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The Pocket Essential Guide
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Who is Mike Hodges? One of the great maverick British film-makers. A director who is uncompromising and willing to fight his corner, he has made films over the last three decades that mark him out as a rare and unusual talent. He is a difficult film-maker to define. His work includes crime drama (Get Carter, Croupier and Pulp), science-fiction (Flash Gordon and The Terminal Man) and even comedy (Morons from Outer Space), but he has also made watchable oddities such as A Prayer for the Dying (Mickey Rourke courting controversy as an IRA killer seeking redemption) and Black Rainbow (a surreal fantasy drama little seen, but much acclaimed). He started his career in television in the 1960s, but hit the blg screen with the violent crime drama Get Carter, a film that has now achieved cult status (recently voted the best British film ever in Hotdog magazine) and continues to be the benchmark any British crime film sets itself against. Though hardly prolific- just eight feature films in 30 years - Mike Hodges makes fascinating movies that just won't go away. What is in it? As well as an introductory essay, each of Hodges film and television work is reviewed and analysed. There is also an article looking at the impact and continuing influence of Get Carter and a section listing any other information about Hodges and his films.
Pocket Essentials; March 2009
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It could be argued that after making your debut as a writer/ director with a film as assured and acclaimed as Get Carter there is only one place to go - down. For the 30-odd years following his stunning debut in 1971, Mike Hodges has ridden a professional roller coaster, experiencing highs and lows, making some excellent films along the way but also suffering again and again from outside interference. Thirty years on, as his latest film, Croupier, receives critical acclaim and audience attention, the phone in Hodges’ peaceful Dorset home has been ringing with people from around the world keen to make his acquaintance and maybe even talk movie deals. While Hodges has movie projects in the works, it was interesting to note that the month before Croupier opened in the West End, Hodges was directing his play Shooting Stars & Other Heavenly Pursuits at a small pub theatre in North London. The play is part comedy and part drama about - what else? - the movie business, with Hodges happily admitting it is based on his experiences working in the film industry in the 1970s and 1980s. As Hodges wrote in The Guardian: ‘My litany of failure, mostly at the hands of North Americans, is long. I left one film (Damien: Omen II) three weeks into the shoot after - though not because - the producer pulled out a loaded gun during a one-to-one meeting about the design budget. Two of my films suffered drastic re-edits and were stripped of their soundtracks without my consent. On another, I arrived early at a music session only to find the composer secretly recording a truly ghastly secret alternative soundtrack. Betrayal seemed to be a daily event. One film, The Terminal Man, was not distributed in the UK at all, and another, Black Rainbow, although gleaning great reviews, was given a token UK release because the distributor was going broke. Both films were close to my heart.’ Though Hodges admits to “professionally bruising years” in the period following the acclaim of Get Carter, he also takes pride in the tangible accomplishments of the period. Films like Pulp, The Terminal Man and Black Rainbow might have had little exposure but they remain excellent and provoking movies. Flash Gordon was a glossy hit that proved - if proof was necessary - that Hodges could handle a major production. A Prayer For The Dying, despite its faults, offers fine performances and intelligent direction. In between his various movie projects, Hodges has always been happy to turn back to his television roots, making many and varied types of productions both in the UK and the US. He even handled the English dubbing on one film (And The Ship Sails On) when it meant he would have the chance to work, even tangentially, with one of his heroes, Federico Fellini. Mike Hodges has never been afraid to try his hand at something different. From gritty crime drama to camp science-fiction adventure, and from supernatural thriller to oddball Mediterranean comedy, his rich and varied filmography cries out to be sampled. As the American Cinematheque wrote when it staged a season of his productions (titled ‘Shoot To Kill: The Cool Crimes Of Mike Hodges’): ‘There’s an elegant mask in front of Hodges’ characters that separates them from us: the lethal, impassive gaze of Michael Caine in Get Carter and Clive Owen in Croupier; George Segal’s I’m-about-to-kill stare in The Terminal Man. It’s the same cool, ironic distance that Hodges brilliantly maintains as director - a kind of Stanley Kubrick meets Jean-Pierre Melville tone that’s both seductive and unnerving.’