(Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)

It’s not every day you get to talk to Captain Hook on the phone, but thankfully the actor playing him on ABC’s Once Upon a Time, Colin O’Donoghue, is a charming and delightful man. O’Donoghue also appears this week in a new film called Carrie Pilby — a comedic drama in which he plays a professor with decidedly questionable ethics (more on that later), and he was only too happy to share his Five Favorite Films with us. Read on for his list:

12 Angry Men (1957) 100%

My first one is 12 Angry Men. I remember I watched it at school, I think I saw it at fourteen for the first time. And when you’re that age, you kind of want to watch big blockbuster movies and all that kind of stuff. And I just couldn’t get over the fact — basically it doesn’t leave the room for the whole movie. And it’s just these guys sitting around discussing this crime, and whether or not they’re going to find the guy guilty or not. I just found it so engaging and stuff. You know the cast and stuff was just incredible with Henry Fonda and Lee J. Cobb, and all these incredible actors. I just thought it was mind blowing, you know?

I think it was based on a radio play — I don’t know. And then I figured it was a theatrical play, and then they made a movie. That’s the other thing, I was also just beginning to start to want to be an actor. Or join the theatre group in my hometown. It all sort of happened at the same time, and I was beginning to understand it a little bit more about how they’re engaging, and how you can hold people’s attention for that long just by the performance itself.

If it’s in one room — to adapt a play and to have it be riveting on screen — that’s really something. 

Yeah. It’s a difficult thing. You know? But it’s just incredible of them.

That’s one thing about trying to figure out these five movies; I really want to go back and watch all of them again. Just sit in my house and watch them.

The Shawshank Redemption (1994) 91%

That’s another one for me that, basically it’s stunning how — it’s an incredible watch. And I think it’s the performances, again, I find riveting. Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman are just incredible. It’s just such a beautiful film, I think. The story is incredible, it’s so well made. I think Frank [Darabont] dialed in on the direction — I love all of his movies. They have a style that I really like. Anytime I think of this movie, it’s just a sweeping shot coming over the prison while Morgan Freeman is narrating his — it’s such an incredible sense of memories. I went to see it with my parents; I guess I was thirteen when it came out. I think I was — or fourteen — and I remember just being absolutely blown away by it. I mean I know it’s one that’s on nearly everybody’s list, but for me it was also — it was kind of like the first sort of grown-up movie that I went to see with my parents, and that we could have a proper conversation about.

Star Wars: Episode IV -- A New Hope (1977) 93%

The next one I’ve given is a given. It’s Star Wars. It’s definitely a part of my childhood. It’s hard for me to pick — I think Empire is probably my favorite of the three. But if I was to pick one, I think the first Star Wars would have to be the one, because that’s the one that I remember most. I was a Star Wars fanatic growing up. I guess I still am. Pretty much for everybody who grew up in the 1980s as well, it’s a symbol of their childhood. And most people — it reminds me back home in Ireland it used to be on every Christmas. It was sort of… You got all the action figures and all that kind of stuff. And it was just an incredible, incredible movie, and then when [the others] came out, they were sort of events when I was a teenager — that you wanted to go see them. Even if they weren’t as good.

Star Wars became a lifestyle. 

Yeah, I think so. Because I remember I used to have a Super Nintendo, and I remember getting the Star Wars game on the Super Nintendo. And that was like — anything and everything Star Wars was such a huge deal. I don’t know what age you are, but I’m 36, and when they began to come out with more and more action figures or t-shirts and retro shirts and stuff, you kind of had to have everything. But now there is just a lot of Star Wars stuff around — kind of a lot of everything.

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) 83%

The next one is Temple of Doom. That’s the one that sticks with me most. I was born in ’81, so I know that was [when] the first Indiana Jones was. But I remember Temple of Doom most, and so I just have to pick that. I mean, it’s for pretty much the exact same reasons as Star Wars. It’s my childhood. Indiana Jones is the character that I just wished that I was, you know what I mean? [The one] I wanted to be as a little kid. And they’re also just really, really well made, fantastic movies. You know, all the Indiana Jones — well the first three anyways.

I also love that time period. I love that sort of 1930s and 1940s, I love that period — the thought of it. And I like war movies and all that kind of stuff as well.

The Conversation (1974) 97%

Well the next one is less action oriented. This is where I began to struggle. Because I had my first four and was like, “Okay, that’s perfect,” and then I had to pick another one. This decision is a bit tough; there’s a three way tie for this, I should say. I’m going to pick The Conversation with Gene Hackman and John Cazale. And the reason I’m thinking this is, I did a movie with Anthony Hopkins called The Rite, and the director of photography — we talked a bit. And he really wanted to have that ’70s feel and stuff — it’s when they just started to use the zoom lens for the first time, and how innovative it was. And then in the 1980s, it became overused and used for the wrong reasons and all that kind of stuff. The Conversation is one that, if you watch The Conversation for the opening sequence where you hear a conversation taking place as the master — this zoom from way up is zooming in over a park. And I was just absolutely blown away by it because you can hear exactly what’s happening, but you don’t see. You’ve got no idea who’s talking. You don’t know where they are or what’s happening. I was blown away. And Gene Hackman is one of my favorite actors. I just think he’s incredible; I could watch him read the phone book. I could watch him pretty much not do anything [laughing]. You just wonder what’s going on in his mind. He’s one of those actors who is saying one thing, but you know there’s so many different things going on inside of his head. You just never know exactly what it is and stuff. I love that. I love being kept guessing.

Francis Ford Coppola is one of the greatest directors of all time, and what I thought was great was that it sort of embodies that period of time. Even though it was made in the ’70s and it’s a very specific ’70s movie, I think it’s very, very particular to today. You know, with surveillance and all that kind of stuff. And I just think the whole idea of it is incredible, and it’s just so well made.


Kerr Lordygan for Rotten Tomatoes: Did you have any moral conflicts with your character in Carrie Pilby

Colin O’Donoghue: [Laughing] What impressed me with the character — because I signed on pretty early — was that I work on a TV show called Once Upon a Time — I play Captain Hook — and for me it was important to play a character that was very different from the character that I do 22 episodes [each] of for the last four years, you know what I mean? What I liked in the script was that the story that was told in the context of different men in her life then as well. So you had the professor I play, and you had the eventual boyfriend who she ends up with — all these different guys — her father and stuff. And I like the fact that he’s such a horrible piece of work, this professor. It was just nice for me to get to play that and see how I could put a little bit of myself into it.

RT: It’s a total 180 from Captain Hook, that’s for sure.

O’Donoghue: Yeah. It’s also nice just because the cast is incredible. Susan [Johnson]‘s a fantastic, amazing director. And it’s great material. I don’t get a chance to do that much because we shoot nine months of the year. So it’s nice to have that window and get to do something really, really, fun and with a great cast and great script. So, I was delighted.


Carrie Pilby opens on Friday, Mar. 31, 2017 in limited release and On Demand Tuesday, Apr, 4, 2017.

