Bing! Ned Ryerson Speaks Out

03/15/2011

Columbia Pictures

The talented and intelligent character actor, Stephen Tobolowski, recently signed in to Reddit for an Ask Me Anything forum. Known best for (as he puts it, his favorite role) Ned Ryerson in Groundhog Day, he’s also turned in great performances in Sneakers, Single White Female, Memento, and the television series’ Deadwood and Californication. Some great dialogue was had with him and the reddit community:

Q: How many times a day does someone stop on you on the street with some manner of reference to Ned Ryerson?

A: Probably on an average of five times a week. That means I mathematically have a couple days off.

Q: Does it annoy you that people on the street approach you so regularly?

A: I think the answer to that is no, because everybody who approaches me is generally so pleasant. The only time it’s difficult is when they interrupt dinner at a restaurant, saying “I’m sorry, I don’t mean to interrupt your dinner, but…” and then they stay and chat for 30 minutes. Otherwise, it’s great!

Q: How was hugging Bill Murray?

A: It was actually fantastic, because Bill improvised that in the moment. That scene was shot in one take. It wasn’t written that way.

Q: Which do you prefer as an actor and as a “get out of bed and go to work” guy, live “full” acting or voice-only work?  Also, can you do me a favor? I’ve always wanted to hear someone type the word “Passport”.

A: For me, nothing beats getting up at dawn and driving to the set of DEADWOOD, rehearsing in the dark, and shooting when the sun rises. Also: Passport.

He spent a lot of time answering questions and talked about things like working with Christopher Nolan, how supporting actors don’t make as much money as they used to, and an incident where he was almost killed by a man, and used that experience as inspiration for a character in a movie I have yet to see him in, The Glimmer Man.

Check out the thread.


In the Movies: Elevator Shafts

08/14/2010

Shane Gorski under Creative Commons

Settings in movies tend to be places the average person doesn’t spend a lot of time in, be it a beach in the South of France, or in outer space, or elsewhere. The exotic nature of a particular scene stimulates the imagination, and pulls the viewer in deeper. Our interest perks up when the characters on-screen find themselves in strange locales; and one of these locales is the dreaded, beloved, and mysterious elevator shaft.

Found almost exclusively in the action/thriller genres, scenes involving elevator shafts take us into the forbidden area above and below the cars we generally ride in when traveling tall buildings. While it’s true that the concept of a mechanical lift has been around for centuries, modern elevators (and the dangers associated with them) sparked the imaginations of filmmakers since the days of black and white. And although the typical elevator shaft is not a grandiose space that would allow for such dramatics as Hollywood would like us to think, many timeless classics have portrayed them as such.  Let’s take a look at some.

Death by Shaft

In John Farrow’s classic, The Big Clock, Charles Laughton’s character Janoth plummets to his death when he steps into an open shaft; this is after killing his accuser, so it’s justified. Things don’t end up so satisfying for Emilio Estevez’s character in Mission Impossible‘s opening sequence, as the car he’s hiding atop takes him to the top of the shaft, where he meets a steely, gruesome end.


There’s even a horror movie starring Naomi Watts about a killer, evil, possessed elevator called The Shaft: YouTube Link

Surviving the Danger

20th Century Fox

Detective John McClane is pretty well-versed in dispatching the villains he encounters via elevator shaft. Whether he’s dropping C-4 down the Nakatomi Plaza’s well, or battling a henchwoman in a power station’s, he definitely “dies hard” in a hostile environment.

20th Century Fox

The opening of Speed features a breathtaking rescue effort as a group of office workers are held hostage in an elevator car, Dennis Hopper’s madman ready to blow the cables at a moment’s notice. Enter Keanu Reeves and Jeff Daniels, who go into the shaft above the imperiled car and save lives in a most excellent fashion. Director Jan de Bont was the cinematographer for Die Hard, and the influence shows in this taut sequence.

Artisan Home Entertainment

Narrow escapes are plentiful in each movie about an unstoppable cyborg trying to kill the Connors, and Terminator 2: Judgement Day includes many, including this scene where the T-1000, having just missed the elevator going down with his prey aboard, deftly opens the doors and jumps down onto the top of the car. Multiple stabbing attempts later, he oozes into the elevator after failing to kill his quarry… again.

Other examples of surviving the danger include Backdraft, and I assume Salt. In the former, a firefighter is rescued from a burning shaft, and the latter ostensibly has Angelina Jolie eluding her pursuers in some acrobatic way. What can I say, I haven’t seen it.

Use it or Lose it

Some films have a scene in an elevator shaft for utilitarian purposes. There’s not a lot of danger, and nobody dies. The characters just need to use the shaft in order to do something.

Universal

In Sneakers, River Phoenix’s Carl uses the shaft to navigate into a service duct, where he can manipulate an office’s security measures. He spends about five seconds in the shaft, but there it is.

And finally, a scene involving an elevator shaft unlike any other.

Warner Bros.

Without giving too much away, this scene from Inception is hands down the most creative use of an elevator shaft I can think of. Joseph Gordon-Leavitt’s Arthur puts the shaft, the car, and the cables into a cinematic spin that completely makes sense… once you’ve seen the movie a couple of times. :)

Okay, here’s where I turn it over to you, reader. What did I miss? Sound off in the comments.


Christopher Nolan’s Best Movie Yet

07/16/2010

Genius at Work

It truly was all and more than I expected. Possible second screening tomorrow or Sunday. I just simply can’t recommend it enough, especially to those tired of remakes, sequels, and otherwise mindless crap infesting the movies lately. Oh, and this is a shoe-in for multiple Oscar nominations, including acting, director, and picture. See it.

(Images: the coolest production company currently working, Warner Bros.)


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