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Dead Good Performances

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Written By: Robb Sheppard (@RedBezzle)

For a good few months, there’s been a disturbance. It was difficult to put a finger on at first, but now it’s as clear as day. Whilst everyone was busy pissing and whinging about Gareth Edwards’ Rogue One: A Star Wars Story; their hackles being raised like an X-Wing from a swamp, it served as a stark reminder that it wasn’t always like this.

Many film fans’ necks were well and truly wound-out over the resurrection of Princess Leia and Grand Moff Tarkin’s characters in Rogue One, this writer included. But posthumous performances in the past were often revered and heralded like the final hurrah, with the director charged with carrying out the actor’s final wishes and preserving the actor’s reputation. So why all the hate now?

The primary difference of course, is that Peter Cushing had been dead for nigh on twenty years before his Grand Moff Tarkin reclaimed the Death Star. As a result, he had very little to say regarding the use of his image, and his uncanny appearance polarises opinion to say the least. Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy, on the other hand, reported that Carrie Fisher loved the eerie baby-faced version of herself, achieved via a body double and facial recognition mapping.

But this kind of tech wizardry has long been used to finish off a film when death comes-a-knockin’. It just seems a little easier to stomach. Example?

The Crow

It felt like a fitting homage to The Crow star Brandon Lee that his character could continue on to avenge the death of his wife. Thanks to CGI and with honourable mentions to face paint, long hair and stunt doubles, Lee himself was resurrected in parallel to his protagonist Eric Draven (geddit?!). A shotgun wound to the stomach was the official cause of Brandon Lee’s death when live rounds were fired instead of blanks.

The Crow (1994) soon secured its status as a cult classic, no doubt in part due to the macabre fascination with the death of its lead. His tragic death aligned him with figures such as Kurt Cobain, River Phoenix and Jimi Hendrix and the conspiracy theories only accelerated his myth. Similarly, Bruce Lee, Brandon’s father, died during the filming of Game of Death (1978) with many claiming alleged links to Chinese organised crime and/or a family curse. Officially, the recorded cause of death was an allergic reaction to a prescribed painkiller and his scenes in Game of Death were famously completed with the aid of some unconvincing cardboard cut-outs.

Sadly, both Bruce and Brandon Lee reached iconic status only after their death. Speaking of iconic…

The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus

Who’s your favourite Joker? It’s probably a two-horse race with Heath Ledger’s turn in The Dark Knight (2008) in the lead by a nose. The general consensus often seems to be that the Clown Prince of Crime was Heath Ledger’s final role. Of course, it’s his most memorable and arguably the most famous posthumous Oscar win (for the Best Actor in a Supporting Role) but in the minds of many, it’s also the role which drove him into an accidental overdose. Tales of him shutting himself away for days on end to get into the mind-set of The Joker mythologise the man behind the make-up, much like Brandon Lee and The Crow.

As the I’m Heath Ledger (2017) documentary revealed, Ledger was not some tortured artist a la Cobain at all, but instead a man who didn’t have enough time: a man who was constantly creating, trying to capture a moment and who always wanted more life. Perhaps he would have been proud then, that his untimely death made Terry Gilliam’s The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus even barmier than originally intended.

Tony (Ledger) is a mysterious straggler befriended by a sideshow troupe and falls in love with Dr Parnassus’ daughter. Once inside the Imaginarium – a mind-controlled world that is, frankly, trippin’ balls – Tony is instead depicted by Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell and Jude Law in turn. Seeming like a show of respect and act of condolences, the place-holding actors gave the film an even more absurd, yet fitting edge. Just don’t ask me exactly what happens in it.

Fast and Furious 7

A main stay of the improbably successful film franchise, Paul Walker’s death nearly got Furious 7 parked indefinitely. The actor’s tragic death was all the more poignant due to its nature: Walker’s collision with a tree whilst in a Carrera GT could have been lifted from the script. Well, you know, if you throw in some wrecking balls, explosions and a submarine.

With half the movie already in the can, difficult decisions had to be made. Starting with the idea of Brian (Walker) and Dom (Vin Diesel) splitting and each taking their own road seemed like a fitting send-off idea and a fond farewell. The story was reverse-engineered from there.

