Films seen so far this year: 360
Films seen this week: Takers, Little Big Soldier, The Social Network, Let Me In, Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives
RIP Tony Curtis, Arthur Penn and Sally Menke
Like like-minded film fans everywhere, I was saddened by the deaths of Tony Curtis, Arthur Penn and Tarantino's editor Sally Menke this week. It's said that Hollywood (or at least celebrity) deaths always seem to come in threes and it seems this week was no exception (although someone on Twitter then pointed out that Gloria Stuart (old Rose in Titanic) and Joe Mantell had both died recently too, so technically, that means we're due at least one more). Menke's death is particularly sad because of her relative youth (she was 56, Curtis and Penn were 85 and 88, respectively) and the tragic circumstances involved. She seems to have been as important to Tarantino as Thelma Schoonmaker is to Martin Scorsese – at any rate, this rather wonderful tribute video of Inglourious Basterds actors and crew saying “Hi Sally” to Menke after out-takes gives some idea of the great affection she obviously inspired in those around her.
As for Arthur Penn, he had retired as a director but was responsible for some of my favourite 1960s and 1970s films, notably Bonnie and Clyde, Little Big Man, unsung Gene Hackman '70s noir Night Moves and 1962's The Miracle Worker, which includes this wonderful classic scene. As for Tony Curtis, he made at least two films that would be in my all-time top ten (Some Like It Hot and Sweet Smell of Success) but I'm also fond of his roles in The Defiant Ones (where he plays a racist escaped prisoner chained to Sidney Poitier) and The Vikings, which a) was the film where he fell in love with Janet Leigh and b) gave us the line “Love and hate are but two horns on the same goat”. I'm going to leave the last word on Tony Curtis to esteemed film critic Roger Ebert, who published this too-rude-for-this-blog story about him yesterday. To save you googling, Yvonne de Carlo played Lily Munster and looked like this.
Films I Am Dying To See: True Grit
This week saw the eagerly-awaited release of the teaser trailer for the Coen Brothers' remake of classic John Wayne western True Grit. Newcomer Hailee Steinfeld stars as Mattie Ross, who sets out to avenge her father's murder and enlists the help of hard-drinking, one-eyed Marshal Reuben 'Rooster' Cogburn (Jeff Bridges). As if Bridges reprising John Wayne's Oscar-winning role wasn't tantalising enough, the film also co-stars Josh Brolin as Mattie's father's killer and Matt Damon as a Texas ranger who joins the hunt for reasons of his own. I'm a huge Coen Brothers fan anyway, so this was always going to be top of my Must See list, but even so, it looks fantastic. I'm excited to see the Coens doing a proper western (No Country For Old Men comes close, but not close enough) and can't wait to see Bridges as Rooster Cogburn – hopefully they've kept the iconic “FILL YOUR HAND, YOU SONOFABITCH!” moment. I love the music on the trailer too, not least because it sounds like the same sort of music the Coens used on O Brother, Where Art Thou?, which would mean another wonderful soundtrack album was in the offing. Is it too much to hope that True Grit will be the Surprise Film at this year's London Film Festival? I suppose it is, but a man can dream. At any rate, it opens here in early January and I can't wait to see it.
Top 10 Films On Release This Week (as recommended by me):
Just two new entries this week, with Ryan-Reynolds-in-a-box thriller Buried and based-on-a-true-story British comedy-drama Made In Dagenham both making it into the top ten. I've had to drop Inception from the list to make room for them, but surely everyone's already seen Inception? I'll also put in a good word for Oscar-nominated Irish animation The Secret of Kells, Mark Cousins' moving documentary The First Movie and, of course, the re-release of Back to the Future, which has been given the digital remastering treatment and looks pin-sharp as a result. It's also, for my money, the blockbuster that all other blockbusters should aspire too, as it's essentially perfect. Elsewhere, we have exclusive interviews with Made In Dagenham stars Jaime Winstone and Rosaumund Pike and you can still read our exclusive interviews with Debra Granik and Jennifer Lawrence for Winter's Bone, as well as our interviews with Enter the Void director Gaspar Noe and The Hole (3D) director Joe Dante.
1. Winter's Bone
2. Enter the Void
3. Toy Story 3
4. World's Greatest Dad
5. The Town
7. Scott Pilgrim vs the World
8. Tamara Drewe
9. Made In Dagenham
DVD Of The Week: The Disappearance of Alice Creed (released October 4th, RRP £17.99)
This week's DVD of the Week is British thriller The Disappearance of Alice Creed, starring Eddie Marsan and Martin Compston as two criminals who kidnap socialite Alice Creed (Gemma Arterton) and hold her for ransom. Impressively directed and superbly written, this is a hugely enjoyable, constantly surprising and thoroughly gripping thriller with terrific performances from its three leads, though rumours that sales of Alice's iconic purple tracksuit shot up after the film came out are, apparently, unconfirmed. It's also, for my money, one of the best British films of the year and marks writer-director J Blakeson out as a talent to watch. Extras include: a director's commentary; UK and US trailers; an extended scene (with commentary); selected storyboards (with the storyboards appearing above the actual scenes, for comparison); and an 11 minute Making Of featurette, which includes behind the scenes footage and interviews with Blakeson and all three actors. Highly recommended.
Death in threes? It looks like your dark prediction came true Matt, with the passing of Norman Wisdom now.
It's a proper thing! I didn't just make it up. Celebrity deaths *always* seem to come in threes. Lots and lots of examples over the years, e.g. Lady Diana, Mother Theresa and...um...whoever else died around the same time.