INTERVIEW: ‘Suspiria’ Spoiler Filled Interview With Prosthetic Make-up Designer Mark Coulier

Interviewed by Fiona Underhill

For our latest Sunday Spotlight, Fiona sat down to interview Academy Award-winning prosthetic make-up designer, Mark Coulier, who has worked on films such as Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel – for which Coulier won the Oscar for ‘Best Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling’ in 2015,  Ready Player One, the Harry Potter series, and upcoming films Stan & Ollie and Pinocchio!

Fiona chatted with Coulier about his recent work in the Suspiria remake and the use of practical effects for some of its standout scenes, so there are spoilers ahead for those of you who haven’t seen the film yet!

You’ve been warned…


I have to start with what is a stand-out scene, from a make-up point of view and that’s the infamous scene with Olga in the mirrored dance studio, where she’s being contorted and twisted – how much of that was practical and how much was CGI? How did you achieve that scene?

So, I’d spoken with Luca (Guadagnino, director) about that scene quite early on in our conversations about the film and he wanted that to be a pretty brutal scene that establishes how dangerous the situation is and he wanted to, I think the word was ‘pulverize’ this woman and break her down so we talked about how to do that practically, we wanted most of it to be practical. I’d seen Deliverance, I mentioned this guy who gets washed down a river and his arm gets dislocated and it’s twisted round his shoulder and it looks pretty intense. We decided that would be a good place to start – to twist this woman’s arm around and break her jaw, what else could we do that would make her all twisted and contorted? He had this amazing dancer called Elena Fokina playing the part and she was able to do a lot of the stuff herself. So we started off with the arm and then we did the leg and the rib cage – we did a prosthetic chest piece for her and a jaw piece and we moved her teeth. It kind of built from there really and we tried to get her into this position at the end where she was completely broken down and twisted up. It was Luca who wanted her to look really destroyed.

So it sounds like it was heavily practical then?

It was all practical in the sense that it was prosthetic appliances, the visual effects side of it was that they removed her real arm and her real leg. I think they augmented the jaw being twisted into place. So I’d say it’s about 75% us and 25% visual effects.

I have to ask about the character of Dr Josef Klemperer (played by Tilda Swinton). I think the creation of that character, from the performance combined with the make-up is just absolutely phenomenal. I want to ask about how you built that character – I mean the detail on the face is just sensational – how did you achieve that?

Thank you. That was Luca calling up and I think he’d seen Grand Budapest Hotel and we’d done an age make-up on Tilda Swinton in that film and Luca wanted to see if it was possible, to see if we could turn Tilda Swinton into this old Jewish man. So we did a test make-up probably eighteen months before the film actually started, just to see if it was possible. The test make-up was totally different to the Josef Klemperer character that you see in the movie, but it gave Tilda and Luca an idea of what we could possibly do. It was an idea that Luca had that he wanted all the characters, the strong characters to be female. This idea of Tilda playing this part is linked to the idea of the three witches that are the core of the story – Mother Suspirium, Mother Tenebrarum, Mother Lacrymarum – and he wanted Tilda to play the three parts of Madame Markos, Madame Blanc and Klemperer. So that was it really, that was the start of it, so we did a test to see if we could possibly do it and we ended up re-sculpting it and re-making it and applying it to the finished character.

I heard a rumour that she even had a prosthetic penis, can I ask if that’s true?

That is true, yes. Well it was really more of a weighted thing that we put in there because she wanted to feel masculine, so she wanted to feel this weight between her legs. So I guess it’s a bit like Robert De Niro wearing silk underpants to play Al Capone. One of those little things that nobody else will see but it makes her feel more of the part.

I have to ask about the finale – how long did it take to shoot that sequence and what was the preparation, what were the decisions involved in that sequence? Again, how practical was it, how many buckets of blood did you use etc?

