Friday, 31 March 2017

GHOST IN THE SHELL
Starring Scarlett Johansson, Takeshi Kitano, Michael Carmen Pitt, Pilou Asbaek, Chin Han and Juliet Binoche
Based the Manga by Masamune Shirow
Screenplay by Jamie Moss and William Wheeler and Ehren Kruger
Directed by Rupert Sanders 

Reviewed by Patrick & Paul Gibbs

 Out of Four


Masamue Shirow's revered, visionary manga series Ghost in the Shell has rabid fans all over the world. and was cited by the Wachowski's as a heavy influence on The Matrix. The 1995 film version, directed by Mamoru Oshii, is considered a classic as well, so there's a lot to live up to with an American remake, and the backlash started some time ago with the casting of Scarlett Johnasson in the lead role. Fans argued that the character of The Major, also known as "Motoko Kusanagi" is Japanese, not American. But it's important to point out that in Japan, the backlash is virtually non existant, as people expected an American version to star an American actress, and Oshii himself has stated that "The Major is a Cyborg and her physical form is an entirely assumed one. The name "Motoko Kusanagi" and her current body are not her original name and body, so there is no bassis for saying that an asian actress must portray her." In addition, let's be honest, as is often the case with this kind of anime, the original was full of vaguely defined ethnicity of characters, featuring plenty of white looking people with asian names. It's a staple of the genre, for Pete's sake (though Pete himself could not be reached for comment.). So there: you do not need to be freaking out over the casting. If there's anything you should consider freaking out about, it's the choice of Rupert Sanders to direct. His only major credit prior to Ghost in the Shell was Snow White and The Hunstman. There are certainly far worse directors out there. but Sanders name was not exactly a selling point for us.

The story takes place in a future where cybernetic enhancement is increasingly common, and rapidly evolving technology is changing everything about the world. The Major (Johansson), is a cybernetic/human hybrid (is this case, a robot with a human brain) who works for a counter cyber-terrorist organization called Section 9. She once had a life, and parents, and the vague memory she still possesses of them being killed by terrorists, combined with her programming, is what drives her. Along with her partner, Batou (Pilou Asbaek), she investigates a series of assaasinations, until eventually her investigation leads her to questions and answers that are not adding up, and the search for truth starts to lead her down an altogether different path.

The plot here deviates wildly from the 1995 version, incorporating elements of the sequels, as well as the series, and eventually trying to mesh it all together into a new story. It's very hit and miss (whenever you are able to mix dumbed down with difficult to follow, you know you have a problem) and at times the result is really a bit of a mess. But when it does work, it's engaging, entertaining and just barely smart enough to be quite watchable, even if the sluggish pacing makes it feel longer than its 106 minute run time. The action is fairly enjoyable, if not particularly memorable, failing to provide anything new, and the philosophical pondering is thoughtful, if sometimes a bit too on the nose.

Johansson does very well with the role, mixing a mechanical stoicism with the feeling of a haunted soul, but the standout is unquestionably Michael Carmen Pitt, who makes such a huge impression in his limited screen time (especially considering that he is working with a character that feels largely recycled from Rutger Hauer's Roy Batty in Blade Runner) that he nearly steals the entire movie. Juliet Binoche, as Dr. Oulet, the scientist who brought Major to life, is effectively maternal and mysterious at the same time, giving her all to the performance. Binoche is a great "assistant storyteller" actress, and it's very nice to see her in a major film again. The rest of the cast doesn't do much to stand out either way.

Director Sanders struggles with the difficult task of taking very edgy and adult (if not always mature) material, loaded with constant nudity and graphic violence, and toning it down to be suitable for mass audiences. The decision to make Major's robotic body less defined and overtly sexualized is a good one, or at least it would be if they stuck to it. Exactly how much flesh Major has seems to vary from scene to scene, and questions like "why does she needs a wetsuit?" or "why does she wear panties when she's alone?" become frustrating (although the answer to the latter is simply that Sanders thinks he is being clever by making a visual reference to Lost in Transliteration. He's not.).

