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Tag: Christopher Nolan

Editorials

The Best Performances of Tom Hardy

May 13, 2020
tom hardy [Source: Newsweek]

He has been compared with Brando and called one of the best actors of his generation, there’s pretty much no one like Tom Hardy. While best known for his tough-guy roles he has shown that he’s more than capable of taking on more intimate projects and pays a lot of attention to his craft. Frequently changing his voice and body and to suit his parts, and his natural charisma makes him compulsively watchable. And with his latest movie Capone coming out soon I am going to look back at Tom Hardy’s 5 best roles. And explain what makes these performances stand out from the rest of his work.

Stuart Clive Shorter – Stuart: A Life Backwards

Stuart provides a blueprint for what Tom Hardy would later do with many of his roles. Focusing on every aspect of his performance he reportedly losing nearly 30 pounds for the role; adopted a limp and a slurred voice to play the titular “homeless, sociopathic, junkie“. There’s something brutally honest about Hardy’s portrayal of Stuart. He doesn’t feel Hollywoodized, he feels like a real person. The script also requires Hardy to go to a lot of different places. This results in him being equal parts scary, charming, funny, and disturbing but Hardy pulls it off flawlessly. In lesser hands, Stuart could’ve simply been a one-note sympathy card. But Hardy makes Stuart into a complex, intriguing, and tragic character. For his efforts, Hardy received a BAFTA nomination for Best Actor.

Tom Hardy in Stuart: A Life Backwards
Tom Hardy in Stuart: A Life Backwards [Source: Telegraph]

Eames – Inception

Despite working with many great directors throughout his career Christopher Nolan is the director that always gets the best out of Hardy. Unlike many of his other roles here Hardy retains his regular voice and isn’t the center of attention, playing as part of an ensemble cast but he still manages to make a great impression. As Eames, a conman recruited to impersonate people within a dream (essentially riffing on Hardy’s chameleon-like acting persona) Hardy is very fun, bouncing off the other members of the cast with his deadpan humor and effortless charm. This movie proved that Hardy wasn’t just an actor but a movie star too.

Eames in Inception
Eames in Inception [Source: IMDb]

Bane – The Dark Knight Rises

Hardy’s most iconic role is perhaps the best encapsulation of him as an actor. He’s more than willing to change his body for his craft (the hulking behemoth of Bane is a world away from Eames and Stuart physically). He likes to experiment with his accents to give his characters a different feel (here Bane has a calm, vaguely Irish/Scottish voice that effectively contrasts with his savage and intimidating actions). He pays incredible attention to his physical performance (despite having his face covered for almost the entire movie we’re always aware of what Bane is thinking and feeling because of Hardy’s great use of body and facial language). And no matter what he’s doing it’s always utterly captivating. The result is a villain unlike any other.

Bane in The Dark Knight Rises
Bane in The Dark Knight Rises [Source: Indian Express]

Ivan Locke – Locke

After the action extravaganza of The Dark Knight Rises Hardy made a return to more low-key dramas. Hardy plays Ivan who is journeying from Birmingham to London to solve a crisis, all the while dealing with calls from his friends, family, and co-workers about where he’s going. Locke is perhaps Hardy’s most impressive role. The entire film takes place in a car with only Tom on screen. Meaning he’s confined in a tight space, restricting his movement and he has to carry the entire movie with his performance. Thankfully he pulls it off with gusto. Though his welsh accent wavers his calm delivery works incredibly well to endear a somewhat unsympathetic character to the audience. And his physical performance says so much with so little. Only Tom Hardy could pull off something that daring.

Ivan, the titular character of Locke
Ivan, the titular character of Locke [Source: Tribeca Film Festival]

Ronnie/Reggie Kray – Legend

The best thing about Tom Hardy’s portrayal of the notorious twin gangsters is that you never spend any time thinking about the technical side of his performance. You’re completely invested in him. Both roles complement his skills and past triumphs. As Ronnie, Hardy is much more animalistic. An imposing, violent tough guy which clearly recalls his performances as Stuart Shorter, Bronson, and Bane. And as Reggie, we see the same effortlessly cool but dark-edged charisma he showed in Inception and The Drop. And once again Hardy adds a lot of humanity to these characters. Ronnie’s admission to being gay and Reggie’s love/hater relationship with his brother are incredibly effective. Not because of the lines he’s given but because of how he plays them. This is why whenever anyone talks about Legend they do so solely for Hardy’s performance.

