Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Oh yes, the blog


I have some excuses...

The tour was heavy - that's the Of Mice and Men tour fantastic reviews by the way.

Straight after it finished I went to Bahrain to see my neice. Ahhh.

Then my boyfriend left me. Not so Ahh.

I went home to the folks for Christmas and now I'm unemployed and looking for a new home.

So the blog was put on hold a little. It will all pick up agian tomorrow. We'll have a star birthday, an update on my acting gigs coming up (2 whole plays) and I'll even start a countdown of the 20 films I'm most looking forward to in 2009.

For the moment here is a photo of the cast of Of Mice and Men. This was early on in the tour so we all still look awake:

In case you're wondering I'm the guy on the left with the broken nose and receeding hair - gotta love being a character actor....

HAPPY NEW YEAR

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Friday, 31 October 2008

Lee Grant


Happy Birthday to

Lee Grant

81 today


A superb actress with a fascinating back catalogue, it's a pleasure to celebrate your 81st here.

Read More...

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Catching up - Film news

I'm going to now squeeze into one post all the news I've picked up over the last 5 weeks that I feel is fit to print. Enjoy wading through for anything that you might like.

By the way I'm deliberately avoiding release schedule changes (Bye Bye The Soloist, Cheerio The Road, see you in 2009) and I'm trying not to dwell on castings in films I've already mentioned before (Helen Mirren in The Tempest - Yeah!!! - Helena Bonham Carter in Alice in Wonderland - really?).

Biutiful - Javier Bardem is set to join Alexandro Gonzales Inarritu's latest crime drama. Seems to be a modern update of Angels with Dirty Faces/Dead End only without the Bowery boys.

Book of Shadows - apparently a book chock fulls of spells and wicca and in need of closing to restore balance to the world. I'm not sure why Rob Reiner is the choice to direct this.

Coming after the jump - Brad Pitt's Bum and lots of drugs...



Only not straight away...

Buried - Todd Field's next project will concern a couple so desperate for money they bury a rich man alive and nick his dosh. Given that in Field's last 2 films (Little Children and In the Bedroom) he directed some great performances of desperation this could be worth seeing.

Steven Soderbergh - I manage to spell his name incorrectly in a different way every time I do it - has 2 new films on the go. The Girlfriend Experience about prostitution and [potentially] a Cleopatra musical starring Catherine Zeta-Jones. If that's not diversification then I don't know what is.

Dear John - I'd love this to be a cinematic rehash of the classic BBC comedy series about a depressive who's wife leaves him and then reenter's the singles circuit, but apparently it's about a soldier and a college student. Now starring Henry Thomas.

Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test - Following their successful (looking at the internet buzz) collaboration on Milk Gus Van Sant and writer Dustin Lance Black are to team up again with this true life tale of Ken Kesey, a small van and lots of drugs. Competition to the Hunter Thompson biopic?

High and Low - English Language remake is usually a phase that turns me off, but with Mamet writing, Mike Nichols directing and the source coming from Kurosawa (who's films often translate well) I'm unusually expectent. And the tale of a executive choosing between buying out a company or paying the ransom for his driver's son (it's complicated) sounds like a great dilemma movie.

Matarese Circle - No, I don't understand the title. However it's written by the guy behind the Bourne trilogy, will star Denzel Washington and has Cronenburg at the helm. Could be brilliant, could be barmy, can't wait to find out.

Brad Pitt Double bill - Brad's always choosing interesting films, and hasn't appeared to seek box office championship status since Troy but he's about to return to swords and sandals with the Homer's follow up - The Odessey (since Achilles is dead he's taking the Odysseus role). Hopeful it will be another chance to see his naked torso mmm. He's also lining up Moneyball about computer modelling in baseball. Yes you heard that right. Brad playing a computer nerd - gotta love it.

Scorcese's next move - After tiring of Leo, Scorcese has lined up Robert De Niro to star in his next film about the killer of Jimmy Hoffa (influential corrupt union boss in the 50's). Given their shared history includes Taxi Driver, Raging Bull and Goodfellas this is a must see.

Sunny and 68 - Vince Vaughn is a better actor than he is given credit for. I'm not sure this family drama is the way for him to prove that though.

Thor - has been greenlit with a tentative 2010 release date. I like the idea of a comic book movie based on Norse mythology (even if I am unusually ignorant about the source material) so I'll keep my eye out for news on this.

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Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Catching up - Birthdays

Here are the birthdays I have missed:

Name Age Birthday Coming Soon (if I have an interest in seeing it)
Bill Murray 58 21 September
Mickey Rooney 88 23 September
Will Smith 40 25 September Seven Pounds
Gwynneth Paltrow 36 27 September
Mira Sorino 41 28 September
Marion Cotillard 33 30 September Public Enemies, Nine
Julie Andrews 73 01 October
Clive Owen 44 03 October Duplicity, Boys are Back in Town
Susan Sarandon 62 04 October Lovely Bones
Kate Winslet 33 05 October Revolutionary Road, Reader
Mary Badham 56 07 October
Sigourney Weaver 59 08 October Avatar
Melinda Dillon 69 13 October
Angela Lansbury 83 16 October
John Lithgow 63 19 October
Viggo Mortensen 50 20 October Appaloosa, The Road
Joan Fontaine 91 22 October
Kevin Kline 61 24 October
Bob Hoskins 66 26 October Christmas Carol
Peter Firth 55 27 October
Jane Alexander 69 28 October
Richard Dreyfuss 61 29 October W.

And a picture for Richard as it's his birthday today:

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Cathcing Up Part 1

It's hard to believe it's been 40 days since I last posted but I honestly have a reasonable excuse - work.

Yes I have been doing some acting stuff - a TIE tour of John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men to be precise. I'll let you guess who I'm playing...



It's been exhausting; we've been performing in 2 schools a day for the last 4 weeks. It's currently half term but next week we return for another 6 weeks until the end of the year.

Over the last weeks I have allowed a couple of things to slip either from choice or because of circumstances. I didn't get into the London Marathon on the ballot, although I'm waiting on a response from my first choice charity. As a consequence the running suffered a little - I've been going out but only once or twice a week, and I missed the Birmingham Half (Although only because my car wouldn't start).

I've been to the cinema only once, Burn after reading, review's on the way.

Oh, and my sister's had a beautiful baby girl.

Over the next couple of days I'll blitz through the film news and write down anything else that comes to mind.

Cheers

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Friday, 19 September 2008

Jeremy Irons


Happy Birthday to

Jeremy Irons

60 today


Jeremy is definitely a love him/hate him kinda guy with his stage background often creeping up on his theatrical performances making them seem over the top or even hammy. Looking forward to his turn as a orrupt rancher in Appaloosa mind.

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Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Trailers - Doubt

Here's another film that I'm looking forward to.

Whether or not this looks like a great production, it certainly looks like there's lots of acting going on.

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The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas


2008. Dir: Mark Herman. Starring: Asa Butterfield, Jack Scanlon, David Thewlis, Vera Farmiga and Rupert Friend. ●●●●○

I saw The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas last night and before I go any further into the review I have to confess this was one of the most moving films I've ever seen about the Holocaust, and I cried at the crushing finale. I will say no more about the end so you can read on spoiler free, suffice to say not a single person in the theatre talked on the way out of the movie.

