Few will forget Bill Pullman‘s rousing speech as the US president in Independence Day, but it’s only one of a long string of vast and diverse roles that have seen him cast as romantic lead, action hero, comedy star and dark villain. In more than twenty years of screen acting he’s defined himself as a hard-working, engaging talent.
His latest film, Surveillance, opens in UK cinemas this week. Directed by Jennifer Lynch, it casts Pullman as one of a pair of FBI agents (with Julia Ormond) tracking down the culprit of a grisly collection of seemingly unpremeditated murders. With a fine ensemble cast it’s an original crime thriller; only Lynch’s second film since her 1993 debut Boxing Helena. It will open in the US on 26th June.
Of his five favourite films, Pullman says his choices depend on mood and context. “I always feel like there are a lot of different types of favourites,” he tells RT. “there are some that I look to for interesting things, some that I look to for acting things, others that I watch again and again. I don’t know if this is in any sort of order!”
“This is always the first choice when people say they have a new television set or home cinema system and they want to watch a great visual movie. I always choose this because I feel it has an incredible presence.”
“I like The Searchers for the same reason. I like to see those performances again and just the way that without special effects or tweaked shots or CGI or whatever you get this expansive feeling of being in the outdoors.”
“When I was in college, first year, I saw it and I really hadn’t been exposed to a lot of European filmmakers. It’s such a ‘film’ film. It wasn’t required viewing, it was just a film playing on campus and I hadn’t been interested in film before then. Nowadays people are deciding to get into film at age five when they’re sitting, watching the Oscars. I really didn’t come out of that culture — I was pretty much a John Wayne fan and that was it. Zabriskie Point was a time when I was in a lot of change and flux and these incredible visuals hit me like they had rearranged the organs in my body. The ending and the free-floating debris and everything is an image that burned itself in my consciousness.”
“It’s a little bit of a Slumdog movie in a way of somebody coming from incredibly unlikely beginnings and climbing through a lot of incredibly hard challenges to get somewhere. As an actor you’re continually riding the waves of whether you’re in or out, getting work or not getting work, and Kazan was really a guy who was condemned into not working and looking to go deep into someplace and just live inside his art.”
“This is one I’ve watched a couple of different times in a couple of different forms. I’ve watched the film version and I’ve also seen the mini-series. I think when I first saw that it changed my idea of acting. I go back to it sometimes just to put myself back in that place where my discoveries about what was possible on a film and the level of immersion between people — this incredible dance that they do — really formed.”
Surveillance opens in UK cinemas this week. It will open in the US on 26th June.
Ingmar Bergman, the “poet with a camera,” died in his sleep at his home in Faro, Sweden Monday at the age of 89. The director of such influential films as The Seventh Seal, Persona, Cries and Whispers, and Fanny and Alexander, Bergman was known for his literary sensibilities and existential ruminations. The director’s work has exerted a profound influence on filmmakers as disparate as Woody Allen, Lars Von Trier, and Wes Craven.
Bergman’s childhood and early career is outlined in potent detail in his autobiography The Magic Lantern. A precursor to the slide projector, Bergman acquired a magic lantern from his brother in trade for 100 tin soldiers. Citing his imagination as a refuge from the oppressive discipline of a Lutheran clergyman father and housewife mother, it’s rather poetic he should enter the realm of cinema by trading toys for visions. (Fanny and Alexander, about an upper-class family in Upsala before the First World War, is regarded as a loosely autobiographical portrayal of his youth).
Bergman left his home at the age of 19 and got a menial job at the Royal Opera House. In 1942 the Swedish Film Industry hired him as an assistant scriptwriter. Torment (aka Frenzy or Hets), a script he wrote in 1944 was filmed by then dominant director Alf Sjoeberg and went on to win several awards including the grand prize at the 1946 Cannes Film Festival. Promptly thereafter, Bergman began his directorial career, producing an average of one film a year. When his comedy Smiles of a Summer Night (1955) appeared in theaters he won international acclaim. Bergman also worked in television, directing everything from soap commercials to the monumental miniseries Scenes from a Marriage (1973).
Bergman frequently collaborated with such notables as Max von Sydow, , Harriet Andersson, Gunnar Bjornstrand, Ingrid Thulin, Erland Josephson, and especially Liv Ullmann, with whom he produced ten films and a daughter.
Bergman won Academy Awards for best foreign film in 1960 (The Virgin Spring), 1961 (Through a Glass Darkly) and 1963 (Winter Light). The latter two films were part of his “faith trilogy,” and it’s suggested the third in the series (The Silence) was too sexually suggestive to be considered for the Oscars. In 1972, two of his films, Persona and Wild Strawberries (1957), were included in Sight and Sound’s prestigious poll of critics as two of the 10 greatest films of all time. In 2005, Time Magazine called him the world’s greatest living filmmaker.
The Associated Press reports the filmmaker, director of 54 features, and 129 stage productions, never fully recovered from a hip surgery he had in October. His last film was 2005’s Saraband.
Bergman is survived by his nine children. Funeral services have not yet been announced but the Swedish Film Institute plans a memorial event for the month of August.
This week at the movies brings us "The Break-Up," a hotly-anticipated dark comedy featuring two actors whose faces are criminally under-documented by the paparazzi. What do the critics say?
Critical Consensus has had a couple bad breakups in the past. Fortunately, CC has some really good friends who are always available to provide pep talks. They have said, "Move on! Get over it! It’s all good!" Unfortunately for "The Break-Up," starring Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston, the critics just can’t move on. They can’t get over it. The film, billed as an "anti-romantic comedy," tells the story of a couple in the final death spiral of a relationship, the inverse of typical Hollywood rom-com fare. It’s an intriguing idea (kinda like a Frat-Pack version of Bergman‘s "Scenes from a Marriage"), but the critics say that two of contemporary cinema’s most likeable actors stranded in a tonally schizophrenic plot with unfunny bickering that is simply hard to watch. At 22 percent on the Tomatometer, this one can’t catch a "Break."
In limited release this week, French martial arts thriller "District B13" currently stands at 88 percent on the Tomatometer; the Iraq documentary "The War Tapes" is at 92 percent; indie comedy "The Puffy Chair" is at 75 percent; "Favela Rising," a doc about Brazilian political unrest, is at 60 percent; the Floridian noir "Coastlines" is at 50 percent; "Peaceful Warrior," starring a philosophical Nick Nolte, is at 40 percent; and the South Korean action thriller "Typhoon" is at 17 percent.