Robert Zemeckis’ Latest 10 Movies vs. Greatest 10 Movies

Robert Zemeckis

Latest vs. Greatest is a relatively new feature here at Killing Time.  We’re going to look at directors, actors and actresses and assess the state of their career as it stands.  We’ll look back at the last 10 movies the artist has done, give it a grade and then average them out to see where they stand today.  We’ll also rank their 10 best movies and give it the same treatment to see what they have been doing compares to their very best work.  (A quick side-note: if an artist is also a regular on a TV show we’ll grade the seasons as individuals and, clearly, artists need 10 projects to qualify).

Robert Zemeckis is not a typical Hollywood director.  He doesn’t have a specific type or style of film he chooses.  He’s not prolific.  He’s only directed 10 films in last 23 years.  Before last year’s Flight, he hadn’t directed a live-action movie since 2000’s Cast Away.  He switched all his efforts to working on a motion capture animation style which he used in The Polar Express, Beowulf and A Christmas Carol.  Not many directors take 12 years off from live film making to dabble in new tech.  James Cameron is the only other one I can think of, but he was also busy between Titanic and Avatar gold-plating his private island with all the money he’s made.  Zemeckis is semi-well known to film goers, but not an immediate name like Cameron, Spielberg, or Tarantino.  His body of work; however, contains a favorite film of almost anyone.

Zemeckis has always innovated.  If there’s a common thread to the disparate themes in his work, it’s that something in the film is pushed to the edge be it technology (Forrest Gump, Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, the animated films), the boundaries of storytelling (Flight) or what can be asked of a single actor in a single film (Cast Away).  As I said, it’s a bit of a misnomer to examine his “latest ten” because they stretch all the way back to 1989, but it’s the name of the game, so here’s his latest ten

Back to the Future, Marty McFly, Doc Brown, Christopher Lloyd, Michael J. Fox

ZEMECKIS’ LATEST TEN:
1. Flight (2012) ………………………………………………………………….. 9.25
2. A Christmas Carol (2009) ………………………………………………… 6.00
3. Beowulf (2007) ………………………………………………………………. 7.25
4. The Polar Express (2004) …………………………………………………4.75
5. Cast Away (2000) …………………………………………………………..10.00
6. What Lies Beneath (2000) …………………………………………………7.50
7. Contact (1997) …………………………………………………………………7.25
8. Forrest Gump (1994) ………………………………………………………..8.50
9. Death Becomes Her (1992) …………………………………………………5.75
10. Back to the Future Part III ……………………………………………….8.00
ROBERT ZEMECKIS’ CURRENT WORKING AVERAGE: 7.425

Forrest Gump, Tom Hanks, Robert Zemeckis

Picking your projects and taking your time seems to work.  Zemeckis has that highest current working average of any artist (director or actor) that we’ve examined thus far.  It would be even higher were it not for the decade long plunge into developing a photo-realistic type of animation that we’ll just call Zemeckamation.  Because that’s simpler.  Z-mation (better!) is characterized by exceedingly creepy characters with likenesses clearly aiming for a certain actor (Jim Carrey or Tom Hanks, for example) and ending up with something that looks a little more like what that person would look like if they could flounce around post-embalming.  It just never quite works.  If not used on people, yes, it looks pretty amazing.  The dragon scene in Beowulf is just awesome!  However for ever scene like that, there are ten scenes where a creepy Tom Hanksian conductor pushes hot chocolate in a hideous, unintentionally macabre production number.  Zemeckis is not currently attached to a future project, but I hope he’ll return his efforts to live-action.  Flight and Cast Away, his last two live-action ventures are two of the best acting showcases in the past two decades.  Let’s look at Zemeckis’ 10 greatest films and get his average score:

ZEMECKIS’ GREATEST TEN:
1. Cast Away (2000) ……………………………………………………………10.00
2. Back to the Future (1985)……………………………………………………9.50
3. Flight (2012) …………………………………………………………………….9.25
4. Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (1988)………………………………………9.00
5. Forrest Gump (1994)………………………………………………………….8.50
6. Back to the Future Part IIII (1990) ………………………………………8.00
7. What Lies Beneath (2000) ………………………………………………….7.50
8. Back to the Future Part II (1989) ………………………………………… 7.50
9. Contact (1997) …………………………………………………………………. 7.25
10. Beowulf (2007) ………………………………………………………………. 7.25
ROBERT ZMECKIS’ CURRENT GREATEST AVERAGE: 8.375

Zemeckis has both the highest last ten movie average we’ve seen in examining artists so far and the lowest greatest average.  The twelve years spent on Z-mation are frustrating to me, because when he’s on, he’s in an elite class of directors.  I hope the obsession with that has faded.  He has the ability to bring the best performances out of his actors and the range of stories he can tell is such that you never know what you’ll get going in, but given his career, you know it’s probably going to be something special.
Tom Hanks, Chuck Nolan, Cast Away, Robert Zemeckis

Anthony Hopkins Has a Breaking Bad Epiphany

Anthony Hopkins

 

I think this story is just so cool and such a telling statement about how special the last eight episodes of Breaking Bad were.  Anthony Hopkins wrote Bryan Cranston a letter telling him he’d binge-watched the entire series and he’d thought Cranston’s work as Walter White was the best acting he has ever seen…ever.  Set aside what he’s done himself, Hopkins has a career stretching fifty years and has worked with any major star you can think of, so when he lays that compliment on you, that’s a special moment.  I don’t know how the letter got out; Cranston probably shared it with his co-starts who are all mentioned also and it was only a matter of time before it appeared online.

It was nice to see peers re-energized by the work around them, especially a man with a career as distinguished as Hopkins.  Here’s the full letter:

Dear Mister Cranston.

I wanted to write you this email – so I am contacting you through Jeremy Barber – I take it we are both represented by UTA . Great agency.

I’ve just finished a marathon of watching “BREAKING BAD” – from episode one of the First Season – to the last eight episodes of the Sixth Season. [Ed note: There are in fact five seasons of Breaking Bad.] (I downloaded the last season onAMAZON) A total of two weeks (addictive) viewing.

I have never watched anything like it. Brilliant!

Your performance as Walter White was the best acting I have seen – ever.

I know there is so much smoke blowing and sickening bullshit in this business, and I’ve sort of lost belief in anything really.

But this work of yours is spectacular – absolutely stunning. What is extraordinary, is the sheer power of everyone in the entire production. What was it? Five or six years in the making? How the producers (yourself being one of them), the writers, directors, cinematographers…. every department – casting etc. managed to keep the discipline and control from beginning to the end is (that over used word) awesome.

From what started as a black comedy, descended into a labyrinth of blood, destruction and hell. It was like a great Jacobean, Shakespearian or Greek Tragedy.

If you ever get a chance to – would you pass on my admiration to everyone – Anna Gunn, Dean Norris, Aaron Paul, Betsy Brandt, R.J. Mitte, Bob Odenkirk, Jonathan Banks, Steven Michael Quezada – everyone – everyone gave master classes of performance … The list is endless.

Thank you. That kind of work/artistry is rare, and when, once in a while, it occurs, as in this epic work, it restores confidence.

You and all the cast are the best actors I’ve ever seen.

That may sound like a good lung full of smoke blowing. But it is not. It’s almost midnight out here in Malibu, and I felt compelled to write this email.

Congratulations and my deepest respect. You are truly a great, great actor.

Best regards

Tony Hopkins.

That; that you frame and stick right by your Emmys.  How cool is that?

Breaking Bad, AMC, Bryan Cranston

FOX Shuffles Release Dates for Frankenstein, Gone Girl and Other Films

FOX20th Century FOX has released a press statement this morning containing a number of release date shifts including ones for Frankenstein and David Fincher’s adaptation of my favorite book of last year: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.