The film, like the John Boyne novel on which it is based, looks at a horrific piece of twentieth century history through the eyes of an eight year old boy. The camera follows our here Bruno (Butterfield) thoughout the film, tellingly the point of view only shifts to other characters when they are directly searching for him - like all 8 year olds he enjoys exploring.

It begins with Bruno and his family (Thewlis and Farmiga are his parents) moving from their Berlin home that they love to a smaller place in the country. Bruno is naturally distraught by leaving his friends, grandparents and the streets he enjoys playing with, and the prison like house he moves to does nothing to improve this attitude.

Early on Bruno spots a farm, where all the farmers wear striped pyjamas, and in the course of his exploring he meets a boy from the farm through the barbed wire fences that surround it. Being adults we are more fully aware that the farm is a concentration camp and the farmers are Jewish prisoners.

As Bruno's friendship with Shmuel (Scanlon) develops he begins to question what his father is doing there, and why the Jews have been imprisoned. Eventually their relationship reaches a tragic conclusion.

Both of the boys give fine performances, although the first time they net they did seem to be speaking lines rather than talking to each other - possible an issue with the script rather than the acting. Farmiga gives a superb performance as a doting wife and mother who slowly learns the truth about the prison camp and whose love for her husband is destroyed by his actions and his attitude to the party.

The rest of the cast come across as one-dimensional, although I expect that is a deliberate lift from the book, where their choices will be restricted by the way they interact with the children.

The design of the film does have it's issues - the concentration camp appears to have no guards or watchtowers on one side which seems utterly unrealistic. There are also times when James Horner's score seems to be forcing the action rather than reinforcing it.

Overall this is a superb film about the Holocaust from a child eye view and it would be a good way of introducing a younger audience to the basics about what happened.

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Peter Falk


Happy Birthday to

Peter Falk

81 today


It's Happy Birthday for one of the most famous detectives of all time. So much so that if I ever kill someone and a tec asks me "one more thing", I'm just going to confess there and then.

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Monday, 15 September 2008

What's Love Got to Do With It


1993. Dir: Brian Gibson. Starring: Angela Bassett, Laurence Fishburne, Jenifer Lewis, Terrence Riggins and Vanessa Bell Calloway. ●●●●○

As I mentioned in my last biopic review it is difficult to seperate our thoughts about an individual from the film about them. Admittedly this is slightly easier with Tina Turner, she's a fantastic performer but let's face it she isn't Gandhi. In What's Love got to Do With It there is a struggle to seperate the Tina of the music and the Tina of the best-selling autobiography on whcih the film is based.

After a brief intro where Tina is abandoned by her mother the film follows the rise and fall of the abusive relationship between Tina and Ike Turner, played by Angela Bassett and Laurence Fishburne respectively.



The film makes harrowing viewing. From early on the nature of Ike Turner is revealed in his cavalier attitude to his ex's attempted suicide and cheap wedding to Tina. This escalates into fist fights and one particulary tough to watch rape scene.

Both actors manage extremely well in these scenes, which must have been tough and harrowing to film.

I was especially impressed by Fishburne, whose explosive violence was often followed by moments of either immense alpha-male behaviour or pitiful whining. His cries, early in the film, that everyone leaves him are shockingly believeable both as a cry for help and as a hook to keep Tina locked into the cycle of abuse.

The camerawork and editing are professional but nothing to write home about, but the set direction and costumes are marvellous. We get a real sense of the times as they move from the 60's through to the late 70's.

Where the movie fails though it's the "westernisation" of the abusive couple. Tina is given no persoanlity flaws at all - a perfect angel throughout seemingly incapable of any unprovoked negative act other than pride in her voice. On the other hand Ike is always portrayed in a negative light, even the tough way he deals with his group (surely a necessity in show business) is only made light of. Most of the other characters are either tacitly complicit with Ike's behaviour, see Zelma Bullock, or seemingly ignorant to the situation like the rest of the band.

I don't want to sound like I'm defending Ike. He most certainly was a vicious bully. And there can never be an excuse for domestic abuse on this scale. But maybe if the screenplay went some way to recognise Ike's skills then it may have got that fifth star.

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Tommy Lee Jones


Happy Birthday to

Tommy Lee Jones

62 today


Tommy Lee has recently hit the headlines for sueing the No Country For Old Men production company for $10m in unpaid backend deals. This seems like an awful lot of money which quite frankly I don't think he needs - but I suppose a deal is a deal we'll see how this plays in court (or at least how it settles out of court). His next film is In the Electric Mist with John Goodman and Peter Sarsgaard. The plot, which brigngs together ghostly soldiers, mobsters and Hollywood stars sounds suitably barmy so count me in.

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Friday, 12 September 2008

Out this Week (12/09/08)



There are a lot of films out this week - but probably only couple that are worth seeing. I'm plumping for Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, but The Pineapple Express is also having great reviews so if I had time I'd go to that too.

Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

The more I read about this the more I want to see it. The tale of a boy whose fmily move to Auschwitz and how he makes friends with one of the prisoners, one in striped pyjamas, is bound to be a tough if worthwhile watch.

Runs like a Gay Excitometer: ●●●●●○○○○○



Eden Lake

A young couple in love go for a short break by Eden Lake, only to find it shorter than they plan due to some torture loving scallies. I'm not sure what the audience this horror playing on the fears of the Daily Mail reading public is aiming for but I'm sure a few people will go.

Runs like a Gay Excitometer: ●●●○○○○○○○

Jar City

Icelandic crime drama with fine reviews praising the sharp script. I jst can't stop laughing at the the actors names all ending with sson or dottir (I do know that's an Icelandic tradition - please no hate mail).

Runs like a Gay Excitometer: ●●●●○○○○○○

Partition

Drama about the partition of India and Pakistan and of families split over the border. Looks like it would a good film to know when playing seven degrees of Kevin Bacon (Jimi Mistry, Irfan Khan, Neve Campbell and Thomas Kretschmann), doesn't look like a good film.

Runs like a Gay Excitometer: ●●○○○○○○○○

Pineapple Express

Possible the most well made stoner comedy of all time, with a big shoot outs, hilarious drug references and Rosie Perez as a corrupt cop. Sounds pretty impressive.

Runs like a Gay Excitometer: ●●●●●○○○○○

Romance of Astrea and Celadon

Shepherds, nymphs, druids, jealous rivals, cross dressing and desire. All brought together by Eric Rohmer. What's not to love?

Runs like a Gay Excitometer: ●●●●○○○○○○

Sydney White

A modern telling of Snow White, apparently. Featuring Amanda Byrnes, the funny one from Hairspray, and seven outcast students. That's about all I know. I won't be seeing it.

Runs like a Gay Excitometer: ●●●○○○○○○○

The Women

This update of the classic bitchfest from 1939 was never going to be a tremendous success, especially when you've traded Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford and Rosalind Russell for Meg Ryan, Annette Bening and Eva Mendes. You never know though, it might make Meg take another 3 year break from work in which case it's not all bad.

