Movies

Movie related stuff.

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Boyhood – Create Your Own Beatles Black Album

I recently got around to watching Richard Linklater’s brilliant movie Boyhood which was shot over the course of 12 years and follows its protagonist, Mason Jr. (played by Ellar Coltrane), as he grows up.

On the characters 15th birthday he receives a mix CD from his father, Mason Sr., played by Ethan Hawke. Called The Black Album, it’s a compilation of the best of John, Paul, George, and Ringo’s solo work, post-Beatles.

Mason,

I wanted to give you something for your birthday that money couldn’t buy, something that only a father could give a son, like a family heirloom. This is the best I could do. Apologies in advance.

I present to you: THE BEATLES’ BLACK ALBUM.

The only work I’ve ever been a part of that I feel any sense of pride for involves something born in a spirit of collaboration — not my idea or his or her idea, but some unforeseeable magic that happens in creativity when energies collide.

This is the best of John, Paul, George, and Ringo’s solo work, post-BEATLES. Basically I’ve put the band back together for you. There’s this thing that happens when you listen to too much of the solo stuff separately — too much Lennon: suddenly there’s a little too much self-involvement in the room; too much Paul and it can become sentimental — let’s face it, borderline goofy; too much George: I mean, we all have our spiritual side but it’s only interesting for about six minutes, ya know? Ringo: He’s funny, irreverent, and cool, but he can’t sing — he had a bunch of hits in the ’70s (even more than Lennon) but you aren’t gonna go home and crank up a Ringo Starr album start to finish, you’re just not gonna do that. When you mix up their work, though, when you put them side by side and let them flow — they elevate each other, and you start to hear it: T H E B E A T L E S.

Just listen to the whole CD, OK?

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The Black Album you see on screen actually originated as a real gift from Hawke to his oldest daughter Maya when he split from Uma Thurman.

Hawke then slightly tweaked the notes whilst he was working on Boyhood and you cannot deny the power of the heart-wrenching reflection on how love does not last forever. (more…)

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Up In The Air Speech – What’s In Your Backpack?

Over the last few months, I have been gathering some of the best monologues from the big silver screen, which unfortunately seems to be a rarity now that films are littered with MTV style rapidly-cut shots, fast-paced action, jump-cuts, fast-edits, numerous camera angles.

However, Up in the Air starring George Clooney as Ryan Bingham travelling around America firing people whilst living out of a suitcase, only to find his beloved lifestyle threatened by the presence of a new hire and a potential love interest thankfully bucked this particular trend.

The film also featured a fantastic monologue which contained enough snappy sound-bites such “Moving Is Living” and “The Slower We Move, the Faster We Die” which is perfect fodder for your motivational posters on Pinterest

We all carry around unnecessary ‘baggage’ with us which makes each day harder than it needs to be and holds us back from really doing what we want which is what makes the “What’s In Your Backpack” so relevant to each and every one of us.

Here is What’s In Your Backpack? Speech:

How much does your life weigh? Imagine for a second that you’re carrying a backpack. I want you to feel the straps on your shoulders. Feel ‘em? Now I want you to pack it with all the stuff that you have in your life. You start with the little things. The things on shelves and in drawers, the knick-knacks, the collectibles. Feel the weight as that adds up. Then you start adding larger stuff, clothes, table-top appliances, lamps, linens, your TV.

The backpack should be getting pretty heavy now. And you go bigger. Your couch, bed, your kitchen table. Stuff it all in there. Your car, get it in there. Your home, whether it’s a studio apartment or a two bedroom house. I want you to stuff it all into that backpack. Now try to walk. It’s kind of hard, isn’t it? This is what we do to ourselves on a daily basis. We weigh ourselves down until we can’t even move. And make no mistake, moving is living. (more…)

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I’m Mad As Hell Speech From Network (1976)

I have already spoken about how strangely prophetic many of the finest speeches in Cinema now feel, most notably in my last post about Charlie Chaplin’s amazing monologue from the Great Dictator.

However, you could not talk about unforgettable scenes and speeches in Cinema without mentioning the 1976 movie Network that still resonates today. Network is about a TV news anchor called Howard Beale who is played fantastically by Peter Finch and with low ratings, breaks down on national TV and announces he will commit suicide live on air.

Wandering from the script, the character ignores the teleprompter and lets out all of his frustrations of the world in which he lives before ranting “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!” and urges all viewers to open their windows and do the same.

Once again this speech feels more relevant now than its release nearly 40 years ago and seems to predict the world we live in today which is filled with reality TV, tabloid journalism and the overwhelming direction that media in general is taking with its “anything for ratings” philosophy.

The Character Howard Beale gave the following speech in Network that still resonates today.

“I don’t have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad. It’s a depression. Everybody’s out of work or scared of losing their job. The dollar buys a nickel’s worth. Banks are going bust. Shopkeepers keep a gun under the counter. Punks are running wild in the street and there’s nobody anywhere who seems to know what to do, and there’s no end to it. We know the air is unfit to breathe and our food is unfit to eat, and we sit watching our TVs while some local newscaster tells us that today we had fifteen homicides and sixty-three violent crimes, as if that’s the way it’s supposed to be.

