Feature: Loren Janes : How The West Was Won

Feature: Loren Janes : How The West Was Won

All Things Film Blog Other Cr*p

“I might jump an open drawbridge, Or Tarzan from a vine. ‘Cause I’m the unknown stuntman that makes Eastwood look so fine.”

From The Fall Guy Theme Tune

Loren Janes Passed away in June 2017, mostly united by mainstream media in the UK.  I figured as I’d interviewed Janes back in 2008 and went into detail about his landmark career it would be a prudent time to rerun the original article, as published in the now gone Impact Magazine.  Enjoy. 

It’s a very rare person that doesn’t get at least a little bit nervous on their first day in a new job.  It can be a stressful time – all those new faces and names, ensuring the impression you make is the right one.  It can be a tough day for even the most hardened and confident of people.  Now imagine that your first day on a job sees you standing at the edge of a cliff, staring down at the coastline of California’s Catalina Island.   Golden Globe winning director George Sidney is on the megaphone calling the shots on a film called Jupiter’s Darling and your job is to perform a cliff dive ninety foot straight down, past the rough jagged cliff face into the harsh, unforgiving, cold seas below.   The average person would run a mile.  But the 2011 Taurus Award winner Loren Janes isn’t an average person.  Considered to be one of the best in the business, Janes is a pioneering stunt man whose fifty year career has seen him work on over five hundred films and near two thousand televisions shows. From The Towering Inferno to Back To The Future from in Bullitt to Spiderman he has worked on some of the greatest films ever made.

Janes remembers his first day in the business like it was yesterday. “When I got their I asked them ‘What’s it like down below?’ and they said ‘Don’t worry, it’s plenty deep’.  I wasn’t convinced so I said ‘I wanna go look!’  They said no.  They wanted to get on with it but I insisted!  Eventually they took me out in a boat and I took a look.  Under the water, going 40 feet, out was a shelf!  If I’d done it how they wanted I would have dived 90 feet down into 4 feet of water ! I picked another spot, checked it out and did the dive!”  Janes takes a breath “It was fun but I thought nothing else of it.  I went back to teaching but I kept getting calls.  I had gotten about six calls in six months from studios wanting me to do gymnastics and other bits for them.  I soon had a choice to keep teaching or do movies!  I chose movies and did it for over 50 years!”

Loren Janes grew up in a little Californian town called Sierra Madre.  Sitting at the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains and with a cramped population of just over ten thousand, the town is famed for it’s annual Wisteria festival, it’s lack of traffic signals and it’s dirt sidewalks.  In fact Sierra Madre back then was still very much a town of the old west.  I guess then it’s no surprise that Janes quickly developed a fondness for horses.  “I loved horses.  I used to go out bare back on horses to deliver my papers!” laughs Janes enthusiastically.  It was this adventurous streak that would takes Janes out exploring to the  uncompromising mountains that towered across his home town.

 

 

It one of these walkabouts that Janes came across an old cabin. “It was in the middle of nowhere… and no one had been their for years.  I looked around inside and I found some old Tarzan books!  Eighteen of them! I’d never read Tarzan before so I took them home.  Within days I’d read them all.  From then on I’d regularly go and spend months in the mountains with just a knife and dressed in little more than a lion cloth!  I wanted to be Tarzan! ”  Janes early pursuits have become legendary.  From spending weeks at a time living off the land, to getting on the wrong side of a deer earning a hoof in the face in the process, to walking the 222 mile John Muir Trail through the unforgiving Sierra Mountains, Janes physicality led him to become the first civilian to enter the United States Olympic Trails for the Modern Pentathlon – an event that combines swimming, riding, fencing, shooting and running.

“I’d run 10 miles a day on location when I wasn’t filming.  Pavements.  Sand.  Whatever.  I’d always run.  I’d swim, ride… do anything I could to keep in shape.  Throughout my life I always challenging myself.  The hardest physical challenge I have ever undertaken was probably when three of us went up Mount Shasta , which is only 40 feet under the highest mountain in the United States.  We went up their in winter on Ski’s, all the way to the top then back down again through 10,00 feet of almost vertical snow. That was typical of the kind of challenges I’d get up to”

 

 

So how does a kid from a small town like Sierra Madre break into the movie business?  “Teach calculus and trigonometry!” Jokes Janes, who as I interview him is sat comfortably at home on his California ranch. “ I was teacher,  doing some diving in my spare time to raise money for band uniforms.  One of the guys in my calculus class’s wife was a big shot at MGM.  One night in passing she mentioned how were struggling to find a couple of guys to do a ninety foot dive from a cliff in Catalina and how the guys they normally use that weren’t available.  He said ‘Well my teachers a diver!’ They called me at school the next day, asked me to come and meet them which I did and they hired me on the spot!”