Runs like a Gay Excitometer: ●●●●●○○○○○

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Trailers - Changeling and Soloist

It's been an exciting 48 hours in the world of trailers with The Changeling



and the Soloist both appearing.



You can count me in for both of these true stories.

What do you think - if you had to choose which would it be?

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Ian Holm


Happy Birthday to

Ian Holm

77 today


It's a good day for the ex hobbit - although frankly the idea that he'll make the prequel is absurd. Still I'm sure he's having a great day.

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Thursday, 11 September 2008

Amy Madigan


Happy Birthday to

Amy Madigan

58 today


Amy's a bit of a chameleon. It's hard to imagine her frumpy aunt in Gone Baby Gone is played by the same person as Peggy Guggenheim in Pollock. Perhaps she hides too much because she's a terrific actress who really should get more work. Maybe being married to Ed Harris is enough.

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Training Phase 2, Day 39

I did the same route as Tuesday, this time with shorts, to see whether that really makes a difference. It was faster, but oddly the distance according to the I-Pod was 400 m shorter.

Strange.

Anyway 7.3 km in 42 minutes. Or 10.4kmph, 6.5 mph.

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Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Trailers

I don't know about you but I am exhausted. Over the last 30 days I have linked to a trailer a day. Some of those films will be great - others dreadful. But I'm looking forward to seeing each and every one of them when they come out at cinemas.

I've barely scratched the surface of the upcoming films that interest me. Over the next few months we'll be seeing terrorism, lost children, suicide, cannibalism and child abuse and there'll be trailers for each of these and more.

I'll only be putting up trailers now when they're new and exciting, but please use the labels check out some of the one's I've already posted and let me know if your as excited about these films as I am.

Cheers

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Amy Irving


Happy Birthday to

Amy Irving

55 today


Who can forget Amy screaming at the end of Carrie with Sissy Spacek's blood stained arms reaching for her. Nothing of note on the way. It's tough for women of a certain age.

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Training Phase 2, Day 38

I'm a little confused. This morning I prepared and ran in much the same way as yesterday, however I managed to go quite a bit faster. I did start with a downhill bit, but even that shouldn't make this much of a difference. The only thing I can think of is that I was wearing shorts rather than sweat pants. Should that really make this much of a difference?

10.6 km in 1 hour 1 minutes. That's 6.5 mph.

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Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Trailers - You and I

I sometimes bemoan the fact that few mainstream cinema films contain gay male characters, especially if you exclude films that solely concern the sexuality of the characters.

But at least gay men have no fear of there sexuality being used purely as exploitation. Enter the lesbians in You and I.

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Gandhi


1982. Dir: Richard Attenborough. Starring: Ben Kingsley, Candice Bergen, Edward Fox, John Giegud and Trevor Howard. ●●●●○

Gandhi was the first of my two biopics this weekend. By curious coincidence just this week Richard Attenborough has been admitting that he robbed ET for the 1982 Best picture Oscar. Whilst it's refreshing to hear this view from the victor it must be remembered that Gandhi is a superb picture, even if it was overpraised at the time.


The film is bookended by the assassination and funeral for Gandhi, so for those people watching the film with little knowledge of the Mahatma that sight of tens of thousands of extras lining the streets for the funeral gives some idea of the popularity of the man.

We then flashback to Gandhi in South Africa, a fresh faced Cambridge scholared lawyer seemingly seeing institutionalised racism for the first time in his life. Seemingly from this incident Gandhi launches a campign to bring equal rights to Indian migrants.

Then following sucesses in South Africa (and not without adversity) Gandhi returns to India where he gives moral authority and significant influence to the Congress Parties campaign for home rule. His policy of passive resistance (by not complying with unjust laws however by not resorting to violence) as well as his scholarly attitude makes him enemies with the authorities as well as within the Congress party itself.

It is clear that Attenborough has a profound respect for Gandhi. Every scene confirms the qualities the Mahatma had, his profound beliefs in equality, his humility and his unqenchable thrist for peace. The film comes across as a beautiful portrait of this great man.

We must seperate the film from the subject, though. I think we can all agree that the Mahatma changed the world and showed us a new, better way to struggle against oppression, what we cannot agree on is that this sort of hero worship makes good entertainment.

Ben Kingsley does a fine job of protraying Gandhi, but there is little conflict within the character - he has little to do other than become more and more saintly. Indeed it's only in the first third of the movie, in South Africa, that Ben's performance is worthwhile. As he progresses from a shy public speaker to a man capable of starting a revolution you can see changes in every scene.

Rohini Hattangadi gives a far more measured performance as Kasturba Gandhi, showing the pride, devotion and frustration that she feels for her husband.

Most of the rest of the cast simply drift in and out of the action with one note performances, including a veritable who's who of British talent, although Roshan Seth is superb as Nehru. The low point of this parade is Alyque Padamsee as Jinnah; I don't know whether to blame him of Attenborough but the founder of Pakistan comes across like a silent movie villain - stiff and unbending in both his manner and his dealing with other characters. I kept expecting him to twirl the corner of his moustache and let out a pantomime laugh.

The technical side of this production is faultless. There isn't a still in the 3 hour running time that is less than perfectly composed, thanks to wardrobe and et teams. The cinematography by Ronnie Taylor and Billy Williams is suitably epic in a manner that befits the subject.

Overall this is a brave attempt to portray one of the greatest men who ever lived, but it's obvious respect for it's subject neuters the final product.

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Sylvia Miles


Happy Birthday to

Sylvia Miles

85 today


I do try to keep this site clean with no nudity and that sort of thing, but I couldn't resist today. I just love the fact that 2 time oscar nominee, 85 year old Sylvia Miles's photo on famousr is this. Incredible.

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Training Phase 2, Day 37

I sometimes wonder why I bother - tried staying on the road today (mainly because it's so dark and rainy I'm afraid of slipping into the canal and drowning). Disasterous timing:

7.7 km in 49 minutes. Which is an appalling 9.5 kmph or 6 mph. If I go any slower I'll be going backwards.

Please encourage me to go faster in the comments.

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Monday, 8 September 2008

Trailers - Tôkyô!

This could be another Paris, J'taime with 3 directors looking at how they are inspired by their favourite city. Or it could be something a lot weirder...

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Random Film reviews

Over the weekend I sat down and watched a couple of movies randomly selected from the collection. The first one was due for last weekend but what with going to London and seeing Death Defying Acts I didn't get a chance to watch until this weekend.

I'm not going to spoil it by mentioning what they are (not until the first review pops up tomorrow) but what I'm going to do is give some brief thoughts on the genre that happens to connect these two randomly selected films. The much-maligned BIOPIC.

The biopic has been around as long as cinema, with many early features seeking inspiration from monarchs and world leaders. Although it wasn't long before those lofty targets were shifted to greats in their field including science (the 30's saw an enormous number of invention movies, giving rise to the old joke about Don Ameche inventing the telephone) and entertainment.



This led to the delightfully meta moment in Jolson Sings Again where Larry Parks, playing Al Jolson, meets Larry Parks, playing Larry Parks, to discuss making a biopic about Al Jolson.

