Dark City, Inspiration for Matrix, Inception

 

I love Science Fiction movies and I love Film Noir movies. It’s very rare to find one movie that works nicely in both genres at the same time.  Blade Runner comes to mind, but a movie came out in 1998 that I like even better than that one. It was called Dark City and was written and directed by Alex Proyas. It is an INCREDIBLE movie, if you have never seen it. Strangely enough, this film has a similarity with Blade Runner in that the studio decided last minute to add an unnecessary voice-over in the film to explain key plot points and it really is much better without it. Again, as with Blade Runner they released a Director’s Cut of the film many years later with this taken out and both films seem to benefit greatly after omitting it.
dark-city Rufus Sewell

The two main characters are played by two of my favorite actors; Rufus Sewell and Jennifer Connelly. They both do a fantastic job in the movie. A Detective in the film is played very well by William Hurt, which is interesting as both he and Connelly share a link as they both were main characters in different Hulk movies. The Doctor is played by Kiefer Sutherland and I usually like him, but in this his breathing and speech patterns get a little annoying at times. Richard O’Brien, from The Rocky Horror Picture Show, plays bad guy Mr. Hand and is awesome all the way around. Alex Proyas wrote Mr. Hand specifically for Richard.Dark City Jennifer Connelly

Several films after this was released borrowed some of their inspiration from Dark City.  The Matrix series and Christopher Nolan’s Inception being the ones that instantly come to mind, as they are all based on the principles that the world around you may not be real. The Matrix purchased many of the sets used in Dark City, especially the rooftops, so there are some shared visuals there as well.dark City Bad Guys

Simon Crane, Unbroken, Do Not Fix it

 

Another great stuntman turned stunt coordinator/2nd Unit Director from Great Britain is Simon Crane. There seems to be a great deal of talent in the stunt category coming from this part of the world. He didn’t start out to be a stuntman, he actually went to college to become a lawyer, but hated it, so he dropped out and…joined the circus? Seems like quite a departure, but the acrobatics definitely lead the way to a path in stunts.simon crane 2nd unit

Now in Great Britain, to be in the Stunt Industry, a person has to achieve instructor status in at least 6 sports to get a Stunt Performer Union Card. So Simon Crane became an instructor in Karate, Fencing, Gymnastics, High Diving, Parachuting and Scuba Diving.  Like Vic Armstrong and the Powells, Crane was very popular with the Bond Film Series. Starting out in A View to a Kill, and then he became Timothy Dalton’s stunt double for The Living Daylights and then graduating to 2nd Unit Stunt Coordinator for License to Kill.Simon Crane Vic Armstrong

Simon was entered into the Guinness Book of World Records for being paid the most for a single stunt when he was paid $1 Million dollars to slide between two jets on a cable for the movie Cliffhanger in 1993. Finally in 1995, he was hired as the Stunt Coordinator for GoldenEye. He’s been a 2nd Unit Director or Stunt Coordinator on every film he’s worked since. In 2014, he won a SAG Award for Outstanding Action Performance By A Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture on the film Unbroken. Unbroken was directed by Angelina Jolie.

SUNDAY CALENDAR SNEAKS FOR MAY 2, 2010. DO NOT USE PRIOR TO PUBLICATION--------- On the set of Angelina Jolie and stunt coordinator Simon Crane on the set of the movie Salt.
—- On the set of Angelina Jolie and stunt coordinator Simon Crane on the set of the movie Salt.

Simon has worked with her and her husband (Brad Pitt) several times, working on the films; Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life, Beyond Borders, Troy, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Salt, The Tourist, World War Z and the previously mentioned Unbroken.  Even though the Academy Awards does not have an award that recognizes Stunt Performers, Stunt Coordinators and/or 2nd Unit Directors, they have over the years invited some very important key members of the Stunt Community to become members of The Academy. There are only about 30 members total, which is a small number considering that there are thousands of Actors, Writers, Producers and Directors. Simon Crane was invited to become a member himself, in 2015. I hope this is a sign to come that someday, soon, the Academy will create a new category for the work these truly inspiring people do.

