The US remake of the Swedish vampire classic manages to confound expectations by actually improving on the excellence of the original.
For those unfamiliar with the story, it involves a lonely young boy (Kodi-Smit McPhee) struggling at home and school, who befriends a mysterious girl (Chloe Grace Moretz) who moves in next door with a older guardian (Richard Jenkins).
Shooting mostly on location, Reeves and cinematographer Greig Fraser have crafted their own visual style which keeps things atmospheric and murky, referencing the original but also defining its own visual palette.
It is no coincidence that we see Regan as a background presence on TV denouncing the Soviet Union as an ‘evil empire’ and generally contributing to the dark mood throughout.
Reeves doesn’t shy away from the darker elements of the material: the school bullies are depicted as unremitting monsters (as they can seem to a child) and the violence hasn’t been curbed to get a softer rating.
McPhee and Moretz are excellent in the lead roles and have a rare emotional chemistry for actors of their age. Their relationship is all the more moving because of the danger at the heart of it.
Born Bernard Schwartz in 1925 to Hungarian-Jewish immigrants in New York, his early life was beset by poverty and family problems (his mother and brother both suffered from schizophrenia).
After serving in the Navy during World War II, where he witnessed the official Japanese surrender in Tokyo Bay, he enrolled in acting classes in New York and got a contract with Universal Studios in 1948.
In 1949 he dated Marilyn Monroe before marrying actress Janet Leigh, who he starred alongside in Houdini (1953), but his early years in Hollywood were marred by formulaic supporting roles, despite being an attractive star hugely popular with teens and fan-magazine readers.
His major career breakthrough came in 1957 as a Broadway press agent opposite Burt Lancaster’s Broadway columnist in Alexander Mackendrick’s Sweet Smell of Success.
Finally achieving the critical acclaim that had eluded him, he went on to star in The Vikings (1958) with Kirk Douglas and Stanley Kramer’s social drama The Defiant Ones (1958) alongside Sidney Poitier.
By 1959 he was a major star and that year saw his most famous role in Billy Wilder’s Some Like It Hot, a comedy which cast him and Jack Lemmon as struggling musicians forced to dress in drag whilst fleeing the mob.
Although it never cracked the US market, it is still regularly repeated around the world.
The 1970s saw him crop up in a variety of guest appearances on TV shows, such as Vega$ and by the late 1970s he had seen his daughter Jamie Lee Curtis become a star with the low budget horror Halloween (1978).
His colourful private life had always kept him in the public eye and by the 1990s he was on his sixth marriage and published his autobiography in 1994, with a second volume in 2008.
Two years ago he gave a fascinating interview on the UK show Shrink Rap where he talked to Dr Pamela Connolly about his life in often searing personal detail, discussing his violent mother, his guilt over the death of his brother and his various relationships down the years.
The film charts the origins of Facebook and the disputes that arose between founder Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) and his co-founder and friend Eduardo Severin (Andrew Garfield).
Another key strand of the plot involves the Winklevoss twins (Armie Hammer, who plays both) and their business partner Divya Narendra (Max Minghella) who claimed Zuckerberg stole their idea and made it his own.
In 2004, the two twins rowed in the Final of The Grand Challenge Cup at Henley and Fincher was at the Regatta last summer to recreate the race for the film.
/Film: The tilt/shift isolated focus you employed in the boating sequence. It is unlike anything I’ve ever seen on the big screen before and would love to learn what inspired it.
Fincher: We could only shoot 3 races at the Henley Royal Regatta; We had to shoot 4 days of boat inserts in Eton. The only way to make the date for release was to make the backgrounds as soft as humanly possible. I decided it might be more “subjective” if the world around the races fell away in focus, leaving the rowers to move into and out of planes of focus to accentuate their piston-like effort.
I guess I was in the right place at the right time along with a bunch of other guys. (…) It’s like there was this exciting sense. David Fincher the other day was saying it was like “Dogtown and Z-Boys.” It was just this moment, particularly at Propaganda and Satellite Films, where you really felt you were part of something going on in the zeitgeist.
And people were culturally, on a global scale, they were paying attention to what you were doing. So if you were making this thing, it would be serviced to 17 countries the next day.
Back then, it’s only 10 years ago or something, they didn’t really do movies day-and-date globally. And TV commercials were usually pretty regional. But music videos, if you made a music video, it went out to 22 countries the day you finished the master. That’s pretty heady stuff. And to young people, by and large, who are going to have an effect on the culture.
And it was very exciting because I had an office. Spike Jonze had an office next to me, and David Fincher was down the hall, and David Lynch was walking around, and Michel Gondry would come over from France to do a video. And we’d all be at the coffee shop at Propaganda talking shop. It was pretty f–king cool.”
Both directors now have films coming out: Fincher’s The Social Network is out in the UK on October 15th whilst Romanek’s Never Let Me Go is out on January 11th over here.
Film editor Sally Menke passed away on Monday at the age of 56.
Best known for her longtime collaboration with Quentin Tarantino she worked on all of his features: Reservoir Dogs (1991), Pulp Fiction (1994), Jackie Brown (1997), Kill Bill Vol I & II (2003-04), Death Proof (2007) and Inglourious Basterds (2009).
For Pulp Fiction and Inglourious Basterds she received Oscar nominations.
Here is Tarantino talking about Menke on the DVD for Death Proof, which culminates in a blooper reel where the actors on set say hello to Sally between takes:
The tradition was continued for Inglourious Basterds:
Although the exact cause of death isn’t yet clear, she had gone hiking in Griffith Park, Los Angeles on Monday.
It was an unusually hot day when temperatures reached 113 degrees and her body was found in the park’s Bronson Canyon section.