Janes career took off in the 50’s and 60’s with some of his greatest work back in the heyday of the Western.  In fact if your a fan of the early Westerns it would have been pretty hard Not to have seen Janes at work– from the Emmy nominated TV series The Rifleman and Gunsmoke, to Oscar nominated Cheyenne Autumn and The Magnificent Seven.  “In those days we really did the stunts.  Their was no green screen like today. Every stunt I did was real and every stunt I did, done wrong, could have been really dangerous.  I’ve done one hundred and twenty stair falls.  One time I did twenty six bare back saddle falls in one day!  I had to do twenty six different falls, each time dressed as a different Indian!”

It was back in the early sixties that Janes did one of his favourite stunts, on the John Ford directed How The West Was Won… “ That was a tough film!  They had me on a train that was going over thirty miles an hour.  I had to leap off, hit a cactus and fall over the cliff!  I planned it, worked it out, cut the cactus at the right point because, you know, even at 30 miles an hour hitting the cactus would be like hitting a telegraph pole otherwise.  I remember I even took a blow torch to the spines where I though I was going to hit.  We prepared for days and then when it came down to it I just did it.  Rough and wild like we always did.  And you know what?  I hit it EXACTLY where I burnt the spines off!  I’m very proud of that stunt.  In fact I heard that when they showed that one in France, when it got to my bit the after they watched it the audience stood up applauded!”

 

 

It’s not many people who can boast working with Elvis Presley, Charlton Heston, Spencer Tracey, John Cassavetes, Gene Hackman, Clint Eastwood or Robert DeNiro let alone working with all of them but Janes has, and many more besides.  But it was his relationship with Steve McQueen that would prove to be the most memorable, as they enjoyed a twenty eight year partnership that would see them working together on almost all of McQueen’s TV shows and movies from his early work on Wanted: Dead Or Alive through to The Hunter in 1980.  Janes remembers McQueen fondly “Steve was a great guy for sure.  If he really liked you there wasn’t anything he wouldn’t do for you!  If he didn’t… boy you were in trouble!  We were great friends, we’d dine at each others houses. He was a real legend in every sense of he word.”

It was his work on The Hunter, McQueen’s last before his untimely death in 1980, that would allow Janes one of his finest on screen moments.  Doubling for the dying McQueen, Janes found himself hanging free off a ladder swung out at a 90 degree angle from the top of an “L” train travelling at 55 MPH through downtown Chicago.  Shooting for three days, Janes spent his time on the film hanging for dear life over the freeway as commuters watched on agasp below unaware what was happening was actually being shot for a movie.  It was a dangerous sequence that he would repeat time and time again with no harness, no clips, not mats and most of all no CGI. “That was fun film” remarked Janes, “I sure miss Steve, even now”.

His relationship with McQueen was just one example of the status and respect that Janes would receive in his time working in the industry.  From dining with Chinese President Chiang Kai-shek to being entertained by like likes of Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin, Janes was respected by all.  Mentioning Sinatra reminds Janes of a rather interesting evening they shared together after a days filming on the  John Wayne/Dean Martin film The Sons of Katie Elder. “Sinatra, like McQueen was another one who IF he liked you would do anything for you!  If he didn’t well…”  Well indeed.  As Joey Bishop, Peter Lawford and many others found out, you didn’t cross ‘The Leader’ as Sinatra was affectionately known. Janes continued: “After one movie Frank invited us up to one of his concerts.  We sat at the back but it wasn’t long before someone came up to us and moved us to the front of the room on this little table with two chairs, right in front of the stage.  Afterwards, we went to dinner and Frank leaned over to me and asked ‘Anyone owe you money?’ I said ‘No!’   He moved in closer ‘Well if someone ever does just call me and I’ll get it for you!’” Janes laughs, before continuing  “A few more drinks later and he turned to me and said ‘Do you need anybody off’d?’.  I looked at him and said ‘What?’, Frank said ‘You know, taken care of?’.  ‘No!’ I said quickly  ‘Well if you do just let me know!’  I never took him up on the offer but it was nice to know it was there!”

 

 

Throughout his career Loren Janes was very much a man in demand, working almost non stop for near fifty years.  Renowned for his physicality, his ability to move effortlessly on screen, his unflinching honesty and his professionalism he was one of the industries most highly sort after stunt performers.  But in over 2000 TV show sand 500 films Janes is famous for never having broken a bone in his body. “I’ve always kept in shape, I never drank, smoked, used dope.  I’d take time to work out the stunt, make sure it was right and then do it.  That’s why I’ve never hurt myself” Janes has never refused to do a stunt in his career… well at least when it was possible ”Anyone who asked me to do something I would do it as long as it could be done” says Janes remembering back “BUT there was this one time I was asked by a director to jump across a ravine turn in mid air and come back!  That, well that was impossible… even for me!”

