If you love film, you know that the year’s premier film festival starts tomorrow. Down in the south of France, Cannes 2013 will debut some of the biggest films coming to your screens this summer. In recent years, it has been a launching pad for films such as The Tree of Life, No Country for Old Men, The Artist, Amour and Inglourious Basterds.
Before it all kicks off, OnTheBox have brought you a primer for the five best films we can’t wait to see:
1. Behind The Candelabra
There are rumours that Steven Soderbergh will retire from filmmaking after making Behind The Candelabra. If this is his final offering to the film gods, we think he’ll be going out on top. The Magic Mike director tells the intimate love story of Liberace (Michael Douglas) and his boyfriend Scott Thorson (Matt Damon) and it looks ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS.
2. The Congress
Based on a novel by Solaris sci-fi writer Stanislaw Lem, The Congress is from the award-winning Waltz With Bashir. Former wife of Sean Penn, Robin Wright, stars as an actress who sells the rights to her digital image with unintended consequences. It’ll mix live-action and animation and could be this year’s weird film that really makes you think – in a good way.
3. Inside Llewyn Davis
A betting man would have to consider Inside Llewyn Davis a heavy favourite. Joel Coen has won three best director trophies at Cannes, and in 1991 Barton Fink won the festival’s top prize, the Palme d’Or.
A tribute to the 1960s folk-music scene in Greenwich Village, it’s sure to be good with the Coen Brothers at the helm.
4. Only God Forgives
From Nicolas Winding Refn, whose last film Drive won him best director in 2011 comes Only God Forgives. Starring Ryan Gosling as Julian, a man who runs a Thai boxing club as a front organization for his family’s drug smuggling operation. He is forced by his mother Jenna to find and kill the individual responsible for his brother’s recent death. Might actually be more violent than Drive – get your cushions ready.
5. The Past
A Separation, the Oscar-winning drama from Iranian writer-director Asghar Farhadi had critics and audiences in tears. His new story about a multicultural love story set in Paris looks a little more uplifting. But the rest is shrouded in secrecy. He might have been an unknown two years ago, but now we can’t wait to see what Farhadi has in store.
With the shock recent news that Chuck Norris has decided to do-away with his trademark beard, and emerge out into the open face fuzz-free for the first time since puberty, we thought it was the perfect time to study the best examples of facial hair on the big screen.
Film has always had a turbulent relationship with facial hair. From the pencil-thin charms of the Clark Gable moustache to the icons of 70s cinema sporting beards thicker than a thatched cottage roof. The landscape of the film star’s face has been forever changing. The turn of the millennium seemed to herald a new dawn of carpet-free cheeks. The biggest stars were all clean-shaven: Matt Damon; Leonardo DiCaprio; and Ben Affleck all had chins as smooth as the day they were born.
But in recent years the tide has overwhelmingly changed. Perhaps it was Johnny Depp’s Pirates of the Caribbean Van Dyke that reminded film stars that they could experiment with facial hair and still retain heart throb status. Maybe Will Farrell’s milk-coated moustache from Anchorman, or Daniel Day Lewis’ supremely confident efforts in both
Gangs of New York and There Will Be Blood (his neatly-trimmed tribute to Tom Sellick in the latter earning him a deserved Oscar)?
Whatever the reason, the last year alone has seen a beard on Christian Bale’s Batman, a smorgasbord of dwarfish hair waterfalls in The Hobbit, and trailers showing bearded stars of the upcoming World War Z and Man of Steel. And on the grandest stage in show business – The Oscars – they were simply everywhere: George Clooney; Hugh Jackman; and Sacha Baron Cohen all teaming their tuxedos with some well-groomed facial hair.
But the defining image of the evening was that of Ben Affleck, Oscar held aloft, and a beard of breathtaking beauty hugging his beaming mouth.
Affleck has not always had it easy. After breaking through as the fresh-faced, prodigious co-writer of Good Will Hunting, Ben’s career took a downward turn – appearing in a rash of poorly-received box office bombs. Yet Affleck would slowly but surely revive his flat lining reputation – reinventing himself as the thoughtful author of critically-acclaimed gems such as Gone Baby Gone, and The Town. His renaissance finally culminated in that night of Oscar glory. His blossoming beard seemed to represent this reinvention – from boyfriend of J-Lo to a filmmaker of real repute – physical proof of his maturity as a man and a movie star. It was a statement of success – a beard conditioned in redemption.