Today is literally the first day of November, which means the streaming services have refreshed their libraries with a ton of new choices. As usual, we’ve combed through them to bring you just the Certified Fresh selections, and we’ve got some good ones.  Read on for the full list.


New on Netflix

 

Beware of Mr. Baker (2012) 98%

This documentary portrait focuses on the irascible legendary drummer of the band Cream, Ginger Baker, via interviews with him and archival footage from his life.

Available now on: Netflix


Kung Fu Panda 3 (2016) 86%

Jack Black returns to voice the lovable martial arts master Po, who reunites with his long lost father (Bryan Cranston) and trains his panda brethren to stand up to a supernatural threat.

Available now on: Netflix


New on Amazon Prime

 

The Conversation (1974) 97%

Gene Hackman stars in Francis Ford Coppola’s masterful drama about a lonely surveillance expert who becomes haunted by the implications of a maddeningly ambiguous conversation he overhears.

Available now on: Amazon Prime


Dr. No (1962) 95%

In the mood for a little spy intrigue? Amazon Prime is adding a bunch of classic James Bond films, including fan favorites like Dr. No, Goldfinger, and GoldenEye.

Available now on Amazon Prime: Dr. No, From Russia with Love, Goldfinger, Thunderball, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, The Spy Who Loved Me, Licence to Kill, GoldenEye


Rocky (1976) 91%

John G. Avildsen’s iconic, Best Picture-winning drama (and its first four sequels), charting the career of the titular boxer from Philly (Sylvester Stallone), are all new to Amazon Prime this week.

Available now on: Amazon Prime


The Night Manager: Miniseries (2016) 91%

Tom Hiddleston and Hugh Laurie star in this six-part adaptation of the John le Carré novel about a former soldier who is recruited by British intelligence to infiltrate a secret arms operation.

Available now on: Amazon Prime


Up in the Air (2009) 90%

George Clooney stars as Ryan Bingham, a corporate frequent flyer tasked with firing people in person who is forced to reevaluate his life when his company cuts back on travel and he runs into someone from his past.

Available now  on: Amazon Prime


Terms of Endearment (1983) 82%

Starring Debra Winger, Shirley MacLaine, and Jack Nicholson, this Best Picture winner is a dramedy about several decades in the lives of a mother and daughter.

Available now on: Amazon Prime


Get Shorty (1995) 88%

John Travolta and Rene Russo star in Barry Sonnenfeld’s adaptation of the Elmore Leonard novel about a mobster who travels to Hollywood to collect a debt and discovers the movie industry isn’t that different from his own.

Available now on: Amazon Prime


Erin Brockovich (2000) 85%

Julia Roberts stars in Steven Soderbergh’s drama as the real-life single mother who discovered a utility company’s efforts to cover up water poisoning and took the case to court.

Available now on: Amazon Prime


Barbershop (2002) 82%

Ice Cube and Anthony Anderson star in this franchise-spawning comedy about a Chicago barbershop and its eclectic, hilarious clientele.

Available now on: Amazon Prime


Major League (1989) 83%

Tom Berenger, Charlie Sheen, Corbin Bernsen, and Wesley Snipes star in this baseball comedy, a perennial favorite about a team of lovable losers who suddenly find a way to win.

Available now on: Amazon Prime


Fatal Attraction (1987) 76%

Glenn Close and Michael Douglas star in this psychological thriller about an obsessive woman who terrorizes a family man with whom she had a one-night stand.

Available now on: Amazon Prime


Available to Purchase

 

Tickled (2016) 94%

This surprisingly twisted documentary chronicles an investigation into the dark world of competitive endurance tickling, which is apparently a thing… Or is it?

Available now on: Amazon, iTunes


Sausage Party (2016) 82%

Seth Rogen and Kristen Wiig headline an ensemble voice cast in this raunchy animated film about a number of supermarket food items who suffer a crisis of faith when they realize their purpose is to be devoured by humans.

Available now on: Amazon, FandangoNOW, iTunes

Photo by Carlos Alvarez / Stringer / Getty Images

As Non-Stop demonstrates, director Jaume Collet-Serra has a knack for tense thrillers in extreme locations. His latest, The Shallows, stars Blake Lively as a woman seeking refuge from a shark by clinging to a buoy. Here, he shares his Five Favorite Films, placing particular emphasis on the importance of a John Wayne classic and a Bruce Willis action-fest in the development of his career.


The Searchers (1956) 94%

This might be the first movie that I saw. I remember watching it when I was five or six — I shouldn’t even have been watching it — and I saw it in a theater. I grew up in a small town and they had one of those small town theaters, and they put Westerns and whatnot onscreen. It’s one of those movies that made me think it would be very cool to work in movies. I don’t know if I understood the concept of being a director, but I understood the concept of someone making movies, and this movie did it for me. Other people say Star Wars or Indiana Jones. For me it was this one. That’s why I have an emotional reaction to it.

Rosemary's Baby (1968) 96%

It’s the perfect genre movie. It’s brilliant I every aspect. It deals with some very complex subjects and is done masterfully. Even the dream sequences were so advanced at the time, the way [director Roman Polanski] made it surreal like a dream has to be, but very economic. I love every aspect and I watch it over and over again.

Die Hard (1988) 94%

I have to mention this as one of my favorites. I’ve been lucky enough to work with [producer] Joel Silver. It rewrote the rules on the modern thriller. It set the stage for the expectation that every question needs to be answered, and it has to be big, fun, and emotional, and a movie that can do everything. I try to do Die Hard in every movie that I do, by fulfilling that promise of delivering from the first frame. Obviously many more movies have done that — like Hitchcock — but as a movie that potentially could have gone many ways, it became a masterpiece. Before this movie, you could potentially believe that the bad guys are just bad guys; they don’t have motivation or are dumb. This guy had smart plans and dialogue, and set the bar high. Other movies have met it, but this was one of the first ones and I was blown away when I saw it. As much as I’ve liked other movies, at that time, Die Hard has had more of an influence on my work than the other ones of the time.

The Conversation (1974) 97%

This is such a complete technical movie about such a simple idea done so beautifully. It’s a thriller with very few elements and it’s a deconstruction and pure poetry. The sum of the parts is more than each of the parts individually and it’s so simple, yet the pieces together blows your mind. It also places a big emphasis on shooting because every shot means something, not one shot is wasted. I strive to do that. I think it’s very important that every shot has to have a meaning.

The 400 Blows (1959) 99%

This is what film is about. It’s pure art. It’s the movie that expresses why movies are important. We can have fun, we can have movies that touch us, movies that are an experience, and then we have 400 Blows. And then you understand why film will transcend every other art. I could never make a movie like that. It’s the ultimate expression of artistry.


The Shallows is now playing in wide release.

