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“ONE Of thE BESt fIlMS Of thE yEAr”
BAz BAMIGBOyE, dAIly MAIl thE GUArdIAN NEWS Of thE WOrld thE dAIly tElEGrAph
GEMMA ARTERTON ROGER ALLAM Bill CAMp DOMiNiC COOpER lUKE EVANS TAMSiN GREIG
Issue Ten. September/October 2010
0 6 | Spotlight
Going It Alone: Rebellious Loners and the Cinema of Discontent
STRONG LANGUAGE, SEX AND 15 CONTAINSSEX REFERENCES
1 4 | Art & Film
Master Strokes: The Graphic Art of Neil Kellerhouse
24 | First Person
Under Construction: Ensemble Casts and the Art of Improvisation
3 0 | 1000 Words
IN CINEMAS NOW
© 2010 RUBY FILMS (TAMARA DREWE) LIMITED, BRITISH BROADCASTING CORPORATION, UK FILM COUNCIL AND NOTTING HILL FILMS LIMITED. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang: Winchester ’73 and the start of the star system
See it with Orange Wednesdays
0 4 | Reel World
1 8 | One Sheet
cover image from here to eternity (courtesy Park circus / sony Pictures)
‘Well, what am I? I'm a private no-class dogface. The way most civilians look at that, that's two steps up from nothin.'
Robert E. Lee Prewitt:
3 4 | On Location
3 8 | Screengem
4 2 | Parting Shot
Knowing Me Knowing You
4 4 | Competition
4 6 | Listings
A roundup of this issue's featured films
The Big Picture ISSN 1759-0922 © 2010 intellect Ltd. Published by Intellect Ltd. The Mill, Parnall Road. Bristol BS16 3JG / www.intellectbooks.com Editorial office Tel. 0117 9589910 / E: firstname.lastname@example.org Publisher Masoud Yazdani Editor-in-chief & Layout Gabriel Solomons Editor Scott Jordan Harris Contributors Jez Conolly, Nicholas Page, Emma Simmonds, Daniel Steadman, Scott Jordan Harris, Neil Mitchell, Neil Kellerhouse, Gabriel Solomons Special thanks to John Letham, Sara Carlsson and all at Park Circus, Michael Eckhardt, Michael Pierce at Curzon Cinemas and Gabriel Swartland at City Screen Please send all email enquiries to: email@example.com / www.thebigpicturemagazine.com l The Big Picture magazine is published six times a year
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f i l m b e yo n d t h e b o r d e r s o f t h e s c r e e n
Just as Dorie Miller’s heroism stood out among the chaos of the attack on Pearl Harbour, so Cuba Gooding Jr.’s portrayal of him stands out among the disorder of Michael Bay’s filming of it. neil mitchell takes a look.
P r o d u cer Jerry B r u c k heimer and director Michael Bay’s Pearl Harbor (2001) is a disaster movie on an epic scale – but not for the reasons its makers hoped. The bloated screenplay and bland love triangle that forms the central narrative thread, combined with a typical Hollywood disregard for historical accuracy, ensure the film is a failure. Pearl Harbor does, though, throw up some interesting characters drawn from real life, and from all ranks of the armed forces. The most intriguing of these is Cuba Gooding Jr.’s portrayal of Petty Officer 2nd Class Doris ‘Dorie’ Miller, the first African American to receive the Navy Cross, which is awarded for conspicuous displays of courage under fire. During the attack on the Hawaiian port, Miller carried the badly wounded Captain of
the West Virginia battleship to the safety of a first aid station and then manned a .50 calibre machine gun, a weapon of which he had no previous experience. Whilst in real life Miller couldn’t confirm that he actually hit any Japanese planes, in the movie he is seen blowing a fighter out of the air. Bruckheimer and Bay needn't have sensationalised Miller’s tale though: this was a man who willingly served his country in the pre-civil rights era, who risked his own life to save that of his superior and who would eventually die aboard the USS Liscome Bay in November 1943. In 1973, the US Navy named a frigate ‘The USS Miller’ in his honour, a fitting tribute to the bravery he showed during the surprise attack that led to America's entrance into World War II. [tbp]
left dorris 'dorie' miller receives the navy cross / above cuba gooding jr. as miller in Pearl harbour
Whilst in real life Miller couldn’t confirm that he actually hit any Japanese planes, in the movie he is seen blowing a fighter out of the air.
[weB ] www.pearlharbor.org [Book ] Liberators: Fighting on Two Fronts in world war II
cover feature Y
c i n e m a ' s t h e m at i c s t r a n d s
From truculent teens to bandit queens, rebellious loners have made some of cinema’s most enduring and attractive characters. Je z c o n o l ly examines six of the meanest and the moodiest.
FroM Here To eTerniTy (1953)
Dir. Fred Zinnemann
‘Be All You Can Be’ (popular US army slogan) ‘A man should be what he can do’. (Private Robert E. Lee Prewitt) Set on a US Army base in Hawaii in the months leading up to the attack on Pearl Harbor, From Here To Eternity features Montgomery Clift as Private Prewitt, the holloweyed loner, bass bugler and former boxer who is defined by what he doesn't do. He won't box on the regiment's team (a talented welterweight, he laid down his gloves after blinding a sparring partner) and he's rarely allowed to bugle, despite being good enough to have played at Arlington National Cemetery. Clift threw himself into the role, working out with pros in the gym and taking bugle lessons to get his mouth and throat movements right. Later, his co-star Deborah Kerr recalled Clift’s obsessive single-mindedness: ‘He spent two days figuring out how to say “Who’s that?”’ From Here To Eternity is back in UK cinemas from 24 September. For more details see page 46.
