First things first, Guillermo Del Torro has quit as the director of the upcoming adaptation of 'The Hobbit'. Reaction to this has been split between people who feel glad that Del Torro can now pursue his own projects and those who were eagerly anticipating his take on Tolkien's "Middle Earth" (there is presumably a third group who don't care either way and a fourth group who haven't heard for Guillermo Del Torro in the first place).
I am undecided as to what to make of it: part of me thinks that even though I didn't like Peter Jackson's version of 'Lord of the Rings', I was excited to see what Del Torro would do with 'The Hobbit'. Although a bigger part of me would rather see the Mexican make one of his own, more personal films instead. It is yet unknown who is replacing him as the director for the two planned movies which will tell the story of how Bilbo Baggins meets Gandalf the wizard, comes into possession of "the one ring" and defeats an evil dragon.
Next up, I said a while back that I would soon be hosting some episodes of 'Flick's Flicks', Picturehouse's monthly film preview show usually hosted by Felicity "Flick" Beckett. However, Felicity's imminent maternity leave means that I am taking over hosting duties for the next three shows (July, August, September). To prepare you for those upcoming episodes, here is the most recent installment as Flick prepares us for June:
On a seperate note, I have been busy recently writing reviews for an upcoming volume from Intellect Books which looks at British cinema. So far I have submitted reviews for Mike Leigh's 'Happy-Go-Lucky' (which I love), Mike Newell's 'Four Weddings and a Funeral' (which I don't really care for) and the Ealing comedy 'Passport to Pimlico' (which is really brilliant). I am currently (as in as soon as I stop this blog entry) writing my review for 'Trainspotting', which will be submitted tonight!
I also recently become attached to another upcoming book from Intellect, this time on American Independant cinema. I have been given some really great titles to review and I am really enthusiastic to be a part of it.
Finally, I can't end this post without mentioning the sad passing of Dennis Hopper, who died on Saturday after a battle with cancer, a mere two months after recieving a star on the 'Walk of Fame' in LA. In a long and varied screen career Hopper was seen in such classics as 'Apocalypse Now', 'Rebel Without a Cause', 'Blue Velvet' and 'Hoosiers', working with many great directors along the way (among them Francis Ford Coppola, Nicholas Ray, George Stevens, Sam Peckinpah, George A. Romero and David Lynch). In the 90's, after some time in the wilderness, he became something of an iconic movie villain in the big budget actioners 'Speed' and 'Waterworld'.
But he will rightly be most fondly remembered as the co-writer, director and star of 'Easy Rider' in 1969, a film which helped to establish the so-called New Hollywood of the late-60's/early-70's (along with other films like 'Bonnie and Clyde' and 'The Graduate') and became a key and lasting document of the counterculture of that era. Whilst Hopper's own politics would change significantly in later life (he appeared in the "conservative comedy" 'An American Carol' in 2008), that film still partially defines an era of massive social change and keeps that spirit alive on celluloid fourty years on.
The film, which also starred Peter Fonda, helped to launch the acting career of Jack Nicholson and popularised the Steppenwolf track 'Born to Be Wild' (which would be used in adverts for years, always along with a visual referance to the opening shots of 'Easy Rider'). Not many filmmaker's can really claim to have changed cinema, nor can many films be considered truly "iconic": indelibly becoming part of the popular culture. With 'Easy Rider' Dennis Hopper achieved both and his memory will live on forever with that film.
Dennis Hopper (1936-1910) - a true Hollywood great.