Ghost in the Shell is a movie that is going for thought provoking but depends heavily on asking you not to think too much, and to some extent that is ok. The philosophical themes and the questions about the nature of being are more important than the accuracy of the science. It's a beautifully stylish film that borrows heavily from both A.I. and Minority Report, but never quite captures the film noir atmosphere it's going for, and that's a shame. It's a serviceable enough Hollywood spectacle with some interesting questions, and it's worth a look, but it's unlikely to be remembered or earn much of a place in cinema history. It's going to play best to fans, and worst to rabid purist fans.

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 THE BOOK OF HENRY

It's becoming a rare breed these days to find a good looking movie poster but this one for Colin Trevorrow's The Book of Henry really hits the mark.  The poster is illustrated by the hugely talented James Goodridge and reminds me of the classic posters of the 80's.  Trevorrow tweeted the poster yesterday and has become a hit with movie lovers.  You can watch the trailer below.


SYNOPSIS: Sometimes things are not always what they seem, especially in the small suburban town where the Carpenter family lives. Single suburban mother Susan Carpenter (Naomi Watts) works as a waitress at a diner, alongside feisty family friend Sheila (Sarah Silverman). Her younger son Peter (Jacob Tremblay) is a playful 8-year-old. Taking care of everyone and everything in his own unique way is Susan’s older son Henry (Jaeden Lieberher), age 11. Protector to his adoring younger brother and tireless supporter of his often self-doubting mother – and, through investments, of the family as a whole – Henry blazes through the days like a comet. Susan discovers that the family next door, which includes Henry’s kind classmate Christina (Maddie Ziegler), has a dangerous secret – and that Henry has devised a surprising plan to help. As his brainstormed rescue plan for Christina takes shape in thrilling ways, Susan finds herself at the center of it.

Directed by Colin Trevorrow (Jurassic World, Safety Not Guaranteed) and starring Academy Award™ nominee Naomi Watts (The Impossible), Jaeden Lieberher (St. Vincent), Jacob Tremblay (Room), Sarah Silverman (Wreck-It Ralph), and Maddie Ziegler (Dance Moms), 


THE BOOK OF HENRY hits select cities on June 16th, 2017.

 THE BOOK OF HENRY


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Thursday, 30 March 2017

galactic fashion podcast

Galactic Fashion is a monthly podcast dedicated to Star Wars and geek fashion, hosted by Johnamarie Macias and Teresa Delgado and part of the Jedi News Network. 

In episode 22, Teresa is back and the two hosts talk about the latest from Her Universe, the new Dooney & Bourke collection, the latest previews from Po-Zu's Star Wars footwear collection, RockLove Jewelry's newest licenses, and much more! Plus, the two interview (35:10) fangirl and video content creator Amanda Jean (@AmandaJeannn). Topics include how AJ became a fan of Star Wars and Disney and how that has affected her field of study, how she goes about preparing for conventions and Star Wars Celebration, she also gives us makeup/nail/convention tips, and much more. Plus, Mark Newbold and Matt Booker interviewed Sven Segal, the founder and director of Po-Zu (20:00). You can listen to episode 22 on iTunes and email them at Twg.galacticfashion@gmail.com with your comments, views and opinions to be a part of the show.


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the boss baby clip

“Let's just say... I'm the boss!” - The Boss Baby (Alec Baldwin)
In eager anticipation of the upcoming release of THE BOSS BABY, a brand new clip has been released by Twentieth Century Fox and DreamWorks Animation in which we see the Boss Baby unveil his true identity, much to his brother Tim's confusion and surprise.
Featuring the voice talents of Alec Baldwin, Steve Buscemi, Jimmy Kimmel and Lisa Kudrow and from the director of Madagascar, THE BOSS BABY is due to arrive in cinemas this weekend.


DreamWorks Animation and the director of Madagascar invite you to meet a most unusual baby. He wears a suit, speaks with the voice and wit of Alec Baldwin, and stars in the animated comedy, DreamWorks’ The Boss Baby. The Boss Baby is a hilariously universal story about how a new baby's arrival impacts a family, told from the point of view of a delightfully unreliable narrator, a wildly imaginative 7 year old named Tim. With a sly, heart-filled message about the importance of family, DreamWorks' The Boss Baby is an authentic and broadly appealing original comedy for all ages.