Self/less director Tarsem Singh is no stranger to epic films. Having begun as a successful music video and commercial director (R.E.M.’s “Losing My Religion,” En Vogue’s “Hold On,” and the “We Will Rock You” Pepsi campaign), Singh’s eye for visual splendor embarked him on a film career made up of optical wonders like The Cell, The Fall, Immortals, and Mirror, Mirror. Self/less, starring Ryan Reynolds and Ben Kingsley, will follow suit this Friday. We wanted to know what films served as influences for his work, and we got his top five here:

La jetée (1962) 93%

I think the greatest film of all time. It doesn’t even care about anything. It has the best MacGuffin. The audiences in the west — if you’re going to transfer somebody from one place to the other, you want to spend all the money on the big gadgets that do all of the — as Monty Python says “the machines that go BING” kind of stuff. Whereas in La Jetée, just two guys lie down on a hammock, they drug intravenously, and they go, “Voila! We’re in the future.” I just love that. It’s just a Macguffin in a different culture, the different time — they’re used to different things. And for me, having traveled a lot, I always have to find out — when you show a movie to people they just say, “Would you buy this?” That’s one of the reasons you have origin films — like Superman or whatever — that takes so long in the west whenever you start to originate one, because you have to set up that this guy can fly because he is from another planet, has a nemesis, you can make him grounded when you give him kryptonite, and all that stuff. You watch a Hindi movie, and they just say, “Hey this guy can deflect a bullet with his ring because he is [Indian film actor] Amitabh Bachchan, so next question.” Literally, it is all about what each culture takes — to take as a MacGuffin and where they want the money spent. And La Jetée just doesn’t care. It’s got the greatest story and the movie — the images don’t even move except in one particular instance — I don’t want to spoil it for someone who hasn’t seen it. But it is just one of the greatest. It was made the year I was born, I was obsessed with it forever and when Terry Gilliam made 12 Monkeys I knew it was done.

The Conversation (1974) 97%

It is the greatest film in the english language ever made between the two Godfathers. Almost drove him bankrupt, but there you go. It is the greatest thriller of all time. If ever you’re talking about a character to which — how to get you biting your nails without any slaps or gunshots going off, that movie’s it. It’s just so terrifyingly correct. I’m not really a [Michaelangelo] Antonioni fan or any of those; Blow Up and all that never did it for me. But The Conversation, somehow, whoa. And I kind of find Mamet the same way. I know everybody holds correctly Hitchcock, you know, as high as you can, but I find Mamet delivers more shock and awe to me, and twists in a correct way than I ever found with Hitchcock. But of course we’re watching Hitchcock movies when 20 things have copied his films and they’ve become cliché at a particular point. The Conversation holds up like that for me.

The Decalogue (1989) 100%


The reason I love it is it’s the ultimate adaptation. You know, memes coming out in your films. This guy makes a film every two, three years, is making, making, making, and all the money goes away and they come to him and they say, “Okay, you can make it for TV. You can make whatever you want,” and he walks up to a building complex and he goes right, The Ten Commandments in that building. How do you do that? He makes 10 movies in a year — three of them I think they released later on as features. And you look at them and they have the balls of a student movie, like a short film about killing. It’s just all about the process. It isn’t about hanging the guy or not hanging the guy, it’s just what it takes to hang a guy. And just stuff like that, that I just think, “How do you do that?” I don’t think it’ll ever happen — at least in my lifetime.

The Mirror (1975) 100%

This used to get me when I was in college. I haven’t watched [Tarkovsky’s] films for years now, but they really got my goat. I did not understand anything. I just watched it, and I used to have a visceral reaction with them. And I haven’t seen them for about 20 years, but any of his [would make the list]. I think The Mirror, or even The Sacrifice, or Nostalghia — any one of those just blew my rocks off. Somebody like Polanski, he does a film with the devil or he does a thriller and his DNA is all over it. So when I look at the Tarkovsky films I just think like I could interchange all of them and watch them, each one of them just shook my world.

Caché (2005) 89%


I do remember talking with [filmmaker David] Fincher. He was telling me about the original one that [Michael Haneke] did, Funny Games, and I was telling him about Hidden. And we didn’t realize in that conversation that we were talking about the same filmmaker. But it is truly, for me, the God of cinema, that just does not breathe a step wrong, and is contemporary life apart from Kieslowski’s time — is Haneke. I looked at that film and I thought it the most thrillingly, chillingly, correctly timed movie that I have ever seen.


Self/less opens in wide release on July 10.

This week in streaming video, we’ve got an action-packed zombie flick, a silent film from Spain, and a timely documentary available as brand new releases. Then, Netflix has rolled out a few choice films, including a Brian DePalma horror classic, a blockbuster crowd-pleaser, a dark drama from Darren Aronofsky, and acclaimed films from P.T. Anderson and Francis Ford Coppola. Read on to find out what’s available to watch right now.

World War Z

66%

When mankind is threatened by a global zombie outbreak, it’s up to ex-United Nations operative Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) to scour the planet to find the source of the pandemic.

Available on: Amazon, Vudu

Blancanieves

95%

This silent take on Snow White set in 1920s Spain is a visually resplendent black and white drama that won oodles awards in its native land.

Available now on: Amazon, Vudu

Terms and Conditions May Apply

84%

This documentary about how corporations and government agencies access data from internet searches seems particularly relevant given recent headlines.

Available now on: Amazon, Vudu

Men in Black

92%

Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones star in this sci-fi comedy about a sunglass-wearing team of extraterrestrial investigators.

Available now on: Netflix

Requiem for a Dream

79%

Darren Aronofsky’s bleak film, starring Jared Leto, Marlon Wayans, and Jennifer Connelly, explores the nature and consequences of drug addiction.

Available now on: Netflix

The Conversation

97%

Gene Hackman stars in Francis Ford Coppola’s masterful drama about a lonely surveillance expert who becomes haunted by the implications of a maddeningly ambiguous conversation.

Available now on: Netflix

There Will Be Blood

91%

Daniel Day-Lewis stars in Paul Thomas Anderson’s epic about a bootstrapping oilman and his twisted relationship with a frontier pastor (Paul Dano).

Available now on: Netflix

Carrie

93%

Brian De Palma’s horror classic stars Sissy Spacek as a high school outcast with supernatural powers; catch it now before the remake hits theaters.

Available now on: Netflix

As attendees entered Hall H at Comic-Con International in San Diego on Saturday, they were given strange masks featuring an image of Edgar Allen Poe whose eyes had been replaced by 3D lenses. “For me, I don’t like watching 3D movies with 3D glasses,” legendary filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola explained to the audience. “Even during Avatar, I’d take them off.”

Returning to Comic-Con for the first time in 20 years, Coppola offered an unusual look at his latest film Twixt. Spinoff Online was there as the acclaimed director, composer Dan Deacon and star Val Kilmer offered a glimpse at the film and Coppola’s offbeat use of 3D. As the presentation began, Coppola explained that the masks would have a role to play in his attempt to push the medium forward.

“Starting about 14 months ago, after Avatar, people were asking me if 3D was going to be the new thing that cinema had to offer,” the director recalled. “I said, gee, I always liked 3D. We were all excited by a movie back when called Bwana Devil. Then 3D petered out until a movie called House of Wax, and even Hitchcock made a 3D movie called Dial M for Murder, but few people ever saw it that way.” All of those movies featured the same primitive 3D technology with the famous (or infamous) red/green lenses. After each wave of interest, the technique would be dismissed as a gimmick, but Coppola expects it to have staying power this time. “It’s easier to make 3D movies now with the computer animation technology,” he said.