To celebrate Ben Affleck Night showing on Sony Movie Channel from 6.50pm (Sky Channel 323) on Sunday 12th May, and in memory of Chuck Norris’ recently departed beard, here are our top five facial haired film stars…
5. Clark Gable
The original and one of the very best. Though Errol Flynn might argue otherwise, it was Clark Gable and his pencil-thin lip tickler that stood apart as the finest example of facial hair in the Golden Age of Hollywood. With a cocked eyebrow and meticulously groomed moustache Gable is still the benchmark for every man striving to be considered debonair. George Clooney continues to try (just look at his latest attempt at a ‘Gable’ for upcoming
film ‘The Monuments Men’), but no-one does matinee idol quite like Clark.
4. Daniel Day Lewis
The greatest actor of his age is also one of its greatest growers of facial hair. Indeed it is difficult not to argue that the two go hand in hand in Day Lewis’ case. He sported impressive examples of beard in all three of his Best Actor Oscar triumphs – demonstrating outstanding versatility in each case: from the full beard of My Left Foot,
to the bushy moustache of There Will Be Love, and a presidential grey goatee in this year’s Lincoln.
3. Chuck Norris
Chuck Norris is the undisputed bad boy of beards. His trademark auburn number has been a staple of his rise to the upper echelons of Hollywood action men, and has added to the vast mythology that surrounds the actor. Indeed, it was rumoured for many years that the beard hid a third fist positioned somewhere on his chin. The recent removal of his
pride and glory, presumably in reaction to their growing popularity among mere mortals in mainstream culture, was a shock to everybody.
2. Francis Ford Coppola
A definite inspiration for Ben Affleck’s Oscar winning number. In the 1970s you simply couldn’t call yourself an esteemed director unless you could produce a beard of genuine force. Scorsese, Malick, Herzog, and even young pretenders like George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, all found greatness whilst under the influence of impressive facial hair. But Coppola’s grizzled effort remains the greatest – its rugged masculinity reflecting the dark heart of his best work.
1. Robin Williams
Look at this man. Look at that beard. There is an oft-quoted theory that the quality of Robin William’s films is directly related to the quality of his facial hair. And when you look over his bearded roles it is easy to see why – he simply boasts classic after furry chinned classic. From his Good Will Hunting psych to Genie’s animated goatee in
Aladdin, his career is littered with follicular greatness. Put the theory to the test and watch Williams go full-on Gandalf in the 90s cult classic, Jumanji. Is there nothing this incredible man can’t grow?
Honorable mentions: Ben Affleck; Bill Murray; Errol Flynn; Jack Nicholson; Zach Galifianakas; Joaquin Phoenix; Tom Hanks; Nicholas Cage; Charlie Chaplin; Mel Brooks.
Ben Affleck Night showing on Sony Movie Channel (Sky Channel 323) from 6.50pm on Sunday 12th May
Jumanji also showing on Sony Movie Channel – Saturday 27th April at 6.50pm
Music’s been a part of cinema longer than speech. It plays a huge part in getting a reaction from an audience. It creates the context for the action: it’s the river the words ride. Watch the final scene of Toy Story 3 without Randy Newman’s score and see if you cry so many tears.
2013’s already a great year for film soundtracks; four months in and there are already four albums clogging up Spotify playlists that’d give anything from 2012 a run for its money. They show heart, knowledge and nous. Some are original compositions: some are old friends who’ve found gainful new employment. Some are drawn from Broadway: some from BurgerTime.
It sold over 55,000 copies in its first two weeks, a full-length deluxe edition has already been announced, and the highlights filled a few stockings on Mother’s Day. And it managed all this despite Rolling Stone calling it “tune-starved and ridiculous” – but those indy-haired, Rebecca Black botherers aren’t exactly the target audience. The score’s glorious. Uplifting and affirming in the way only a truly depressing film can be. Even Russell Crowe’s not that bad.
Quentin Tarantino can’t have enjoyed being lambasted by one of his heroes. Ennio Morricone may since have played down the level of criticism intended when he said the director “places music in his films without coherence,” but there’s no doubt Tarantino’s portmanteau style is divisive. The Django Unchained soundtrack, however, is fantastic: a blend of genres that reinterprets Spaghetti Westerns for the gangsta generation. Put on “Freedom”, strap on your spurs and go for a swagger.
Decades will decide if Tom Tykwer’s “The Cloud Atlas Sextet” – variations of which recur throughout the film’s six narratives, across hundreds of years – is as timeless as the movie demands For now, be content that it is in turns wistful, tragic, urgent and triumphant. More importantly, enjoy how it convinces as a great work – in the same way a gifted actor can give the performance of a great statesman, even if he can’t actually go out and lead the free world.
