Ray Away Day

I can’t name everybody in this snap, but Ray is the very tall one at the back… also the one sitting down in front. John Landis, who did a fine job as MC, deploying every fibre of his weapons-grade affability, is at far left. Our esteemed host, Randy Cook, is behind the man in the green jacket (who is a big famous FX guy also). Peter Jackson, who jetted over specially, is behind Ray. Ray’s daughter is at far right, and beyond her are some very important people indeed but they’re not in the photograph.

So — through circumstances I would have to call miraculous, Fiona and I got to be guests of Randall William Cook, a special effects man and friend of Ray Harryhausen, at the event honouring Mr. H. upon the successful completion of his ninetieth year. I’ve been meaning to interview Randy, a regular Shadowplayer, for some time. I’d read his amazing CV on the IMDb, but hadn’t quite processed how significant his work has been. Where it lists him as visual effects supervisor on the LORD OF THE RINGS films, I’d thought “Wow. Still, I bet they have about eighteen of those.” But Randy was in charge of all the animation, including Fiona’s hero Gollum and her brother’s favourite the giant spider. I am impressed.

I saw two movies at the Film Fest on Friday, THE SQUEEZE (seventies retrospective) and RESTREPO (modern documentary about Afghan war) then hit the sack. We got up at four, made it to the airport by taxi and bus, and then found our flight delayed. This was kind of OK because it meant less hanging around London in the very early hours with nothing to do. We flew in on one of British Airways trained pteradons (“So old it’s new” goes the slogan) and shopped and rested until the big evening. Meeting Randy we then attempted to navigate the concrete labyrinth of the BFI Southbank, an Escher-like structure that seems to fold back on itself. Randy had unfortunately sprained his throat on some whisky the night before and was nursing an Ymir-sized uvula, but his good spirits never flagged. He was yanked away to prepare for the ceremony and we ate.

Taking our seats, we found ourselves behind the geniuses of Aardman Animation and next to Simon Pegg and Reece Shearsmith. It was fun listening to them go through their programme like little kids. When we weren’t doing the same.

What a fine show it was. Ray, expecting a typical Q&A, was surprised to be greeted by celebrity guests and video tributes from the likes of Frank Darabont, Guillermo Del Toro, John Lassiter, James Cameron… Steven Spielberg did his usual extemporaneous gibberish thing, something about a superhighway made of dirt… but the affection and enthusiasm were absolutely genuine. George Lucas made some remark about “the Melies brothers” which suggests he should brush up on his film history… but all these guys were certainly dedicated students of Harryhausen’s oeuvre. I can quibble with the phrasing, but both Spielberg and Lucas latched onto the idea that Ray’s work is part of a continuum stretching back to the origins of cinema, with his own work for Willis O’Brien on MIGHTY JOE YOUNG forging a crucial link with the past. O’Brien started in 1915 and Harryhausen has carried on his legacy and inspired this amazing roomful of people.

The most moving testimony came from Ray’s contemporary and namesake, Ray Bradbury, who spoke of their love and friendship which has endured since early youth. Boldly he urged Harryhausen on to age 100, with himself, slightly younger, following close behind. Nonagenarian artists are subject to the same rules and conditions as the rest of humanity — it’s only via they’re work, if beautiful enough, that they get a free pass to immortality — but I hope they both go on forever.

In person, the animators and effects guys made the best showing. Phil Tippett led the audience in a rousing chorus of Happy Birthday, then repeated the song in a short film in which one of “It’s” six tentacles crushed him to jelly before he could finish a verse. And there was much rejoicing. Mark Caballero and Seamus Walsh, who completed Ray’s THE STORY OF “THE TORTOISE AND THE HARE” were there also, sworn to secrecy about which 8 seconds Ray contributed. Rick Baker, his impressive silver ponytail resembling more and more the tail of Pegasus, joined his buddy Landis on stage to pay tribute to the monster master who inspired them both.

When Cairney met Cairns.

