Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Venice Film Festival

The 65th Venice International Film Festival released it's full line up yesterday evening. You can visit their website for the full line-up here. Or gaze at the generic picture of the city to our right.

The Venice film festival is becoming quite important for Oscar watchers, at least in the acting categories. Each year for the past 6 either the best actor or actress from Venice has scored an Oscar nomination, although only Helen Mirren as the Queen hs managed to hold that buzz through to the main prize.

This year isn't quite as star filled as most years, and there are no British films in competition (boo!), but there are still some performances that may be worth looking out for.

The Wrestler

The new Darren Aronofsky (Requiem for a Dream, The Fountain) film was due in 2009 but I guess he's already finished it. It stars Mickey Rourke and Marisa Tomei both of whom got some recent buzz that didn't quite result in an oscar nod (Sin City and Before the Devil knows you're Dead respectively). Maybe some love for this will help them. Personally I'm not sure about this one - after all how exciting can wrestling be?

The Burning Plain

Director Guillermo Arriega is probably better known for his writing (Amores Perros, Babel) but he's rustled up a fine mother daughter relationship drama with Kim Basinger and Charlize Theron.

The Hurt Locker

Another Iraq film - with Ralph Fienes playing "Mercenary Team leader". IMDB is so informative.

Rachel Getting Married

Jonathan Demme is hoping for a return to form with this black comedy. Remember he used to be good at these, see Married to the Mob and Melvin and Howard if you don't believe me. He's brought the stunning Anne Hathaway along for the ride.

Inju, La Bete dans l'Ombre

Or Inju, The Beast of the Shadows. This does not appear to be a horror movie. A title like that for a non-horror shows so much chutzpah how can we not want to see it.

Burn after Reading

Opening the festival, but out of competition this Coen production. I may have mentioned that I'm looking forward to it before. In fact now the Dark Knight's out of the way it's the film I'm most looking forward to in the remainder of 2008.

Here's Brad looking a bit confused:

So, what do you think? Will Venice hit on another good performance or has it's run ended? Will one of the above get a mention - or maybe something I haven't noticed? Is Brad more attractive when doing a hurt puppy impression? Feel free to comment.


Training Phase 1, Day 39

It was raining this morning. Actually not that bad as you kind of zone out when running. I did get quite wet though.

Ran 9.8 km in 55 minutes. So that's another milestone (um.. 6) beaten. I'm running an average 10.6 kmph or 6.6 mph. Same route on Friday so hopefully I'll be going a tiny bit faster.


Hilary Swank

Happy Birthday to

Hilary Swank

34 today

I know some people who will balk at this one but I think Hilary is a pretty good, if limited, actress. Maybe not deserving of two oscars but it's not like she's the one who votes for them (well, maybe she's one of the voters but at least 600 people think she was better than Annette Bening twice...


Monday, 28 July 2008

Coming Soon (maybe)

It's been a while since I last did a coming soon post so I'm afraid there's a lot to catch up on. In no particular order (but read the last couple of paragraphs for soem audience participation):

Inglorious Bastards

The script for Tarantino's latest opus (and one that's been on the rumour mill for years) was sent out to just about every studio that might be able to finance it until The Weinstein Company offered, unsurprisingly, to pay up. The script reviews on the net were fairly positive but I'd wait until the final product before judging it, especially if Quentin splits it into 2 films as hinted.

True confessions of Charlotte Doyle

Pierce Brosnan continues with his career resurgence playing against Saoirse Ronan in this adaptation of the popular novel - maybe one to take the teens to.


Next years Fellini musical is gathering one of the most interesting casts of all time: Daniel Day-Lewis, Nicole Kidman, Kate Hudson, Penelope Cruz, Judi Dench, Marion Cotillard and Sophia Loren. 6 Oscars and 11 further nominations between them - that's going to be a fun trailer.

Twilight, Body of Lies and W have all released trailers. I'd link to them but I haven't the time. Consider "Don't teenage vampire's have lovely skin","Nice goatee, Leo" and "Those were the best bits?" as suitable commentary.

Darren Aronofsky has been confirmed as the director of the updated Robocop and Philip Noyce is directing both Captain Blood and Edwin A. Salt. Honestly I'm not making this stuff up.

Alice in Wonderland

Tim Burton has his Alice (Mia Wasikowska - no, I don't know her either) for his part live action part animated version of Lewis Carroll's classic children's book. There's plenty of dark down that rabbit hole for Burton's sensibilities but so far no-one has made a really satisfying version of it. Let's hope that he doesn't just fill it with pointless star cameo's - hang on maybe he should.

Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter
Helena Bonham Carter as the Queen of Hearts

Make your comments please...


Rug Rat Blog-a-thon

The Rug Rat Blog-a-thon is up and live on My Stuff and Cr*p. There's some good stuff in there including children that lie, The Shining and the underrated performances from both To Kill a Mockingbird and from kids doing voice overs.

Go on, go on the link and take your time to read all the blogs - it's great fun seeing how different people approach the same subject.


Training Phase 1, Day 37

In the last week of phase 1, now. I am definitely running further. I've not hit all my targets yet, hopefully I'll remain motivated for this week.

This morning I managed 8.1km in 50 minutes. Broke the 5 mile barrier!! Average speed of 9.7 kmph or 6.0 mph which is quite disappointing but I did beat the 5 mile barrier so I'm happy.


