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Tom Hanks Retrospective

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With two Academy Awards, a filmography that has grossed over 8.5 billion dollars, and arguably one of the most loveable faces on the faces of the planet, Tom Hanks has certainly had a career that most actors would give arm for. His latest film A Hologram For the King, is an inspirational story of a man struggling to turn his life around in a foreign land, based on Dave Eggers novel of the same name. Available on digital platforms on 12th September and on Blu-ray and DVD from 19th September, 2016, A Hologram For The King features a Tom Hanks performance that audiences have come to treasure from his catalogue of classic films over the years. In order to truly appreciate the man himself, we’re taking a look back at some of his most iconic roles, and be assured that narrowing it down to this list was no easy task.

hftkA Hologram For The King (2016)

In many of the films of this list, Hanks serves as a leader and authoritarian, but in A Hologram For The King he plays a man struggling to find his purpose in the world, lost both figuratively and physically in the foreign land of Saudi Arabia. Alan Clay (Hanks) hopes to sell a state-of-the-art 3D holographic meeting system to the nation’s King. But once he begins work he quickly learns that he will have to adapt to a different culture and way of doing business in order to be successful. After suffering a panic attack in his hotel room, Alan meets a beautiful Saudi Doctor whose presence has a profound effect, leading him to question the path his life has taken. Hanks’ signature charm and depth guides us on an inspirational journey of self discovery, leading to the conclusion that there really is nothing this man can’t do.

 

Big (1988)

Before the days of the multiple prestigious awards coming out of his ears, Mr. Hanks was making hearts around the world melt as a child who was magically turned into a grown man overnight. Still living with 13-year-old’s mentality, Josh (Hanks) decides to hide out in New York City until he can figure out what to do next. He lucks into a job with a major toy company run by kid-at-heart McMillan (Robert Loggia) and falls in love with fellow employee Susan (Elizabeth Perkins). But still a kid, he becomes desperate to go back to being scruffy teenager. Hanks brought his trademark wit and playfulness to the film, and it’s hard to imagine anyone else being able to play a giant keyboard with his feet as well as he does.

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Saving Private Ryan (1998)

Steven Spielberg’s legendary WWII epic may be known primarily for its extremely intense and disturbing 24-minute long battle sequence on the beaches of Normandy, but at the films heart is a very grounded and relatable performance from Mr. Hanks. The film follows a group of soldiers led by Captain Miller (Hanks), who have been charged with the task of saving a young soldier fighting in France by the name of (you guessed it) Private Ryan, whose three brothers have been killed in battle, and bring him home to his family. The film won five Oscars in total but what was most notable about the ceremony was that it missed out on ‘Best Picture’ to Shakespeare In Love, which is still remembered as one of the biggest Oscar upsets in history. The film has proven to stand the test of time though, with Hank’s performance being one of the best of his career.

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Toy Story (1995), Toy Story 2 (1999) and Toy Story 3 (2010)

After all of Pixar’s success, awards and rave reviews for their many delightful films, the standard set by incredible moving and nostalgic Toy Story series still sets the bar. Hanks voices the charming cowboy doll Woody, who is seen as a leader of sorts for a group of toys who come to life when no one is looking. But when their owner Andy get’s a new action figure for his birthday in the shape of Buzz Lightyear, he starts to lose his place as the ‘favourite toy’. It’s hard to imagine that Toy Story was so innovative in its field when it was released in 1995, but with every summer holiday now coming with a flurry of animated films, Hanks and co. paved the way for many childhoods of the future. As much as we’re assured otherwise, we still can’t completely trust that Action Men and Barbies don’t come to life when we leave the room…

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Forest Gump (1994)

They say a career is never complete without a role that encourages millions of people around the world to impersonate nearly every line from the film in a ridiculous voice. If that’s true then Hanks has managed to complete that task with the title role in Robert Zemeckis’s film Forest Gump. The films follows Gump, a special child not quite like everyone else, from a young age right through to becoming a father, as he finds himself in many troubling and often enlightening times through 1960’s America, with the film acting as a strong critique of US History. Hanks gives a heart breaking performance that ended up winning him an Oscar, showing the importance of some much needed innocence in the world during a time of so much chaos and darkness.

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Captain Philips (2013)

With Paul Greengrass’s high-seas thriller Captain Phillips, the film needed a hero that instead of being muscle-bound and born with superpowers, was above all else brave and relatable, and Hanks fits that bill perfectly. Based on the true story of the 2009 hijacking of U.S. container ship Maersk Alabama by a crew of Somali pirates, the film not only works as an gripping and tense modern day action-thriller, but also successfully attempts to dissect deeper themes of poverty and globalisation. The film is worth watching for the truly heartbreaking final scene that is enough to make even the most stubborn Somali pirate break down into floods of tears.