Jump over to YouTube and you’ll find no shortage of nostalgia for video game music, but Henry Jackman’s score has more than the mere novelty value of “Sweet Child O’ Mine” emulated in 16-bit. Like the film it accompanies, the
soundtrack recognises the art of the arcade, just as it passes into memory. Like black-and-white film, technical restrictions of bleeps and bloops led to new forms of expression: melody conveyed with haiku simplicity.
“I can’t tell you that!”, Peggy Olsen yells down the phone. I imagine her slamming a defiant fist on a walnut desk, mustard twin set clashing with the angry rouge of her cheeks. “I’d be murdered.”
I take a moment to remind myself that I am not speaking to Olsen, erstwhile employee of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, but actress Elisabeth Moss. But after six years, separating the two ambitious young women is no straight forward task. One thing that is clear, however, is that the secrets of Mad Men Season 6 remain as closely guarded as you might expect of an Emmy and Golden Globe Award-winning show, watched by millions and obsessed over by fashionistas and fans alike.
The penultimate round of malt-swigging and general malaise is fast approaching and fans are already getting excited about the prospect of a return to Madison Avenue. Rightly so, it seems. “It’s about people thinking that they’ve changed and finding that they’re back in the same situations that they were before”, Moss divulges. “The idea that your weaknesses are your weaknesses and, sometimes, people never change.” Angst, regression and our old friend hamartia; paradise for the Mad Men brigade.
And what about Peggy? The reserved and intimidated twenty-something we once knew has blossomed into something of a feminist icon, rejecting the pressure to use her sexuality to get ahead and making demands of her male superiors. The scene in the last series where Peggy flips the power dynamics with boss Roger (John Slattery), glancing from under brow to ask “how much you got?” after he demands she stand in for him designing a new corporate image campaign, has been branded ‘BEST LINE EVER’ by enthusiastic cyber fans who have posted and re-posted the clip on social networking sites.
I ask Moss whether she has enjoyed playing something of a badass of late. “Peggy has always been sort trodden on and naïve and taken advantage of, so for me it was super fun to see her have the upper hand and be a little smarter and be a little bit more on top of things.
“But she wouldn’t be where she is if she didn’t have some confidence and she wasn’t smart and she didn’t start to develop some attitude. She has had Don Draper for her mentor after all. She’s becoming a little bit more cocky and confident in taking on some of those attitudes.”
And what about Moss? What next for the girl who came out of the blue to steal hearts and subvert power dynamics to become one of the most popular characters of the series? First up, a stint under Jane Campion’s direction in new detective drama Top Of The Lake.
Due to air on BBC4 later this year, yet again, Moss is playing a woman fighting to hold her own in a man’s world. “I think it’s an important story and it’s a very true story”, she says. “I think women identify with it, on all levels. Whether it is just that women don’t make as much money as a man does or don’t have the same opportunities. I don’t wake up in the morning and go ‘yes we need to tell this story’ but I think it is interesting and important.”
Her last major role – squeezed in between filming series of Mad Men – saw the actress treading the boards in London’s West End as the second half of The Children’s Hour duo with Keira Knightley. Moss may not have any plans to return to the stage just yet, but the good news for British fans of the ambitious US star is that she loves the UK and already has a scout on the ground in London, sniffing out new opportunities.
“We haven’t found the right thing yet but possibly during the hiatus I’ll find something that’s right for next time. I’ve spent a bit of time [in the UK] now, and have lots of friends there. I’d love to come back for work…or pleasure.” She’ll have to brush up on her cockney rhyming slang before her next trip though. When quizzed, her twangy accent squeezed out a rather comical “alright Guv’nahh”. Best stick to Manhattan for now.
Season 6 of Mad Men starts on Sky Atlantic on Wednesday 10 April at 10pm
The movies are the culmination of all the arts, presented to us in one (sometimes) magnificent whole. There are aesthetics and spectacle, literature and word play that emphasise the charisma of performance, all accented and heightened to heady perfection with the power of music.
Alter any one of these aspects and you will change the vibe of a film, but change the music and you have a different beast altogether. The funniest slapstick pratfall of a comedian can become a moment of painful tragedy given the right tune. The effects can be subtle, gently guiding you to really live the emotion of what lies before you or it can smack you over the head, forcing you into whatever emotion thinks you must experience.
There are so many fine soundtracks, Jaws, Black Cat White Cat, China Town, The Harder they Come and The Man with the Golden Arm to name a few. But the three below, I feel go beyond the mould of film music and become something else.
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
A classic film with a classic sound track, the culmination of the “dollars” trilogy and very much the best of the lot and arguably one of the best westerns ever made, be they spaghetti based or otherwise.
The opening theme, which I heard way before I saw the film, has all the elements of the film wrapped up into one package. The adventure, the humour, the violence and the grand quest are all packaged neatly into Enrico Morricone’s main theme . It works as an amazing advert for the film, how can you hear the music and not want to see the film?