Walker’s brothers,  Caleb and Andy were recruited to double for him, both physically and vocally whilst some deleted scene dialogue was chop-shopped to plug the gaps.

Not being a fan of the franchise didn’t detract from the emotional heft of that final scene. To  paint a picture of how beloved Paul Walker was, every once in a while I see a souped-up Corsa or a Fiat 500 zoom past, and for the briefest moment, you can spot a bumper sticker detailing his date of death and the line; “I  almost had you.”

Gladiator

Would Oliver Reed’s comeback role have been treated with such reverence if he hadn’t died during filming? Gladiator (2000) saw the legendarily unruly actor return to prominence as Proximo, a slave trader, retired gladiator and now trainer. Art reflected life with a man reminiscing on his glory days, given one last chance and living vicariously through his new charge (Russell Crowe).

Director Ridley Scott had the opportunity to reshoot all of Reed’s scenes (this time at the insurer’s expense) but instead refused. A script rewrite (Proximo was originally Maximus’ final fight), shadowy asides and CGI carried Reed’s character through the rest of the film.

Of course, this is the complete antithesis of, say, Kevin Spacey, whose scenes for Scott’s All the Money in the World were famously completely reshot with the character recast. Not exactly posthumous, but Spacey is dead to us now. So same, same.

Which posthumous performances did you think were dead good? Let us know in the comments below.

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Features

Venice, Cannes, London, Wherever: Film Festival Tips

A film festival veteran, Rehna Azim gives her tips on how to survive at film festivals wherever you are in the world.

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Film Festival Tips Movie Marker

I suppose I can be called a film festival veteran now. I’ve covered enough of them over the best part of a decade to be able to pass some, hopefully, useful tips on to those who might find themselves at one of the many film festivals that seem to spring up every 15 minutes. There’s a festival for everyone and pretty much everything. A fan of Korean cinema? You’ll find a festival in London. Sci-fi freak? Horror fanboy/girl? Gay, lesbian? Woman over 40? Someone somewhere will be running a festival of films you’ll love. Even towns you weren’t sure had a cinema seem to have a festival going on.

The biggies in Europe of course are Cannes and Berlin with London coming up in recent years. San Sebastien is growing in stature and there’s Ghent, Locarno, Edinburgh and many more. Wherever it is and whatever crowd it’s for, festivals are big business and popular. So here’s how to make the most of them:

Make sure your stomach is full and your bladder empty. The bigger the festival, the longer the queues and the more uncomfortable you’ll feel as you line up with a cast of hundreds to watch the latest gem from that Bulgarian auteur you thought only you loved. A film festival will draw a cine literate crowd that will fight you to the death for the last seat in the house. (At Cannes earlier this year, journalists almost came to fisticuffs in the huge, sprawling line that waited to catch the pearls of wisdom that fell from Christopher Nolan’s lips). A couple of years ago there was an angry stamping of feet as La La Land was, inexplicably, put on a small screen that couldn’t possibly accommodate all those who wanted to see it. At Venice earlier this month the lines stretched out perilously close to the canals. So you see, if you’re serious about festivaling, like a Boy Scout, you always have to be prepared. You simply can’t take the chance of popping away for 10 minutes to grab a quick burger or spend a penny. Go before you come, as it were. Carry a snack with you in your bag (trust me, even that festering flapjack at the bottom will seem enticing when you’re starving during a 3 hour long Ingmaar Bergman retrospective. Keep a small bottle of water with you at all times, not least to avoid the headaches that dehydration can cause.

Sacrifice glamour for comfort. Unless you’re going to a red carpet premiere, wear sensible shoes you can run between venues in. Layer your clothing. It doesn’t matter which city or country you’re in, you will either be too hot or too cold in whatever you wear. Taking something off or putting it on will be the best way to deal with whatever weather comes your way. I speak as someone who has been caught in sudden, monsoon level thunderstorms in both Venice and Cannes on brilliantly hot days when I was swanning around in skimpy summer dresses.

