Archive for Monica Bellucci

Scantily Vlad

Posted in Fashion, FILM, literature, Mythology with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 23, 2018 by dcairns

Part Three of my (excited)  commentary on Francis Ford Coppola’s commentary on BRAM STOKER’S DRACULA, a dreamlike incursion into the kaleidoscopic mental tombola of this great filmmaker. With added comments from Fiona the Great and Powerful.

 

Clearly Jonathan Harker should have noticed, if not alone from the hairdo and the strange red robe, that there was something amiss with this guy, that there was something very mysterious in terms of the world he was entering.

Uncle Francis puts his finger on it — one reason Keanu seems dopey in this movie, prompting a lot of audience members to be (naively) surprised that the BILL AND TED star is a really bright guy, is that his Jonathan Harker has to be unbelievable obtuse and unobservant. Of course, all Coppola’s tricks with shadows are fun to do, just as Bela Lugosi walking through a spiderweb is fun, but it destroys our ability to empathise with the supposedly “normal” character.

Martin Scorsese talked about how strong and alarming it was to have Christopher Lee just stride into his closeup and chummily declare, “I am Dracula,” as one might say “Yep, that’s me!” As he put it, “…unlike Bela Lugosi, with whom you knew you were in trouble.” So I think it might be worth sacrificing some of the fun in order to gain some credibility. Despite Max Schreck and Klaus Kinski’s bizarre appearance in the two NOSFERATUs, the use of solid, real locations does add a certain mundanity that’s useful for contrast and also to anchor the phantasy.

I think maybe some of this stuff would work if it was just barely GLIMPSED, so that Harker might be justifiedly saying to himself, “Did I just see that?” and the audience would be chanting “Yes you did!” but at least they’d be able to understand his restrained, uneasy behaviour. And Keanu would have something to play.

he was reputed to be an expert meme

I think Francis means “mime.” But if we just exchanged the meanings of those words we could have some interesting conversations, so maybe he’s right.

Coppola tells us that Eiko Ishioka designed not just the costume but the hair, the whole look. From his making-of diary I recall him wanting minimal sets and to have the costumes really stand in for the sets, but he wasn’t given the freedom to go QUITE that far. Here, he tells her that he fired the first designer.

when you do things like that you’re always on the verge of the ridiculous.

He knows it! Stop mocking him.

Wait! “Reinfeild”? What the hey…?

Ah, that’s my missing Persian print! I can’t find that print. I know I loaned it to the movies to be able to do this scene and of my entire Richard Burton collection of Arabian Nights, that book is missing.

Aw! But I can attest that, while movie companies usually look after props well, unless Kurt Russell is about, it’s when the director brings props in, those are the things that vanish. Still, now we know that Coppola has a vast collection of ancient Persian porn.

While this is being discussed, we meet Sadie Frost via some very non-Victorian dialogue, and then her three suitors, Withnail, the Dread Pirate Roberts, and the Rocketeer.

They were such an enthusiastic young group of people. They all came to Napa I remember for a week or so of rehearsal and I staged also some wacky adventures for them to go on to bond. I remember that the three suitors, I ordered a hot air balloon so that they could go ballooning

In his diary (published in the late-lamented Projections) Coppola complained that there was a lack of commitment from the younger actors, but maybe he didn’t mean these ones. Fiona and I saw Richard E. Grant talk about his film career and he was a bit cheeky about Coppola’s rehearsal techniques. I don’t think he mentioned the balloon, but he said they were all sent to the zoo to study the animals. And I think Sadie Frost did use this a bit for her one good scene here (as a vampire).

Antony Hopkins: “Gary needed help with his character and he wasn’t getting it from the director.”

Oldman to Coppola: “Look, the film’s called DRACULA, isn’t it?”

I’m heartbroken that when they show this movie on TV they cut these sequences out, maybe they’re too weird

Wait, they cut Tom Waits out on TV? Because you can’t show bug-eating estate agents on TV?

Apparently Waits/Renfield/Reinfeild’s weird Freddie Kruger finger-fretwork is “so he won’t hurt himself.”

Here, Coppola makes the mistake of starting a sentence with no conclusion, or point, in mind, and has to speak very slowly, hoping something will come up:

Of course, he is under the care of Richard E. Grant’s character, Dr. Seward, his behaviour is… notably being studied as for… what evidence it can… ultimately then contribute… to the strange things that begin to happen… in London… with the shadow of the oncoming of Count Dracula.