Alongside the eclectic and rousing main overture there are some beautiful and touching moments, such as Death of Soldier but it is the final two pieces the ‘Ecstasy of Gold’ and ‘The Trio’ that really do it for me. Twin works which flow into each other, logging the resolution and conviction of the characters as they head towards their final destination and ultimate fate.
The music builds the tension and drama of the final sequences into a majestic finale that rewards and satisfies the audience in a way most films cannot even hope to equal.
The score also works outside of the film, try listening when you’re out and about or just lolling about at home, find how the themes of the film rise in your blood and compel you to glory and manly things! It does me anyway.
I am not a huge fan of the film, it’s OK but I feel that has been elevated to a position up and beyond its actual achievements, of a film. Basically, it looks good and Ridley Scott creates an intriguing model for Earth’s future that is certainly atmospheric but I also think the plotting is derivative and cheesy. But that’s me and I will say it’s better than Star Wars.
The music though is something else. It doesn’t really have the impact on the film in the same way Morricone’s work does in the Good the bad and the Ugly, though it does the job well enough.
It is when you listen to it as an actual piece of music, does it really come to life.
It is a beautiful work, dark, romantic and evocative of a time passed but with the driving and electro stylings of the Greek keyboardist, it is unmistakably futuristic. Very much like the film, which is an old fashioned story wrapped up in silver jumpsuit.
Due to a Vangelis withholding his permission to release it, resulting in many bootlegs and cover versions coming onto the market, the soundtrack nicely mirrors the myriad of versions of the film that have been released.
The Long Goodbye
While it is very hard to actually pin down a number one favourite film, Robert Altman’s take on classic film noir is always one that springs to mind. Combining Hollywood’s, classy Golden age with the creative risk taking of the 1970’s, it was always going to be a winner (it is also marks one Mr Arnold Schwarzenegger’s debut).
John Williams has written more famous scores than this, little films like Jaws, Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark and more recently at the age of 81, Lincoln.
However, his playing round with the idea of what a film score is, in The Long Goodbye is what really makes me hard and horny.
Reflecting the locations, characters or the mood of hero, Phillip Marlowe (Elliot Gould), Williams gives us different versions of the titular song.
For example, at the supermarket buying cat food we get a muzak rendition, in a lounge bar it is the silky tones of Mel Torme. There is also a hippy chant version, a classic orchestral score, an instrumental and many more. Marvellous. It might sound like a trite or conceited thing to do but it’s fascinating listening out for the different arrangements. It’s like ourselves, aren’t we all different versions of the same tune depending on where we are and who we’re with? I, for instance am always a pretentious dick.
As the summer months draw near, it’s time once again to break out the 3D glasses, buckets of popcorn and nachos slathered in a hot melted substance we are meant to believe is cheese. Yes ladies and gents, blockbuster season is almost upon us.
But if the thought of Fast and the Furious 6, Iron Man 3 or Star Trek: Into Darkness leaves you wanting to be sat anywhere but a dark room full of yabbering pests, On The Box has picked out some far cooler fare to look forward to this year.
12 Years A Slave
With Hunger and Shame, artist turned filmmaker Steve McQueen showed he is one contemporary cinema’s most fearless visionaries, unafraid to tackle the most wrenching of material. 12 Years A Slave, based on the autobiography of Solomon Northup, an African American born free in New York but kidnapped and sold into slavery, is undoubtedly the
sort of unflinching drama that few others could handle.
Boasting one of the finest casts it is possible to assemble – Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Giamati and Michael Kenneth Williams (Omar in The Wire) – it could well be the antidote to Tarantino’s rather too OTT Django Unchained.
A Field In England
If you’ve seen director Ben Wheatley’s Kill List, chances are you’re still recovering from the trauma of this psychological tour de force. Fresh off the back of screwball serial killer comedy Sightseers, Wheatley has teamed up with Kill List co-writer Amy Jump for A Field In England and another twisted take on genre cinema.
Set during the English Civil war, it centres on a group of deserters (including The League of Gentlemen’s Reece Shearsmith and The Mighty Boosh’s Julian Barrett) captured by an alchemist and forced to help search for buried treasure. After feasting on magic mushrooms and discovering the treasure may not be of the golden variety, things take a terrifying turn for the worse. Prepare to be horrified once again.
Thanks to Prometheus turning out to be such a dud, science fiction fans are still searching for something worthy of their hard earned cash. Gravity, the first film by Alfonso Cuarón since 2006’s stunning Children Of Men, could well be just that. Starring George Clooney and Sandra Bullock as two astronauts stranded when their space station collides with an asteroid, it is being spoken of as the closest thing to experiencing space without having to strap yourself into a rocket and leaving Earth’s atmosphere.