The acting community showed their affection via Caroline Munro, still fabulously glamorous, and Gary Raymond and John Cairney spoke with moving nostalgia and affection of being chased across a golden beach by an invisible giant bronze statue. Cairney, a native of Glasgow, was the man I had to speak to afterwards. We formed a nice little Scottish enclave, myself, Fiona, John, and Ray’s son-in-law who hails from Killiekrankie and wore his kilt (a good fashion option in the sweltering heat of the concrete shoebox that is the NFT’s green room.

Reading Ray Harryhausen: An Animated Life, it was interesting to hear him acknowledge the influence of the Korda THIEF OF BAGDAD. It struck me for the first time that not only did Ray deploy a Pegasus and a Kali statue that comes to life in his work, but that Talos, who squashes John Cairney under his big bronze body in JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS, is following in the outsized footsteps of Rex Ingram as the Genie of the Lamp. Cinema really is a continuum… everybody who participates is part of it… it’s just that if you’re a tireless genius who reaches the age of ninety and inspires several generations of artists, you stake out a somewhat larger part of it than the rest of us.

Catchphrase of the evening: “We are all the children of the hydra’s teeth!”

Peter Jackson jetted in to pay homage, and screened his own childhood attempts at Harryhausen magic. His stop-motion cyclops didn’t quite measure up to the master’s, but was screened in all humility and humour. His skeleton fight got the best laughs of the evening. “I knew you were supposed to put the skeletons in afterwards, so I filmed myself fighting… but then I couldn’t figure out how to do that. So I’m fighting an invisible skeleton.”

Insights into the Harryhausen process were fascinating and funny. The image of Ray running about with a drawing of an eye on the end of a very long stick, to give the actors something to look at, is an indelible one. It’s something I would like to try myself, in private life. With or without the excuse of making a film.

We also picked up a booklet featuring tributes to Ray from sundry other parties, including actors Martine Beswick (ONE MILLION YEARS BC), Douglas Wilmer (JASON and GOLDEN VOYAGE) and Honor Blackman (JASON). Here’s what the relentlessly sexy Honor says:

“I think of Ray more as a magician than as a man of immense imagination and a brilliant technician. There we were, we thespians, acting our socks off in the ordinary world while he was holed up in his studio of magic, weaving his spells, hoping that we were all doing him justice.

I couldn’t possibly have imagined that forty-odd years later this classic, Jason and the Argonauts, would be enthralling not just youngsters but all ages, generation after generation. It was such a bang watching my very small grandchildren glued to the screen and sudden cries of ‘There’s Nonna’! Then they turn to look at you and can’t quite work it out. To be truthful, I think they recognise my voice rather than my person since (this is tongue in cheek) I don’t wear my hair like that now!

The location in Italy was great, as was dear Don Chaffey, our director, and I really fancied the idea of sitting up on high with Niall MacGinnis controlling the events on earth: my children tell me it was the role I was best suited to!

To have my bust sculpted (I use the term in the artistic sense) for the figurehead on the prow of the ship, the Argo, I was laid on a table in just my bra – above the waist – told to throw my arms backwards and raise my front off the table as far as I could while they took photos from all angles. It took ages. I wonder what happened to those photographs? Do you think they’ll turn up on eBay one day or might we find them in that wicked Ray Harryhausen’s bottom drawer?”

Well, we did learn from Ray’s daughter that he never throws anything away…

Also in attendance: Terry Gilliam, Andy Serkis, Edgar Wright, modelmakers, animators, paleontologists, deep thinkers and Sir Christopher Professor Frayling himself. And a host of others. “Obie” O’Brien, safely nestled in Kong’s palm, looked down from on high.