Yes, again, it was heavily practical. This is not a big budget, we had very little time for everything. We had nine weeks, we were supposed to have fourteen weeks, but we had nine weeks which is not a lot of time. We had full body suits – we did the character of Death, which is really intense and quite a  character to create. We had the character of Markos to do – the witch, which is also Tilda Swinton playing that character in full body make-up which is pretty intense. And we had all sorts of stuff – we had disembowelments, lots of crazy stuff that Luca wanted to create for that finale. And we sort of created a workshop out where we were shooting and I brought people over from the UK and we were just frantically building things and finishing things off while we were out there. As well as making stuff in the UK, we did a full body make-up on Chloe Moretz. We were supposed to do that for two days I think and we ended up doing that make-up for five or six days. So we were frantically building pieces and making pieces out in this abandoned hotel where we were shooting everything in Italy. And it was quite intense but it was quite practical, a lot of it was practical, a lot of visual effects augmentation of the self, the blood, the bodies being destroyed, pulling the intestines out. [spoilers] We had the dead Patricia, the dead Olga make-up, we had Markos – which was this big full bodysuit thing that we built for Tilda, who was also playing Madame Blanc in that scene. We had the make-up where she gets her head chopped off…or almost chopped off. So, again, it was about 75-25 practical – there was visual effects involvement. And when you read that stuff on the page and spoke to Luca about it, it was really hard to try and work out in your mind what Luca actually wanted, what was it going to look like, you know?

What was the detail like in the script, what were the descriptions like?

I think Luca just wanted it to be a descent into madness, which is at the core of the witches. This is all going to ramp up and the film builds slowly into this big crescendo at the end, with the Mother Suspirium character appearing in the movie and he wanted to give a sense of craziness and the evil that’s at the core of the movie, this sort of power of the witches and we were just trying to put that into visuals. It was quite hard to read it and understand what Luca wanted. When you see the movie, we’re like; “oh right OK – so this is what we were making! It was very interesting.”

I’m sure there’s surprises for you, even when you’ve worked on the film. When you see the finished product, you’re still surprised by it.

Yeah, more so than most films that I’ve ever worked on. There’s three movies I did last year, I did Stan & Ollie and Bohemian Rhapsody and I did Suspiria at the same time and I think the most surprising one out of all them is Suspiria. We make these sequences and we make the stuff, I remember Fernanda the hair and make-up designer, who did most of the ‘straight’ make-up looks said to me – she’d worked with Luca on a few movies – and she said “we just have to trust Luca, we have to trust our director.” It’s an interesting comment that she made – you’re making all this crazy stuff, how’s it going to look? She said; “We just have to trust Luca, he’s a visionary” he’s got this idea and when you see the movie, you understand. This crazy end sequence – the tension builds throughout the movie and then it all goes pretty wild at the end.

That’s the exact experience I had watching it, because I was skeptical going in, with it being a remake. But, as soon as it started, I thought, of course, it’s Luca, just trust in that vision and he absolutely has this precise vision and I think he totally followed it through with this piece.

Yeah, I felt the same way about it, actually. When you see the movie, we were busy out there making stuff, while he was busy filming all the stuff that didn’t have prosthetics in it, we didn’t see any of the dance stuff, the drama and the development of the witches’ characters. We weren’t privy to any of the filming of that, we were busy making stuff. So it’s always a surprise when you see the film at the end, I’d read the script and the story obviously and had all the conversations with Luca, so I had a pretty good idea of how it was going to develop, but it’s still quite surprising. And I really enjoyed it, I thought it was great. It’s a long movie, it’s slow, the tension builds, it’s really creepy and that end sequence. There’s a couple of sequences – the Olga dance sequence really grabbed me and I’ve seen it three times now and the audience is completely silent after that bit. Everyone is watching it thinking “my God, this is what the witches are all about – this is the evil at the core of the movie.” And you know then it builds quite slowly to that crescendo at the end, which really grabs you.


We ran out of time there (I had at least three more questions)! But I loved the movie and Luca created something truly unique with his team of master craftspeople, including Mark.

We’d like to thank Mark for taking the time to talk to us!

