Posts Tagged ‘Dennis Hopper’


Quentin Tarantino made his second splash on the scene after Reservoir Dogs with a writer’s credit rather than a director’s with this romantic black comedy.

Clarence Worley (Christian Slater) works at a comic book store, likes kung fu movies and has a special relationship with Elvis Presley’s ghost. He thought his life was pretty complete until he met Alabama (Patricia Arquette). She was an escort hired by Clarence’s boss but they fell in love and got married a few days later. After an unplanned shootout, Clarence finds himself in possession of $500,000 worth of cocaine, which the Sicilian gangsters it originally belonged to want back. His attempt to cash in on his fortune in Hollywood sinks Clarence and Alabama into a river of blood via a Mexican standoff.

Not only is this movie an edge-of-your-seat bloody thriller, it’s packed with a lot of impressive names – Dennis Hopper, Christopher Walken, Gary Oldman, Samuel L. Jackson, James Gandolfini, Michael Rapaport, Brad Pitt, Chris Penn, Bronson Pinchot, Saul Rubinek and Val Kilmer. There are several very intense scenes of violence but they are all laid over Tarantino’s signature dark humour; thus, characters laugh and tell jokes as they endure brutal beatings. The infamous “Sicilian scene” is one of these occurrences and it is one of the best scenes ever put on film.

Even though Tarantino didn’t direct True Romance, his style of story and violence radiates through the whole movie. It’s fast-paced with memorable monologues rather than just the usual one-liners. Fans of Tarantino’s will not be disappointed and haters will welcome the direction of Tony Scott. Scott didn’t make any major alterations to the script, except for the ending (which even Tarantino agrees is better) and some musical choices, but his editing style is prominent. It is Scott’s influence that gives the film its fairy tale quality.

The special features match those of the previous two-disc DVD release. There are three feature commentaries that stand as examples for all others because for each major scene they provide different insider information. Commentators include: Slater and Arquette; Scott; and Tarantino. Additional commentary is provided by Hopper, Kilmer, Pitt and Rapaport on only the scenes in which they appear. A five-minute original featurette includes interviews with the cast about the evolution of their characters and a short behind-the-scenes featurette has an option to see footage from on-set during production. There are 11 deleted and extended scenes with optional director’s commentary that explains most scenes were eliminated due to time and momentum issues. One of the most significant extras is the original alternate ending with separate director and writer commentary.

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There’s usually some concern about the seriousness of a May-December romance but should that be the concern of May and December?

David Kepesh (Ben Kingsley) is a seasoned art critic. After emancipating himself from an unhappy marriage, he began a life of meaningless sexual conquest, most of whom are students from the college at which he teaches. For years he is content with this lifestyle, but all that changes when he meets Consuela Castillo (Penélope Cruz). She is beautiful, smart and in need of wooing before she’ll end up between his sheets. But with unbridled passion and eventual love comes fear and it can be difficult to overcome – especially for a man who’s so unconsciously guarded.

David’s anxieties are illustrated in life-like vignettes that are not shown to be false until after they’ve inflicted their impact. He’s a man trapped in adolescence but as his situations become more adult, he struggles with the need to grow up. David endures many loses but it is through this pain that a better man emerges.

Kingsley is perfection in this role; it is easy to see why these women flock to his bedroom as he exudes charm and sophistication. Cruz is naturally beautiful, despite a couple of unflattering haircuts, and her relationship with Kingsley is sweet and plausible. Dennis Hopper has a supporting role as David’s adulterous friend but his appeal is a little less comprehensible.

The DVD bonus feature, “The Poetry of Elegy,” is a series of interviews with the cast and director Isabel Coixet cut with scenes from the movie.

It would seem Quentin Tarantino is making it his personal mission to revive the exploitation picture for the 21st century.

Pistolero (Larry Bishop) is the leader of the Victors biker gang. His right hand is The Gent (Michael Madsen) and the newly initiated Comanche (Eric Balfour) is quickly rising through the ranks. Meanwhile, absent rival gang the Six Six Sixes have returned and are causing dissent in the Victors’ ranks. But Pistolero has been awaiting this reemergence to exact revenge on Sixers leaders The Deuce (David Carradine) and Billy Wings (Vinnie Jones).

All players are loyal to the three Bs: bikers, beer and booty – especially the latter two. That said, I don’t think I’ve ever seen that many naked breasts in a non-erotic film. Bishop, who also wrote and directed, says he wanted the scenes to appear ”sensual” but he seems to have only used pornography as a reference point to achieve his goal. Furthermore, if Pistolero had spent less time getting laid and more time managing, he may have had better control of his crew.

It’s easy to see Tarantino had some say in the casting as several of his regulars have a role in this production and each of them brings what you would expect to these archetypes they’ve previously portrayed. Newcomer to the scene, Balfour, once again demonstrates his ability to adapt and appear natural in any role. On the other hand, Bishop should have put more consideration into staying behind the camera because amongst such talented actors, his lack of ability is plain. He also should have thought about bringing in a co-writer to resolve the confusion that surrounds the back-story – or maybe that’s an editing problem.

The special features include commentary that goes over the details of shooting; individual short featurettes about the guys, babes and choppers, of which the bikes are most interesting; and a video diary by Madsen.