My own primal Harryhausen memories relate to TV viewings of JASON and 7TH VOYAGE. The TV show Screen Test used to show the Talos scene quite often, or else it would turn up elsewhere. At any rate, I remember tiny me hiding from the big monster on numerous occasions. Gradually working up the courage to watch a little more each time… Randy reports his own tiny daughter approaches monsters and scary stuff with similar caution. You want to build up a tolerance gradually… And once I channel-hopped between VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA (a boring, non-Harryhausen movie) and 7TH VOYAGE, because stuff like the cyclops was just too scary for me. In fact, it took a lot of courage to get close enough to the TV, in those pre-remote-control, black-and-white set days, to actually turn the channel and get the giant goat-legged man-eater out of the room.

Later, I saw SINBAD AND THE EYE OF THE TIGER on the big screen, where it blew away upstarts like THE LAND THAT TIME FORGOT and AT THE EARTH’S CORE and all those Godzilla double-features we cheered through as kids. (Ray not only provided the spark for Godzilla himself, with THE BEAST FROM 20,000 FATHOMS, an atomically-activated dinosaur, he introduced the giant monster fight scenario with the Ymir battling an elephant in 20,000,000 MILES TO EARTH, thus keeping the Japanese film biz afloat, with a single big idea, for decades.) And CLASH OF THE TITANS brought the Greek myths I’d enjoyed at school to life in an accessible way. A little campy, still a little scary, a lot of fun. And Fiona was enjoying those same movies on their first runs up in Dundee, all ready to compare notes when we’d eventually meet.

At WETA in New Zealand they scanned Ray’s entire body, and produced this perfect bronze miniature Harryhausen (just the right size to ride an eohippus), now the proud possession of John Landis.

For UK readers, here are two awesome books on Ray’s life and art:

Ray Harryhausen: An Animated Life

The Art of Ray Harryhausen

And for US readers:

The Art of Ray Harryhausen

Ray Harryhausen: An Animated Life

Once more, Twenty Million Thanks to Randy!

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41 Responses to “Ray Away Day”

  1. I’ll never forget seeing The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad when it opened in New York at the Roxy.

    Yes, I’m that old !

    The Bernard Herrman score was the favorite of a Benny Fanatic I went to Communist Martyrs High (the High School of Music and Art) with in the early 60’s. It’s hard to imagine but even right after Psycho he wasn’t much tlaked about. Amd next-to-nver in “serious” music circles. Now that’s all changed of course.

    Katherine Grant is tending to Der Bingle’s fortune. Kerwin Matthews passed away about a year and a half ago. He got out of acting rather early and he and his boyfriend ran an antique shop in San Francisco. IOW He was Classically Gay. Sorry he opted out, as he was more than just a pretty face. But them Hollywood is a swamp.

  2. Sadly I missed the Harryhausen oeuvre as a child though I have made up for it as a child.

    Your mentioning the video tributes from various people, including Frank Darabont, reminds me that on my trip home from the TCM Classic Film Festival last April, I found myself standing next to Frank Darabont and a colleague in the shuttle train to baggage claim. They were talking about a script and other topics relating to a shoot so I couldn’t resist asking what they were working on in Atlanta. They’re shooting a zombie series for AMC Called The Walking Dead, which I believe is based on a comic book. So you all have more zombies to look forward to. :)

  3. Er, uh, I made up for missing Harryhausen films as a child by seeing them as an ADULT.

    (Sigh…I wish there was an edit function here!)

  4. I like the typo better! It’s a Freudian typo!

    Harryhausen always said Kerwin Matthews was particularly skilled at acting with invisible creatures — maybe the best at it of any of the actors he worked with.

  5. It’s the Gay Gene !

  6. Could be!

    Darabont sent his video tribute from the location where he’s filming his show, and he got the whole crew to join in. He seemed a fun, ebullient fellow.

  7. Darabont was very nice to me — didn’t seem to mind talking to a fan who had him boxed in for a minute or so because we were on the shuttle train. :) That’s cool he sent his tribute from Atlanta, the city that up to now was too busy to munch on humans.