The output of biopics has been steadily increasing since the 40's, with the subjects no longer confined to the great and good but are as likely to focus on serial killers, drug dealers and corporate whistle blowers. (And for each of these subjects there's an easily identifiable well made film to go with them.)

It's no surprise that biopics do reasonable box office - it's like receiving gossip over the fence on a gigantic scale. This may also explain why, in this age of celebrity culture, the subjects lifestyles are becoming more lurid and recent. In fact the subjects are often so well known the actors are merely impersonating the parts and not creating the role in a way you would with a character purely from the page. And critics and audiences are lapping this up.

It's been 10 years since none of the acting oscars have gone to a biopic (11 if you count Shakespeare in Love as having real people), and over the last 6 years five leading actresses and four lead actors have been impersonations. I'm not saying these these performances weren't good - in many cases they were deserving - but in just as many cases the mere fact of the closeness of the performance to how we remember the person was sufficient to get the awards.

I'm as culpable as the next man: W., The Argentine, Valkyrie are all on my radar. I hope though that I can see the performances for what they are and not as mere impersonations.

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Sunday, 7 September 2008

Trailers - Killshot

Mickey Rourke is getting some great press for his performance in The Wrestler at Venice. Maybe it will be enough to encourage studio execs to release this thriller with Rourke as a mob killer.



Or maybe not.

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Saturday, 6 September 2008

Trailers - Inju: The Beast in the Shadow

OK, so I'm scraping at the botom of the barrel now. None of the next 4 trailers I'm going to link to have much hope of getting a UK release, or even much of a chance of being any good.

Inju may be showing in Toronto right now, but after the critical drubbing it's received from Variety I doubt I'll ever see this trailer with subtitles.

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Friday, 5 September 2008

Trailers - New York I love You

I love watching collection of shorts. There are times when I prefer short films with all the added constraints yet real opportunity to explore that you just don't have with features.

New York has slightly less stellar directorial group than Paris (swapping the Coen's, Alfonso Cuaron and Gus van Sant for Brett Ratner, Shekhar Kapur and Scarlett Johansson) however with a cast that includes James Caan, Julie Christie, Andy Garcia, Ethan Hawke, John Hurt, Cloris Leachman, Natalie Portman and Burt Young what's not to love.

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Out this week (07/09/08)




As is usually the case we follow a poor week with a slightly better week for new releases. If I had to choose it would be Keira in a corset, anytime.

Bangkok Dangerous

Nicolas Cage is a good actor. I mean that - he probably makes it to my top 100 actors working today. What he isn't is a man with the ability to pick a good project. Hitman who falls in love with his hit. Dismal, dismal, dismal.

Runs like a Gay Excitometer: ●●●○○○○○○○


Disaster Movie

The title says it all. See this if you want to know how bad a film must be in order to get just one on the runs like gay exciteometer.

Runs like a Gay Excitometer: ●○○○○○○○○○

The Duchess

Keira Knightley marries Ralph Fiennes, has an affair with Dominic Cooper, wears big wigs, starts a political party, gambles, has nothing in common with Princess Diana, etc. The costumes will be amazing - the history lesson less so.

Runs like a Gay Excitometer: ●●●●●●○○○○

Rocknrolla

The critics are undecided about whether this is a return to form for Mr. Madonna, or merely a cheap facsimili of his better efforts. Either way his style, and a reasonably good looking cast make this one to watch.

Runs like a Gay Excitometer: ●●●●●○○○○○

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Thursday, 4 September 2008

Trailers - Milk

The latest trailer to come out (pun not completely intentional) is for Van Sant's Harvey Milk biopic. I first heard it was released during lunchtime in the office - I can use the internet but not stream files - so I was able to read comments by the editors and users of some websites that I respect and enjoy such as The Film Experience, Awards daily and In contention without being able to actually see the trailer until I came home.

The praise has been deafening - all over the blogosphere people are declaring love for this trailer, and advising Gus Van Sant, Sean Penn and Josh Brolin to prepare their Oscar acceptance speeches. I'm not so sure.

I know Milk has everything going for it: big name actors in tragic true story, critically beloved director with a mainstream film, Academy guilt over Brokeback Mountain/Crash. I will even admit my interest, which was already there, has increased a little. In that way the trailer must be working.

However there is little here to say it's going to win gongs later in the year, in fact much of the trailer seemed to be edited as much like a thriller as a biopic with the steadily quickening cuts and the muscial breaks hitting with the death threats. Maybe I'm wrong - feel free to berate me in the comments.

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Coming Soon (maybe)

Rounding up those whispers of interesting films on their way.


Poltergeist

The forthcoming remake of the "cursed" early eighties horror fave Poltergeist has found a director in Vadim Perelman. I'm not a fan of the original, in fact I've never watched it in full, but I am concerned with the choice of Vadim. It brings to mind the last time a serious director was called in to helm a horror retread: Dark Water anyone?



Broken Embraces

The fourth collaboration between Pedro Almodovar and Penelope Cruz is coming along, with a distribution deal signed. Pedro's also let slip it's influences include Leave her to Heaven. Can't wait.


My Very Own Love Song

Forest Whitaker and Renee Zellweger have signed on for this tale of a wheelchair bound singer finding love. I hope they find love with each other.




I'm sorry I have no better pictures to represent love songs.

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Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Trailers - Miracle at St. Anna

Tomorrow marks the start of the Toronto Film Festival. One day I dream of going, but alas not this year.

I mentioned on my last Toronto post that the one film showing that seems to have any buzz for the Best Picture Oscar is Spike Lee's Miracle at St. Anna, so I felt it was worth holding onto the the trailer for it until today.

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Eileen Brennan


Happy Birthday to

Eileen Brennan

76 today


Some pople remember you best as the vindictive Capt. Lewis in Private Benjamin, others as Zandra in Will and Grace. For me you will always be Mrs Peacock:

Well, someone's got to break the ice, and it might as well be me.

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Training Phase 2, Day 31

Just a short run today, and a short comment.

8.2 km in 46 minutes. Which is 10.7 kmph or 6.7 mph.

I wonder where my mojo went - just 4 weeks ago I was a lot faster.

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Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Trailers - Inkheart

Yeah, I know, it's a kids film. For kids.

But Andy Serkis looks like he's having a ball and not every film with Brendan Fraser can be bad.

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Death Defying Acts



2007. Dir: Gilian Armstrong. Starring: Catherine Zeta-Jones, Guy Pearce, Timothy Spall, Saoirse Ronan and Jack Bailey. ●●○○○

On Saturday I was down in London and finally got a chance to see Death Defying Acts. I'm not sure I should have bothered.

It's a fictionalised account of the circumstances around Harry Houdini's (Pearce) debunking of paranormal claims by challenging pshychics, including Zeta-Jones's Mary McGarvie, to communicate to his deceased mother and repeat her last words.

I'm not sure about the accuracy of the story. There are some elements which could be close to the truth; Houdini's obsessions with his mother and with death generally. Whereas others must be purely fanciful such as the obligatory romance between the two leads.