Going it Alone
Images Courtesy Park Circus / Sony Pictures
co-star deborah Kerr recalled clift’s obsessive single-mindedness: ‘he spent two days figuring out how to say “who’s that?”’
left montgomery clift above deborah kerr and montgomery clift
spotlight going it alone
FigHT CluB (1999)
Dir. David Fincher
‘All the ways you wish you could be, that's me. I look like you wanna look, I fuck like you wanna fuck, I am smart, capable, and most importantly, I am free in all the ways that you are not’. (Tyler Durden) The split character of Edward Norton’s unnamed Narrator and Brad Pitt’s Tyler Durden is a direct descendant of the 1950s rebels epitomised by Dean and Brando, brought forward into the pre-millennial, consumerist world of the 1990s. Durden is a modern male fantasy projection: an aggressive, psychopathic individualist able to organise disaffected young men into an underground movement resistant to capitalism. He is the ‘outsider male’ by-product of a system that Norton’s Narrator exists within as just another ‘company man’ drone. Not satisfied with taking lessons in boxing, taekwondo and grappling as preparation for the role, Pitt consented to the removal of pieces of his front teeth in order to look the part.
THe WilD one (1953)
Dir. Laslo Benedek
‘What’re you rebelling against, Johnny?’ ‘Whaddya got?’ Marlon Brando’s leather-clad Johnny Strabler, leader of the Black Rebels Motorcycle Club, is to many the archetypal screen loner. Along with James Deans’ Jim Stark in Rebel Without A Cause, Strabler symbolized the sexuallycharged, teenage antihero rebelling against adult society and its restrictive mores. The film’s poster image, of a sneering Brando astride a Triumph Thunderbird 6T (Brando’s own motorcycle), became a classic image of the 1950s. By today’s standards The Wild One might seem quite tame, but on its release the British Board of Film Censors banned it, only giving a release, with an X certificate, in 1968. Before the ban the film was only shown in the UK at Cambridge’s Rex Cinema, which was turned into a film club for the purpose by its manager Leslie Halliwell – author of the famous Film Guide.
Durden is a modern male fantasy projection: an aggressive, psychopathic individualist able to organise disaffected young men into an underground movement resistant to capitalism.
above marlon brando in the wild one toP left ed norton and brad Pitt
By today’s standards The Wild one might seem quite tame, but on its release the British Board of Film Censors banned it, only giving a release, with an X certificate, in 1968.
Images courtesy Park Circus
spotlight going it alone
BanDiT Queen (1994)
Dir. Shekhar Kapur
‘I am Phoolan Devi, you sisterfuckers!’ Kapur’s film documents the ‘true story’ of Devi (Seema Biswas), who belonged to the oppressed Indian lower caste of ‘Untouchables’, depicting her treatment at the hands of upper-caste aggressors; her transformation into a bandit; and the terror she unleashed prior to laying down her arms and embarking on a career in politics. The film was itself rendered untouchable when it was banned by the Indian authorities due to its graphic scenes of sex and violence. It also incurred the wrath of the renowned author Arundhati Roy (The God of Small Things) who questioned its purported truths in a series of essays, claiming that Devi herself had not been consulted over its content. However, the late Devi, ever the rebel, settled a law suit with Channel 4, the film’s producers, in 1996 and joined Kapur at the Indian International Film Festival in Delhi that year to condemn the film’s censorship.
above left merle oberon and laurence olivier oPPosite seema biswas
the film was itself rendered untouchable when it was banned by the indian authorities due to its graphic scenes of sex and violence.
The injustices Heathcliff endures and absorbs, and the passion and rage he represses, are manifested through an emotionally tethered, almost poetic immobility...
WuTHering HeigHTs (1939)
Dir. William Wyler
‘It’s lonely sitting like an outsider in so happy a household as your brother’s’. (Heathcliff) Heathcliff was a born loner; dark-skinned and often referred to as a ‘gypsy’, he is shown to possess traits popularly associated with the lower classes in the nineteenth century: criminality, uncleanliness and irrational and superstitious thoughts. Laurence Olivier’s performance in William Wyler’s film of Wuthering Heights continues to dwarf all subsequent screen portrayals of the character. The injustices Heathcliff endures and absorbs, and the passion and rage he represses, are manifested through an emotionally tethered, almost poetic immobility punctuated by occasional violent outbursts of movement, such as the slapping of Cathy’s face and the punching of a window. It was the performance that sparked Olivier’s film career. Of his director Olivier said, ‘If any film actor is having trouble with his career, can't master the medium and, anyway, wonders whether it's worth it, let him pray to meet a man like William Wyler’.
c i n e m a ' s t h e m at i c s t r a n d s
FisH Tank (2010)
Dir. Andrea Arnold
‘Your mother’s passed out upstairs’. ‘Yeah, she does that’. Arnold’s film is shot resolutely from the point of view of its protagonist, 15-year-old Mia (Katie Jarvis), an angry loner living on an Essex council estate with her mother and little sister. Alcohol abuse defines the family relationship: Mia’s mother drinks constantly; Mia herself drinks cider alone in an empty flat she breaks into; even the family dog is called Tennents. Mia’s one interest is urban dance, but her practice moves are moody, introverted and subdued. The casting of Jarvis displays Arnold’s Loachian commitment to social realism: a chance meeting between the two at a train station, when Jarvis was screaming at her boyfriend, reportedly drove the director to cast her in the film. Arnold is set to direct a new version of Wuthering Heights and, on the strength of Fish Tank, is well placed to nail Heathcliff’s internalized rage. [tbp]
right katie jarvis and michael fassbender
mia’s mother drinKs constantly; mia herself drinKs cider alone in an empty flat she breaKs into; even the family dog is called tennents.
