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My Geeky Trivia

By Geeky Gem

Well its a new month which means a whole ne batch of trivia for you lucky people. Today I am going to take to a land down under and no not that one the other one. New Zealand, is the home to many gret things but to the world of movies it is home to one man, one hobbit loving man I am of course speaking of Peter Jackson.

PeterJackson_Hobbitset2a_mar2011

Owns two houses in Wellington, New Zealand.

Made the latex models for Bad Taste (1987) in his mom’s kitchen oven, often forcing the family to have sausages for dinner because they couldn’t use the oven.

Collects models of airplanes from World War One.

During filming of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), he used the same pair of shoes and only two T-shirts.

The stuff in the bowl, in his first movie Bad Taste (1987), was yoghurt, muesli and green food colouring.

Credits his favorite movie King Kong (1933) as his biggest inspiration in filmmaking. He said that he cried when King Kong fell off the Empire State Building.

The movie that gave him the love for splatter is George A. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead (1978). After seeing it, he felt a bit sick but amazed too.

Met Fran Walsh in 1987, during post-production for the gross-out cult classic Bad Taste (1987).

Nominated for a Best Director Academy Award for The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) (which he won), but not for The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002).

Is among an elite group of 7 directors who have won Best Picture, Best Director & Best Screenplay (Orig/Adapted) for the same film. In 2004 he won all three for The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003). The other directors are Billy Wilder, Leo McCarey, Francis Ford Coppola, James L. Brooks and Joel Coen and Ethan Coen (the brothers co-produced, co-directed and co-wrote No Country for Old Men (2007) with each other).

There we have it folks some interesting trivia about the man, the legend and all round nice guy Mr Peter Jackson, join me next week for some trivia.

 

My Top 20 Movies

By @hmsbeefnuts

All Geek To Me has been running for almost 6 months now, and I thought it was about time that I sat down and tried to write something about my Top 20 Films. I think that an individuals Top 20 Films gives you an insight into that persons personality. It is a quick, but largely useless way admittedly, to decide whether or not that person is your kind of person. I have chosen a Top 20, simply because, a Top 10 didn’t seem appropriate, I love Movies way more than that. Also, these films are in no particular order, I consider them all excellent, and I love them in different ways, perhaps not all equally, but I could watch all of them, and have, numerous times, and still feel the same way about them. This is going to be a bit of a long one, so with out further ado….

JAWS

I have loved JAWS for as long as I can remember. I never really found it scary, but always found it fascinating. The film is perfectly cast, wonderfully acted, beautifully shot, and surely in the top 2 adventure films of all time. The music, the story, the USS Indianapolis speech, Quint. I can watch this film endlessly, although I probably wouldn’t take it to a dessert island, it would certainly put me off swimming. The Father of the modern blockbuster, this film, and the next choice, are, for me perfect. I wouldn’t change a thing.

RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK

It is a hard choice for me to choose between Raiders and JAWS as my favourite film of all time. For me, they are the finest examples of action cinema available. Raiders is responsible for certain decisions I made in my life. Along with another film on this list, Raiders began my love of ancient history, which I went on to study at University. Raiders cheers me up when I’m down, makes me forget about shitty things, or just takes me away for 2 hours for. No matter how much I watch it, it’s still perfect. I wanted to be Indy, I still do, he is the greatest action hero ever created. Spielberg really knocked it out of the park here, in fact I want to watch it now…

KING KONG (1933)

I can remember watching this when I was very young on TV. The black and white perfectly capturing a fairytale nightmare world of Skull Island, and the amazing stop motion work of Willis Obrian. Fay Wray is beautiful, who could fault Kong for falling in love with her? So sad, so exciting, hard to believe it was made in 1933. The Peter Jackson remake is good, but this is better. If you haven’t checked it out, you need to.

THE WOLF MAN (1945)

About 10 years ago I got into the Universal Monsters Classics. I had always liked monsters etc. but had never seen the old classics. My favourite has always been The Wolfman. I loved the look of the Jack Pierce make-up. When I finally saw the film, I fell in love. It’s brilliant, tragic and once more we have a monster doomed by a pretty blonde, is their a pattern emerging here? All the old classic monster films are worth watching, but The Wolfman is my favourite. I liked the recent remake by the way, few others did.

THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES

This is another film I happened to see when I was younger. Peter Cushion as Holmes is perfect, the story is slightly racier than other adaptations as this is a Hammer film. I love the black and white Basil Rathbone Holmes too, but Cushion in this role will always be my favourite. Very atmospheric, perfect rainy Sunday afternoon movie.