 

 

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Jessica’s 2018 Oscar Predictions

Original Song:
MIGHTY RIVER – Mudbound
MYSTERY OF LOVE – Call Me by Your Name
REMEMBER ME – Coco
STAND UP FOR SOMETHING – Marshall
THIS IS ME – The Greatest Showman
Should win: Torn between MYSTERY OF LOVE and THIS IS ME
Will win: THIS IS ME
Should have been nominated: VISIONS OF GIDEON- Call Me By Your Name

Original Score:
DUNKIRK – Hans Zimmer
PHANTOM THREAD – Jonny Greenwood
THE SHAPE OF WATER – Alexandre Desplat
STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI – John Williams
THREE BILLBOARDS – Carter Burwell
Should win: PHANTOM THREAD
Will win: THE SHAPE OF WATER
Should have been nominated: A GHOST STORY

Sound Mixing/Editing:
BABY DRIVER – Julian Slater, Tim Cavagin and Mary H. Ellis
BLADE RUNNER 2049 – Mark Mangini and Theo Green
DUNKIRK – Richard King and Alex Gibson
THE SHAPE OF WATER – Nathan Rabitaille and Nelson Ferreira
STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI – Matthew Wood and Ren Klyce
Will win: BABY DRIVER 

Editing:
BABY DRIVER – Paul Machliss and Jonathan Amos
DUNKIRK – Lee Smith
I, TONYA – Tatiana S. Riegel
THE SHAPE OF WATER – Sidney Wolinsky
THREE BILLBOARDS – Jon Gregory
Will win: DUNKIRK

Cinematography:
BLADE RUNNER 2049 – Roger A. Deakins
DARKEST HOUR – Bruno Delbonnel
DUNKIRK – Hoyte van Hoytema
MUDBOUND – Rachel Morrison
THE SHAPE OF WATER – Dan Laustsen
Should win/ Will win: BLADE RUNNER 2049 – Roger Deakins
Should have been nominated: COLUMBUS should’ve taken the place of DARKEST HOUR

Visual Effects:
BLADE RUNNER 2049
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2
KONG: SKULL ISLAND
STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI
WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES
If you’ve read my VFX piece for NextBestPicture.com, then you should already know where I stand in this category.
Should win/ Will win (Don’t fight me on this): WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES

Production Design:
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
BLADE RUNNER 2049
DARKEST HOUR
DUNKIRK
THE SHAPE OF WATER
Should win: BLADE RUNNER 2049
Will win: THE SHAPE OF WATER

Costume:
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
DARKEST HOUR
PHANTOM THREAD
THE SHAPE OF WATER
VICTORIA & ABDUL
Should win/ Will win: PHANTOM THREAD
Should have been nominated: THE BEGUILED

Hair and Make Up:
DARKEST HOUR
VICTORIA & ABDUL
WONDER
Should win: WONDER
Will win: DARKEST HOUR
Should have been nominated: I, TONYA

Adapted Screenplay:
CALL ME BY YOUR NAME – James Ivory
THE DISASTER ARTIST – Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber
LOGAN – Scott Frank, James Mangold and Michael Green
MOLLY’S GAME – Aaron Sorkin
MUDBOUND – Virgil Williams and Dee Rees
Should win: CALL ME BY YOUR NAME or LOGAN
Will win: CALL ME BY YOUR NAME

Original Screenplay:
THE BIG SICK – Emily V. Gordon & Kumail Nanjiani
GET OUT – Jordan Peele
LADY BIRD – Greta Gerwig
THE SHAPE OF WATER – Guillermo del Toro & Vanessa Taylor
THREE BILLBOARDS – Martin McDonagh
Should win: GET OUT or LADY BIRD
Will win: Honestly think it’s either going to be GET OUT or THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI

Directing:
DUNKIRK – Christopher Nolan
GET OUT – Jordan Peele
LADY BIRD – Greta Gerwig
PHANTOM THREAD – Paul Thomas Anderson
THE SHAPE OF WATER – Guillermo del Toro
Should win: THE SHAPE OF WATER- Guillermo del Toro or DUNKIRK- Christopher Nolan or of course, my queen for LADY BIRD- Greta Gerwig
Will win: THE SHAPE OF WATER- Guillermo del Toro
Should have been nominated: CALL ME BY YOUR NAME- Luca Guadagnino and THE FLORIDA PROJECT- Sean Baker