3 Amigos, Instant Classic

 

Steve Martin wrote Three Amigos (1986) (originally called The Three Caballeros) with Saturday Night Live Creator Lorne Michaels and Singer-Songwriter Randy Newman in 1980. Randy Newman also contributed 3 original songs for the film, but to this day, this remains to be the only screenplay he ever co-wrote. They planned on having Martin, Dan Ackroyd and John Belushi play the 3 main roles, but the movie got stuck in the creative process for a few years. Steven Spielberg considered directing this film in 1981, but chose ET instead. His cast would have been Steve Martin, Bill Murray and Robin Williams.3 amigos chevy chaseJohn Landis came on board to direct and Chevy Chase and Martin Short were cast. If Martin Short were unable to do it, Landis said that he would have cast Rick Moranis in his place. Landis was a favorite director of Lorne Michaels and had previously directed Saturday Night Live alum movies; Animal House, The Blues Brothers, Trading Places, and Spies Like Us.  3 amigos martin short

The first part of the movie deals with a studio and the 3 amigos being fired. Fran Drescher filmed several scenes for this, but all of them were cut from the final film. Interestingly, there’s some fun references in the film at this time, like when the 3 amigos sneak back into the studio they cross a billboard advertising the movie, The Dueling Cavalier, which is the movie made by Don Lockwood and Lena Lamont in the 1952 classic “Singin’ in the Rain.”3 amigos steve martin

I have to add that the actor who played “El Guapo” was Alfonso Arau, and he is hilarious in the movie. He would actually go on to a successful directing career, directing Like Water For Chocolate, A Walk in the Clouds, and TV versions of Orson Welles’s The Magnificent Ambersons and John Grisham’s A Painted House.3 amigos alfonso arau

Overall, I love this film, but I do wonder what film we would have had if John Landis were allowed to finish the post production of the film, but the studio was worried about the negative publicity as John Landis was going through court proceedings regarding the deaths of actors Vic Marrow, Renee Chen, and My-ca Dinh Le on the set of Twilight Zone: The Movie. That was an incredibly tragic accident, but I do think John Landis has proven himself to be a fantastic director and would have made an even better version of Three Amigos if he had been able to finish the film himself.

Runaway With Tom Selleck

 

Not a lot of people have seen the movie, Runaway with Tom Selleck, but in my opinion, it’s a very under-rated and fantastic film. I love the high tech science fiction of the movie. It’s got some of the neatest gadgets I’ve ever see. Heat-seeking bullets that fly around buildings, remote control car bombs, and let’s not forget the robot spiders that kill by delivering a lethal dose of poison by syringe. The gadgets are all used by the bad guy, effectively and insanely performed by non-other than the lead singer of KISS himself, Gene Simmons. He’s so creepy in the film.  So much so that during filming, an assistant director came up to Gene Simmons during the location shoot and said that one of the off-duty Vancouver police doing crowd control had pointed at Simmons and said, “better get him outta there”. Upon being assured by the assistant director that he was one of the actors, the cop continued, “I don’t know . . . if I shook hands with him, I’d count all my fingers”.runaway

Runaway was directed and written by Best-Selling Novelist, Micheal Crichton, and he does a great job at staying at the fore-front of technology and science. People don’t see him as a film director because of the success of his novels, but he’s actually a really good director. His films include Coma, Westworld, The Great Train Robbery, Looker and my favorite, The 13th Warrior (uncredited).tom selleck runaway

Tom Selleck does a great job as always, and I have to admit I’ve never seen him do a crappy job acting, he’s incredibly good and consistent. His partner and love interest is played by Cynthia Rhodes, and may not be familiar to you but can also be seen in the movies Dirty Dancing and Staying Alive. She was married to christian rocker Richard Marx for several years and they have children together. I think she could have gone on to do a lot more movies after this one if she didn’t decide to settle down, she’s very good, especially in the scene where Tom Selleck is removing a live explosive bullet from her arm.