This mixing of fact and fiction is symptomatic of where the film fails. Armstrong couldn't seem to decide whether this was a bona fide biopic of Houdini or an expose of the lengths that fake mediums will go to, and ultimately the film manages to fall between the 2 stools.

If I were to choose which way I would have liked to have seen to film go I think I would have preferred a story about McGarvie and her daughter, played by the superb Saoirse Ronan. Their story arcs include the comedic preparation for their Music Hall show, their desperate search for clues to Mrs. Houdini's last words as a way out of poverty (although actually their home didn't appear to quite as poverty stricken as the script suggeted) and the hinted at possibility that Ronan did actually have a gift.

If we had dropped Houdini, and his mess of pyschological tics Pearce was overplaying, then perhaps we might have had a chance to delve further into the is she or isn't she able to tell the future question that was shoehorned in the films closing scenes.

The several dream sequences with floaty angels and acute camera angles were also needlessly distracting.

Perhaps with more focus on the interesting elements of the story and a greater attention to detail by the technical team would have made the 2 hours more enjoyable.

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Salma Hayek


Happy Birthday to

Salma Hayek

42 today


Salma has a long way to go to receive redemption after her shocking performance at the 2007 academy award nominations announcement. Unfortunately her next film is Beverly HIlls Chihuahua so I guess she's not that worried about her image.

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Training Phase 2, Day 30

Another Fartlek session this morning, 10 minutes slow 2 fast 3 slow times 6 then 10 minutes home.

I managed 8.8 km in 50 minutes which is 10.5 kmph or 6.5 mph. Nothing special but Lance Armstrong told me I beat my record for the mile so it's all good.

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Monday, 1 September 2008

Trailers - 88 Minutes

I had a look at the upcoming film schedules today and there's a few pieces of good news in there. Vicky Cristina Barcelona is out in March, W. in November and Benjamin Button in January.

Surprisingly we're getting 88 Minutes in October. I thought this film came out last year, or at best died a death after it's critical drubbing in the states.

Here's the trailer though. Let me know what you think.

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Sunday, 31 August 2008

Trailers - The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

There have been some unfortunate rumours circulating from Telluride about CCoBB - a bit underwhelming and all that. I'm refusing to believe it; what's been shown is really just an extended trailer not the final vision.

Here then, is the trailer.


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Training Phase 2, Day 28

Another long run today, although no where near as long as Friday.

17.4 km in 1 hour 42 minutes, which is an average of 10.2 kmph or 6.4 mph. Still need to work on that speed.

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Saturday, 30 August 2008

Trailers - Australia

I'm out until late today so I thought I'd drop the trailer early.

What a trailer - sweeping doesn't even begin to cover Luhrman's latest opus. And if Nicole and Hugh don't win themselves oscar noms I think I may cry. (I'll almost certainly cry when I watch it...)

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David Paymer


Happy Birthday to

David Paymer

54 today


You probably recognise David as being Billy Cristal's straight guy in Mr. Saturday Night, but he's actually quite a versatile actor with many good credits to his name. Next up is Drag me to Hell, Sam Raimi's reurn to horror; I don't expect David's character to still be standing at the end credits.

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Friday, 29 August 2008

Trailers - Valkyrie

With all the toing anf froing the release dates for Valkyrie have been doing it's easy to forget this is directed by the brilliant Bryan Singer and features an all star British supporting cast (as well as the Cruisemeister).

I'm a forgiving man so I'll certainly be first in the queue to see it.

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Training Phase 2, Day 26

Thought I'd go out after work and really push myself.

I was right; I have really pushed myself probably too much.

21.1 km in 2 hours 10 minutes. That's almost a half marathon distance, so at least I know what I need to do (shave at least 10 minutes off my time).

I think I'll take a well earned rest tomorrow.

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Out this week (29/08/08)


I want you to know that by having Step Brothers as the recommended film this week does not mean that I endorse the film or guarantee the quality. Please don't sue me if you go to see it and think it's rubbish.

Angel

I made the first of my silly little errors when I looked up this costumer drama. It's written by Elizabeth Taylor, but I hate to disappoint you as it's not that Elizabeth Taylor. Romola Garai looks pretty, imagines a better life and has a brother and sister both fall in love with her.

Runs like a Gay Excitometer: ●●○○○○○○○○


Babylon A.D.

There was a time when everyonr thought that Vin Diesel only ever dated in Europe because he enjoyed his privacy (Closer style euphemism there), however recently he and his girlfriend have had a baby. I'm not going now.

Runs like a Gay Excitometer: ●●●○○○○○○○

Ben X

Autistic teenager plays online role-playing games to help him cope with being bullied. Did well on the festival circuit.

Runs like a Gay Excitometer: ●●●○○○○○○○

Sakuran

It's taken 2 years for this Japanese brothel set drama to make it to the UK. The photo's I've seen look absolutely gorgeous, as do the cast. But I was burnt by Memoirs of a Geisha.

Runs like a Gay Excitometer: ●●●○○○○○○○

Step Brothers

Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly are both still living with their respective parents who marry each other forcing the "boys" to live in the same house. No doubt a lot of fun can be found in watching 2 forty somethings acting in the way nine year olds would in this situation. Don't expect subtlety.

Runs like a Gay Excitometer: ●●●●●○○○○○

The Strangers

Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman are attacked by people wearing paper bags. The trailer is better than the film (apparantly).

Runs like a Gay Excitometer: ●●●○○○○○○○

Times and Winds

Tale of adolescent angst in remote Turkish village. Wonders how children and their different expectations will change to communities with their differing outlooks on life.

Runs like a Gay Excitometer: ●●●○○○○○○○

Triangle

This is not a big screen adaptation of the early 80's soap opera based on a north sea ferry. Instead it's a crime drama told from three different points of view. I would've preferred the adaptation.

Runs like a Gay Excitometer: ●●●○○○○○○○

The Wackness

Ben Kingsley returns (is this the third time this summer?) for this tale of a dope dealing student and his crazy psychiatrist. The period (90's) detail is excellent and Josh Peck does a fine job in the lead, but Sir Ben is married to Famke Janssen and snogs an Olsen and both of those thoughts are really quite icky.

Runs like a Gay Excitometer: ●●●●○○○○○○

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Thursday, 28 August 2008

Trailers - Appaloosa

In the 80's everyone thought the Western was dead. Then Dances with Wolves and Unforgiven came along.

Then no-one bothered making them because no-one thought they could better that - that's true but last year a semi-resurgence started with Jesse James and 3:10 to Yuma. Now it's Ed Harris's turn to keep the momentum going.

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Coming Soon (maybe)

It's been a quiet week since I last updated any coming soon news but these two stories have interested me a little.

Tintin

There've been a number of rumours about uber-director Steven Spielberg, and his projects, over recent weeks.

First The Trial of the Chicago 7 changed director to Paul Greengrass, although now there appears to be no name attached to it at all. Then Herge announced Tintin was to be directed by Peter Jackson, who's currently attached to the sequels, although this has been denied. Spielberg is apparantly still in the chair. That's good, but I'd rather see him challenge himself with some meaty films.


Up in the Air

George Clooney has igned up to Jason "Juno" Reitman's next project: Up in the Air. It's about a guy trying to collect one million air miles - so far so loopy.