After thanking the group of technicians involved with Twixt, Coppola presented a demo reel. The story itself is deceptively simple: A C-list horror writer comes to a small town and learns of its spooky history. The sheriff is convinced there’s a serial killer lurking in the woods and he wants the writer’s insights. Oh, he also thinks it has something to do with vampires. Now entrenched in the local lore, the writer has dreams of Edgar Allen Poe and other murders committed in the area, all of which may be connected to the town’s unusual seven-faced clock tower. The 3D portion takes us inside that location, which is far more complicated, expressionistic and creepy than it has any right to be. The trailer ends with Kilmer in the county morgue about to pull a sheet off a corpse.

With the crowd now interested, Coppola continued his part of the presentation. “Cinema is still so young, how dare anyone think all it’s got up its sleeve is just 3D and higher ticket prices,” he began. “It’s just at the beginning of the expression of movement and sound. Of course, we’re going to see wonderful innovations [in the future], and I think I was taken aback when certain studio executives said they were going to make all their films in 3D.” He then asked Deacon to discuss the way live performances changed after the invention of recording.

“The big shift happened when [anything] could be reproduced without the original creators being there,” the composer explained. “Once recordings came about, it changed the way people thought about music. The performance came to them.”

“If you were a composer, you didn’t get any money,” added Coppola. “You made money by touring. This idea of getting rich off of art is new.”

“And that’s where the idea of stars came about,” Deacon continued. “There’d be this one particular person who sang better than anyone else or acted better, but then recordings came.”

Coppola interjected again: “Art has only been recordable in the last 170 years (with photography); then came sound and the ability to hear Caruso on a record. In a sense, ever since then, most art given to us is recorded; it’s canned.”

“Now it’s made to be commodified,” Deacon continued. “[Igor] Stravinsky started making music that could fit on one side of a record.” He noted that the length of the recording medium is still a concern for musicians to this day.

“Why do movies have to be canned?” Coppola asked. “It’s competing with a lot of entertainment, like cable news and politics. The only thing we have that’s alive is concerts or sports.” He then mentioned how his granddaughter makes sure to see movies opening night to capture the freshness of the experience. “There’s a yearning for the live to be put back in cinema,” he said. “When we made Twixt, we knew it’d be [released] around Halloween, so I thought I’d love to go on tour and perform the film for each audience. That’s what opera was like.”

This is the key idea for Coppola as he explained, “Because cinema is now digital files, if the director was there, he could essentially change the experience to the mood of the audience. I can give you more of the things you like. For a seven-minute promo, it’s not much to work with, but for a whole movie … in fact, let me show you a couple of things.” On the big Hall H monitors, the audience saw a close-up of Coppola’s workstation. It was a combination of touchscreen monitor and iPad that allowed him to manipulate the trailer into a different form on the fly.

“I have all kinds of options,” he said. “With live music, we can perform the film again just for you.” He then prepared to do that very thing. Of course, there were some hiccups with the new technology as he and his support crew tried to get the touchscreen monitor to respond to the play command. “I said [backstage] that this was going to be a dress rehearsal,” he joked. As they continued to work out the bugs, he added this intriguing thought: “Theoretically, I could push the shuffle button and show you 20 versions of it.”

After a few false starts, Deacon jokingly declared that, “The new age of cinema has begun!” A second version of the trailer appeared. This one featured more of Kilmer and his ability to mimic voices. It was a brief moment in the first trailer, but seeing how the audience responded to it, Coppola extended its presence in the new version. Deacon also adapted the score to correspond with the changes.

Afterward, Coppola attempted to get a third versions going, but the technology again thwarted his plans. He handed the panel over to Kilmer, who simply said, “It was fun working with a genius. I want to go on tour with them and hang out.”

Deacon then shouted, “Thirty nights of this!”

A third version finally played that, the director said, was the result of hitting the shuffle button. Deacon decided to let it run without music, but Coppola read the narration live. This version was distinctly different, focusing on the main character’s dream state and his conversations with a young girl played by Elle Fanning. They walk in the forest talking until they come across a dream version of the hotel where Kilmer’s character is staying. She refuses to enter.

When the lights came up, Coppola took some questions. The first was about the film he brought to Comic-Con 20 years ago, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and how it changed his relationship to horror. “I’ve always loved the horror story,” he explained, going on to describe his time as an assistant to B-movie king Roger Corman. Starting out by washing the producer’s car, Coppola eventually directed the low-budget horror film Dementia 13 for Corman. “I also used to be a camp counselor, and I read the kids in my cabin the entire Dracula novel. When I was given the chance of doing it, I knew the novel.” He considers gothic horror to be a great American tradition.

Another fan asked whether he’d ever return to big-budget filmmaking. “What I’d like to do is work with a bigger budget, but with the same economies and the same stringent controls [as I do now],” he explained. “I’m writing something [large-scale] now, and I don’t know how I’m going to make it, but…”

Coppola told the next fan that making the film was a very enjoyable experience. “I made it in Northern California so I could sleep in my own bed,” he joked. “The writing challenge was to make this gothic story, but make it personal for me. I think when you make a movie, you ask a question and when you’re done, [if it works] you have an answer.” He went on to explain how the dream with the girl and Poe came from a dream he had himself. “They helped me answer the questions of this movie,” he said.

The next fan asked Kilmer what brought him to the project. “I think when we met, he said ‘I’m not quite sure how it ends,” the actor said. He also recalled watching the restoration of Abel Gance’s silent epic Napoleon that Coppola supervised. In a movie similar to Twixt, the director commissioned his own father Carmine Coppola to perform a new score for the film live. Efforts like Napoleon and the tour for Twixt impressed the actor. “It’s new. It’s genuine,” he said. “He’s so excited about the medium and to do a new idea because he’s trying to capture something. Every day was a thrill, really.”

When a fan begged Coppola to prevent The Godfather from ever being remade, the director informed him that he had no financial control over the property, but understood the sadness in the studios’ overreliance in remakes. “I think when they remake films, it’s a pity because that money could go into investing in new stories and new talents,” he said.

The final question came from a fan dressed as Captain EO. Appropriately enough, he wanted to know the director’s thoughts on post-3D conversions. Coppola offered a simple enough answer: “The same way as I feel about colorization. It’s just for commercial reasons.”

Twixt will be released later this year.

[rtimage]siteImageId=10244861[/rtimage]

Written by Erik Amaya for Comic Book Resources.

For more stories, head over to the CBR Comic-Con 2011 page.

Between enjoying his new status as America’s number one box-office draw, performing a promotional tour of Europe and acting as the resident celebrity authority on Rotten Tomatoes, Bradley Cooper’s been a very busy guy of late. (Insert NZT joke here.) With his techno-thriller Limitless still doing strong business across the US and opening in UK cinemas this week, the actor took time out for a chat, and to run through five of his favorite films.

