Tag Archive: debates


You won’t find many female directors among the big blockbuster films or many among mainstream films in general really. If you ask someone to name a female film director everybody could probably name one, some may even name two, but to name three or four would present a challenge to the majority of cinema audiences. I have put together this list of who I believe to be the best 5 female directors working today.

5. Andrea Arnold

Andrea Arnold made her debut with the twenty six minute long short film Wasp, which won her the Oscar for Best Short Film back in 2005. Her films have continued to create a great sense of poverty in Britain and she has gone on to direct Michael Fassbender in one of my favourite films of all time: Fish Tank.

Arnold’s previous 3 films: Red Road (2006); Fish Tank (2009); Wuthering Heights (2011)

4. Deepa Mehta

Mehta is an Indio-Canadian director who is most famous for her Elements trilogy which contained the films Fire, Earth and Water. These films tackled strong political issues in India and due to Mehta making Water from an outsiders point of view (looking back at India from her Canadian home) a lot of controversy was caused in the filming of the climax to her trilogy, involving riots and violence forcing the filming to move to Sri Lanka, rather than India.

Mehta’s previous 3 films: Water (2005); Heaven on Earth (2008); Midnight’s Children (2012)

3. Sofia Coppola

Daughter of Francis Ford Coppola, Sofia has carved out a very different path from the The Godfather director. She won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay after writing Lost in Translation, which was also nominated for Best Picture and Best Director. She continues to write and direct her own films with her latest, The Bling Ring, out this year.

Coppola’s previous 3 films: Marie Antoinette (2006); Somewhere (2010); The Bling Ring (2013)

2. Susanne Bier

Bier never seems to miss the mark with any of her pictures. Despite never being nominated for an Oscar in her career I can’t help but think that she should have been. Bier studied in Jerusalem and London before retuning to Denmark to attend film school. The majority of her films have been made in Scandinavia but she has dabbled in American cinema with Things We Lost in the Fire.

Bier’s previous 3 films: In A Better World (2010); Love Is All You Need (2012); Serena (2013)

1. Kathryn Bigelow

Could it be anyone else? Over the last couple of years Bigelow has become the major figurehead for female film makers. The Hurt Locker defied expectations to take home the Best Picture Oscar when up against Avatar and won Bigelow the Best Director Oscar over James Cameron. She was the first to take on the Osama Bin Laden manhunt with Zero Dark Thirty, which was also nominated for Best Picture. Her next project is unknown at the minute but the Bigelow name seems to be a sure signifier of quality in modern cinema.

Bigelow’s previous 3 films: K-19: The Widwomaker (2002); The Hurt Locker (2008); Zero Dark Thirty (2012)

A couple of days ago I posted The Best Actors Over the Age of 65. It was a list that put together eight of the most talented older actors still working in movies together. However, there were a few people that I didn’t have room for. A lot of wonderful readers reacted positively and wanted a sequel so I thought… if it’s good enough for Hollywood, then it’s good enough for me! Here comes the second part…

Michael Douglas – Born: 25th September, 1944 – 68 years old.

Douglas appeared to slow down in terms of his acting at the turn of the 21st century but in the past twelve months and in the coming year he looks to be speeding up once more. Most famously known for his role as Gordon Gekko in Wall Street, a role he recently took on again for the sequel Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps. In the past few years he has continued to star in relatively good films such as The Sentinel and Haywire.

Al Pacino – Born: 25th April, 1940 – 72 years old.

Along with Robert De Niro, Al Pacino is synonymous with the crime genre. Appearances in The Godfather trilogy, a legendary role in Scarface and alongside the former in Heat have cemented his place as an acting legend. However, his two Oscar nominations have come for two of his most dramatic roles in Glengarry Glen Ross and Scent of a Woman (for which he won the Oscar). Recently he did his reputation a lot of harm and became a target for many jokes after a cameo in the disaster that was Jack & Jill but he looks set to get his reputation back playing the lead in King Lear.

Sir Patrick Stewart – Born: 13th July, 1940 – 72 years old.