Supporting Actor:
WILLEM DAFOE – The Florida Project
WOODY HARRELSON – Three Billboards
SAM ROCKWELL – Three Billboards
RICHARD JENKINS – The Shape of Water
CHRISTOPHER PLUMMER – All the Money in the World
Should win: SAM ROCKWELL or WILLEM DAFOE
Will win: SAM ROCKWELL
Should have been nominated: PATRICK STEWART – Logan

Supporting Actress:
MARY J. BLIGE – Mudbound
ALLISON JANNEY – I, Tonya
LESLEY MANVILLE – Phantom Thread
LAURIE METCALF – Lady Bird
OCTAVIA SPENCER – The Shape of Water
Should win: LAURIE METCALF or LESLEY MANVILLE
Will win: I’m gonna be the wildcard and predict LAURIE METCALF

Actor in a Leading Role:
TIMOTHÉE CHALAMET – Call Me by Your Name
DANIEL DAY-LEWIS – Phantom Thread
DANIEL KALUUYA – Get Out
GARY OLDMAN – Darkest Hour
DENZEL WASHINGTON – Roman J. Israel, Esq.
Should win: TIMOTHEE CHALAMET or DANIEL DAY-LEWIS
Will win: GARY OLDMAN- Darkest Hour
Should have been nominated: HUGH JACKMAN- Logan

Actress in a Leading Role:
SALLY HAWKINS – The Shape of Water
FRANCES MCDORMAND – Three Billboards
MARGOT ROBBIE – I, Tonya
SAOIRSE RONAN – Lady Bird
MERYL STREEP – The Post
Should win/ Will win: FRANCES MCDORMAND
Should have been nominated: VICKY KRIEPS- Phantom Thread

Best Picture:
THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI
DARKEST HOUR
DUNKIRK
THE SHAPE OF WATER
CALL ME BY YOUR NAME
LADY BIRD
THE POST
GET OUT
PHANTOM THREAD
Should win: I feel very strongly about these, so any of them are worthy in my opinion: THE SHAPE OF WATER or GET OUT or CALL ME BY YOUR NAME or LADY BIRD
Will win: THE SHAPE OF WATER
Should have been nominated: MUDBOUND

 

The Oscars 2018: Awards Show Trailer

The Academy have started The Oscars hype train by releasing a trailer filled with films released over the last year. Jimmy Kimmel is confirmed to return to the stage to host the 90th annual awards show on March 4th, 2018 – and will start a whole 30 minutes earlier than usual.

Films not present in this trailer are already being made note of by eagle eyed film fans, including ‘Call Me By Your Name’, ‘mother!’, and ‘The Shape of Water’ to name a few. Have any of your Oscar hopefuls not made the cut in this trailer?

As well as just some of the films have a high chance of being nominated this year, the trailer also takes a look back at the glitz and the glamour of last years awards, and also doesn’t fail to include THAT hiccup from Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty, who accidentally announced ‘La La Land’ as the winner of the Best Picture award, before correcting themselves and announcing ‘Moonlight’ as the actual winner.

Will next years show be as memorable as this year’s? We don’t have much longer to wait! 

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The 89th Academy Award Winners List In Full

Jimmy Kimmel hosted the 89th Academy Awards last night where ‘Moonlight’ won 3 awards, including the biggest prize of the night for ‘Best Picture’ and ‘Supporting Actor’. Director Damien Chazelle not only won an incredible six Oscar wins for ‘La La Land’, but also became the youngest filmmaker to win an Oscar at 32 years old! . ‘Zootopia’ scooped up the award for ‘Best Animated Feature’ and ‘Jungle Book’ walked away with ‘Best Visual Effects’. 