Ronnie and Reggie Kray in Legend
Ronnie and Reggie Kray in Legend [Source: Movie TV Tech Geeks News]

Thus ends our list of Tom Hardy’s best performances. Did we miss any out? Please let us know what your favourite Tom Hardy role is and what you think of our selections.

Also Read: What Happens To Your Brain When Watching A Horror Movie?

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Editorials

The Best Action Films of the Decade (2010 – 2019)

December 14, 2019
The Best Action Films of the Decade

With 2020 approaching many are currently reflecting on all the positive points of the past decade. Today I’m doing the same, as I list the best action movies of each year from 2010-2019.

These films were picked based on their creativity, the impact of the action and how well the story complimented the action. And because there were so man good action films this decade I will be including honourable mentions for you to also watch. Without further ado, let’s begin.


2010: Inception (dir. Christopher Nolan)

With an interesting story about implanting ideas into someone’s mind while having to battle through not only the subject’s mental defences but your own baggage as well as incredibly staged action sequences like the rotating hallway fight and using minimal CGI, Inception is a true sci-fi action masterpiece.

HM: Kick-Ass & 13 Assassins.

The Rotating Hallway fight (Inception)

2011: The Raid (dir. Gareth Evans)

After a swat team is ambushed in an apartment complex the survivors must reach and arrest the kingpin before his henchmen kill them. From this simple premise, The Raid quickly ratchets up the tension as we are never sure who will escape alive. And the action sequences use of flowing choreography, camerawork and editing turn the film into a remarkable ballet of violence.

HM: Captain America: The First Avenger & X-men: First Class.

The Hallway Fight (The Raid)

2012: Dredd (dir. Peter Travis)

Similar to The Raid, Dredd finds two judges (police officers who are judge, jury, and executioner) Dredd (Karl Urban) and Anderson (Olivia Thirlby), trapped in a skyscraper, having to fight their way to the kingpin to escape. However, Dredd keeps The Raid’s tension while also injecting a healthy dose of comic book action. With bloody violence, great world-building, beautiful slow-motion usage and endearing characters, Dredd, packs a punch despite its small stature.

HM: The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises & Skyfall.

Slow-motion break-in (Dredd)

2013: Snowpiercer (dir. Bong Joon-Ho)

While the premise is far-fetched (the remnants of humanity are trapped on a perpetually running world-spanning train after a climate crisis), Snowpiercer’s story about humanity in microcosm and fight scenes are very affecting. The skirmishes are protracted and merciless, combined with the claustrophobic setting and masterful editing, Snowpiercer will keep you riveted till the end.  

HM: The Worlds End & Elysium.

The train massacre (Snowpiercer)

2014: The Raid 2 (dir. Gareth Evans)

After surviving the first film, Rama (Iko Uwais) must infiltrate the mob and bring them down from inside. From there this sequel improves on everything great about the original. With more impressive choreography, more brutal violence; even more memorable characters, all wrapped around a fantastic story of family and loyalty. The Raid 2 is my favourite action film of the decade.

HM: Captain America: The Winter Soldier & Guardians of the Galaxy.

Rama vs Hammer Girl and Baseball Bat Man (The Raid 2)

2015: Mad Max: Fury Road (dir. George Miller)

Mad Max: Fury Road puts all other 2015 action movies to shame, with an effectively slight story about Max Rockatansky (Tom Hardy) helping a band of women escape an oppressive patriarch; spectacular vehicle stunts. By the movie’s end, you’ll feel exhausted by the relentless action. Impressed by the practical stunts and special effects. And moved by characters like Furiosa (Charlize Theron) and Nux (Nicholas Hoult). High octane action at its finest.

HM: Furious 7, Avengers: Age of Ultron & Sicario.

