An Unexpected Joy: Taking Woodstock

Two nights ago, exhausted after a stressful day’s work I accidentally watched a movie. In all honesty, I was so shattered that i couldn’t be bothered to look for the remote to switch the TV over, so i just sat there and watched exactly the kind of movie I would expected to hate... but hate it I did not.

Since Ang Lee’s Hulk (2003) bought on a migraine so severe that it lasted until Brokeback Mountain two years later, his name (for me anyway) hasn’t been the ‘no brainer’ marketing tool that I’m sure it should be, but now all is forgiven.

Taking Woodstock is one of those films that makes you nostalgic for an era which you weren’t around for and for taking chemicals that you have never tried... it was a total joy (so much so that I watched it again last night).

And if Taking Woodstock floats your boat, it may be also be worth checking out Almost Famous (2000), a film for which the review above (minus Ang Lee and the migraine) could also very easily apply.

Ray Harryhausen’s 90th Birthday - Video

On Saturday night myself and a couple of hundred other luck people went to BFI Southbank to take part in a BAFTA 90th birthday tribute to Ray Harryhausen.

For anyone who makes films, loves films or merely went to the movies occasionally as a child, the work of Ray Harryhausen (Clash of the Titans, Jason & the Argonauts etc. etc.) has probably left an indelible mark. I went expecting a simple retrospective of Ray’s work, but Saturday night was so much more.

The evening was hosted by the hilarious John Landis (Director of The Blues Brothers & American Werewolf in London) and attended by a plethora of genuine and genuinely humbled Harryhausen fans including Andy Serkis, Simon Pegg, Edgar Wright, Nick Park, David Sproxton & Peter Lord (Aardman).

The evening not only gave a glimpse into the celluloid magic of the man himself, but also into the huge impact that his body of work has had on most of Hollywood’s VFX & Directing royalty, indeed in many cases Harryhausen is cited as ‘the reason’ they chose a career in movies.

On stage there were tributes from the likes of Randy Cook (VFX - The Thing, Ghostbusters, Lord of the Rings), Dennis Muren, Phil Tippet and Ken Ralston, Sir Christopher Frayling and Special Effects guru Rick Baker... and wonderfully Caroline Munro (The Golden Voyage of Sinbad) and John Cairney and Gary Raymond (two of the original Argonauts).

On screen there were also heartfelt tributes to Ray recorded specifically for the event from George Lucas, Frank Darabont, Guillermo Del Toro, John Lasseter (Pixar), Steven Spielberg, Tim Burton and James Cameron.

But for me, the two highlights of the evening were an incredibly moving tribute from Ray’s lifelong friend, Screenwriter Ray Bradbury and then Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson, who not only presented Ray with a special BAFTA award, but also gave everyone an exclusive screening of some of his own very early films. As it turns out, Jackson was not only hugely inspired by Harryhausen’s work, but as a boy, he was totally obsessed with replicating many of his classic scenes. We witnessed the 12 year old Jackson fighting of a cyclops with a spear and defeating an onslaught of invisible skeletons... “I filmed my part, but was never quite sure how to do the skeletons” said Jackson.

The Real ‘Dog Day Afternoon’ - 22/08/72

Last night a few of us watched ‘Dog Day Afternoon’ on TV. I first saw the movie when I was about 14 and ever since then I’ve always loved it.

Somehow it perfectly conveys not only the atmospheric, but also the political and economic climate of a steamy August afternoon in early 70s New York.

It was only a few years later that I learned of the story that inspired the movie. Its an overused cliché that fact is often stranger than fiction... but as it turns out, Dog Day Afternoon is hardly fiction at all.

On August 22nd 1972 an unemployed John Wojtowicz did indeed walk into a Brooklyn branch of Chase Manhattan Bank and hold the staff hostage for 14 hours, intermittently venturing into the street to taunt the police and the baying crowds outside.

As a footnote to the story, the real-life Wojtowicz was paid $7,500 plus 1% of the film's net profits for the rights to his story, of which he gave $2,500 to his ‘wife’ Ernest Aron to pay for her sexual reassignment surgery.


You can read Wojtowicz’s full story HERE

Dog Day Afternoon’ ITV3 11pm

The other night on Twitter I overheard @RichNeville and @mystacon talking about movies. I film things for a living and I used to make music for a living, but I’m very aware that whether other people are talking about ‘good movies’ or ‘good music’ I’m usually left feeling like the odd one out, largely due to my slightly ‘tacky’ mainstream taste. I’m always left waiting for my moment to butt-in to the conversation with ‘what about Jurassic Park?’ or ‘have you heard Fireflies by Owl City?’, but my amazing self control usually saves my embarrassment.
One thing I will say for myself is that I am incredibly open minded and what I really love about Twitter is how other people can introduce me to amazing new things, be it news, movies or @Glinner talking about the amazing ‘French Horn Rebellion’ gig he was at last night.
So the other night, I did choose to butt-in to @RichNeville and @mystacon’s conversation and I said “what would be you ultimate movie for a Good Movie Club?”. Now I did a little to help @Glinner organise an impromptu #badmovieclub night on Twitter last year, but this time my question was not about organising a mass participation event, it was purely to try and find out if there were any gems of a movie that I had been missing out on while I was too busy checking IMDB to see if Spielberg really is making Jurassic Park IV.
So earlier this evening I saw ‘Dog Day Afternoon’ was on ITV3 @ 11pm tonight. I love the movie, its probably in my top 10 (alongside Jurassic Park of course) and this was a movie that for once I felt that I could mention without seeming like ‘the most un-cool kid on the block’. So I tweeted this:
Just so you know, Dog Day Afternoon #itv3 11pm would be my No1 choice for a #goodmovieclub @RichNeville @mystacon @Glinner @Twistedlilkitty
... and @RichNeville replied.
He said he had a copy sitting on the shelf and had been meaning to watch it... so we are indeed going to watch it, at 11pm tonight.
Now we don’t want to tweet throughout the movie, we just want to watch it, I haven’t seen it in ages and I just want to enjoy it, but the thought of watching it at the same time as other people I know seems like a wonderful idea.
So tonight, for the first time in the history of Twitter @RichNeville and I are going to try and create the world’s first ever ‘Non Trending Topic’... by not tweeting about an event ‘live’ as it happens. We will not be tweeting at all during the movie, and the hashtag we will not be using to do it with is #goodmovieclub.
It will probably just be @RichNeville and I (and maybe @mystacon if he is around) and that is fine by us. But if you would like to join us, don’t tell us, just watch the movie and enjoy!
P.S. Having said that if you do join us, @ 1:27am precisely, it would be great to hear from you and see what you though... incidentally at that moment the hashtag #goodmovieclub would seem most appropriate! ;)

From Russia With Vole

You can thank James Serafinowicz @Flidby for this lot. Last April on Twitter, James asked people to make ‘Movie Anagram Posters’ and for the first time on Twitter I witnessed how astonishingly creative people can be. So why are they here, well I decided to grabbed them all from TwitPic, TiwtGoo, MopyPic etc. so that they didn’t disappear into the ether for ever, never to be seen again.
Thank you if any were your work - Thank James by following @Flidby on Twitter.
(P.S. Thin Hinges, T.E. & Wiz Froze Toad were mine... I should get out more!)