Full list of winners:

Best Picture: Moonlight

Best Actress: Emma Stone (La La Land)

Best Actor: Casey Affleck  (Manchester by the Sea)

Best Supporting Actress: Viola Davis  (Fences)

Best Supporting Actor: Mahershala Ali  (Moonlight)

Best Director: La La Land – Damien Chazelle

Best Original Screenplay: Manchester by the Sea 

Best Adapted Screenplay: Moonlight – Barry Jenkins and Alvin McCraney

Best Original Score: La La Land – Justin Hurwitz

Best Original Song: La La Land – City of Stars 

Best Visual Effects: The Jungle Book

Best Cinematography: La La Land

Best Costume Design: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Best Make-Up and Hairstyling: Suicide Squad

Best Film Editing: Hacksaw Ridge

Best Animated Feature: Zootopia

Best Production Design: La La Land

Best Documentary Feature: OJ: Made in America

Best Sound Editing: Arrival

Best Sound Mixing: Hacksaw Ridge

Best Animated Short: Piper

Best Documentary Short: The White Helmets

Best Live Action Short: Sing

Best Foreign Language Film: The Salesman 

 

How many of your Oscar guesses came true? Did any of the winners come as a surprise to you?

Written by Tom Sheffield

The Oscar Nominations Are In! Here Are All The Nominees For This Year’s Academy Awards

The nominations for the 89th Academy Awards have just been announced and unsurpisingly, ‘La La Land’ lands the most nominations with a total of 14. Meryl Streep’s nomination for ‘Lead Actress’ means she is now the most nominated performer in the history of the Oscars! 

Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs was joined by Guillermo del Toro, Brie Larson, Dustin Lance Black, Glenn Close, Jennifer Hudson, and  a number of previous Oscar winners and nominees to present the awards via a live stream, which was pre-recorded. 

Jimmy Kimmel with host the 89th Academy Awards on Sunday 26th February.

Did any of your favourites from last year get snubbed? Are there any surprises to you in the nominations?

The nominations are as follows:

Continue reading

Netflix Highlights: March

April Fools’ Day has been and gone, but this is no joke. We take your Netflix viewing very seriously here at JumpCut UK, and that’s why we ask our resident Netflix expert Mark Blakeway to pinpoint the best films that the streaming service has to offer. Here’s what was added last month.


i-love-you-phillip-morris-

I Love You Phillip Morris
Jim Carrey stars as Steven Russell, a policeman turned con-man, made famous for his multiple prison escapes in this “based on true events” dark comedy-drama. It’s an enjoyable mix of unfortunate circumstances made funny by the sheer bluntness of it all, and heartfelt certainty of Russell’s unequivocal love for Phillip Morris (Ewan McGregor). It’s quick-paced, funny, sharp and witty, and shows how much depth and range Carrey can truly achieve when pushed to do something different.


THEIDESOFMARCH

The Ides Of March
An above-average political thriller starring George Clooney, Ryan Gosling and the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman. Packed with solid performances, a decent script and some very dark moments, albeit not quite to the lengths of ‘House of Cards’, it is enough to satisfy anyone with a vague political interest. While it doesn’t do much to break the mold, the typical story of a good guy in a bad system trying to do right still holds value. Predictable, but interesting nonetheless.


The-Grand-Budapest-Hotel-5

The Grand Budapest Hotel
A single performance by Ralph Fiennes is so good in this film, that it’s difficult to talk about anything else. Visually, it’s incredible. The typical dry wit you expect from Wes Anderson is there in abundance. It’s well-polished, finely composed, superbly acted and the dense script is executed perfectly. I’d go as far as saying it is my favourite Anderson film to date, and whether you’re already a fan of Anderson or not, I highly recommend this film. Here’s our review to persuade you further.


captain-america-winter-soldier-

Captain America: The Winter Soldier
This is such a slick movie. While it does ultimately end in a mess of CGI, what gets you to that point is an intriguing storyline with some incredibly detailed actions scenes. This effort is truly a credit to the superhero genre. Whether or not you buy the whole “timely social commentary” angle, there is something undeniably very real about this film – this is more evident in the first half than the second, but this paranoia infused action movie exceeded my expectations. Here’s our review to persuade you further.


