My Favourite… Margot Kidder Film

My Favourite… Margot Kidder Film

My Favourite… Other Cr*p

 

As death continues it’s relentless march through the gifted and talented of TV and film, My Favourite… celebrates those we have lost by taking a look at a slice of their best work. Well sometimes best, sometimes just the one I like the most.

This time out: My Favourite…. Margot Kidder (1948-2018) Film

 

SUPERMAN: THE MOVIE (1979)

Just before the destruction of the planet Krypton, scientist Jor-El (Marlon Brando) sends his infant son Kal-El on a spaceship to Earth. Raised by kindly farmers Jonathan (Glenn Ford) and Martha Kent (Phyllis Thaxter), young Clark (Christopher Reeve) discovers the source of his superhuman powers and moves to Metropolis to fight evil. As Superman, he battles the villainous Lex Luthor (Gene Hackman), while, as novice reporter Clark Kent, he attempts to woo co-worker Lois Lane (Margot Kidder).

Richard Donner’s Superman: The Movie broke ground and set the stall out for ever modern Superhero movie ever made.  In fact it’s so good few, if any, superhero movies have ever come close.  It also made a star out of it’s cast, the late Christopher Reeve (Superman) and a young Margot Kidder who made a generation of fans fall in love with her portrayal of reporter Lane. Long before girl power was a thing, Kidder gave Lane a soul beyond the pages of the comic book.  She remains the best on screen Lois Lane to date.  Sadly her career never lived up to it’s promise but if you are going to be remembered for one thing you could do much worse.

 

See also: Superman 2, The Amityville Horror

 

 

 

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Phil’s Top 5… Underrated Film Directors

Phil’s Top 5… Underrated Film Directors

Other Cr*p Top 5

Each week Phil, from Phil’s Quick Capsule Review, takes a look at a different movie or TV related Top Five.  This time out: My top 5 Underrated Directors!

 

Close but no cigar: Isaac Florentine, Richard Donner, Neveldine/Taylor

 

5 – Don Siegel
Without Siegel modern cinema would look very different.  From the reboot of Invasion Of The Body Snatchers to an Elvis musical through to a John Wayne western and of course Dirty Harry.  

 

4 -George Miller
Mad Max director Miller doesn’t get much love for his non Mad Max films, but he’s a talented director who has could flip from hardcore action to kids fantasy with ease.  

 

3 – Martin Campbell
The man who twice reinvented the Bond franchise with Casino Royale & Goldeneye, Campbell is adept at high qulaity action on a relatively modest budget.  

 

2 – Joel Schumacher
Yes he made Batman & Robin but aside from his Batman franchise killing, he’s also made some excellent films.   From The Lost Boys to Phone Booth and A Time To Kill, Schumacher when focused can deliver top notch thriller.

 

1 – Tony Scott
From Top Gun to True Romance, from Enemy of The State to Unstoppable Scott was and remains one of my favourite directors.  Sadly no longer with us, Scott delivered top quality blockbusters like no other.

 

 

Blog: Grosse Point Geek’s Top Ten(ish) Favorite Horror Films  – A Halloween Special

Blog: Grosse Point Geek’s Top Ten(ish) Favorite Horror Films – A Halloween Special

Grosse Point Geek Uncategorized

Halloween, that yearly celebration of devil worship, blood drenched supernatural death and goat sacrifice ,where children up and down the land merrily dress up as various incarnations of the undead, get their parents consent to bang on people’s doors begging for sweets and then wantonly vandalize their property if the poor sods don’t cough up the goods.  Indeed my own fiendish plan to scare off the little bastards this year was completely thwarted the other day by a rather nervous looking shop assistant at my local joke shop, who claimed never to have heard of the Evil Dead and therefore could sadly not supply me with a life size demon doll that would scream “dead by dawn!” at any bunch of trick or treaters foolish enough to disturb my evening.