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Cast Away (2000)

This intense drama about one man’s struggles to survive after being shipwrecked on a desert island can be summed up in one word: WILSON! Hanks manages to keep our full attention in a film that features only him for 90% of the film, along with a brilliantly understated performance from his volley ball friend. Of all the films Hanks has done in his career this is probably the most intense of them all, showing incredible determination to save himself from the island and get back home. In Cast Away, Hanks made us laugh, cry and learn how to appreciate the modern day dentist, a magnificently rounded performance.

A HOLOGRAM FOR THE KING IS AVAILABLE ON DIGITAL PLATFORMS ON 12TH SEPTEMBER AND ON BLU-RAY AND DVD FROM 19TH SEPTEMBER, 2016

Editor-in-Chief of Movie Marker. Likes: Scorsese, Spielberg and Tarantino Dislikes: The film 'Open Water' I mean, what was that all about?

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How Casinos Can Improve a Movie

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When it comes to movie themes, you got them all. From war movies to romance films, there is something for everybody. However, the gamble theme is not often present but some casino scenes really mattered. For example, the roulette ball in Casablanca that landed on 22 two times, all this was possible thanks to the rigged roulette. 

Another example is found in the movie 21. This movie is mainly made after a book called Bringing Down the House and just like the movie, it’s about a group of students “robbing” a casino playing Blackjack. Actually, the robbing process consists in one person taking a seat at a Blackjack table and that person just counts the cards. After a while, their friend joins knowing which cards were already played. As expected, they get caught and the action begins.  

Daniel Craig and Casino Royale 

If it’s not already obvious, these examples cannot go further without mentioning Daniel Craig starring as a MI6 agent in the movie Casino Royale. This movie was not like any other James Bond films. Firstly, the new actor had blond hair and blue eyes. This new look was not welcome at all especially for die hard 007 fans. Daniel Craig had nothing in common with the previous agents such as Timothy Dalton or Pierce Brosnan. Moreover, back in 2005, right before the Casino Royale release, many fans were sure that Daniel will ruin the series. In fact, Casino Royale ended up being one of the best James Bond movies ever.  

After all, some changes were needed so the movie can have a fresh feeling. If we got used to every James Bond movie starting with the same scene, Casino Royale made it different. Until then, every single film started with a gun barrel sequence in which James walks in a white room, he turns, then fires and the blood drips down the screen. In the new 007 film, the movie starts with a black and white scene and at the end of this sequence, when we think that its first victim is dead, Daniel turns around then fires and we have the first gun barrel scene.  

As an illustration on the movie name, there are three poker scenes that make this film better. The first one has a well made old-fashion feel that is mainly made through the dissolve process. This technique was usually seen in the 80s and is a post-process film editing that makes the transition from one image to another.  

The second poker game is when Le Chiffre destroys James. Right after this game, there is a sequence that lets the agent sit alone on the table with nothing left, making the MI6 agent more natural. This is a high contrast with all the old cliché movies where James Bond was invincible. Further, Daniel gets poisoned by Le Chiffre but the secret agent survives by using the defibrillator from his car. Then he comes back and says ”I’m sorry, that last hand, killed me”.   

Like I said, casinos can be a good way to improve a movie. Also, land-based casinos suffered many changes over the years. Like most casinos that are now using online and mobile platforms. For about 400 years, casinos were just ”gamble houses”, but now they adopted new technologies. The most important change was of course, the online platforms which made it possible to enjoy casino games from the comfort of our house.  

For few years know, these virtual gamble houses started to show up everywhere. Moreover, there is a new online British casino called Admiral Casino and has a wide variety of fruit machines. In addition, their app is present on the App Store and you can now play slots like Sizzling Hot and Golden Sevens. Both games have 5 reels and are made by Novomatic. As has been noted, casinos made their contributions in many areas and now, thanks to the mobile technology they can be taken in your pocket. 

 

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Sequels Deliver at the Box Office

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Jurassic World was a gigantic hit in 2015, in fact, at a worldwide gross of $1,671,713,208 it remains the 5th highest grossing film of all time just behind Infinity War and The Force Awakens. That’s impressive for any franchise, let alone one long considered extinct. 

With its sequel, Fallen Kingdom, currently dominating the box office, it is worth looking at just how well sequels tend to do, the mixed fortunes they find themselves in, the biggest success stories and some considerably embarrassing failures. 

Fallen Kingdom hasn’t been a big hit with the critics (51% on Rotten Tomatoes compared to 71% for the first film) but this evolution of the series has still resonated with audiences, currently sitting at $932,387,335 and very likely to pass the hallowed billion dollar mark in the next week or so. A billion dollars is nothing to be sniffed at but there is still every chance the studio will consider it something of a failure that it was unable to eclipse its predecessor. 