Film Festival Movie Marker

Plan your festival days. Screening times often overlap or just outright clash. Check the programme in advance, decide what you absolutely must see and what is a ‘if I have the time’ choice. Once you’ve made your choices, schedule your days accordingly. Those covering the festival for media outlets have to factor in interviews, talks and red carpet coverage as well as time to do the write-ups. It may seem like teaching your grandmother to suck eggs (did anyone’s grandmother actually ever do that) but sometimes the simplest, most obvious tips are the most helpful. I’ve known the super organised to create elaborate flow charts for their daily schedule but a simple list in a notebook will suffice.

Always keep a note pad and camera with you. Whether both are on your latest model phone or you have the old fashioned type, you will need them. Film festivals are exciting. Celebrities are swanning around everywhere, funny, interesting, record-able things are happening all the time and you will invariably meet people you want to stay in touch with. Writing a number or email address on the back of a receipt may seem a good idea at the time but you’ll never copy it out ‘properly’ into an address book. Most likely you’ll throw the receipt away when you’re next cleaning out your bag then spend hours rummaging through it later looking for the number of that nice agent/producer/actor/attractive person you met over drinks and really want to meet again. Network, make contacts, make friends. Festivals are fun!

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New entertainment platform CHILI launches in the UK

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Are you scrolling through the TV guide, trying to decide what to watch on your first night in for weeks, only to change your mind for the fourth time? Sounds tragically familiar, which is why I am very pleased to announce that European entertainment company CHILI have big plans for film and TV fans in the UK.

CHILI is a subscription-free entertainment platform that has launched in the UK after it’s recent success in Italy, racking up 1.6 million registered users since launching in 2012. Backed by the studios we all know and love, Warner Bros, Paramount Pictures, Viacom, Sony Pictures, and 20th Century Fox, the on-demand service offers an array of content available at the click of the button.

What makes this different from say, Netflix or Amazon? The website offers a huge range of films and TV shows, from foreign art house to big screen blockbusters – as well as being a one-stop show for cinema; there is a newshub to give you the low-down on all film and TV news, you can purchase physical movies, merchandise and tickets to the cinema all in one place. Founder and chief executive Giorgio Tacchia describes CHILI as an entertainment hub; with customers discovering a new movie or TV show that they love and then browsing the merchandise to see what’s in store. From Star Wars Lego sets to beautiful concept art books, there really is something for everyone.

The platform is also filled with new premieres, including Amy Schumer’s I Feel Pretty, Marvel Studios’ Avengers Infinity War and Greg Berlanti’s Love, Simon. Customers can choose the quality they want their digital purchase, or choose to order a Blu-Ray or DVD instead.

My favourite section is the ‘highlights’ page which tailors content around your preferences and also offers flash sales and offers of the week. And with your first film on them? That’s an offer I can’t refuse.

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Our weekly updated UK streaming listings for September 2018

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Between the increasing number of streaming platforms in our lives, there’s far too much great entertainment being released day after day for any sane person to keep track of. 

There’s streaming giant Netflix, the curated offerings of MUBI, all the latest releases on NOW TV, and online video emporium Amazon Prime. There’s something for everyone, on demand, just waiting to be selected. What a time to be alive!

But that doesn’t help when you’re looking for something to wile away the evening with, so let us lighten the load and make your viewing choice that little bit easier with our weekly updated round-up of everything being added to your favourite platform.

Saturday, September 1st

  • After the Sunset
  • Appaloosa
  • Birth
  • Cellular
  • Final Destination 3
  • Harold & Kumar Escape
  • Highwaymen
  • The Last Mimzy
  • Lost in Translation
  • The Man
  • Mr. Woodstock
  • New Year’s Eve
  • Pride and Glory
  • Rendition
  • Semi-Pro
  • Shoot Em Up
  • Silk

Sunday, September 2nd

  • The Green Inferno
  • The Way Back

Monday, September 3rd

  • Molly’s Game
  • Mr. Mercedes: Season 2 (new episode)

Thursday, September 6th

  • Pistorius

Monday, September 10th

  • Mr. Mercedes: Season 2 (new episode)