Anyway, I’m getting off the point. As a lifelong film geek its fair to say that of the many thousands that I have watched, a good proportion have been firmly rooted in the department marked ‘Horror’. Now admittedly I’m not the biggest fan of this genre -I didn’t enjoy the Nightmare On Elm Street series (how a child killer could become a cult icon is beyond me), have never been able to fathom the popularity of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and have absolutely no desire to watch the likes on I Spit On Your Grave, Driller Killer or Last House on The Left.

However, there are in fact some rather good ones out there that I have thoroughly enjoyed and even have in my rather huge dvd collection – and as Halloween is soon to be upon us, i thought id share with you all my top 10 favourite horror films all time- read on if you dare!

 


 

1. The Descent (2005)

 

Director: Neil Marshall

Actors: Shauna McDonald, Natalie Mendoza

A definite contender for one of the scariest films ever made. Neil Marshall’s magnum opus centres on a group of female thrill seekers who get trapped underground in the Appalachian mountains and then one by one fall foul to a bloodthirsty pack of cave dwelling cannibals. I must have seen this ten times over and it still scares the crap out of me, superbly written, hideously claustrophobic, well acted by the no name cast, directed with panache, skill and verve by Marshall and certainly not one to watch alone.

Best Bit: When the creatures finally reveal themselves – don’t look down that camera lens!

 

 

2. Alien (1979)

Director: Ridley Scott

Actors: Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt, Harry Dean Stanton, Ian Holm, Yaphett Kotto, Veronica Cartwright.

A deep space mining vessel responds to an apparent distress signal from a nearby planetoid and goes to investigate. All is going well until one of the crew (John Hurt) gets a sort of parasite attached his face and is taken on board the ship for medical assistance – big mistake. A near perfect film that combines scares, body horror and classic sci fi plus HR Giger’s astoundingly horrible alien monster that would give even Freddy Krueger the willies.

Best Bit: The Chestburster scene – (“the food aint that bad baby!”)

 

 

3. The Omen (1976)

 

Director: Richard Donner

Actors: Gregory Peck, Patrick Troughton, Lee Remick, David Warner.

When the American Ambassador to Britain (Peck) discovers that his infant son is none other than the Antichrist, he teams up with a freelance photographer (Warner) to discover the awful truth and thwart Satan’s evil plans for mankind.

This one always manages to put the frighteners on me – mainly due to Jerry Goldsmiths nerve jangling score and Richard Donner’s suspenseful direction that very intelligently chooses to be less concerned about daft monsters and OTT effects and more to do with the nature of fear and lurking danger hiding in the shadows, which cleverly manages to keep the viewer guessing as to whether or not the story is all real or just a series of supposed coincidences.

Best bit: That final shot – Young Damien, standing at his parents funeral (whilst holding the US Presidents hand no less) – turns to the camera…………..and just smiles.

 

4. The Exorcist (1973)
Director: William Friedkin

Actors: Linda Blair, Max Von Sydow, Ellen Burstyn, Jason Miller.

Celebrated critic Mark Kermode cites this as his favourite film ever – and its not hard to see why. Cherubic looking Regan (Blair) becomes possessed by the demon Pazuzu, then proceeds to speak in tongues, levitate off the bed, vomit pea soup, make unseemly suggestions about exactly what Priest Jason Miller’s dead mother is up to in hell – and don’t even get me started on what she does with that crucifix!

To say the least the Exorcist is one of those films that gets better with every viewing, Friedkin’s direction doesn’t put a foot wrong, the make up and sound effects are still astounding, and the use of Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells is a work of sheer genius.

Best bit: The climactic Exorcism sequence, where the two Jesuit priests do epic battle with the demon- very uncomfortable to watch – but brilliant nonetheless.

 

5.The Thing (1982)

Director: John Carpenter

Actors: Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley, Keith David.

A critical and commercial disappointment on its release, this has since become a deserved cult classic. For those not in the know – a shape shifting alien life form gradually infects the men of an Antarctic research station, who then not only have to attempt to destroy said beastie but also avoid killing each other in the process.