[weB ] Read 'Spotlight: emotionless Assassins' on www.TheBigPictureMagazine.com
[Book ] Teen Movies: American Youth on Screen by Timothy Shary
visual art inspired by film
above Poster art for lars von trier's antichrist below ProPosed Poster art for the american
The Graphic Art of Neil Kellerhouse.
interview B y g aB r i e l s o lo m o n s
in some ways, designing for film is a fairly thankless task for an artist. unlike directors, producers or even caterers who get their names up in lights during the film credits, those who produce posters or packaging materials rarely receive much of a mention – unless one is specifically looking for them.
Where did you study design and who were some of your early influences? I studied at the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts). Within the four years I was there, we saw the leadership of three different personalities in the Visual Communications department – April Greiman, Eric Martin and Lorraine Wild. Modernist Lou Danziger was my mentor. So, lots of conflict there, but I feel we all benefitted from their disparate ideologies. I originally got into the school as a fine artist and didn’t transfer to design until the second semester in my first year. My earliest influence was Dr. Seuss (Theodore Geisel). I grew up down the street from him. My brother and I would walk up to his house and get our books signed. The butler would answer the door and lead us back to his studio. I only remember the view of the ocean and his small drawing desk. I also had a friend whose mother worked at the La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art, so after school we’d hang out there. On the walls of this museum were graphic pieces by John Baldessari, Andy Warhol, Sol Lewitt, Robert Mangold. I took classes there too. Later on, my father sent me to study drawing and painting in Italy, and this experience became a major influence. Was it always your intention to create design work for the film sector or did it just happen by 'accident'? No, no one I went to school with wanted to do movie posters. I think everyone aspired to work with someone like Saul Bass, who at that time was doing more corporate logo design work rather than his earlier film poster and title. I gravitated toward the music business because I thought they would let me do more creative work. When the music industry sued Napster, I lost all confidence and went searching for something else. The logical segue, I thought, were DVDs because they most resembled the size and shape of the packaging I was doing for the music. The Criterion collection must be a dream client to work for. It must afford you a great opportunity to create challenging and original artwork to complement some of the best films ever made. Are they as exciting to work for as one would imagine? I feel like The Criterion Collection and the people there are my family. They have been so good to me. The Criterion stuff is always challenging. For one thing, most of the time you are in fact designing something new for what most
A shame really, as the the artwork is first and foremost in whetting our appetite for a particular film – setting our imaginations in motion by triggering all sorts of visual cues that link to story, genre and mood. One such artist – Neil Kellerhouse – has been producing highly distinctive work for the film industry for nearly ten years now, counting Disney Pixar, HBO and Warner Bros. amongst his growing roster of high profile clients. But it is his ongoing collaboration and work for the award winning Criterion Collection which has seen Kellerhouse produce his most challenging, striking and personal work – beautifully packaged and elegantly produced designs that reinvigorate the public’s relationship with often well known, classic titles. The Big Picture recently caught up with the artist to discuss this ‘special’ relationship and get some further insights into some of his working methods.
above Poster art for david fincher's social network
'The Criterion stuff is always challenging ... you have perspective, you're packaging a film sometimes decades after it was created, so there's all kinds of information out there to inform what you may make.'
left dvd Packaging for criterion's the man who fell to earth below Poster art for the informant
visual art inspired by film
'i have absolutely no fear of failure when it comes to making something. you do get a lot of shit, but sometimes you get gold.'