Fiona: “I think you’re being incredibly mean towards a man who’s bipolar.”

And it’s true, we all get lost in our own sentences sometimes. This blog may stand as a record of that.

Reinfeild/Renfield/Waits says that the master is coming to make him immortal, Seward/Grant yells “HOW?” in a very untherapeutic way, and the man who wrote the words “He got twenty years for lovin’ her / From some Oklahoma governor” unceremoniously throws himself on the man who delivered the sentence, in a BBC documentary about The Arabian Nights, “I’m going back in time, to Egypt.” Fiona bursts out laughing. “This is a very funny film.”

This was a live-action effect. Here you see there’s a mirror and you don’t see Dracula reflected in the mirror but you do see his hand, and that was hard to do and I don’t remember how we did it.

Great. Well, Fiona suggests that’s Keanu peeping through a wee window while his stand-in stands in the foreground looking at him.

The photographer of the film was Michael Ballhaus, and he was a fine gentleman, I think during much of the filming he was very confused [laughs] as to what the overall concept of this film was.

No comment.

…all of it is from the Bram Stoker book, and lines, and [laughs] there, the robe goes out the door and the shadow goes after to follow it, I haven’t seen this for a while, but it’s full of, a treasure box of strange effects.

He’s not wrong.

Coppola tells us that you could go two ways with this, theatrical and stylised, or realistic and documentarian, since whatever happens you need to make it different from the various well-known earlier versions. This was possibly the more striking choice on paper, since you could argue that adaptations had been shading towards the more real… but then you have to factor in Frank Langella’s DISCO DRACULA, whose idea of Swooning Romance anticipates some aspects of the Coppola. Given Coppola’s great success in a sort-of realist vein with the GODFATHER films, I just wonder what he could have done with that.

“Monica’s so hot she can make your crucifix melt,” says Fiona, and then, “I had another of my Monica Bellucci dreams.”

Even though, in this case, the girls had all agreed that there would be nudity in their contracts, when they came on stage they were all covered up. And then I would say, “Hey, Roman, tell them to take off their clothes,” and Roman said, “I’m not gonna tell them to take off their clothes.” He said to the assistant director, “Okay, tell them to take off their clothes,” and nobody wanted to tell them to take off their clothes, and that’s usually what it’s like, but I agree that those scenes are not comfortable for anyone, and when I see the DRACULA material of the smoochy scene there with them all kissing and stuff, I was just dying, I was so uncomfortable.

The smoochy scene. I love Uncle Francis.

I remember when we shot this I was careful to do it in a way that exposed the baby to the little bit of handling as possible.

What this would USUALLY mean — and I have no knowledge of this incident or Uncle Francis’s child safety record generally — but what this would usually mean in terms of film shoots is that they just got on with getting their shots until maybe somebody said, “Hey, possibly we should try not to expose the baby to so much handling, you know, just the little bit of handling as possible,” and the director would say “We’re nearly done,” and years later would remember how careful he was. But I’m not saying that’s what happened here.

I always thought I would love to see that baby again, I held her in my hands and thought that, Oh I’d love to see you in future years, it reminds me I should find out who that baby was so I can go bring her a present or something.

Here I am, Uncle Francis! Just cash is fine.

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Twin Peaks Precap

Posted in FILM, Television with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 29, 2017 by dcairns

I’ve been enjoying all the Twin Peaks recaps, including my friend Keith Uhlich’s on The Notebook. And listening religiously to Diane, for my money THE podcast on the subject.

Obviously it’s too late for me to start recapping TP now, but it can’t surely be too late to recap episode 12, since it hasn’t aired yet. These are my predictions for what’s going to happen — a kind of precap, if you will. Obviously we have to wait until Sunday to see if I’m right but I am confident that I will be VINDICATED in every detail. So there are spoilers ahead. I won’t change anything after the episode airs so you’ll be able to see how devastatingly accurate I am.

You’ll maybe have noticed that while each episode features numerous hanging threads, usually these are not picked up in the following episode. You have to wait until the episode after, or maybe several episodes after. Matthew Lillard made an astonishing impression in the role of Earthworm Jim Principal Hastings but then disappeared for over a month.