    And yes, as an adult my inner child pretty much rules. ;)

  8. Randy Cook Says:

    Peter Jackson stuck Darabont & me in a biplane and let Kong (’05) kill us.
    Frank was tail gunner and I was pilot and Frank bitched to George Lucas at the premiere that I “flew too close”, to which Lucas replied “Who’d expect him to jump?”. Only time I ever met Lucas but it was a good one and I could only wish there were more dialogue like that in his pictures.

    Paula, no surprise to hear your story about Darabont: he’s one of the very, very good ones.

    Speaking of good ones, David and Fiona were great company and it was a delight to spend Saturday night with you two.

  9. Fiona W Says:

    Aw shucks Randy.

  10. Thanks for the detailed reportage of your trip.

    Great anecdote about Harryhausen and the card eye on a stick.

    Seems like a technique most directors would want to use, whether stop action or not.

  11. When Brando walked off and left Rod Steiger to do his scene in the back of the cab with the continuity girl instead of staying to act with him, Kazan should’ve stepped in with an eye on a stick. Would’ve made all the difference!

    (Patrick Stewart told a story at the fest this year about doing a scene with Rod Steiger, and Steiger became furious when it was suggested he could leave and let Stewart do his closeup. Of course: he would have been forcibly reminded of Brando ditching him in that way.)

    Now I have to source a shot of Frank n Randy in the bi-plane!

  12. I believe Darabont became upset with Lucas for nixing his Indiana Jones script. I can see why, looking at what they went with instead: hard to believe an FD version wouldn’t have been stronger than the UFO skull thing.

  13. The biplane!

    Randy, you should be looking FORWARDS!

  14. Christopher Says:

    Jason and The Argonauts is still my favorite of the period Harryhausen’s..Its a very good blend of real greek myth and special effects..Nigel Green is my fave screen Hercules..his scenes with Cairney as Hylas (who, according to myth was the unknown son of Herc from an affair)are part of what really give the film depth in a world of visual spectacle… LOL @ Blackman’s kiddies favoring her role as Hera most of all!.

  15. I was talking earlier to a friend about this post, and made mention of how thrilling it was to see Gollum for the first time in the RINGS trilogy, scrambling amongst the rocks below in that huge cavern. Gave me a delicious thrill, and pretty much every time thereafter my interest in the proceedings that followed increased a thousandfold whenever Gollum’s character returned to the screen, his deliciously demented self the animated equivalent of say Crispin Glover at his most perverse. The demise of the giant statue in JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS always impressed me, with that plate opened at the heel of its foot draining away its life force. Very inventive.

  16. Peter Sellers was a big one for doing his scenes alone. Jackie Bissett told me she barely so much as met him in passing on Casino Royale. She played the scene she supposedly with him with director Val Guest instead — cueing her lines. And he did this with everybody.

  17. Welles also preferred to go it alone. Pamela Franklin found this slightly weird when she made The Witching with him. He’d be there for her eyeline, then preferred her to leave when it was time for his closeup. And in Compulsion, during his big speech to the jury, he had all the extras shut their eyes so he wouldn’t be self-conscious. Director Richard Fleischer found it strange to see them all sitting there in the jury box as if dreaming!

    So naturally Welles and Sellers tried to avoid each other on Casino Royale!

    The death of Talos is amazing — he produces a terribly convincing asthma attack when his life fluid starts draining. Fiona was always fascinated and freaked out as a kid by the convincing death throes of those creatures.

    Gollum is a star! The Rings films were perhaps not entirely to my taste – I have some kind of problem with “grandeur” and I hate pageantry, but Jackson and team did visualize everything pretty much as well as you could ever want — the cities and creatures and costumes look as you’d imagine them, reading Tolkein, only better. And Gollum is a downright fascinating alchemy of animation, performance and technology.

  18. What’s fascinating about Gollum is how it makes a thoroughly despicable and horrible character the most compelling and indeed tragic character in the entire series. His death scene with the ring in his hands makes him the real “Lord of the Rings”. The thing is you could have made the entire film around Gollum and do it in a single film instead of three hours of illustrations of what is otherwise a very hermetically sealed off fantasy, having nothing to do with anything anywhere. Still it’s a weird blockbuster, can’t have been easy pitching a trilogy of 9hrs shot together and released consecutively and it’s not like Tolkien is world famous or anything. But then the actual achievement is very hollow.

