Tag Archives: Tom Hardy

“Should I see The Revenant?” Might as well ask, “Do I enjoy cinema?”

14 Jan
The Revenant

Leonardo DiCaprio spent the last year Rocky Mountains way. Couldn’t get much higher

The Revenant is a film of few words, and so will be my recommendation of it: Go See. This is not merely a movie. This is Cinema.

The opening battle scene is as visceral as anything since Private Ryan (and as for that bear scene….!). The landscapes, filmed in the wild Canadian Rockies, show both the exquisite beauty and the cold brutality of nature – just as the ugliness of man, in this film, is interleaved with transcendent moments of tenderness and honour.

The score, by Ryuichi Sakamoto and Alva Noto, definitely deserves an Oscar, Golden Globes result notwithstanding. As to the cinematography, it would feel like the most shocking upset in Oscar history if regular Terrence Malick cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki didn’t land his third in a row (after Gravity and Birdman). Leonardo DiCaprio is almost certain finally to take home his little gold man for the gruelling central role, rarely off screen though saying very little.

But forget the Oscars. This is just hauntingly lovely film-making, a work of unique vision and, indeed, obsession – not since Herzog hauled a steamship up a mountain, or Friedkin slapped his actors and stuck them in a freezer, has a director (Birdman‘s Iñárritu) gone to such lengths to get what he needed.

At first it grates that Tom Hardy mumbles into his beard nearly as incomprehensibly as when playing Bane. But then you relax into that, and remind yourself that the words don’t really matter, and it becomes almost a plus. The haunting images are all the story you need.

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Mad Max: Fury Road – the untold Tank Girl connection

25 May
Charlize Theron as Tank Girl – sorry, I mean as Imperator Furiosa – in Mad Max: Fury Road

Charlize Theron as Tank Girl — sorry, as Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road

I’ve been too busy till now editing a film supplement to comment on Mad Max: Fury Road, though I saw it on opening night ten days ago. But despite all the coverage (most of it ecstatic), one thing still hasn’t been said.

Fury Road is not actually a reboot of Mad Max at all. It’s a reboot of Tank Girl.

It’s obvious when you think about it. Mad Max scarcely has any role in his own film: he seldom speaks, and seldom acts unless prompted by the spirit of his dead daughter. Imperator Furiosa, played by Charlize Theron, is clearly the lead. [Incidentally, what kind of a name is that to give your daughter? “Furiosa”. Fine for a badass warrior woman, but when she meets up with family from whom she was separated as a child, they call her by that name, too.]

Theron has Tank Girl’s shaved head, that lost Emily Lloyd the role in the 1995 Tank Girl movie when she wouldn’t shave her locks (or so the director says; Lloyd disputes this version of events). She has, if not a tank, then a ‘War Rig’ on wheels. And if she has a grunting Tom Hardy for a sidekick instead of a priapic mutant kangaroo, and if she lacks Tank Girl’s gleeful anarchy (that’s passed on instead to “War Boy”, who cackles “What a lovely day!” as they ride into the mother of all sand storms which picks up a car full of people and blows it up above his head), and has instead a very Hollywood desire for “redemption”, these are small quibbles.

The whole world is like Tank Girl’s world: post-apocalyptic and full of crazies. You could argue Tank Girl borrowed from Mad Max in the first place, and you’d be right. But the tone and especially the look of Fury Road is very much more comic-book than the original films, and that is down to one key added ingredient: the marvellous Brendan McCarthy.

Brendan is a British comics illustrator who I recall propping up the bar with writer Pete MIlligan and Tank Girl creator Jamie Hewlett at Comics Conventions in the ‘80s. He has worked as a concept designer and storyboard artist in Hollywood for nearly three decades now, and was encouraged to sue Kevin Costner’s Waterworld for its striking similarities with his comic Freakwave. In the end, Brendan “couldn’t be arsed” to launch lengthy legal action, but it led directly to his collaborating with Mad Max supremo George Miller.

