CE Films - Part 14 - 2002-2003



31 October 2002
TV series | Dir. Steve Bendelack | Wr. Mark Gatiss, Steve Pemberton, Reece Shearsmith & Jeremy Dyson
S. 3, ep. 6: 'How the Elephant Got Its Trunk'
Role: Dougal Siepp (manager).

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Alex: "This is a series of quite twisted black humour, and if you're not a fan in advance, you might find it rather difficult to digest. It's splendid and unique, but, depending on your tastes, it might be too unique, too out of this world and not in the right way. It's constantly gory and abnormality of the plot, as a rule, extends to physical deformities of the characters.

"CE has a brief cameo appearance as Dougal Siepp, cat theatre manager. He comes and goes, and though he's mentioned several times in the episode as antagonist, it's just that, five minutes of convincing smugness and vague villainy. He fits well in the TLOG universe, with his hat and van-full of cats, still, it would require some more scenes for him to really have a function in the narrative."

Conclusion: Perfect example of a peculiarity.

DVD Notes:
2003 "BBC Worldwide" Regions 2+4 (The Entire Third Series). English SDH subtitles. Extras: Commentary; Inter w/ costume designer; Out-takes & deleted scenes; Interactive featurettes; Photo gallery; Video diaries; 'The Making of Series 3' (watch very brief CE's appearance here); SFX footage; Character bios (see here).

1 Nov 2002
Film | Dir. Danny Boyle | Wr. Alex Garland
Role: Major West.

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Alex: "The third and, to date, last collaboration with Danny Boyle. A modern post-apocalyptic horror flick, digging deep into human nature; ecological questions and relentless digital photography included. It tells about survivors after a plague of rage swept over Great Britain, turning people into mindless creatures, driven by desire to kill.

"Major Henry West, played by CE, claims to have a solution – his radio broadcast invites the survivors to head towards Manchester, and at the blockade 42 is where his soldiers meet them. CE's melancholic and yet menacing Major is the key figure in the second part of the film. Exhibiting self-control and doing everything to preserve discipline West provides not quite the answers the survivors expected. With the comforting distinctions removed, it's no longer people fighting monsters, it's human against human that is the core of the disintegration of society."

Chiclit: "The Eccleston character, like so many he plays, seems at first to be one thing and turns out to be another. From the moment you meet Major West something seems not quite right with him or the situation, despite the outward normal appearance, and then you realize that usual military discipline has broken down, in favor of a cult of personality – and the true horror is what humans do to each other. The performance, both line readings and physical stance is nuanced perfectly to show an unraveling of this man and this little society – CE's performance rises to a crescendo – and the movie feels empty when West is gone."

A: "CE creates a very different antagonist, developing the character of the damaged Major through a combination of military frame that diminishes kickback and offers systematising, intelligent mind that cracked having calculated the formula of progress and the greater good, and perverted moral soundness in form of loyalty to his troops and his mission. West is a man turned machine, yet he was incapable to get rid of himself – and that's what affects you."

C: "This is much more than a zombie film; and takes on more timeliness in the wake of the H1N1 news, it is well worth watching and is tolerable to the non genre fan."

A: "Its messages are worth thinking about. And you're not likely to forget Major West."

Conclusion: Recommended, but remember it's gory.

DVD Notes:
2003 "20th Century Fox Home Entertainment" Region 2. English HOH and Swedish subtitles. Extras: Commentary by D. Boyle & A. Garland; Deleted scenes w/ optional commentaries; Alternative ending story board; Making-of 'Pure Rage'; Music video; Still & Polaroid gallery w/ commentary (see CE images – continue to the right); Animated story boards; Trailers.

CE related deleted scenes,
making-of - CE compilation

9 Feb 2003
TV mini series (2 parts) | Dir. Adrian Shergold | Wr. Russell T. Davies
Role: Steve Baxter (Son of God).

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Alex: "You may have heard Eccleston explain how television had fuelled his choice to become an actor; not cinema or theatre. You may have found it curious, if, like me, you feel your only desire so far has been to spit on your TV that's been doing nothing but forcing debilitating drivel down your throat, be it news, drama or documentary, aiming for the base senses, trusting your brain only as far as it can be bent to decide on one more purchase. TV films like 'The Second Coming' become vital in such environment. It's up to you to treat it as a rehabilitation or a wake for television drama, but it's unmissable."

Chiclit: "Chris as the son of God, written by Russell T. Davies and co-starring Lesley Sharp – it's perfection. This is what television can do when it's at its best and we should all demand less reality programming and more work that challenges our very way of thinking. Chris plays all the emotions in this one, both small and big, his character's struggle to understand, his acceptance, the isolation. Being less of a physical performance, it's all there on Chris's face. And you believe that he believes."

A: "No matter whether you're religious or an atheist, this drama is written on far more levels than you could dismiss as irrelevant to you. It sneaks into your mind, and makes a pleasant mess – the kind that gives birth to further thoughts, and encourages to question your own stance, your understanding.

"One of my favourite scenes is 'reality on Salford Road' – that's how it feels when the scabbing falls away and you sense through your brand new skin. Overall, what adds to film's wide reach, is that while there are miracles, it's completely dissociated from any religious paraphernalia (aside from the characters' names), it won't let itself be tied down, and at the same time as picturing world wide events, it is extremely personal.

"CE holds nothing back, he invests himself 100% in the character of Steve Baxter. Ordinary bloke who experiences a divine revelation. A concept old as world, it seems, from zero to hero, trivial against supernatural. In this film though, they do not indulge in this satisfying duality, instead, they aim for the very core. Looking at the problematic through a present day filter, a study is carried out how this clash of flesh and omnipotence tackles the person in the thick of it, how it affects his physical, social, mental life – especially in the context of society around him that's been sent reeling as well.

"Being Steve Baxter, the Second Coming, is an ultimately human endeavour, the holiness notwithstanding. There's nobody you can tell to sod off, and you cannot just take it on the chin, all hero-like. You have to live it, and it encompasses a great deal more than the comforting mouldiness of the doctrines immediately hints at. You may ask to take this cup away from you and even forgive, but everything you say will be used against you. And you will consent.

"Film's success is of course due to the writing, but it would've been nothing without Eccleston, Manchester, convincing cinematography, fantastic score – it's an experience as well as a story. Television at its best."

Conclusion: A must.

DVD Notes:
2003 "ITV" Region 2. English HOH subtitles. Extras: Commentary by R. T. Davies & A. Shergold; Deleted scenes & out-takes (CE featured).