“I’m over the moon that it did well,” Cooper says of the unexpected success of Limitless. “It really is a kind of an underdog movie in many ways — it’s a drama, a thriller, it cost 27 million; it’s taking a chance of putting me in a lead role. There’s a lot of factors that wouldn’t point to it being number one. I thought it was gonna be a festival movie, and when [studio] Relativity started to get excited and talk about it in a bigger way, I was nervous — I never saw this as that kind of shot.”

With Limitless proving he can open a hit movie and surefire comedy sequel The Hangover Part II just around the corner, Cooper’s really hitting his leading man stride. But, the actor admits, he’s not sure exactly what that means just yet. “I have no idea what I’m gonna do next,” he laughs. “I have no idea. It’s exciting and scary.”

Here, then, are Bradley Cooper’s five favorite films. (“They change all the time,” he qualifies.)

 


Life Lessons (New York Stories) (1989, 73% Tomatometer)

 

It’s part of New York Stories, with Nick Nolte and Rosanna Arquette. Nolte plays Lional Dobie, this Jackson Pollack-like artist. I love the subject matter of Life Lessons, it’s just great. Scorsese completely captures the obsession with women, visually and in the storyline. And Nick Nolte is never better — his performance is just f**king unbelievable. He’s on top of his game stylistically, Scorsese, melding heavy style with story without it ever feeling like you’re just watching a director, you know, show off. I never felt that. I’d be curious to see what he thinks of that movie, or how much time he spent doing it, but to me it just felt like kind of an effortless exercise in his talent.

The Celebration (1998, 92% Tomatometer)

 

The Celebration, the film by Thomas Vinterberg. It’s an example of innovative filmmaking and great storytelling. It’s just very moving. The subject matter, first of all, is incredible, you have this style of humour, and the acting’s insane. It was the idea of this Dogme-type style that I hadn’t really seen before — you know, you sort of feel it with Cassavetes, but I loved the strict adherence here to the principles of no artificial lighting, no artificial action, you can’t have any dolly tracking or crane shots at all; it’s all hand-held, it’s all video.

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007, 93% Tomatometer)

 

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is just one of the best films ever made. The acting, the story, the conception visually. He’s just wonderful, the director, Julian Schnabel.

The Conversation (1974, 98% Tomatometer)

 

The Conversation is just, I think, a movie made by one of the best auteur directors of the ’70s and ’80s. To me, I think the reason that I would choose that one is the sound editing. Even though Hackman does play a sound guy, the sound of the movie is really innovative. You have conversations that are happening in the foreground that you can barely hear, and yet that’s the main conversation, so they play around a lot with where they put the microphone. It’s really awesome.

The Shop Around the Corner (1940, 100% Tomatometer)

 

I wanted to throw a comedy in there. I just remember seeing that movie, and Jimmy Stewart, and just the whole way Ernst Lubitsch tells his story comedically… I’m sure there were ones that came before that, but to me it felt innovative in the sense that it was a bunch of disparate storylines coming together in the end.

 


Limitless is in theaters now.


Danny Boyle - Jeff Vespa/WireImage.com
Though his first film, Shallow Grave, brought Danny Boyle to the attention of the film savvy, it was his 1996 adaptation of Irvine Welsh‘s Trainspotting that made his name as an internationally renowned directing talent. From a budget of $3.5m the film grossed $72m worldwide, and won critical praise the world over, currently sitting at 88% on the Tomatometer.

Many trailers and posters for his subsequent work tout it as being “from the director of Trainspotting,” but Boyle’s drive to deliver fresh and eclectic cinema will be a surprise for anyone expecting a redux of that film. His follow-ups have run the full gamut; from bleak sci-fi to zombie horror, through spiritual romantic comedy and traveller thriller. If there’s one thing Boyle’s not, it’s predictable.

Indeed, his most recent previous outing was 2007’s Sunshine, about a crew of astronauts in the not-too-distant future who are on a mission to reignite our dying sun. But it’s a far cry from his new film, Slumdog Millionaire, a fantastical romance set on the streets and in the television studios of India. The story of a young boy’s tragic upbringing in the slums and his appearance on India’s version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, it’s already attracting awards by the bucketload.

As you’d expect from his body of work, his five favourite films are diverse and disparate. “I’ve got an odd list,” he told RT. “Things like your ‘top films’ or your ‘top end playlist songs’ — these are the things that keep me awake at night. I watch all of these films through the director’s eyes, and I’ve watched them multiple times — well, except for The Bicycle Thief — to try and bow down and learn.”

 

Apocalypse Now (1979, 98% Tomatometer)



The Bicycle Thief
Always, and always number one for me in every list is Apocalypse Now. There are lots of reasons. It’s imperfect; which every film should be. I love action movies. I believe in motion, in the motion picture industry. And Apocalypse Now is the ultimate action movie.

Firstly, it’s the only period film you’ll ever watch where nobody ever says it still ‘stands up after 30 years.’ Every other film — like Alien, and I’m a huge fan of Alien, I even did some promotion for it when they re-released it — the main thing you say are phrases like “Even after 25 years it still stands up.” You never have to use that (phrase) for Apocalypse Now. Everyone always just says: “Wow.”

The second reason it’s the ultimate action movie is every time it stops moving it’s weird and unnatural and disturbing. Everytime it stops moving: they stop to collect mushrooms, they get attacked by a tiger; they stop and watch the playboy bunnies arriving; the boat stops and they end up shooting these people over a puppy in a little boat. And it stops, of course, with the ultimate stop: When he (Martin Sheen) meets Marlon Brando, Colonel Kurtz at the end. You can tell by how unnatural the stops are, how natural an action movie it is.


The Bicycle Thief (1948, 95% Tomatometer)



The Bicycle Thief
To my everlasting shame — the film is so good I hate to admit to it — I never watched it until last Saturday because I was in Italy promoting Slumdog and they loved Slumdog and I felt abject because I hadn’t seen The Bicycle Thief. Nobody asked about it but I ran out and got it the Saturday following. It’s the most beautiful film.

Do not be put off by the fact it’s black and white or in Italian. It is the most beautiful film about a father and a son than I’ve ever seen.


Wallace and Gromit – The Wrong Trousers (1993, 100% Tomatometer)



The Wrong Trousers
I’m a huge, HUGE fan of animation — and that sequence at the end, when he’s on the little mini train, is even better action than Apocalypse Now. Nick Park is one of the most underrated action directors in the world. If he weren’t only interested in doing Claymation they’d have him doing every action movie. That is the best action sequence I’ve ever seen in a film. Talk about breathless action! And with the multi, multi, multi-millions of dollars spent on explosions — nothing is as great as that action sequence on the train at the end of that film.

Au Revoir Les Enfants (1987, 100% Tomatometer)



Au Revoir Les Enfants
Louis Malle is one of the great, underrated French directors. That’s the best film I’ve ever seen about children. It’s a very, very adult film so of course you have to take the kids very seriously. What is it they say? ‘Kids are father to the man,’ or something like that. What you are is what you were, really. It’s one of the most beautiful films I’ve ever seen; one of the saddest, most moving, genuine films ever.