Saturday, 26 July 2008

Rug Rat Blog-a-thon: Bobby Driscoll

When people talk about child actors there is an unfortunate archetype that enters our mind. A precocious pre-pubescent, schooled only in being a star, possibly with pushy parents who slowly goes off the rails. Bobby Driscoll is almost a prototype of that image.

He first appeared in Hollywood at the tender age of 6 in a bit role in the Margaret O'Brien vehicle Lost Angel. From there his star ascended. In 1946 he appeared in the Disney's Song of the South with James Baskett, in '48 he was joined by Burl Ives and Beulah Bondi for So Dear to My Heart. In 1949 his crowning achievement was The Window, earning him an honorary Academy Award for a juvenile performance. This was followed by Treasure Island with Robert Newton; one of Disney's first all live action adventures.

Over the next 3 years Driscoll continued to make an impact in films such as When I grow Up, The Happy Time and the animated Peter Pan; then he began to age. A bad case of acne changed his face and he was no longer a cute little boy. Disney cut his contract and without work he faced torment at school for his failed movie career.

The rest of his life reads like a soap opera; elopement, drug abuse, imprisonment, Andy Warhol and finally an early death. His body found in a derelict tenement in New York in 1968, buried in a paupers grave and only identified late the following year. In this post I will review his performances in The Window and Treasure Island and see if there are any hints of why what happened to Bobby happened the way it did.

The Window

1949. Dir: Ted Tetzlaff. Starring: Bobby Driscoll, Barbara Hale, Arthur Kennedy, Paul Stewart and Ruth Roman. ●●●○○

Adapted from Cornell Woolrich's The Boy who Cried Murder this is a loose re-telling of Aesops Boy who cried wolf fable. Bobby plays a habitual liar, prone to making up stories involving bandits and Indians, who witnesses an actual murder. Only when he tries to tell his parents and the police is roundly ignored. Of course the killers find out that Bobby knows and the third act involves the killers chasing trapping and attempting to kill Bobby.

Set in a hot and sweaty New York Summer the action takes place over 48 hours, mostly at night. The supporting cast are dependable character types (Hale you probably recognise as Della Street from Perry Mason, Kennedy received 5 Oscar nominations during the 50s), but it's Bobby's movie.

There's a real naturalistic quality to his performance. In the early scenes he's an outsider compared to his peers - shooting toy guns at them whilst they play together. It's easy to see why they ostracise him, the first opportunity he has he spins a yarn about how his family are moving to his Dad's ranch. The other kids are sceptical but must believe it enough for the Landlord to hear about and bring round prospective tenants later that night. Bobby's face as he tells his stories and reacts to the landlord's visit is priceless and instantly recognisable.

All kids live in a fantasy world of sorts and we can relate to Bobby's discomfort that some of his more elaborate tales are actually believed. Whether he meant to foll the other kids scarcely matters because when he tells his Dad he didn't we can see he's being genuine.

Of course it's that night that he sees the murder. The fear on his face as he witnesses it is palpable. The scene that really gets me is when he realises the Catch 22. His parent's want him to tell the truth and to tell then he didn't see the murder. He wants to be honest and therefore can't lie and tell them it didn't happen which is all they want to hear. There's real pain in his knotted forehead as he realises there is no way out of that dilemma.

Does the Window offer any portents into the future of Bobby Driscoll. In retrospect we could say that Bobby playing dead in the deserted apartments at the beginning is an eerie foreshadowing of the circumstances of his death, that the way he is excluded by the other kids and by the police is equal to the way the Studios wouldn't touch him once he first got caught up with drugs and faced goal time. This is a fantasy though, we are making the future events fit with the evidence on screen not the other way round. The Window is purely a testament to Bobby's talent not his fall from grace.

Whet then about

Treasure Island

1950. Dir: Byron Haskin. Starring: Bobby Driscoll, Robert Newton, Basil Sydney, Walter Fitzgerald and Denis O'Dea. ●●○○○

Everyone knows the story of Treasure Island. And in 1950 there will have few boys who hadn't stayed up all night reading Robert Louis Stevenson's classic tale of pirates, buried treasure and derring-do.

In short Jim is passed a map of buried treasure by a dying pirate. Setting off with Squire Trelawney and the local doctor they charter a ship and set off to find the gold. A good proportion of the crew turn out to be pirates led by the seemingly friendly and definitely charismatic Long John Silver (one-legged and with a parrot - yes it's pirate stereotype heaven).

Interestingly Jim finds out and the Captain believes him when he tells him - proving he hasn't seen the Window - but it's too late. The crew mutiny, many secondary characters die. The ship, the treasure and the boy shop hands many times until at the end Silver rows off alone with a good proportion of the bounty. Safe but many miles from land.

The film is fun in a boy's own kind of way, and the time goes by quickly enough, but all the sails unfurling and "ah Jim Lad's" can't hide the fact that Bobby is a lacklustre lead.

As natural as he appeared in The Window Bobby seems to be uncomfortable as Jim. Of course the story is rooted not only in the past but also on a far less realistic basis. It's possible that Bobby just didn't understand what Jim was thinking and feeling. As a character he comes across all whiny and pathetic - not how I imagined Jim when I read the book. There's a lot to compete against too - Robert Newton (who allegedly spent most of the shoot drunk) takes every opportunity to chew the scenery, as does Walter Fitzgerald as the squire and a number of supporting pirates. Bobby just melts into the background against all this talent.

