Saturday, May 24, 2014

RIP, Gordon Willis

Last week on Sunday the 18th, legendary cinematographer Gordon Willis passed away.  He was 82.
I'm a lazy obituary writer, so here's some links to some kind words written by others:
-NY Times
-Rolling Stone

Here's a good interview with Gordon Willis from 2009.

"A cinematographer is a visual psychiatrist - moving an audience through a movie … making them think the way you want them to think, painting pictures in the dark." -Gordon Willis

"People perceive complexity as good.  Complexity is not good.  People don't understand the elegance of simplicity.  If you take a sophisticated idea, reduce it to the simplest possible terms so that it's accessible to everybody, and don't get simple mixed up with simplistic, it's how you mount and present something that makes it engaging." 
 -Gordon Willis

On "ruining" footage to create the look of time-ravaged 1920s newsreels in Zelig (1983):  "The lack of perfection, that's the hardest quality of all, because you're fighting your instincts.  You're trained to want to do things perfectly."

"I like to commit to an idea."
Your commitment was and will continue to be appreciated.

RIP, Gordon Willis

Thursday, May 15, 2014

RIP, H.R. Giger

Swiss painter, sculptor, visual artist, surrealist, and contributor to the world of film Hans Rudolf Giger passed away a couple days ago.  He was 74.


From what I've read he died from injuries that were the result of fall.  This is vague enough to be slightly terrifying and also realistic enough to be absolutely heartrending.

Also, it is a total bummer.
I'll be honest, before yesterday I didn't really know that much about Giger.  I knew the basics.  Swiss artist, obsessed with sex and death, designed the Xenomorph in Alien, you know, the basics.  Now that he's gone and there's all these articles up everywhere about him, I've learned a bit more about his career.
Like, did you know. . .

In addition to his design work on Alien, Giger also worked as conceptual artist on Poltergeist II and designed the monster in Species (which is something I feel like I already knew, but reading it yesterday felt like new information).

Also, very interestingly, he was creative consultant on the weird, French horror-comedy Killer Condom.  Huh.

Doubly interesting, he designed a version of the Batmobile for Batman Forever that wasn't used, WHICH IS CRAZY.

H.R. Giger was also involved with one of the greatest films never made, having worked on Alejandro Jodorowsky's attempt at Dune.  The film never happened (not Jodorowsky's version anyway; David Lynch eventually made it, without Giger's involvement) but there was a documentary made about it, appropriately titled Jodorowsky's Dune.  I haven't seen it yet, but it looks fascinating and right up my alley.

Giger is interviewed in the film.  Here's the trailer:

In addition to film work, Giger also had a history of collaborating with musicians.  He designed the record cover to Emerson, Lake, & Palmer's 1973 album Brain Salad Surgery, as well as Debbie Harry's 1981 album KooKoo.

Along with the album cover, he also directed two music videos from KooKoo, one for "Backfired" and the other for "Now I Know You Know."  Check 'em:

A sketch by H.R. Giger was part of the inspiration for Aphex Twin's creeptastic "Window Licker."  *shudder*

For the Dead Kennedy's 1985 album Frankenchrist they included a poster of a 1973 piece of Giger's work called "Landscape XX," also known as "Penis Landscape."  It eventually led to an obscenity trial for DK members Jello Biafra and Michael Bonanno.  I wonder why. . . .
And from the "Oh, yeah?" department:  Giger was commissioned by Jonathan Davis, frontman of alt-rock-group-that-you're-embarrassed to-have-listen-to-in-high-school Korn, to design a custom microphone stand.  Here's a picture:
Obviously, he loves it.

Maybe the most interesting thing I've read is about how H.R. Giger can be credited with the creation of El Chupacabra!!  Sounds about right.

There is a H.R. Giger museum in his homeland of Switzerland, earning Europe even more cool credit.

In fact, doubling (or tripling?) down on those cool credits, Switzerland also has two Giger themed bars, one in Gruyères, the other in Chur.  They look amazing.
For further Giger reading, I suggest
Baddass Digest
The Guardian
Just a couple of crazy geniuses...
Film poster by Giger
"Li I"
It's been said, but thanks for all the nightmares.