people agree is a great film. As opposed to creating something for a contemporary film or album no one's ever seen or heard before, you're designing for a piece of history. So much of the audience will have already had their own intimate experiences with a certain film – from childhood or college – and they have certain expectations. The same way you would if you had read a book and identified with a character and they make a film of it and you may suddenly feel alienated by their choice of how it was produced. You have perspective; you're packaging a film sometimes decades after it was created, so there’s all kinds of information out there to inform what you may make. Your style seems reminiscent of east European film posters of the 1950s, 60s and 70s - with your clever use of hand rendered typography, distressed imagery and focus on concept over and above simple representation. Does this so called 'golden age' of poster art influence your own work in any way? Yes, in fact, I own a Jan Mlodozeniec, an incredible Polish designer. I have his film poster for Barbarella. When I was at CalArts, my mentor Lou Danziger was good friends with the American Modernist and designer Paul Rand. He always pointed to Paul for anything good. In my third year, I was invited to Lou's house along with a few other students to meet him. I had never been to Lou's house/ studio, which was one of the first original pieces Frank Gehry ever designed. It was awesome. In the middle of his studio, which had 30'' ceilings, was a pool table and that's where we all gathered around to hear Paul talk for about an hour or so. Is there a particular philosophy behind the way you work or is it simply a case of adjusting your style to fit the demands of the client? Yes. I would say that all the solutions will come from the problem or job. In other words, I just let the problem work itself out and it becomes whatever it becomes. Usually it's different than anything I've done before, mostly because the content or job is something I've never experienced. I try not to wrap something in a piece of decoration or style. I really just try to get the most appropriate solution for the client and I feel very fortunate in that my clients generally help make the job a lot better in the end. One thing I always try to do is make something I've never seen before. We read The Courage to Create by
Rollo May at CalArts. I have absolutely no fear of failure when it comes to making something. You do get a lot of shit, but sometimes you get gold. What is your opinion about the state of film poster art generally these days? Are there any designers/studios out there that you feel are contributing something special? I think there's some great stuff being done outside the studios. It's tough because the movie industry has built a very strong vernacular language to communicate their product for sale. For better or worse, when you see a poster these days you know exactly what you're in for. Made a certain way at a common level, a poster will say ‘quality production value’ at the very least. Everyone knows the language, even if you can't verbalize it. Anything other than a studio poster might often convey ‘small’, ‘independent’, ‘difficult’, ‘subtitles’, ‘spotty production value’, etc. But I think there’s beautiful work being done by a lot of talented people. Why does film matter? Film matters for the same reason all Art matters. People need to express themselves, society needs this. It keeps our social structure healthy. Look at any society that doesn't have this and watch it slowly fall apart. [tbp] See more of Neil Kellerhouse's work at www.kellerhouse.com
above Poster art for don argott's documentary the art of the steal
above Poster art for the uPcoming i'm still here
seemore... [weB ]
The Criterion Collection: www.criterion.com [Book ] Paul Rand by Steven Heller
one sheet lone wolves
deconstructing film posters
The lone hero concept lends itself rather well to the art of movie poster creation, allowing artists a single romantic figure upon which they can focus in order to sell a given movie. As usual, however, this approach can be seen to vary depending upon how a studio wishes said film to be marketed.
get carter (1971) original british art by arnaldo putzu Arnaldo Putzu’s quad artwork for the UK release of Get Carter is a sombre affair, and one that – it is important to note – puts more emphasis on the film’s character and lead actor than the title itself. Unlike some of the other posters that were used for the release of Get Carter in the US and Europe, here we are sold what is essentially a crime film rather than a gangster film. There is, however, still a handful of inconsistencies to be seen – aspects that differ from the final film – including Carter’s apparently fetching floral jacket.
The Lone Hero: weight on his shoulders, trouble on his mind. He is flawed; he is downtrodden; he is left for dead. He is a cinematic tradition. nichol as Page takes a look at posters inspired by such characters, courtesy of The Reel Poster Gallery, London.
f r o m J o h n way n e ' s B r oa d backed and intolerant Ethan Edwards in John Ford’s The Searchers to Clive Owen’s cynical, antiheroic Theo Faron in Alfonso Cuarón’s Children of Men, the lone hero has always been an important part of world cinema’s very fabric. Whether this hero be a muscle-clad soldier of the Van Damme or Schwarzenegger mould, or even a charming man-of-the-people type voiced by Stewart or Mason, he will always have a place on our screens and, perhaps, in our hearts.
get carter (1971) original us (advance) art by John van hamersveld John Van Hamersveld’s poster for the 1971 film Get Carter, for example, evokes the iconic pop art style of Roy Lichtenstein, giving the impression of a genre film, though something perhaps campier than the later US posters tended to depict – a dirty cop film in the Dirty Harry vein.
die hard (1988) original us (advance) John McTiernan’s Die Hard, now considered one of the most successful additions to the action genre in recent decades, proved in 1988 that a flawed hero could still translate to box office gold. John McClane, Bruce Willis’ New York cop, with his wise-cracking demeanour and strong moral compass, is indeed the perfect example of an antihero.
high noon / mezzogiorno di fuoco (1952) original italian (re-release 60s) Just like the aforementioned Wayne, Gary Cooper was the kind of strong-jawed Hollywood personality who made his living playing the Lone Hero, and predominantly in films of the western genre. Perhaps Cooper’s finest moment, his role as Marshal Will Kane in Fred Zinnemann’s High Noon, is gloriously depicted, for the film’s Italian rerelease during the 1960s.
John McClane, Bruce Willis’ new york cop, with his wisecracking demeanour and strong moral compass, is indeed the perfect example of an antihero.
one sheet lone wolves
yojimbo / la sfida del samurai (1961) original italian art by manfredo Despite enjoying a long and successful career that saw him star in films all over the world, Japan’s finest example of the lone hero, Toshirô Mifune, will always be remembered for his work with Akira Kurosawa on films such as this one: Yojimbo, released in 1961. Mifune has also influenced many of western cinema’s most iconic lone heroes, including Clint Eastwood’s Man With No Name in Sergio Leone’s Dollars Triolgy.
Toshirô Mifune has influenced many of western cinema’s most iconic lone heroes, including Clint eastwood’s Man With no name in sergio leone’s Dollars Triolgy.
[vISIT ] whaam! the Art and Life of Roy Lichtenstein by Susan Goldman Rubin
AfricAn / nigeriAn AmericAn – Hollywood AmericAn – independent ArAb AustrAlAsiAn Directory of britisH cAnAdiAn cHinese eAst europeAn frencH germAn Directory of WorlD cinema: irAniAn australia & neW ZealanD indiAn itAliAn JApAnese russiAn swedisH turkisH the website to find out more about Intellect’s Visit Directory project and explore the volume spAnisH / portuguese for free soutH AmericAn / brAziliAn WWW . WorlDcinemaDirectory. org rest of tHe world (including isrAel, koreA, denmArk, finlAnd, norwAy And icelAnd,
This ambitious new volume from Intellect offers an in-depth and exciting look at the cinema produced in Australia and New Zealand since the turn of
the twentieth century. Though the two nations share cultural and economic connections, their film industries remain marked by differences of scale, as well as levels of government involvement and funding. Through discussion of prominent genres and themes, profiles of directors, and comprehensive reviews of significant titles, this user-friendly guide explores the diversity and distinctiveness of films from Australia and New Zealand including Whale Rider, The Piano and Wolf Creek.