TO-TankGirl-6718The original Tank Girl movie was a) not good, b) not funny, c) had little of anything that made the original comics so popular. It was so bad, in fact, that Jamie Hewlett disowned it. Check out the specially commissioned Time Out cover Jamie drew for us  when I was editor (right) as an example of how not to sell a movie!

I like to see Mad Max: Fury Road, which Brendan co-wrote as well as steering the concept designs, as seizing the chance to right these wrongs.

Fury Road is not so much Mad Max, as Mad Maxine. It’s Tank Girl in all but name.

Pecs appeal: what The Guest reveals about Hollywood’s new stripping sexism

15 Sep

Ye gods, but Dan Stevens is gorgeous in new movie The Guest. You hardly recognise him from Downton Abbey: the puppy fat is replaced by cheekbones, the floppy fringe by manly stubble, the limpid blue eyes are now focused laser beams of energy. He needs to be gorgeous: the more interesting first half of the movie, before things go pear-shaped and daft-thrillery, is all about how he wins over a family, one by one – the mother through sensitivity, the father through beer, the young son through help with bullies. But does he really have to win over the 20-year-old daughter by stepping from a steamy bathroom in the skimpiest of towels? Those pecs! Those lats! Those abs! She swoons.

If Stevens becomes a star on the back of this, and he surely will, his personal trainer deserves 10%, along with his agent and manager. In fact, it’s a little surprising there’s not yet an Oscar category for that. And what’s interesting is how thoroughly gratuitous nudity in Hollywood has now been turned on its head.

Right into the ‘90s it was almost impossible to be an actress and not get your kit off, unless you were Meryl Streep. It’s why columnist Julie Burchill used to call acting a form of legalised prostitution. Even the respected auteur Robert Altman pressurised Greta Scacchi (unsuccessfully) to show off her celebrated bust in The Player, despite a prior agreement: “When it came to the day of the shoot,” Scacchi later recalled, “he told me ‘Get yourself on the set, take your knickers off and do what you’re paid to do.’” Demi Moore was paid a record $12 million to strip off in Striptease. Halle Berry is rumoured to have been given an extra $500,000 to show her boobs in Swordfish, though she denies any extra fee.

How times have changed in the new millennium. When Alice Eve gratuitously stripped in front of Kirk in Star Trek Into Darkness, the backlash was huge, to the point where the scriptwriter apologised – and even then she only undressed to bra and pants. There is no expectation now that beautiful and talented actresses such as Jennifer Lawrence will have to get naked to get ahead. It’s one reason, aside from righteous indignation at the appalling invasion of privacy, that the recent hacking of nude celebrity pictures has aroused such interest: in the ‘90s, it would have been nothing people hadn’t seen before, on screens 40 feet high.

No such reticence applies to the male physique, and I blame Brad Pitt. When he took his shirt off in Thelma & Louise, revealing the washboard abs beneath the cheeky grin, it opened the doors for equal opportunities sexism. Since then, Matt Damon, Tobey McGuire, Will Smith, Ewan MacGregor, Michael Fassbender, Tom Hardy, Hugh Jackman, Tom Cruise, Gerard Butler, Ryan Reynolds, Channing Tatum… actually, it would be quicker to make a list of actors who haven’t had to bulk up and strip off.

And now, finally, there are signs that the more insidious sexism in Hollywood may gradually and grudgingly be coming to an end. It’s long been argued by movie execs, in a self-fulfilling prophecy, that films with women in the lead roles don’t make money. None, therefore, were made… so none made money. Bridesmaids in comedy, and in the blockbuster market The Hunger Games and Gravity (though its director initially had to fight the studio to get them to okay a female lead), have demonstrated the fallacy, and execs are, according to the New York Times, taking note.

There’s still a ways to go, and still a big disparity in pay cheques. But, in liberating Hollywood’s women, must we objectify Hollywood’s men? How long before aspiring male actors are simply reading for the part of “Hunky Boyfriend: must be prepared for Shower Scene”?