Best bit: That ending  – too exhausted to carry on, Kurt Russell and Keith David sit outside in the freezing Arctic cold and watch the station burn to the ground  – both still unsure if they too have been infected by the alien (“lets just wait…..and see what happens”)

 

6.Poltergeist (1982)

Director: Tobe Hooper

Actors: Jo-beth Williams, Craig T Nelson, Heather O’Rourke

Awesome film  – written and produced by Steven Spielberg, Poltergeist tells the story of how an ordinary apple pie American family are haunted by a terrible supernatural force that turns their lives upside down when it abducts their youngest daughter (O’Rourke). Now some may argue that this is more of a ghost story than a straight up horror  – but with shocks aplenty, rotting corpses rising from the grave, killer trees and huge monsters appearing out of the ether – it’d be hard to call it anything else. Basically if you haven’t seen this yet then shame on you!

Best bit: Williams, Nelson and the ghost hunting team’s final nail biting attempt to rescue O’Rourke from the clutches of the poltergeist(“don’t let go!”)

 

7 .An American Werewolf In London (1981)

Director: John Landis

Actors: David Naughton, Griffin Dunne, Jenny Agutter

Naughton and Dunne are two American students on a back packing trip to England who proceed to get lost on the Yorkshire moors and are attacked by a werewolf. Rick Baker’s make up effects deservedly won a bunch of awards and are still impressive even by today’s standards. Its also seriously funny, and damned scary in parts too- most notably the scene at the beginning where the boys are attacked on the moors, and THAT sequence in the deserted London tube station (“i shall report this”!).

Best Bit: The Slaughtered Lamb – Naughton and Dunne walk into East Proctor’s local boozer looking for something to eat, only to be met with stony silence and icy stares by a very unwelcoming bunch of locals. The tension doesn’t last long though as the great Brian Glover proceeds to loudly tell a hilarious joke about 3 blokes in a crashing plane (“he chucks out the Mexican!”) which results in the entire pub collapsing in fits of laughter (just dont ask what that star on the wall is).

 

8.Horror Of Dracula (1958)

Director: Terrence Fisher

Actors: Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Michael Gough.

Hammer’s extremely loose take on the Bram Stoker classic features Peter Cushing as Van Helsing (endless supply of crucifixes) Christopher Lee as Dracula (iffy fangs, silly run) a mad music score by James Bernard, clunky sets, and daft dialogue (“but its HORRIBLE!”). However none of this matters as its enormous fun, chugs along at a rare old pace and never fails to bring a big smile to my face every time ive watched it.

Best Bit: The seriously exciting climactic showdown between Van Helsing and Dracula, involving a table, some curtains, a handy set of candlesticks and alot of sunlight- classic stuff.

 

9.The Fog (1980)

Director: John Carpenter

Actors: Jamie Lee Curtis, Adrienne Barbeau, Tom Atkins.

On the eve of its centenary celebrations – a small Californian fishing community is plagued by a mysterious fog that kills all in its wake. Another Carpenter classic, well made and very creepy  – a must for all horror fans.

Best bit: The Sea Grass boat scene (“hey, there’s a fog bank out there”).

 

 

10. Dawn of The Dead (2004)

Director: Zach Snyder

Actors: Sarah Polley, Ving Rhames, Jake Weber.

Remake of the 1978 Romero classic – which is a very good film, however (and yes Hobden i know this is sacrilege!) i much prefer Snyder’s more polished version that ups the scares and gore quota, throws in bags of action, is better acted and features some really awesome zombies who, rather than mindlessly shuffle about, are depicted as vicious screaming death machines who charge full pelt to get at their victims.

Best bit: Just after Sarah Polley’s nurse escapes from her neighbourhood which has been overrun, the camera pulls back and shows us a birds eye view of her car heading towards a city in utter chaos.

 

 

11.Halloween 3: The Season Of The Witch (1982)

Director: Tommy Lee Wallace

Actors: Dan O’Herlihy, Tom Atkins.

I thought i close this feature with one of my all time favourites  – i mean what’s a film list without at least one guilty pleasure???

