THE best movies have music to match. The Godfather, great as it is, would be less so without Nino Rota’s dark and fateful main theme, also known as The Immigrant, or The Godfather Waltz – now a perennial repertory piece squeezed out by street accordionists all over Europe. Blade Runner’s visionary opening shot of the future LA skyline gets much of its transportive power from the electronic soundscape provided by composer Vangelis.
IN the interplanetary debris field between Mars and Jupiter is the asteroid 46610 Bésixdouze. Discovered in 1993, its name was suggested by Czech astronomer Jiří Grygar in honour of The Little Prince. The title character of that singular cosmic fairytale by Antoine de Saint-Exupery fell to Earth from a fictional asteroid designated B612, so this coding was rendered into phonetic French and hexadecimal notation for its real-life namesake. The author himself had drawn those specific figures from the registration of a plane he flew as an airmail pilot over the Sahara Desert in the 1920s.
ON a recent visit to Morocco, I had a touch of déjà vu. It was my first time in the country, my first sight of the capital, Rabat, and the Kasbah of the Udayas. But walking up the outer staircase of that 12th-century fortress, a vivid image came to mind – a lucid memory of a silver car flying down these same steps, through the air, in the opposite direction. “Maybe you’ve seen Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation?” asked my guide Aziz Goumi. Oh yeah, I thought.
IT WAS the first confirmed sighting of Jason Bourne in almost eight years. A recently released photograph showed Matt Damon getting into character on the set of the new Bourne film, as yet untitled. He’s shirtless and conspicuously ripped, strapping up his knuckles like a prizefighter, gaunter and tougher-looking than in the original trilogy.
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A FEW years ago, Robert Carlyle found himself in some pretty deep snow. He and a bunch of mostly American actors had been shooting a savage historical comedy-horror in the mountains on the Czech-Slovak border, when their wayward Macedonian director, Michlo Manchevski, was sacked by the studio. Stuck up there under contract, with literally no direction, Carlyle phoned Antonia Bird in London and “practically blackmailed her” to come and take over. He had acted in her previous films Safe, Priest and Face, recommended her to the shivering cast, who sealed themselves in a room, watched those films, and agreed that Bird was the woman for the job.
PAUL Greengrass was driving around Los Angeles a few weekends ago, conducting a private surveillance of the cinemas screening his new film The Bourne Supremacy. He found it gratifying to watch people buy tickets, for his own “egotistical reasons”. Every other film that Greengrass has directed was made for British television, and he says they were… Read more »
WAKE UP. Spike Lee keeps repeating this. Watch any of his movies, or ‘joints’, as he calls them, and at some point you’ll start to feel that you’re missing the point, or that there isn’t one, or that there are too many to grip. He admits that he doesn’t make films that are about “just one thing” – he’ll throw five or six basketballs on the court, and you’re free to play with as many of them as you can. But essentially, he is telling you to wake up.
PRIVATE Bill Stone requested combat duty. Serving with the United States Army in Vietnam between April 1967 and November 1968, he killed enemy soldiers with grenades and was badly wounded twice. He also formulated certain doubts about America, which he repeats today: “How can you send only the poor to fight? If you’re going to war, go with everybody.” Stone himself was never poor, and had enlisted under his middle name because he thought “Oliver” sounded too soft and monied. Later, he became a world-famous, Oscar-winning film director with a Vietnam war movie called Platoon (1986), which drew on his most lucid memories of physical pain and animal fear, but also of some other, less material dimension he detected in the jungle. Oliver Stone leans forward to show me the white scar in the back of his head.
THE short life of New York’s World Trade Center began with one spectacular crime and ended with another. Philippe Petit can only speak for the first. “My story is a fairytale, ” he says at the start of Man On Wire, a new documentary about Petit’s illegal tightrope walk between Twin Towers on August 7, 1974. This film goes on to confirm that the thinking behind the act was infinitely simpler than the staging, but its meaning has never been agreed upon.