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Training Phase 2, Day 24

I tried fartlek training this morning. It's really tough. 15 minutes at normal pace, followed by 8 sets of 1 minute fast followed by 2 minutes slow.

Then a slow crawl back home...

Overall 9.8 km in 56 minutes. Which is 10.5 kmph or 6.6 mph.

Day off tomorrow then a long couple of runs over the weekend.

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Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Trailers - Rachel Getting Married

Here's another one without a UK release date. Grumble grumble.

Jonathan Demme returns to the (or his) early 80's with a bittersweet comedy about family. It's on at Venice and Toronto and is currently generating some minor oscar buzz from the performances by Anne Hathaway, Rosemarie DeWitt, Bill Irwin and Debra Winger.

Enjoy

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Training Phase 2, Day 23

I know, I know, I haven't been out for a week. I overslept last Thursday and had a cold over the weekend and basically have no excuse for yesterday.

All in all I was expecting this morning to be really tough, especially as I wasn't on my usual route (I needed to go to the train station to pick up the boyfriends car - long story).

Anyway I managed 4.7 km in 28 minutes. Which works out as 10 kmph or 6.3 mph. Ouch.

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Diana Scarwid


Happy Birthday to

Diana Scarwid

53 today


For a brief moment in the early 80's it looked like Diana, fresh from Inside Moves and Mommie Dearest, was going to be a huge movie star. It didn't happen. But she did get a part in "Pushing Daisies" so it's not all bad.

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Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Trailers - Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Can someone explain why there is a difference in release dates in different countries. No actually that's too simplistic; what I need to know is why release dates are so random. Why in the UK do we get Iron Man, The Women and Elegy on the same day as in the US, whereas we wait 1 week for the Dark Night, 5 weeks for Burn after Reading and 10 weeks for the British film Brideshead Revisited.

Not to mention why have you been able to see Vicky Cristina Barcelona for 2 weeks and we don't even have a release date yet?

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Toronto film festival - a step backwards



I'm going to hold my hands up and apologise. When I last posted about the Toronto Film Festival I indicated that the festival is terribly important when it comes to the oscar race. I still submit it is relevant but it's not as vital as I may have led you to believe. Yes, in 2007 four of the eventual Best Pic nominees showed at Toronto, but in the five years previous to that there hadn't been more than 2.

This year I wouldn't be surprised if just one of the eventual nominees came from Toronto. If we were to look at the films most prognoticators are bigging up right now they are mostly notable by their absence from the festival circuit; Australia, Body of Lies, Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Defiance, Doubt, Frost/Nixon, Gran Torino, Milk, Revolutionary Road, The Road, The Soloist,The Changeling - although this is showing at New York and Venice. The Dark Knight and Wall-E have both already been released. It's only Miracle at St. Anna and the extreme longshot Blindness that have Toronto showings.

I guess we should make a space in our predictions for Spike Lee's latest joint.

Let me know what you think - will there be any Oscar noms coming from Toronto? Or is it almost an irrelevance.

Have i missed any major contenders (either showing at Toronto or not)?

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Monday, 25 August 2008

Trailers - Defiance

It's time for a war themed trailer today - and in keeping with Sir Seans birthday I've gone for one starring his major competition. Apparently he was sent by God to save us.

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Pieces of April


2003. Dir: Peter Hedges. Starring: Katie Holmes, Patricia Clarkson, Derek Luke, Sean Hayes and Oliver Platt. ●●●○○

Pieces of April has a relatively simple premise. April Burns (Holmes) prepares a thanksgiving meal for her family and things don't go entirely to plan. There are comic situations arising from April's broken oven, and pitch balck performances from the family from hell on their way to see her.

Indeed as a comedy it works, there are a lot of laughs to be had watching April trying to prepare the food or in Joy's (Clarkson) asides. When she asks her daughter to stop singing you really don't know whether to laugh or to want to give her a slap.



One of the main problems with the film is that very few of the characters come across as sympathetic or rounded. Only Oliver Platt delivers anything beyond a braod caricature as he tries to keep the family together.

Indeed some of the supporting characters seem to be completely irredeemable - yes, Sean Hayes we're looking at your bizarre performance, and Alison Pill as April's sister is given nothing positive to say in the entire film. Also I find it extremely difficult to believe that Aprils knows as little as she does about cooking - her appaling attempts to peel an onion are one thing but surely no-one would be stupid enough to attempt to mash uncooked potatoes for as long as she keeps it up.

Even the set decoration doesn't make much sense - the claustrophobia and student kitsch appeal of the main apartment work well, but the other apartments almost appear to be in different areas of the city, with vastly different sized flats. I just can't imagine that the Sean Hayes character would spend that much money on a new oven and yet stay in that block.

Tami Reiker's handheld camerawork gives a nice lo-fi feel to the proceedings and Laura Cunningham's costumes and the hair an make-up team make each character feel more lived in than some of the performances do.

Overall I would say Pieces of April is a pleasant little comedy with unpleasant characters. Fairly enjoyable fluff but not enough to go out a buy it.

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Sean Connery


Happy Birthday to

Sean Connery

78 today


Still the best Bond we've seen.

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Sunday, 24 August 2008

Trailers - Frost/Nixon

I didn't know whether to do Frost/Nixon today or hold off until tomorrow (I've still got 4 war films to trailer and I did want to mix them up) however I thought the links to yesterday were too good to ignore.

You see yesterday we had the trailer for W., which is directed by Oliver Stone, who made Nixon in 1995. And Toby Jones pops up in both (as Karl Rove and Swifty Lazar).

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Marlee Matlin


Happy Birthday to

Marlee Matlin

43 today


You may remember Marlee making a big splash in her debut film Children of a Lesser God, and winning an oscar for her work. Since then there hasn't been a great deal, although regular TV work including recurring roles in West Wing and L Word have kept her on the periphery of fame. I would like to see her in more films though, and maybe some where her deafness is merly an aspect of her charcter not a definition.

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Saturday, 23 August 2008

Is Shakespeare getting hot again?


I realise that's probably a facile title but I have been noticing him quite a bit over the last 3 months.

Tilda Swinton is scheduled to take the role of Lady Macbeth in Come Like Shadows, there's an all star cast gathering for King Lear including Anthony Hopkins, Naomi Watts and Keira Knightley. Just this week James McAvoy and Emily Blunt have been outed as the star-crossed lovers in the bizarre sounding Gnomeo and Juliet. Finally I also spotted on imdb that Julie Taymor will be returning to the bard for The Tempest.

Now I don't know about you but I've not seen such a glut of Shakesperean adaptations in a long while, probably not since he fell in love with Gwynneth Paltrow (who's also in King Lear). Of course I had to check this theory and naturally I was proved wrong.

If we take a look at imdb the cinematic Shakespearean releases have been increased each decade since the 70s by about 45%. And if we look on a closer scale we can see that over the noughties adaptations have been slowing down with just 3 in 2008 against 9 in 2004. What has changed is the newsworthyness of the talent involved. As strange as this may seem Keira Knightley is a bigger box office draw than Al Pacino (who portrayed Shylock in 2004).