Bearing no relation to the series featuring the Michael Myers character  – this was supposed to kick off a new ‘Halloween’ franchise that would tell a different story with each film. Unfortunately poor box office sales put the kibosh on that, so what we have instead is a very weird (and utterly mental) standalone story featuring O’Herlihy’s unhinged Irish toy maker, who plans to murder all the children in America using booby trapped Halloween masks. Now in my humble opinion this is an unappreciated gem of a film, that is actually extremely well made, with an interesting witchcraft subplot and a doozy of an ending that has to be seen to be believed……………………………..All together now – “one more day to Halloween!…..Halloween! Halloween! one more day to Halloween -silveeeeershamrock!

Best Bit: O’Herlihy’s chilling confession to a somewhat shocked Atkins, about who he really is and exactly what he plans to do on his favourite night of the year (“….the hills ran red with the blood of children and animals!”)

 


 

There you go – my top ten horror films – certainly all worth a watch if you fancy a good scare this Halloween – just wish i had one of the zombies from Dawn of the Dead to see off those bleedin’ trick or treaters – oh bugger there goes the door again………………now where did i put that bucket of fresh pigs blood???????????????

Author: Will Strong 

 

Grosse Point Geek: Marvel Studios vs DC And Why Man of Steel 2 Could Be A Very Bad Idea…

Grosse Point Geek: Marvel Studios vs DC And Why Man of Steel 2 Could Be A Very Bad Idea…

Grosse Point Geek Uncategorized

I am not ashamed to say it – I am a film geek, i have been since I was 4 years old and will remain so until I shuffle off this mortal coil to the great cinema in the sky. However, I’ve never been that much into comics –in my youth I dabbled in 2000AD and Dark Horse’s Alien/Predator series, plus I own a couple of Alan Moore graphic novels – but that’s about it.

However since seeing Richard Donner’s Superman in 1978, I have probably watched every single theatrically released superhero film ever made – as a result I feel I am more than qualified to write this article and voice the concerns I have about DC’s upcoming Man of Steel 2 and their proposed Justice League production.

Since the release of Iron Man in 2008, we have been living in an almost golden age of Superhero cinema – this has virtually been down to one studio – Marvel.

Of course  DC produced the Dark Knight Trilogy and last years Man of Steel, but its been Kevin Feige and his team at Marvel Studios that have really hit the jackpot, dominating the market with X Men and the quite astounding Avengers characters.

On paper none of this should have worked – lets be honest, 6 years ago, unless you were a massive comic fan you would  have had very little idea who Iron Man, Thor or Captain America were – let alone Nick Fury, Black Widow or Hawkeye  – or for that matter who the hell the Guardians of The Galaxy are.

But thanks to some serious risk taking (i.e. unusual choice of directors/casting the previously uninsurable RDJ as Tony Stark) and a quite brilliant slow build marketing campaign – Marvel have pulled off the impossible and created a high quality multi billion dollar superhero franchise the likes of which has never been seen. The crowning glory was, of course, the Avengers in 2012 – and continues to this day with the upcoming Captain America 2, X Men Days of Future Past and the aforementioned Guardians of The Galaxy.  Ok, it hasn’t been all plain sailing  – The Fantastic Four film was awful as was its sequel, X Men 3 and the two stand alone Wolverine’s were a bit iffy, and their track record of character reboots is chequered to say the least – The Punisher has had 3 screen incarnations – all of which fell flat, they only got the Hulk right on the third attempt (and that was down to Joss Whedon) and don’t get me started on Ghost Rider as I’m still trying to get over the monstrosity that was Spirit Of Vengeance.

However Marvel’s hits have far outweighed their failures and this,  brings us neatly to DC.

Now, once again, unless you are comic book reader, there are probably only two DC characters that you can name  – Batman and Superman. To be fair Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy will stand the test of time as 3 of the greatest films ever made and, despite being too CGI heavy, last years Man Of Steel was very good indeed. The only other character DC recently  got to the big screen was The Green Lantern,  a horrible SFX driven load of nonsense, featuring an annoying Ryan Reynolds in the title role and Mark Strong with a massive pink forehead  – needless to say it was a critical and commercial flop.