13TH WARRIOR

I love Vikings. This is my favourite Viking Movie. Based on a Michael Crichton book, Eaters of the Dead, itself a reinterpretation of Beowulf, 13th Warrior perhaps should be considered a guilty pleasure. No way, why feel guilty about a film this exciting and fun. Vikings vs cannibals? Why aren’t you watching this now?

BATMAN BEGINS

Many people would pick The Dark Knight alone as the best Batman movie, I disagree. The Dark Knight is an amazing movie, but for me, Batman Begins is where it’s at. I couldn’t believe how right Christopher Nolan got this film. After years of Tim Burton weirdness and campy rubbish, Batman Begins was the perfect antidote. Bale is THE Batman, a stellar cast, and great action, and the best teaser for a sequel ever.

JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS

This is the other film that forged my love of ancient history. I have loved this film since before I could talk, and would watch it on a loop. It is in my opinion the finest example of stop motion work ever created, and by the master Ray Harryhausen. It is testament to his skill that he could make you care about, or fear the creatures he created, something the modern remake of Clash of the Titans was so poor at. JATA is a fine adventure film, and wow, that skeleton fight scene.

GOODFELLAS

Goodfellas is, in my opinion, the best crime drama ever made. Great performances, a great story and fantastic music, it is Scorsese at his best. All the casts career best performances. Goodfellas has never been bettered in the mob film genre.

ANCHORMAN

The funniest film I have ever seen. It stands up to repeat viewings and the cast is once again spot on. So good, many of the lines are cliché, how amazing the most of the film was improvised. Can’t wait for the sequel.

HOTROD

Have you seen Hotrod? You really must. It is the other film on this list that I can watch endlessly, and it makes me laugh every time.

FROM DUSK TILL DAWN

When I was 15, this film was the coolest film ever made. Clooney was the fucking man in this, and I don’t think he has ever been better. Two films in one, this is a cool crime thriller and a vampire horror all in one tasty package.

THE LORD OF THE RINGS TRILOGY

I know it’s cheating to pick all three, but you can’t really separate the greatest achievement in cinematic history. If I was forced to pick just one, it would be Fellowship of the Ring, but they are all triple A classics. I was a fan of the books since I was 11, and was very worried that the films wouldn’t live up to my high expectations. I needn’t have worried. Peter Jackson created a masterpiece of fantasy cinema. This is the best trilogy ever made, and I can’t wait till December to see The Hobbit.

THE PRINCESS BRIDE

I always mention this film to friends etc. as one of the greatest of all time, and I always get funny looks. They obviously don’t understand. The greatest sword fight ever, Andre The Giant, pirates, monsters, true love, death, resurrection, evil, good, and friendship? As you wish. One of the best films ever made… that is defiantly not inconceivable.

GLADIATOR

Russell Crowe is immense as Maximus. I love Ridley Scott, and here I believe he delivers his greatest film. I’m fascinated by The Romans, and Gladiator is a great look into ancient Rome, although it is perhaps not 100% accurate. The return to the swords and sandle epic was well over due when this came out, and for me, this eclipsed all other ancient world films that had been made before it.

BROTHERHOOD OF THE WOLF

Based on a true story of the beast of Gevuedan, this French film is an amazing cocktail of monster film, period drama, kung fu epic and thriller. I love love love this film. Take a pinch of Last of the Mohicans, a spoonful of Hound of The Baskervilles and pour in a large drop of Enter the Dragon, and you have a great, unexpected epic about a real life event, that remains unexplained.

300

I am very much aware that this film is style over content, and I don’t care at all. Based on a Frank Miller Comic, which is based on one of histories greatest events, 300 is a comic come to life. Bloody, violent, homoerotic? Awesome. I happen to love Zack Snyder, and I think this film showcases his style perfectly. This is SPARTA.

THE AVENGERS

I know this only came out recently, but I just bloody love it. For me, it is the greatest, purely comic book movie ever made. This was so much fun and the end result of a 5 year plan that seemed impossible at the time. To bring 5 films and their characters together in one giant superhero slugfest was a huge risk, but Joss Whedon and Marvel managed it perfectly. I can’t wait to own this on Bluray. It needs to be in my collection.

THE DARK KNIGHT

Yes I preferred Batman Begins, but The Dark Knight was almost it’s equal. Ledgers Joker blew Nicholson out of the water, we had a great plot, great sequences, Two Face!! Perhaps 20 mins too long, but when a film is this accomplished and excellent, who cares. Surely The Dark Knight Rises will be as good, I do hope so.

CONAN THE BARBARIAN

I love Arnie. This is my favourite Arnie role. Conan isn’t a perfect representation of the Cimmerian conqueror, in fact, the recent Jason Mamoa film was closer to the Robert E Howard stories, but I love Arnie’s take. This, along with The Princess Bride, was my favourite classic fantasy film, until The Lord of the Rings. Crom!!

