Thursday, 27 September 2012

Holy Motors, aka WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK

Anyone who saw 2008's Tokyo!, a three-part anthology with contributions from Michel Gondry, Bong Joon-ho and Leos Carax, can't fail to have been delighted and disgusted in equal measure by the latter's co-creation (with his muse, actor Denis Lavant), "Monsieur Merde". Mister Shit, as he's known over here, was a grotesque sewer-dwelling goblin who terrorised the streets of Tokyo by stealing and eating cash and flowers, licking schoolgirls' armpits and assaulting disabled people to the strains of a jaunty ditty. He also spoke in an unintelligible screech and looked like Anne Robinson might if she hadn't had all those facelifts.
The good news is that Mister Shit makes a welcome reappearance in Carax's new film Holy Motors, and he's possibly the least insane thing about it.

It seems almost redundant to try and describe Holy Motors' plot, so I won't bother. Just know that it involves motion capture sex, a fantastic musical number played almost entirely on accordions, an assassin who kills himself twice (possibly even three times), a man who lives with monkeys, a stonking erection and Kylie Minogue. Yet it isn't really about any of those things.

What it is about, unsurprisingly, is largely open to interpretation. A final revelation offers some clue to the film's meaning, but it's both ambiguous and, to an extent, immaterial. What matters is that the preceding 110 minutes are as bold, inventive and buttocks-out bonkers as anything seen in cinemas for a long time.
Refreshingly unpretentious and enjoyable for what could easily be seen as art for art's sake, Holy Motors will nevertheless be a divisive film when it's unleashed on an unsuspecting public. Whatever your opinion, it demands to be seen, if only to provoke an argument about whether or not it's any good. Personally I still haven't decided.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Looper

I fucking love time travel films. I find the whole concept and potential consequences of fannying about in the space-time continuum so mind-squashingly bonkers that I can't believe there are some time travel films out there that aren't completely brilliant. Still, anyone who's seen shit like Timeline, Hot Tub Time Machine or Star Trek Generations knows that with enough lack of attention to detail and lazy scripting, it is perfectly possible to make a pig's ballbag out of a flux capacitor.

It was therefore with no small amount of trepidation and director Rian Johnson's mediocre CV in mind (let's be honest, Brick is just Bugsy Malone without songs or splurge guns) that I approached Looper. I needn't have worried: it's really quite brilliant. Even the prosthetics used to make Joseph Gordon-Levitt look like a young Bruce Willis are seamless.
Like all the best time travel movies, Looper's plot does something completely fresh with its well-worn catalyst, and the first hour or so fizzes with genius as hitman JGL hooks up with his future self, Bruce Willis. After a fairly exposition-heavy opening, Johnson unleashes a barrage of ingenuity at the screen which includes a chillingly original torture scene, a way-more-fun-than-it-sounds conversation in a diner and an audaciously virtuoso montage which condenses thirty years into a few tempestuous minutes. It even boasts satisfyingly textured characters - well, character - in JGL and Willis' Joe, a hired killer with constantly-shifting motives that may or may not justify some frankly questionable behaviour.

And then, just as you've acclimatised to its 88 miles-per-hour pace, the film makes a crunching gear change, slams on the brakes and pulls up into the driveway of
Emily...

...Blunt's...

...farm.

Suddenly we find ourselves in confined drama territory, which initially feels like a breather from the preceding whirlwind of ideas, but which goes on for so long that by the time the film ends it feels like somebody turned over to Doc Martin while you were in the middle of an episode of Spartacus. I take my replica Marty McFly Junior multichromatic PVC hat off to Rian Johnson for daring to avoid the tiresome structure that props up most sci-fi these days, but this tranche of Looper - which, it should be noted, contains several moments of standout brilliance - shifts almost all the focus away from what made the first hour so great.

Despite Emily Blunt's Farm of Lethargy, Looper is still a welcome and dazzling addition to the time travel subgenre. It's just that if you could go back in time and meet your pre-Looper self, you'd tell them to manage their expectations accordingly, and therefore you might find yourself enjoying the film more. In these pre-time-travel days, though, it looks like we'll just have to make do with a second viewing.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

When The Incredible Suit Met James Bond: Episode One In A Series Of Six (With Any Luck)

Until yesterday, I'd never met a James Bond. I'd met a Tracy Bond, which was nice, but not quite the same. Somehow, of the six actors who've played the character that I've become unhealthily fixated on for the last *cough*ty years, none have ever crossed my path.

