Archive for Tony Masters

Charles Aznavour’s Sex Dungeon

Posted in FILM, literature with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 22, 2013 by dcairns

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From THE ADVENTURERS (1969).

I’d read about this movie in two places — one was Robert Evans’ autohagiography The Kid Stays in the Picture, where he blames Paramount CEO Charlie Bluhdorn for choosing to make this bloated, old-fashioned Harold Robbins adaptation with untested star Bekim Fehmiu, much against his wishes. The movie tries to compensate for its dated approach by pouring in sex by the bucketload, with decorous nudity provided by the gorgeous Delia Boccardo and Leigh Taylor-Young, but to no avail. There’s a rather zany, zoomtastic sex scene with the former and Fehmiu which must have been startling stuff in ’69.

The other place I read of it is Lewis Gilbert’s autobio, All My Flashbacks, where he bitterly bemoans being removed from his dream picture, OLIVER! and forced to make this pile of tat. The fact that Carol Reed won the best directing Oscar for OLIVER! in his stead perhaps has something to do with the intensity of his regret: if Reed could win for the rather tired job of work he put in, surely an eager hack like Gilbert could do likewise.

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Gilbert seems to have put all he could into the turkey he was handed, stuffing it with orgies, battles, proto-disco fashion shows (with UV lighting and splitscreen) and star cameos. Claude Renoir shot it and Anne V. Coates cut it and it still sucks. “It was a bullshit story,” is Gilbert’s own, accurate, description.

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Also included — Charles Aznavour’s sex dungeon, a groovy, queasy palace of porn. Tony Masters, who had just designed 2001 (and would go on to DUNE), created the sets, and one feels Kubrick must surely have been watching. In fact, Masters creates an even more stylish, beautiful and sinister objectification parlour than John Barry (not the composer) would achieve for CLOCKWORK ORANGE. Both designers must surely have been influenced by the kinky sculptures of Allen Jones (in fact Kubrick admitted it and initially tried to buy Jones’ work) but Masters’ versions are BETTER — they throw in a Hans Bellmer influence, merging body parts and furniture together in a way HR Giger would approve of (the HR stands for Human Resources, in case you wondered).

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The groovy entrance hall gives way to a more dungeon-like stage, with soft screens hilariously distorted by mannequin breasts which press against them from behind, making pseudo-erotic bulges in the fabric. It’s a ludicrous and tragically mechanistic parody of sex, and fills one with pity and revulsion for Aznavour’s character — the thought of anyone going to all that trouble to so little effect. I have no idea if that was the emotion we are supposed to feel, but there it is. I don’t mean the red room with the white sculpture furniture, which would suit an erotomaniac Bond villain — we’d all like one of those. I mean the green-tinged dungeon stage set with the titty wall.

THE ADVENTURERS may be three hours of mainly tedium, and an embarrassment to everyone who worked on it (certainly to Evans and Gilbert), but you have to admire this one setting. Or maybe you don’t. I’m not you.

All My Flashbacks

The Kid Stays in the Picture: A Hollywood Life

The Adventurers

Moonstuck

Posted in FILM, Science with tags , , , , , , , , on June 20, 2009 by dcairns

MOON, directed by first-timer Duncan Jones from Nathan Parker’s screenplay based on Jones’s story, is a sci-fi thriller which is too slow to be thrilling and not slow enough to be 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY. Which it would very much like to be:

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Not only have they stolen designer Tony Masters’ hexagonal corridor from 2001, they’ve stolen the font seen everywhere in the Discovery spacecraft. It’s all over MOON, and it strikes me as a terrible miscalculation. I’m all for the odd little homage, but you should never forcibly remind the audience of a better film that the one they’re watching.

Continuing with the minuses, we have Kevin Spacey quite literally phoning in his performance as the HAL-9000-like computer, GERTY-3000. We have a ludicrous reason to be on the moon in the first place: a fusion plant consisting of sorta combine harvester things that somehow extract “the sun’s energy” from the dark side of the moon and can it up as “Helium-3″ to send back to Earth. I imagine everybody on Earth speaking in a squeaky voice.

This slightly impractical solution to global warming comes by way of producer Trudie Styler, the eco-warrier famed for her tendency to fly everywhere by private jet — she must have a carbon footprint the size of Kitten Kong. If you’re capable of believing your lifestyle is doing more harm than good, you’re probably capable of believing in Helium-3.

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Derivative design aside, MOON looks handsome on a deceptively low budget, and if you can overlook questions like “Why does a one-man lunar base come equipped with an entire fleet of moon-buggies?” then the plot is fairly compelling and unusual. And if you’re going to do a movie where basically one actor is onscreen the whole time, this film makes a good case for that actor being Sam Rockwell. What a charming fellow.

Now, since the character/s  Sam plays is/are called Sam Bell (to say more would be unfair), you might be forgiven for thinking “Sam (Rockw)ell… Sam (B)ell… I  bet they tailored the part for him.” But I don’t believe this is the case. I think probably the character name called the actor to mind and they had the good sense to grab him. Here’s how I think the character was named in the first place ~

In 2001 Keir Dullea plays the hero, Dave Bowman.

The soul duo Sam & Dave creates a clear word association between the name “Dave” and the name “Sam.”

The London-centric expression “born within the sound of Bow bells” gives us the word “Bow” next to the word “bells.”

This explanation is so ingenious and intricate, I don’t believe the filmmakers consciously devised it. But I think that’s where the name came from nevertheless.

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