India's daughter

India’s Daughter
This is a powerful documentary showcased as part of the BBC Storyville series I keep harping on about. What spurred the making of this documentary, was the horrific gang rape that took place on a private bus in South Delhi, after which 23-year-old Jyoti Singh died from her injuries. The attack gained widespread visibility, with many major media outlets picking up the story, and the men were arrested for their crimes. The documentary takes a look at this particular case, and the wider attitudes towards women in India, piecing together news footage, protests and even an interview with one of the attackers. Released to mixed reactions, banned in India itself, it has been interpreted in many different ways by activists, politicians and friends close to Jyoti, but one thing you cannot deny is that the more people who know about these horrendous acts that take place, the quicker they can be stopped. That is only a good thing.


lives-others-2

The Lives Of Others
Winner of the 2006 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language film, ‘The Lives of Others’ is a truly thought-provoking German drama. Set in a period of political uncertainty prior to the collapse of the Berlin Wall, it follows a member of the secret police becoming increasingly engrossed by the individuals he is supposed to be spying on. The tension is gradually ramped up as our protagonist uncovers more and more details, but it remains restrained in its no-frills approach to film-making, leaning on the simplicity, performances and apparent authenticity of it all, creating an engrossing and somewhat relatable thriller.


The New Girlfriend

The New Girlfriend
The story of Claire (Anaïs Demoustier) and the widow of her best friend, David (Romain Duris). A friendship post-death is forged for reasons I’d rather not go into – the key component of the story was kept a surprise for me and I hope it remains a surprise for you. It tests your perceptions of gender, sexuality, grief, relationships and identity. It does not remain with a single theme, a single character or a single issue – this is a complicated film handled delicately, with great care and understanding. Suspenseful, ridiculous at times, but incredibly fun, this was one of my favourite films from 2015. Here’s Mark’s review to persuade you further.


waynesworld

Wayne’s World
Admittedly, the adventures of Wayne and Garth aren’t for everyone, but they are for me. A timeless classic, the perfect rainy day viewing, filled with quotable scenes, impeccable comedic timing and a flare for the ridiculous. Starring a young Mike Myers, Dana Carvey and Rob Lowe among many others, this is your not-so-typical oddball comedy about a couple of rock and roll loving friends who just want to apply their passion for music and babes, and make the most of whatever comes their way. Unfortunately for them, others have a different view as to how that should play out, whether it’s a TV show or a concert, and it’s up to Wayne and Garth to find a way to do what they do best. Party on Wayne. Party on Garth. You’ll also find ‘Wayne’s World 2’ on there. Here’s our review of the original to persuade you further.


Turbo-Kid-001

Turbo Kid
‘Turbo Kid’ will be a delight to any one who was a fan of 80s action adventure films like ‘BMX Bandits’ and ‘Mad Max’, as it is a huge love letter to both of these. Set in the dystopian “future” of 1997, you follow the film’s hero with his customised NES power glove, paving the way for inventive gory kills on-screen (one particularly gruesome one involving a modified bike) all backed with a rocking 80s synth soundtrack. Theres so much to love about this movie from the scenery-chewing performance of Michael Ironside as the sadistic overlord Zeus, and Laurence Leboeuf who plays the love interest, Apple. It’s not often you get to see a film like this, and I loved every second of it. 

N.B. Mark roped in the help of his friend Gary Joyce to discuss ‘Turbo Kid’. Here’s our review to persuade you further.

Damien Chazelle’s La La Land Gets New Release Date

Damien Chazelle, the man behind JumpCut UK favourite ‘Whiplash’, could well be set for more Oscars success next year. Too soon, we hear you cry? Maybe so, but his latest project ‘La La Land’ recently got pushed from a summer release to a December release, which at least suggests that the film is plotting an Academy run. 

The musical drama, starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, with J.K Simmons also joining forces with his ‘Whiplash’ director, has us very excited here, but will it get the Academy’s attention? We think so.