Test screenings have already attracted rave reviews, with awe-inspiring’, ‘masterpiece’ and ‘visual feast’ just some of the adjectives being used to describe it.
Inside Llewyn Davis
If you aren’t instantly excited when learning of a new Coen brothers film, you really have no right to call yourself a film fan. There are few directors that can boast such a phenomenal body of work as Joel and Ethan, and their powers of sight, sound and story show no signs of abating.
Inside Llewyn Davis sees them heading back into more obscure territory, being as it is the story of an aspiring singer-songwriter struggling to find himself in the New York folk scene of the 1960s. Although based loosely on the life of little-known Bob Dylan collaborator Dave Van Ronk, rather than Dylan himself, the sight of Carey Mulligan, John Goodman and O Brother Where Art Thou soundtrack star T Bone Burnett amongst the credits can only further whet the appetite.
Only God Forgives
All the buzz surrounding Ryan Gosling currently centres on A Place Beyond The Pines, in which Hollywood’s newest hunk plays a stunt driver caught up in a criminal underworld whilst trying to save a mother and her child. Sound a bit familiar?
Far more exciting is his reunification with Drive director Nicolas Winding Refn in the forthcoming Only God
Forgives. Gosling plays the manager of a Bangkok-based Thai boxing club serving as a front for a drugs gang, who dispatched to ‘raise hell’ by his mother (the irrepressible Kristin Scott Thomas) when his brother is murdered. If that crazy synopsis doesn’t pique your interest, nothing will.
The Wolf Of Wall Street
It would almost be enough to say that The Wolf Of Wall Street is the next Martin Scorsese film. But then the last Martin Scorsese offering was Hugo, which was a children’s film, so we won’t. No such fear to be had here though, as he returns with the decidedly more adult tale of real-life New York stock broker Jordan Belfort, who indulged in the highlife of drugs, hookers and yachts before being jailed for swindling millions from investors.
Longtime Scorsese favourite Leonardo Di Caprio takes the lead role and is joined by a supreme ensemble cast, including Matthew McConaughey, Jonah Hill, Spike Jonze, Joanna Lumley and The Artist’s Jean Dujardin.
What made you want to return to Silent Hill?
I had a good time on the first one, I enjoyed it and thought that the end product was good. It has a really disturbing quality to it which I quite like. I’m fascinated by that and who comes up with these characters, they come out of nowhere and they’re so weird and eerie and disturbing.
Where are your character Harry and his daughter Heather in their lives, when we first meet them?
Sean Bean: Harry Mason and his daughter Heather are just trying to get on with their lives. She’s going to school. He wants her to grow up as a normal teenage girl as much as possible. But he knows that she’s still got this attraction to Silent Hill.
As did her mother and people before her. So they’re kind of living as travellers I suppose. On the run all the time, fugitives. It’s a very unsettling existence. So he is trying to bring some security to her, some stability.
So would you say he’s quite a supportive father?
Yeah he’s a good father and he’s always aware that there is the danger of her going towards that particular world.
What would you say about getting to work with your other co-star, Brit Kit Harington, from Game of Thrones. He seems to be like he would be a lot of fun to be around?
Yeah he is Kit, he’s a nice guy and we worked together on Game of Thrones where he played my bastard son and I was shunned by most of society. But it was a very different situation, he was playing my daughter’s boyfriend. But it was good; it was just different.
Would you say when you’re making a more scary movie like this, there tends to be a more jovial atmosphere between takes than perhaps on another genre?
That’s right yeah. People seem to think it’s depressing when you’re working on something like this but it’s actually much more fun. I suppose it’s got to be really because there’s that much horror around you and this sort of claustrophobia and a feeling of doom, that you have to lighten up a bit in-between.
And it is actually good fun. A lot of my scenes I didn’t actually spend a lot of time with these scary guys. I was in the kitchen or I was in the house, and I was searching for my daughter. But when I saw it in the end I thought it was brilliant.
Which of those terrifying monsters did you personally find frightening? For me it was those terrifying nurses with those brain faces.
Yeah they kept stopping and moving. And there were those funny men that were all bent that had cords round them, they looked like they’d been skinned. A good moment was when he pulls some skin off this guy and they just throw it in the frying pan. (whistles) He’s been working in a restaurant and just chucks it in a pan. It was like a piece of somebody’s flesh and it’s like a piece of steak.
And what particular Horror has given you sleepless nights over the years?
Films like the Exorcist. That’s something that I still think about now. It makes you have to turn the lights on sometimes if you really think about it. It really made a big impact on me. It scared the shit out of me.
