Tag Archives: William Hurt

B Movie Glory: Do Not Disturb aka Silent Witness

Do Not Disturb, a cheaply drawn Euro-trash oddity, ironically does exactly what it’s title forbids by indeed disturbing the audience with very questionable scenes that paint Amsterdam in a way that I’m sure would infuriate locals. Also called ‘Silent Witness’ on DVD, it’s a wonder why such a weird, awful script would attract high pedigree actors like William Hurt, Jennifer Tilly and Denis Leary. Hurt and Tilly play a wealthy American couple on a business trip to Amsterdam with their little daughter (Francesca Brown), who happens to be a mute, wearing a magic marker around her neck as sole means of communication. After getting separated from her parents at the hotel, she inadvertently witnesses a murder by two nasty hitmen (Corey Johnson and some other random) and flees off into the night pursued by them, and subjected to all kinds of whacked out freaks. Seriously, this poor girl in terms of both the character and the actress, is put through an unnecessary wringer of ultra violence and sleaze. There’s this thread of implied child abuse running through the narrative, as if such proclivities are inherent in Dutch people in that city, and it’s really troubling to see a girl her age have to be ogled by perverts at every turn, an ill advised and shameful addition from some no name scriptwriter who probably never worked again. Then there’s Denis Leary, who should have sued the marketing team for misrepresentation. On the US DVD cover, he leers off the poster with an evil gaze, holding a gun and giving every impression that he’s the film’s villain. In the actual film, he an innocuous American homeless man who helps the poor girl navigate the dangerous streets throughout, the only sane individual she meets, really. It’s an alright role for the guy, but that stupid box art really sells his presence askew. It’s just a bizarre, uneven disaster for the most part, and I still wonder to this day why any of these fine actors participated. William Hurt especially is such a choosy performer, usually handpicking excellent scripts and being careful with his career, but here he jumps right into the abysmal script with some pseudo Southern accent that is way, way beneath him. Should not be used as a tourism video for Amsterdam, but rather forgotten permanently from the DTV landscape.

-Nate Hill

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The Auteur Series: Lawrence Kasdan’s BODY HEAT

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Frank, Kyle, and Jason continue their auteur series discussing Lawrence Kasdan’s BODY HEAT.

Dark Cities, Dark Futures, Dark Caves: An Interview with Bruce Hunt by Kent Hill

Young Bruce Hunt loved movies and blowing things up. This love, and learning the basics of the craft from film magazines of the period, would firmly cement in his mind the path on which he would travel. As it was said in a film that Bruce would later work on, “Fate it seems, is not without a sense of irony,” a teenage Bruce would encounter Academy Award winning special-effects artist Dennis Muren in a cafe in London.

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It was Muren that would advise the dreamer to seek out an effects house in his native Australia for possible future employment and, after art school, that is what the talented Mr. Hunt would do. Working with small production houses on commercials his work would soon catch the eye of the founder of one of these companies, a man named Andrew Mason. It would be Mason, producing a film directed by Alex Proyas called Dark City, that would call on Hunt to bring his passion, and by then, professional eye for effects photography to his first big screen gig.

Work on another big flick would follow, as Mason would again tap Bruce and bring him to work on the Wachowski’s cinematic masterpiece The Matrix. There would be work on the film’s sequels before, at last, Bruce would sit in the director’s chair for The Cave, an adventure in deep terror. He would emerge from the darkness to work on Baz Luhrmann’s Australia only to descend again soon after for Guillermo del Toro’s Don’t be afraid of the Dark.

Through it all his love of the movies continues to drive him and, as you will hear, he has plans to get his visions back on that big screen, just as soon as he can. It was great to sit down with Bruce. Not only is he a filmmaker I admire, but it was great to just talk about movies with him.

If you don’t know his work then now is the time to check it out. But, if you already have and you’re a fan like me – then kick back and enjoy.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you my good mate . . . Bruce Hunt

Lawrence Kasdan’s BODY HEAT

BODY HEAT is about burning desire.  You can feel and smell the sweat, the cigarette smoke, and the deception and betrayal.  It’s sexy, sleazy, but above all, it’s a genre setting film that birthed the erotic thrillers of the 1980’s and launched the careers of Lawrence Kasdan, Kathleen Turner, and William Hurt in the process.

It’s a fascinating feature, it’s a soft remake of the classic DOUBLE INDEMNITY and was shadow produced by George Lucas.  Kasdan was able to roll all of his screenwriting star power into making his directorial debut with a film so sexy and steeped in noir, that it remains cinematic classic.

William Hurt and Kathleen Turner’s chemistry in the film is so powerful, that you can instantly feel and relish in their sexual tension.  Hurt’s character progression is remarkable; he starts out as the seedy lawyer and then he’s the alpha male in heat, then he’s the lover who will do anything for Turner, and then he ends up as the ultimate chump whose lust completely blinded him from the telegraphed motives of his obsession.