The Directory of World Cinema: Japan and Directory of World Cinema: American Independent are now available. Forthcoming volumes include Directory of World Cinema: Russia.
m e c h a n i c s at w o r k b e h i n d t h e s c e n e s
Ensemble Casts and the Art of Improvisation. Words by J ez conolly
to arrive at not simply work that is realistic, but that has developed into a natural reality. Leigh is famously rather loathed to explain his approach, but he has gone so far as to state that: The actual substance of the film, the actual quality and the discipline and the order and the form of the film, must go beyond merely people improvising […] [Y]ou could say it aspires to the condition of improvisation but even that is to miss the point, which is that it aspires to the condition of reality. And obviously people in life are improvising.' Another Year will have begun, like Leigh's previous films, with his recruited group of actors unaware of the characters they will be playing or what the film will even be about. Leigh, drawing on a range of ideas and themes, will have worked individually with each of the main members of the cast to create a character that is three-dimensional enough for the actor to 'inhabit'. Woven around his ideas, Leigh encourages his actors to draw upon their own experiences of real people as a way to develop character traits. This part of the preparation can typically take three to six months. It's not unknown during this period for the actors to perform mundane everyday tasks, such as going shopping or asking people in the street for directions, entirely in character. Through this phase of discussion and development the world of the film will have emerged, and it is at this stage that the improvisational part of the work will have ended. The final scripts that Leigh produces, inspired by the
There is room for leigh's actors to have fun with the process but the purpose is usually ultimately serious and the work quite punishing.
above ben gazzara, gena rowlands and director john cassavetes on the set of oPening night
Director Mike Leigh’s latest venture Another Year, due for a November release, will once again showcase his trademark technique of improvisatory collaboration with his cast of regular actors. While the process of nurturing and capturing spontaneous dialogue and action for film is not unique to Leigh’s work, he has fashioned his own idiosyncratic take on the process. As with the pioneers of improvisational filmmaking, such as John Cassavetes and Vittorio de Sica, peers like Ken Loach, and contemporaries such as Christopher Guest, Leigh regards the technique as central to his actors achieving a sense of realism. However he strives to go deeper,
collaborative process, once committed are rigidly adhered to during the filming, meaning that very little of the action and dialogue seen in the final cut was improvised to camera on the day of shooting. This is quite contrary to many peoples' preconceptions of the role that improvisation plays in films. For Leigh improvisation is merely a means to an end. Critic John Lahr defined Leigh's process succinctly as 'a kind of treasure hunt in which his collaborators bring stuff back from their lives and pick over it with the director to make a story whose general parameters are growing in Leigh's mind but which is unknown to the group'. Leigh is certainly not the only director to have run with an improvisational ethos. John Cassavetes, famed for such groundbreaking films as ➜
(toP) noomi raPace as lisbeth salander (above) michael nyQvist as mikael blomkvist
toP jim broadbent and ruth sheen above the cast in action
images courtesy momentum Pictures
While he gives his cast a loose outline of the plot of each film he allows more scope for onscreen ad lib and spontaneous invention to achieve results. Leigh’s films often provoke laughter in their audiences but the effect is usually tempered by the sobriety of self-recognition. There is room for his actors to have fun with the process but the purpose is usually ultimately serious and the work quite punishing. The cast of Another Year know their director well. Imelda Staunton playing Janet has in the past mused that working with Mike Leigh is ‘shocking, terrifying, exhilarating’. Phil Davies as Jack previously summed up the process as ‘extremely hard and worthwhile, [but] there is nothing else like it’. [tbp]
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toP vittorio de sica and soPhia oren above christoPher guest (centre) and co.
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[FILM] Mike Leigh's Another Year is in Uk cinemas from November 5th
Shadows (1959), Husbands (1970) and The Killing Of A Chinese Bookie (1976) worked in a similar way to Leigh in that in general his films were acted out exactly as scripted. It was in the workshop phase that discussions and rehearsal with his actors would have produced revisions to the script which he would add so as to lend characters life and substance. Vittorio De Sica, in such greats at The Bicycle Thieves (1948) and Umberto D (1952), employed nonprofessional actors and took great pains to build up a rapport with them, believing that encouraging intense character exploration and improvisation would lead to a more honest account of the urgent social and political topics facing post-war Italy. Ken Loach, responsible for such fine polemical dramas as Riff-Raff (1991) and Raining Stones (1993) is similarly renowned for using non-professional actors, and taking his time over the casting process to ensure that an actor's personal experience and outlook impacts the look and feel of the film. The realism of his films is maintained by using local dialects and colloquialisms, and casting people who look and sound like they come from where they are supposed to. This has often resulted in subtitling being required for the American release of his films. Christopher Guest, mastermind along with writing partner Eugene Levy behind Best In Show (2000) and A Mighty Wind (2002) among others, has bent improvisation to the will of film comedy. Guest’s films have come to be regarded as definitive examples of the ‘mockumentary’ genre.
