Martin Landau: 1928 – 2017

Not a good day for losing icons. Legendary actor Martin Landau passed away at age 89. Landau made his film debut as a henchmen in Alfred Hitchcock’s North By Northwest, and was a regular presence on both the big screen and the small screen thereafter massing a huge body of work from wide-screen epics Cleopatra and the Greatest Story Ever Told, to Mission:Impossible, Columbo and Space 1999 on the boobtube.

He h
He was especially beloved for his portrayal of Bela Lugosi in Tim Burton’s masterpiece, Ed Wood, and went on to work with Burton a few more times (doing voice work in Frankenweenie) and uncredited in Sleepy Hollow. His wicked smile, could shift on a dime to a long intimidating face, which allowed the actor equal comfort as the villain or the hero, and later on (see his Judge character in poker drama, Rounders) a father figure. In real life, he also offered his services as an acting coach and played some part in training Jack Nicholson, Harry Dean Stanton (who is a couple years older than Landau) and Angelica Huston among others.

As a young man, he hung out with James Dean and Marilyn Monroe, and as an older gentlemen, he remained working right up until his recent passing. His career had ups and downs, but he never faded away, and was one of those A-list character actors that are rare these days.

VanityFair has more.

Hot Docs 2016 Review: De Palma

depalma

Noah Baumbach and Jake Paltrow’s feature length interview could have easily been called “De Palma on De Palma.” It features prolific director Brian De Palma, now in his late sixties, in front of a blueish coloured fireplace mantle for its entire duration as the man, in his own casual way, walks through his filmography in order. He offers stories and offers opinions, slags a few people and ideas, and expresses varied regrets, bon mots and tangents along the way.

The experience is delightfully simple, involving cutting away to film clips to underscore what is being discussed, with the editing offering only an occasional hint that there are two younger indie directors on the other side of the camera.

De Palma’s 40 year career, from shoe-string indie pictures to Hollywood blockbusters. De Palma discovered Robert De Niro in college (and made the noteworthy pre-cursor to Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver, Hi Mom! in 1970 – it is noteworthy in that Hi Mom! is quite excellent! In his twenties he directed a late career, quite addled, Orson Welles along with a cantankerous Tommy Smothers in a film called Get To Know Your Rabbit and would go on to direct a slew of movies both big and small with many of the biggest actors of the day: Sissy Spacek, Cliff Robertson, Geneviève Bujold, John Travolta, Melanie Griffith, Nicolas Cage, Sean Connery, Kirk Douglas, Al Pacino, Sean Penn, Bruce Willis, Tom Hanks, Jean Reno, Tom Cruise, and a music video with The Boss himself, Bruce Springsteen (yes, that music video, so you can thank De Palma or blame him for giving to the world, Courtney Cox.)

I don’t believe a lengthy review of this documentary is entirely necessary, as De Palma is a blunt man who does not mince words. Perhaps Hollywood’s most significant acolyte of Alfred Hitchcock, De Palma makes no bones about borrowing from the ‘Master of Suspense’ at every turn: from the macguffin concept, to doubles, lurid voyeurism, and a fascination with the ‘bomb that is about to go off’ style of storytelling. De Palma has always taken shots he loves (the Odessa Steps sequence from Battleship Potemkin for instance) and tried to build on them in modern stylish ways. It is no surprise that in kind, Quentin Tarantino happily and regularly pilfers from De Palma in a similar fashion. It is the nature of cinema, of art itself really. De Palma just did it with a bit more blood and sleaze and split screens.

Would you like to know more…?

Cinecast Episode 405 – SPECTRE-tacular

 
Kurt is back from Montreal’s Fantasia Film Festival, and he might have a thing or two to say about the movies, the town and the folks at that festival. At nearly two hours we can only say brace yourself for genre-overload. But first, Matt Gamble joins Kurt & Andrew midway through the conversation on Christopher McQuarrie’s installment of the Mission Impossible franchise. Kurt loved it. Andrew liked it. Matt, well, Matt watched it. Practical stunts, exceptional set-pieces and the ass-kicking talents of Rebecca Ferguson and a cleaned up and ready for prime time Sean Harris are all on the conversational docket. While there is no full “True Detective” segment this episode (we’ll cap the remaining three off, next time) there is a full Watch List for your listening pleasure, and Matt does briefly chime in on this season of “True Detective,” along with the doc on Richard Stanley’s Island of Dr. Moreau remake disaster, and Adam Sandler’s Pixels. Andrew covers off the cult classic Wet Hot American Summer and its direct-to-Nexflix sequel. Finally we settle the Mara Rooney / Kate Mara confusion (sort of).

As always, please join the conversation by leaving your own thoughts in the comment section below and again, thanks for listening!

 

 
 

 

Would you like to know more…?