    I must say I really loved the Feldman ”Casino Royale” and Orson Welles at his hammy best as Le Chiffre and also Peter Sellers who is remarkably playing Bond straight and very effectively too.

  19. That’s kind of how I feel about most sword & sorcery stuff — it usually avoids real-world allegory except in the most general sense. All that “good vs evil” stuff isn’t quite how the real world works, since violent conflict tends to blur the boundaries. Gollum is the most interesting figure because he’s the most internally conflicted.

    Of course it’s absolutely impressive that Jackson, with his modest commercial record, got this off the ground when others had failed, even having the guts to insist on three films when he was offered two.

    Casino Royale is like five movies put together in a blender. My favourite stuff is the Berlin episode, shot by Nic Roeg and directed, I think, by Ken Hughes. Or is it Val Guest?

  20. CASINO ROYALE can be best understood as what happens when an anthology film cross-edits and intercuts its episodes rather than presenting each separately as a whole without a fabric of a frame narrative. I think if each section was presented separately it would have worked.

    Personally sword-and-sorcery always bored me because its so darn old fashioned, like the Lord of the Rings has a very aristocractic approach to humour, the only people who are comic relief are the uncouth dwarves and little people while the captains and scholars are impressive and dead serious. Terry Gilliam made mincemeat of this bias in TIME BANDITS where Napoleon and Robin Hood come off as ridiculous. THE LORD OF THE RINGS is a hymn to the good old days of benign feudalism. I don’t mind good vs. evil if it’s done in an interesting way. The evil guy has to be more than some lighthouse and his minions more than faceless bags of crap as in the Tolkien.

  21. I love the LOTR trilogy (though it has its flaws). Not just Gollum (though he’s utterly compelling) but the whole crew.

    Indy 4 — less said the better.

    Back to the topic at hand:

    Sony Pictures Digital Productions Names Theater in Honor of Visual Effects and Animation Legend Ray Harryhausen as He Celebrates His 90th Birthday

    http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/sony-pictures-digital-productions-names-theater-in-honor-of-visual-effects-and-animation-legend-ray-harryhausen-as-he-celebrates-his-90th-birthday-97339489.html

  22. Casino Royale proceeded largely without a plan, since producer Feldman had managed to make a hit with What’s New, Pussycat? by working in a similar slapdash fashion. So he assumed that was a good way to go. But at least WNP? started with a coherent script (Woody Allen didn’t recognize it by the time it was done).

    It’s a fascinating mess, the closest James Bond has ever gotten to being actually INTERESTING… a friend argued that without the magnificent score one would be able to argue that one hadn’t seen a film at all.

    Yes, the Harryhausen screening room was announced also at the show I attended, but I forgot to mention it, there was so much to report.

    Tolkein’s world-view is essentially quite conservative, which may not be true of Jackson — in a weird way, the only real-world political resonance you can take from the LOTR movies is a pro-war one he almost certainly never intended. And simple Good vs Evil paradigms are often used to sell wars.

    My favourite Jackson is still Heavenly Creatures, which I like a lot and Fiona LOVES.

  23. Read an interview some years ago where Viggo Mortensen explained his reason for accepting the role in the RINGS trilogy. Seems his son persuaded him, told his father how much he liked the character and the books, and what a plum opportunity it would be. And really, it’s not the type of role he’s known for playing. By the way, the mother of his son is Exene Cervenka, singer for the west coast rock band X, she and Viggo were once an item back in the Eighties. And yes, by the end of the third film all that warring between the different factions became more than a little tedious, couldn’t wait for it all to get over with.

  24. (Love the new banner by the way. Curious as hell to know where it came from.)