Putting it mildly, DC are now a distant second to Marvel, seemingly lacking the same risk taking flair as Marvel and seemingly frightened to try any thing new, they appear to only have Batman and Superman as viable products, resulting in the now in production Man of Steel 2, which for the first time ever will see The Last Son of Krypton face off against Gotham’s Dark Knight.

When this film was announced at the 2013 San Diego Comic Con, the cheers and screams of joy from the assembled audience nearly blew the roof off  -some weeks later, this was replaced with hoots of derision and general gnashing of teeth when it was revealed that none other than Ben Affleck would be donning the  cowl and cape opposite Henry Cavill’s Supes. In addition, it was recently announced that Fast and Furious’ Gal Gadot had been cast as Wonder Woman, Jeremy Irons would be Alfred Pennyworth and oddly, Zombieland’s Jessie Eisenberg had been tapped for Lex Luthor.

Now none of this bothers me – I personally like Ben Affleck  – his output of late has been fantastic and, despite the critical and fan boy kicking he had as Matt Murdock in 2002’s Daredevil – I actually thought he did a pretty good job. I have no opinion ether way on Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, and whilst the casting of  Jessie Eisenberg as Lex Luthor seems odd, it will certainly be interesting to see what he does with the role.

But that folks is where my enthusiasm for this film stops. Granted the whole thing seems interesting and I will be the first in the queue to see it when its released in 2016. However here are my 5 reasons why Man of Steel 2 and the already mooted Justice League movie are potentially very bad ideas – none of which have anything to do with the cast:

  1. The Avengers was too good  -Literally millions of people saw Joss Whedon’s 2012 masterwork  – adding up to the fact that audiences will be very cynical about another multi character super hero film coming out so soon, one can almost hear the  cries of  “rip off” and “shameless cash in” already.
  2. Batman vs Superman/Justice League is happening too fast. It took four years, five inter weaving films, a lot of planning and a great deal of very clever end credit teasing to get to the Avengers – DC just seem to be ploughing ahead with an almost in your face sledgehammer approach that smacks of urgent desperation to capitalise on Marvel’s success.
  3. Zack Snyder – Don’t get me wrong Snyder has made some smashing films – 300 is incredibly entertaining, Watchmen was a damn good adaptation of a previously thought unfilmable graphic novel  and his Dawn of The Dead remake was outstanding. The problem is that, very much like George Lucas and James Cameron, his films lack a bit of  humour, his scripts are no where near as sharp as Joss Whedon’s and he uses too much green screen and CGI. So Zack if you want to succeed– my advice  is to do what Joss would and focus on character and inject a few laughs.

  4. Plausibility – Superman and Batman have featured many in multiple separate films – so the idea of two very well known , good guy heroes ending up battling each other in the same universe just doesn’t seem plausible – just a bit – well – silly.
  5. Batman –  For me this is the major flaw of the whole thing.  The main question is – how do you bring anything new to  a character that has been rebooted twice already and played by 4 different actors?

The Affleck Batman is supposed to be totally unrelated to both the Chris Nolan and Tim Burton films. They cant squeeze in an origin story as Man of Steel 2  would end up being too long, and without one no one will have any clue as to what incarnation of the character he is supposed to be – most will wrongly think he is a continuation of Nolan’s version, others will just be confused. The Dark Knight Trilogy concluded Batman almost definitively, and the only way to plausibly bring him back in Man of Steel 2 was to bring back the Christian Bale version as we saw in Nolan’s films or continue with TDKR’s Robin as played by Joseph Gordon Levitt.  – this of course is not the case and is the main reason why Superman vs Batman may well not work.

Of course I sincerely hope im wrong, no one loves a good blockbuster more than me and I never like to see any film flop.  I will be very interested to see what the final movie looks like, no doubt it will be entertaining and make millions for DC  – but unless Messrs’ Snyder and Nolan can capture the same magic Marvel have done to such amazing effect so many times  – this really could be as bad for DC as the disaster that was Batman and Robin – and that my friends is a very sobering thought.

I invite any rebuttals to the above from my fellow film fans  – no doubt my erstwhile friend Mr Phillip Hobden will have something to say on the matter…

Writer: Will Strong