Denzel Washington is a great actor, but he’s been in a whole bunch of truly forgettable films. His latest, 2 Guns, might well turn out to be a cracker, but from the comically lazy title and poster combo alone, I’m not holding out too much hope. That said, in the film, Denzel is seen to be sporting facial hair, a hat and glasses; significant in that it reveals the need for the Denzel Washington Venn Diagram to be updated sharpish. Malcolm X has got company!
Thanks to Tweeter Paul Weedon, I was last week alerted to the existence of Takeshi no Chōsenjōaka Takeshi’s Challenge, the ill-fated 1988 venture into the world of videogaming by indefatigable (and consistently surprising) Japanese media polymath Takeshi Kitano.
“So what?”, I can sort of hear you mutter. Well, by all accounts, it turns out that the game (released only in Japan on the NES) was inspired more by Takeshi’s hatred of video games than anything else, and was almost impossible to complete.
I won’t go into too much detail, but here are some hilarious potted highlights from the game’s Wiki:
The plot and origins
The game’s plot, where a despondent salaryman seeks to find a hidden treasure on an island, is introduced as having been created by Kitano while he was drunk at a bar; however, Kitano himself explains that the plot was solely the result of an hour-long talk at a cafe near his production company
Completion of the game requires several unorthodox uses of the Famicom system, such as using the second controller microphone to speak while playing pachinko, or not touching the controls for an hour. The player must also maneuver a hang-glider to complete a side-scrolling shooting game, made extremely difficult because the controls do not allow the player to move upwards on the screen.
Minor details such as not quitting the salaryman job, not getting a divorce, or not beating up the old man who provides the treasure map, can prevent the player from reaching the ending.
Apparently the game frequently crops up on ‘Worst Ever’ lists, but I for one would certainly love to give it a shot.
UK non-cinephile viewers might know Kitano best from the lunatic gameshow Takeshi’s Castle, an infinitely more dangerous version of It’s A Knockout, which was voiceovered in characteristically cheeky style by Scouse comedian Craig Charles. However, Kitano is one of Japan’s most distinctive cinematic voices, not to mention one of the most important figures in my film education as a younger person. I remember when Film 4 did a short season of his best work (including Violent Cop, Hana-Biand Sonatine) and I was astonished by the jarringly expressionistic manner in which he used editing in the presentation of violence, and the haunting combination of deadpan comedy and serious emotion that seemed to seep through every scene.
But, yeah, enough of that. Here’s a typically berserk commercial (starring Takeshi) advertising the game itself:
The other day I came across the online-hosted screening event, The Four Stories, which is the culmination of a campaign launched by Intel® in partnership with W Hotels to find some of the world’s most promising aspiring film-makers. Entrants were challenged to upload their original screenplays to intel.com/fourstories for their chance to see their idea brought to life on the big screen. The competition was curated by Roman Coppola and his production company, The Directors’ Bureau, with the winning scripts turned into individual ten-minute shorts, and a final film being created by Coppola himself. The winning screenplays were selected from global entries by a panel of judges including Coppola, Michael Pitt (once of Dawson’s Creek, if you remember!), and the perma-trendy Chloe Sevigny (who I think I saw last year hanging about on Cambridge Heath Road, but I could be wrong…)
I had a butcher’s at the winner, and my favourite was The Mirror Between Us, directed by music video helmer Khalil Joseph (Flying Lotus, Seu Jorge) and starring the excellent Nicole Beharie (last seen – by me, anyway) in Steve McQueen’s top shagger comedy searing sex addiction drama Shame. It’s a beautifully shot short about two young who women embark on a dream-like adventure through the Maldives islands after an event turns both their worlds upside down. Here it is, check it out:
At its most powerful, cinema can provoke a visceral, physical reaction, causing your face to do uncontrollable, unrepeatable things in response. Accordingly, Find Any Film‘s Reaction Replay competition is giving you the chance to win a 4-star trip to New York for you and your friends, simply by recreating your reaction to your favourite movie moment.
To enter, all you need to do is visit theFind Any Film Facebook page, look for your favourite film using their search engine, take/choose a photograph of your reaction to it, and then share it with your friends (or Facebook acquaintances – hey, this is where those people you haven’t spoken to in years might come in handy) to get votes. The more votes you get, the more chance you have of getting in the top 40 and winning the trip to the cinematic city of New York! The winner will then be picked at random and runner up prizes include nine iPad 2 16gb (!) and 30 £50 blinkbox download vouchers (!!). As well as Facebook, you can enter on Twitter, using the hashtag #ReactionReplay. The competition will run until 11.59pm Thursday 13th December, so what are you waiting for?