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Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Neil Corbound

The folks over at CookeOpticsTV interviewed special effects guru, Neil Corbound who has worked on Steven Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan and Gareth Edward's Rogue One A Star Wars Story.  They tell us:

We interviewed special effects expert Neil Corbould at CamerImage 2016. He is best known for his work on Gravity, Gladiator, Rogue One and Saving Private Ryan. In this episode he talks about his work on Saving Private Ryan and his role as a special effects artist and how he worked alongside Steven Spielberg. 



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Tuesday, 28 March 2017

"a Star Wars blueprint" (CC BY-SA 2.0) by KLGreenNYC
George Lucas may have left the Star Wars franchise, but that doesn't mean an end to our exploration of new galaxies beyond our own. In fact, in a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Disney CEO Bob Iger confirmed that Star Wars will continue long after Episode IX, which is currently being prepped in time for release in 2019.

Commenting on the franchise at Scale: The Future of Tech and Entertainment, Iger said we'll likely see "another decade-and-a-half of Star Wars stories". If that's the case, the world as we know it – both on-and-off-screen – will look very different by then, which could make for some interesting new storylines. Indeed, when Spielberg originally directed A New Hope back in 1977, innovations such as electric cars, bitcoin and even the internet were mere twinkles in the eyes of society.

Of course, the idea of Star Wars or any sci-fi creation is to move beyond the norm and look at what life would be in the future. However, the mind is often influenced by its current surroundings, which is why the next series of Star Wars creations could have some cool new twists.

New Technology Could Inspire New Stars Wars Innovations

"bitcoin" (CC BY 2.0) by fdecomite
For instance, bitcoin could inspire ideas of a new monetary system for the galaxy. Although Imperial Credits were a virtual currency of sorts, they didn't have many of the features we now associate with bitcoin (simply because it wasn't there as a source of inspiration). Today, we know that bitcoin transactions are great for those that want to stay virtually anonymous, and therefore safer, online. As an example, modern online casino fans are now starting to move towards bitcoin-only sites in a bid to offer a greater level of protection to their bankroll.

As you can see on the VegasCasino website, the cashier page allows you use a bitcoin wallet (either Cubits or Coinimal) to make a deposit. Instead of the player having to type in their name, card number and so on, they only need to input the amount they want to send and VegasCasino's wallet address. In short, because the player doesn't have to disclose any personal information, they aren't putting themselves at risk when they want to play Satoshi Blackjack or any other bitcoin casino game.

Because we know this sort of system is possible, the way Imperial Credits are used in future movies could change. Perhaps General Hux turns rogue and is forced to make secret payments to the dark side. Maybe Keylo Ren needs to find a secure line of communication and the mechanics behind bitcoin are the inspiration behind an anonymous system. Basically, if the director behind the new series of Star Wars movies is looking to make their mark and emulate the success of Spielberg, they'll need to take a look around them at the world as it stands and use it to enhance their product.

Use the Force of Trendy Tech to Create a Modern Sci-Fi Universe

"Star Wars Days 2013 at LEGOLAND" (CC BY 2.0) by Ayleen Dority
Although bitcoin has provided an exciting new way for people to pay, there are plenty of other innovations that have changed the way we see and interact with the world around us. Tesla, under the guidance of Elon Musk, is currently showing us that power and energy can be generated in new ways. Could this provide some inspiration for a new spacecraft that's not only more efficient than something like the Millennium Falcon, but quicker? Indeed, the Tesla P90D is one of the fastest cars to 60mph in the world and it doesn't use a traditional combustion engine.

This fact alone has proved that you can think outside of the box and get some impressive results. That's something we can look forward to as the franchise grows and evolves. Does that mean every new Star Wars product will be a hit? Certainly not, but now we know the stories will live on, there's no doubt the top directors will be looking to the latest tech trends to make each movie resonant with modern audiences.


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Monday, 27 March 2017

ilm doctor strange

A taste of the Oscar Nominated Visual Effects behind the mind-bending world of the Mirror Dimension for Marvel Studios Doctor Strange.