Yesterday, though, I met James The Fifth: Pierce Brosnan, and it was possibly one of the most exciting things that's ever happened to anyone anywhere. I realise that some people meet film stars all the time, and some people never meet any, so how relevant or interesting the rest of this post is to you is out of my control. In all honesty I'm writing it more for myself so that when I'm a hundred and seventeen years old I can look back at this and think: "That was a good day. Also, where did this massive pool of piss come from?"
The excitement began when some friends alerted me to the fact that Brosnan was filming just down the road from where I work, and had been seen mooching about in a nearby café. I ummed and aahed about whether to go and stalk him or not, then decided that I had nothing a) to lose and b) else to do, so off I went with a spring in my step and a slightly increased heart rate.

On approaching the area it was clear that this was a fairly relaxed location shoot: all those guys with puffa jackets and clipboards and rolls of gaffer tape hanging off their belts were there, but I could happily walk through them all without hindrance. Then I noticed a crowd of people on some steps, all taking photos of someone or something I couldn't quite see. My detective skills led me to suspect that this could well be where I might find The Broz.

I rounded a large man in a paramedic's uniform (detective's analysis: he was either a paramedic or an actor dressed as a paramedic), and there he was. Pierce Brosnan was sat in a chair six feet from me, next to a man I didn't recognise. I assumed he was the director. I was wrong, but more on that later. They were deeply interested in the other man's phone, oblivious to the amateur paparazzi, so I took the chance to crack off a few action shots:
ACTION

ACTION

ACTION

After a while the other man's phone must have lost its attraction, because both men stood up and sauntered through the crowd of amazed onlookers and into the café. In case you find this difficult to believe, here's a shot of Pierce Brosnan standing up.
At this point I had two options:
Option 1. Go back to work with my photos of Pierce Brosnan and a strange man and feel quite pleased with myself.
Option 2. Take a deep breath, walk into the café and attempt contact with James Flipping Bond.
I chose Option 2, because 117-year-old me would never have forgiven me if I hadn't.

Mildly terrified, I stepped into the café. It was tiny. There were about eight people in there and it was full. But there, right in front of me, looking straight at me, was six foot two of fifty-nine-year-old Irishman in a long black overcoat, dark blue jeans and a blue silk scarf round his neck. As handsome as ever, his blue gimlet eyes twinkled in the depressing fluorescent light of a London snack stop. It was all I could do not to run at him in slow motion and hug him, thanking him for the good times and politely ignoring Die Another Day.

With herculean willpower I resisted that temptation, and instead plumped for the second thing that came into my head, after "FFFUUUUUUUUUU":

"Hello", I said, and thrust my hand out.

"Hello", PIERCE BROSNAN said, to ME, and SHOOK MY HAND. He smiled the smile of a man who doesn't know if he's just met a script supervisor or an assassin.

"I just wanted to say hello", I continued, which was a lie. I wanted so much more. I decided to explain why I was harrassing him when he was just trying to get a latte. "I'm a massive Bond fan", I said, knowing full well that he couldn't care less. It's no secret that while he's grateful for what Bond did for him, he left the series under a cloud and would probably much rather someone approached him and said "I'm a massive Grey Owl fan. Your portrayal of the Canadian fur trapper turned conservationist was inspirational. I'll leave you alone now."
This actually exists

But leave him alone I did not. Also I've never seen Grey Owl. He looked into the distance, perhaps wistfully, perhaps wondering why his coffee was taking so bloody long, and said: "Ah, yes. They are good, aren't they", in much the same way that you or I might talk about washing machines.

He turned to look at me again, probably wondering how much longer this torture would end, and it was at this point that I completely lost my shit. I honestly believed I was above embarrassing myself in front of celebrities, but that turned out not to be the case. Totally involuntarily, the words "Sorry, I'm just so excited" tumbled out of my face like fizzy froth spurting out of a shaken lemonade bottle, and I actually clamped my hand over my mouth before any more inane cockwaffle spilled out.

Despite all the justification for doing so, Pierce Brosnan did not run away. He merely eyed me with a small amount of sympathy and waited for my next ejaculation. I gathered myself and asked him what he was working on.

