After the tragic death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the film set of Rust, many questions have been raised about how such a thing could have possibly happened. Hutchins was killed after being hit by a live round fired from a prop gun that should not have had a live round in it, also injuring the director, Joel Souza. But why are real firearms even being used on sets anyway? 

Sure, some people may argue for authenticity. How else will the actors and thus the audience get a true sense of the power of a firearm unless one is actually present in the scene?! Well, most gun flashes actually have to be added in post as CGI anyway because they don’t show up properly when filmed, and the sound is synchronised in the edit too. Science fiction movies have been introducing us to crazy weapons and blasters that clearly don’t exist and go ‘pew pew’, yet we buy into their verisimilitude if the surrounding film, performances, and visuals convince us. 

Okay, but what about the recoil, I hear you ask? Well, as Empire Magazine’s Helen O’Hara and many others have pointed out over the years, actors tend to be pretty good at pretending and learning stuff. You can teach them to react as if the firearm were real. Just as you can teach them to play an evolved chimpanzee, or a guy who can dodge bullets with his funky dance moves. If the actor is good, we’ll believe what we see. We don’t need to lose a wonderful human for the sake of convincing us of the power of a gun. We live in a world where that much is all too clear. Let actors act, and let cinematographers make it home to their families at the end of the day instead of being lost to awful, avoidable tragedy.  

Return to Sender

Jared Leto’s been trying to ‘set the record straight’ about the reported gifts he sent to his Suicide Squad (David Ayer, 2016) co-stars during filming. Perhaps he’s realised that boasting about sending used condoms, anal beads and a dead pig to his colleagues isn’t a good look. These demented mind games seemed to be part of his ‘method’ of becoming The Joker, even though he only ended up with a few minutes of screen time (and not very memorable ones at that). 

In a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, Leto is now claiming that these comments were made “in jest” and that, “any of the very few gifts were ever given were given with a spirit of fun and adventure and received with laughter, fun, and adventure.” I don’t know about you, but receiving a gift with a spirit of adventure sounds to me like one of those excruciating moments when someone has gifted you something so absolutely bonkers and weird (let’s use a rubber duck with a dick as a random example) that you have no idea what to do with it. As you desperately avoid eye contact and edge towards the door and the bin outside, all you can croak is: “Wow, I can’t wait to see what adventures this takes me on! Ha ha!”

Movie star hair

I got a haircut recently, and it’s safe to say the reviews have been mixed. My flatmate and barista both said I look like princess Diana, and my barista’s wife said that I look like Jeffrey Dahmer. Little do they know that I modelled my dashing new look on Tom Schilling from the German masterpiece Werk ohne Autor/Never Look Away (Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, 2018). However my friends may feel about the new mop, at least it’s undeniable that I have movie star hair. 

What’s Onscreen

Dublin 8 was recently named by Time Out as one of the coolest neighbourhoods in the world. Along with the distilleries, breweries, amazing coffee shops and beautiful parks, it’s also home to much artistic talent too, including the director of Arracht (Tomás Ó Súilleabháin). The film is a startling watch. Hypnotically paced, immensely moving performances and haunting sound design all swept me away in this story of Colmán Sharkey (Dónall Ó Héalai), a Connemara fisherman and poitín-maker, as the famine makes its way to his home in the west. Catch it before it leaves cinemas. 

There are lots of exciting releases this Friday. The Power of the Dog (Jane Campion) shows Benedict Cumberbatch in perhaps one of his best performances as an enigmatic, furious rancher. It’s a poignant and moving film about loneliness, repressed sexuality, and male cruelty. If you miss it in the cinema, it’ll be on Netflix on December 1.

As not much of a fan of tennis, I wasn’t expecting too much from King Richard (Reinaldo Marcus Green). Yet, this story of how Richard Williams (Will Smith) raised his daughters Venus (Saniyya Sidney) and Serena (Demi Singleton) so that they could build their talents and take themselves to the next level really worked for me. It is very clear throughout that it is the girls’ talents that take them forward, but the film also shows the potent difference that the support of a loving parent can make to a young person’s life.

Another film about parents, and one that I find too moving to think about too much without getting teary, Petite Maman (Céline Sciamma) is a stunning short feature (clocking in at just over an hour). I can’t write much more about it because I will start bawling, so just take my tears for it, and go check it out if you’re also in need of a good old sob.

Screening at the IFI French Film Festival on November 19 and 28 is Paris 13th District (Jacques Audiard), a lovely, engaging film about the persistence of one love across several romances (like a Parisian Normal People in a way). The script was also co-written by Céline Sciamma, which has reminded me about Petite Maman again, so I’m going to stop writing, go have a cry, and call my mum. 

Read the first and second instalments of Onscreen Offscreen here.



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