 

So how influential is Loren Janes?   In the 70’s wire work (which would later become known as wire fu) became the staple of Hong Kong action movies, a technique that in itself would eventually be appropriated back to the US mainstream in The Matrix and pretty much every mainstream action film since.  This development has for a long time been credited to the work of visionary industry pioneers like Yuen Woo Ping and Tsui Hark.  Incorrectly it turns out.  In fact according to US stunt performer Jeff Imada these techniques had a much more Western origin: “There’s an interesting story I was told from Woo Ping about the filming of the movie The Sand Pebbles.  Loren Janes went to over to Asia to work on the film and, according to Woo Ping, it was HIM that introduced wire stuff and the mini trampoline to them!!!” Said Imada when I interviewed him last year “ Before Sand Pebbles the Chinese never did that.   He showed them a little wire set up with piano wire and also mini tramps…”

Janes concurs, “That’s right!  It came from my gymnastics training.  High bar.  Parallels. Trampoline.  All things I did in High School & college. I did a demonstration and they just loved it.”.  So does it frustrate Janes that he isn’t rightly credited with this groundbreaking invention? “Not at all.  Those in the industry knows.  I know… and that’s what counts!”

Our conversation soon drifted to modern movies.  From someone who has been around since the pioneering days of stunt work in cinema, I wanted to get Janes take on how the modern approach, with their green screens and well rehearsed complicated stunt sequences compare to the more traditional approach of the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s.  “Nothing looks real nowadays! It’s not just the stunts but the even the stars are different now as well.  For sure the 50’s and 60’s bred a very different type of actor than today” says the man who worked alongside famed on (and off) screen tough guys like Gary Cooper, Clark Gable James Garner.  Janes remembers fondly back to these stars of yesteryear.  “Back then those guys would come onto the set, they would know their lines, they’d take time to talk to you and share a joke.  Today they are learning their lines as they arrive, you can’t talk to them, even look at some of them.  They even scream at everyone, although never at stuntmen because they know we’ll hit ‘em!  There terrible!” Janes names a few names but I’ll spare their blushes ! “They just don’t make ‘em like that anymore!”.  You can almost sense the disappointment Janes has on just how much the industry has changed since he started back over fifty years ago and whilst he doesn’t mention overtly, his affection obviously sits back more on the legends of yester year than the likes of the Brad Pitt’s and Josh Hartnett’s of today.

 

 

So does Janes have any regrets looking back?  “None.  None at all.  I am proud to have been in this business at what I consider to be with the best people at the best time.” Janes pauses for a second.   “Actually that said maybe one small regret.  When we did Bullitt we had three of the Mustangs [1968 Ford Mustang 390 CID Fastback].  When the film was over the director [Peter Yates] and Steve offered me one of the cars to keep.  To be honest I was into horses more than cars so I said thanks but no thanks.  I just figured there would be someone who would appreciate it more than me.  Well I just found out the guy who got it just sold it for a million dollars. And I didn’t want it !!!” Janes laughs.  Okay so no regrets then but how about any one person that he wouldn’t work with again? Janes doesn’t hesitate in putting forward a name: “Barbara Streisand. Three crews quit working with her on Hello, Dolly!  She’s just terrible…”

Away from his work on screen, Loren Janes has long been a supporter, advocate and spokesman for stuntmen and the industry alike, an unofficial role that on more than one occasion has seen him at loggerheads with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences for their refusal to reward the stunt industry for their work in the industry.   In part Janes thinks it comes down to the studios themselves. “The studios say that the actors do their own stunts so then the actors say they do their own stunts.  No one wants to admit that WE do their stunts!  We’re the only one’s that don’t get an award yet when I’ve been on different movies every body tells me, from the grips to the props guys, make up… everybody that we are the best guys in the business.  We do what we do right, we’re always nice and polite and how we make the stars looks good… “ So will this ever change?  Janes isn’t sure.  “I don’t think so.  It’s a shame because in truth without us those big movies, the ones that makes all the money, they wouldn’t happen.”

Whilst the little bald gold statue may allude Janes and his fellow stunt and action performers, he himself has been recognised numerous times for his contribution to the industry not least with the coveted life time achievement Golden Boot award in 2001.  Awarded by the Motion Picture & Television Fund Foundation, the award sets out to honour the achievements of cowboy heroes and heroines both in front and behind the scenes.  “The golden Boot was great, a real honour for sure.  I was only the tenth ever stunt man to get that so that’s pretty nice!” enthuses Jane.