TOM-SELLECK-RUNAWAY-1984-VINTAGE-LOBBY-CARD-ORIGINAL

Highlander, 30 Year Anniversary

 

The first Highlander should really be considered…the only Highlander.  After all…There Can Be Only One. Besides, let’s face it, all the rest of them stink and by association have messed up a perfect thing.  The first one was glorious…great directing, great acting, great transitions and cinematography, great script…It’s just a perfect thing, all by itself.highlander-swords

Russell Mulcahy does a fantastic job with the direction of the film and I especially love the transitions from modern day to the past…they really add to the whole mood and atmosphere of the film. He’s got some really cool shots, like the camera swooping into a crowded wrestling arena to focus in on Connor MacLeod. Connor is played by Christopher Lambert and this is by far his best film, although my brother and I really liked him in a very over-looked little film called Fortress.  Michael Douglas, Kevin Costner, Sting , Mel Gibson and Patrick Swayze were all considered for the role of Connor Macleod and reportedly, Kurt Russell was actually cast in the role but later dropped out due to the insistence of Goldie Hawn.Highlander-1

Sean Connery does a very good job, as always and is fun as Connor’s mentor Ramirez. Lee Van Cleef, Clint Eastwood, Malcolm McDowell, Gene Hackman, Michael Caine and Peter O’Toole were considered for the role of Ramirez before Sean Connery was cast. Now, the real stand-out in the film is Clancy Brown, who steals every scene he is in and just chews up scenery like nobody I’ve ever seen before.  He’s just awesome as The Kurgan, Victor Kruger and is a top favorite actor of my brother and I ever since. When the film was in it’s early development, Scott Glenn and Roy Scheider were the top choices for the role of The Kurgan.highlander kruger

Also, who could forget the amazing music by Queen? Queen originally intended to record only one song for the film, but after viewing footage from the movie, they were inspired to write more. The band members each had a favorite scene and composed songs specifically for them. Brian May wrote “Who Wants to Live Forever” during the cab ride home after seeing the film, and Roger Taylor used the line “It’s a kind of magic” as the basis for the end title song.highlanderbdcap4_original

Knight and Day, Under-rated Gem

 

This is such an under-rated movie, which is a real bummer, because it is awesome. Watched it again over the weekend and loved it — again.  I seem to get more out of the film every time I watch it. This time around I was amazed at how good the driving in the film is. There was this one moment where Tom Cruise is driving up a parking garage and when they reach the top he does a spin and brakes at the same time to land perfectly within the lines of a parking stall. Then he jumps out, sure enough it’s Tom Cruise driving as the moment was all caught in one take.  I re-wound it several times, it’s a perfect piece of driving.knight_day_movie_image_cameron_diaz_tom_cruise

I think the film got caught in the vortex that was Oprah’s couch. After he professed his love on national television, there were several years there where the media seemed hell bent on ruining Tom Cruise’s life. He just tried to ignore it and kept pumping out great movies, but there was a significant dip in attendance for his movies, as people on the street fell for the media storm and wrote him off as, “kookie”.  I have personally been around Tom Cruise at several different times and always found him to be engaging, authentic and sincere. He’s extremely nice in person and I never felt like the media ever gave him a fair shake.  Anyway, he never stopped putting out great movies and his audience is now back up to where it should be and he seems to be doing just fine again.knightandday

One thing can definitely be said about Tom, he puts everything he has into his movies and always seems to put out high quality work. No one can ever accuse him of “mailing it in”.  Both Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz did a majority of the stunts on their own. Both Cruise and Diaz are avid drivers and have experience in doing sharp turns and 180’s. They trained very hard on the driving as they both share a love of racing. While Cruise and Diaz were promoting this movie they both appeared on the BBC’s Top Gear: Episode #15.5 (2010) where they competed in the traditional speed lap in the “reasonably-priced car.” Their respective time records were 01m:44.2s and 01m:45.2s. Diaz beat every previous time set (by people who weren’t professional racing drivers).   Then Cruise drove and beat her time by a second – his car was on only two wheels going around the last corner! His time was equal to some of the F1 drivers who’ve gone around the track (in an ordinary car).knight_day_movie_image_cameron_diaz

If you haven’t seen the movie, there’s a fantastic stunt on a motorcycle you just have to see. Cruise is driving and Diaz is behind him on the motorcycle and she gets the guns and comes around to face Cruise and shoots behind them at the cars chasing them. They really did this stunt several times for the film, and it’s a great scene. It’s a fun movie with comedy, romance and a lot of action. I highly recommend it and I hope it has a second life as a cult favorite on DVD, digital and Blu-Ray.