Perhaps the statistics are showing the turning of the tide and the growth is indeed coming to a close. If so these starry versions must be the last hurrah before a period of decline. Maybe Marlowe or Jonson will come back into fashion. I expect it's more likely to be a short term blip. Shakespeare wrote in such a way that generation after generation are captivated by the insights he had into human interactions and situations. The writing is so powerful that directors and actors will always want to present new ideas and interpretations.

Not to mention Branagh still has loads of them to make.

I expect I'll go to see at least 2 of the films I listed, but I think I will also be looking out for the more obscure adapatations. I wouldn't want to miss anything great just because it doesn't have a marquee name.

What do you think? What is the future for Shakespeare? Will the trend for more adaptations continue or are we about to hit an Elizabethan recession? Feel free to comment.

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Trailers - W.

There are some films that I want to see because I think they're going to be really good. Others strike me like a train wreck in the making.

At the moment I'm leaning towards the latter as far as W is concerned. It's probably too close to be able to objectively look at the legacy and life of George W Bush, we're still all blinkered with our recent experiences to be able to amke sound judgement, and Oliver Stone could well be one of the worst people to give a balanced story anyway.

I'll let the trailer do the rest of the talking, though:

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Friday, 22 August 2008

Trailers - Twilight

Aaargh, aaarch, aaargh.

Screeeeeeaaaaammmmm.*



*I'm not really sure what all the fuss is about but this could be the buffy fix I'm after.

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Out this week (22/08/08)


We have a tie for first place in this weeks new releases. Personally neither is really rocking my boat, but if I had to choose I'd go to Hellboy (hence the picture) but knock yourselves out and see what you want.

Get Smart

This remake of the classic 70s TV serial, from the director of some of the most predictable comedies of last last 15 years, is getting some fair reviews. That is to say significantly better than the other big comedies of 2008. Plus it has some interesting cameos.

Runs like a Gay Excitometer: ●●●●●○○○○○

Hellboy II: The golden army

None of the publicity posters show anything like a golden army, although I have seen repeated shots of Bros. in depressing make-up. Should be great for fans of the original - a bit baffling for the rest of us.

Runs like a Gay Excitometer: ●●●●●○○○○○


Somers Town

It's probably the "best" of the 3 films out this week; Shane Meadows directing a coming of age tale against the grafters of North London, in black and white. But it's August and I think people want some escapism.

Runs like a Gay Excitometer: ●●●●○○○○○○

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Thursday, 21 August 2008

Toronto Film Festival


By now you will all have read the list of films playing at the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival. By now you will also know which films you want to get some positive buzz and which you want to sink without trace. You may even be a bit of an oscar watcher and will be waiting for those first reviews to change your predictions.

Because, as sad as this is to admit, Toronto is the unofficial start of the awards season - of the 249 features showing at the festival at least 30-40 will have hopes of getting some traction going for the all important golden man.

Some of them will succeed - last year Michael Clayton, Atonement, No Country for Old Men and Juno played there - that is not to say that without Toronto a film can't succeed merely that it can help. Toronto is unlikely to make or break a campaign but it can be a major positive or negative step.

I won't bore you will my predictions of which films will be in those final ballots but I would like to draw attention to two films premiering at Toronto that are unlikely to get much further but may still be worth a peek. I have selected these films because they were oringinally on my radar for 2009 but have moved up to 2008, it's a brave move and I wish them well.

Who do you Love is the story of Leonard Chess who's record company popularised Blues in the 50's and 60's with a roster of acts that include the great Muddy Waters. New York, I Love You is the US answer to Paris, je t'aime comprising of 13 shorts celebrating the different aspects of life in the Big Apple, with a collection of actors to make your brain pop.

These two films probably couldn't be more tonally apart but it's thanks to TIFF that someone be able to watch them both within 5 days of each other. How fantastic is that.

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Trailers - Pride & Glory

This is, perhaps, one of the more contentious entries in my list of exciting upcoming films. Delayed a few times with the are they hot or not actors Ed Norton and Colin Farrell Pride & Glory may be a great crime pic or it might just be a bomb.

Either way it's a mustsee combo.

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Amy Adams


Happy Birthday to

Amy Adams

33 today


Amy first burst on my radar with Junebug back in 2005 and since then even in poor films she's been a ray of sunshine. Coming next is a novice in Doubt which should be an acting fest to look forward to.

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Training Phase 2, Day 17

I know today is day 18, but this is yesterday's run posted late. I'm not going out today because I'm full of sniffles so hopefully we'll all catch up properly tomorrow.

Anyway yesterday it was 9.2 km in 52 minutes. That's 10.7 km ph or 6.7 mph (I'm forgiving myself because I had a cold coming on).

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Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Trailers - Marley & Me

It ain't gonna win any Oscars, it ain't gonna change anyone's life, it ain't gonna be at the top of the box office for weeks, but that puppy sure looks purty.

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Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Trailers - Che

Here is the Spansih trailer for Che/The Argentine/Guerilla. Personally I would rather see the pair together as one film, but that will depend on how it's distributed here in the UK, if at all.

So many question marks over seeing this film - even when everything about it gets me tingling.

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Coming Soon (maybe)


All the news that's fit to take a slight interest in.

Sex and Sylvia Plath

The buzzed script from newbie writer Jennifer O'Kieffe has been picked up by WAM films. The story is based on a 16 year old teenager who obsesses on death and shares a lover with her mother. Sounds like a laugh riot to me. It's got good pedigree, though - nominated for the Sanuel Goldwyn award and on last years Black List of unproduced screenplays.


Untitled Nancy Meyers Flick

Yes Nancy Meyers is responsible for formulaic romantic comedies like The Holiday and Something's Gotta Give but it has to be said she can get decent performances from the genre. Her latest, currently plotless, has Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin signing on so it might be worth a gander.

Serious Man

The Coen brother's have decided on their next project. A Serious Man has beaten back Surbicon and Hail Ceasar (honestly the one I'm more interested in based on the imdb synopsis). It's about a man who's life is falling apart around him when his wife leaves and his brother doesn't. It's too soon to tell if it's No Country or Burn After Reading type Coen.

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Training Phase 2, Day 16

A slight improvement on Sunday, but not as good as I would have liked.

7.4 km in 41 minutes, which is an average speed of 11 kmph or 6.9 mph. Will need to get back over 7 mph before I'm back on track though.

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Monday, 18 August 2008

Trailer - Blindness

I have not based the book on which this film is based so all I have is the talent and the trailer for this one. And inspite of the frosty reception at Cannes I am really excited about Blindness.

Just watch the trailer and you'll be mesmerised by the beauty in the cinematography.

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Leaving Las Vegas


1995. Dir: Mike Figgis. Starring: Nicolas Cage, Elisabeth Shue, Julian Sands, Richard Lewis and Steven Weber. ●●●●○

Leaving Las Vegas is not a film for the light hearted. It contains very frank and explicit scenes of alcoholism and prostition, without the Hollywood sugar coating. For those who are able to make it through the tough exterior they will find a glorious film inside.