As well as the Golden Boot,  2003 saw Janes awarded with a Silver Spur Award  for his outstanding achievement in entertainment and Western films, an honour that would seem him standing shoulder to shoulder with such previous winners and genre luminaries as Burt Reynolds, James Garner and Jack Palance whilst in 2004 he was inducted to the Walk of Western Stars in Santa Clarita, California.  According to Janes however, recognition never means more than when it comes from those who you worked alongside.  “I did a picture with Jon Voight called Runaway Train, on which he won the golden globe.  When he went up to accept it he said ‘This is great.  But you know what, the people that really deserve this was the stunt coordinator and the stunt man.  People like Loren Janes…’ .  he talked about how we did this and that, how important we were, how great I was.  In fact he went on and on about me for almost ten minutes.  That was pretty special.”

 

Janes retired from the industry four years ago now, with Spiderman being his last major film as a stunt performer, but considering it wont be that long before his eightieth birthday retirement doesn’t seem to have slowed this renowned adventurer down one bit.  Janes keeps up a daily fitness routine that includes swimming, hiking, horse riding, running and archery.  But even though he’s retired as a stuntman, Janes is still involved with the organisation he founded back in 1961, The Stuntmen’s Association Of Motion Pictures  which acts both a lobbying group and one stop shop for some of the industries brightest stunt talents  “When I started in the business, the movie moguls ran the studios.  Back then they knew who the best stunt men were, who was best to use and where to go to hire them.  Now  the corporate guys who run the studios, well  they know little about the industry.  They hire anyone off the streets to do stunts.  These guys do it for nothing, they get hurt and make the rest of us look bad.  So I wanted a way they would know where the real stunt men were.  And now they come to us… we have 140 members and still going strong.  Our work has changed the face of the industry for the better”

So what advice would Janes offer to the plethora of talent looking to break into the industry today?   “When I first got in the business I checked out all the stunt men going all the way back to the silent films right the way up to now.  The top ten were all leading gymnasts and acrobats.  All the best guys. ”  Guys like Ronnie Rondell, Mickey Gilbert, Freddy Waugh, Royden Clark who between then have worked on every major film and TV show since the early 40’s and 50’s and in the process making the industry what it is today.  Janes continues “I have people call me all the time and ask me how to break into the business.  I like to look at their background, what sports they have done, their disciplines.   If they have gymnastics and so forth.  Then I tell them that if they really want to do it expect it to take a long time.  And if you don’t, if you can’t give that then get away now  because you’ll never make it. It’s SO competitive.  There’s over six thousand people trying to make it in Hollywood as stunt men today and the fact is most never will.  So I try to talk them out of it.  And if they still want to… well then at least there on the right path”

From anecdotes about McQueen sitting down to lunch on Peanut butter and Banana sandwiches, to sending an unnamed studio executive at Warner’s flying across a table after being told to donate twenty five percent of his salary to the communist party, Janes he is never anything less that captivating.  A true gentleman he achieved what he has through hard work, dedication and a genuine passion for the industry he works in.  What’s more his legacy is one that endure for many years to come.  As for those who either aspire  or dare  to follow in Janes footsteps?  Well it’s a legacy that will be hard to surpass.

Janes truly is ’the unknown stuntman that makes Eastwood (and many, many others) look so fine’.

Originally published in IMPACT Magazine in 2008.

For more check out his IMDB Profile here. or his official website here

Phil’s Best To Worst: Superman Movies

Phil’s Best To Worst: Superman Movies

Best... Other Cr*p

Listed in reserve order (From Worst to Best) Phil, of Phil’s Quick Capsule Review, breaks down a film related subject in order of his own personal enjoyment.  This time out: Live action Superman Films! 

[divider]

BEST: Superman: The Movie

The original and still the best, thanks in part of the combination of an excellent director in Donner and one of the best pieces of Superhero casting in Christopher Reeve until Downey Jnr stepped into Iron man’s boots.  This film is just superb.  The cast sparkles, the effects were ahead of their time and the coming of age story timeless.  Superhero films still don’t get much better than this.


 

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2. Superman 2

Whilst Superman is the better film, Superman 2 is the more enjoyable one pitching the Man Of Steel against General Zod and his cronies.  Lots of fun action, the blossoming relationship between Superman and Lois Lane and Terrance Stamp camping it up… what’s not to like!