Driving back to the Citadel (Mad Max: Fury Road)

2016: Captain America: Civil War (dir. Joe Russo)

Civil War is the highlight of the MCU. The story grounds the conflict in each heroes’ hopes and fears, examining them and playing them against each other expertly. Every character is relatable, making the fights more impactful. And each action sequence is creative. From the opening robbery to the final 2 on 1. Marvel has made many good films, but none topped the impact of Civil War.

HM: Deadpool.

Part 1 of the Airport Fight (Captain America: Civil War)

2017: Dunkirk (dir. Christopher Nolan)

Depicting the titular WWII evacuation from three perspectives: the soldiers trapped at Dunkirk waiting for rescue, the civilians coming to evacuate the soldiers and the airmen covering them from above, Dunkirk’s tension becomes almost unbearable as we hope the soldiers escape in time. The use of practical effects, incredible sound editing, and Hans Zimmer’s tense score make the film effective and harrowing.

HM: Baby Driver.

Death from above (Dunkirk (2017))

2018: Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse (dir. Peter Ramsey, Bob Persichetti, Rodney Rothman)

The perfect balance of spectacle, personality, and high personal stakes. Into the Spiderverse is an expertly crafted love letter to comic books. With beautiful visuals that are used inventively in action sequences, all anchored by protagonist Miles Morales. Who allows us to feel his wonder, excitement, and fear better than any other spiderman.

HM: Avengers: Infinity War.

Fight at the Parker house (Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse)

2019: John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum (dir. Chad Stahelski)

Parabellum marks the culmination of everything great about John Wick. The story is full of unique, intriguing characters, John Wick (Keanu Reeves) is still thoroughly engaging and the grounded, varied, constant action easily beats the overblown spectacle of other films this year.

HM: Avengers: Endgame.

Motorbike Fight (John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum)

So ends my list of the 2010’s best action movies. Be sure to tell me your favourite action movie of the decade in the comments. There have been some great action films this decade, now let’s see what the 2020s have in store.

Also Read: How to Revive a Franchise After Many Years

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Editorials

Holy Fan Films, Batman

July 23, 2019

Batman. This single word has inspired so much over the years. Beginning as a simple vigilante hero in the pages of Detective Comics, Bob Kane and Bill Finger’s iconic creation has spawned some of the most well-loved movies, TV shows, video games and comic runs of the past century. Everyone knows who Batman is and his world has become a permanent fixture of popular culture. And like Tim Burton and Christopher Nolan, many fans have been inspired by the caped crusader to pick up a camera and make their own batman stories.

So, put on your capes and cowls and come with me as I countdown five Batman fan films that are worth your time.

The Dark Knight Returns – An Epic Fan Film

In 2016 director and star Wyatt Weed decided to translate the first part of Frank Miller’s seminal The Dark Knight Returns comic into a short film. And it truly is a testament to his enthusiasm for the material.

The story is of a future where Batman retired after Jason Todd’s (The second Robin) death and crime has overrun Gotham’s streets. Now Bruce must put back on the cowl to save Gotham from destroying itself.

On a budget of $2500, Weed admirably captures the story’s wide scope. He makes Gotham City feel like its own character. With news reports and detailed interiors doing a lot to illustrate the kind of world Batman is returning to. Weed also gives an interesting performance as Bruce Wayne/ Batman. Showing him as aloof and disinterested with life, even having a potential death wish. He portrays Batman as a habit that Bruce can’t seem to shake, which gives the short some great dramatic weight.

Some aspects do let the film down. Many of the performances alternate between too theatrical or too restrained, never finding that magical sweet spot in between. And the presentation looks a bit bland. But nevertheless, an enjoyable watch for fans of the comic and a lesson in how to make a limited budget go far.

The Dark Knight Returns – An Epic Fan Film

The Dark Knight Legacy

Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy has had a major impact on how many people see Batman and his world. And Nolan’s influence can be seen in every frame of The Dark Knight Legacy.

Taking place after The Dark Knight Rises, the disappearance of Batman has allowed not only criminals but also copycats wanting to carry on the dark knight’s mission, to flourish. Though in the case of new vigilante Red Hood he has much more flexible ethics than Batman when it comes to killing.