It is here we begin to see what fate may make of Bobby Driscoll and what his downfall may be. Tragically it's his limitations as an actor that will undo him. In upper working class New York Driscoll did well, in 18th century Britain he's completely lost. There were issues in the filming stages as well - Bobby didn't have a permit to work in the UK (where Treasure Island was filmed) so production was delayed and the costs grew whilst the picture was finished. In some exterior scenes other boys had to be used as doubles in order to complete the shoot. Through no fault of his own Bobby became known as trouble.

A few years later, with his looks gone and his lack of range showing it would have been easy for the studios, especially the penny pinching Disney, to cut up the contracts.

Of course the stereotype doesn't always hold. For every Bobby Driscoll there's a Mickey Rooney who successfully transfers to adult parts or a Shirley Temple who knows when it's time to move on to something else. However it's the tragedies that stick in our minds most, and surely Bobby's life is one of the biggest tragedies Hollywood has ever seen.


The Song Inside

The director of the Song Inside has given me a copy of the DVD. I'll try and cut out a section and post it later. Everyone stand by for a guy in a ill fitting jumper leafletting like crazy.


Helen MIrren

Happy Birthday to

Helen Mirren

63 today

Helen, or Dame Helen if you will, is one of the most glamourous sexagenarian in the world, as well as being an actress I would watch reading the phone book. She's so good I get shivers whenever she's cast and her upcoming projects Inkheart, Love Ranch and State of Play have all got me on the edge of my seat.


Friday, 25 July 2008

Out this week (25/07/08)

I think we can all guess what my top pick is for this week, but here goes with them all:

Angus, Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging

Gurinder Chadha directs this coming of age tale about a girl who falls in love with the new kid in town. Gurinder's done some great stuff in the past with Bend it Like Beckham and Bhaji on the Beach - maybe this will also break out.

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

Baby Mama

Saturday Night Live faves Amy Poehler and Tina Fey hook up for a surrogacy comedy (how could it not have been comic?). Did well in the states.

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

Before the Rains

In case you had wondered what happened to Linus Roach here he is in this cross cultural romance as his spice merchant in India seduces local girl. Everyone looks beautiful but you can bet there will be tears before the credits roll.

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

Buddha Collapsed out of Shame

Hana Makmalbaf's film follows a six year-old Afghan girl over the course of a single day. (I know I've ripped that off Empireonline but no-one will see it anyway.)

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

The Dark Knight

There is little I need to say to make you more excited about this one. You could read my review here. And please trust me I had it down as 9 out of ten in the runs like a gay excitometer a long time before I saw it.

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


Barbara Harris

Happy Birthday to

Barbara Harris

73 today

Flashback to 1976 and one of the biggest films was Freaky Friday with Jodie Foster and Barbara Harris playing mother and daughter whose personalities get mixed up. It's a bit of a guilty pleasure but that combined with the last few minutes of Nashville are enough to prove Barbara's talent. She's retired now, but I hope you can all join me in wishing Happy Birthday.


Thursday, 24 July 2008

The Dark Knight

2008. Dir: Christopher Nolan. Starring: Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart, Michael Caine and Maggie Gyllenhaal. ●●●●●

I wasn't actually going to review The Dark Knight. I had planned on just watching, enjoying and saying there are better reviewers and reviews out there. That remains the truth but I would like to make my own comments anyway.

The Dark Knight is breaking box office records on pretty much a daily basis - it's now the fastest film to £200m US domestic. Last night I went to the Birmingham IMAX and got caught up in the whole excitement of it. And it's good, it's very, very good. I urge you all to go and see it as soon as you get a chance.

It is not however as good as some reviewers/rabid fan boys are making out.

It opens with a bank job. The Joker and the usual array of no-name expendable henchmen are robbing the bank of Mob money. Later it transpires that this is a ploy in order to lure Gotham gangster population into working together to defeat Batman, alternatively it's purely because The Joker enjoys the sport and wants to be up against Batman.

The violence and threats escalate throughout the film with The Joker backed by the mob on the one side and Batman, Lt Jim Gordon and DA Harvey Dent on the other.

Of course large elements of the plot don't really matter, comic adaptations are about the clashes and the themes not the minutitae, and the clashes certainly work. Aside from the opening heist there are three major confrontational scenes.

In Hong Kong Batman kidnaps a mob accountant. Wonderfully shot, with fantastic editing and fast paced action the scene grabs you from start to finish. Kudos to Wally Pfister for this particular section, as Batman soars so does the camera, perfecting highlighting the dizzying expance of the city.

Back in Gotham there's an underground chase sequence as the Joker, leading a convoy of lorries and dustcarts attempts to assasinate a transferring prisoner - I won't spoil it by saying who that prisoner is... With this section Nolan is comfortably showing the naysayers who rallied against the action in Batmn Begins how much his skills have improved. And we see the batpod - that is one cool bike.

Finally in the thrid act showdown between Batman and the Joker a building site under construction is the setting for some spectular fisticuffs between our dark knight and both the Jokers henchmen and the SWAT teams sent in to do the job.