One of the finest thespians ever seen. Patrick Stewart seems like an icon of maturity and has a voice as smooth as Morgan Freeman – a voice he has lent to American Dad which shows off his light hearted side too. He’s the man who was made in the mould exactly to fit the role of Professor X and it has become his most iconic role of recent times. Although he does more voice work these days he is returning to the wheelchair for Days of Future Past next year.

Martin Sheen – Born: 3rd August, 1940 – 72 years old.

Martin Sheen proved he still had the acting chops to cut it with the young’uns in The Amazing Spider-Man, in which he put in the best performance of the film as loveable Uncle Ben, contributing to one of the saddest/mood effecting scenes of summer 2012. He’s no stranger to brilliant films either, appearing in Catch Me If You Can and The Departed as well as, earlier in his career, Wall Street and Gandhi.

Dustin Hoffman – Born: 8th August, 1937 – 75 years old.

Hoffman is a really incredible actor. I don’t think that has ever been in doubt since he made his name in 1967 in The Graduate. He has had a career of terrific films right from the get go: Straw Dogs, All The President’s Men, Kramer vs. Kramer, Rain Man are just a few. In recent years he took a little move to comedy for Meet the Fockers but continues to do voice work for DreamWorks’ Kung Fu Panda series.

Burt Reynolds – Born: 11th February, 1936 – 77 years old.

Burt Reynolds’ film career has taken a bit of a back seat over the past few years with him focussing more on television roles, but his acting talent is still obvious. He was nominated for an Oscar back in 1998 for his supporting role in Boogie Nights and appeared in Adam Sandler’s last (probably ever) good film The Longest Yard. He’s been acting since the 1950s and has given no indication that he is ready to stop just yet.

Clint Eastwood – Born: 31st May, 1930 – 82 years old.

A list like this wouldn’t be complete without Clint Eastwood. He is one of the most popular movie legends of all tine thanks to his roles in Westerns such as A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More, The Good, The Bad and the Ugly and his role as Harry Callahan in Dirty Harry and its sequels. Although he has now given up acting to focus more on directing he did return for Trouble With the Curve last year to remind everyone what they were missing.

Sir Christopher Lee – Born: 27th May, 1922 – 90 years old.

At 90 years old Christopher Lee is an actor who is just as great to watch now as he was at the beginning of his career. Incredibly, Lee has been acting since the 1940s, meaning this is the seventh decade that we will have seen him on screen for. If any young actors are looking for inspiration then this man has to be at the top of the list. He helped to make British horror films popular with his role as Dracula in a string of Hammer Horror films and he went on to star in two of the most popular franchises of all time: The Lord of the Rings (and The Hobbit) and Star Wars.

With the shock announcement that Disney have bought Star Wars and plan to release a completely new trilogy beginning in 2015 it is no wonder that speculation has already begun about who would be the best choice for director. Let’s look at some of the contenders:

Christopher Nolan

Fresh from directing one of the most lauded trilogies of all time in The Dark Knight Christopher Nolan could pretty much get any gig that he wanted which, let’s be honest, makes complete sense. Every one of Nolan’s films so far has gone down a treat and with Inception he certainly showed that he is more than capable of making a truly magnificent science fiction piece and this is something that the next instalment of Star Wars needs to be!

 

Bryan Singer

In a world as big as the one that Star Wars has built for itself the ability to handle and direct an ensemble cast is a must. With X-men and X2 Singer took on a similar challenge and managed to make a couple of the best superhero films to date. Therefore, this shows that Singer has what it takes to work with a large cast and bring out specific characters. Although, with the recent announcement he is set to helm Days of Future Past then he may be out of the question.

 

Brad Bird

Bird made his name at Pixar where he was given the go ahead to direct The Incredibles and obviously because it is Pixar, as well as the fact that it is brilliant, he received a lot of praise for his work. Earlier this year Brad Bird was responsible for reviving the Mission: Impossible franchise with Ghost Protocol and made the Tom Cruise franchise a relevant and important one once more; could he do the same for Star Wars?

 

Guillermo Del Toro

The fan knows fantasy, he knows special effects and can create huge blockbusters. Del Toro is well known for his ability to draw up strange creations and to let him loose on the world of Star Wars would be, for want of a better word, pretty orgasmic. Most notable for Hellboy and Pan’s Labyrinth Del Toro is set to announce his return to the world of huge blockbusters with Pacific Rim next year.