In episode 8 we saw the ????? Giant use something which Fiona christened the Fallopian Tuba to blast a glowing orb full of Laura Palmer at the old BBC globe of the world ident. Well, we haven’t seen him and his girlfriend and the tuba for about a month, so I think they’ll be back. I expect we’ll see him blast a few follow-up orbs at us, perhaps containing the effulgent faces of Dick Tremayne, Dwayne Mibbler and that guy with the plaster-of-paris nose mask.

Tim Roth and Jennifer Jason Leigh are going to do some terrible things to Warden Murphy. There was apparently a lot of really bad stuff in WILD AT HEART concerning Harry Dean Stanton’s demise at the hands of a duo of hitpersons, and it got cut out. I think Lynch has been saving it up.

Gordon and Albert and Tammy and Diane won’t get to the other coordinates yet. But Gordon deliberately let Diane memorise the figures so she can tell Dirty Cooper, because they want him there so they can catch him.

When they do go there, maybe in episode 13 or 14, it will all link up with Jack Rabbit’s Palace and they’ll see Truman, Hawk and Bobby in Twin Peaks. They might also see the Major’s head float past. I don’t know what he’s going to say this time but it’ll be pretty deep. Also, Jerry Horne, stoned out of his mind and lost in the woods, will blunder in at an inopportune moment. Maybe he’ll fall in the pit they’ve dug for Dirty Cooper. But that’s in the future. That won’t happen this week.

Benjamin Horne announced his intention of taking his new secretary Beverly to dinner, but we didn’t see it. It’ll happen this week, with no explanation for the delay. My theory which I really think is true is that the reason he couldn’t kiss her before — she thinks it’s because he’s a good man, but we know that isn’t true — is that she’s actually his daughter. Old Ben sure sowed a few wild oats in his time. Ashley Judd is an oat who has come home to roost. Remember in series 1 he nearly had sex with Audrey.

The humming sound that’s been bugging them is Joan Chen in a doorknob, but she won’t come out yet. They have to save something for season 4.

Frustratingly, after the Buckhorn police found Dougie’s wedding ring inside a corpse, nobody has tried to trace a couple called Dougie and Janey-E. Probably because it hasn’t occurred to them that Janey-E could be someone’s actual name. If they checked, I bet there’s only one couple in the whole of America with those names. But they haven’t checked, so they’re not going to. So I’m not sure what purpose the wedding ring serves or why Dirty Cooper presumably left it there. Or when he got it from the original Dougie. Presumably at the time he replaced it with the “sacrificial ring” from FIRE WALK WITH ME? It’s pretty hard to figure out what that guy’s up to except it all has to do with  killing Dougie/Dale so he can stay on Earth and not go back to the Lodge.

Andy has apparently forgotten all about the hit-and-run child death he was investigating. Lucy is a better cop than Andy. She saw Chad stealing Truman’s mail and was mildly suspicious about it.

The nasty Richard Horne will get Steven and Gersten and the armpit rash girl and her friend involved in his drugs deal with the sinister Red. Chad is already involved, as is the last of the Renaults. We will see signs of this developing. In the last episode they will all get caught in a big net dropped from a tree by Hawk.

But that’s later. This week, Richard will visit his mom, Audrey, who will be clad in some kind of fetishy disability costume like Rosanna Arquette in CRASH (the good one).

Candy Clark may well do some more epic complaining. But maybe this time she’ll soften, also. Third time’s the charm.

Diane will tell the entirety of Buckhorn, South Dakota, to fuck off.

Detectives Fusco, Fusco & Fusco will interrogate Ike the Spike using the famous “bad cop, bad cop, bad cop” routine. Ike will refuse to snitch until they get Uri Geller in to give his spike metal fatigue, then he’ll tell them everything.

In episode 12 Norma will look concerned. I think also eventually it will be revealed that she’s living with Big Ed at his Gas Farm.

We will find out who the girl was who got the frog-moth down her throat. We will be surprised.

Who’s going to play Philip Jeffries? I think the only exciting guest stars left are Monica Bellucci and John Savage. Since Bellucci will be more surprising, it ought to be her. Or maybe Jim Belushi will unzip his head and reveal that he’s really been Monica Bellucci all along. All his life.

Leo Johnson’s skeleton will be found in a lonely cabin, clutching a rope between his teeth. The Deer Park deputy Bobby shot and buried in the woods in FIRE WALK WITH ME will be uncovered by animal activity. It will turn out that the owls really ARE what they seem.

