A CINEMATIC RUNNING GUIDE

The Exec is proud to present A Cinematic Running Guide. We break down all the elements required to make sure the running in your film is up to speed. A Cinematic Running Guide is presented in proud association with NIKE. NIKE, just fucking do it already.

A Cinematic Running Guide, Nay A History

Since the burgeoning cinema at the start of the 20th Century, film makers have captured running in all its forms. From Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin to Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, men, women and children have run on screen. Sometimes towards the camera, sometimes away and sometimes they even ran across the shot. Cinema audiences around the world have been thrilled in whichever direction people could run in films.

And ACTION!

With the introduction of sound, running in movies became an even more immersive experience. Hollywood film makers such as Hitchcock used it to great effect in action sequences. Take North By Northwest, Hitchcock uses running towards camera AND away from a fucking plane to create an iconic scene. Without running, this scene would have been dog shit.

It’s All About The Running

Take Tony Richardson’s run-fest, The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner. It came just three years after North By Northwest, but already running is in the title and features heavily as a plot device and arty-farty metaphor. Ok Tony, you went to Oxford, we get it already, jeez!

But Where’s The Chariot?

Fast forward to the early 80s and running is now the entire narrative in Hugh Hudson’s Oscar winning Chariots Of Fire. But audiences were left confused because there were no chariots to be seen anywhere. What’s wrong with these crazy Brits?

Blockbuster Running

With boxing underdog movie Rocky, Sylvester Stallone took running to new, heroic heights. Sly continued to fly the flag for heroic running (mainly toward camera but away from the exploding whatever) in films as diverse as First Blood, Rambo: First Blood Part II and the inexplicably titled Rambo III. There was no Rambo II. What the fuck Sly?

Nice Try Arnie

Other blockbuster action stars tried to get in on the running, but with less success. Arnold Schwarzenegger tried with a bit of running in Conan The Barbarian. But this was mainly across the shot, which was proven to be the least effective. He even tried using running in one of his titles, The Running Man. But all anyone remembers about that film is how piss poor Mic Fleetwood was in it. I’ll be back? Nah, you’re ok man. Stay where you are.

The Running King

And now we come to the undisputed king of running in movies: Tom Cruise. Cruise tried his hand at ‘acting’ in films such as The Color Of Money, Rain Man and Born On The Fourth Of July. But he found his little running feet in The Firm. Here, Cruise discovered he could thrill audiences the world over just by sprinting towards the camera and away from scary, cuddly uncle Wilford Brimley. But he really got up to pace three years later with Brian De Palma’s Mission Impossible. The legendary scene where Tom leaps away from exploding chewing gum on a fish tank is an all time running classic. The invention and the daring to not only run toward the camera and away from the water, but in slow-mo and then under the camera is ground-breaking. I mean… shit the bed shivers up my spine.

Running The Show

Since then, Cruise has gone from strength to strength. He can run on sand, on roads, rooves, through windows and even under water. He continues to thrill and astound audiences with his running. Hardly anyone has noticed he really can’t act. And he owes it all to running. Go figure.

CREED – REVIEW

CREED – REVIEW: Michael B. Jordan stars as Apollo Creed’s son who goes back in time to remake Rocky with Sylvester Stallone.

Michael B. Jordan is the beautifully name Narcissus Creed or Diaphanous Creed and Apollonius Creed. Shit, he’s called something. He’s had a troubled youth but with the help of his step mom he’s got a job in a good company and a future ahead of him. However, like father like son, Creed sneaks off to Mexico to get himself punched in the head on a regular basis. In order to finally pursue his dream, he makes his way to Philadelphia where, in the city of brotherly love, he meets up with his father’s former nemesis/friend Rocky Balboa, who reluctantly agrees to train him. As the media get wind of a great story, Creed is offered a shot at the title at Everton’s football ground in England (!?).

Ryan Coogler is to be applauded for having revamped Rocky in what is being called a legacy sequel – passing the movie franchise baton from one generation to the next (see also The Force Awakens). He films the fight scenes with the requisite dynamism and verve, though in giving us a jaw-dropping one shot punch up early on he rather shoots his bolt early. Ultimately, the Rocky franchise is one big family saga. Rewatching the whole bunch last Christmas, it’s amazing how well Stallone inhabits the character, even when the story around him is largely nonsense. The first Rocky is a wonderful character piece with a great sense of place which ought to compare favorably to Raging Bull. Jordan is a compelling son figure for the aging legend to mentor, though the relationship with Tessa Thompson’s singer ticks too many boxes and lands flat. A singer who is going deaf? Jesus Christ, I wonder if they had a whole list of tragic relationships. A painter who is going blind? No! A writer who is losing the plot? No! A ten pin bowler who is losing her fingers? etc.

As with Force Awakens, there are some beats which are so familiar as to fall into the realms of pastiche, and though I love Italian food normally, it would be better if these films relinquished some of their manufactured nostalgia to tell their own stories.