  25. My first contact with Tolkien was enough to inoculate me permanently. I got one of his books foisted onto me in the early ’70s (I think this was during an early Tolkien revival) by a well-meaning teacher and roundly disliked it even before I was half through. Never read any of his books again. I remember finding it no more morally complex than the detective novels I was reading at the time(!), and somewhat, er, asexual. Not a good combo for a hormonally-raging teenager.

    David, your comment about Bond is interesting. I found Bond himself a rather uninteresting character (the films supply the thrills most of the time, but he’s nearly a cipher), and probably the most uninteresting character Connery ever played. Harry Palmer had more going for him.

    I sort of like Casino Royale, maybe for it being a guilty pleasure spy spoof, but I won’t own or even record it. One of those films that I really have to be in the mood for watching. I made the mistake of recording WNP? and watched it exactly once, and I know I never will again. I’d rather have the blank disk back. Some of it is funny but what a mess.

  26. The banner is a crime scene from The Dead Zone. It’s pretty hot in the UK now, figured we needed something to cool down to.

    Viggo was a replacement casting for Stuart Townsend, who had some kind of undefined ‘creative differences’ with Jackson. He’s very good in the role, especially during the character’s mysterious first appearances. He’s the kind of actor you don’t automatically trust. Once he’s revealed as a prince he’s a lot less intriguing.

    Connery said that Bond would be ‘a rather boring policeman’ if you ever met him in life. Although he demonstrates that a character can be popular without ever really showing ‘growth’ or ‘development’. This is more common in comedy than drama (if a character grows, they stop being funny), which may be why Bond tips into parody so easily.

  27. That must be why I am so unenthused by the recent serious turn taken in the Bond franchise when 007 has become this humourless hired thug.

    Fascinating thing about the trilogy is that it had no real stars at all. Just some character actors who became famous with the film but nothing on the level of superstardom whereas before that they did different kind of roles. The only real “name” would be Christopher Lee and maybe John Rhys-Davies from the Indiana Jones movies(and I actually liked the fourth part, at severe risk of being ostracized in the original Athenian sense of being banished from the city for ten years) and of course Ian McKellen. It’s just that I’d appreciate the film if it was more modest and humorous rather than this CGI demonstration. Technically it is fascinating especially the use of forced perspective(which is how they managed to cover the height disparity between actors and the characters they play in relation to the background, they managed to maintain perspective while they moved).

    British-based blockbusters are different I guess from Hollywood in that they still retain personality. Like the Bond movies or the Harry Potter movies(which obsessively insists on providing employment to every Thespian on Albion’s shores).

  28. I hate when filmmakers overhaul, “update” characters instead of finding a new one. Bond without humor really has no excuse for existing. A grim, efficient Bond is supposed to signal, “Finally, this is the real deal”. No, it’s not, it’s James Effing Bond. It’s supposed to be unreal, fantastic, even a bit silly. With a stiff like Roger Moore, the bits of humor and the spectacular scenes are really the only reason to watch a Bond, and even with Connery it’s pretty much the same, but with some additional boy’s-school sexual innuendo. You’d think they would have learned from the Lazenby Bond, which was somewhat bereft of humor.

  29. I think the producers have been doing all they can to excise the director’s personality from the Harry Potter films. After the Cuaron episode, which was vastly superior to what had gone before, they backtracked, saying it had gotten “too dark” and have opted to go with a blander director. My spy on the sets tells me this guy is by no means untalented or unsmart, but he’s been hired for his tractable personality, not his gifts. They wanted someone they could push around.

    Likewise, the Bond movies always go for a safe pair of hands rather than a filmmaker with individual style, because the aim is to create a smooth unity. Unlike the Mission Impossible series where fairly strong directors were chosen each time: and then forced to toe the line, thus defeating the purpose.

    Casino Royale was slightly funny in spite of itself because the story is so dated and simplistic. Le Chiffre is supposed to be one of the great poker players, but his eye twitches (and even BLEEDS) when he’s bluffing. Bond is informed, “This is technically known as a TELL.” If only they were even more faithful to the books, they could be hilarious.