Unsung Geek Heroes

By Hmsbeefnuts

Now we all know who Steven Spielberg, Peter Jackson and James Cameron are. Likewise, we have all heard of Christian Bale, Harrison Ford and Jason Statham. Over the years, these people have provided us geeks with hundreds of hours of quality geek entertainment, and as a result, they are rightly rewarded with being known by the general populace, and of course, huge pay cheques. However, the films they are in are usually special effect extravaganzas, or based on characters that have a long standing in the geek community.

 In many cases, the thing you most like about a film etc, has been the work of a team of people who have worked for months and years on making the film/game look as good as it does, or working on the character, or even acting in the film, but being under heavy make up or CGI. Here I will discuss my personal unsung heroes, and even as I do so, I realise that thousands of people are being left out, so next time you enjoy a film etc., stay for the credits, and look at how many people were involved in making that film, game, or TV show.

Shigeru Miyamoto

 

If I told you that one man practically saved video games at a time when people thought they would be a passing fad, and helped turn them in to a world wide phenomenon that makes more money per year than Hollywood, you would be confused that most people don’t know his name. The fact that this man invented Mario, a character more well known globally than Mickey Mouse, but not only Mario, but The Legend of Zelda, and had a hand in Metroid, Poke’mon, Star Fox, Pikmin, Pilot Wings, F-Zero, Donkey Kong and a hundred more, is testament both to his creative talent, and the shame that the world should bare for not erecting a colossal statue to the man. Miyamoto is the dictionary definition of legend. He has given more children more hours of fun than any man on this planet, and lets be honest, more than a few adults too.

 

The Super Mario games alone would be enough to secure this man legendary status, but when added to his other accomplishments, especially The Legend of Zelda, have produced what many people agree are the greatest video games ever created. My personal favourite of his games include, The Legend of Zelda: A Link To The Past, Super Mario Brothers, Super Mario 64, Ocarina of Time, Super Mario World, and Star Fox 64, (Lylat Wars in the UK). The figure head of Nintendo, every time Miyamato appears at a press conference or trade show fun and hijinks are sure to follow. Please people, remember the name, he may not have had anything physical to do with Call of Duty or Halo, but in his own way, it is because of the trail blazing role he played as the creator of the modern video game, that video games were such a large part of all our childhoods. I challenge you not to smile whilst playing Mario or Zelda, or when beating a friend at Mario Kart Battle Mode.

Jack Pierce

 

Universal Horror make up master, and creator of the iconic looks of many of our beloved movie monsters. Ask a child to describe Frankenstein, Dracula or the wolfman, and inevitably they will describe a creature incredibly similar to Jack Pierces’ work. This guy is such a legend that other people on this list think he is legend, yeah he’s that good. Working in the early days of film, Pierce had to use all his gifts to create these wonderful effects. The Wolfman for example must have taken hours each day to apply to actor Lon Chaney Jnr. Each yack hair glued individually and painstakingly to the actors face, it’s no wonder that the two argued frequently.

 

The Frankenstein monster make up is now the established look of the monster, in reality an eerie green, in black and white, the fearsome creature, with it’s scars, square head and electric nodes on his neck (not bolts as is commonly assumed) the creature is a marvellous combination of actor and make up. Now I understand that the technicalities of the make up technician probably do not interest the average man, or woman on the street, but in my mind, Pierces’ make up kit should be placed in a museum and treated with as high esteem as any Renaissance era scrawling.

Richard Taylor

 

I don’t know if you have watched the special features on the Lord of the Rings Extended Edition DVD’s or Blu-rays, but you should. If you have, you can’t have failed to notice the squeaky voiced bespectacled geek genius that is Richard Taylor. Creative powerhouse of the greatest effects company working today, WETA Workshop, this Kiwi man marvel has, with Peter Jackson, and hundreds of their underlings, created the impossible. LOTR was a book that most people assumed would be un-filmable, and whilst it is due to Jacksons tight direction and vision that the film was completed, it was thanks to Taylor and the fine people at WETA that the film looked so damn good, authentic and lived in, every prop, miniature, creature and weapon were created from scratch with loving care and attention to detail. It all looks so good because it all makes sense, items have a common inception and a story behind them, really watch the documentaries on the DVD’s, it’s like a few years in film school, but far more entertaining.