All of these sequences are great fun, showcasing the high quality of the film, however they are not without their problems. There is the traditional underlit quality of batman fights, yeah it's moody and dark but if we can't see who's getting hit how can we care about them. The sonar gear is nice touch for a bat to use, but "Operation skyhook" looked and felt like a reject from a Roger Moore era Bond film. I also have a problem with the way the batpod scenes were edited together. Essentially batman drives fromt he wreckage of the Batmobile out of the undergound road via car parks, alleyways and shopping malls to get to the Joker's juggernaught. I'll ignore the question about how he knew where he was going, but I can't ignore that there seems little reason for the shopping centre section other than to show how cool the bike is. It's not needed - it only shows up that whilst we see glass doors smashed we have no idea how Batman negotitated the lift into the shopping centre in the first place.

On the acting side most of the cast acquit themselves very well. Heath Ledger is, as you will have heard, excellent. Is it the best performance in a comic film ever? Probably. Will it win Heath a posthumous oscar? Probably not. Whilst Heath inhabits the role like his tailor made clown suit I would be very surprised if it is the best supporting performance we see this year. Also I would hazard to say much of the congratulations going to him should really be given to Christopher and Jonathan Nolan for writing the role in the first place. Not to mention the Joker is a fan boy favourite who would always get rave notices. Although the moments when Heath works the funny aspect are priceless; the disappearing pencil trick and walking away from Gotham Genral come to mind.

Aaron Eckhart does a good job as Harvey Dent, less so as Harvey "Two-Face" Dent, although I feel his performance will improve on repeated viewings. Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine and Gary Oldman all make the best of expositionary speeches and the odd tear. Freeman also managed to get the biggest laugh of the night.

Bruce Wayne/Batman himself is a tough part to play, and I'm not sure Christian Bale gives us enough of the light and shade of the two personas to make him a rounded character.

The allusions to the way on terror are well made, and it's plea for tolerance and calm is refreshing. If some people walk away from the movie with the idea that brutalising prisoners is wrong and deciding to not pull the pin on the detonator is good then it will achieve more than a hundred Iraqi based "war is bad" movies will do.

Curiously I also felt extremely detached from the action, in spite of being in the IMAX. When I saw the Mist a few weeks ago I felt I was in the supermaket with the protagonists, watching the Dark Knight I felt I was merely an observer to the action.

In conclusion I have to say that whilst The Dark Knight is an excellent film and fully deserving of my 5 star arting (it would prbably be 4 and a half if I could do halves) I do not believe that it is the best film ever made, not even the best comic book adaptation - Spideman 2 was more fun, X2 hit on themes closer to me.

I'm looking forward to getting some feedback on this one...


Anna Paquin

Happy Birthday to

Anna Paquin

26 today

The precocious speaking daughter from the Piano has now spent as much time of her life with an Oscar as without - it's been a long time in the wilderness. Coming out at some point (we hope) is Kenneth Lonergan's Margaret, where Anna witnesses an accident and suffers from guilt, but after 3 years in the editing suite and still no sign of a release perhaps it's best we don't see it.


Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Training Phase 1, Day 32

Dreadful, dreadful, dreadful.

Obviously the 3 days on 4 days off training plan isn't working. I went out this morning and only just managed 7.6 km in 45 minutes. That's 10.2 kmph (6.4mph). Which is a big step back from Friday.

I also fell over at the Glasshouse (big shout out to the Stourbridge readers). What a moron.

Tomorrow I'll decrease the distance a little and see how I do on average speed.


Philip Seymour Hoffman

Happy Birthday to

Philip Seymour Hoffman

41 today

There was a time when Philip was the most underrated actor in the US, now he's closer to being the most overrated with academy award nominations for dross like Charlie Wilson's War. There's always something interesting on his slate though, right now there's Peadophile priest drama Doubt, a trip through Charlie Kaufman's head in Synecdoche, New York and the latest Richard Curtis rom com The Boat that Rocked.


Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Willem Dafoe

Happy Birthday to

Willem Dafoe

53 today

Willem is probably best remembered for throwing his hands up in the air and dying herorically to Barber's Adagio for Strings in Platoon, but right now he seems to be capitalising more on his slightly creepy looks. Over the next 12 months look out for 2 vampire films (Daybreakers and Cirque du Freak). Personally I'm most looking forward to his Nazi Commandant in Paul Schrader's (co-incidently it's Paul's birthay as well) Adam Resurrected.

See poster after the jump:


Monday, 21 July 2008


1956. Dir: George Stevens. Starring: Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, James Dean, Carroll Baker and Jane Withers. ●●○○○

Giant is the sort of sprawling epic that they just don't make any more. Only they do make them like this, except they make it cheaper with less well known stars and put it on television 3 times a week. That's right; if it looks like soap, sounds like soap and feels like soap it must be soap.

The action opens in Dr. Lynnton's northern estate where Jordan Benedict (Hudson) is buying a horse. The horse is a favourite of Lynnton's daughter Leslie (Taylor) and it soon becomes clear that Benedict won't be returning to Texas alone. Once the action shifts to the Raela ranch we are introduced to Bendict's sister Luz (Mercedes McCambridge) and employee Jett Rink (Dean).

Characters come, go and die, inherit, get rich, have children (who grow up marry and have their own children), and pretty soon 3 hours of your life have gone.