Written by Jakob Lewis Barnes

Netflix Highlights: February

So it’s March already, crazy right? But let’s not forget about February just yet! Our Netflix expert, Mark Blakeway, has put together this handy list of all the best new films which were added to the site last month.


LOVE

Love
Gasper Noé has some incredible films to his name (Irreversible, Enter The Void are personal favourites), but unfortunately for him he has set a standard so impeccably high that it was inevitable this would eventually lead to disappointment. His 3D film ‘Love’ may not meet the credible artistic heights of his previous work, but it’s now available on Netflix for you to enjoy. With the up-close-and-personal money shots you would expect when the words “3D” and “sex” are thrown together, his largely unloved ‘Love’ is for those looking for something a little different.


django-unchained-jamie-foxx

Django Unchained
If you’ve not been out to see Tarantino’s newest feature ‘The Hateful Eight’ yet, perhaps you can find the time (all 160+ minutes of it) to catch up one of his previous films, ‘Django Unchained’. Set in the Deep South, Jamie Foxx stars as Django – a slave looking to find his wife who was also sold off into slavery. Immensely violent, with a great script brought to life by a fantastic cast (Samuel L. Jackson, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerri Washington, Christoph Waltz), ‘Django Unchained’ is completely over-the-top and self-indulgent, but would you expect anything less from Tarantino.


departures

Departures
A tale of a man who leaves his dream job in an orchestra and becomes a nōkanshi – a traditional Japanese ritual mortician. The social and emotional effects of this decision and the impact on his life are explored in great detail, and at times it can be a little melodramatic. However, this 2009 Academy Award-winning Japanese film has an abundance of style, a score to match and a fantastic cast, so it’s difficult not to be captivated by this story. At just over two hours long – and the bulk of the film about death – it’s not for those easily trigged by long drawn out upsetting scenes backed by classical music.


Lone-Survivor

Lone Survivor
‘Lone Survivor’ details the events that took place while four Navy Seals attempted to carry out a counter-insurgency mission to take down one of the key Taliban targets.  Even though the title of the film essentially gives the game away, it does not detract from the sheer intensity of this war film. Set to epic music by Explosions In The Sky, this is a bloody, fast-paced and action-packed story based on real events. Some may deem it to be extremely dramatic, while others may find the violence obscene, but it is a remarkable tale that gets the heart racing.


Liar Liar

Liar Liar
Everyone should have seen this movie by now, ‘Liar Liar’ is an absolute comedy classic that deserves to be watched over and over again, and chances are you will have done so considering the amount of times it has been on TV. It is by no means groundbreaking; it is just a man who cannot help but tell the truth for a bit, but with Jim Carrey’s completely over-the-top style (as seen in the likes of Ace Ventura and Bruce Almighty) this film has been a comedy favourite for decades. They don’t make ’em like they used to.


TENURED

Tenured
Gil Zabarksy stars as Ethan, a teacher with the added perk of having “tenure”, which in his head means he can do pretty much anything and can’t be fired. He swears in class, lets the kids do whatever they want, and generally dosses about achieving nothing. A sudden change in his life, combined with a Principle who hates him, results in him directing the school play – and everything comes under threat. It is a formulaic, easy-going, predictable comedy with a bunch of good performances, but the laughs keep on coming, unlike many other indie comedies that try to get sentimental.  Perfect viewing when you don’t want to pay too much attention to anything.

The Martian

Written by Chris Winterbottom
Edited by Nick Deal

Ridley Scott has had mixed results with his various filmmaking projects, during a career which has spanned almost 40 years, from exquisite masterpieces such as ‘Alien’ to the painfully dull ‘Kingdom of Heaven’. His name is synonymous with quality, yet for me, I am always sceptical when a new Ridley Scott film is released. ‘Exodus: Gods And Kings’ was a disappointment with both audiences and critics and ‘The Counsellor’ was highly divisive. There is always the promise of something great with a Ridley Scott film though, and it was no different when ‘The Martian’, with Matt Damon at the fore, was announced.