 

Taylor has also been heavily involved in King Kong, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and Avatar, films that I think you will agree were stunning, at least visually, and in my opinion, stunning all round. Taylor is a major reason that WETA is now seen as the premier effects company in the world, and when you look at their innovations in the world of mo-cap, or their stunning work with their so called bigatures and their pioneering mass army programme MASSIVE, Taylor has helped shape the modern cinematic experience, and from humble beginnings, working in a shed on Jacksons early films Braindead, Meet The Feebles and Bad Taste. The guy deserves a haka.

Stan Lee

You might think that Stan Lee gets enough recognition for his work on Marvel comics, after all he has a cameo in basically every marvel film there has ever been, and I can understand this, but we have to remember people, we are geeks. We delight in the now standard Stan Lee cameo, whether being saved from an automotive death by a young Matt Murdoch, being confused for Hugh Heffner by Tony Stark, drinking a bottle of soft drink infused with Bruce Banners’ blood or trying to move Moljnir with a pick up truck, Stan Lee it would seem gets enough geek recognition. But I wonder, does the average person who just goes to see these films know who the hell the crazy old man is in these films? Well they should, for this man has had a hand in more modern myths than almost any other, the man deserves an Oscar for most important cameo in superhero films for a man who actually created the character, except that he would be the only nominee, and would win every year.

 

Stan the Man has had a hand in Spider-man, The X Men, Thor, Iron Man, The Hulk, The Avengers, Daredevil and many many more characters, the guy is Marvel. OK so in recent years, his creative output has been, well, not so good Stripperella anyone? But the guy deserves a break, and should get one. So the next time your in a Cinema, or at home with friends watching a Marvel movie, and Stan Lee shows up, cheer, and whisper (at the cinema) or shout (if at home) the name of the great man, and spread the word, Excelsior!!

Andy Serkis

The worlds most underrated actor in my opinion, Andy Serkis has given birth to some of modern cinemas most remarkable characters. Caesar the chimpanzee from the latest instalment of the Planet of the Apes franchise will no doubt be over looked come awards season, but the performance, mo-capped by Serkis and WETA, is outstanding. The subtlety of Serkis’ work helps create a living breathing character that holds his own with the human characters. Serkis himself has described the mo-cap process as basically digital make up, the actor is still very much acting, and emoting, but instead of make up, a CG character mirrors the actors motions and emotions. His work as Kong in King Kong was again a work of genius. Playing the character as very much a gorilla, not some monster, Kong exhibited a wide range of emotions and character traits, and it is a cold heart indeed who does not shed a tear when the big ape hits the pavement, after that horrendous fall.

 

It is however, Serkis’ work as Gollum, the evil Hobbit ring bearer in The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, that will always be his master work. Quite simply CG characters could be described as living in B.G. (Before Gollum) and A.G. (Anno Gollumai). B.G. Characters, hello Jar Jar Binks, are quite simply, the Homo Erectus cousins to Gollums Homo Sapien. The performance on Serkis is infused in every asset of Gollum, not just the voice. Gollum was one of the most complicated characters put on screen in the last few years, and thanks to Serkis, was 100% believable. Deserving of numerous Oscar credits, Serkis’ work in the advancement of acting is unparalleled.

Rick Baker

 

Our second make up man on the list, and another veteran of the mighty werewolf. Baker is a master of his craft. His practical special effects and make ups are really unrivalled in the cinematic world. He has worked on Hellboy, The Howling, An American Werewolf in London and even Cursed!! But every genius has the odd misstep. His work on the werewolf transformation in An American Werewolf in London alone is worthy of his inclusion in any list of geek heroes. The scene is an amazing example of what practical effects can achieve, worth watching on its own even if you have no desire to watch the movie, you should though its really good. His work on other werewolf movies is equally as good, and this guy has worked on a fair few in his time.

 

The variety in his work shows the man’s range and depth. The werewolves of The Howling, are very different to the American werewolf, which in turn is very different to my favourite make up/effect of his, in the remake of The Wolfman. This film got a lot of hate, but I loved it, and most of all, I loved the design of The Wolfman. Big, hairy, be-fanged and be-clawed, a killing machine and a superb movie monster. I know he got stiffed during the filming as he had designed a practical transformation that by all accounts was going to outmatch the one in American Werewolf, and it is a shame that the film makers decided to go with CGI effects in the end, but never the less, his work in the movie is still outstanding. A master of a sadly slowly disappearing art, the practical effect is being steam rolled by the CGI effect, and people of Hollywood, I implore you, there is room for both!

So there we have it, a small selection of people who need more recognition for the amazing work they do, or have done, in the geek realm. Of course, I would also like the thank all the stunt men, fight choreographers, design teams, sfx teams, writers, best boys, camera operators, concept designers, weapon specialists, miniature departments, practical effects teams….

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