But I think anything like that. Horror and stuff I’m kind of OK with, but when it’s something that you can’t quite understand, that’s when it becomes quite disturbing I think.
I heard that Adelaide Clement, who plays your daughter in the movie, let out a massive scream before she started on each scene. Have you ever gotten into any rituals when acting on a particular project, or just generally?
No, I haven’t really. No. Sorry. (laughs) I think I can remember a scream now, I wondered what that was. But then she’d come over and say ‘Hi’. Everyone’s got their own way of approaching it.
What do you make of the Blades chances this season and how do you think they’re playing?
They play well at the moment and they’re unbeaten. They’re the only team in that league that’s unbeaten. They’re third from the top, I think they’ve got a good chance of being promoted.
Whether they’ll win the title I don’t know, but they’ll definitely go up. Fingers crossed. (laughs)
SILENT HILL: REVELATION – OUT NOW ON DVD, BLU-RAY, 3D BLU-RAY, STEELBOOK AND DOWNLOAD
Shock isn’t a new (or exclusive) concept in cinema. It’s been there for centuries, as part of many an art form, to keep pushing the boundaries of what creators can do and what audiences are prepared to take. In film, this isn’t even exclusive to one or two genres. We have of course seen it in horror movies, but also in dramas, comedies and even children’s flicks, setting the buzz alight for films and grabbing headlines along the way.
To celebrate the release of The Paperboy (at UK cinemas March 15th), which ahead of its release has already seen its fair share of controversy; we take a look at some of the most shocking moments in cinematic history.
Un Chien Andalou (1929) – Eye Slicing Scene
Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí weren’t ones to shy away from shocking the viewer. Though of Spanish origins, these two icons of surrealism teamed up in France in 1929 to make this short film, the opening scene of which remains ever so powerful to this day. In it, a knife is held up to the eye of a woman before a close-up shows the eye (actually that of a dead calf) being slit open by Buñuel. The rest of the film is no less bizarre, but this scene takes away the prize for sheer impact.
The Public Enemy (1931) – Fruit Punch
The grapefruit punch in William A. Wellman’s 1931 opus is an example of domestic violence captured in film in a way that most filmmakers (and audiences, for that matter) would still feel very uneasy about to this day, no matter how much the boundaries for “shock” have been pushed in the 82 years since the film was first shown on screen.
Psycho (1960) – Shower Scene
Alfred Hitchcock’s most memorable scene has been imitated, replicated and parodied to no end throughout the years in countless films, not to say TV shows. The 1960 original is, however, still the best and by a very wide margin. Shot over a staggering 7 days and with 70 camera positions.
The flawless cinematography and flow of the scene, and those violins, were only one side of it. Talk about going into story telling without a safety net… killing off the protagonist (or at least who we thought was it) less than 30 minutes into the film, Hitchcock successfully created a formula that hasn’t really been replicated to the same effect since.
The Exorcist (1973) – Crucifix Abuse
William Friedkin’s 1973 horror masterpiece set the bar incredibly high for the genre in particular, but also for cinema at large in terms of what you can do to shock an audience. Quite understandably, when you think that you have a 12-year-old victim of a demonic possession cursing throughout the entire film and, in this particular scene, masturbating and stabbing her own genitals with a crucifix before that infamous 360-degree head turn. It was banned in the UK for some 15 years or so, while in other parts of the world there were cinemas that even offered sick bags to spectators.
My Girl (1991) – Death By Bees
Macaulay Culkin. The biggest child start of the early 1990s (thanks in part to that role in Home Alone, exactly a year before My Girl hit the screens). For the most part a coming-of-age comedy, some would say for kids, right? At least you would be right to think so until director Howard Zieff decides to kill the leading actor in not quite the most subtle of ways… being stung to death by bees while his horrified summer holiday sweetheart Vada watches on in sheer horror. In a kids movie! Take that for shock.
American History X (1998) – Bite The Curb
Neo-Nazism hadn’t been portrayed quite like this on a mainstream film level to date, but American History X did, and to great effect. One of Edward Norton’s most famous on screen appearances also featured Edward Furlong (John Connor in Terminator 2) playing his little brother in this story of an ultra-violent white supremacist who goes to prison following a brutal, racially-motivated murder (depicted early on in the film), in which Derek Vinyard (Norton) shoots a member of the Crips gang dead outside his house before curb stomping another one. Following his stint in prison, Derek is determined to ensure that his younger brother Danny (Furlong) doesn’t end up going down the same violent path.