The film isn't short of good ingredients, though.

It's themes of gender and racial equality are important to make but Dennis Hopper's leaden speeches aren't enough and the promise of Taylor leading female emancipation in the partriachical Texas society is never exploited. Liz Taylor is luminous (even if her wardrobe is unflattering). McCambridge gives a pitch perfect performance, although this too is wasted because every tiem she speaks the camera cuts to an extreme close up or she appears somewhere way off centre.

The best elements of the film come and go quickly - James Dean striking oil (bizarrely cut with a party at Reala), McCambridge riding the new stallion in silhouette, the interior of Reala until the Benedict's start striking oil.

The bad points are much more prevalent: In the later stages of the film Dean and Hudson stop acting and let their make-up do all the work as their characters age and the script lurches from one melodramtic speech to another. Generally the entire production seems ham fisted and amateurish.

Bizarrely this film was nominated for 10 oscars, winning one for George Stevens' direction, and is regularly voted as one of the best films of all time. I can only hope they have been wacthing another film.


The Dark Knight

The Dark Knight is curently breaking records every where you look: All Time opening Weekend (beating Spider-Man 3 by $4m), Biggest single day gross, Fastest to $100m etc.

In fact in 3 days it's already grossed over 75% of the total US gross of Batman Begins and is 44% ahead of notorious flop Batman and Robin.

How is it doing this? There are multiple factors that could be behind this massive take:

A) General love for all things Batman.
B) Superb and innovative viral campaign.
C) Respect for Batman Begins and desire to see the follow-up.
D) Excellent reviews.
E) Curiosity about Heath Ledger.

Which do you think has tipped the balance? Feel free to comment.


Robin Williams

Happy Birthday to

Robin Williams

57 today

1951 was a good year, wasn't it? Unfortunately Robin hasn't had a good year since 2002. Once upon a time he was able to be wacky with an emotional punch (see Dead Poets Society and Good Morning Vietnam), however since the mid nineties he forgot how to do that and is now only effective when playing bad guys like Sy Parrish.


Friday, 18 July 2008

Out this week (18/07/08)

I'm not terribly excitited by this weeks new releases (on the edge of my seat about next week, though...)

City of Men

Follow up to City of God, from the same team that brought the story to the small screen. Critics say it's entertaining but lacks the emotional wallop of it's predecessor.

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

Donkey Punch

A donkey punch is a karate chop to the neck delivered by at man at the point of their orgasm. Why would anyone submit to that? How can any guy control his arms at that point? How can a film build a 90 minute slasher pic on that premise?

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

Mad Detective

Or Sun Taam. Cop chasing serial killer pic from acclaimed Hong Kong director Johnny To. The synopsis on Empire makes it sound like an 80's TV series, but I don't think the fans will go to see the plot.

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

Meet Dave

I went to see the Adventures of Pluto Nash. I was very lonely. I won't be fooled by Eddie Muphy grinning on a poster again.

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


Nicolas Roeg returns after a 12 year absense to bring us this mix of pregnancy, voodoo and sex scenes. Are they real? Does anyone care anymore?

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


Latest adventure from Pixar. I have stated before how much I'm bored by animation. No doubt it's very very good and will win the best animated picture Oscar at the end of the year. I expect the near silent film first hour is spectacular and the message of taking better care of the planet is brought over very well. Still I'll wait until I'm babysitting my newphews and neices in 6 months before I bother to watch. (It's still the top pick of the week.)

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

I was filming last Friday so missed the opportunity to post. For the record my top flick was Mamma Mia with ●●●●●●○○○○


Training Phase 1, Day 27

In case anyone was wondering I run along the nearest canal (Brierley Hill). The reason my distance may increase when the time satys virtually the same is because I tend to run for xx minutes in one direction and then turnaround and run back.

This morning, in 41 minutes I ran 7.3 Km. That's 10.7 kmph (6.7 mph), feeling good now.


Thursday, 17 July 2008

Training Phase 1, Day 26

Out on the streets again this morning. 6.9 km in 41 minutes. That's 10.1 kmph or 6.3mph. Faster (marginally) and further than yesterday, which is good.

Must walk the dogs now - they're getting restless.


Diahann Carroll

Happy Birthday to

Diahann Carroll

73 today

Diahann made her break in minor roles in Otto Preminger's Afro-Caribbean musicals (Carmen Jones and Porgy and Bess), she went to star in a groundbreaking sitcom about a single mother and then virtually reprised the role in Claudia, which led to an Oscar nominations. She was also engaged to David Frost (whose 1977 interviews of Richard Nixon form the basis of the upcoming Frost/Nixon). In spite of these Diahann for me is Dominique Deveraux from Dynasty; Blake Carrington's illegitimate half-sister. I remember growing up in the 80's pretending to be asleep but watching those dresses, those shady dealing and those ridiculous cliffhangers on my black & white TV in the corner.

How could my parents not have guessed I was gay...


Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Secret Window

I've been sent a script for a short student film. Normally I'd say YES without giving it a second thought - after all it all builds up towards my showreel.

This time I'm not so sure.

I've included a scene after the jump - let me know whether I should do it in the comments.

And I don't want anyone quoting Walter Huston.