A few other franchises worth examining; 

Fast and Furious 

A franchise that rose from the ashes of almost going straight to DVD, with the 7th installment staking its claim in the big leagues, ironically 7th highest of all time, but when Fate of the Furious came just two years later, it made close to $300 million less. Is that audiences simply getting sick of cars doing ridiculous things, or something else? Fast 7 was unfortunately bolstered by the death of star Paul Walker, giving it increased media attention. 

Star Wars 

As previously mentioned, The Force Awakens is one of the biggest box office hits of all time, and whether or not it will be unseated in third place by Infinity War is almost too close to call but it will be incredibly close. 

But it terms of diminishing returns, The Last Jedi made over $700 million less than The Force Awakens. Why is that? The answer for this one is pretty simple, The Force Awakens was such a huge, once in a generation event, that it wasn’t going to happen a second time. Not that The Last Jedi’s box office is low, it sits at 11th of all time. 

But Star Wars has a different problem, it is now a series that digresses from the main saga and moved into spin off territory. Rogue One was a big hit, being a member of the billion dollar club, but Solo, a film plagued with production troubles, has really struggled, pulling in a fairly weak $368,879,115. The blame for this lies in the release window, with Infinity War still making good change, and Deadpool the week before, Solo hit in the middle of one of the most crowded summers in recent memory, with Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom snapping quickly at its heels. 

What is considered a success or a failure in these terms anyway? It’s hard to know for sure. Sony’s second attempt at the Spider-Man franchise (Amazing Spider-Man if you find all these Spider-People confusing) was a decent hit, and the sequel only made $50 million less but was considered such a failure by Sony that they ended up handing the character back to Marvel. Which we can all agree was the right thing to do. But just $50 million was enough to make them wonder, not the other $650 million it made. Sequels are expected to make more money. 

Now, one last point. The highest grossing film of all time?  

Avatar. $2,787,965,087.  

That will probably never be beaten. Avatar 2 has a release date of December 18th 2020. Will it come anywhere close to the first film? This seems unlikely. Or maybe not, James Cameron should never be counted out, he might very well end up with the top 3 highest grossing films of all time. Or will Star Wars Episode 9, which goes into production this week, come back with a bang and topple Cameron’s big blue cat people? 

Only time, and a lot of money, will tell. 

 

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Cinema FOMO

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FOMO; the fear of missing out. Defined in 2015 by the Oxford English Dictionary as, ‘anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on social media’.

It’s true that in our online, digitally driven world, FOMO is thriving on a global scale, however that doesn’t mean it’s a new phenomenon. Throughout cinematic history, audiences have craved a shared experience, using quotes and characters as shorthand in their own conversations. No-one wants to be left out of the discussion.

Even in this technological age, the world’s leading film magazine Empire, remains an important and relevant source in the world of film journalism and with its much-loved features and interviews with Hollywood’s A-List, you can avoid serious FOMO by joining their subscription service today, meaning you’ll never miss a review or important update from the world of film.

When the teaser trailer for Black Panther landed, it was viewed 89 million times in just 24 hours. It was the most tweeted about movie in 2017 (before it was even released) and has gone on to become the most tweeted about film ever made. People wanted to be a part of the #BlackPanther and #Wakanda phenomenon and Twitter gave them the community they desired, adding in Q&A specials and a Black Panther custom emoji.

But what about before the dawn of Twitter? Back in the dark depths of 1999, a little film called The Blair Witch Project dropped. Using the internet, online forums went mad with leaked rumours about a film created from the found footage of three missing filmmakers. The accompanying website presented credible back stories and realistic style news interviews. Missing person leaflets were also distributed to enhance the story. (Spoiler alert; if you don’t already know, it was all entirely fictional). At the time however, this clever and original marketing fed directly in to our FOMO receptors.

But what if we take social media and the internet out of the equation. Do we travel back to a pre FOMO time? The truth? Absolutely not, so you can put the DeLorean away.

Back in 1961, Alfred Hitchcock released Psycho. Whilst his reputation was already established, this was a self financed film, so a lot was riding on its success. He made the decision not to screen for critics first, meaning audiences got to see the film at the same time, with no preconceptions. He refused cast interviews and to pump curiosity, issued an edict that nobody would be allowed in to cinemas after the picture began. Would you want to be the only one not to know what was happening inside the Bates Motel? Absolutely not. People flocked, queues stretching around the block to ensure they experienced this new cinematic milestone. Quite simply, FOMO struck again.

In truth, it’s an innate human desire to want to belong and regardless of marketing, it doesn’t get much better than sharing the joy of a cinematic experience with friends.

 

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