Borat (2006) – Wrestling Scene
For all its cringe-worthiness, if we had to pick one standout moment from Sacha Baron Cohen’s comedy/mockumentary (and possibly his finest hour) it would have to be the naked fight between Borat and his producer Azamat (brilliantly portrayed by Ken Davitian). Cue in plenty of unpleasant body sights, all wrapped up in enough layers of body hair to make a grizzly bear a worthy cast option for a Gillette advert.
The Paperboy (2013) – Nicole Kidman’s Wee Scene
Nicole Kidman recently tried to play it down, citing that there are moments in new film The Paperboy which she deems more shocking, but the truth is that this is the scene in the film that got everyone talking.. After Jack Jansen (played by Zac Efron) is violently attacked by jellyfish, Charlotte Bless (Kidman) does the right thing for the poor sod… and proceeds to urinate on him. You can count on this scene not being as screen friendly as that awkward moment between Rachel and Joey in THAT “Friends” episode.
THE PAPERBOY is out in UK cinemas on March 15th.
Love Is All You Need
In cinemas now
There are two types of love: the good kind, such as the intimate bond shared between two soul mates; and the bad kind that is frequently practiced by men with ponytails, and which requires several large beach towels, some weirdo lighting and various unlabelled lotions.
It’s the incomparable delights offered up by the former that Love Is All You Need, a Danish rom-com directed by Susanne Bier and starring Pierce Brosnan, aspires to capture. Yet ultimately, despite the director’s best intentions, the film left me feeling oddly unsettled, as if I had just accidentally witnessed five perspiring adults engaging very much in the bad kind of love.
Brosnan plays Philip, a widowed fruit and vegetable tycoon whose son is just days away from getting married at his father’s villa in Sorrento. The sort of man who puts his work ahead of his love life, Philip is still emotionally sore from the death of his late wife, and as a consequence, has now conceded to the fact that he’ll never find love again.
As he prepares to fly out for the wedding, we meet the mother of the bride, Ida (Trine Dyrholm), a breast cancer survivor who has just completed a course of chemotherapy. Despite of Ida’s illness, her disposition is far more positive that Philip’s, even when she discovers that her portly husband, Leif (Kim Bodnia), has been cheating on her
with a young woman.
With dialogue that is spoken in equal parts English and Danish (Brosnan speaks almost entirely in English, even when the person he’s speaking to replies in Danish), it seems likely that much has been lost in translation. The characters behave unlike humans, reacting absurdly to the predicaments that they find themselves in, and therefore leaving little room for subtlety.
For instance, Leif, is a comic lowlife who seems incapable of empathising with his poor wife. In reality, even a sociopath would exhibit at least an understanding of what it means to be empathetic. Yet Leif seems utterly incapable of grasping the concept, emoting like a pantomime villain would, and making it known for certain that he’s the film’s token scumbag.
Ida’s reaction to her husband’s adultery is equally puzzling, although perhaps more understandable given the emotional impact that her recent illness has had on her. She’s instantly willing to forgive and forget Leif’s foul play, but having bagged himself an attractive young blonde, Leif has plans to attend the wedding with his mistress instead.
When our main characters arrive in Sorrento, the film descends into something of a soap opera. It soon becomes obvious that, as the wedding approaches, the bride and groom are beginning to show signs of having cold feet. Meanwhile, Sorrento’s rustic beauty provides the perfect setting for a chalk and cheese relationship to develop between Ida and Philip.
It’s surprisingly endearing to watch their romance unfold, although witnessing the other characters interact soon becomes tiresome. Leif and his fancy woman at least have some comic potential, but we’re given very little reason to care about the bride and groom, whose entire saga can be predicted within the first fifteen minutes of the film.
This is somewhat true of Ida and Philip’s relationship, too, but Brosnan and Dyrholm have enough on-screen chemistry to make their characters’ stilted flirting work. This as well as the film’s idyllic setting aside, very little about Love Is All You Need is very warm or charming, and considering its title, it does little to sell the notion that love is all one needs.
On the contrary, it makes love look as disposable and shallow as a frisby: Ida and Philip’s flirting is all well and good, but nothing about their pairing suggests that they’ll be at all sustainable as a couple.
It is worth noting, however, that given that the film shares such unavoidable similarities with Mama Mia (Brosnan, the coming together of two families for a wedding) it does at least spare us the ordeal of having to hear Brosnan sing, sounding as he does like a man attempting to expel his own bowels through his mouth.
Agyness Deyn was first scouted in the mid-2000s by modelling agency Select while shopping in London’s Kentish Town with her friend Henry Holland. Her career as a cover girl began with the May 2007 issue of American Vogue and she’s never looked back.