 

Jon Favreau

It was Favreau’s work with Iron Man that convinced Marvel (and importantly Disney) that superhero films were worth backing and proceeding with, culminating in The Avengers. With Iron Man 2 perhaps Favreau did have too much to do and it may be a case of that happening again with Star Wars: it would be a risk but one that could be worth taking, especially as the name of Star Wars is going to bring in the audience anyway.

 

Joss Whedon

A God among geeks. Does much more need to be said about the man’s talents? It is practically impossible for Whedon to direct Star Wars unfortunately as he has a pretty tight schedule with Marvel’s Phase 2 in place at the minute but a future Episode of the huge science fiction franchise, why not?

 

Duncan Jones

The least well known of all of my choices but not at all less talented. With Moon and Source Code in his back catalogue Jones has shown that he is more than capable of telling some brilliant science fiction stories. I would love to see Jones achieve some success and get a chance to show mainstream audiences his talent although maybe this would be a step too far a little too early.

 

Obviously, most of these directors are very commercial and well known to audiences already with a proven record of directing hit films and creating believable and memorable characters whilst exploring the world that their films inhabit. This is an important trait when deciding who is going to continue the Star Wars franchise but there may be some hidden gems hiding in cracks and crevices somewhere… or even in plain sight. So let me know, who would you like to see direct the seventh instalment of Star Wars?

The X-Men series has come under a lot of criticism in it’s time despite the critical success that X-Men, X2 and X-Men: First Class has enjoyed. So if three of the five films have gone down well then why do fans of the X-Men continue to be critical of the series?  A lot of the criticism comes from the messed up continuity of the franchise and if you look hard enough you will find plenty of issues with the continuity throughout all five films; X-Men: The Last Stand came under fire for ruining a lot of hard work that Bryan Singer had set up in the first two instalments and X-Men Origins: Wolverine upset fans by just not being very good and ruining Gambit, a character that fans had wanted to see on screen for far too long for him to just be dismissed like he is.

So when The Wolverine was announced to be yet another film focussing on the escapades of Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine the news was met with less than positive response on internet forums. Yet this week, finally, The Wolverine is connecting with fans and getting people actually hyped up due to one little quote that director James Mangold made to Empire magazine. Mangold won fans over by saying “Where this film sits in the universe of the films is after them all, Jean Grey is gone, most of the X-Men are disbanded or gone, so there’s a tremendous sense of isolation for him”. Everybody was assuming The Wolverine would be another prequel because it is set in Japan (the storyline from the comics in Japan happened before Wolverine met the X-Men) and now it appears that everything we thought about this film was untrue.

Everyone wanted a sequel to X-Men: The Last Stand and it seems as though The Wolverine could be the closest thing that we see to this. With this being a sequel it also gives the opportunity for former characters to return to the franchise. Returning characters was hinted at with the other prequel titled Days of Future Past but it seems that maybe fans were misled and Patrick Stewart’s and Famke Janssen’s comments about returning to the franchise could have been meant about The Wolverine rather than Days of Future Past. I, for one, would love to see some of the old characters return and it might be able to give an explanation to what happened to Cyclops, explain Professor X’s return and feature more of Angel perhaps. Unfortunately, I don’t think that this will happen though because the film will be set in Japan.

One of the main things that has been hinted at is that Wolverine would set up the Jean Grey School for Gifted Youngsters and whilst this would be a very touching moment for the character and could set up some more stories for future X-Men you can’t help but feel this SHOULD have been done before the prequels of First Class came into existence. It seems as though The Wolverine will be a stand alone film and you have to hope it will be because right now there are too many strands of the same franchise going on:

X-Men prequels – First Class, Days of Future Past

Wolverine Prequels – Origins

Original X-Men timeline – X-Men, X2, The Last Stand

Wolverine sequels – The Wolverine

That is four different strands of the same franchise and you can see why so much confusion and continuity errors will be made! However, James Mangold says that he wanted to set the film in the timeline so you imagine he will try to stay true to events that have already happened. Mangold has been hit (3:10 to Yuma, Walk the Line) and miss (Knight & Day) in his career so far but hopefully The Wolverine will be a hit! Regrettably, hopefully The Wolverine will be the last we see of Hugh Jackman too and the X-Men franchise is finally brought together and made simple once again.