Facebook HQ Scam

 

I was recently approached by someone claiming to be from Facebook HQ to let me know I had just won $600Million Dollars! Right up front, I knew this was a scam and wanted to make sure and post my conversation with them, so that people become aware of this FRAUD!

First off, they asked to be friended and had a connection with my brother-in-law so I accepted their friend request. Mistake number 1 (don’t friend someone you don’t know personally).

Facebook Chat Conversation Start:
Berggren MargaretaBerggren Margareta: 10:08am     Hello how are you and your family ??

Donovan MontierthDonovan:
Good thank you and you?

Berggren MargaretaAm berggren from the Facebook organization

Awesome welcome    Donovan Montierth

Mistake number 2 (people from Facebook don’t contact you this way, they call or email)

Mistake number 3 (punctuation and spelling is not a top priority from these criminals, so it’s a dead give-away)

Berggren MargaretaAm here to pass you some good news about your Facebook account

Yes? Great   Donovan Montierth

Berggren MargaretaBefore i proceed i will like to know if you have heard or been informed about the ongoing Facebook Promo going on ? Have any of our out staff informed you about your winning prize ?

Um no  Donovan Montierth

Berggren MargaretaAm delighted to inform you that you have won the sum of $600,000,00USD

There’s a zero missing  Donovan Montierth
Is that 60 million or 600 million?

Berggren MargaretaSix hundred

Wow cool  Donovan Montierth
Donate it to Africa for me. Feed the children.
Good tax breaks for Facebook and everyone wins

Berggren MargaretaWould you like to speak with the Facebook CEO

Donovan MontierthI’ll send this wonderful news to the good people at the FBI, they will be very pleased with this.
Have Mark Zuckerberg call my cell phone

Now a few minutes passed, I thought they were going to go away, but they were not deterred and decided to try a tactic that I didn’t expect, they’ve upped their game.  I got a text on my phone!

FBI

(731) 903-7326 (Scammer’s phone number)  10:33am Hello donovan how are you doing its from the FEDERAL BUREAU INVESTIGATION

Hmmm. How did the FBI know I was talking with Facebook HQ?

Modern cell phone isolated over white backgroundGood.  Do you want to text me from the Phoenix office at 21711 N. 7th st. Phoenix, as I know a few people from that office…623-466-1999

Berggren MargaretaYou have been messaged by the FBI

Hmmm. How did Facebook HQ know I was talking with the FBI?

Not from Mark…dang…Donovan Montierth

 

Berggren MargaretaWe don’t call we only text

These two message/texts are going on simultaneously on my Facebook Chat and my cellphone at the same time.  She’s replying to my statement, “Have Mark Zuckerberg call my cellphone.” 

FBI

its from washington DC

 

I looked up the Area Code on Google.

Modern cell phone isolated over white backgroundThen why is the area code from Tennessee? Don’t they have phones in DC?

I went back to the Facebook Message and read her last message…

Donovan MontierthThen how would I speak with Mark? I would love to pick his brain, I loved his movie…

She sent me an account link on Facebook, it had Mark Zuckerberg’s face on a brand new Facebook account.  They are trying VERY VERY hard to convince me.

mark zuckerberg

Berggren Margaretaclick this link and message him

About this time I get another text.

Just heed to instructionsFBI

 

I thought about this. How do they know I’m getting instructions from Facebook HQ? She pushed me to validate them this way.  

Berggren MargaretaHave you done that ?

Mistake number 4, always do your own due diligence. Don’t ever click on their links.  Look them up on your own. Think for yourself.

Donovan MontierthMark…Mark, why are you not using your original account you set up when you started this FB thing, why are you using a brand new account from 2016? have you gone broke giving people all your money?

mark zuckerberg

Berggren MargaretaHe just messaged me he is no more on that page message this new one

Still trying to convince me. I decide to text the fake FBI one last time.