As a director I’ve done kids films — Slumdog has kids, and, I made a film called Millions — and it’s not easy to get kids to be good. You work hard at it. What is really difficult is to get every kid to be in the same film at the same time and I watch that film and every kid — and there’s a lot of kids in it, it takes place at a school — they’re all in the same film at the same time.


Eureka (1983, N/A Tomatometer)



Eureka
I can guarantee you this film isn’t on anyone else’s list. It stars Gene Hackman and it’s made by my favorite British film director, even more than Nick Park. He’s a guy named Nick Roeg, and he’s most famous, probably, for Don’t Look Now. Eureka is the film that probably ended his American career. I think it was a disaster when it was released.

The first half of this movie is as good as you’ll ever get in a movie. It’s about a guy who discovers, literally, liquid gold. He becomes the richest man in the world and the man who has everything and the man who has nothing. The second half of the film is a trial and takes place in a courtroom and that part doesn’t work as well, which is what probably led to it being a flop, but the first half is as good as it gets.

And I love Nick Roeg. He’s idiosyncratic, highly individual and yet for a ten year period he was working in the studio system with big stars like Gene Hackman. Hackman’s never been better. People say “Hackman” and think of The Conversation but he’s never better than he is in Eureka. If you can imagine a man who has everything and he (Hackman) just plays it as a guy who has nothing.


Slumdog Millionaire opens today in the UK and is out now in the US and Australia. And come back, because RT will have more from Danny Boyle later.

Walter Murch

This week, Francis Ford Coppola‘s Youth Without Youth hits theaters in limited release. The tale of a writer who becomes young again after being struck by lightning is a personal one for Coppola, so it’s apropos that legendary editor and longtime collaborator Walter Murch helped him realize his vision.

One of the most important and influential craftsmen of the “Movie Brat” generation that came of age in the 1970s, Murch has worked as a film and/or sound editor on such landmark films as American Graffiti, The Godfather Part II, The Conversation, Apocalypse Now, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, and The English Patient. Youth Without Youth is the latest in a long line of collaborations with Coppola; their professional relationship stretches back to 1969, when Murch handled the sound editing on The Rain People.

Murch remains one of the few editors to work standing up, comparing editing film to working as a surgeon or a short-order cook. But he’s no stodgy traditionalist; Murch has been a champion of technological advances in editing, cutting Cold Mountain on Final Cut Pro at a time when AVID was still the industry standard.

In an interview with Rotten Tomatoes, the three-time Oscar winner discussed Coppola’s professional reemergence after 10 years away from the director’s chair, how the tools of the moviemaking trade have changed, and why making movies is like making honey. (Plus, check out an exclusive clip from the movie here.)

What is it about you and Francis Ford Coppola that clicks?

Walter Murch: We clicked right away. We started working together in 1969, which is almost 40 years. I like the way his mind works. I like the adventuresome areas that he goes into. He once described directing as “being the ringmaster for a circus that is inventing itself.” That kind of circus is very interesting to me — being around that — and by the same token I think he likes the way my mind works in complimentary form to his. I’m adventuresome also but also very systematic. I think the two sides — adventuresome and systematic — compliment each other.

Youth Without Youth is a puzzle of a movie. Do you approach a film like this the same way you approach a more linear film?

WM: Yeah, I think so. Every film is a puzzle really, from an editorial point of view. They may look linear when they’re finished but our job is to take scattered pieces of story that have been shot more efficiently out of sequence but that sequence is not necessarily given in advance. The script is a guide but how the performances actually turn out, what the weather was like on a particular day, can influence how the film gets constructed. Then I obviously was very aware of the kind of film that Youth Without Youth is. It ventures into territories film doesn’t usually go, and I tried to help discover the right cinematic language for that kind of a story. But on a day-to-day basis, fundamentally, it’s the same process. You look for the best take, best reading, best shot, to represent what you think is necessary in this sequence and then you put it in the movie and see how it interacts with the shots around it and you make adjustments and go on and find the next shot and so on. When you’ve got the whole film together you look at it and make evaluations about redundancies. “Is there a scene here that does something we already have? Maybe we can shorten it or remove it altogether.” Or, “Maybe we can move it to another location.”


RT exclusive image: Tim Roth and Alexandra Maria Lara

What are your hopes for the film?

WM: I hope it finds an audience that’s congenial to it. I’m very happy it was made. It got Francis directing again after an absence of 10 years, and now he’s going to be shooting another movie.

What are you working on next?

WM: Another project with Francis called Tetro. It’s an original screenplay and it starts shooting in Argentina in February.

Do you feel it’s unfair for people to compare the current work of someone like Coppola to the stuff he did 30 years ago?

WM: Francis is a special case onto himself because of the success of the films he made in the 1970s. And then he had a period where he got very deeply in debt and had to do films that he otherwise wouldn’t have done to dig himself out the financial hole. In that 10-year time, he was writing a number of screenplays, trying to get them off the ground. But he was not happy with the work. But he was working. Francis is a writer/director. Writers in Hollywood can go 10 years without something of theirs being produced. That doesn’t mean they’re not working, but the process by which a film is selected to be made and turned into a project is a very chancy, quirky operation. Francis has gotten himself into a place where, because of his success with his winery, he can afford, if the budget is low enough, to self-finance these films and get them off the ground.


RT exclusive image: Tim Roth in Youth Without Youth

When did you start to work on this? Once principle photography was done?

WM: In this case, yes. Generally, I would start before photography and be there as the film was being shot, but in this case I was still working on Sam MendesJarhead, so I didn’t join the film until all the material was shot although I did meet with Francis at a kind of a midway point. He took a break from shooting in Romania and he came for Christmas to the States. We met to talk about the screenplay and he said, “Are there any other scenes we could shoot? Because we still have a month of shooting left.” [Spoiler Alert] And I suggested the scene at the end of the movie where Dominic [played by Tim Roth] gets into an argument with his double which ultimately results in the smashing of the mirror and the killing — so to speak — of the double. It was already an argument there, but I thought, “Let’s take it to its conclusion.” Once the double is dead, it’s really a matter of time before Dominic is dead.

Coppola has said this is a personal film for him. Obviously, there’s the struggle of the writer tying to finish his masterwork, but why else do you think this film is personal for him?

WM: Francis is 68 and this character is 70. It’s been 10 years since Francis directed a movie, and the process of going back into directing I think for him was an invigorating one and one he welcomed, in terms of his own personality but also the young people he found in Romania with whom he collaborated for the film was a very healthy and enriching thing for him. And in a way, that’s like being struck by a lightning bolt and rediscovering your youth, except you’re also still close to 70 years old. I think that goes back to the title of the film that is also the title of the novel. It’s about this person who is youth without youth — he’s young, objectively in his early to late 30s or early 40s but he still has all the knowledge that he had when he was 70 years old. It examines the tension of that situation which really is the tension Francis finds himself in.