We know things are bad – worse than bad. They’re crazy. It’s like everything everywhere is going crazy, so we don’t go out anymore. We sit in the house, and slowly the world we are living in is getting smaller, and all we say is: ‘Please, at least leave us alone in our living rooms. Let me have my toaster and my TV and my steel-belted radials and I won’t say anything. Just leave us alone.’

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The Charlie Chaplin Speech from The Great Dictator (1940)

Ask most people what they know about Charlie Chaplin and they will probably respond with “Silent Movie Actor” but  ironically his most powerful performance contains quite possibly the finest speeches in the history of cinema.

In this digital age of CGI and summer blockbusters, it often feels like older cinema is not only under appreciated, but can also feel irrelevant or uninteresting to many movie goers in these celebrity obsessed times, but the incredibly powerful monologue from arguably Chaplin’s finest hour, feels more relevant now than it did in 1940 and feels strangely prophetic.

As soon as you hear the words “Our knowledge has made us cynical; our cleverness, hard and unkind. We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery, we need humanity. More than cleverness, we need kindness and gentleness.” You cannot help but see the parallels of 1940 and 2014, where ultimately we all want the same thing, but sadly despite the advances in technology, we really haven’t progressed very far in nearly 75 years since the film’s original release.

Paulo Nutini also referenced this amazing speech in his track Iron Sky where towards the end of the song, the familiar speech begins

The misery that is now upon us is but the passing of greed, the bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress. The hate of men will pass, and dictators die, and the power they took from the people will return to the people. And so long as men die, liberty will never perish. Don’t give yourselves to these unnatural men machine men with machine minds and machine hearts! You are not machines, you are not cattle, you are men! You, the people, have the power to make this life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure”

If you are reading this and can spare 5 minutes, I strongly urge you to soak up this scene, which I promise will overwhelm you and certainly make you question how far we have progressed as a society, but be warned you may even shed a tear.

Here is the full Speech from The Great Dictator (1940) by Charlie Chaplin

The Jewish Barber (Charlie Chaplin): I’m sorry but I don’t want to be an emperor. That’s not my business. I don’t want to rule or conquer anyone. I should like to help everyone if possible; Jew, Gentile, black men, white. We all want to help one another. Human beings are like that. We want to live by each other’s happiness, not by each other’s misery. We don’t want to hate and despise one another. In this world there is room for everyone. And the good earth is rich and can provide for everyone. The way of life can be free and beautiful, but we have lost the way.

Greed has poisoned men’s souls; has barricaded the world with hate; has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed. We have developed speed, but we have shut ourselves in. Machinery that gives abundance has left us in want. Our knowledge as made us cynical; our cleverness, hard and unkind. We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery we need humanity. More than cleverness, we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost. The aeroplane and the radio have brought us closer together. The very nature of these inventions cries out for the goodness in man; cries out for universal brotherhood; for the unity of us all. (more…)

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Movie Trailer Voice Legend Hal Douglas Dies at 89

Growing up it felt like every movie I ever wanted to see had a trailer voiced by the same gravely voiced guy and just like one of those trailers “In a world with no internet…one man began a search that would last a lifetime” Tragically, I only found out the answer to this question after I learned that the voice of thousands of movie trailers Hal Douglas has passed away aged 89.

It seemed that every film in the 80’s and 90’s had that familiar voice on the trailers and it always puzzled  me that despite having  the most recognisable voice in Hollywood, he was equally almost completely anonymous at the same time.

Who could forget the Warner Brothers trailer for Letha Weapon in 1987 as Hal began “He was ready to retire…now he’s gonna wish he had

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GUorM4nTX7k (more…)

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Popcorn Time – Netflix for Pirates, Torrents For Dummies…

We all know that the traditional method of watching TV is dying; busy lifestyles determine what we want to watch and when we want to watch it. This change in attitude from viewers has seen services such as Netflix flourish and maybe even see the downloading of content via torrents slightly decline.

Do you really want the hassle of downloading illegally and the cumbersome process of transferring your dodgy files by plugging your device via a USB cable, when for only £5.99 a month you can view as much as you want  and not be labelled a thief in the online community by your fellow digital natives.

The only downside is that it can take a while for up-to-date content to make it across to whatever service you subscribe to. However, Popcorn Time has arrived on the scene and this new open source BitTorrent-powered movie streaming app for downloading and watching movies, can probably be best described as Netflix for Pirates or even Torrents for Dummies. (more…)

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A Journey Through Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Lifetime In Cinema

Writer, editor and director Caleb Slain has created something quite special entitled, P.S. Hoffman (A Tribute),which is a memorial to actor Philip Seymour Hoffman that showcases the entire library of his work. After the emotional montage piece at the Oscars a few nights ago, we were all once again reminded of the magnitude of Hoffman’s work and this is a perfect way to revisit his finest moments.

This 20 minute film is entitled “A post-script journey through Philip Seymour Hoffman’s lifetime in cinema” is a timely reminder of his legacy.