——

3. Batman Vs Superman Dawn Of Justice

I liked it.  I even liked it the second time. It has issues for sure and sadly Superman is one of them, with Zack Snider’s modern vision of Superman not connecting with audiences the way Donner’s did all those years ago BUT when it hits it hits and, for better or worse, few do massive spectacle better than Snider.  This all said I probably like this more as a Batman film than a Superman movie…

——

4. Superman 3 

Hell it’s got Richard Prior in it.  Yup Superman 3 was often considered the weaker of the original films and rightly so… it is.  It’s also goofy, fun and terrible all at the same time.  With Hackman out by choice due to the way Donner was treated on Superman/Superman 2 and Kidder reduced to a walk on cameo, it left holes that the new cast struggled to fill.   It has it’s moments however but it’s broader tone didn’t sit well with the previous films and the effects look horribly dated now.

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5. The Man Of Steel

Sad Superman mopes around the world. Sad Superman destroys Metropolis whilst trying to defeat Zod.  Sad Superman makes everyone else sad when he accidentally kills thousands of innocent people.  Sad Superman then takes on a CGI laser thing.  Audiences checked out.  No one cared anymore.  It’s a shame as it started with promise but sadly in the end it doesn’t deliver.

——

6. Superman Returns

If you like ‘Best Of’ clip shows and remakes then Superman Returns is the film for you.  It’s not terrible but it just lacks any creativity as it shamelessly homage’s/rips off Richard Donner’s far superior Superman: The Movie whilst resolutely refusing to tread it’s own path. Until it’s introduces Superboy. No.  Really.

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7. Supergirl

Supergirl is terrible.  Yet I watched it loads growing up. To be honest that was probably due to Helen Slater in her Supergirl outfit as I hit being a teenager but it had a great cast, is cheesy as hell (in a good way) and had a certain charm.  It’s also still MUCH better than Superman 4.

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WORST: Superman 4: The Quest For Peace

No surprise here.  Cannon’s Superman 4 was an abortion of a movie with no budget, a stupid story and terrible effects.  It was also shot in Milton Keynes, doubling for Metropolis.  It’s a curiosity for sure but little more.



 

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Phil’s 5 Best Films of 2015 (Updated)

Phil’s 5 Best Films of 2015 (Updated)

2015: In Review Quick Review Year In Review

So 2015 is almost over and it’s that time a year again where everyone reflects back on their best and worst films of the year. So here it is: my pick of the BEST films of 2015.

Film of The Year: Whiplash 
In Brief: Lets be honest this was my No1 film of the year from the moment I watched it.  Excellent performances , superbly made and expertly edited – this was one of those once in a decade type films.  A must watch and 100% my tempo.

 

 

2. Inside Out 
In Brief:  Pixar delivers big after a few years of “meh” movies.  It made me laugh.  It made me cry.  It made me remember why I fell in love with films again.

3.  Shaun The Sheep
In Brief:I have a real soft spot for Shaun The Sheep – a funny, charming animated feature where barely a word is spoken.

4. Birdman
In Brief: For most of the year this ran a very close second to Whiplash and even now it ‘s still one of the bets film of the year.  Innovate, different yet totally captivating.

5.Star Wars The Force Awakens
In Brief: It’s Star Wars and after the horrid memory of the prequels still leaving a bitter taste so much could have gone wrong.  It didn’t.  It delivers.  It sets a high bar.

Bubbling under:
6. The Martian, 7. Sicario, 8. Kingsmen: The Secret Service , 9. Pitch Perfect 2 , 10. Unfriended , The Infinite Man,  John Wick ,  Focus,  The Theory Of Everything, Going Clear , Cinderella ,  Man Up, Son Of A Gun

 

Phil’s 5 Best TV Shows of 2015

Phil’s 5 Best TV Shows of 2015

Quick Review Year In Review

so 2015 quite simple smashed it out the park.  Whilst film faltered, TV just kept getting better and better. So here is the run down of my 5 (well 6) top shows of 2015…

TV Show(s) of The Year: Narcos & Daredevil 
In Brief: I just could split these two top notch Netflix shows.  Daredevil gave us what is probably the best version of a Marvel TV show we could have hoped for along with by far the best Marvel villain in Wilson Fisk whilst Narcos gave us a crime Tv show with edge, bite and style.  It’s no accident that Netflix have multiple mentions here… they are winning TV hands down.


 

 

2. Game Of Thrones (Spoilers)
In Brief:  Bloody hell. This get’s second place just for THAT episode let alone THAT ending.  Okay so it lost it’s way on some of the sub plots but overall this show just gets bigger & bolder whilst smashing the boundaries of what to expect on TV.

3. Better Call Saul
In Brief: Who knew? A prequel to Breaking Bad which not only did suck but ended up being one of THE TV highlights of 2015.  Now as long as it can continue to carve it’s own path in 2016 we should be in line for something quite special.

