GRADUATING TO DIRECTION
He’s held out longer than most. But Dustin Hoffman is finally thinking about making
his feature directorial debut. The star - to whom, given memories of The Graduate, it is
hard to attach the usually required moniker of ‘veteran’ - has been involved
behind the camera since the mid-nineties, when he set up his own company, Punch
That company has four completed movies to its credit including American Buffalo and
Over the Moon - the most recent of them being Boys and Girls. But Hoffman has generally
taken a back seat (except for American Buffalo, in which he starred). It will, however, be
as a multi-hyphenate that he approaches Personal Injuries, which is based on the latest
legal thriller by Scott Turow. Hoffman will direct, produce and star in the film, which is
being made in association with Disney. No start date or further cast members have yet been
FORTY YEARS ON
Here are a few facts that you probably already knew about James Bond movies. Having run
uninterrupted for just short of 40 years, the Bond films are the longest-running franchise
in the history of the cinema, easily dwarfing such earlier contenders as Rin-Tin-Tin,
Lassie and Abbot and Costello. In fact, next year will be the official 40th anniversaary
of the opening of Dr No.
There have now been 19 official movies - not to mention a couple of unofficial ones and
any number of spoofs and spin-offs - but only nine directors. There have been multiple
memorable villains, but only one actor common to every film (except Dr No): Desmond Llewellyn, who played
gadget master Q. Bond 19 - The World Is Not Enough (1999) - will, however, mark his final
appearance: Llewellyn was killed in a car crash last summer at the age of 85.
Here, however, are a few facts that you may not have known. First, the series will add
its tenth director to the roster when New Zealander Lee Tamahori takes the helm of what,
following tradition, is currently known only as Bond 20 goes in front of the cameras early
Tamahori made a huge impact with his directorial debut, Once Were Warriors, which
remains New Zealand’s most successful film ever. He proved less lucky with his first
two North American movies, Mulholland Falls and The Edge (both featured in Preview), but
was back on the right track with Along Came a Spider, which was a hit around the world
earlier this year.
Pierce Brosnan will again play 007 in what is rumoured to be his last appearance in the
role. Naturally, speculation is rife as to who might replace him, with a recent feature in
Entertainment Weekly listing Russell Crowe, pop star Robbie Williams and Gerard Butler
(star of Wes Craven Presents: Dracula 2000) among the front runners.
But I’ve saved the best piece of news about Bond 20 until last. After three films
spent driving around in BMWs, 007 is to return to his beloved Aston Martin, albeit an
updated version of the DB5 behind whose wheel James first climbed in Goldfinger (1964).
For Bond 20, he will drive a brand new V12 Vanquish, which has a Formula One-style
gearbox, a V12 engine and can be bought in the US starting this month (September) for a
"I am sure James Bond will recognise some of the styling cues on the Aston Martin
Vanquish," says Dr Ulrich Bez (a name which could easily feature in the cast list of
a Bond film), boss of Aston Martin Lagonda. "He will find it technologically advanced
and perfectly suited for the type of work he does today."
YOU CAN’T BEAT NATURE
Here’s a heart-warming tale which proves that even established film-makers can be
at the mercy of events. This Is Not a Love Song is a new British thriller, directed by
Bille Eltringham and written by Simon Beaufoy, who scripted The Full Monty.
Beaufoy is a recognisable enough name that he is currently being used to sell a brand
of laptop computers on British television, and the new film is about the accidental
shooting of a farmer’s daughter and the cross-country vigilante manhunt which ensues.
It is a 100%-digital production and was originally supposed to be shot in Cumbria this
But the part of Cumbria selected was one of the hot-spots of the recent British
outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease, and the location turned out to be right in the middle
of the no-go area. A new location was swiftly found near Settle. But, before shooting
could begin, this also became a foot-and-mouth-infected area. Finally, Scottish Screen,
the promotional organisation set up some four years ago to promote film-making north of
the border, stepped in and found a location near Aberfoyle in the Scottish lowlands.
For a variety of reasons, this left the production very little time to complete, and
the film was shot on a punishing schedule in a mere 12 days. This Is Not a Love Song is
one of the first batch of films to be made under the UK Film Council’s New Cinema
Fund, and is designed to promote projects using new technology. But the technology proved
powerless against one of the oldest scourges of British agriculture.
When America examined its radical past in the Abbie Hoffman biopic, Steal This Movie,
not many members of the current generation turned out to see what it had all been about -
which is a polite way of saying that the film bombed (unlike its subject, who drew the
line at blowing things up).
But Germany, it seems, is a different matter. True, German radicalism in the sixties
and seventies was an altogether more serious business, and one which has left traumatic
scars on a generation. There were assassinations of politicians and businessmen, bombings
and shoot-outs, all of which indicate that the Baader-Meinhof Group had about as much in
common with Hoffman’s Yippies (Youth International Protest Party) as Atomic Kitten
have with NWA.
Whether because or inspite of this, German audiences have recently warmed to a trio of
films which pry into the recent slice of their past: Volker Schlöndorff’s 2000
return to form, Die Stille nach dem Schuss (Rita’s Legends); Christian Petzold’s
Die innere Sicherheit (The State I’m In), which got a special screening at Cannes
this year; and, more recently, the documentary Black Box BRD.
Not since Reinhard Hauff’s trial movie, Stammheim, however, has a German
film-maker come close to the radical heart of the Rote Armee Fraktion, the
‘official’ name for the Baader-Meinhof Group (they were very insistent about the
‘r’ that turned ‘faction’ into ‘fraction’). Now, Andy
Paterson, Anand Tucker and Frank Cottrell Boyce’s London-based company, Archer
Street, working together with Berlin’s Hope & Glory and Danish producer Mats
Egmont Christiansen is in pre-production on Wanted, which will focus on the two women at
the heart of the RAF: Ulrike Meinhof and Gudrunn Ennslin.
The film, which is due to start shooting shortly on a budget of around US$7.5 million,
will be directed by an Englishman, Peter Webber, with two top European actresses in the
lead roles. Heike Makatsch, seen most recently in the German period drama Gripsholm, will
play Ennslin; and Sweden’s Pernilla August will be Meinhof. The film, which will be
shot in English, is based on a (German) novel by Stefan Aust.
Published September 6, 2001