Dougie’s friendship with the Mitchum Bros will not be developed in this episode. No good can come of that, even if a shared appreciation for pie and repetition seems like a sound basis for friendship. But they’re not going to be happy with Tom Sizemore. Neither is rival mobster Duncan Todd. But probably they’ll all wait an episode before doing anything about it. And then Bushnell Mullins will get to punch somebody out. You can’t have the remarkably spry Don Murray as an ex-boxer with a poorly-Photoshopped poster and then not have him punch anybody. Not in a show with Tim Roth in it.

Also due for punching: Chad. He won’t get caught in Hawk’s net, Sheriff Truman will apprehend him in his office, and pull the wooden knob repeatedly so that the wood-panelled Skype-screen pops out of the desk really fast and smashes Chad in the face. Then he can Skype Doc Hayward and get him to come over and fix Chad’s face before he’s hauled off by the Feds.

We’ve learned that both Dougie and James were in traffic accidents. It will be revealed that they collided with each other, in an incident caused by Wally Brando’s erratic bikemanship.

A heartwarming scene showing what the woodsmen get up to when they’re not busy being terrifying. They sit around a formica table drinking Cup-a-Soups, possibly. They also whittle.

In an unadvertised cameo, Billy Ray Cyrus will perform at the Bang Bang Bar. Everyone will leave as the credits roll.

Busty Substances

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , on July 31, 2009 by dcairns

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“Whoah!” cried Fiona as the first of Monica Bellucci’s gigantic breasts heaved into view, followed swiftly by its twin. (There are two of them. I counted.) “That’s a firm tit,” she observed, impressed. “Do you think it’s still natural, or has she had work done on it?”

I expect she has. In fact, I expect whole armies of Italian artisans have laboured mightily on each of the Bellucci norks, swathing them in scaffolding and tarpaulin as they toiled for months, plastering and buttressing, shoring up and filling in. Re-pointing. Until the Great Domes could once again take their place of honour among the Seven Wonders of the Mammarial World, as numbers 5 and 6 (counting from left to right).

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The film which contained Bellucci’s bust, just about, was Bertrand Blier’s COMBIEN TU M’AIMES? or HOW MUCH DO YOU LOVE ME?, a perfect title for a story in which, as David Byrne once sang, “Love and money are getting all mixed up.” Office worker Bernard Campan decides to hire himself a girlfriend, since he’s just won the lottery, and not unnaturally he selects Bellucci as the most promising prostitute in town, at a neon lit bar which comes with its own breathy sax score (other locations in the film are associated with different styles of music, the combination of Bellucci and Campan’s apartment producing mainly opera arias). Blier himself walks through silently as a client.

Blier generally likes to have multiple balls in the air, and constructs narrative switchbacks that flip through genres, in and out of reality, and leaven pleasure with deepest malaise. A promising plot complication with Campan’s best friend, a doctor who treats his weak heart, and seems drawn to Bellucci at the same time as he diagnoses her as a serious health hazard, is abruptly dispensed with when the doctor himself drops dead.

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Enter Gerard Depardieu, a Blier regular whom I suspect helps his old pal out by taking supporting roles to help Blier get his films made (BB enjoyed considerable success in the ’70s and ’80s but few of his films have screened outside France recently). Here, Depardieu is a vicious gangster with an attachment to Bellucci, and he doesn’t like the idea of Campan buying her services exclusively. Fortunately for Campan, Depardieu’s savagery is more of a plot point than an actuality — this may be the gentlest Blier film I’ve seen, and Big Gerard gradually fades from a figure of hulking menace to a more whimsical comedy relief.

There’s also the striking Farida Rahouadj as Campan’s neighbour, calling round to complain about the volume of Bellucci’s love-making, which leads to Fiona’s favourite scene, a furious argument between the two women over whose orgasm is more impressive and sincere.

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Blier has devised a weird structure, with a plot that needs to be kick-started every twenty minutes or so by the injection of fresh elements, and the ending, a big party, looks set to abandon narrative altogether in favour of throwaway jokes and music. But even this is deceptive — long forgotten plot threads come winding back in again (even if only to be dismissed once more), and a willingness to undercut reality keeps things lively. When Bellucci asks Campan what kind of office he works in, he says “I don’t know. Just an office.” And he’s right. When she asks him about his bum ticker, right at the end of the movie ~

“How’s your heart? I haven’t heard anything about it for a while.”

“It’s fine. You made it all better.”