Not many directors ever get THAT famous among mainstream cinema fans. It really, I believe, takes someone special and a great storyteller, someone who is good enough to make sure that every single one of their films stands up on the big screen to both critics and fans alike; the likes of Quentin Tarantino, Christopher Nolan, Martin Scorsese and Danny Boyle have been able to do this and are a few of the most famous directors around but are there any new directors around who could one day join the ranks of the best directors EVER? For my choices I have limited the candidates to have directed, at most, 3 feature length films or have shown enough in two or just the one feature film that they have great potential as a director. In no particular order, let’s have a look.

 

Rian Johnson

Rian Johnson has to be the first person I mention because it was him that influenced me to write this blog. I recently saw Johnson’s latest film Looper and along with his previous two feature films (Brick and The Brothers Bloom) Looper was both written and directed Johnson and also starred Joseph Gordon-Levitt (although JGL’s appearance in The Brothers Bloom was a cameo). Looper has really announced Johnson on the scene as one of the best story tellers around. I won’t go into too much detail but if you read my review of the film here, you will get an idea of just how good Johnson is. He has managed to revolutionise the science fiction genre and the whole theories surrounding time travel. I think Looper will inspire a new generation of film makers and if Johnson continues to direct at this high standard he will be regarded as one of the best ever.

 

Joss Whedon

If you don’t know who Joss Whedon is by now where have you been all year? Whedon has a vast amount of experience in television and film working as a screenwriter for many years and having created hit shows such as Firefly, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Dollhouse. Yet this year Whedon was welcomed with open arms to the masses as he directed this year’s highest grossing film Marvel’s The Avengers. Whedon’s only previous feature film was Serenity (a continuation of the Firefly universe) and, of course, flopped at the box office. However, I thought Serenity was great and there is no doubting Whedon’s talent for writing believable characters and dialogue. With him signed on to oversee Marvel’s phase 2 and direct The Avengers 2, the world is his oyster.

 

Marc Webb

Marc Webb is the only director on this list who I would not class as a science fiction director (despite the fact that The Amazing Spider-Man could be described as science fiction but I think that the superhero genre is now a genre in itself rather than a subsidiary of sci-fi but that’s a whole other argument). Webb arrived on the scene with the incredible, hilarious and touching story in (500) Days of Summer and then, like I mentioned, went on to have another summer hit this year with the reboot The Amazing Spider-Man which was more than capable of holding its own against The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises. Webb seems to specialise in relationships and he has this amazing ability to capture moments in relationships and develop them over time that I haven’t seen in a long time. I hope he continues to work in other genres but keeps his focus on character.

 

Neill Blomkamp

These last two are a little more unknown than the previous candidates but that doesn’t mean they are not as good. Blomkamp has, at the time of writing, only directed one feature length film with Disctrict 9. However, the praise that District 9 gathered and all the rave reviews about it really reshaping the genre of science-fiction and the sequel to his debut smash is highly anticipated, despite his next film being something completely unrelated to that. His next film is another trip into sci-fi and stars Matt Damon and is entitled Elysium. If this does as well as District 9 then stardom really does beckon for this man.

 

Duncan Jones

And finally we have Duncan Jones. Jones’ first film Moon is one of the greatest directorial debuts I have ever seen. Moon is a true masterpiece and Sam Rockwell’s performance along with the directorial skill of Jones is enough to grab the audience without having a mass of characters. His follow up Source Code was purely his directing and this time he had no part in the writing of the film yet still managed to pull off a great action film and again, a magnificent piece of directing because seeing the same 15-20 minutes over and over again can become tiresome for the audience but Jones manages to sustain interest. His next project is a biopic of Ian Fleming and Duncan Jones could well have another hit on his hands.

