The Hunt for Gollum

Tolkien

I first encountered the writings of English writer, poet and academic JRR Tolkien, as I suspect many other teenagers did in the early 80s, when I received a copy of The Hobbit for the Commodore 64 back in 1983.

My copy of the computer game (on cassette) came bundled with a copy of the novel. I still have it—it’s a rather loose-leaf copy now; it has a cover price of £1.50. The game cost £14.95, which was more than twice the price of an average music album in those days, and took around 30 minutes to load.

As an aside, as I’m sure many other are, I’m keenly looking forward to seeing The Hobbit in the cinema next December.

It wasn’t until nine years later, in my final year at the University of St Andrews, that I discovered The Lord of the Rings, and years after that The Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales, and various other collections of his works documenting the history of Middle Earth.

The Hunt for Gollum

The Hunt for Gollum is a British fan-made, unofficial prequel to The Lord of the Rings film trilogy that documents Aragorn’s quest to find Gollum. And it’s really rather good, for a film shot in high-definition video on a budget of GBP £3,000.

The story takes place 17 years after Bilbo’s eleventy-first birthday party following Gandalf the Grey’s investigations into the original of the One Ring and he fears that Gollum will reveal information to the Dark Lord Sauron about Bilbo Baggins.

The film lasts just under 40 minutes.

Will – trailer for my cousin’s new film

In 2005 my American cousin Zack sent me a draft screenplay for a film he and his girlfriend were working on. In short, it was about a football-crazy schoolboy, Will, who travels half-way across Europe to watch the cup final in which his favourite team are playing.

Well, the film has now been made and that’s the trailer for it (above)!

I still have the two early drafts of the screenplay which Zack sent me to see if was British enough, and to enable me to do some research for the film, which was great fun to do!

Jane and I caught up with Zack last year in London just as filming was about to begin. Casting had just finished with Damien Lewis (Band of Brothers, Life, Dreamcatcher, etc.) and Bob Hoskins (Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Hook, Brazil, etc.) taking lead roles.

I just heard today that the film—now called simply Will—will be screening at the Cannes Film Market (Marché du Film) this week.

Good luck Zack, we’ll be thinking of you.

The God who wasn’t there

Has anyone (who reads this blog) seen the movie The God Who Wasn’t There? And if so, what you thought of it?  I’m thinking about my Christmas list on Amazon and it’s a toss up between this and Trumpton – The Complete Collection.

Here’s the blurb on their website:

Bowling for Columbine did it to the gun culture.

Super Size Me did it to fast food.

Now The God Who Wasn’t There does it to religion.

The movie that has been astounding audiences in theaters around the world is now available on a high-quality, feature-packed DVD. Own the taboo-shattering documentary that Newsweek says “irreverently lays out the case that Jesus Christ never existed.”

I did discover a website by GakuseiDon, who describes himself as “a moderate Christian” that examines the claims in film pointing out its inaccuracies.  That website alone makes for interesting reading without seeing the film.

Zeitgeist

Reminds me of part of the film Zeitgeist – The Movie. Now there’s a film with a few interesting things to say about money, given the current financial crisis.

Makes you wonder …

Pig Hunt

Les Claypool dressed as a vicar

Where else would you see Primus bassist/vocalist Les Claypool dressed as a freaky-looking US preacher man (MMFSOG, perhaps?) than on the set of my cousins’ latest film Pig Hunt!

Filmed in Boonville, California — also the name of Robert Mailer Anderson’s first novel (you can buy Boonville on Amazon UK from as little as £0.01) — as the name suggests Pig Hunt is in the “dark comic horror” genre.

“One of the goals of PIG HUNT is to examine death, and why people kill, so there will be a fair amount of gore,” Anderson tells Fango, “but it isn’t ‘torture porn.'”

“PIG HUNT is old-school terror, like DELIVERANCE or STRAW DOGS except, of course,” he notes playfully, “for the ‘Abu Ghraib’ setpiece, and our 3,000-pound wild hog, and the dead emus, and the decapitation, and the gunplay.”