Following this morning’s news that 20th Century Fox has set Roma Downey and Mark Burnett’s Son of God for a February 28, 2014 release comes a few more release date announcements and changes from the studio.

Jorge R. Gutierrez’s Book of Life, formerly set for release on October 3, 2014, will now arrive two weeks later on October 17. The animated film, produced by Guillermo del Toro, is said to be a “Romeo and Juliet” style love story set against a Mexican “Day of the Dead” backdrop. The new date has Book of Life opening opposite Tate Taylor’s James Brown biopic, Get On Up.

The Paul McGuigan-directed Frankenstein, formerly set for release on that same October 17, will now arrive January 6, 2015. With a cast that includes Daniel Radcliffe, James McAvoy and Jessica Brown Findlay, Frankenstein is currently set to open without any newly-released competition.

Finally, David Fincher’s Gone Girl, which was formerly without a release date, will open October 3, 2014. Starring Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry, Kim Dickens, Patrick Fugit and Carrie Coon, Gone Girl will go up against Gary Shore’s Dracula Untold.
Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn

First Photos of Black Canary and Arrow From Arrow Season Two

Arrow, Caity Lotz, Green Arrow, Black Canary, Stephen Ammel, Those of you who missed the season two premiere of Arrow last week missed the first appearance in Starling City of Black Canary, Oliver’s lifelong love interest in the comics.  Of course, in the comics, Dinah Lance is Black Canary and on the show, Dinah “Laurel” Lance is Oliver’s love interest but another character altogether.  So I’m curious as to who this Black Canary is and what her connection will be to Arrow.  These images are probably from the 2.04 “The Crucible”, which has been advertised as the first time the heroes would meet.  Here’s the rundown for that episode:

“Oliver discovers a man who goes by the name “The Mayor” (guest star Cle Bennett) is bringing illegal guns in to The Glades, so Oliver sponsors a “Cash for Guns” event to help clean up the city.  Unfortunately, The Mayor crashes the event with his gang and seriously injures Sin (guest star Bex Taylor-Klaus).  The Canary is furious when she learns her friend is in the hospital and sets out for revenge.  Meanwhile, Felicity  stuns Oliver with a bit of information about the Canary, Donner (guest star Dylan Bruce) asks Laurel to dinner, and Diggle reconnects with an old friend.”

Of course she’s just “Canary”.  We’re ditching all color adjectives apparently.  So does Roy Harper end up being “Speedy”, “Arsenal” or “Red Arrow”?  The last has always been my favorite, but it has a color attached so it’s clearly out and Thea claimed Speedy, so I seem to have talked my way into Arsenal….

If you’re not watching Arrow, why?  What possible reason is there for that?  The first season is out on Netflix, catch up, and watch new episodes Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on The CW.

Cairy Lotz, Stephen Amell, Black Canary, Canary, Green Arrow, Arrow, Stephen Amell Black Canary, Canary, Cairy Lotz, Arrow

Trailer Time: Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit International Trailer #1 (2013)

Paramount Pictures has released the first international trailer for trailer for Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, directed by Kenneth Branagh and starring Chris Pine, Keira Knightley, Kevin Costner, Peter Andersson, Kenneth Branagh, David Paymer and Colm Feore.

Based on the Jack Ryan character created by the late Tom Clancy, the film is a contemporary action thriller set in the present day. The original story, written by David Koepp, follows a young Jack as he uncovers a financial terrorist plot.  Pine is such a fantastic actor, I think he could really embody this character as no one before has and play him for years to come.  The first domestic trailer looked like significant parts of Jack’s origin from the books are going to be changed.  I wonder if they’re going to go all original stories with the character or, after an origin, they’d start remaking or adapting Clancy’s novels.  Jack Ryan will open on Christmas Day.Jack Ryan, Jack Ryan Shadow Recruit, Chris Pine, Tom Clancy