"It's a Nick Hornby film called A Long Way Down", he said. This triggered something in my mind so, in an attempt to prolong the life of this clinically dead conversation, I replied: "Oh yeah, I read something about that this morning... somebody's just been cast... a woman?" I had literally no idea what I was talking about. I'd actually seen a press release on Monday announcing the start of principal photography on A Long Way Down, but it said nothing about anyone being recently cast. I was babbling.

"Sorry?", Brosnan enquired, correctly ascertaining that I was beginning to collapse from the inside out. "Uh... I read that, er... a lady had been cast in it. Quite recently", I wittered. Jesus Christ.

At this point Brosnan, mercifully, decided to engage PR mode, and began to reel off the cast members who had, no doubt, been tied down for some time. "Yeah, we've got Sam Neill, Imogen Poots, Toni Collette...", he explained. I mumbled some vague interested noises while the small part of my brain that still functioned slowly realised that the moustachioed phone-wielding man Brosnan had been sat with was in fact DOCTOR ALAN GRANT OFF OF JURASSIC PARK. Under normal circumstances I would have gone and pestered him too, but these were not normal circumstances. I had a mission to accomplish. I wanted photographic evidence that I had met James Bond, as further proof to my elderly future self.

"Have you got a second for a quick photo?", I asked, and the fluorescent lights of the café were suddenly extinguished by a cloud the colour of Guinness. Pierce Brosnan did not answer. He looked at me with an expression that conveyed exactly how much he wanted to have his photo taken: not at all. But he didn't say no, and I'd come this far. I wasn't about to give up, and he could see it in my manic, goggling eyes and beetroot-red cheeks. "Go on then," he said, with all the enthusiasm he might have used if I was a dentist about to remove all his teeth.

I attempted to take a photo of the two of us myself, with my phone. The task was complicated by the fact that pointing the phone at myself meant I couldn't see where to press, not to mention that my hands were shaking like one of those paint-mixing machines in B&Q. None of this escaped Brosnan's notice. "Good luck", he said, with no small amount of pity.

The photo didn't work. This was excruciating. As thrilled as I was to be in Pierce Brosnan's presence, I had pissed him off and wanted nothing more than to leave him alone with his latte and his paleontologist chum. But I was determined, running on adrenaline and vaguely aware that I had personally contributed quite heavily to Brosnan's fame and fortune, so by crikey I was going to get this goddamn photograph.

I nervously explained to Brosnan that the attempt had failed and asked if he wouldn't mind if I got someone else to take it. Again, that look. Time - and his patience - were running out. But again, he acquiesced. I grabbed a nearby crew member and asked him to take the photo, which he did with minimal fuss, thank Christ. "There you go", said Pierce Brosnan. "Thank you very much," I replied, as he started to sidle away. "I appreciate your time". For some reason I gave him a friendly pat on the upper arm as he left, like we were brothers or something. He mumbled some words as he wandered away which could equally have been "You're welcome" or "You'll be hearing from my lawyers". I didn't care. I had the photo. I'd met James Bond. And he was almost as excited as I was.



Further reading

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Spot The Odd One Out





Hard to tell, seeing as how all of these look like fan posters knocked up during someone's lunch break, but only the first three actually are. The last one is the one that was knocked up during the lunch break of someone who works for the official Skyfall marketing department.

Let's be honest, it's no this.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Daniel Craig To Play James Bond Until He's 68 Years Old

Despite the conspicuous absence of an official announcement from EON Productions, it seems safe to say - after James Bond fansite MI6 broke the news last Thursday, and Deadline confirmed it on Friday - that Daniel Craig has signed on for two more Bond films post-Skyfall.

This development opens up all sorts of avenues for lively debate, by far the most important of which is: how old will Daniel Craig be by the time he hangs up his tux? Well, let's look at the facts: there were two years between Casino Royale and Quantum Of Solace, and four years between Quantum Of Solace and Skyfall. Employing complex applied mathematics to extrapolate this data, we can see that the gap between Craig's Bond films doubles at each stage, and will in all probability continue to do so. Therefore:
If Bruce Willis doesn't appear in Skyfall as James Bond's future self from 2036, somebody's missed a trick.

Monday, 10 September 2012

Bad Hat Harry's Ten Baddest Hats

Jaws is out on Blu-ray now. It's as completely brilliant as it's always been. I command you to go and buy it immediately.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

It's Nearly Time For The 2012 London Pastry Festival!

This morning saw the annual ritual in which film journalists from around the world are lured into the Odeon Leicester Square with the promise of a mountain of free pastries, only to be locked in and forced to listen to two women talk about corporate sponsorship and, to a lesser extent, films. Yep, it's the press launch of the London Film Festival, 2012 stylee!
Fuck.

