SIR EDWIN FLUFFER’S HOLLYWOOD SUPERSTARS: 1. JOHN VERNON

HOLLYWOOD – Sir Edwin Fluffer uses his super-stardom to recall the Hollywood Super Stars of yesteryear. Tonight: John Vernon.

When I first met John Vernon I didn’t know I was meeting John Vernon. A handsome man, like a hungover Richard Burton – which is to say like Richard Burton – came up to me and said in a light Canadian accent: ‘Hello! I’m Adolphus Raymondus Vernon Agopsowicz.’ As quick as lightning I told him: ‘That won’t do. You’ll have to change it.’ ‘Any suggestions,’ he gamely replied. ‘Adolphus Agopsowicz of course,’ was my immediate response.

Cooler heads prevailed alas and the world knew him as John Vernon. If you’ve ever seen a film made from 1965-1995 you will have seen John. Prolific and often – unfairly in my view – cast as the villain. From Dirty Harry to Animal House, Outlaw Josey Wales to Herbie Goes Bananas, John showed up, purring like villainy itself had been mixed with ginger and gravel, popped into a blender with something feline and poured over ice.

His leonine head and steely blue eyes made him perfect for the crafty official, the charmer who would stab you in the heart while caressing your nether regions. And he was good at playing villains too.

He amassed years of TV work as well. I remember when he got his first job in Bonanza, he was so happy he actually bought me a drink. An earl grey laced with Armagnac. I had it framed. Of course we had a lot in common. Both RADA trained, as a party trick we would have ourselves blind folded and still find our way back to Los Angeles from places as far afield as Las Vegas or Seattle.

John died, as we all must, but I’m sure when he got to meet the big Executive Producer in the Sky he said with a twinkle in his eye: ‘I was a Cuban in Topaz’.

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THE HATEFUL EIGHT – REVIEW

THE HATEFUL EIGHT – REVIEW: Quentin Tarantino’s second Western is a bloody locked room mystery of a wide screen claustrophobia and unbridled suspicion and violence.

John Ruth (Kurt Russell at his most John Wayne-y) is a bounty hunter nicknamed the Hangman, because instead of shooting his targets and bringing them to town over a saddle insists on seeing them hang. Escorting notorious female felon, Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh) to the gallows he meets Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson), a former soldier turned bounty hunter who has his own bodies to bring to market. Along the way they also meet Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins), a Confederate bushwhacker turned Red Rock sheriff. Why all these characters happen upon one another while running ahead of a potentially deadly blizzard is never fully explained and the mystery gets even deeper when they arrive at the dubious refuge of Minnie’s Haberdashery where they meet up with cowboy, Michael Madsen, Englishman, Tim Roth, Southern General, Bruce Dern and Mexican Bob, Demian Bechir. Minnie, sweet Dave and the other regulars of the place are missing and something is obviously afoot.

What follows is bloody and witty, long-winded, frustrating, violent (obviously) and both overwhelming and underwhelming at exactly the same time. The premise is much more modest than the epic treatment it is given. The Hateful Eight feels like an Agatha Christie inspired bottle episode of Bonanza written by Sam Peckinpah, but why it has to be three hours long  and shot in 70 mm is beyond me. There are performances to relish from the veterans of the cast – and it is a blessed relief to not have to put up with the supposedly brilliant Christoph Waltz any longer. Ennio Morricone’s score is worth the price of admission alone. The opening scenes of the snowy Wyoming landscapes are gorgeous but like many mysteries the initial intrigue leaks out with each ho-hum revelation. Of plot holes there are several and Bob and Harvey Weinstein might do well to employ a tough no nonsense script editor on the final two Tarantino productions.   All of that said, The Hateful Eight is a better film than Django Unchained and Inglourious Bastereds, though it doesn’t reach the early peaks of Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs.

 

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QUENTIN TARANTINO TO FILM BONANZA

HOLLYWOOD – Quentin Tarantino has announced his next film will be a ‘re-imagining/rip off’ based on the popular TV show Bonanza.

Speaking last night EXCLUSIVELY to the Studio Exec, Reservoir Dogs director Quentin Tarantino had this to say:
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HATEFUL EIGHT: ON SET REPORT

COLORADO – Quentin Tarantino’s new Western The Hateful Eight began filming this week in Telluride and the Studio Exec was invited EXCLUSIVELY to witness proceedings by QT himself.

It is cold in Colorado this time of year and snowy, but Quentin Tarantino is wearing his trade mark Hawaiian shirt and his motor mouth is going at 180 rpm.

Hey, SE do you know that Miley Cyrus’ Wrecking Ball is about a guy with a big dick. ‘You wre-e-eck me!’ You see? Jesus it’s just no fun no more. It’s so obvious.

The first shot involves Samuel L. Jackson and Channing Tatum, along with Mike Myers, Jan Michel Vincent, Mickey Rourke, Kevin James and Renee Zellwegger getting out of a stagecoach. It takes about two hours to shoot. During lunch I ask QT about the gestation of the film.

Well, I was really upset when the script leaked so I totally rewrote it. This one would never leak on the internet I decided (read the revised Hateful Eight script HERE). The first idea I had was not to make the film at all but do it, I mean perform it as a dance, but I talked it over with Harvey Keitel and he told me he thought it was – and I quote –  a ‘f*cking awful idea’. So I settled on making a film.

With Django Unchained you were obviously very influenced by the Spaghetti westerns. Do they continue to be an influence?

No, I want to do something else, something more purely American. So I just watched Bonanza over and over again and that became my key text. The only reason I haven’t mentioned it in interviews before is because of the plagiarism fuss, what with Spiderbaby and everything. So actually if you don’t mind not mentioning it.

Absolutely. And your casting choices? You’re using Kevin James I see.

Yeah Kevin is one of the most natural comic talents we’ve got . He’s like our Belushi, but a postmodern Belushi. Like if you had Belushi but he wasn’t funny, or charismatic. That’d basically be Kevin.

Will he be funny in this role?

Absolutely not.

And with that Quentin is called away to film the next set up: a gunfight between Joaquin Phoenix and Benedict Cumberbatch’s agent.

The Hateful Eight will be in cinemas in 2015.