So, I guess we can expect more than a few litres of fake blood and some left-wing politics thrown in for good measure.

According to the Internet Movie Database (IMDB) It looks like this film is scheduled for a 2008 release. Here’s the plot summary:

When John takes his San Francisco friends to his deceased uncle’s remote ranch to hunt wild pigs, it seems like a typical guys weekend with guns – despite the presence of John’s sexy girlfriend Brooks. But as John and his crew trek deeper into the forest, they begin tracking the awful truth about his uncle’s demise and the legend of The Ripper — a murderous three-thousand-pound black boar!

Their pursuit leads them through fields of marijuana and into the muddy landscape of Big Wallow, involving high-powered weaponry, the violent and unpredictable Tibbs Brothers, massacred emus, a machete-toting Hippie Stranger, vengeful rednecks, and throat-slitting Cult Girls who grow dope by day and worship a Giant Killer Pig by night. By the time the pig hunt is done, no one is innocent – or unscathed.

Not for the faint of heart, PIG HUNT is a darkly comic horror film that combines the best of DELIVERANCE, JAWS, and DINER, but remains uniquely Nor-Cal in its tone and scope. It is cinematic punkabilly – fresh, shocking, unforgettable!

Written by Anonymous

You can read about the producers (cousins Robert and Zack — and not ‘Zach’ as 7x7sf.com call him) and see some (gruesome) pictures from the film here:

Sorry to hear about Les Claypool breaking a finger, though — I wish him well in his recovery.

I love my American family, you literary (sic) never know what they’ll get up to next. If it’s not writing film scripts about football then its filming horror flicks involving wild boar. Besides, they are some of the loveliest, funniest people you could ever hope to meet.

Déjà vu

Déjà vu

So, there is a new film coming out soon (15 December) starring Denzil Washington called Déjà vu.

Called in to recover evidence after a bomb sets off a cataclysmic explosion on a New Orleans Ferry, Carlin is about to discover that what most people believe is only in their heads is actually something far more powerful – and will lead him on a mind-bending race to save hundreds of innocent people.

I’m sure I’ve seen that before.

The Queen

Portion of a poster for the film The Queen

Last night Jane and I travelled to Edinburgh to see The Queen. What it is to have connections.

Well, alright we didn’t actually meet Her Majesty in person, instead our lovely friends Dusty and Joy, Jane and myself sat in a darkened room in Wester Hailes and watched Stephen Frears’ film about the House of Windsor during those strange couple of weeks in 1997 in the days between Tony Blair’s election to government and the death of Diana Princess of Wales.

At times the film felt like a comedy, while at other moments like a tragedy. Overall it was an intelligent and moving film. I felt great sympathy with both The Queen and with Tony Blair, played by Helen Mirren and Michael Sheen respectively, a clash of two cultures and upbringings. I longed for the Royal Family to realise the feelings of the people but could quite understand their sense of shock and that their perception and interaction with Diana was completely different to her public persona.

There were a few moments in the film that I found most moving. Charles flying to Paris to see Diana’s body; how hard must that have been? The Queen’s landrover breaking down en route to a stag hunt, and the Queen crying at the side of the river. The Queen’s walkabout outside Buckingham Palace once she returned to London, the sea of flowers on the pavement placed in memory of Diana and the bouquet of flowers presented to The Queen by the little girl in the crowd. The acting was first class.

It took me back to those strange days in London in 1997. I remember waking up in my room in Bermondsey and hearing the news that Diana had been killed. We gathered in our communal lounge at Lansdowne (accommodation for Shaftesbury Society homeless hostel workers) in our pyjamas and watched the news on TV, stunned. I remember many of our homeless residents queuing for hours and hours and hours to sign the book of condolence, and to go out early on the evening before her funeral to sleep on the streets to book a place. (We joked that Diana had made homeless people homeless again for one night.)

I moved out of London and back to Scotland that day. I sat exhausted (having driven through the night) on Mum’s sofa in Selkirk watching the funeral on television with my friends Danny and Greg. What an odd and memorable day that was. What a splendid film.

Tonight I’m off to Glasgow to see Motörhead in concert.