‘The Martian’ takes Scott back to the familiar territory of the science-fiction genre, something he attempted to do with the recent ‘Prometheus’, which met a luke-warm reception at best. Based on an acclaimed novel of the same name, ‘The Martian’ sees Mark Watney, played by Matt Damon, stranded on the Red Planet after a fierce storm hits and the rest of his crew flee without him. Watney is presumed dead, finding himself alone on this alien land with only meagre supplies, his grit, determination and will to survive keeping him company. Get an idea of what is to come by watching the trailer.

The film seems interesting to me and promises to be a simpler project for Scott, who is more accustomed to directing films that are epic in every sense of the word such as ‘Gladiator’. For a while he was fancied (although I debate this) as the David Lean or John Ford of the modern era, creating huge expansive movies in the epic genre; a genre that was previously dormant in Hollywood. It says a lot about Scott’s portfolio of work, that a movie spanning millions of miles, between Earth and Mars, appears to be a much more intimate and elementary project than he is used to.

The idea of a man stranded alone in a foreign place is not a new concept and the idea reminded me, to some degree, of the plot of ‘Cast Away’. Just replace the island for a planet and you may see the similarities. Although it does promise to be much more than just a simple “lost in space film”. Scott’s movies, particularly those set in space, often have great big philosophical mutterings embedded in the story. ‘Alien’ was concerned with the fear of women and ‘Prometheus’ simply asked “how did it all begin?” I have no doubt that ‘The Martian’ will have plenty of thematic exploration in the film to keep us interested, and will have us talking about it days after we’ve seen it. I love films that ignite the audience’s intellect, making them question what it all means, creating debate between friends and family.

I have not read the source material, written by Andy Weir, although I am now going to pick up a copy in preparation for this movie. It has proven to be very popular and even the one and only Tom Hanks stated he will be first in line when the film is released. The film clearly has some high-profile backing, not to mention a quite brilliant cast ensemble, particularly Jessica Chastain who is one of the finest screen talents working today. It is surprising to see Kristen Wiig on the cast sheet, an actor who we have seen mostly in comedies rather than sci-fi epics. But Wiig is a capable and watchable screen presence and I am looking forward to seeing her in a film completely at odds with anything she has done before. We might see a change in her career, much in the same way Jonah Hill has transformed his. From working in Judd Apatow movies, to being nominated at the Academy Awards twice for his work on ‘Moneyball’ and ‘The Wolf Of Wall Street’, it is clear that Hill was prepared to challenge himself. Perhaps Wiig will have a similar career trajectory, maybe even a nomination or two will come her way. When you consider the cast also includes Chiwetel Ejiofor, Sean Bean, Michael Pena and Kate Mara, it’s impossible not to be impressed.

Matt Damon is another actor I feel is underrated. He doesn’t have the classic leading man look and yet, like Benedict Cumberbatch or Tom Hanks himself, he is insanely charismatic. An important quality of the film is to be focussed predominantly on his character alone; big responsibility indeed. He will have to deliver a terrific performance, and carry the burden of being on-screen for such a long time; much like Hanks did in ‘Cast Away’ or Sam Rockwell did in ‘Moon’. Damon was actually concerned about the role saying that it was too similar to the one he played in Christopher Nolan’s epic ‘Interstellar’. I can see his point, although Scott has been quick to nullify the issue by saying the films are nothing like each other. It’s fair to say then, that on this evidence, ‘The Martian’ will probably have a more existential philosophical tone rather than the hardcore physics exam-like tone that existed in Nolan’s film. 

We get a “lost in space” film annually now, and ‘The Martian’ is undeniably this year’s installment, but I am looking forward to this film immensely. Despite being a fan of all the actors involved, I am somewhat disillusioned by Ridley Scott’s work. I really want this to be as great as it looks, but I have the overwhelming fear that it will be a great big let-down. The film’s UK release is penned in for 30 September, a period that is stranded between summer blockbuster season and the time where awards panels are on the lookout for contenders, which is never a good sign. But with a cast this good, a story so simple and with source material to fall back on, it is the first Ridley Scott film I truly believe, with all my heart, has to be great. Fingers crossed.