4. Ash Vs Evil Dead
In Brief: It’s the show that we never thought we’d get became the show that we never thought could deliver which cam ether show that not only delivered but delivered BIG.  Okay so most won’t care but man this is every bit the Evil Dead TV show we wanted.  Gore, Swearing, Ash…. yup.

5. Hannibal
In Brief: Hannibal ended on a bloody high, one of the most out there TV shows I’ve ever seen.  From the performance to the production, Hannibal was high art does as TV.  It did things it’s own way and boy did it never compromise.

Bubbling under:
Justified
(Just misses out on a top 5 spot but what a season), The Walking Dead (strong season), Fear The Walking Dead (excellent debut), Doctor Who (Best season yet), Sons Of Anarchy (finished on a high), Flash (built on a great first year), Gotham (Oh my god, the improvement from season 1 to 2 is amazing), House Of Cards (weakest season so far but still excellent)

 

Phil’s 5 Best Films of 2014

Phil’s 5 Best Films of 2014

Quick Review Year In Review

So 2014 is almost over and it’s that time a year again where everyone reflects back on their best and worst films of the year. Having already covered off my worst films, next up (logically I guess)… I my pick of the BEST films of 2014.

Film of The Year: Wolf Of Wall Street
In Brief: From early on in 2014 this film stood head and shoulders above the rest for me.  Morally I can see why some people had an issue with it, but creatively this is a director back on form and actor whose never been better and a three hour film that flies by.  Brilliant.

 

2. Life Itself
In Brief:  Documentaries don’t get any better than this.  Heartbreaking, inspiring and beautiful all at once, Life Itself will grab you and not let go.

3. The Babadook
In Brief: The best independent film of the year,  The best horror film in a decade. Welcome to The Babadook then, a game changer in these days of torture porn and jump care horror.

4. Nightcrawler
In Brief:Any other year this would have been film of the year for me.  Probably one of the best performances of 2014, in a film that ends up deriving it’s crown as a modern day Taxi Driver.

5. Guardians Of The Galaxy
In Brief: Marvel does it again.  And Twice in one year with it’s other creative and commercial smash Captain America. Guardians is what a space epic should be.

Bubbling under:
Interstellar, Dallas Buyers Club, Dawn Of The Planet of The Apes, Starred Up, Captain America Winter Solider, The Guest, Cheap Thrills, Horns, Muppets Most Wanted, The Book Of Life

 

Phil’s 5 Worst Films of 2014

Phil’s 5 Worst Films of 2014

Quick Review Year In Review

So 2014 is almost over and it’s that time a year again where everyone reflects back on their best and worst films of the year. So first up… the 5 WORST film of 2014.  And there were quite a few to choose from..

Stinker of The Year: Transformers 4: Age Of Extinction 
In Brief: Not only the worst film of the year, but the worst blockbuster ever.  Hell it may end up being the worst film ever. Disgusting, stupid and about as thrilling as watching Loose Women, Transfourhours is too long, too dumb and too poorly made to exist.  Yet it does. And was the highest grossing film worldwide of 2014. Michael Bay is the devil.

 

2. Sex Tape
In Brief: A comedy without laughs. Or charm. Or any reason to exist. At all. Just dire.

3. The Other Woman
In Brief: A second commercial & critical bomb for Diaz, if The Other Woman has been made about men they would have been strung up by the balls by now.  Unfunny tripe.

4. The Legend Of Hercules
In Brief: The funniest film of 2014 wasn’t actually a comedy but a Nu-Image made, boring ” action film” that was as action packed and exciting as a day at an old pensioners home.  Watch the other one instead.

5. He Who Dares
In Brief:  It kinda feels wrong to bash a British independent film.  But He Who Dares is just fucking incompetent.  Piss poor action, piss poor acting, piss poor production values. It’s just piss poor.

Dis-Honourable Mentions:
Tusk, Need For Speed, Revenge Of The Green Dragons , 300 Rise Of An Empire, Under The Skin,  Noah ,  Into The Storm,  The Dead 2, Willow Creek,  The Zero Theorem, American Hustle ,  Transcendence , The Devils Knot ,  The November Man,  No Good Deed

 

Phil’s 5 Best TV Shows of 2014

Phil’s 5 Best TV Shows of 2014

Quick Review

So 2014 is almost over and it’s that time a year again where everyone reflects back on their best and worst films of the year. This year for the first time I look back on my 5 favourite TV shows of 2014…

TV Show of The Year: The Newsroom
In Brief: Generally unlike by the American HBO audience, Aaron Sorkin’s clever, well crafted and expertly performed TV show went out on a high.  Funny, charming and with a full realised cast, The Newsroom was always one of the best shows on TV.  Thankfully it didn’t drop the ball in it’s final run.