With Joss Whedon now appointed for definite to helm Marvel’s Avengers 2 and have a hand in writing the sequels, a release date announced for possibly the most anticipated film of all time (May 1st 2015) and a whole host of ‘Phase 2’ films in the pipeline including Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy and ill-fated Ant-Man Marvel is really pushing through with their billion dollar making movie projects. After such a huge success with The Avengersthough, how can Marvel move forward and improve?

I suggest that Joss Whedon and Marvel kill off one of the main Avengers characters. Yes, they killed off Agent Coulson in the first film but I think everyone expects him to turn up again in some form or capacity. I am talking about completely killing off one of the main heroes, never seeing them again, cutting a limb from the Marvel cinematic universe for one character. It would be a bold, brave and maybe a little bit crazy but surely worth the risk? I think that killing off a central character would surely add to character development and team development as we saw the Avengers become a team and, whether they liked it or not, friends and one of them dying could have huge repercussions. With so many new characters going to be added to the Marvel cinematic universe they can’t all stay as one team forever so maybe they will have to consider killing characters off in order to move forward… but who would they kill?
Let’s look at the nominees:

IRON MAN – Robert Downey Jr. is Iron Man. Iron Man is the money maker for Marvel. He was the one that started it all off and the character that is probably most popular with fans due to his quick wit that the other characters lack. However since he was the first character to kick off The Avengers maybe he will be the first to be kicked out as well. This is probably the least likely to happen I would say though because Stark Industries is such a huge player in the world and with his technological advancements he is the only one of the core heroes who can’t call upon his power at any time he needs which also gives him something different to Thor or Captain America. Iron Man is my favourite character so I’m definitely hoping he won’t be killed off.

THOR – Killing off Thor means severing all ties to other universes as Thor is the Avengers’ connection to the fantasy genre of other universes and dimensions being available to travel to. Losing Thor also means losing Loki who has become one of the greatest villains of all time and losing him as well would be a huge shame. However, with Guardians of the Galaxy also being introduced, if they come into the Marvel cinematic universe, they offer another route to the cosmic worlds that exist beyond Earth which means we could lose Thor without losing Asgard or any other realms. Chris Hemsworth also seems to have been the breakout star of Marvel’s films so far and he has quite a busy schedule to continue on. Killing Thor off would free up Hemsworth to take advantage of the praise and attention he has been getting.

THE HULK – On paper it seems as though killing of Bruce Banner/Hulk would be the most likely option. Although a very successful character of the comic books The Incredible Hulk was the worst performer of Marvel’s films at the box office and there are no plans for another sole film for the big green monster so it wouldn’t be that much of a loss. However, after Mark Ruffalo’s incarnation of the Hulk it was proven that this conflicted character could be brought to life brilliantly on the big screen and it was Hulk who many people believe to have been the best character in The Avengers. It would upset a huge fan base if Hulk was killed but it makes smart business sense and would also offer a new dimension to Tony Stark after their new found friendship was formed in the ultimate team up movie.

CAPTAIN AMERICA – Captain America is the leader of the Avengers in the comics and this came to fruition towards the end of The Avengers also so it seems highly unlikely that the leader of the team would be killed off. This did happen in X-Men: The Last Stand though with both Professor X and Cyclops ‘dying’ and we all know how that film turned out so maybe killing off the leader isn’t the right way to go. I think that Captain America has fewer stories to tell though than the others and he doesn’t really bring anything to the table with his character because, yes, he is a very moral and very good guy and he probably keeps The Avengers on the right side of the line but I’m not sure how far they can explore his character in the modern day. Once he has adjusted to his new life, what can they do? Although in the comics they seem to have done a good job of keeping him fresh and ultimately popular so I could be wrong.