EXT. A HOUSE DAY (Kyle is seen sitting on a bench. He is in a very deep though. His friend, Harry appears - hurrying from a fast food shop)
HARRY Kyle is still brooding over the past? (*HE OPENS THE PAPER BAG) cheese bugger? (NO RESPONSE) sorry! I forgot. My friend don't like cheese bugger. (HE EATS. WITH A MOUTHFUL). Hey, there's a very bad news!
KYLE What?
HARRY I heard the police are searching for you. Dont tell me you got yourself involve in a mess again Kyle. I guess you should go surrender yourself.
KYLE So I could go to jail. What sort of a friend are you
HARRY Come on we all know this is not your first time of going to jail. Also you always seem to find your way out every time you go on a visit. Be a man,be a real man! (Kyle stares at harry,then stands up and walks away from him.)



I may as well admit it - I'm a scab. In the office where I'm temping there is currently a strike on.

Admittedly there are more people in work than not. Also I'm only a temp - the strike will have no effect on my pay. However the fact remains there are people with placards outside the front door.

To show some solidarity here are 5 memorable strikes in films:

Billy Elliot

At first glance Billy just looks like a story about a boy who wants to dance. True enough but Billy comes from a mining family and it's 1984. The miner's strike is both perspective and reflective to the story - it puts the families poverty into perspective and highlights the differences between Billy (who can escape) and his brother(who never will). Also when Dad attempts to break the stike it is truly heartbreaking.


"I'm not a scab... I'm a strikebreaker." So Happiness is about peadaphiles, murder and dirty phone calls but when Jane Adams says that it's a moment of pure joy.

How Green was my Valley

More coal miners. This time they're Welsh, filmed in the California backlot, and just starting the whole union thing. It didn't work for the Welsh - there are no more working coal mines.

Carry On at Your Convenience

One of the worst of the Carry On series, which is saying something, At Your Convenience spins a feeble set of jokes around a strike in Kenneth Williams' toliet factory. Including such gems as:

Vic Spanner: It's another a little prod at the very vitals of your personal freedom.
Chloe Moore: I never noticed anyone prodding at my vitals!

The River

Mel Gibson and Sissy Spacek lose their tractor, their crops and eventually their dignity because of that pesky river. Mel breaks the steel strikes to make a few dollars - gets spat at. Sissy stays at home and gets bugged by Scott Glenn. It all ends happily, though.

Did I miss any? What strike films get you walking out? Feel free to make some comments.


Training Phase 1, Day 25

Yes, it really has been 13 days since I last did any exercise (except walking the dogs). Still I went out on the road this morning.

6.1 km in 36 minutes. So that's 5.55 min per km or 10.8 kmph (6.8 mph) respectable but needs work. I guess going out on a more regular basis may be the most benficial thing to do.

I'm going to go out every day for the next week - is this wise (feel free to comment)?


Tuesday, 15 July 2008

The Mist

2007. Dir: Frank Darabont. Starring: Thomas Jane, Marcia Gay Harden, Laurie Holden, Andre Braugher and Toby Jones. ●●●●○

There are many advantages to seeing a film like the Mist in the cinema. Primarily you can immerse yourself in the sound and the vision in a way that home cinema cannot compete with. The sheer scope of the monsters is revealed in a much better way. Mostly though there are occasions where the audience reactions cary you along with the action in extradinary ways. (Spoilers ahead).

In the Mist there are a few opportunities to laugh and there are plenty of times when you will collectively jump a little in your seats; mainly by the false scares (people tripping into things etc.). There was also a wonderful moment where the auditorium collective burst into a round of applause. If you've seen the film I'd love to know if it was the same for you, when mild-mannered deputy manager Ollie (Toby Jones) shoots the fanatical Mrs Carmody (Marcia Gay Harden) in the head were you whooping?

There is little plot in the film. A thick fog appears from nowhere (although it's probably a military experiment gone wrong) and houses beasties from another dimension. A group of disparate characters get holed up in a supermarket. Some of them die, some of them attempt to get out, some of them go a bit crazy.

The creatures are a mix of good animatronics and poor CGI and generally they look more interesting when partially obscured by the mist. The story is not really about what's outside the store though, it's much more interested in what's happening inside.

The strangers quickly form 3 groups. The first is led by our hero Thomas Jane (doing his best Tom Hanks impression) with his young son (Nathan Gamble, who you may remember from Babel). The second is a group of sceptics led by Andre Braugher, needless to say they don't last very long. And the third group is led by Marcia Gay Harden.

This group are the true monsters and none more so than Mrs. Carmody, a religious fanatic quoting bible verses and calling for expiation (atonement to God) through blood sacrifice. To begin with she is treated like a bit of a looney, but slowly more people turn to her for answers until she is able to whip up the mob and make then do her bidding. Including slaughtering a soldier (the unfeasibly gorgeous Sam Witwer) from the camp and almost killing our heroes as well. Mrs. Carmody is a frightening but believable character, we'd all like to imagine that we'd stand up to her, but if we look around at US and UK foreign policy, our steady erosion of civil libertis and a slow creep to the political right in the entire western world I think we can agree we probably wouldn't fight it as much as we'd like.

Frank Darabont has twice directed from Stephen King novellas and both efforts were very successful. I would say that this third collaboration comes somewhere in the middle - tenser and with more to say than the Green Mile but without the investment in the characters of Shawshank. The hand held style of camerwork is very effectively, especially in the intense nighttime siege where I really felt I was part of the battle.