Vittorio De sica employed non-professional actors and took great pains to build up a rapport with them.
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t h e a r t o f a b b r e v i at e d s t o r y t e l l i n g
The Prison Guard’s Hands In
Dir. Steve McQueen, 2008
Words by Jez Conolly
WorDless esTaBlisHing shots are a frequently used method of character and narrative set-up in films. Think how often we have seen a central figure’s morning routine, showing them dressing complete with carefully chosen character indicators (Oscar Schindler’s preparation involving tie, cuff links, handkerchief and swastika lapel badge for example). Rarely has the method been put to such stark use as in Hunger. One of the earliest shots shows a family man at his domestic bathroom mirror followed by a tight close-up of his hands in the basin. The knuckles bear scars and recently healed wounds, origin unknown. A wedding ring sits next to a nail brush. After washing we see his hands buttoning up his shirt, the ring now back on the finger, the scars dried. We learn that the man is a prison guard in Northern Ireland in the 1980s. The ring is left in a staff locker and the next time we see the hands they are being bathed in another basin, this time with the blood of a fresh beating pinking the water. During a exterior cigarette break the knuckles are shown, grazed and swollen from the punishment, not shown, that they have just meted out. Horribly perfect filmmaking.
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screengrabs © 2008 Pathé
m o m e n t s t h at c h a n g e d c i n e m a f o r e v e r
When James Stewart rode out alone as an independent contractor taking a percentage of the box office receipts for Winchester ’73 he changed the way movies were made. s c o t t Jo r da n h a r r i s discusses a revolutionary film deal.
James Stewart, Winchester ’73 and the start of the star system
left james stewart takes aim above a contemPlative Pose
sk an expert on matters cinematic to list James Stewart’s best films and it may be a while before he or she names Winchester ’73 – but ask that expert to list Stewart’s most significant films and you should hear the title immediately. What occurs in Winchester 73’s scenes is unlikely to see the film called a true turning point for cinema, but what occurred behind them means it should forever be acknowledged as one. I don’t intend to imply by this that Winchester ’73 is a poor film. It is a very good one. Lean and yet intricately plotted, it is involving, thrilling and frightening. It’s impressively photographed (by William H. Daniels) and features several memorable performances, the best of them by Stewart, who cleverly positions the amiable charm of his classic character below an assumed surface of anger and intensity. The result is a far
more effective, and far more nuanced, performance than would have come from his simply playing against type. As Lin McAdam, Stewart does not play a man utterly unlike the pleasant all-Americans we associate with him. He plays a man just as honest, upstanding and agreeable as we might expect – but one compelled by circumstance to become vengeful and violent. I am also not suggesting that, judged solely by the impact of its content, Winchester ’73 is historically insignificant. The film established several minor milestones. It was the first of director Anthony Mann’s eight influential collaborations with Stewart. It rejuvenated the previously waning Western genre and led to a number of grittier ‘adult Westerns’ (a phrase that most certainly did not imply in the 1950s what it would imply today). And its success in cinemas did much to push Stewart towards the status he would soon enjoy as America’s top box office
1000 words winchester 73'
left james stewart in harvey below lew 'PoPe of hollywood' wasserman oPPosite jack nicholson in batman
Wasserman and stewart agreed that stewart would accept no money for appearing in Winchester ’73 or Harvey, provided he was given a percentage of each film’s takings. The move was brave and, of course, experimental...
draw. These, though, are just footnotes in film history; the contract Stewart secured for appearing as Lin McAdam is a chapter from its main narrative. In Hollywood’s Golden Age the ‘studio system’ was dominant. Each of the big stars belonged to one of the big studios and, barring loan deals and the like, worked exclusively for it. For example, MGM, which was the biggest studio of all in the 1930s, sold itself as having ‘more stars than there are in heaven’, and kept Clark Gable, Greta Garbo, Judy Garland, Joan Crawford and Jimmy Stewart under contract. Film stars did not – as, under the ‘star system’, they do now – make one movie for MGM, one for 20th Century Fox, one for Warner Brothers and then another for MGM
depending upon the individual scripts and individual pay packets on offer. They were held to exclusive deals. By the 1950s the studio system was in serious decline, and so it would be an enormous exaggeration to suggest that the contract Stewart signed to make Winchester ’73 – and another film, Henry Koster’s comforting classic Harvey – for Universal in 1950 caused its collapse. But the deal did severely damage what remained of the studio system – and it was decisive in determining the system that would replace it. When Stewart returned to Hollywood in 1945, following his distinguished service in the Second World War, he did not re-sign with MGM. Instead, he signed with the MCA talent agency run by Lew Wasserman, the visionary agent known as ‘The Pope