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Sunday, 26 March 2017


Last night I was lucky enough to watch the BBC National Orchestra of Wales perform at St David's Hall in Cardiff, Wales.  The theme of the evening was sci-fi classics and I, along with the packed crowd were treated to some of the finest renditions of the most iconic soundtracks.  Star Trek, The Wrath of Khan, Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, Doctor Who, E.T, and Close Encounters were all represented to name a few.  The BBC National Orchestra of Wales were flawless throughout as they were conducted by Edwin Outwater.  Another added treat was each performance was introduced by Robert Llewellyn who is famous for playing Kryten in BBC's Red Dwarf.

John Williams was well represented during the evening with renditions from E.T, Close Encounters, A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back and The Force Awakens.  I've put together a montage of some of the performances and you can watch that below along with the full video of Close Encounters.

What do you think?

Montage Video


Full rendition of Close Encounters of the Third Kind



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Dagobah Themed Terrarium

I love the Interweb.  For one you never know what you might randomly find.  Take this Dagobah themed terrarium for example.  Browsing Reddit and this hits the front page.  It really is a piece of art though.  I would have to add a little speaker and have the ambience of Dagobah playing.  You can keep the smell though.

Source - Reddit

Rob

Dagobah Themed Terrarium


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Saturday, 25 March 2017

blake neely john williams

In this short video from San Diego Comic Con, Blake Neely discusses his inspiration from John Williams when he created the epic soundtrack to the DC TV show, Supergirl.  Neely also writes the music for The Flash, Legends of Tomrrow and Arrow.  A composer I strongly recommend adding to your playlists.  Hugely talented





Rob Wainfur
@thebeardedtrio

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Friday, 24 March 2017




Lets start things off with the latest weekly episode of 'The Star Wars Show'




















Take another look at the latest Star Wars Rebels episode 'Twin Suns'

























BY STEVE POTTER
Find me on Twitter
Social Media Manager for The Fly Casual Podcast
News & Reviews for The Bearded Trio
Literature Reviews for Jedi News


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LIFE
Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Fergusson, Ryan Reynolds, Hiroyuki Sanada, 
Ariyon Bakare, Olga Dihovichnaya
Written by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick
Directed by Daniel Espinosa


Reviewed by Patrick & Paul Gibbs
















Displaying 2 stars.png Out of Four

Space movies are back, and we're not just talkig about Star Wars, or even Guardians of the Galaxy. Ever since Alfonso Cuaron's Gravity set the box office on fire (or would have if fire could burn in space, which it cannot, despite what Star Wars might say), astronauts have been in vogue, with movies such as Interstellar and The Martian. People seem to be interested in reaching for the stars again, if not on a launch pad, at least in a darkened theatre.  We've seen the interest wane as the quality drops (think The Space Between Us). so it's hard to say how much longer it will last. But it was, of course, inevitable that at some point this trend would lead to amother painful remake of Alien, but actually watching it happen, and watching a strong cast and top notch production values being wasted on it, is genuinely infuriating.


Life follows the crew of the International Space Station, who capture a probe returning from the red planet with a sample inside. Upon further study, the speicimen indeed proves to be the first proof of extraterrestrial life, in the form of a wibbly wobbly mass that intitally looks like pink astroturf. The astronauts rejoice at the discovery, with Dr. Hugh Derry, the token black and token Brit (they have limited space up there, so they killed two birds with one stone) in charge of studying it, while Dr. Miranda North (Rebecca Fergusson) is in charge of looking dour and mysterious to indicate she knows something the others don't. Rory Adams (Ryan Reynolds) is in charging of providing Ryan Reynoldsesque soundbites, and Dr. David Jordan (Jake Gyllenhaal) is in charge of being the nominal lead, while the remaining crew members are Japanese and Russian.

The citizens of earth rejoice at the news, and an Elementary school from America wins the enviable right to name the alien, which they dub "Calvin", after their school. But when an accident renders Calvin unresposive, Dr. Derry (Ariyon Bakare) decides to "stimulate" Calvin. This does not go well.

