Desperate Hours, Celtic Film Festival report. plus reviews ofJu Dou, Look Who's Talking Too
[Hired a Contract Killer and xi t‘u/on.
INDEX: 18 LISTINGS 25
Taking the Mickey
After the acclaimed Deer Hunter and the disastrous Heaven 's‘ (fate. eclectic director Michael Cimino is back. with a remake ofthe 1955 thriller Desperate Hours“. starring Mickey Rourke and Anthony Hopkins. He told Nigel Floyd about the high noon acting duel in his ‘Western in disguise.‘
Michael (‘imino‘s reputation as a difficult interviewee strides before him like an ominous shadow. In his book about the making of Heaven's (Jute. Steven Bach says (‘imino has. ‘a tenacious desire for control coupled with a penchant for secrecy.‘ In the flesh. (‘imino is shorter and less frightening than his mythical shadow suggests: he seems tnore shy than paranoid. tnore intense than secretive.
‘I don‘t like the idea of being a public figure.‘ he claims. ‘I love making movies. but unlike a lot of directors I have no ambition to be a cover girl. When I work. all of my effort is directed towards helping the actors. giving them all the support I can to get the best performances out of them. Unfortunately. because of the way the business functions. it's the director who has to talk to the media.’
Re-watching William Wyler‘s 1955 version of Desperate Hours‘. it was hard to imagine what appeal a remake could hold fora film-maker like (‘imino A psychological hostage drama confined almost entirely to the interior of a suburban home. Wyler's version is the antithesis of the epic sweep and visual grandeur of The Deer Hunteror Heaven 's‘ (iute. This is why he abandoned most of the set-bound scenario and opened out the early scenes to include the wide vistas and big sky of his favourite genre. the Western.
‘lt's a contemporary Western in disguise.. he says. "I’hat‘s why I made the exteriors so grand. I really made an effort to use some of the most glorious places in the West.
‘After all. Anthony Hopkins is in the exact same position as Gary Cooper in Hiin Noon. He's a man who has used force and faced death before. Essentially. he's a man ofpeace. but there comes a moment when his life. and the lives of his family.
are at stake. And in order to save them. he must
resort to the use of force. as ( iary (‘ooper does to save (irace Kelly. It‘s a classic tale of the West.’
One major challenge facing (‘imino on Desperate Hours was to negotiate the contrasting acting styles of classically trained Anthony Hopkins and Mickey Rourke. an alumnus of l .ee Strasberg's method acting studio. llopkins. it seems. was very excited at the prospect. talking constantly about the thrill of working with such a physical young actor. (‘imino warned him that after a month of being punched and kicked. pushed down stairwells and dragged about by the neck. he might not be quite so excited. but delights in relating an instance of how the two actors struck sparks offeach other.
“We had a scene where Mickey pushed a gun a bit too hard into 'l'ony‘s neck and that just snapped it. I think everything that had been accumulating in him for months just blew him up in that moment. He let out this roar - it sounded like some great cat in a zoo gone beserk —— and everyone just fro/e. But
lquietly signalled to the camera crew to keep the cameras turning. and l gestured to Mickey and the
other actors not to move. [didn‘t know if’l’onv was
going to walk out the studio door and take the next plane back to London.
‘But after what seemed like hours. although it was probably only thirty of forty seconds. we heard these footsteps slowly coming back. and 'l‘ony went straight back into the scene. And that w as the take we used in the movie. I knew that the man in 'l’ony wanted to flatten Mickey. but the actor in ’l'ony. which I counted on being stronger. knew that something had happened. something exciting.
"l‘here‘s always a moment like that in a movie. where the reality takes over. It's an electric moment. for the cast. the crew. everyone. Suddenly. everyone forgets how hard they‘ve been working and they‘re all united in this moment of exquisite tension.’
Desperate Hours (/5) opens at Edinburgh and SH‘tUHt‘ll'tlt’ l '( is on l’ri'J‘) Mare/t.
'l‘he List 22 March - 4April 199117