Although it has a limited setting and somewhat flat visuals, this film does a great job at carrying forward the dark aesthetic of Nolan’s trilogy while also being unique unto itself. Introducing the Red Hood in a way that is sure to leave an impact, with some fantastic performances and a very impressive action centrepiece, Batman may not be in this short but it deals with his world and characters in a way that will leave you hungry for more.

The Dark Knight Legacy – Red Hood Fan Film

Project Cadmus

A refreshingly heartfelt take on the Batman mythos, this recent short sees DC universe stalwart Amanda Waller recruiting Batman to track down and kill a powerful psychic before Deathstroke can find her and sell her to the highest bidder.

While the story is a little obtuse and confusing, the short really shines when it comes to everything else. The cinematography is very moody and engaging, the choreography during the fight scene with Deathstroke is amazing and the acting is truly outstanding, with each player managing to inhabit their roles perfectly. Special mention goes to John Crawford III and Jaci Jones, who gave Batman and Ace a great sense of relatability and Kyle Klein plays a very menacing Deathstroke.

An entertaining and well-produced effort, with some fine performances and worth seeing, if only for the surreal sight of Batman, Superman and Wonder woman standing side by side with Spider-man and Captain America.

Batman Evolution

Now we leave behind the serious entries to celebrate the fun side of Batman. Many people nowadays are only familiar with Batman as the dark and brooding defender of Gotham. But there was a time when Bats was a dispenser of joy as well as justice. And Batman Evolution acts as a fitting tribute to that.

Set in the Adam West Batman universe, the relatively light-hearted fare that batman is used to is upended when Black Mask kidnaps Robin. Batman goes to find him, doling out “Biff’s”, “Bam’s” and “Kapow’s” on Black Mask’s henchmen. When he has an experimental compound dumped on him, transforming him into the Dark Knight trilogy Batman. Will Batman be able to rescue Robin and keep his humanity intact?

While essentially just an extended action scene, Evolution is able to deliver some great moments. The fight scenes are well-staged, the music is cool and the dialogue and acting are incredibly fun. Everyone plays their roles with just the right level of self-awareness so it never becomes irritating and the level of humour derided from both the camp and dark side of Batman makes this the perfect treat for any hardcore Bat-fan.

Batman: Dead End

We finish with the oldest short on our list and without a doubt the most fun.

Dead End begins as a straightforward story about the batman trying to catch the joker but quickly turns insane when a second and third antagonist enters the fight (No spoilers here. Watch it and experience it for yourself. It’s worth it).

Like Batman Evolution the film could be considered just one long fight scene, but this short does so much to set itself apart. The visuals are positively cinematic, with great use of atmospheric lighting and well-composed shots. The performances are fantastic with Clark Bartram and Andrew Koenig giving, for my money, one of the best live-action performances of the Batman/Joker dynamic. The action is very well-choreographed, with great editing to help everything flow naturally. And, it is worth a watch because this film exemplifies what is best about fan films.

There is a clear passion for the story being told and the art of filmmaking, but it also gives you something that you can’t get anywhere else. The filmmakers made the film they wanted to see and poured their heart and soul into making it as entertaining as possible.

Also Read: Superhero Stand-Off: Superheros Vs Art

Editorials

Dynamic Duos: Iconic Actor/ Director Match-Ups

July 11, 2019

Batman and Robin, Doc and Marty, Bonnie and Clyde, Han Solo and Chewbacca. There are many iconic duos on screen, but there are just as many iconic partnerships between some actor and director duos that are behind some iconic films.

Martin Scorsese / Leonardo DiCaprio

Dicaprio and Scorsese

This duo first appeared in 2002 with “Gangs of New York” and have produced four feature films together since, with two more in development as well as a promotional short. While this partnership has not produced as many films as Scorsese’s other famous partnership with Robert DeNiro, it is arguably more varied, with their collaborations including genres like crime, comedy (“The Wolf of Wall Street”)and biopic (“The Aviator”), with Leo helping the director win his first Oscar with his role in “The Departed”

Interestingly it was actually DeNiro who introduced the pair, after having worked with DiCaprio previously, DeNiro sang the young actors praises and that Scorsese needed to work with him, with the director referred to as “extraordinary fortune” and that they wanted to make movies the same way

Christopher Nolan / Michael Caine

Nolan directing Sir Micheal Caine on the set of “The Dark Knight Rises (Warner Brothers/Legendary Pictures, 2012)

When Christopher Nolan turned up at Micheal Caine’s house, he was initially going to turn down the part of Alfred, Batman’s loyal butler, as serving dinner and coffee didn’t really appeal to the veteran actor. Then he read the script and quickly changed his mind, noting that he had “written great parts for real actors“.

