layout?

The room size and shape really. You can’t hang the TV on the wall with the doorway, or the one opposite the doorway (because you’d open the door into the back of the sofa) so it had to be hung on the wall opposite the bay window. That’s why I was so into the curved five seater sofa because that couch made the best use of the space in the bay. Space which would have been lost with a straight sofa. There’s nothing else furniture-wise in the room either, no coffee tables or cupboards to distract from the rooms purpose. Just a big TV opposite a big couch surrounded by speakers!!

What was the first film you watched when it was all set up?

Hmmm. Tricky one really because the set up has grown and warped. The first Blu ray movie I bought to watch on the BDP1000 was Open Season because I wanted eye candy and nothing else. The first movie I watched on my first HD TV was bound to be an upscaled DVD from the collection… it might have been Swordfish actually, again for the eye candy of the ball bearing explosion at the start.

The top 5 essential films people should own on Blu-Ray?

2001 Space Odyssey. Its just a gob smackingly beautiful film with an amazing soundtrack and tonnes of really interesting bonus features. This film will test your set up for the black and white contrasts of space and the glorious colour swatches in the opening sunrise vistas and the spooky audio.

Ratatouille: some amazing eye candy and some of the best HD surround sound. The scenes in the rain near the start use all the speakers and its 100% convincing that you’re in a rain storm. Plus a really good family film about one of my favourite topics (cooking/restaurants/food) set in one of my favourite countries (France).

I, Robot: Pin sharp and gorgeous in HD, brilliant intelligent sci fi story and packed with brilliant bonus features.

Batman Begins/Dark Knight combo. Brilliant films, brilliant extras, brilliant value for a 3 blu-disc set.

Finally, I think I’ll choose V For Vendetta just for the message ; )

If you were a real ale what ale would you be?

Is there one called Stink Foot?

What film most surprised you with its improvement on Blu-Ray?

I tend to buy Blu Rays that I don’t own on DVD because it’s hard to justify re-buying stuff like that. The only film which I have re-bought is Men In Black because I have a soft spot for that movie. The DVD I had was a pretty recent one so it was pretty good quality anyway so the upscale was decent and in hind sight I shouldn’t have bought it . How’s that for a non-answer? LOL

If you were Supreme Overlord of Earth what would your first decree be?

Obviously I already have detailed plans that would require several decrees but the first one I would instigate would be the removal of all nation states and their borders. All global disputes would then disappear in a puff of smoke and all we’d have to do is get on with our neighbours whilst my AI computer ran the global logistics of keeping everybody watered, warm, fed and safe from invading alien species and asteroids.

Either that or I’d ban organised religion.

Or, (bare with me), I would decree that all weapons manufacturers and government war budgets be redirected into exploring space and creating warp drives and antigravity and robots and stuff … all for peaceful purposes of course.

If you were going to be killed by any movie villain or monster who or what would it be? What would your last words be?

The Stay Puffed Marshmellow Man!!!! At least it would be a soft and gooey ending. My last words would probably be “Mmmmmm… marshmellow”

Do you watch the extras on the films you buy? What have been the best? The most interesting? The worst?

I watch all them. I bleed the discs dry until I’ve sucked everything out of them. The best and the most interesting… probably I,Robot as mentioned above because the extras cover Robotics, AI, Philosophy and much more all in a proper full length documentary

The worst… probably one of the ones without any extras, LOL like the Predator Blu Ray. Does that count? LOL

Andy D thanks for your time.

There you have it. That’s the format. Hopefully you’ll send me details of your home cinema setup. Here are the questions – answer as many or as few as you wish and a photo would be cool:

-Describe the layout of the room where you watch films? Any unusual or cool pieces of furniture? -What inspired the layout?
-Tell us about the screen, player and sound system.
-What was the first film you watched with your current setup?
-The top 5 essential films people should own on Blu-Ray / DVD?
-If you are Blu-Ray what film most surprised you with it’s improvement on the new format?
-If you were Supreme Overlord of the Earth what would your first decree be?
-If you were going to be killed by any movie villain or monster who or what would it be? What would your last words be?
-Do you watch the extras on the films you buy? What have been the best? The most interesting? The worst?
-Is there anything else you wish to share about your home cinema viewing?

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If you could get one cool prop from a movie for Christmas, what would you pick?

Posted by LiveFor on December 5, 2008


Christmas is getting closer and geese are getting fatter my thoughts turn to presents, food, Father Christmas and not enought time off work. Obviously the whole point of Christmas is the gifts…and spending times with loved ones…and the birth of some kid back in thay…but mainly it’s all about the gifts.

As this is a site dedicated to films (with a bit of comic, music and random stuff thrown in just to keep you guessing) I started wondering what cool item of movie memorabilia would be great to get as a gift this Christmas. You know what I’m talking about. That one piece of magic from a film that you always wish was yours, not replicas, I’m talking about the actual prop from the film (I know, I know, the real prop will more than likely be a sketchy pile of bits that on screen look great but in real life aren’t so hot, but you know what I mean) – a proton pack, Indy’s Fedora and whip, the actual Maltese Falcon, any piece of melted alien nasty from The Thing, the Spinal Tap Amp that goes all the way to 11, one of Nic Cage’s wigs, the Cerebro helmet, that weird table made out of a wagon wheel with a glass top that you see in When Harry Met Sally, Rosebud, any Ray Harryhausen model, Little Geek from the Abyss, John Wayne’s spurs, Roddy Piper’s sunglasses, you get the idea.

It’s not as easy as you think to pick just one thing. However, I can say with great confidence that I would pick the Plymouth Fury from Christine…or maybe the (original) Time Machine…or the Dark Crystal…or the ambulance from Ice Cold in Alex…or Steve McQueen’s baseball glove from the Great Escape…Ahhhhhhhhhhhh!

If money was no object and you could have whatever prop, costume, vehicle, from any movie what would you pick? Go ahead and click on the comments below and let me know.

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