You often hear of cinematographers who fight with directors about how things should be shot. What sort of stamp can editors make on a film?

WM: Creatively speaking, your job is twofold. One of them is to choreograph the initial assembly of the images in an interesting and musical way. Even though you’re dealing with visuals, editing film is kind of like making visual music. Which shot you use? When exactly do you cut to the next shot? What shot do you cut to? Who is saying what at any one point of time? Is that line on camera or off camera? All of these are under the control of the editor. The director can always look at it and say, “No, do it this other way,” but if you’re good in the offset, that doesn’t often happen. So you end up establishing the orchestration — in a word — of the ideas and the visuals of the film in a very particular way. Just like in regular musical orchestration. How it’s orchestrated, how it’s performed — why is one orchestration and performance different than another? [This is] similar to the difference an editor can make. Secondly, once you stand back from the whole and see it, the more editorial part of the process comes into play, which is similar enough to an editing of a piece of text or a book. “Should we really begin with this sentence? Maybe we should begin with this paragraph? Maybe you don’t need this part, or you can insert something here to clarify what’s actually going on?” You act both as a consultant for the director and as somebody for the director to bounce ideas off — as a co-creator of the work, at that level. In that mode, I just throw out ideas and implement them and show them to Francis and if he likes them, great. If they spark some other idea, so much the better, and if he doesn’t like them, we’ll go back to the way it was or find some other solution.


RT exclusive image: Alexandra Maria Lara

As someone who’s kept current with new technology, do you think better tools make for better moviemaking? Or do some standard rules still apply? Is the craft a lot easier now than when you started?

WM: Your last question first — the tools are much better now than they were, but ultimately the creation of the work is of course dependent upon the tools but that dependence is ultimately not significant. Take any writer you want in the 19th century, they wrote with quill pens, dipping a piece of goose feather in ink and writing. And yet we read those novels today, and if we’re sensitive to them, we respond to them with an immediacy that is stronger than anything written today on a word processor. The word processor is a better tool than a quill pen because you can do so much more with it, but on the other hand, what you have to say and how you say it is the ultimate determination. I re-mastered The Conversation a few years ago for DVD. The Conversation was the first film I edited on a flatbed machine — a KEM editing machine. I’ve been using Final Cut or the AVID for 12 years now, so I was interested in looking at this film and seeing if I could tell if it had been edited the old way. Truth be told, I couldn’t. It held up for me. I remember making those decisions and I remember doing them in the old-fashioned mechanical way, but I wouldn’t have changed anything in it and I certainly wouldn’t have changed things because the tools now are so much better and “we could have done it so much better.” I think it’s true in terms of visual effects because [computers] really are a significant new tool. In the old days, it was rare that you would be able to do a blue screen shot without revealing the fact it was blue screen. Whereas now you can take any shot and make a visual effects shot out of it. You could shoot blue screen without revealing its blue screen.


RT exclusive image: Tim Roth

As a member of the 1970s era of filmmaking, are you nostalgic for it in the way many historians and fans are? Do you think of it as a “golden age?”

WM: It was emotionally significant for me because I kind of lost my virginity in that decade. It was where all my first love affairs with cinema had happened. I started working in cinema in 1969 — just in the beginning of the 1970s — and ended the 1970s with Apocalypse Now, which is a huge film. In a sense, I look back on it that way but I think that’s a personal thing because that was the decade I really started working in feature films. It’s interesting. I did a survey for an article a couple of months ago where if you go onto a site like Box Office Mojo — they have a listing of films, what they would have grossed in today’s dollars. It’s a list of 100 popular films irrespective of ticket price. And the 1970s stand out because of those 100 films, most of the most popular films are in the 1970s. That’s the decade with the biggest chunk. I think there are two films from the 1930s, four from the 1940s, 10 from the 1950s and 15 in the 1960s and suddenly there are 20 in the 1970s and in the 1980s it falls back to 12 or something. The significant thing is that none of those films in the 1970s were sequels to anything. They were all original works. They may have been based on a novel but it wasn’t like Spider-Man 3. It was Jaws and that was the first time Jaws hit the screen. There was, of course, a Jaws 2, but it’s not on the list of 100 most popular films, whereas this decade we’re in right now, two thirds of the most popular films are sequels: sequels to Pirates of the Caribbean or sequels to Lord of the Rings or Spider-Man or sequels to Harry Potter. It’s a significant shift form that point of view.

Is that indicative of the state of film today? Do you think there are as many good films being made today, or do you think there’s been a drop-off in quality?

WM: Our experience in the 1970s was not, “Gee, this is a classic decade.” When we were in it, we were just trying to do the best job we could. There was a general feeling that because of the dissolution of the studios everything was over and it took the big successes of the 1970s to revive Hollywood. But at the beginning of the 1970s, there was a feeling that this might be it, that motion pictures might end up being something historical like vaudeville. You know, from 1915 to 1974, people used to actually go to see movies in movie theaters. That was a real palpable sense among people. David Niven, in his books, said, “The game’s over. It’s all falling apart.” Yet we were young filmmakers and it couldn’t fall apart because we wanted to make movies. Luckily, the pendulum swung the other direction and we were able to make movies. To answer your other question, I think quality films are being made in every decade in large disproportion to a lot of junk. If you went back to the 19th century, pick a year, read all the novels published that year and the four novels that we remember from that year that were really great, you would find the same thing is true in movies today. There are very popular films today that will soon be forgotten, there are very popular films today that will be remembered, there are very unpopular films today that will remain unpopular, and there are unpopular films today that will be remembered. But that is true for any human activity.


Roth and Francis Ford Coppola

Was any one Oscar you’ve won particularly special to you?

WM: I enjoy when I lose.

Why’s that?

WM: What does an Oscar mean? On the face of things it means, “This [winner] is better than anything else.” But that’s bulls—. It’s like comparing apples and oranges. These five nominated films — is any one of them better than another? By which criteria do you judge that? I would be happy if they just gave out nominations and there weren’t any Oscars. But winning them is definitely an experience — to get up there and make a speech. Every film is hard work and a few lucky people do get Oscars for what they do and it’s recognition for all that hard work on a certain level. If you didn’t do the hard work you wouldn’t be standing there. On the other hand, people do a lot of hard work and don’t get Oscars, so it’s a mixture of glory and injustice at the same time.

Have you thought about directing another film?

WM: I’ve thought about it and I tried for a number of years to get projects off the ground and just ran out of luck and went back to what I love, which is film editing. It’s the luck of the draw that Return to Oz wasn’t a critical or commercial hit.


RT exclusive image: Youth Without Youth

It has a solid cult following, though.

WM: It does, but the projects I was interested in doing… nobody in the industry was interested in making them, and practicality reared its head. I had four kids and college tuition to pay. Developing a career as a director, if you had a film that was successful, is a lot of waiting, which is what I found myself doing and I just love to work.

How is editing like being a short order cook or doing surgery?