The plot can be summarised in one matchbox sized sentence: Drunk moves to Las Vegas to die and meets tart with a heart. Indeed when you boil it down there isn't much more to the story than that.

Nicolas Cage, as Ben Sanderson, is an alcoholic in Hollywood who, on losing his job, decides to end his life by drinking himself to death in Las Vegas, the city where the bars never close. Elisabeth Shue is Sera the prostitute who's pimp, Julian Sands, is just letting her go (partly due to his paranoia and partly to protect her from the Russian mafia out to get him). Ben and Sera meet up and an unusual and close bond is formed between them. A bond that exists on one proviso, that Sear allows Ben to drink and Ben does not attack Sera's way of life.

Thinsg do not go completely to play. Suffice to say the ending is pretty tragic, however the acceptance and forgiveness that the odd couple display towards each up to that point is very touching.

In my last random review (Long days Journey into Night) nearly all of the cast had to display various levels of drunkeness and drug taking. Here Cage does not merely portray the effects of having a drink, but also the long term physiological changes. He sweats, vomits and shakes in almost every scene - his behaviour is erratic and uncontrolled and he shows huge swings in confidence and understanding of his situation. It's a masterful performance which rightly earned Cage the Best Actor Oscar.

Shue does not has the tics and traits of alcoholism to hide behind, yet in my mind she gives a superior performance. Deep in her eyes you can see her shifting perceptions of Ben, Yuri and her clients, and you can really understand when and why she asks Ben to see a doctor and the hurt she feels when he betrays her.

Figgis and cinematographer Declan Quinn do a fine job of the look and feel of the film, shooting in 16mm, generally with long takes and a moving camera. As a result the film has a spontaneous and documentary feel to it.

The main issue I would say that the film has is the misogynism apparent in the script, and it's something that reoccurs in most of Figgis's work. It is not enough that Sera is gang-raped, but it has to be an anal rape scene, and all of the supporting female roles are either sexual objects or shrews.

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Edward Norton


Happy Birthday to

Edward Norton

39 today


Happy Birthday Edward (or Ed, which ever you prefer). I have to say you do worry me, there are few actors of your generation who have such an electric screen presence. Even in Kingdom of Heaven where you wore a mask thoughout every eye was on your performance. Even so your projects are few and far in between and I often feel we're missing the best of you. Looking forward to Pride and Glory, though.

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Sunday, 17 August 2008

Trailers - Quantum of Solace

With Harry Potter shifting their release date into summer 2009 there is really only one film that's guaranteed to fill auditoriums later this year. Altogether now: Da dum da da, da da-dum, da dum de da daa...

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Robert De Niro


Happy Birthday to

Robert De Niro

65 today


Yes Robert, we are talking to you when we say happy brithday to a screen legend. Why not celebrate with Bob by watching the trailers for his upcoming films Righteous Kill or What Just Happened?. Or better still look yourself in a room with the Scorcese/De Niro films and watch them to remind yourself of how good an actor he really is.

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Training Phase 2, Day 14

I think I must be regressing. This morning I went a little bit further than usual but my overall pace was appalling.

I ran 12.4km in 1hour 10 minutes. That's 10.6 kmph or 6.6 mph.

This is especially rubbish if you consider that as I was running Constantina Tomescu completed the Women's Marathom Olympic event in 2 hours and 26 minutes, which is an average speed of 17.3 kmph.

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Saturday, 16 August 2008

Trailer - Burn after Reading

I am looking forward to this more than any other film coming in 2008.

Watch the trailer and you'll be able to see why.



I especially like Brad dancing to his iPod.

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Training Phase 2, Day 13

Summer has officially ended. When I went out this morning it was all dark and horrible. Humph.

Anyway it was a rather mediocre 7.2km in 41 minutes. That's 10.6 kmph or 6.6 mph. Boo hiss.

Feel free to berate me in the comments.

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Angela Bassett


Happy Birthday to

Angela Bassett

50 today


Yes, everyone's favourite Tina Turner impressionist hits the big five-oh today. Angela's talent is far bigger than her resume seems to suggest and I only hope that she manages to get some good parts in the future. Next up is a plum supporting role in the journalist won't rat on their sources drama: "Nothing but the Truth".

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Friday, 15 August 2008

Would you give a photo of yourself to Mike Figgis?

This man wants to take your picture.

Or to be more accurate Mike Figgis is being paid by Sony Ericsson to make a short film based on your ideas as a competition prize. All you have to do is take 5 photo's on your camera including a self-portrait and submit them onto their website and Mike will take the images he feels tell the best story and turn that into a short film.

As an added bonus there will be gala presentation, with film stars, red carpets and everything where your film (or at least Mike's film based on your idea) will be shown.

I think it's a great idea, and a sure way to sell phone's with a 5 megapixel, antiblur, autofocusing camera. Did I really just write that? What I'm not sure is whether I'd want Mike Figgis messing around with my life. The Mike Figgis who conceived Leaving Las Vegas, Hotel and the shocking Cold Ceek Manor. I'd hate my dogs to come across as alcoholic whores in four screens at once.

So, would any of you enter this competition, or would you prefer another director - feel free to name drop in the comments.


Oh, and here's a potential series of entries. A Mars bar will be sent to the first person to name which films these shots come from:

1.

2.
3.
4.
5.

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Trailers - What Just Happened?

In the UK What Just Happened? opens on the same weekend as Body of Lies. Strangely enough though I actually want to see both. In fact I'm curious to see whether this Player lite manages to make Hollywood talent agents as sympathetic as sports agents were after Jerry Maguire.

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Out this Week (15/08/08)




I'm still smarting about not seeing Death Defying Acts on Wednesday so I guess I'll be avoiding the cinema this week, there's at least one film that looks watchable if you're off out though.

Banishment

I'm flying a bit blind this week as I haven't had a chance to read the film synopsis, however this appears to be a Russian drama/horror movie with dark sinister secrets revealed on a trip to the country.

Runs like a Gay Excitometer: ●●●○○○○○○○


Miss Pettigrew Live for a Day

Unemployed governess Frances McDormand gets caught up with Amy Adam's starlet and her extraordinary lifestyle, including multiple lovers, career choices and (I expect) champagne cocktails. Film of the week.

Runs like a Gay Excitometer: ●●●●●●○○○○

Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Ten years ago I would have been one of the first in line to see this animated version of the fabled clone wars in that galaxy far far away. But then George Lucas stabbed me in the back. Three times.

Runs like a Gay Excitometer: ●●●●○○○○○○

Wild Child

Rich American girl is shipped to posh UK girls school, there's bitchiness, hijinks and lessons learnt. I don't think I'm the target audience.

Runs like a Gay Excitometer: ●●○○○○○○○○

You don't Mess with the Zohan

The latest Adam Sandler vehicle involves a retired Mossad agent working as a hairdreser in New York. It's close to hitting $100m in US revenue, better than the Love Guru, not as good as Get Smart. I'm not going.

Runs like a Gay Excitometer: ●●●○○○○○○○


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Tess Harper


Happy Birthday to

Tess Harper

58 today


Tess was Tommy Lee Jones' wife in No Country for Old Men. That's it really - I can't think of anything else worth saying. Have a good day.

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