Michael Caine is a prolific actor who has been in the business for over sixty years, so it’s fair to say he recognises talent when he sees it, and that’s exactly why he keeps partnering up with Nolan. Since “Batman Begins” in 2005, Nolan has included him in every one of his films, with a small voice cameo in “Dunkirk” being the only time he hasn’t appeared in person.

Sam Raimi / Bruce Campbell

Campbell and Raimi at a promotional event (WDIV ClickOnDetroit )

Raimi and Campbell have been friends since high school, making short films in their spare time. They eventually convinced some dentists to invest in their first feature “Evil Dead” and both of them became cult horror icons.

Bruce Campbell has gone on to have roles in various fan favourite projects, but aside from his role as Ash Williams, he is also known for his memorable cameos in various Raimi movies, especially his Spider-Man trilogy, appearing in various roles through the series. If Spider-Man 4 had ever gone into production, Campbell would once again appear, this time as the villain Mysterio.

Guillermo Del Toro / Doug Jones

Del Toro and Jones, talking about “Shape of Water”

Possibly the least recognisable duo on this list, not due to the body of work, but because Doug Jones’ face is often hidden behind hours worth of prosthetics, with his first big break actually being a McDonald’s ad. He first met Del Toro on the director’s English language debut “Mimic“. Despite the films’ troubled production, the two became friends, bonding over their love of monsters and movies.

Jones has appeared in all of Del Toro’s films since the original “Hellboy”, except for “Pacific Rim”, with his biggest arguably being the creature in Del Toro’s “Shape of Water” which won an Oscar for Best Picture.

Matthew Vaughn / Mark Strong

Matthew Vaughn and Mark Strong

Some partnerships happen because of a pre-existing friendship or a recommendation. Some just happen because the pair find each other easy to work with, as is the case with Director Matthew Vaughn and actor Mark Strong.

The pair have worked together four times since their first collaboration in 2007’s “Stardust” with Strong only being absent for X-Men First Class. Having previously played villainous characters in “Stardust” and “Kick-Ass” he plays Merlin in the “Kingsman” films, in which he is a member of the super-secret spy organisation.

Wes Anderson / Bill Murray

Anderson and Murray going over a scene for “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou” (Beuna Vista Pictures, 2004)

Murray has worked with Anderson since his second feature “Rushmore”. Anderson sent him the script with no expectations, then had an executive leave their own office while Murray talked to him about the role. His role in “The Royal Tenenbaums” happened simply because Murray lived close to the shoot, the two talked about “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou”.

Murray and Anderson have such a good rapport, that he instantly says yes when the director calls, no matter the project. He must get the call a lot as Murray has appeared in all of Anderson’s film since, totalling eight, with some being important parts, and others just wordless cameos.

Quentin Tarantino / Samuel L Jackson

Quentin Tarantino and actor Samuel L. Jackson pose at the Hollywood Walk of Fame on December 21, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Mark Davis/Getty Images)

Tarantino has several actors that he frequently collaborates with, which he refers to as his “Tarantino superstars“. However. he clearly has a favourite, Samuel L Jackson, whom he frequently writes roles in mind for. The admiration goes both ways, as Jackson cites some of his roles in Tarantino’s films as his favourites.

Jackson has appeared in 6 of Tarantino’s 9 films (Tarantino considers “Kill Bill” one film, and Jackson does not feature in “Once upon a time in Hollywood”). He actually auditioned for “Reservoir Dogs” but didn’t get the part, when he saw Tarantino again later at the premiere, the director told him he was writing something for him, which would turn out to be his Oscar-nominated role in “Pulp Fiction”.

Also Read: Video Nasties: The History of Censored Films in the UK