Friday One Sheet: Clean Shaven Sean

Doesn’t Sean Harris clean up nicely?

The latest character posters for Mission Impossible 5 features the British actor known for playing icky villains or low-lives in small UK productions (remember his Drexl-type drug dealer in Harry Brown or his assassin in A Lonely Place To Die?) or, more recently, seen in big Hollywood productions (as in the gutter-punk geologist who gets lost in the caves in Prometheus).

The rest of the clean (Alec Baldwin and Simon Pegg are also looking sharp) and uncluttered Ghost Protocol character posters can be found here.

After the Hype #95 – Mission Impossible

ATHlogo_temp3mi5

 

Your mission – should you choose to accept it – is to listen to Bryan, Jon, and Cody talk about the first Mission Impossible film, directed by Brian De Palma. This podcast will self destruct in 1:01:30.

 

Would you like to know more…?

**UPDATED** Full Trailer: Mission Impossible 5

In its fifth entry, the Mission Impossible franchise doubles down on crazy-real stunts involving its aging leading man, Tom Cruise. Previously, he was climbing around on the outside of Dubai’s Burj Kalifa skyscraper. Here he is struggling on the outside of a gargantuan military aircraft as it takes off. Impressive stuff.

The rest of the trailer is more of what you would expect from the fifth entry of a franchise. Christopher McQuarrie taking over for Brad Bird in the director department seems like an OK choice, but the screenplay, written by Iron Man 3 scribe Drew Pearce and video game writer Will Staples, involves a shadow-agency — an evil mirror of the IMF — and is as lazy as one can get; probably another indication of Bad Robot being the ongoing shepherd for the franchise.

Would you like to know more…?

Review: Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol

Although far from seminal, there are a few Hollywood franchises I enjoy more than the Mission Impossible series. Laden with spectacular stunts and driven by a Lalo Schifrin’s sensational main theme, each film bears the unique stylistic stamp of the director at the helm – Brian De Palma (Scarface) for the original, John Woo (Face/Off) and J.J. Abrams (Star Trek) for the sequels – while at the same time succeeding as fun, fast paced action movies guaranteed to excite and entertain. Most recently, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol sees another new filmmaker take the reins: The Incredibles director Brad Bird, in his very first live-action film. And while the plot may be slapdash and characterizations frequently feeble, this new mission once again delivers what audiences really want: ambitious, gripping, fantastically conceived action.

Ghost Protocol kicks off with IMF agents Jane Carter (Paula Patton; Precious) and Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg; Paul) breaking team leader Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) out a Russian prison so that the three of them might infiltrate the Kremlin and recover files that will help them identify a criminal known only as Cobalt (Michael Nyqvist; Abduction) who is bent on instigating a nuclear war. But the mission is soon revealed to be a set-up, and after a bomb destroys a large part of the Russian presidential complex, Hunt and his team, as well as the mysterious Agent Brandt (Jeremy Renner; The Hurt Locker) find themselves labelled as terrorists, disavowed by their agency, and with no choice but to clear their names by whatever means they can.
Would you like to know more…?

Friday One Sheet: Ghana take on Tom Cruise = Pudgy

It is fun to see how big Hollywood blockbusters are marketed around the world, and this series of hand-drawn posters from Ghana, are not sanctioned by the big American Corporations running the movie business, yet are insightful in how the particular artists sees the product. I am not even sure if that scene is in the Brian DePalma Mission Impossible; it looks a lot more like a scene from the John Woo sequel. The MI:2 poster has Tom Cruise looking like Corey Feldman. Click for lots more of these.

Trailer: MI-4 (Brad Bird Edition)

 
 

I suppose if it were not for Brad Bird at the helm of the fourth installment of the wildly variable Mission Impossible franchise, I probably wouldn’t even post this. Although Bird has stuck to animated films with his directorial career thus far, he is batting 1.000 with The Iron Giant, The Incredibles and Ratatouille, three of the best animated features to come out of the united states in the past 25 years. Couple that with the Tom Cruise franchise which has changed directors with each installment giving each chapter their own auteur-ish feel. Don’t get me wrong, we are not talking the Alien movies in quality or vision, but you can certainly tell between DePalma’s style, John Woo’s style and J.J. Abram’s style immediately when watching these films which are more or less big action set-piece machines, that ain’t half bad. This trailer leaves me a little cold (although that huge sky-scraping needle in Dubai is impressive on screen), but I remain optimistic that Bird is going to bring some really breeziness and surprise to the franchise that has gone on at least 2 chapter too long at this point.

(Oh, and it is nice to see Simon Pegg in earnest Hot Fuzz mode again, but wither Ving Rhames this time around?)

The MI:4 trailer is tucked under the seat.
Would you like to know more…?