Modern cell phone isolated over white backgroundThe FBI sure has bad English…I’m not sure what this sentence is supposed to be saying…heed what instructions? Don’t worry I have your brothers in the Phoenix office on my landline, they said it’s ok, they are going to start tracing all of these accounts asap…

Then I messaged her one last time within the same minute.

Donovan MontierthAhhh, well, I guess he could do that, but you have to ask yourself why when the old one was working SO well…

Pretty much as soon as they got my text about the real FBI tracing them, all of their conversations went dead and her account online was INSTANTLY deleted.

Berggren MargaretaChat Conversation End
Seen 10:48am

As you can see all this happened between a 40 minute period. I’m posting all this here so that you can see for yourself and know about this horrible SCAM.  Don’t be fooled. Nobody will ever just give you money! These kinds of people do this because it works 10-20% of the time and that’s all they need to make big bucks.

Their next step, if I hadn’t thrown up so many roadblocks would have been to ask me for personal information or for me to send them money for a bank transfer or something like that. Then they grab your money or your identity or whatever they can get their hands on.

Now you are informed and warned.

Don’t be one of THEIR success stories.

Opening Stunt for Locker 13

FADE IN:

EXT. GUNSIGHT PASS – ARIZONA TERRITORY – DUSK

An old west town at dusk. A tumbleweed drifts by.  Two GUNFIGHTERS walk to the center of the dirt street some thirty paces apart. It’s apparent; a showdown at high noon.

Nervous eyes flit back and forth between guns and pupils.  Hands at the ready.  One flinches first and they both draw. Two GUNSHOTS ring out.

One man hits the dirt, dead.

Only the wind rustles, as the wild west town settles for a second until…

A CROWD rises in APPLAUSE. Revealed on the side of the dirt street opposite of the town is a crowd of TOURISTS, with cameras and balloons and cowboy hats made out of straw with the logo for “Gunsight Pass” stitched on them.

Locker 13 Western Scene

This is the opening scene to Brothers’ Ink Productions anthology film, “Locker 13”.   Now I helped craft this scene as one of the writers and as the Director.  It’s one thing to envision the scene on paper and then orchestrate the scene for film.  A lot goes into what you see here.

There is a team of people that work closely together to create this scene that lasts just a moment on screen.  I’m very happy with the way it turned out.  And it’s in large part to the two actor/stuntmen that you see here, Chaz Lee and George Nelson from Six Gun Entertainment.

Western pic 2

Chaz Lee

These guys were awesome!  They were in character, in costume, and ready to go.  They understood exactly what I needed and performed seamlessly every time.  They were a God send, because we were waiting on the crew to set up, we had a crowd of extras to deal with, and we were losing light.  The sun was setting fast.  They were excellent to work with.  Definitely a directors dream.

And I can’t go without mentioning the stunt Chaz performed over and over.  I needed him to get shot and fall on the rocky ground.  We could have faked it with a close-up and pads on the ground.  But I wanted to get the full shot.  I remember asking him if that was a problem and he said “no problem”.  Then, I made him do it 6 times before the sun set that day.  He never complained.  And it was flawless.  Everytime.

Being a stuntman is not easy and they have the broken bones and bruises to prove it.  And many times it’s a thankless job.  But they continue to do it, so we can watch great movies.  I just wanted to make sure that they get some love once in a while.  So, Chaz Lee and George Nelson, I just wanted to thank you again.  You guys rock!

 

Best Name Change For a Movie? My Top Four!

 

Several really great movies had their names changed right before release.  Here are a few of my all time favorites: The 13th Warrior, While You Were Sleeping, Field of Dreams and Blade Runner.