of Hollywood’. As such, he became one of film’s first independent contractors. A few years later, Universal asked Stewart to star in its upcoming productions Winchester ’73 and Harvey but couldn’t, or wouldn’t, pay the $200,000 he asked in return. Next came Wasserman and Stewart’s masterstroke. They agreed that Stewart would accept no money for appearing in Winchester ’73 or Harvey, provided he was given a percentage of each film’s takings. (Wasserman also had Stewart established as a corporation, allowing him to avoid enormous sums in income tax.) The move was brave and, of course, experimental: had Winchester ’73 bombed at the box office, the end of the studio system, the beginning of the star system and, as such, the history of Hollywood may have been drastically different. But Winchester ’73 did not bomb at the box office. Famously, the film took so much in ticket sales that Stewart’s percentage earned him $600,000 – three times the amount he had originally been willing to accept for his work in both it and Harvey. Stewart wasn’t the first Hollywood freelancer, and he wasn’t even the first to agree a deal in which a performer took a percentage of a film’s takings. But, as ever with the history of Hollywood, the moment that most matters is
not the first time someone did something, but the first time someone did something that was massively successful. Winchester ’73’s success put Stewart in an unprecedented position, of which every other major American movie star was naturally envious. Other major names negotiated similar deals for subsequent films and soon such contracts were common. (Wasserman, incidentally, did rather well in his career, too, and had further dealings with Universal – when he bought it.) Nowadays percentage deals are standard – they are simply the way major movies with major stars are made – and there have been many legendary agreements of the kind (Alec Guinness’s percentage of the earnings from Star Wars, for example, earned him colossal amounts, and Jack Nicholson’s percentage deal for Tim Burton’s Batman brought him 100 times the amount Stewart earned from Winchester ’73.) None, though, is as legendary as Stewart’s. Winchester ’73 fired the shot that finished off the studio system, and was the starting gun for the star-centric model of moviemaking that followed it – and that still exists wellover half a century later. As such, the moment when James Stewart signed a contract to appear in a Western for which he might not get paid was truly a moment that changed film forever. [tbp]
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t h e p l a c e s t h at m a k e t h e m o v i e s
left sPencer tracy and feliPe Pazes below esther williams and howard keel
Pagan loVe song (1950)
Dir. Robert Alton USA, 76 minutes Starring Esther Williams, Howard Keel, Rita Moreno
Originally titled ‘Tahiti’, the Esther Williams vehicle Pagan Love Song is in fact named after a number that Arthur Freed and Nacio Herb Brown had initially written in 1929 for Ramon Novarro to sing in The Pagan. Based on the novel Tahiti Landfall by William S. Stone, Pagan Love Song embraces the same mould as many of MGM’s previous Williams musicals, starring the California-born actress as Mimi Bennett, an American on vacation who is confused by a native girl by visiting school teacher Hazard Endicott (Howard Keel).
THe olD Man anD THe sea (1958)
With their swaying palm trees and endless white beaches, the islands of Hawaii have come to represent many people’s idea of paradise – including those who make films. nichol as Page takes a stroll through this exotic location, picking out a handful of Hawaii’s contributions to world cinema.
Dir. John Sturges USA, 86 minutes Starring Spencer Tracy, Felipe Pazes, Harry Bellaver
Inspired by Ernest Hemingway’s 1952 story of the same name, John Sturges’s The Old Man and the Sea features Spencer Tracy as the film’s titular character: an elderly Cuban fisherman who dreams of the big catch. Battling not only the elements but also the ocean’s meanest creatures, the man succeeds in ending his lengthy dry streak only to hook a monstrous marlin. A struggle ensues, as the old man attempts not only to find the strength to land this gigantic fish, but also to find himself in the process.
t h e p l a c e s t h at m a k e t h e m o v i e s
left elvis 'the PineaPPle' Presley below monica belluci leads the way
Blue HaWaii (1961)
Dir. Norman Taurog USA, 102 minutes Starring Elvis Presley, Joan Blackman, Angela Lansbury
Upon returning from a spell in the army, Chad Gates (Elvis Presley) is content to settle down and enjoy Hawaiian life with his beach buddies. His parents, however, have other ideas, and want Chad to learn some life lessons by going to work at the family pineapple business he is soon set to inherit. Torn between wanting to please his mother (Angela Lansbury) and his own dreams of independence, Chad instead decides to go and work as a tour guide at his girlfriend’s agency. Toetapping tunes follow.
Torn between wanting to please his mother (angela lansbury) and his own dreams of independence, Chad instead decides to go and work as a tour guide at his girlfriend’s agency. Toetapping tunes follow.
Tears oF THe sun (2003)
Dir. Antoine Fuqua USA, 121 minutes Starring Bruce Willis, Monica Bellucci, Cole Hauser
Filmed on Hawaii’s thirdlargest island, Oahu, but actually set in Nigeria, Antoine Fuqua’s Tears of the Sun is the story of a career soldier and veteran lieutenant named A.K. Waters (Bruce Willis) who is sent to central Africa on a perilous mission. He and his elite squad of tactical specialists are told to rescue a particularly important doctor – Lena Kendricks (Monica Bellucci) – and return her to the United States. Soon, however, they find they must escort not only the doctor but also the refugees under her protection.
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e vo c at i v e o b J e c t s o n s c r e e n
Clint Eastwood’s hat, poncho and frown all play their part, but it’s the lung-busting length of flavoured tobacco that turns the memorable into the iconic in Sergio Leone’s artful trilogy. da n i el steadman lights up.