SHIELD AGENTS – This includes Nick Fury, Black Widow and Hawkeye. Nick Fury should be safe, he is the glue that brought the characters together and he is the head of SHIELD therefore making him necessary to the film franchise but if he only has cameos here and there then nobody will miss him really, although his loss of life would drastically affect the films. Black Widow is the only female character on the team and it seems as though there are no plans whatsoever to change that with ‘Phase 2’ unless Wasp is introduced in Ant-Man previous to Avengers 2. This makes Black Widow pretty much immortal for a fear of backlash from female fans. Couple this with the fact that Joss Whedon is famous for his strong female characters and Black Widow is pretty much the only safe character. Hawkeye was criminally underused and treated poorly in the original film and as a fan favourite character this was pretty hard on him. I hope that his part will grow in future films but he could just as easily be removed from the universe as, at the end of the day, he is just a man with a bow and arrow. Hawkeye is one of my favourite characters and it would be a shame to see him killed off. However, the point of killing a character off would be to develop more story and I’m not really sure how killing Hawkeye would have any impact on any characters other than Black Widow.

Of course, this is purely speculation and there have been no official statements of rumours saying that one of the central characters in The Avengers will be killed off. This is just one way they could go and the way that I would do it, but I didn’t just write and direct the third highest grossing film of all time so I doubt Joss Whedon will listen to me (even though he should).

But if it was up to me I would kill off Hulk or Captain America (cue uproar).

Fanboys exist in all walks of life however it is a term most often seen associated with fans of comic books and comic book movies and this should come as no surprise as this group, despite being still looked down upon as nerds or geeks by a large number of people, are one of the most vocal about expectations of a film, especially on internet forums. This arises out of fear: fear of one of their most beloved characters or teams from the comic books that they have read for decades (Batman, X-Men, Incredible Hulk) will be ruined by a big screen adaptation because the wrong actors/actresses will be cast, the writer won’t know the source material or because things in the movie won’t be EXACTLY the same as they appear in the comic books. I would willingly describe myself as a fanboy, I kicked off (and still do) that in X-Men: The Last Stand Beast’s blue fur is part of his mutation, that Juggernaut is a mutant, that Juggernaut is not Professor X’s brother among many other things but I am not as extreme as some fans. An example being when Hugh Jackman was cast as Wolverine there was outrage because Hugh Jackman is a good foot taller than Wolverine’s comic book height; Wolverine went on to become synonymous with the X-men movie franchise and is, to date, Jackman’s most iconic film role. But that doesn’t mean that everything fanboys do is negative.

It is because of fanboys that these huge blockbuster films are possible; if the comic books never achieved a following in the first place then the characters would never have become known to mainstream audiences and would never have turned in to icons of the silver screen like they have done today. The characters owe their movie adaptations to these very fanboys. It is also these fanboys that will go and see films like The Dark Knight and The Avengers five, six or even as many as ten times! They’re passionate about what they love but if you do it right then you can win fanboys over forever, do it wrong and you will most likely be demonised and thought of as the spawn of Satan himself every time your name is mentioned.

Fans had every right to kick off when the might Galactus was represented as nothing more than a cloud in Rise of the Silver Surfer.

Among the majority of Batman films Christopher Nolan is held up as a God. He took their beloved Bruce Wayne and transferred his persona to the screen with all these very fine similarities to his comic book character without sticking directly to the source material. And if Christopher Nolan is God then Joel Schumacher is surely the devil; his camped up Batman & Robin with the infamous bat-nipples are often thought of a the worst comic book movies ever made. Other films to incur the wrath of the fanboy include X-Men: The Last Stand (as mentioned earlier), X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Hulk, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer and one of the worst movies I have ever seen, Catwoman. Get them wrong and they can be really really horrible creations but if handled in the correct way a masterpiece can be achieved (see Iron Man, Batman Begins).

Whilst fanboys have their good parts as well as their bad points the real thing that annoys me about them is the rivalry between DC fans and Marvel fans. Of course, most of these people will watch films made by both companies and enjoy the characters. I read mainly Marvel comic books but I can sit and enjoy the Batman films more than some of the Marvel ones because I am a film fan most of all. But a minority of fans (we’re talking hardcore ‘Nolanites’ and ‘Whedonites’) will only see DC films or Marvel films (whichever they read) and will go out of their way to boycott the rival films, meaning that some pour souls out there have limited themselves to only seeing one of either The Dark Knight Rises or The Avengers which are two of the best films I have ever seen, let alone of this year.

Two examples of internet memes created by Whedonites and Nolanites.