WM: Well…both of those people stand for what they do. I believe every editor should stand to edit. That’s just my particular soapbox. Some things are so delicate and depend on such fine, delicate work. One frame in one direction or another can make such a difference and it is, in that, like brain surgery. You’re dealing on an almost microscopic level, trying to achieve a very difficult emotional affect or get across a very delicate story or attack the point. That’s the brain surgery part. Other times, you’re flipping burgers. Three hundred thousand feet of motion picture; to get through you have to make selections. You have to plow through it quickly and not agonize over each position and just hope your instincts are good.

You’re an avid beekeeper. Is making movies like making honey?

WM: [Laughs] Yes, in a sense that a film is a very rich distillation of a tremendous amount of work. I forget exactly what the ratio is for honey but the honey you put into your tea — that teaspoon represents a gallon of nectar that had to be refined and brought down to size. So there is a similarity on that level.

Click here for “Artificial Intelligence,” an exclusive clip from Youth Without Youth.

Last week,
The Invasion
,
starring Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig, hit theaters, spinning a tale of a
world in which an epidemic strips everyday people of their emotions, creating fear in the hearts of the ininfected. Time will tell if The Invasion is remembered as a movie that
captured something about the way we live in the 2000s (though with its 21
percent Tomatometer score, that seems unlikely), but one thing is for certain:
It’s the latest in a long line of films that attempt to grapple with our
collective anxiety in uncertain times.

Perhaps, in this age of domestic spying and alleged sleeper cells, we’re more
anxious than ever. If nothing else, filmmakers have certainly found much to mine
from our collective angst; in 2007 alone, such varied films as
The Bourne Ultimatum
,
Disturbia,
The Lives Of
Others
, Red Road,
and Civic Duty
have hit screens. Despite profoundly different settings and methods of
execution, what these films share is a sense of unease, be it in the form of
vast machinations exerting greater control over our lives, or a sneaking
suspicion that someone’s watching.



The cinema of paranoia is nothing new; you can expect moviemakers to tap into a
spirit of discontent. In fact, for one of the finest examples of how the movies
can depict a society torn apart by fear, you have to go all the way back to the
birth of the sound era.
Fritz Lang‘s
M, made in
Germany only a few years before the Nazis took power, depicts a nation where
there’s only a thin line between the cops and the criminals, where paranoia and
fear can sweep through the streets like a fever. In the role that made him
cinema’s favorite sketchy character,
Peter Lorre
plays a child killer whose crimes have set the city on edge; when an elderly man
tries to help a lost child, he’s accused of being the killer and beaten for his
trouble. The situation becomes so dire that even the city’s crime bosses decide
to find M, since he’s making it hard for them to do business. Once Lorre is
being pursued by both the police and the underworld, a strange thing happens: he
becomes our point of reference, and we realize we identify with him, partly
because he’s as much a manifestation of collective fear as he is an evildoer.

M is a forerunner to cinema’s most paranoia-minded subgenres (film noir,
serial killer flicks, police procedurals), and certainly
David Fincher
owes a debt to the film; both
Se7en
(84
percent) and Zodiac
(88 percent) borrow from its bleak, shadowy palette. As Dave Kehr of the Chicago
Reader
writes, "The moral issues are complex and deftly handled: Lorre is at
once entirely innocent and absolutely evil. Lang’s detached, modified
expressionist style gives the action a plastic beauty." It’s at 100 percent on
the Tomatometer.



Many horror and science fiction movies of the 1950s drew from a variety of
postwar fears, from atomic power to the rise of Communism. Though it’s been
remade twice (and The Invasion was originally intended as a straight
remake as well), the original

Body Snatchers
retains a potent, disquieting aura, and as a political
allegory it’s tantalizingly hard to read. The plot involves a doctor (Kevin
McCarthy
) who finds that many of the citizens of his small town have started
acting strange; they look the same as they ever did, but emit no emotion
whatsoever. He soon discovers plant-like aliens are taking over people’s bodies
when they fall asleep, stripping them of their humanity and spreading out to
claim more victims. Is it a dark satire on the (Joseph, not Kevin) McCarthy era?
A warning of what a Communist future would bring?

However one reads it, there’s no denying Body Snatchers has proven to be
one of the most durable and influential sci-fi films of the 1950s, inspiring
everything from
Shaun of the Dead
(90 percent) to
Signs
(74 percent). And
it’s at 100 percent on the Tomatometer. "Its title implies that it’s something
you might watch for its campy comic value," writes Audrey Rock-Richardson of The
Tooele Transcript Bulletin
, "but it’s flat-out nightmarish.



In the 1970s, the fallout from the Watergate break-in — and the general feeling
that the government was veering into criminal territory — inspired a number of
fine suspense films, from
Three Days
of the Condor
(92 percent) to
The Parallax View

(91 percent). But perhaps the finest paranoid thriller from the post-Watergate
era is The
Conversation
,
Francis
Ford Coppola
‘s taut, haunting reworking of
Blow-Up
(85
percent). Gene
Hackman
stars as Harry Caul, a surveillance expert who’s been commissioned
to listen in on the conversations of a powerful businessman’s daughter. Caul is
intensely private — he lives alone in an apartment with four or five deadbolts,
and he never gives out his phone number — but he’s also results-oriented to the
extreme, more concerned about making the perfect recording than what anyone’s
saying on the tape. But on his latest job, he can’t help but notice that the
young woman he’s taping seems to be discussing something particularly ominous;
is she in grave danger?

Caul’s attempt to get at the truth result in a chilling embodiment of the old
adage: "Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean someone’s not after you."
Featuring hypnotic sound editing from Walter Murch, as well as one of Gene
Hackman’s finest performances, The Conversation "grapples with the moral
issue at stake in a country where technology has outstripped our knowledge of
how to use and control it," writes Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat of Spirituality
and Practice
. At 97 percent on the Tomatometer, this "masterpiece of modern-day
paranoia is far more than a simple rehashing of a classic slice of cinema. It
proves to be more prescient now than ever," says Shannon J. Harvey of
Australia’s Sunday Times.

These movies are merely the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Whenever there’s a
collective unease, someone will make a film like
Panic in the
Streets
(92 percent),
The
Manchurian Candidate
(100 percent), or
V for Vendetta

(72 percent) that taps into our sense of fear.

As reported two months back by Skewed and Reviewed and other publications, Disney is looking to cash in on the numbers generated by "The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe". Now comes confirmations via the A.P. C.N.N. and more that the sequel Prince Caspian is well under way.

NEW YORK (AP) — A sequel to the megahit family fantasy "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" is slated to hit theaters in late 2007.

"The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian" will be based on the third installment of C.S. Lewis’ seven-book "Narnia" series, Disney spokesman Ash Curtis said Friday.

In the story, the Pevensie siblings — Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy — return to Narnia to help Prince Caspian restore peace after the country becomes gripped by civil war.

The movie will reunite director Andrew Adamson and most of the principal cast, including William Moseley (Peter), Anna Popplewell (Susan), Georgie Henley (Lucy) and Skandar Keynes (Edmund), Curtis said.

"Narnia" has earned an estimated $637.8 million worldwide.