Friday, September 14th

  • Forever: Season 1

Monday, September 17th

  • Mr. Mercedes: Season 2 (new episode)
  • The Post
  • Suicide Squad

Wednesday, September 19th

  • The Commuter

Saturday, September 22nd

  • Full Metal Jacket
  • Get Smart
  • The Lake House
  • Lolita
  • Mortal Kombat
  • North by Northwest
  • Payback
  • The Philadelphia Story
  • Soylent Green
  • Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
  • The Towering Inferno

Sunday, September 23rd

  • Early Man

Monday, September 24th

  • Caddyshack
  • Dangerous Liaisons
  • Enter the Dragon
  • Lethal Weapon
  • Lethal Weapon 2 
  • Lethal Weapon 3
  • Police Academy 2
  • The Secret Garden
  • Unforgiven
  • Yes Man

 

Wednesday, September 5th

  • Boro in the Box

Thursday, September 6th

  • Living Still Life

Friday, September 7th

  • Ryuichi Sakamoto: Coda

Saturday, September 8th

  • The Pleasure of Being Robbed

Sunday, September 9th

  • Tiny Furniture

Monday, September 10th

  • Went the Day Well?

Tuesday, September 11th

  • Champagne Charlie

Wednesday, September 12th

  • The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby

Thursday, September 13th

  • Disorder

Friday, September 14th

  • The Wild Boys

Tuesday, September 18th

  • Eros Plus Massacre

Wednesday, September 19th

  • Street Life

Thursday, September 20th

  • Tonsler Park

Sunday, September 23rd

  • The Things of Life

Tuesday, September 24th

  • Ghost Town

Tuesday, September 25th

  • Timber Gang

Thursday, September 27th

  • The Island of St. Matthews

Friday, September 28th

  • Love on a Pillow

Saturday, September 29th

  • The Inertia Variations

 

 

Saturday, September 1st

  • The Bletchley Circle: Season 1 
  • The Bletchley Circle: Season 2
  • Born to Be Blue
  • Gangs of New York
  • Gone
  • Killing Gunther
  • La Catedral del Mar
  • Legally Blondes
  • The Man Who Invented Christmas
  • Marvel’s Iron Man
  • Marvel’s Iron Man 2
  • Marvel’s Iron Man 3
  • Million Dollar Baby
  • Monkey Twins
  • Moonstruck
  • The Mummy
  • The Mummy Returns
  • The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor
  • Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping
  • The Purge: Election Year
  • RoboCop 2
  • Saw VI
  • Sisters

Sunday, September 2nd

  • Mr. Sunshine: Season 1 (new episode)

Monday, September 3rd

  • The Debt Collector
  • Power: Season 5 (new episode)
  • A Taiwanese Tale of Two Cities: Season 1 (new episode)

Tuesday, September 4th

  • Better Call Saul: Season 4 (new episode)

Wednesday, September 5th

  • The Hundred-Foot Journey

Thursday, September 6th

  • I Kill Giants
  • Inferno
  • Suits: Season 8 (new episode)

Tuesday, August 7th

  • Atypical: Season 2
  • Cable Girls: Season 3
  • City of Joy
  • Marvel’s Iron Fist: Season 2
  • The Most Assassinated Woman in the World
  • Next Gen
  • Shooter: Season 3 (new episode)
  • Sierra Burgess is a Loser
  • Stretch Armstrong & The Flex Fighters: Season 2

Saturday, September 8th

  • American Horror Story: Cult (new episode)

Sunday, September 9th

  • Mr. Sunshine: Season 1 (new episode)
  • Wynonna Earp: Season 2

Monday, September 10th

  • Power: Season 5 (new episode)
  • A Taiwanese Tale of Two Cities: Season 1 (new episode)

Tuesday, September 11th

  • Better Call Saul: Season 4 (new episode)
  • Daniel Sloss: Live Shows
  • Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool
  • The Resistance Banker
  • The Square

Wednesday, September 12th

  • Burn After Reading
  • Call the Midwife: Season 6
  • Jane
  • On My Skin
  • Rex

Thursday, September 13th

  • Life Happens
  • Nowhere Boys: Two Moons Rising
  • Suits: Season 8 (new episode)