The extent of the rivalry should be put aside in favour of the huge spectacles that are brought to the big screen and while sometimes the fanboy community can go over the top in it’s dislike for a film, their passion should not be simply dismissed.

Johnny Depp is not having the greatest time at the minute, both in the film world and in his personal life. He recently split from wife Vanessa Paradis and it has been reported by the Daily Mail that while the couple were still together Depp was getting close to ‘multiple women including his publicist’ and he has been romantically linked to The Rum Diary co star Amber Heard. He also looks set to have to pay Paradis a huge £100million in the divorce, but lets focus on his film career here.

Depp was once one of the most popular, consistent and versatile actors working in Hollywood and his back catalogue of films looks impressive: What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, Ed Wood, Edward Scissorhands, Sleepy Hollow, From Hell, Secret Window and Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl. It is a career that has seen Depp nominated for three Oscars in his time and despite not winning any just yet he has been praised as one of the best actors working today (a statement which I am in full support of). However, his career does seem to have taken a turn for the worse.

I think his decline started when he agreed to play Captain Jack Sparrow in more than one film because it is obvious to anyone who even has a passing interest in films that the Pirates franchise just keeps getting worse the longer it goes on and yet Depp continues to star in them. Despite that though, he still managed to churn out Public Enemies, Corpse Bride and Rango in between the doomed franchise. Yet these are just a few of his films, lets look at the rest.

Johnny Depp’s films used to be critically acclaimed every single time, it was one of the only certainties in life, along with the fact that Kristen Stewart will not smile and Russell Brand will never be a good actor. But in 2010, Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, in which Johnny Depp starred as the Mad Hatter got very mixed reviews, a lot of them being negative. Despite this though, the film is the eleventh highest grossing film of all time! But then he teamed up with Angelina Jolie for The Tourist. The Tourist received negative reviews across the board. It was, however, nominated for Golden Globes for Best Comedy or Musical and Depp and Jolie received Best Actor and Actress nominations respectively. It was these nominations that saw the Golden Globes as a laughing stock that year because The Tourist is neither a comedy or a musical but is in fact a very bad film; when the nominees were announced to the press it is reported that the press room erupted with laughter at The Tourist‘s nominations.

The Rum Diary came in 2011 and was expected to be a hit with Depp at the centre of it. However, The Rum Diary also received negative reviews from critics and failed to make back even half of its relatively low budget $45million. It seemed that Depp’s box office draw was waning by now. Most recently Depp starred in Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows and even this film bombed at the box office, pulling in only a small profit. Depp’s next project is The Lone Ranger where he will be portraying Tonto but early reaction to the pictures of him in this role has not been overly positive and it could prove to be another flop.

And now, in the midst of all the trouble in his personal life, production on another future film of his The Thin Man, a noir remake of 1934 classic, has stalled. Apparently this delay is due to concerns with the budget, perhaps films are unwilling to finance Depp films as much as they once were. His box office draw does seem to be faltering slightly, there is no denying that and with Pirates of the Caribbean 5 set to be made with Depp still portraying Captain Jack Sparrow you do have to worry for the future of his career. Johnny Depp is often hailed as one of the best actors to never win an Oscar (not just by me) but he is in danger of going out with a rather large blemish on the end of his career. I, for one, hope that this proves to just be a blip and that he returns to golden form once again very very soon!

 

If you hadn’t heard already the Kristen Stewart helmed film Snow White and the Huntsman has come under criticism from a dwarf theatre group in Los Angeles (Beacher’s Madhouse) and dwarf group The Little People of America for casting famous regular size actors in the role of the

Huntsman and the ‘dwarves’

dwarves in the recent fairy tale adaptation. Before this row emerged I, and I expect the large majority of people, hadn’t given this a second thought; I saw the casting of people like Ray Winstone, Nick Frost and Ian McShane and though “oh, cool”. Since the fallout though I have pondered the situation and I do believe that these groups, who are also supporting a protest march over what has happened, make some very good points indeed.

Earlier in the year Mirror Mirror, another retelling of the Snow White story, was released and in the roles of the seven dwarves were cast shorter actors. However, the Rupert Sanders’ directed Snow White and the Huntsman opted for famous regular height stars. Why? No doubt it was for box office attention; but with Kristen Stewart of Twilight, Charlize Theron and Chris Hemsworth coming off the back of the success of The Avengers, was more box office draw really needed?