From there, it's just Alien all the ways, with the threatened and Calvin breaking free, and growing in size and hostility. Calvin squiges, squadges and squdges through the station, picking off the crew one by one. We kept waiting for the moment when the terrible Calvin, mighty and fearsome, would be trying to rip someone apart and we'd hear "Calvin! Stop breaking all of your toys" and the action would switch to a bedroom where a little boy and his stuffed tiger complained that Mom never lets them have any fun.

The strong cast is horribly wasted, with Gyllenhall fairing best of the leads, giving some nuance to a potentially intersting but underdeveloped character (his reading of "Goodnight, Moon" is by far the best thing in this film.). Reynolds is solid, and adds a likable and humorous presence, but it's a one note part even for him.  He is reaching a problem point in his career, in that he has usually played "the Ryan Reynolds character", which has worked out ok, but now it is officially the Deadpool character. From now on, whenever he is on screen scracking wise, it feels like Deadpool suddenly showed up in another movie. It's just not going to work. He's going to have to give more against type performances (like The Women in Gold) if he wants to have a career outside of the Merc with the Mouth (admittedly, these are the kind of problems you want to have.). Fergusson, who made such an impression in Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, is really quite dull, and Hiroyuki Sanada (The Last Samurai, Mr. Holmes) provides the most emotional heft, but his plot is frankly becoming a tired and tacky fixture of horror/monster movies.

The plot holes and scientfic eyeroll moments abound (does Calvin require oxygen, or can he move around outisde the ship? which is it?), and the "How stupid are these people?" monents are even more prevalent. And while director Daniel Espinoza does a capable job of building suspense, there is just such a feeling of "been there, done that" as to render any skill in filmaking moot. For anyone complaining about disney remakes and slightly derivitive Star Wars sequels, we would argue that this kind of cheap ripoff of an established property (albiet under a different name) is far less original than, say, Pete's Dragon. We'd rather have high quality soft remakes that show respect for the original by standing on their own than this kind of shameless rehash. Admittedly, this plays all the worse coming on the heels of Arrival, but even without thst comparison it doesn't hold up.

Life is strictly for the easily pleased horror fan (and if you are seeing it  because you just love Ryan Reynolds, and you think you'll enjoy it regardless because of him, all we will say is: take a look at the fact that he has lower billing than Rebecca Fergusson, who is hardly a household name, and think about what that might mean in a horror movie.).




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Following on from our article last week where we listed 35 random facts on Steven Spielberg's E.T. The Extra Terrestrial, I felt it was only fitting that I assemble a bunch of random facts on one of the my favourite Spielberg movies, Jaws.



1 - According to Box Office Mojo the movie’s budget was $7 Million and took $470 million at the box office worldwide and domestic.

2 - The original budget for the movie was green lit at $3.5 million


3 - Several decades after the release of Jaws (1975), Lee Fierro, who played Mrs. Kintner, walked into a seafood restaurant and noticed that the menu had an "Alex Kintner Sandwich." She commented that she had played his mother so many years ago; the owner of the restaurant ran out to meet her, and he was none other than Jeffrey Voorhees, who had played her son. They had not seen each other since the original movie shoot.

4 - When composer John Williams originally played the score for director Steven Spielberg, Spielberg laughed and said, "That's funny, John, really; but what did you really have in mind for the theme of Jaws (1975)?"



5 - You only hear the signature piece when the shark is actually present on screen.  The kids with the fake fin for example didn’t have the music playing.  This was to condition you that the music was associated with the shark.

6 - Robert Shaw’s Quint and Richard Dreyfuss’ Hooper had a wonderful tension on film.  This may have something to do with the two in actual life hating each other.

7 - Spielberg re-shot a scene in film editor Verna Fields' swimming pool, using his own money to pay for the shoot.
Jeff Bridges

8 - Jon Voight, Joel Grey and Jeff Bridges were all considered for the role of Hooper, which eventually went to Richard Dreyfuss.

9 - The famous line “You’re gonna need a bigger boat” came about from a catchphrase on set after the crew saw the boat they had to contend with.  It was too small for all the crew and equipment and was nicknamed S.S. Garage Sale.  Roy Scheider, who played Brody would often ad lib the catchphrase in different scenes.  Obviously the one in the movie stayed.