 

2. Game Of Thrones (Spoilers)
In Brief:  That was one hell of a season.  Joffrey died. Tyron killed his dad. The dragons started killing kids and the Battle of the Wall made you realise just how good TV could be.  Throw in the witty dialogue, great characters, spluttering of nudity and more violence than you can bash a stick with and you have one hell of a group breaking TV show.

3. The Flash & Arrow
In Brief: The Flash started well in it’s first season and has gotten better and better week by week.  Arrow started off not so good, but again has found it’s stride and improves ever week.  Whilst DC movies can’t seem to do anything right, DC TV is getting stronger and stronger.  These may not be better than say House Of Cards or True Detective but brain off entertainment doesn’t get better than this.

4. Sons of Anarchy
In Brief: Not it’s greatest season, but again a show that went out on a high, getting stronger and stronger as each episode went along.  It didn’t end well for everyone, as beloved character after beloved character fell, but in the end it served up an excellent story that has greatly elevated the careers of everyone involved.

5. Hannibal
In Brief: The year when Network TV pushed and then broke the boundaries, Hannibal is a show that just shouldn’t work.  But it does.  Oh god does it work. Great cast, great stories and effects that movies would struggle with, Hannibal did everything right and ended in on of the greatest TV episodes of the year.

Bubbling under:
Bates Motel, Orphan Black, Doctor Who, True Detective, Justified, New Girl, Walking Dead, 24 , House Of Cards,

 

Interview: Caity Lotz Talks The Machine

Interview: Caity Lotz Talks The Machine

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Caity Lotz trained in martial arts,  dance and gymnastics.  From starring in Mad Men, The Pact and Arrow as the infamous Black Canary to be Lady Gaga’s backing dancer, the 27 year old has had a more varied and in depth career than those twice her age.  Her latest project is an action packed, British science fiction film The Machine, a story of two computer programmers fall in love as they create the first ever piece of self-aware artificial intelligence, which is designed to help humanity. But things go wrong when the MoD steal their breakthrough and teach it to become a robotic weapon.

The Machine is released inc cinemas & VOD on 21st March and on DVD/BluRay on 31st March.  We sat down with Caity to talk The Machine, Arrow and Don Draper for an Exclusive All Things Film interview…


What appealed to you about the role of Ava in The Machine?

I was really interested in the script because it was such a challenge. It was two completely different roles and one of them wasn’t even human. I was really excited to try and develop both of the characters to make them so different.

With the part of Ava being very physical, was the Machine one of the more changing projects you’ve worked on?
Ava was a just a scientist so wasn’t very physical at all. The Machine however was very physical which added a challenging element to her. I trained in martial arts and dance so it was like I had been preparing for this role since I was 7. Switching back and forth between characters doing shooting was also a challenge.

How do you approach the action sequences? 
I just do it. We didn’t have much time for rehearsals so usually I would learn the fight scenes while they were setting up the cameras and we’d do it. Our stunt team on the film was amazing so they made me look good.

You’re career is very varied: TV & Film actress, model, dancer… what drives your choices?
Curiosity drives my choices. I try to leave myself open creatively to whatever draws me. I think anytime your curious about an artform it’s is for a reason and that form of expression should be explored. I believe it’s important to go with the flow of your passions, even if it doesn’t end up being something you do professionally, it can teach you something and make you more open.

You’re currently fearing in a recurring role in the highly successful Arrow TV show. What attracted you to that series?
Badassery. I’m not sure that’s a real word but it should be. I when I auditioned for the character they didn’t tell me who exactly I was playing, but I loved how strong she was. When I found out later I was going to be a super hero I definitely wasn’t mad about it.

What’s been your favourite role to date and why?
That’s a hard one because I’ve been so blessed to play some wonderful characters, but I’d have to say The Machine. I really was able to lose myself into the character. There also was such a physical transformation. I got really buff for the role, bleached my eyebrows and hair, changed my posture and voice, when I looked in the mirror I didn’t even recognize myself.

Don Draper or Oliver Queen?
I think I’d have to say Oliver Queen, I mean he’s a super hero.

What’s up next for you? 
Who knows!? Arrow takes up a lot of my time but I definitely won’t stay out of the film world for too long. Maybe I’ll take up bird watching.

 

The Machine is in cinemas/VoD 21 March and DVD/Blu-ray 31 March. www.themachinemovie.com

 

Feature: Ever Wondered What It Would Be Like To Attend A Star Studded Film Premier?

Feature: Ever Wondered What It Would Be Like To Attend A Star Studded Film Premier?

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Ever wondered what it would be like to attend a star studded film premier?

Me too.