Friday, September 14th

  • American Vandal: Season 2
  • The Angel
  • Bleach
  • Boca Juniors Confidential
  • BoJack Horseman: Season 5
  • Car Masters: Rust to Riches
  • The Dragon Prince
  • Ingobernable: Season 2
  • The Land of Steady Habits
  • Last Hope
  • Shooter: Season 3 (new episode)
  • Super Monsters Monster Party: Songs

Saturday, September 15th

  • American Horror Story: Cult (new episode)
  • Cabins in the Wild, with Dick Strawbridge: Season 1
  • The Hangover
  • How to Live Mortgage Free, with Sarah Beeny: Season 1
  • Mr. Sunshine: Season 1 (new episode)
  • Queens vs. Kings: Season 1
  • Three Wives, One Husband: Season 1

Sunday, September 16th

  • Mr. Sunshine: Season 1 (new episode)

Monday, September 17th

  • A Taiwanese Tale of Two Cities: Season 1 (new episode)

Tuesday, September 18th

  • Better Call Saul: Season 4 (new episode)
  • D.L. Hughley: Contrarian

Wednesday, September 19th

  • Julieta

Thursday, September 20th

  • American Honey
  • Suits: Season 8 (new episode)

Friday, September 21st

  • Battlefish
  • Dragon Pilot: Hisone & Masotan
  • The Good Cop: Season 1
  • Hilda
  • Maniac
  • Nappily Ever After
  • Norsemen: Season 2
  • Quincy
  • Rafinha Bastos: Ultimate

Saturday, September 22nd

  • American Horror Story: Cult (new episode)
  • Mr. Sunshine: Season 1 (new episode)

Sunday, September 23rd

  • Mr. Sunshine: Season 1 (new episode)

Monday, September 24th

  • Dead Man Walking
  • Doctor Strange
  • A Taiwanese Tale of Two Cities: Season 1 (new episode)

Tuesday, September 25th

  • Better Call Saul: Season 4 (new episode)
  • Queen of Katwe

Wednesday, September 26th

  • Top Dog
  • Wonder

Thursday, September 27th

  • The Anomaly
  • Fred: The Movie
  • Ouija: Origin of Evil

Friday, September 28th

  • The 3rd Eye
  • Chef’s Table: Season 5
  • Forest of Piano
  • The Good Place
  • Hold the Dark
  • Jack Whitehall: Travels with My Father: Season 2
  • Lessons from a School Shooting: Notes from Dunblane
  • Lost Song
  • Made in Mexico: Season 1
  • Reboot: The Guardian Code: Season 2
  • Skylanders Academy: Season 3
  • Somewhere Between
  • Two Catalonias

Saturday, September 29th

  • American Horror Story: Cult (new episode)
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Hannibal: Season 3

Sunday, September 30th

  • Pixels
  • Seven Psychopaths

 

 

Saturday, September 1st

  • Braven

Sunday, September 2nd

  • The Little Hours

Monday, September 3rd

  • Guardians of the Tomb

Tuesday, September 4th

  • Chronically Metropolitan

Wednesday, September 5th

  • The Mimic

Thursday, September 6th

  • Singularity

Tuesday, August 7th

  • Final Score

Saturday, September 8th

  • The Disaster Artist

Sunday, September 9th

  • The Ballad of Lefty Brown

Monday, September 10th

  • Psych: The Movie

Tuesday, September 11th

  • Never Steady, Never Still

Wednesday, September 12th

  • Hatred

Thursday, September 13th

  • My Friend Dahmer

Friday, September 14th

  • Murder on the Orient Express

Saturday, September 15th

  • Oddsockeaters

Sunday, September 16th

  • The Forgiven

Monday, September 17th

  • Devil’s Gate

Tuesday, September 18th

  • Affairs of State

Wednesday, September 19th

  • Wings of Eagles

Friday, September 21st

  • All the Money in the World

Sunday, September 30th

  • Battle of the Sexes

That’s it for this week, but don’t forget to check back each week for a fresh round of new releases for the UK on streaming platforms Amazon Prime, MUBI, NOW TV, and Netflix.

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