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47 FILMS: 13. FAT CITY

In our continuing series of  ’47 Films to see before you’re murdered in your dreams’, we look at John Huston’s grimly brilliant boxing picture Fat City.

The fact of the matter is there have been more decent Boxing pictures than there have been decent boxing matches and John Huston’s Fat City is one of the best. Stacey Keach is the man who wakes up in his underwear in a flea pit boarding house, his bottle down to the dregs and unable to find a light. As Kris Kristoferson – who was legally required to write a song for every US film from 1971 to 1974 – croons about headaches, Billy Tully (Keach) stumbles out onto the street and heads for the gym where he is hoping to perhaps pick up the pieces. Here he meets young Ernie (Jeff Bridges) and the two spar. Tully’s comeback seems already over when he pulls a muscle but on his advice, Ernie goes to the local gym where he is taken on by Tully’s old coach Ruben (Nicholas Colasanto, who played coach in Cheers).

This is no Rocky, or Million Dollar Baby, or Raging Bull, or Southpaw. Those films all follow a similar trajectory, a rise and fall. They all perceive their particular fighter as in some way special – a contender. In Fat City, both Ernie and Tully are nothing special, except for the novelty that they’re white fighting among the black and Mexicans who make up the circuit. Ernie is particularly inept as a boxer and gets himself knocked out in his first bout, his nose broken badly in the next. When he does win a fight by a decision, we don’t even see it. Tully’s belated comeback fight is a brutal affair against another old fighter who is a similarly aging slugger and who pisses blood before the fight.

This is John Steinbeck country, or something Charles Bukowski might have written if he’d stopped for a second writing books about himself. Poor Californians – both Ernie and Tully end up fruit picking at one point – along with the poverty and possible brain damage, Tully has the additional abuse of alcoholism to contend with and a relationship with fellow boozer Oma (a magnificent Susan Tyrell), who for a moment gives him companionship but ultimately torments him. Ernie also has a girl Faye (Candy Clarke) and things seem more hopeful when he gets her pregnant and marries her.

Adapted from his own novel by Leonard Gardner, Fat City is a film that refuses the glamour of the usual boxing pic. There’s no escape from poverty – Cinderella Man – there’s no redemption or defeating of demons, no glory and no glamour. In the end there’s a brutal honesty and a small perfect epic about the losers who never get to Fat City.

 For more of our ’47 Films to see Before you are Murdered in your Dreams’ Click Here.

SOUTHPAW – REVIEW

SOUTHPAW – REVIEW: Rocky 5 without the intellectual heft: Donnie Darko punches people, but when his True Detective Season 2 wife is killed Donnie feels like the Prince of Persia and needs the Ghost Dog Butler to help him buck his ideas up.

Boxing movies are weird because essentially boxing is one of those things which is chronically dull and violent, outside of the movie theater. With the one exception that proves the rule – Muhammad Ali – boxers are generally nasty pieces of work without the wit or will to say anything interesting. Jake Gyllenhaal plays Billy (The Great White) Hope, a light heavy weight fighter who is at the top of his game but with the encouragement of his wife Maureen (Rachel McAdams) has one eye on the door before he gets his ticket to Palookaville. They have a little daughter who is just lovely.

When his wife gets killed in a confusing and weird scene, Billy goes to pieces, loses everything including his mansion and daughter and must start once more from the bottom. He goes to an old gym where he finds old trainer Tick Wills (Forest Whitaker) and begins his arduous climb back to the big time.

Gyllenhaal, it has to be said, is excellent, but one wishes that Antoine Fuqua (nominative determinism anyone?) had put as much dedication into the picture as his lead. Fuqua loves his aerial shots of a city at night and he uses them with televisual regularity. The fights are well done but the story is so predictable as to be almost infuriating. The manager played by 50 Cent is so worthless that one of the other characters predicts his worthlessness a good twenty minutes before it proves to be so. The villainous fighter is an actual villain. Even Rocky had the good sense to see that Apollo Creed’s villainy was pantomime and to deconstruct it into a gay love affair by Rocky III. Nope, Billy’s Columbian rival Escobar (Jesus!) is as slimy as his namesake, with a skanky missus (Rita Ora) to boot and everything is strictly by the numbers. We have the training session, the inspired youngster, the trainer’s grumpiness acceding to respect and a seriousness of tone, totally out of keeping with the thin fare on offer.

There are more good boxing movies than there are good boxing matches – check out John Huston’s Fat City – but rather than light heavy weight, Southpaw is more bantam.