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That’s why I jumped at the chance to attend the UK premier of The Monuments Men, a film about a group of men tasked with finding art and other precious objects stolen by the Nazis.  The film is Produced, Directed by and stars George Clooney, able support is in the forms of Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Jean Dujardin, Bob Balaban, Hugh Bonneville and Cate Blanchette.

Knowing that I was going to be walking down the red carpet gave me second thoughts about my attire, a ripped pair of jeans and a polo shirt. I then decided to go smart, only to be reminded by my partner that it didn’t matter what I looked like, people wanted to see George Clooney not myself. Undaunted, I smartened myself up and headed up to London.

Walking

past Trafalgar Square you could already hear the screams coming from nearby Leicester Square; I then had to barge past a horde of paparazzi outside The National Portrait Gallery as some of the recovered works of art were on display and would later be visited by the stars of the film.

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Rounding the corner into Leicester Square I was met by a throng of people all screaming for Matt Damon who had just arrived. Thousands of people were pushed up against the crash barriers all wanting a glimpse of their idols and maybe an autograph or selfie. I have walked through the square when there have been numerous premiers but never had I seen crowds on this scale.

Pushing through the crowd I arrived at my destination, a nearby hotel where my ticket was waiting at reception. Ticket now in hand, I dually set off to circumnavigate the perils of an overcrowded square and find my way in to The Odeon. Spotting lots of bouncers in hi vis jackets at the entrance to the gardens I headed their way and presented my ticket, this was to be the first of 6 times my ticket was checked in the space of 100 metres.

I walked behind an outside broadcast vehicle and the next thing I knew was that I was on the red carpet, cameras were flashing in front of me and I realised that I was a couple of feet away from Hugh Bonneville.

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I continued to walk along the carpet, ushered along by the security until I was almost pushed into Matt Damon, iPhone in hand I managed to grab a couple of pictures before being pushed forward by security again.

In front of me, Jenni Falconer was interviewing John Goodman up on the stage, his voice booming out across the square, it was at this point that I spotted George Clooney being interviewed to my right, I walked over closer to get a better look, “take a picture and make it quick” his wall of security said, photo taken, I had my ticket checked again and I was then inside.

Walking through the foyer, I noticed someone out of the corner of my eye; it was Jean Dujardin just hanging around the foyer.  I went straight up to him and in my best GCSE French said “Excusez-moi Monsieur Dujardin, une photo s’il vous plaît?” he shrugged his shoulders and gave a slight nod. Happy with my French and with my photo I headed into the cinema to find my seat.

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The cinema screen was showing all of the footage from outside and all of the interviews with the stars, I took this opportunity to wolf down the huge bag of complimentary popcorn and Lindt chocolates that were on each seat.

Thirty minutes later a troop of silhouettes were seen walking down the side of the cinema, the house lights went up and the stars of the film appeared on stage and thanked everyone for coming. There is a large round of applause for some of the surviving Monuments Men and women that are also in attendance tonight, Clooney’ speech is short and sweet and utterly charming, and with that he is done, he leads everyone off stage and back out of a side exit of the cinema.

The lights dim again and the curtain rises as I settle down to watch The Monuments Men.

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(Back L-R) John Goodman, George Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, (front L-R) Jean Dujardin, Bob Balaban, real life Monument Man Harry Ettlinger, Dimitri Leonidas and Writer & Producer Grant Heslov

Visit the Telegraph to see the Red Carpet highlights video… 

Reporter: Matt Duddy

Phil’s 5 Best Films of 2013

Phil’s 5 Best Films of 2013

Quick Review Year In Review

So here it is… my pick of the BEST films of 2013.  

Film of The Year: Rush
In Brief:I loved Rush.  An excellent drama, a brilliant F1 film and best of all, a movie that keeps it sense of fun and humour.

2. Zero Dark Thirty
In Brief:  One of the first films I saw in 2013 ends up being one of the best.  Thrilling edge of seat drama, with tense direction from Katherine Bigelow and  top notch performances.  Brilliant.

3. McCullin
In Brief: A fascinating documentary on a fascinating man.  It’s not flashy or showy but it tells the story of a true original.

4. The Way Way Back
In Brief: A lovely coming of age film, charming sweet and funny with some great central performances.

5. Despicable Me 2
In Brief: Not just one of the funniest film of 2013 but also one of the most charming.  Okay so it’s mostly down to the excellent Minions but Despicable Me 2 had me quoting lines even to this day.

Bubbling under:
Thor 2, Hitchcock; Alan Partridge Alpha Papa; Mea Maxima Culpa; Iron Man 3; White House Down; Django Unchained; Batman The Dark Knight Returns Pt 2; The Impossible; Olympus Has Fallen; Fast 6; Kick Ass 2, Blackfish