A former student of music and drama, the Lancashire-born Deyn’s acting ambitions started with a small part in Louis Leterrier’s Clash Of Titans (2010), in which she played the goddess Aphrodite, and she has also provided vocals for The Five O’clock Heroes and Lucky Knitwear. In Luis Prieto’s Pusher she plays Flo, a high-class stripper involved with Frank (Richard Coyle), a small-time drug dealer whose life is unravelling fast.
What sealed the deal for you?
Seeing [ Luis Prieto's] work. He made a short film called Bamboleho, where there’s a scene that’s basically two kids making out on a roof with a beach scene in the background. You think they’re actually on the beach, but then the camera pulls back and they’re in front of a poster – they’ve been living on the top of this rundown building, and they’re basically shagging on an old mattress! It was beautiful, both in terms of the way that it was shot and the moments that he’d captured.
So when I read the script I knew it wasn’t going to be a typical London gangster film – I knew it was going to have a certain beautiful quality about it. I think he’s capturing the grit of it, but there’s also a love story there. Which, for Flo… (Pauses) That’s what her character’s all based around, really. Love.
Did you see the original Pusher film?
No. I made a choice not to watch it, just because I didn’t want to recreate the original character. I think this is going to be very different. In the original, I think Flo was perhaps a little bit more passive and Frank was much more masterful. Flo, in my interpretation, is kind of like a very delicate flower. Child-like and vulnerable. An addict, basically.
What kind of addict?
She’s a heroin addict, and, obviously, with that, she wants to pause her life and get away from it. She’s caught up in this world and needs a way out. She has a job as a stripper, but it’s really just another outlet, another way she doesn’t have to be herself. She transforms herself – she puts a wig on, and an outfit, and then she becomes another person. Because when you get down to the bones of her she’s super-fragile and all she wants is to be loved. She’s quite on her own.
How much did research did you do – not just into the life of a heroin addict but into the life of a stripper? Is it all in the script, or did you have any help?
For some of it, yeah. For the stripper side of it, I worked with an amazing woman who works at Browns [a strip bar in Shoreditch]. She was so generous with her time. I hung out with her, went to work with her, and she’s now become a really good friend through this whole process, showing me the ropes. She took me into her environment and I kind of felt a kind of a part of the family that it is, basically. I discovered that, in
these clubs, from the DJ to the doormen, to the women that run some of these places, it becomes a very strong family unit.
How about the addict side of it?
Well, anyone can have a sense of that. The idea of being an addict is just to get away from everything, to numb yourself from the world.
Did you have any preconceptions of the stripping world?
I’m quite an open-minded person, so I was quite comfortable going into it. I was well aware I was a guest in this environment, so I was just observing – taking it all in, really. Although it was quite funny, because I had punters coming up to me and asking for dances. (Laughs) I was like, OK, it looks like I really am Flo!
Has it been hard to switch off?
It has been, yeah. When we’ve been finishing at 4am, and I’ve not been getting home till 5am after a full-on day of crazy, emotional scenes, I get home and I’m like, “Oh my God, it’s over! Now I have to sleep and then get up and do it again.” So, yeah. You have that period where you think, “I’m NEVER going to be able to sleep …” And then you wake up in the morning! But each day’s different. Yesterday we were doing all the strip stuff, where I was Flo at work. (Laughs) That was interesting!
What kind of outfits were you wearing for that?
Erm … Barely there! (Laughs) And then of course there’s the wig I have, just for when she’s working. It’s really mad … Now, I don’t watch any of the footage back. Sometimes they’ll say, “Do you want to watch it, just to see how it looks?” But I feel that, whatever I’m doing, if Luis is happy with it, I don’t need to see it. But when I was doing the stripping stuff the other day, a friend of mine recorded the end bit on his phone. I was in my own little world, pole-dancing or whatever, and when they showed me, I was like, “Oh my God, that is NOT me.” (Laughs)
Not that I was possessed! But I really was Flo. And it was so liberating and freeing to feel that way – to feel really in the scene. Because if it was just me doing it, as myself, I’d be so self-conscious, but I kind of got lost in it.
Did you ever encounter any prejudice, being a model turned actress?
No. I don’t really feel that. I’m not saying that I don’t care what anyone thinks, because obviously I do! But I know that if I come to work and I do the best I can, do my best in that moment, then I can’t really do any more. And if I’m enjoying it, all the better. I just want that fulfilment.
I don’t feel that I’m going to have to work harder than anyone else, because I’ll always work hard, whatever I’m doing. I’m always gonna do my best, the best I can be in that moment. And obviously it changes every day, because it depends on what’s going on – in your head and in your heart.
Pusher is out on on Blu-ray, DVD and to download on 11 February 2013, from Momentum Pictures