    “Bond had never liked going up against the Chinese. There were too many of them.”

  30. kevin mummery Says:

    Recently had the misfortune of seeing the ’60’s “Casino Royale” after having managed to avoid it for decades, and found it to be 4-5 mediocre movies combined into one colossally bad movie. When the most interesting actor in a movie is George Raft, and he’s only onscreen for a very short time, it doesn’t bode well for the rest. And the Casino Royale Theme is quite possibly the worst, most irritating piece of music ever attached to a film; I couldn’t rid myself of it for days afterwards. I think I may even be having flashbacks now!

  31. Oh, it’s a lovely tune! What you are experiencing is known as “catchiness”, and it’s a GOOD thing.

  32. kevin mummery Says:

    I read somewhere that the Casino Royale Theme is favored by torturers worldwide for it’s “catchiness”, which doesn’t seem all that difficult to believe. I’m considering having a lobotomy just to get it out of my head, although I’ve been told even that might not work. Why couldn’t the filmmakers have used “Does Your Chewing Gum Lose It’s Flavor On The Bedpost Overnight” instead? Lonnie Donegan could have used the royalty fees, surely.

  33. I’ve heard of Barney the Dinosaur’s “I Love You” song being used on Iraqi POWs. I’d much rather be stretched on the Bacharach. The use of music as torture by US special ops is documented in Jon Ronson’s book The Men Who Stare at Goats.

  34. Christopher Says:

    I love the music of Casino Royale,the movie itself is another story..

  35. The use of music as torture was depicted in Wilder’s One, Two, Three, wasn’t it? Watched Animal Crackers last night, and Why Am I So Romantic? struck me as catchy. Enough so I woke up with it this morning. A lot of people go through a phase of hating catchy songs. I did when I was a teen, and ended up listening not to heavy metal but free jazz.

  36. I like catchiness, the tune you can hum, since I’m not musical so that’s the only way I can participate apart from toe-tapping. Of course it can get annoying, especially if you’re being tortured… the CIA also played heavy metal music at Noriega to drive him out of his compound.

    I have Casino Royale on my MP3 player, the stereo treatment is gorgeous. And good use is made of the track in Perdita Durango…

  37. In ONE, TWO, THREE it was “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini”. In BANANAS it was “Naughty Marietta”.

    For some reason, I always thought “Casino Royale” was sung by Sellers!! Apparently, it was Mike Redway.

  38. After the disaster that was Potter’s debut at Christopher “World’s Worst Director” Columbus’s hands (and it remains the deadliest film of the series, almost fascinatingly so), I put a lot of effort into avoiding the series, and only checked in when a lot of folks were going to bat for the Cauron episode.

    I don’t much like Cauron and thought AZKABAN was okay – David Yates may be a doormat but I find his visual composition much more interesting than Cauron’s. It’s hard to explain and easy to dismiss it as a matter of taste, but having (now, with a little one around) seen the whole series, it’s my view that Yates is the only director thus far with any real sense of style, whereas Cauron (here, as well as the much-heralded CHILDREN OF MEN; his break-out hit, Y TU MAMA TAMBIEN; even back to SOLO CON TU PAREJA) merely has a sense of “what’s stylish.”

    Which sounds like a small distinction, but to me makes all the difference in the world.

  39. I can see how it would. Cuaron introduced decent, genuinely kid-like moments from his cast, which certainly hadn’t been present before. And he had the best werewolf I ever saw.

    A director friend likes to say, “They had a MASSIVE search to cast HP. They saw thousands of boys. And then one day the casting director says, ‘I’ve found him! And you’re never going to believe this, but by the wildest coincidence… he’s MY SON!”

  40. Christopher Says:

    I like Cuaron’s Harry Potter best I think..He did a good job with his spin on A Little Princess too…Y Tu Mama Tambien is one of my favorite “road” pictures..good characters and interesting all the way..

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