Sunday, May 11, 2014




MOTHE..oh, there you are.  Hey, mom.  Happy Mother's Day.
"No!  I will not hide in the fruit cellar!  Ha!  You think I'm fruity, huh?"
"We'll pray.  We'll pray.  We'll pray for the last time.  We'll pray."
"No, I disgust you.  I sicken you.  You hate me!"
"Oh, Christ.."
"No one will ever love you like your mother."
"Come to sweet Henrietta. . ."
Read more about the icy Mrs. Bower HERE.
Seriously.  Enough with the wire hangers.
Sheila Keith as the crazed Dorothy Yates in Frightmare (1974).
Alien Queen from The Remains of the Day.  NAH, I'm just foolin'.  It's from Aliens, duh.
Rebecca De Mornay KILLS IT in the vastly superior remake of Mother's Day (2010).
Traci Lords is great in the underseen Excision, one of the best horror films released in recent years.
Diane Ladd would like to remind you to call your mother.
"All that blood and violence.  I thought you were supposed to be the love generation."
Jason spent time with his mother today.  Did you?

To all the Moms out there,
even the crazy ones,
Happy Mother's Day!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

RIP, Bob Hoskins

British actor Bob Hoskins passed away a couple days ago.  He was 71 years old.
He was a very good actor.

I liked seeing him in movies.

One of my favorite movies of Hoskins' is British crime thriller The Long Good Friday (1980).  It was one of his first chances at playing a leading man and he just knocks it out of the park.  Helen Mirren co-stars, in case you need a secondary reason to check it out.

A couple years ago I watched this Burt Lancaster/Peter O'Toole movie Zulu Dawn (1979).  It was an okay-ish movie, but by far my favorite parts were with Hoskins' character of C.S.M. Williams and his interactions with Pvt. Williams (no relation).  Also, Hoskins could grow a really strong beard.
Just a few weeks ago I got to see Terry Gilliam's Brazil (1985) in a theater (at the fantastic Hollywood Theatre, here in Portland, OR, to be exact), something I've always wanted to do, as it is one of my all-time favorites.  Hoskins has a relatively small role in the film, only showing up in a couple scenes, but his charmingly gruff persona helps sell the slightly threatening bureaucracy of the movie.  Check out this clip from his first appearance in the film, complete with unnecessary subtitles:

Hoskins would earn an Oscar nomination for his role in Neil Jordan's Mona Lisa (1986) and would win Best Actor awards from the BAFTAs, The Golden Globes, and the Cannes Film Festival, part of which can be seen after this movie trailer (it should be noted that this trailer really undersells how great this movie actually is):

Like most people in my age range, I first became aware of Bob Hoskins through his interactions with a cartoon rabbit.  With the benefit of hindsight, it seems odd that two years after widespread critical acclaim for Mona Lisa that he would star in something like Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988), but I'm glad he did.  Eddie Valiant is awesome.
Hoskins would continue acting alongside incredibly cartoonish co-stars, starring opposite Cher in Mermaids (1990).  Actually, other than that snarky joke I really don't have anything to say about the movie.  I know I rented it on video back when it came out, but I don't recall anything about it, or really even why I rented it in the first place.  I just wanted an excuse to post this picture of a shirtless Hoskins in bed with Cher, a Pepsi, and some pretzels:
Of course, most infamously Hoskins starred as Mario in Super Mario Bros (1993), widely considered to be a very, very bad movie.  Yet another movie I know I rented but don't recall anything about, at least not specifically (I do recall that it was bad).  Hoskins considered it to be the worst movie he ever made.  For my money, it's no worse than Hook (1991).
Proving you can really never figure Hollywood out, two years after the Super Mario Bomb, Hoskins would star in Oliver Stone's Nixon (1995), playing J. Edgar Hoover.
I liked Bob Hoskins a lot.  It's sad he's gone.  In remembrance I'll probably rewatch The Long Good Friday and also check out Luc Besson's Unleashed (2005), one that I had always meant to see.  

Here's some links to career write-ups and proper obituaries:
Good stuff over at The BBC and The AV Club.
Also, here's more kind words from CNN and The NY Times.
Oops.  Another shirtless Hoskins pic.  How'd that get here?
RIP, Bob.