Archive for the ‘influential films’ Category

Almost Famous

June 22, 2014



Almost Famous is a 2000 comedy-drama film written, co-produced, and directed by Cameron Crowe, telling the coming-of-age story of a teenage journalist writing for Rolling Stone magazine while on the road with a fictitious 1970s rock band named Stillwater. The film is semi-autobiographical, Crowe himself having been a teenage writer for Rolling Stone.

The film received positive reviews, and received four Oscar nominations, with Crowe winning one for best original screenplay. It also earned the 2001 Grammy Award Best Compilation Soundtrack Album. Renowned film critic Roger Ebert hailed it the best film of the year.



The film is based on Cameron Crowe’s experiences touring with rock bands Poco, The Allman Brothers Band, Led Zeppelin, Eagles, and Lynyrd Skynyrd. In a Rolling Stone article, he talks about how he lost his virginity, fell in love, and met his heroes, experiences that are shared by William, the main character in the film.

Crowe compiled an alternate version of the film for home video called Almost Famous: Untitled, which was a compilation of both released footage and his favorite deleted scenes. It runs for about forty minutes longer than the theatrical release and was subtitled “The Bootleg Cut“.





Patrick Fugit as William Miller

Michael Angarano as Young William

Billy Crudup as Russell Hammond

Frances McDormand as Elaine Miller

Kate Hudson as Penny Lane

Jason Lee as Jeff Bebe

Zooey Deschanel as Anita Miller

Anna Paquin as Polexia Aphrodisia

Fairuza Balk as Sapphire

Bijou Phillips as Estrella Starr

Noah Taylor as Dick Roswell

Philip Seymour Hoffman as Lester Bangs

Terry Chen as Ben Fong-Torres

Jay Baruchel as Vic Munoz

Jimmy Fallon as Dennis Hope

Rainn Wilson as David Felton

Mark Kozelek as Larry Fellows

Liz Stauber as Leslie Hammond

John Fedevich as Ed Vallencourt

Eric Stonestreet as Sheldon the Desk Clerk



Almost Famous – A Film by Cameron Crowe





The Wicker Man

September 18, 2013

The Wicker Man is a 1973 British horror film directed by Robin Hardy and written by Anthony Shaffer. The film stars Edward Woodward, Christopher Lee, Diane Cilento, Ingrid Pitt, and Britt Ekland. Paul Giovanni composed the soundtrack. The film is now considered a cult classic.

twm - poster

The Wicker Man original poster

Shaffer read David Pinner’s 1967 novel Ritual, in which a devout Christian policeman is called to investigate what appears to be the ritual murder of a young girl in a rural village. Shaffer decided that it would serve well as the source material for the project.

ritual - dp

Inspired by the basic scenario in Ritual, Shaffer wrote a screenplay which centres on the visit of Police Sergeant Neil Howie to the isolated island of Summerisle, in search of a missing girl the locals claim never existed. Howie, a devout Christian, is appalled to find that the inhabitants of the island practice a form of Celtic paganism.


Shaffer wanted the film to be ‘a little more literate’ than the average horror picture. The idea of a confrontation between a modern Christian and a remote, pagan community continued to intrigue Shaffer, who performed painstaking research on paganism. Working with director Robin Hardy, the film was conceived as presenting the pagan elements objectively and accurately, accompanied by authentic music and a believable, contemporary setting.


The image of the wicker man, which gave the filmmakers their title, was taken from a paragraph in The Gallic War, Julius Caesar’s account of his wars in what is now France. Caesar wrote:

‘The whole of the Gallic nation… believe that unless one human life is offered for another the power and presence of the immortal gods cannot be propitiated. They also hold state sacrifices of a similar kind. Some of them use huge images of the gods, and fill their limbs, which are woven from wicker, with living people. When these images are set on fire the people inside are engulfed in flames and killed. They believe that the gods are more pleased by such punishments when it is inflicted upon those who are caught engaged in theft or robbery or other crimes; but if there is a lack of people of this kind, they will even stoop to punishing the guiltless.’ (Julius Caesar, The Gallic War, 6.17).


The Wicker Man, released in 1973, became a cult classic. Hardy and Schaffer also collaborated on a novelization of their film.

twm - novel

In 2011, a spiritual sequel entitled The Wicker Tree was released.

wicker tree sd

It was directed by Robin Hardy, and featured an appearance by Christopher Lee. Hardy first published the story as a novel, under the name Cowboys for Christ.

cfc rh

First announced during April 2000, filming on The Wicker Tree began on 19 July 2009. It follows two young American Christian evangelists who travel to Scotland; like Neil Howie in The Wicker Man, the two Americans are virgins who encounter a pagan laird and his followers.

Here is a trailer: 



Those involved in the production of the film have given conflicting statements regarding the identity of Christopher Lee’s character, referred to only as ‘Old Gentleman’ in the credits Writer/director Robin Hardy has stated that the ambiguity was intentional, but that fans of The Wicker Man will immediately recognise Lee’s character as Lord Summerisle.


Recently, it was announced that a fully-restored print of The Wicker Man is due to be released on DVD as The Wicker Man (The Final Cut). Robin Hardy has confirmed this.


Here is a trailer:



The Wicker Man

(c) R J Dent 2013

25 Films That Made a Difference

June 23, 2008


One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest


Betty Blue


The Shining


Lawrence of Arabia


Apocalypse Now




The Singing Detective (TV version)




The Man Who Fell to Earth


Pulp Fiction


A Clockwork Orange




Some Like It Hot


Sunset Boulevard

sunset boulevard

Lord of the Rings

lord of the rings

The Wizard of Oz


Gone With the Wind


A History of Violence

history of violence

The Godfather


A Scanner Darkly


Santa Sangre


Mulholland Drive






Mishima: A Life in 4 Chapters

mishima 4 chapters

25 Films That Made a Difference

© R J Dent (2009)