Mirror Mirror does it best.

The dwarves in Snow White and the Huntsman were barely even on screen that much and featured very little as the focus was on Snow White and the Huntsman as you would expect from the title of the film so what harm would it have done to cast dwarf actors in these roles. In Mirror Mirror the dwarves played a much larger and more important role in the overall story arc and yet were played by shorter actors.

There isn’t exactly a lack of talent in dwarf actors; in Mirror Mirror they all did a very fine job. Peter Dinklage, one of the most famous dwarf actors, even won an Emmy and a Golden Globe award for his role in the very successful television show Game of Thrones and yet he wasn’t even considered for a role here. The dwarves are written to be just that, dwarves and as such you should be casting dwarf actors to play the parts; the same way in which a male written part is played by a man and a female part is played by a woman, there is no difference.

Davis described the casting of the dwarves in Snow White and the Huntsman as ‘inexcusable’

Warwrick Davis, dwarf actor who has appeared in two of the most successful movie franchises ever: Star Wars and Harry Potter, perhaps says it best when he told E! News “It is not acceptable to ‘black up’ as a white actor, so why should it be acceptable to ‘shrink’ an actor to play a dwarf?”. There would be outrage if a white actor ‘blacked up’ as there was with Tropic Thunder when Robert Downey Jr. did so (even though his character in the film was doing it and not the actor himself there was still complaints surrounding it) so why is there not that same outrage with average height actors ‘shrinking’ with camera angles and special effects.

I think that Mirror Mirror went the right way about casting the seven dwarves because they used actors that were suitable for the parts and, even though it was the better film, Snow White and the Huntsman should have done the same. A huge insult has been shot at the dwarf community with Snow White and the Huntsman and there can not be a suitable reason as to why dwarf actors were not cast. Parts written as dwarves should be played by dwarf actors. End of story.

With so many movies made it is inevitable that nobody will enjoy all of them. There are also some movies that are frequently named as the best movies ever made and whilst I think that some of them live up to the hype (The Departed, Back to the Future, Toy Story) there are some classic films that I do not like despite the majority of people thinking they are absolutely perfect. Here are a few of my controversial choices:

Pulp Fiction is ranked at number five on IMDB’s list of Top 250 films and is commonly referred to as one of the best films ever made and Tarantino’s best. I don’t think this is Tarantino’s best work, in fact of all the films I have seen of his this is my least favourite, I much preferred Reservoir Dogs and Kill Bill. I was expecting to be blown away by Pulp Fiction when I finally got round to watching it because of the way people spoke so highly of it, yet I was left bored and unentertained. I think the storyline is very weak and the dialogue is dull and unnecessary; it lacks the punch that Reservoir Dogs and Inglourious Basterds packs. And the way fans of the film bang on about it being a non-linear structure you would think it would be the only film to ever have done that and it doesn’t even add anything to the story by editing it in this way.

Taxi Driver, directed by Martin Scorsese and featuring Robert De Niro in an Oscar winning performance, is another film that left me feeling like I had missed something. As I have mentioned in  previous post I do really enjoy the first half of Taxi Driver, the way that the character is created and we get insight into this person and his life is very very good drama indeed. But then the gear changes in the film and the wheels seem to come off; I know some people like it but I just feel like it makes no sense, it becomes boring and where it tries to become exciting it fails. I would definitely place Taxi Driver up there with one of the worst gunfights in movie history for its climatic action scene.

Star Wars is undoubtedly one of the most iconic films in history. Many of the characters have become staples in popular culture: Darth Vader, Yoda, Chewbacca, Han Solo. Everybody knows Star Wars, that much is true. But I don’t see what all the fuss was about. I am a fan of science fiction so that’s not the problem here; I like Star Trek and Back to the Future but I failed to see the hype surrounding this massive franchise. I felt very underwhelmed and very bored, Han Solo who is supposedly one of the coolest characters around disappointed me as did many of the others. I really wanted to like Star Wars but found it impossible.