Caleb is quoted as saying “200 hours of work went into breaking down 47 of Hoffman’s films. Compiling his legacy has been one of the most challenging experiences I’ve ever faced as an editor, and yet indescribably rewarding. I can assure you that after 22 years on screen and nearly fifty films, we now look at the work of an actor who never had a single dishonest moment on camera. I know because I’ve seen them all. Please take a breather and raise your glasses to one of our greatest.”

For anyone wanting to hunt down some of the lesser known titles in the list, there is a list of all the featured works contained in the video at the end of this post.

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Philip Seymour Hoffman Classic Scenes

Hollywood now seems littered with models, whilst traditional film/stage actors are sadly few and far between. For me personally, Philip Seymour Hoffman represented one of the few remaining  actors who have spent years honing their craft and would only make that big Hollywood blockbuster to finance their true passion of acting in a small theatre somewhere away from the red carpets and attention that so many of todays disillusioned stars crave

Philip Seymour Hoffman once tellingly revealed that he found acting ‘torturous’

In an interview with Shortlist he said: “You have to [make people] believe that you’re 70 years old and that you’re lying at the death-bed of your daughter that you haven’t seen in 30 years.

“There’s a certain amount of pain that goes into that. So torturous is just being dramatic. It’s painful. It’s not easy.”

“It’s painful for anybody. That’s just part of the job of being an actor. It’s one of the things you have to do. Every job has those things that are tough.”

Such a great talent from a seemingly tortured man and the news of his death today is incredibly tragic and I find myself looking back at his most memorable performances.

Almost Famous “The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what we share with someone else when we’re uncool.”

As a massive music fan, it is probably no surprise that Cameron Crowe’s Almost Famous blew me away and one of the reasons was down to the the small yet unforgettable role of Lester Bangs.

Hard Eight “Gonna Light The Cigarette”

Paul Thomas Anderson had Philip Seymour Hoffman in all his films with the exception of There Will Be Blood, but we should have known early on what was on the horizon. In Hard Eight, we get to see his character for only one scene, but you will remember it forever.  Considering most films are forgotten by the time you reach the car park, this is something quite special.

Hard Eight was a fantastic underrated film, that is filled with great performances and the scene “Gonna Light The Cigarette” will always be remembered as an early glimpse of the troubled characters that he played with ease.

Magnolia – Phil Parma Tracks Down Frank T.J. Mackie Scene

No matter how small the scene, he had the ability to grab and hold your attention, the Oscars may have inexplicably snubbed Magnolia but once again, all eyes were on one actor.

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James Gandolfini

The first time I saw James Gandolfini on the big screen was in the classic 1993 movie ‘True Romance’ where it has been said he defined the metamorphosis of cold blooded killer. It was easy to see that this guy had something special, especially considering this film was littered with unforgettable performances from Christopher Walken, Dennis Hopper and Gary Oldman that is rich with trademark dialogue written by Quentin Tarantino.

Gandolfini portrayed the mob hitman Virgil, and later claimed on “Inside the Actor’s Studio” that he based his portrayal of Virgil on an old friend who worked as a mob hitman, which makes the performance all the more chilling.

 

Before the days of Netflix and binge viewing of your TV series,  TV shows were seen as an inferior medium of entertainment compared to movies but something was about to change all that when The Sopranos hit our screens with 86 episodes from 1999 to 2007.

Suddenly the bar was raised and this ground-breaking show paved the way for the high quality TV shows that followed, which we take for granted today. DVD Box sets quickly became the norm as viewers turned away from traditional forms of TV viewing and enjoyed The Sopranos like one long movie.

With an incredible high calibre of  writing, acting, directing and a killer soundtrack to boot, HBO had produced TV that was better than most movies, quality entertainment had arrived and the way we watched TV was about to change.

The secret to the show’s success was the outstanding bear like Tony Soprano played by Gandolfini who adopted a series of method acting techniques and always remained in character. “The heavy bathrobe that became Tony’s signature, transforming him into a kind of domestic bear, was murder under the lights in midsummer, but Gandolfini insisted on wearing it between takes.

A modest Gandolfini said “The character is a good fit, Obviously, I’m not a mobster. But in most of the ways that count, I have to say, yeah — the guy is me.”

 

More recently he had been seen in Zero Dark Thirty,” Kathryn Bigelow’s dramatization of the hunt for Osama bin Laden; and a hit man in the 2012 crime thriller “Killing Them Softly.” but one thing is for sure we have lost one of the greatest character actors of our time  but his performances will last forever.

Maybe the time is right to revisit The Sopranos but I have a sad feeling that the series will now offer a whole new perspective on both Tony Soprano and James Gandolfini.

 

Al Pacino: Full Roar

In an interview with Forbes, actor Robin Williams talked about working with Al Pacino in 2002’s Insomnia, and said “[His] character was crazy. Before every take, he would roar like a lion.”

Roar like a lion. “Roaring,” of course, might be a bit of an extreme characterization — but Pacino certainly isn’t known for his whispering roles.

Chicago-based filmmaker Nelson Carvajal threw together a memorable compilation that is appropriately called “Pacino: Full Roar”  that contained  some of the actor’s most memorable movie meltdowns.