10 - The mechanical shark while filming was nicknamed “Bruce” after Spielberg’s lawyer.  From time to time, if Spielberg was really angry he would call it the “great white turd.”

11 - Brody’s dog in the film was played by Spielberg’s dog, Elmer


elmer spielberg's dog

12 - At one point while shooting the Orca unintentionally sank causing the camera to get wet.  Fearing they had lost a load of shots they quickly rushed the film to New York where they were able to save the footage.

13 - Robert Shaw enjoyed his drink.  He would often turn up on set and be more than a little razzled.  At one point he couldn't deliver his lines for the famous Indianapolis speech.  He asked Steven Spielberg if he could come back the next day.  When he did, well we got the incredible and captivating scene we see today.

14 - The shooting star that appears during the night scene where Brody is in the foreground on board the boat is actually real and not a special effect.

15 - The movie was scheduled for 55 days shoot.  It actually took 159 days.

16 - Bob Mattey who built the shark also built the giant squid in 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea and also worked on the Disney classic Mary Poppins to name a few.


17 - In one of the scenes you can see a person taking a photo of the filming going on outside their house.



18 - Ben Gardner actually had more lines in the movie but unfortunately were cut and destined to the land of deleted scenes.


19 - Another deleted scene shows Quint buying piano wire from a musical store.  When he enters he notices a kid playing ODE TO JOY on a clarinet.  Quint starts humming along in harmony.
When the child messes up Quint responds by shouting the notes.

20 - Other names considered for the novel were A Silence in the Deep, Leviathan Rising, The Stillness in the Water, Jaws of Death and Jaws of Leviathan

21 - Lee Fierro, who plays the bereaved Mrs Kintner actually slaps Brody hard as she said she couldn't fake the slap.  Her scene became such a hit (no pun intended) with fans that she would get requests from devoted Jaws followers to slap them across the face.



22 - Charlton Heston was considered for the role of Brody.  When he found out he didn't get the part he said he would never work with Steven Spielberg again.

23 - The book, Jaws is different in many ways to the movie.  for example in the book by Peter Benchley Hooper has an affair with Chief Brody's wife.  This was actually in the first draft for the movie.  Also in the book Mayor Vaughn had dealings with the mafia and was under pressure from them to keep the beach open.

24 - Spielberg didn’t direct the shot of the shark exploding. In fact, he had already returned to Los
Angeles to begin post-production on the film after the film’s gruelling shooting schedule and left the shot up to the production’s second unit.

25 - The famous Jaws poster is now ingrained in movie history. Regarding the swimmer at the top of the poster, artist Roger Kastel was sketching the female artist at his studio for an ad in Good Housekeeping. He asked her to stay an extra half-hour and had her pose for the image by standing on a stool and pretending to swim.

26 - Jaws won three Academy Awards: Best Film Editing, Best Original Dramatic Score, and Best Sound. It was also nominated for Best Picture, and lost to One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest. Steven Spielberg was not nominated for Best Director.

27 - This gem of a video show Spielberg watching the nominations for Jaws coming in and you can see the disappointment when he wasn't nominated for best director.  He was also disappointed that the movie was only nominated in four categories calling it a "commercial backlash."



28 - Although the movie is set in midsummer, producers began filming in early May 1974 to avoid an actors' strike that was scheduled to begin July 1. If you look closely in the background of some scenes, you can see trees with no leaves.

29 - British actor Robert Shaw was so concerned about owing taxes to the IRS on his income that he flew to Bermuda or Canada on almost all his days off to limit his work hours in the United States.

30 - Steven Spielberg really wanted to direct Jaws after Duel calling it Duel on the water.  He was even inspired by a Polish poster for Duel that showed the truck engulfing the car in its mouth.  He later said on filming Jaws that it was an experience he would never want to repeat but admitted the whole project made him stronger.


duel polish poster


Assembled by Rob Wainfur
@thebeardedtrio

More Jaws from The Bearded Trio:
Looking Back at Jaws. Happy 40th Anniversary
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