A lot has been said about the changes between the book and the film especially the ending. Personally I feel Darabont made the right choice. He gives us an ending that's much more cinematic and tragic than the books "hope".

Overall The Mist is well worth forking out the price of a ticket. I can't wait to see the next time Marcia Gay Harden plays a role like this.


Coming Soon (Definitely - Cannes edition)

I've been looking at Box Office Mojo again, and there's a few new scheduled opening dates that I that you may like to share.


A UK opening date of 14 November has been announced. Despite the lukewarm reaction at Cannes I'm still quite keen on seeing Meirelles' latest opus, the trailers have indicated a dreamy quality in the cinematography very different from the tone of the book and this should be a good enough reason to rush to see it.

What Just Happened

Actully this looks a bit rubbish - like a poor man's The Player - however I'm willing to give this fading Hollywood producer tale a try if only because Barry Levinson and Robert De Niro have both gone 10 years without a decent film and maybe their Wag the Dog reunion may be something interesting.

Linha de Passe

Like Blindness and What Just Happened this slice of life drama also debuted at Cannes, with significantly better press and the best actress award for Sandra Corveloni. The plot - four boys from the slums try to improve their lives in different ways - may be as old as time, but I'm hoping for a fantastic work from Walter Salles and Daniela Thomas.

The Argentine/Guerilla

We in the UK now have relaease dates for Steven Soderbergh love letters to Che Guevara 02 January and 20 February respectively. Benicio Del Toro won the best actor award at Cannes for the combined "Che" and it will certainly be interesting to see these films. Perhaps most interesting about these dates is whilst Optimum has announced them for here there is still no distributer for the US market in any form. You would have thought this was a guaranteed best actor oscar nomination - biopic, well liked star, he dies at the end - however if Focus Features don't pull their fingure out and organise a relaease strategy it could end up being a wasted opportunity.


Monday, 14 July 2008

Jackie Earle Haley

Happy Birthday to

Jackie Earle Haley

47 today

Jackie was a child actor, (see The Bad News Bears or Breaking Away) who had almost disappeared by the mid nineties. He returned to film in 2006 with an oscar nominated performance as the peadophile in Todd Field's Little Children. I amactually not a fan of the performance - not a subtle as the Ronnie McGorvey from the book - however it's been a great opportunity for Jackie to return to film. Look out for him in the highly anticipated Watchmen adaptation and in Scorcese's Shutter Island next year.


Sunday, 13 July 2008

Song Inside

You'll all be pleased to know that the Song Inside was a resounding success, I even had a very cute guy come and congratulate me on my performance in the bar (which let's face is a good enough reason to act in the first place!).

I also spent Friday filming a training video for the Nursing department at Birmingham City University. As ever if I get a copy I'll be putting it right here for you all to see.

Normal blogging will continue tomorrow when I am back into the swing of things.


Harrison Ford

Happy Birthday to

Harrison Ford

66 today

There are few actors who can leave a role for nearly 20 years and then when they return the shadow is all that is needed to get the fan boys excited. It's a shame the film was a mess but Harrison was spot on throughout.

Look out for him next in Wayne Kraner's upcoming immigration drama Crossing Over.


Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Tom Hanks

Happy Birthday to

Tom Hanks

52 today

Tom is one of the most remarkable actors working today. There are few stars that can effectively carry a one man show to over $200m, but Tom managed that with Cast Away. The next major film on his slate is Angels and Demons; I'll confess I'm very much looking forward to this as it's a tighter story than the Da Vinci code with a lot less exposition needed.


Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Anjelica Huston

Happy Birthday to

Anjelica Huston

57 today

It's always a pleasure to say Happy Birthday to a member of such a prestigious Hollywood family, even if Anjelica may be the last person you'd want in your family - Crimes and Misdemeanors, Grifters, Prizzi's Honor, always her loved ones getting a raw deal.


Sunday, 6 July 2008

Traffic cones and grief

I may have mentioned that I was pretty busy yesterday. In fact I was acting...

In the morning I did a short film for The Maclagen Men called Only a Space Away. Basically it's a love story between 2 traffic cones. I played a commuter desperately looking for a parking space, and got to wheelspin out of a praking space, which was fun. As soon as it's available on line (or I have a copy) I'll be showing it here.

In the afternoon it was rehearsing for The Song Inside. It's now only 2 days until it premiers and only 6 days until our public performance. I may have mentioned it before, but if not, please come along on Friday 11 July to King Edwards VI Five Ways School for an opportunity to see this superb show.


Geoffrey Rush

Happy Birthday to

Geoffrey Rush

57 today

Geoffrey is an immensly talented Australian character actor. Although over the last couple of years he seems to be content to repeat past glories in substandard sequels (Barbossa in Pirates of the Caribbean and Walsingham in The Golden Age). This year he has a couple of indies still to come out, hopefully it will signify a return to form.


Saturday, 5 July 2008

Coming Soon (Maybe)

Now, I know this is a lot later than usual, but I've had an extemely busy day. More on that later...

It's been a while since the last coming soon, so what's new:

The Debt

Has moved one stage closer to production with John Madden now set to direct. It's a remake of the Isreali film Ha-Hov concerning a retired Mossad agent who has has to rectify a mistake and cover up from the 60s. Nothing like You don't Mess with the Zohan, apparantly.