The free pastries were indeed plentiful, but that's not really why we were there. We were really there for the free goodie bags, which I'll come to later. In between the pastries and the goody bag though, like the filling in a free sandwich, was the BFI's new Head Of Exhibition Clare Stewart, doing her utmost to erase all memories of her predecessor Sandra Hebron's knee-length FMBs by wearing a pair of bright pink shoes so powerful that they rendered my phone's camera almost useless:
Clare introduced her first LFF's films over the course of half an hour which saw no mention of Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master or Terrence Malick's To The Wonder, which caused several critics to cry actual tears of pain au chocolat. Even more disappointing (for me only, probably) was the absence of Derek Cianfrance's Blue Valentine follow-up The Place Beyond The Pines, starring Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper, which debuts at the Toronto Film Festival this weekend. Still, what's actually showing is probably more worth discussing than what isn't, so here - arranged into an attractive diamond shape - are just some of the probably-worth-watching big screenings so important they get at least half a page of the LFF brochure to themselves:

Argo
Sightseers
Song For Marion
Hyde Park On Hudson
The Reluctant Fundamentalist
A Liar's Autobiography
Great Expectations
Frankenweenie
Amour

Opening up and exploring the inner labia of the programme, however, reveals a wealth of lesser-known goodies that look just as good, if not better. So here are 5.6 films (rounded up to the nearest whole number) that may or may not be worth catching at the 56th London Film Festival, because I did 55 films last year for the 55th LFF and it nearly killed me.

Seven Psychopaths
Martin McDonagh's follow up to In Bruges (any disparaging of which will earn you the same reaction on Twitter as racial abuse would), this reads like one of Guy Ritchie's wet dreams but nevertheless looks undeniably, violently enjoyable.

Nameless Gangster
South Korea's highest-grossing film of 2012 stars the mighty Choi Min-sik and looks to be bleeding Coppola and Scorsese from every sprocket hole. Not necessarily a good thing (cf. Lawless), but at least this one doesn't star LaBeouf.

Wish You Were Here
Out in Australia for yonks, this tempting thriller is from Kieran Darcy-Smith of Blue-Tongue Films, about whom I'm sure you are already familiar. Stars the eternally watchable Joel Edgerton (Animal Kingdom).

Room 237
This documentary about the hidden meanings of The Shining looks to be all sorts of mental. Could very well ruin Kubrick's masterpiece for you, or could change the way you look at films... FOREVER. Probably the former.

Compliance
Watch the trailer and tell me this doesn't look incredible. Even more astonishing is the true story on which it's based.


The Manxman
In the BFI's Year Of The Hitchcock, it's only right that the LFF should show another beautifully restored example of his early silents, this one about a complex love triangle in darkest Isle Of Man. With a live score by Stephen Horne.


It goes without saying that there are oodles more treasures to be found lurking in London's cinemas between October 10th and 21st, so grab a programme or check out the website for more, and frankly more useful, information.

All of which brings me to the goodie bag. Last year, it contained: popcorn; a VIP pass to an exclusive club; an Oyster card wallet; an issue of German Films Quarterly; a programme; a LoveFilm voucher; an enormous heap of press releases; a pen; a clothes peg and - after some whining like a bitch - two bars of Green & Black's chocolate. This year I flung out the programme and press releases in the hope of finding at least a miniature bottle of vodka from new sponsors Ciroc, and...
PLEASE COME BACK SANDRA HEBRON IT'S ALL GONE WRONG WITHOUT YOU

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

The Casino Royale Titles:
Daniel Kleinman's Early Designs

Following yesterday's interview with Daniel Kleinman, designer of six James Bond title sequences (including the forthcoming Skyfall), here's a bunch of "rough electronic sketches" that he produced while creating the titles for Casino Royale. Some of these images have never been seen before outside Daniel's computer, and I'm eternally grateful to him for allowing me to publish them on The Incredible Suit, not to mention somewhat inappropriately aroused.

The first twelve images are scans of an annotated storyboard of the first part of the sequence; the notes are Daniel's own. The rest are sketches intended to convey the visual ideas he wanted to put on film.

All images are reproduced with the kind permission of Daniel Kleinman.
All images are © Daniel Kleinman.























Don't forget, all images are © Daniel Kleinman. I'm not mucking about here.