Yet without John Barry’s remarkable score, this film would not be nearly as powerful and sexy as it is.  The sexy jazz score with an abundance of saxophone truly accentuates the mood of the feature.  It is easily one of the best film scores of all time.
The picture is stocked with wonderfully memorable supporting performances from Richard Crenna, Ted Danson, and Mickey Rourke in his breakout role singing along to Bob Seger.  The film also found it’s way into Cormac McCarty’s screenplay for THE COUNSELOR, in a scene between Brad Pitt and Michael Fassbender, Pitt cautions Fassbender by recalling a scene between Rourke and Hurt.

After all, this film is a very heavy cautionary tale about lust and more importantly, obsession.  When we latch onto an obsession with such velocity and abandon any sense of reality, there’s a very good chance that we’ll burn ourselves down in our own fiery passion, and that’s exactly what William Hurt does.

Top Ten William Hurt Performances

William Hurt has been a fierce cinematic presence for decades, and now he’s slowly embarked on making his mark in television.  He was the epitome of a sex symbol in the 1980’s, a uniquely handsome movie star who brought an abstract and fresh approach to each role he consumed.  Sex symbol status aside, Hurt was nominated three years in a row for Best Actor, winning his first nomination for KISS OF THE SPIDER WOMAN.  He has been able to navigate the waters of blockbuster films like CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR, independent dramas like THE KING, and television.  His first prominent turn on the long form medium was in FX’s DAMAGES where he played a former lover and father to Glenn Close’s son.  He then starred as Captain Ahab in MOBY DICK and most recently he gave an eccentric turn as Donald Cooperman who is the big bad in Amazon Studio’s GOLIATH that recently yielded Billy Bob Thornton Best Actor at this past year’s Golden Globes.  Hurt has been around since the late 1970’s and has always delivered fine performances even when the film itself paled in comparison to his performance.

THE ACCIDENTAL TOURIST 1988 Dir. Lawrence Kasdan

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This film marks the third collaboration between Hurt and writer/director Lawrence Kasdan as well as the two being reunited with Kathleen Turner.  Here, Hurt gives a very sensible turn as a man in constant mourning over the death of his son; the grief is crippling.  He navigates the waters of the film with a reserved sense of humor, yet the audience becomes absorbed by the sadness in his eyes.  As the film progresses, and his life is renewed with the love and affection from Geena Davis, his reserved and heavily introverted Macon Leary begins to breath life and flourishes.

ALTERED STATES 1980 Dir. Ken Russell

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Hurt made a huge splash with his first film role.  This is a film that pushes every boundary possible while exploring the themes of obsession and the human psyche.  He is absolutely perfect as the young and sexy scientist looking to push our reality into new realms.  Being his first film, this allowed Hurt to tackle thematic subject matter that even to this day would be rendered taboo.

THE BIG BRASS RING – 1999 Dir. George Hickenlooper 

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This film is a cinematic anomaly.  Based upon an unproduced screenplay by Orson Welles, the film follows Hurt as a gubernatorial candidate who has a very dark and very secretive past that’s exposure hinges upon his former mentor.  Hurt has always played these types of characters well.  Men who try their best to be noble, but are completely shrouded by their past transgressions.  This is a film that is difficult to track down, but well worth it.

THE BIG CHILL 1983 Dir. Lawrence Kasdan

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There are few actor/director relationships that were so fertile and rewarding as William Hurt and Lawrence Kasdan.  In this film, Hurt plays Nick, the drug addicted intellectual who was psychologically changed by his tour in Vietnam.  While each character in the film was written and performed with such care, Nick was the one role that all the male actors lobbied Kasdan for, but he wrote the part specifically for Hurt.

BODY HEAT – 1981 Dir. Lawrence Kasdan

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Kasdan’s first feature was an unofficial remake of DOUBLE INDEMNITY, and it was also the genre setter for the steamy and sweaty erotic thrillers of the 1980’s.  There are not many films sexier and more dangerous than BODY HEAT.  With John Barry’s silky score, to the constant sweaty sex between Hurt and Kathleen Turner – this film will always be unmatched.  The arc of Hurt’s character is fantastic.  He plays the role perfectly.  He’s the sleazy lawyer turned obsessive lover turned the ultimate dupe.

BROADCAST NEWS – 1987 Dir. James L. Brooks

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Nominated for Best Actor by the Academy, Hurt portrayed the bubble headed blonde anchorman who had a complete and utter lack of understanding of what he was reading into the television, but that didn’t matter because he looked great doing it.  He plays this character with as much gusto as he does with moral ambiguity.  He’s not a bad guy by any means, but he’s not nearly as noble as he is propped up to be.

GOLIATH – 2016 Amazon Studios

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This is a television show that didn’t make any wakes when it was dropped in October of 2016.  Hurt plays the big bad of the show, he’s the archetypal noir villain who sits in an office that is shaded by his own shadows and web of secrets.  The right side of his body is cover in horrid burn scars, from the top of his head to his hand; that only adds to his mysterious intrigue.  He speaks in riddles and poetic fables in a cadence that only he is capable of.  Billy Bob Thornton won the Golden Globe for his performance in the film, but it’s an injustice that Hurt’s performance seems to have been left by the wayside.