The movie based on Michael Crichton’s novel, Eaters of the Dead was changed at the last minute to The 13th Warrior (1999).  It’s the best single name change for a movie that I can think of, but to the dismay of the studio, did not help the film at the box office, which is a real shame, because the finished film is fantastic.  It’s my favorite viking film ever.13th warrior

They had a lot of problems with the film in production. The film was directed by John McTiernan, but after they were finished, the film got previewed by an audience and didn’t do well.  Michael Crichton then took the film into hand and re-shot many scenes and re-edited the film, even going so far to recast the main villain to be a much younger and deadlier foe. Another thing that was changed completely was the score. The original score was composed by Graeme Revell and the new score was composed by Jerry Goldsmith.  The studio lost faith in the film and after a lengthy post production, finally dumped the film into theatres with virtually no marketing.  It was held off from release for two years.13th-warrior-poster

The next one that I can definitely appreciate was originally titled Coma Guy and was changed at the last minute to While You Were Sleeping (1995).  This one was Sandra Bullock’s breakout role and made her America’s sweetheart.  It was a bit of a sleeper hit when it was released and no one was ready for the success of the film. The movie was directed by Jon Turtleltaub.while-you-were-sleeping

I love this movie, but I’m not so sure if I would have watched it with the original title, so good move studio. I loved the cast and thought they did a perfect job filling the roles. Early on in the process of casting a lot of famous faces were considered for the main roles of Jack and Lucy. Demi Moore, Julia Roberts, Nicole Kidman, Geena Davis and Jamie Gertz were considered before Sandra Bullock got the role of Lucy.  Matthew McConaughey, Russell Crowe, James Spader, Dylan McDermott, Harrison Ford, Patrick Swayze, Dennis Quaid, and Pierce Brosnan were considered for the role of Jack before Bill Pullman was cast.While-You-were-Sleeping-bill-pullman-25401175-960-540

My 3rd favorite for title change was Shoeless Joe, which was finally changed to Field of Dreams (1989).  I don’t think Shoeless Joe was a bad title, but it failed to convey what the film was ultimately about. Field of Dreams was directed by Phil Alden Robinson. Now this one has an unusual story behind the name change. When the studio previewed the film, of course the audience hated the original name, thinking it sounded like a movie about a guy with no shoes. So the studio made the name change to Field of Dreams and called Phil Alden Robinson and let him know. He was upset and called the writer of the book, W.P. Kinsella and “broke” the bad news to him. W.P. Kinsella was thrilled because his original title of the manuscript he turned into the publishers was called, Dream Field! The publishers had changed the title for publication, thinking Dream Field was too vague.field_of_dreams

When it comes to underrated films, this would probably top my list, which is fitting because the magazine Premiere named this film as Top Twenty of Most Underrated Films of All Time, but was also included in the list, 1001 Movies You Must See before You Die, by Steven Schneider. Last film to have the legendary Burt Lancaster. What a great movie.

The last title change that I’ll mention is the original Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? which was changed to non-other than Blade Runner (1982).  This one is 4th for me because I really do LOVE this title, but it doesn’t fit a movie poster very well.  I’ve come to love the title, Blade Runner, over the years. Blade Runner was directed by Ridley Scott, based on a short story of the original title by Phillip K. Dick.  I will say there’s a caveat, although because I was NOT a fan of the original film. The studio’s overlay of Harrison Ford’s voice ala’ Film Noir was not necessary. My brother and I prefer the Director’s Cut that came out a decade later.blade runnerSpeaking about the voice-over, for many years Harrison Ford refused to talk about the film, but he did contribute to the 2007 DVD documentary Dangerous Days: Making Blade Runner (2007), claiming he has reconciled with Ridley Scott and made his peace with the film. In fact, Ford says the thing he remembers most is not the grueling shoot or the arguments with his director, but being forced to record the voiceover which executive producers Jerry Perenchio and Bud Yorkin insisted be in the film. Ford doesn’t actually mention any names, but in discussing the voiceover which was used in the theatrical cut, he says it was written by “clowns”. In actual fact, Darryl Ponicsan was initially hired to write it, but his version was tossed out. Then Roland Kibbee was hired and his version is the one that was used.

It may not be a favorite film, because of these things, for Harrison Ford or the director, Ridley Scott, but it is, however the favorite film of Rutger Hauer. This was in part to one of the most brilliant improvised moments ever caught on film. Rutger Hauer’s speech as he “dies” was pieced together by the actor on the spot and is brilliant. Originally, Roy Batty was to have a lengthy monologue just prior to his death, as written by David Webb Peoples. Rutger Hauer felt this didn’t help in creating any dramatic impact in the scene, so he removed much, keeping the pieces he liked, and then added the last two lines, “All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die.”