without the corporate fat cat associations of the traditional cigar or the anachronism of a pack of Benson and Hedges, the cheroot is the vice of choice for the Old West antihero. Trudging through a soulless panorama of bandits, outlaws and civil war, Clint Eastwood’s Man with No Name chomps and gnaws his way through a trilogy’s worth of stogies, never giving the impression of enjoying a single one. Essentially a cheap, foulsmelling and longer-lasting relative of the cigar, the cheroot played a practical as well as aesthetic part in the making of The Man With No Name. Early budget restrictions meant Eastwood had to kit his character out with a costume, including picking up the stubby smokes from a Beverley Hills store. Their infamous harshness meant the actor – a non-smoker – was put, in his own words, in ‘a scratchy mood’ throughout the shoot, something that allegedly contributed to his characteristic grimace. One of the few aspects of the character that weren’t lifted from Akira Kurosawa’s Yojimbo (there was a successful lawsuit by the makers of Yojimbo against A Fistful of Dollars, the first film in Leone’s trilogy), the cheroot soon became an inescapable accessory of the amoral, vigilante antihero. From Pacino’s Tony Montana to Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine, the cigar signifies singlemindedness, brutality and a perverse sense of justice. [tbp]
The Dollars Trilogy (1964 – 66)
image courtesy Park circus
[weB] Look out for 'Screengem: Dirty Harry’s Magnum .44' at www.TheBigPictureMagazine.com
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Knowing Me Knowing Yo�
there's nothing wrong with a bit of bravado in the face of grim reality, or so these tough guys keep telling themselves. Raging Bull’s famous mirror pep talk sees Robert De Niro, as disgraced boxer Jake LaMotta, now a bloated shadow rehearsing a speech lifted from On the Waterfront. Through Brando’s words, La Motta voices his own feelings of abandonment and self pity: ‘I coulda had class, I coulda been a contender, I coulda been somebody. Instead of a bum – which is what I am’. In Boogie Nights, Mark Wahlberg’s pinhead porn star Dirk Diggler perpetually speaks to his own reflection. As a fresh-faced naïf he practices karate moves. Later, he somewhat desperately ‘prepares’ himself for a shoot. By the end of the picture Dirk is back in front of a mirror, practicing lines for his comeback. The farcical dialogue and recent ignominious events undermine his insistence that he is a ‘star’. The sequence is an explicit homage to Raging Bull, yet, as Diggler stands to leave, rather than buttoning his jacket, he unzips his fly, revealing the secret to his success.
i m i tat i o n i s t h e s i n c e r e s t f o r m o f f l at t e r y
The mirror pep talk, when uttered by the formerly potent male, sees the protagonist talking himself up whilst the contradictory truth stares starkly back at him. e m m a s i m m o n d s stops to reflect.
The Foot Fist Way targets the nonsense of po-faced machismo. In a scene directly inspired by both Raging Bull and Boogie Nights hapless taekwondo instructor Fred Simmons (Danny McBride), who is reeling from marital disaster and faced with an unruly class of children, hysterically tells himself that he’s both ‘a winner’ and ‘an asshole’: an accurate summation of both Jake La Motta and Dirk Diggler. [tbp]
'you talkin' to me?!'
clockwise from toP robert deniro in raging bull danny mcbride in the foot fist way mark wahlberg in boogie nights
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Pearl Harbour (2001) Dir. Michael Bay
g see page 4/5
Back in Cinemas
Putting the movies back where they belong...
So you’ve read about the films, now go watch ‘em!
Harvey (1950) Dir. Henry koster
g see page 32
From Here To eternity (1953) Dir. Fred Zinneman
g see page 6/7
Batman (1989) Dir. Tim Burton
g see page 33
This edition of The Big Picture has been produced in partnership with Park Circus, who are committed to bringing classic films back to the big screen.
coming soon coming soon coming soon
Fight Club (1999) Dir. David Fincherx0
g see page 8
The old Man and the Sea (1958) Dir. John Sturges
g see page 34
The wild one (1953) Dir. Laszlo Benedek
g see page 9
Pagan Love Song (1950) Dir. Robert Alton
g see page 35
wuthering Heights (1939) Dir. william wyler
g see page 10
Blue Hawaii (1961) Dir. Norman Taurog
g see page 36
Bandit Queen (1994) Dir. Shekhar kapur
g see page 11
Tears of the Sun (2003) Dir. Antoine Fuqua
g see page 37
Fish Tank (2010) Dir. Andrea Arnold
g see page 12/13
The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (1966) Dir. Sergio Leone
g see page 38/39
opening Night (1977) Dir. John Cassavetes
g see page 24
Raging Bull (1980) Dir. Martin Scorsese
g see page 42/43
Based on James Jones' best-seller, From Here To Eternity is a powerful drama of the passions and violence of a group of soldiers stationed at Pearl Harbor. Starring Burt Lancaster, Deborah Kerr, Frank Sinatra and Montgomery Clift, this iconic, Academy Award-winning title has been beautifully restored by Sony Pictures and will be re-released from 24 September at BFI Southbank, Glasgow Film Theatre, Irish Film Institute and key cities. Frank Capra is regarded as one of the great directors of American cinema. This Autumn, Park Circus is pleased to present a touring season of his most-loved classics. Headlining the season are romantic screwball comedy It Happened One Night and racy drama Forbidden, which will both be re-released on 29 October, opening at BFI Southbank and selected cinemas.
More details of cinema screenings of these and other classic movies from the Park Circus catalogue can be accessed via: www.backincinemas.com
Another Year (2010) Dir. Mike Leigh
g see page 25
Boogie Nights (1997) Dir. Paul Thomas Anderson
g see page 42
Hunger (2008) Dir. Steve McQueen
g see page 28/29
The Foot Fist way (2006) Dir. Jody Hill
g see page 43
winchester '73 (1950) Dir. Anthony Mann
g see page 30/31
the big picture issue 11 available 15 november 2010
The views and opinions of all texts, including editorial and regular columns, are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect those of the editors or publishers.
above it haPPened one night
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