The organisers asked me to come up with a more personal angle to share with readers, so – because there was no-one around to record me at the time – I thought I’d fall back on the trusted facial expressions of Eddie Murphy to communicate precisely how I reacted to three particularly unforgettable movie moments:
Well it made me laugh anyway. Some bright spark (YouTuber MrsFreddyMercury) has cut bits of the late Ken Russell’s barking mad 1986 horror Gothicto the sounds of Rockwell’s cheesy 1984 hit ‘Somebody’s Watching Me’. When Rockwell starts doing his silly “everyman” voice and Gabriel Byrne whips out his quill, it’s pretty much a perfect storm of ridiculousness. It gets even better when Rockwell pipes (is it supposed to be an English accent?): “When I’m in the SHAR (shower) and I’m afraid to wash my HAR (hair)!” and MrsFreddyMercury cuts to a shot of Julian Sands flapping about in the SHAR (shower). Anyway, I’ve written too much on this already. Just watch:
For a more thorough appraisal of the film, head over to this article on great blog Cinemart.
I’m a fan of Griffin Dunne. The New York actor-turned-director hardly boasts a voluminous body of work, but he was excellent as decomposing sidekick Jack Goodman in American Werewolf in London (1981) and perfectly cast as neurotic New Yorker Paul Hackett in Martin Scorsese’s After Hours (1985).
So you can imagine how my curiosity was piqued when I discovered the existence of a film starring Dunne named Me & Him (1988, directed by the improbably named Dorris Dorrie), which promised to capture the white collar sexual anomie at the fag end of the 1980s; a more ribald, less disgusting American Psycho, perhaps; a sharper Vampire’s Kiss (magnificently re-evaluated here in an AV Club article). A pithy IMDb summary on Me & Him runs thus: “A man’s enthusiastic penis starts talking to him, getting him into awkward situations and convincing everyone he tells that he’s completely insane.”
Sounds good great, right? (Right?) The problem? No-one’s heard of it, and no-one’s seen it. In terms of critical response, there’s nothing out there, save from an average rating of 4.1 from a paltry 291 IMDb users (aka the general public, and we all know you can’t trust them). There’s not a single critic’s review on the usually overflowing Rotten Tomatoes. I got my hopes up when I saw 21 related news items on the iMDB homepage, but the most relevant article carried the headline “Kings of Leon to guest on ‘Iron Chef'”. Me neither…
Worse still, it doesn’t seem to be available anywhere – not even a knackered VHS copy. It’s been so deeply ghettoized that even the utterly bizarre trailer – which intercuts scenes from the film with faux (at least I think they’re faux) vox pops of women praising the film’s insight into masculinity (“It shows how sensitive men really are!”) hasn’t made it onto YouTube. Instead I had to dig it up from an obscure site called Video Detective.
So here’s my question(s). Has anyone seen this film? If so, what’s is like? And – this is fanciful in the extreme – does anyone have a copy I could borrow? There’s just enough proof out there to confirm that this film actually exists, so can you help me on my quest to track down Griffin Dunne’s speaking cock?
Thanks for listening.
* * * UPDATE * * *
My normally prodigious attention to detail failed to kick in on this occasion, and I forgot to check amazon.com, which is slightly more fruitful on a Me & Him tip than amazon.co.uk. Still, my key questions above remain.
Check out this borderline surreal public information film from the British Government in 1945 which offers advice on how to sneeze like a gentleman. It’s short and sweet, but packed with great moments (the pepper scene is almost Lynchian), a magnificently haughty voiceover, and some seriously brutal editing and sound design. Credit to YouTuber Ella73TV2 for the upload:
As you may have guessed, PPH has been both stricken with chronic hayfever, and very busy with other things (like sorting out our UNMISSABLE screening of Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing at the Clapham Picturehouse on Thursday 5 July; book tickets here) but fear not, we’ll return to normal posting action shortly.
As some intriguing new stills from his upcoming slave revenge drama Django Unchained become available, check out this relic from 1994 in which Tarantino – fresh from Pulp Fiction’s runaway success – demonstrates to the world exactly why he belongs behind the camera. In an episode of the short lived sitcom ‘All-American Girl‘ entitled Pulp Sitcom, he essays the character of Desmond, a nerdy, pop culture-savvy nerd/bootleg video salesman (somehow he makes it a stretch), who woos the show’s star Margaret Cho. The pair were also dating in real life.
All credit for this must go to Paul O’ Callaghan, without whom I’d have never been exposed to such wonder.
After comparing Gareth Evans’ The Raid to my all-time favourite childhood game Streets of Rage 2 in my recent review, I had a bit of a YouTube session devoted to it. Look what I found. The music, the SFX, the little details, it’s all there. Amazing. What must passers-by have thought?