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HIDDEN GEMS: 10. ROCKY

HIDDEN GEMS showcases little-known film gems that have somehow slipped through the collective cinematic consciousness. This week—”Rocky”

Long before “Raging Bull” made boxing films fashionable, former soft-core porn actor and muscle man Sylvester Stallone wrote and starred in “Rocky,” a subtle and fascinating character study released in 1976. Rocky Balboa is a simple but honest man—an updated, working-class version of Lenny from Of Mice and Men. Sure, Rocky works as a strong-arm man for the local mobster, but he’s as likely to take pity on you as break your kneecaps. He has a cheerful word for everyone as he roams the neighbourhood, where he is something between a figure of fun and a local legend. Rocky’s also shyly attracted to the quiet girl, Adrian (Talia Shire), at the pet store, and he befriends her oafish, alcoholic, abattoir-working brother Paulie (Burt Young) in order to get close to her. He also boxes, worshipping his hero, Rocky Graziano; but the trainer at the gym, Mick (Burgess Meredith), has moved Rocky’s locker and considers him a washout who once had potential but who blew it with a lack of focus and poor fights. Rocky’s big chance comes, however, when the champion of the world, Apollo Creed—a transparent Muhammad Ali rip-off played by Carl Weathers—has a fight fall through and decides to give a local boy a chance.

Suddenly, the local stumble-bum becomes the hero with everyone wanting a piece of him. Rocky’s dilemma lies not only in facing up to the vastly superior fighter, Creed, but also in maintaining his own integrity and dignity. He accepts Mick’s help, accedes to Paulie’s demands, but remains his own man and doesn’t lose sight of the fact that his goal is no longer to become a great fighter so much as to keep the heart of the woman he loves.

Stallone has never been better, both as a writer and an actor, and it’s a real pity that the film wasn’t a bigger success. It would be nice to see a sequel telling the story of what happens to Rocky Balboa next.

For more Hidden Gems Click Here. 

5 FILMS WITH EGGS IN THEM

HOLLYWOOD – I know what you are thinking. It’s Easter but what egg themed film am I going to watch?

Well, the Studio Exec FACT squad has been out on the prowl and has carefully selected five EGG themed films for your viewing pleasure. ENJOY.

1. Cool Hand Luke. During this prison drama Paul Newman’s eponymous inmate eats 50 eggs in one hour for a bet. However, because they needed to film from different angles and use different lenses and in addition because the light was failing, in actual fact Paul Newman had to eat 176 eggs in little over twenty minutes causing an explosive flatulence and lifelong bad breath. As a way of compensating for the bad breath, Newman invented salad dressing!

2. Alien. Possibly the film which gave eggs a bad name to such an extent that the International Egg Consortium called for a boycott of Ridley Scott’s film using the slogan, ‘In Space No one Can Hear You Defame a Genuinely Delicious Source of Protein.’ It was not a success. When asked about the famous egg sequence, actor John Hurt who played Kane, the unfortunate astronaut answered simply that he had never enjoyed Easter since.

3. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. The word bad egg has a long history dating back to the Chinese emperor Boi Eg who was so tyrannical that the entire food stuff – eggs – were made illegal for three entire generations. But Veruca Salt in the original and only adaptation of Roald Dahl’s novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a bad egg and gets her comeuppance and is appropriately murdered off screen.

4. Sleeper. Perhaps the most erotic use of an egg ever committed to celluloid, Woody Allen’s 1973 futuristic comedy was the first film to use the egg as a substitute for scenes of oral sex, soon to be joined by Rocky and Ghostbusters. By the nineties it was such a common practice that the MPAA began to consider egg use as a rate-able offence.

5. Airplane. Nothing is funnier than an egg coming out of someone’s mouth and this 1980 comedy spoof delivered the classic egg/mouth joke first invented by Fatty Arbuckle with zany aplomb.

For more FACTS click HERE.

STALLONE MAKES BOXING MOVIE AS AN EXCUSE TO BEAT UP ROBERT DENIRO

HOLLYWOOD – Sylvester Stallone‘s Grudge Match has almost finished filming with Robert DeNiro. The film involves a pair of old boxing rivals who step back into the ring to settle once and for all who made the best Vietnam movie.

Alan Arkin plays the aging coach, rescued from a nursing home (along with the rest of the cast), to prepare Stallone for a final epic bout.
Sources close to Mr. Stallone said:

Sly feels very under-appreciated by the critical community. People love The Deer Hunter and put it above Rambo 2, likewise they always give the critical plaudits to Raging Bull and not Rocky. He is seething inside. Expendables was actually an attempt to remake Ronin. Sly hates DeNiro’s guts and my fear is that there are going to be some real punches thrown in the ring.   

Bobby DeNiro however pooh-poohed such talk as malicious gossip. ‘I’ve always been a great fan of Sylvester Stallone and we’re great buddies,’ said The Godfather Part Two star. ‘Stop or My Mom Will Shoot is what inspired me to become an actor in the first place.’
‘But you were already an actor when that came out.’
‘Yeah, well, what I mean is it would’ve. You know.’

Grudge Match is released in 2014.