A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE – 2005 Dir. David Cronenberg 

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In this film, Hurt gives one of the best performances of all time.  His total screentime is less than fifteen minutes, and he strategically brought in to close the third act of the film.  He is absolutely menacing in this film, from Cronenberg’s use of eye light on him to his rustbelt accent – Hurt owns the entire picture that was already great before he shows up.  This film also highlighted Hurt’s cinematic return.  He won Best Supporting Actor from the New York and Los Angelos film critics association, and he was nominated by the Academy for his role, only to lose out to George Clooney.

I LOVE YOU TO DEATH – 1990 Dir. Lawrence Kasdan

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This marks the last collaboration between Hurt and Kasdan.  In this film, Hurt takes on a completely zany and hysterical role as a drunkard pool player who gets roped into killing a man for a couple hundred dollars.  His role is very small, but his long hair, John Lennon esque sunglasses, and obsession over Reggie Jackson marks this an incredibly unforgetable performance.

KISS OF THE SPIDER WOMAN – 1985 Dir. Hector Babenco

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Fresh off his two collaborations with Lawrence Kasdan, Hurt risked his movie stardom gigantically by taking on a role in a small film where he played an imprisoned, flamboyantly gay sex offender in a South American prison.  He strips himself of every single masculine quality and becomes this very feminine and fragile character who copes with his horrible life by retelling the love story from a Nazi propaganda film to his freedom fight cellmate, Raul Juila.  Hurt won Best Actor from the Academy for his fearless performance, further lamenting this as one of the best performances in cinema history.

 

 

 

Amazon Studio’s GOLIATH

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Amazon Studios quietly released a new series in October called GOLIATH from creators David E. Kelley and Jonathan Shapiro.  It stars Billy Bob Thornton in his Golden Globe winning turn as Billy McBride.  Thronton is his seminal drunk, lovable loser role but with a twist; he’s a brilliant (defrocked) lawyer.  Thornton reluctantly gets lured into a case against a weapons contractor that is represented by a gigantic law firm that he helped created and no longer is a part of.

The casting of the series is wonderfully rounded out by Maria Bello who is Thornton’s ex-wife, Molly Parker as a cut throat lawyer working for Thornton’s former film, Harold Perrineau as the judge overseeing the case, Dwight Yoakam as the CEO of the weapons contractor Borns Tech, and William Hurt in a beautiful showboat of a performance as Donald Cooperman, Thornton’s former partner.

This show has a very complex structure.  It is equal parts CALIFORNICATION with Thornton in an apathetic daze, where he spends his days drinking and co-parenting his daughter with Bello – yet it is steeped heavily in dark LA noir.  Just when you forget about how transgressive and dangerous the show is while watching Thornton bumble through a scene with his trademark zeal – we get quickly reminded of the dangers of the show by a cut to William Hurt who is always seated in his dark office, face half covered in burn scars, listening as his gaggle of lawyers discuss their best course of action against Thornton, as he answers their questions with a paratrooper signalling clicker.

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The affability of Thornton is starkly contrasted by the overbearing menace of Hurt.  He’s the big bad of series, and his danger and power is very much akin to a Blofeld esque villain of importance and stature.  Hurt’s brilliant performance is a reminder that he hasn’t faded as an actor, but that he is constantly able to turn out remarkable work decade after decade, never allowing himself to disappear as time carries on.

It hasn’t been announced if there will be a second season of GOLIATH, whispers are that the show will not continue; which comes as bittersweet news.  The series wrapped itself up brilliantly, without the finale hinging upon a second season.  Much like HBO’s LUCK or AMC’s LOW WINTER SUN, the series contains and closes its taut narrative within a singular season, yet the characters are so rich and developed with complexity and care that it truly would be a shame to let them go so quickly.  Whatever the fate of GOLIATH may be, it stands tall and even superior to most of Netflix and HBO’s original programming.

GOLIATH is available to stream on Amazon Prime.

PTS PRESENTS CINEMATOGRAPHER’S CORNER with TRENT OPALOCH Vol 1

OPALOCH POWERCAST

 

OpalochPodcasting Them Softly is extremely excited to present a chat with the incredible cinematographer Trent Opaloch. Trent is one of the hottest, most in demand shooters currently working in Hollywood, having shot District 9, Elysium, and the absurdly underrated Chappie for director Neill Blomkamp, while also becoming a member of the Marvel cinematic universe, having lensed both Captain America: The Winter Soldier and this weekend’s Captain America: Civil War. The future looks to hold even more superhero action, as he’ll be reteaming with the Russo brothers for both chapters of The Avengers: Infinity Wars. He’s also a veteran of the commercial world, having collaborated with such directors as Jake Scott, Todd Field, Phil Joanou, and Frederik Bond on a variety of worldwide advertisements. He’s clearly got a very exciting future ahead, and we’re beyond thrilled to have him as a guest – we hope you enjoy this exciting discussion!