In comparison to last year’s Midnight Madness, which was packed with masters of the craft, this year’s lineup is one of discovery. However, Not Quite Hollywood was less about being exposed to a new filmmaker than discovering a whole mass of unknown films.

The film is a documentary that explores Ozploitation or Australian exploitation genre flicks from the seventies and eighties. It includes a wide-range of uncensored anecdotal interviews with American fans and players such as Quentin Tarantino, Jamie Lee Curtis and Dennis Hopper, as well as many of the films’ creators and participators. The rest of the story is told through loads of lurid and obscure clips from the films themselves, featuring nudity, cars and gore, interspersed with flashy animations derived from the original movie posters.

The best part of this movie was finding out there’s a whole whack of genre movies out there that many of the exploitation fans in the audience didn’t even know about. Some recognizable titles were Mad Max, Razorback and Fantasm; the rest were entirely new and eye-popping.

The first half-hour is shot after shot of female, and some male, nudity (if you’ve never seen the legend of John Holmes, you will). Then fast, souped-up cars race through the desert, wreaking havoc wherever they go – their shenanigans include strapping a barely-dressed woman to the hood like an ornament. Next is the B-style horror movie, which not only focused on blood but vomit too (one director claims The Exorcist copied him). It then fast forwards to the present with Aussie’s own Wolf Creek representing the next generation of genre filmmakers. One of the more shocking revelations was the number of deaths and serious injuries that occurred on set due to a lack of safety regulations.

Not Quite Hollywood is fast, loud, racy, informative and fun – a combination almost never found in one documentary.

Indie festival films almost always fulfill the promise of impeccable acting, so when the performances in Sleepwalking are more than notable it comes as no surprise.

Joleen (Charlize Theron) is a restless single mom worried her unstable lifestyle is damaging her 12-year-old daughter’s (AnnaSophia Robb) outlook on life. When circumstances leave her no choice, Joleen relies on her younger brother James (Nick Stahl) to bail her out and take care of things. When Joleen takes off, James is left to care for Tara. The two embark on an unlawful road trip that quickly grows weary, leading James to take Tara to the only other place he knows – his father’s (Dennis Hopper) farm.

The actors never give the impression of a manufactured moment; each scene appears to capture a moment of genuine emotion, whether it is despair or happiness. Stahl is a talented dramatic actor and this film allows him to demonstrate his ability; at the same time, even at her age, Robb grasps the complex feelings her character is experiencing and conveys them accordingly.

And no matter how nice everyone says he is, onscreen Hopper can scare the bejesus out of anybody.

Unfortunately, director Bill Maher fails to bring anything new to this story type, sticking to the traditionally dreary style – except for a vibrant dreamlike scene of a poolside Tara.

The “making of” documentary draws a little more appreciation for the brilliant performances as viewers watch the cast and crew work in 40-below weather in front of a barren Saskatchewan landscape.

Nick Stahl and AnnaSophia Robb in a scene from Sleepwalking (Photo courtesy of Alliance Films)Sleepwalking is film fest cinema at its best: it’s indie, star-powered, celebrity-backed and bleak.

The snow-covered landscape of Saskatchewan subs for the oppressing environment of Northern California and, later, Utah. This setting is home to a young man lost in a state of numbness.

Joleen (Charlize Theron) is a restless single mom worried her unstable lifestyle is damaging her 11-year-old daughter’s (AnnaSophia Robb) outlook on life. With no place to live after a drug raid, Joleen calls upon her younger brother for help. James (Nick Stahl) is more than willing to offer his modest apartment, but the living arrangements prove trying on everyone. In lieu of a solution, Joleen takes off with her new beau.

In her absence, James is deemed an unfit guardian and Tara is put into foster care. As their lives spiral out of their control, the pitiful pair joins forces in an attempt to take power back. But as the road grows weary and their money runs out, James takes Tara to the only other place he knows – his father’s (Dennis Hopper) farm. As Tara lives through the horror of her mother’s childhood, James is forced to confront the source of his cowardly existence.

The actors never give the impression of a manufactured moment: everything feels real and as it could be. Joleen and Tara have a strained relationship but each ultimately wants to please the other; meanwhile, Joleen uses James because he allows it, although she feels guilty afterwards. In the end, James tries to be the father Tara never had without angering his own. These are not cookie-cutter characters and their stories are not delivered wrapped in a pretty little bow. Unfortunately, they are not conveyed very strikingly either.

Theron is still recognizable but she once again plays down her beauty to take on the role of a flawed woman. While her screen time is limited, she also contributed behind the camera as a producer. Stahl is a talented dramatic actor and this film allows him to demonstrate his ability; at the same time, even at her age, Robb grasps the complex feelings her character is experiencing and conveys them accordingly.

But no matter how nice everyone says he is, onscreen Hopper can scare the bejesus out of anybody.

Nonetheless, more than competent acting is usually part of the indie package; if only the same were true for directing. Bill Maher (not the politically outspoken one) fails to bring anything new to this story type, sticking to the traditionally dreary style – except for a vibrant dreamlike scene of a poolside Tara.

Ultimately, it is the acting that stands out in this film – but that does not change with screen size.