Caught the uncut version of Tarantino’s Deathproof on DVD over the weekend. Actually a bit of a blast, faux-70’s styling with dodgy edits, scratchy film, wandering colour balance etc. Check out the dents on 1970 Dodge Challenger – they get less as the crashes get worse.

Deathproof features a deranged killer named Stuntman Mike – Kurt Russell – who stalks a group of young women as they spend their night in Austin, Texas, bar hopping, teasing boys, and getting trashed. Stuntman Mike proceeds to kill the girls by crashing into them head on with his death-proof muscle car. Of course, he walks away unharmed.

Months later in Tennesee, he targets another group of young women but this time, he picks the wrong targets (they’re in the film industry, so you must know….)


The first part of the movie is awash with Austin locations – there’s talk of The Dobie Theater, Guero’s, Lake LBJ. And the main action takes place in Austin’s real-life Texas Chili Parlor -although this venerable establishment is shown with a parking lot and a back porch (it doesn’t). Tarantino added these himself for his own fictional version of the restaraunt. The movie is (self) referential to a t – Abernathy, played by Rosario Dawson, mentions she had a thing for a director named Cecil Evans. Cecil Evans is the name of a transportation coordinator for films in Austin.

An entirely different moral universe: Hackney

I loved David Cronenberg’s History of Violence, which was widely critiqued as a blistering commentary on all the aggression and brutality behind America’s “have-a-nice-day-now” civility. So I wondered what I’d make of Eastern Promises, Cronenberg’s latest movie, now that he turns his attention to London.

Eastern Promises is set in a place called London Fields, a patch of parkland in the borough of Hackney next to Broadway Market. And Eastern Promises unpacks this for us vividly. As Matthew de Abaitua says in his excellent C4 review: “The new London is captured in all its opulence and decay. Views over London Bridge capture the renovated waterfront. The Russian émigrés are all furs and leather – wealth flaunted without the inhibition of the indigenous bourgeoisie – and there is even a scene set outside a Chelsea game, the football club that became the plaything for oligarchs in exile.”

But the London of Eastern Promises always seems to be viewed from a foreigner’s perspective. Maybe it’s the accents – even Naomi Watts speaks like she was born there(actually, she was). Or maybe that’s the point: this part of the city has been alienated, taken over by courtly, charming Russian gentlemen who order indescribable brutalities from our midst. It’s familiar but no longer quite the same.

The stand-out scene of course is a fight to the death in a Finsbury steam bath, with Viggo Mortensen’s tattooed and inscrutable Nikolai, stark naked against two Chechen mobsters wielding curved blades. Oh yes. Hackney; it’s an entirely different moral univese.

Imbongi Awards

CFC Logo
The Cape Film Commission created the IMBONGI AWARDS in 2007. IMBONGI means Praise Singer, and the IMBONGI AWARDS are intended to sing the praises of the film sector in the Western Cape. The goal of the Imbongi Awards is to
• raise the industry’s profile
• recognise its achievements,
• reflect the complex, multi-level nature of the sector
• stimulate excellence throughout the value chain of a production.

To access Martin Cuff Consulting’s programme for the CFC’s Imbongi Awards, please click here


Finally saw Atonement over the weekend. Hadn’t been until now, because I’m a noisy sobber, and I didn’t want to embarass myself with too much loud and protracted weeping. But: I’m glad I saw it. It’s a beautifully-made film, with a truly memorable score, great costumes and period locations that are recreated with vivid attention to detail.


If you are in any way interested in the production design elements that result in such a lush production, check out Peter Bowen’s Design of History story at Of course, being a British film, Visit Britain does the “best supporting” honours superbly, with wonderful information on Atonement’s locations and how to visit them. One of the most memorable scenes – the chaotic, disorderly and frankly disgraceful evacuation of British forces from Dunkirk, France – was actually filmed in Redcar in the north of England.

But for a different take, also look at the Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council’s website for a glimpse of the real excitement, the enthusiasm, the willingness to cope with disruption, and of course the economic impacts of a major film.

Shirley Valentine

We have a pet hate in our family; the incessant and omnipresent Greek Tourism ad that tops and tails movie news on CNN. At 59 seconds, the (admittedly well-produced) spot seems longer than the snippet of film news it supports.

Now in comparison, last night we caught Shirley Valentine on tv. It’s a great little movie (Tom Conti’s accent notwithstanding) filmed in the village of Agios Ioannis on the island of Mykonos, and it effortlessly exudes the charm and simplicity of the Aegean. It simply makes you want to reinvent your life in the Greek sunshine. In fact, the movie (and stage play) have been so influential in positioning Greece as a lifestyle choice that “doing a Shirley Valentine” has entered the popular lexicon as an expression of escapism.

Oh My God, Can You Rent the Colosseum?!

For a Locations junkie, I took my own sweet time to get around to blogging about Jumper, the Hayden Christiansen / Samuel L Jackson sci fi pic about a young man who learns that he has the power of teleportation. Given his special skills, it’s unsurprising that the movie’s locations include Paris, China, Egypt, the Sahara, Toronto, New York, Michigan, Tokyo and Rome.

Most impressive of these, the Rome Film Commission granted rare access to film in the Colosseum for three days.


The New York Times reports this film-making coup to have been made possible by Rome Mayor, Walter Veltroni, “an unabashed cinephile with a soft spot for Hollywood glitz. Mayor Veltroni dined with Tom Cruise & Katie Holmes on the eve of their Italian wedding, and was primarily responsible for creating the Rome Film Festival, which took place for the first time in October. On the business front, his administration has streamlined the process for getting filming permits, and authorizes more than 2,000 shoots in the city each year.”

To make Jumper happen, the crew was required to keep equipment off the ground by using harnesses and to rely only on natural light for filming the Colosseum’s scenes.

Cape Town cranks up Locations & Permitting

Cape Town has had a decade-long reputation as a thriving film hub with a “can do” attitude. However, this season, the sector has been hit by a number of locations management issues that industry insiders are calling a “crisis”. Following an Industry Locations meeting called on 6th December 2007, the Cape Film Commission has responded swiftly and positively:

 Lord of War  Made in Cape Town – Lord of War

Interventions include: (more…)