Some new posters have appeared, including this gorgeous one of stunner Gael Garcia Bernal.

Edwin A. Salt

The helm has passed to Philip Noyce, Peter Berg having moved on to other things. This seems to be a more real version of Minority Report, so naturally Ton Cruise has been mentioned alongside it for some time. This is really just an excuse for a link to the Tom Cruise 25 years official website.


Friday, 4 July 2008

Training Phase 1, Day 13

Really quick post to get it in before midnight. (I've been watching the Assasination of Jesse James with the dogs).

After work I went to the gym, focused on biceps and abs, and also did 30 minutes on the treadmill. 5.52 km so just past 11 kph. I ramped up the incline this time - was doing 4.5% at one point...

Not that I'm boasting. Now I must go to sleep - busy day ahead tomorrow. I'll tell you about it in the evening.


Out this Week (04/07/08)

Loads of films out this week. In alphabetical order:

Death Note: The Last Name

Bizarre looking hokum about a book which, if your name is written in it, means death within 40 seconds. Apparently the first film did very well.

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


Will Smith is Hancock, reluctant superhero. Jason Bateman is his PR guru. Charlize Theron is a love interest of sorts. This will be number 1 at the box office next week.

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

Kung Fu Panda

I genuinely find it very difficult to get excited about cartoons - aren't they for kids. This one involves a Panda (Jack Black) finding out he's the "chosen one", learning Kung Fu and defeating the evil Snow Leopard. Second film in 2 weeks with Angelina Jolie - what with the twins dropping any minute she's a busy girl.

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

Mes Amis Mes Amours

French romantic comedy, set in London, with elements of step-parenting dilemmas and sex scenes. Subtitled hilarity ensues.

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

Eight months after it's Stateside release Frank Darrabont's third film based on a Stephen King short story makes it to the UK. Cross-section of Maine get stuck inside a supermarket with beasties lurking in the mist outside. But are we the real monsters. Marcia Gay Harden and Tom Jane supply the answers. (This is my film of the week, and I may even go and see it...)

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

Guy Mappin takes us on a tour of his hometown with actors playing real people, except when there are real people playing themselves, with flights in tone and influences. Or something.

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

This US Immigration drama is getting quite a lot of buzz elsewhere on the internet, some people even suggesting that Richard Jenkins has a good case for a Lead Actor Oscar nod. Shame it's only opening in very limited venues.

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


Eva Marie Saint

Happy Birthday to

Eva Marie Saint

84 today

Eva worked with, and held her own, against some giants of Hollywood - Marlon Brandon, Cary Grant, Paul Newman. She never quite became as much of a star as she deserved; so everyone go home tonight and watch North by Northwest and remind yourself of how perfect she is.


Thursday, 3 July 2008

Training Phase 1, Day 12

The training carries on. This morning I completed 5.6 km in 30 min. So, without too much thinking that 11.2 kmph or 7 mph. Still on a treadmill, though.

I've looked back at the rest of my results and the last few runs I've gone down 0.1 kmph hour for each one, although I've added 5 minutes as well, and on day 1 I only ran 5.1km in a thiry minute run. So am I improving or not? Any comments would be illuminating.

Also at work this morning I've been asked if I could do a strip; I'm not sure whether that's a nod to my improved physique or just plain sexual harassment.

What do you think?


Tom Cruise

Happy Birthday to

Tom Cruise

46 today

Tom is often unfairly maligned (although he does ask for it), but here at Runs Like a Gay we're still massive fans. He's had a run of hits like no other actor, and occasionally acts well in them. I'm looking forward to his cameo in Tropic Thunder and in spite of the delays I'm still thinking Valkyrie will be an excellent film.

And for those of you who, like me, found your whole life made more sense after wacthing this, here is the volleyball scene from Top Gun (hopefully...).


Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Food and Nutrition - Carbohydrates

When talking about nutrition for runners it makes sense starting with carbohydrates. In fact a lot of people who regular run marathons will babble on about complex carbs and pasta feasts given half the chance.

Carbs make up a large proportion of our diet, it's recommended that about a third of our food intake is made up of traditionally carbohydrate based foods, such as bread, rice, potatoes, pasta and beans, and we should be also taking in another third or our energy as carbohydrates from other types of food (including fruit, vegetables, more sugary foods and even milk)

You see the problem with carbohydrates is that they are difficult to define.

Chemically they are simply groups of Carbon, Hydrogen and Oxygen mixed together in certain ways. At the botom end of the scale is glucose - 6 carbon 12 Hydrogen and 6 Oxygen - which in effect is an immensely simple suger. At the other end is polysaccharides such as starch occuring in the foods we'd most commonly associate with carboydrates.

Ultimately the body needs carbs. It uses them in the immune system, for fertilization(!), blood clotting, developing new cells and most importantly for the storage and transport of energy.

So without carbohydrates the body cannot convert energy into activity. No rice no run.

More complex carbohydrates take longer to break down and therefore the body can use this energy to complete activities over a longer period of time, whereas the simpler carbs are available for the body to use much sooner. So I guess it'll be a Mars bar pasta salad on the morning of the marathon to cover all bases.


Dark Knight

I've got my tickets for the Imax on July 23rd.



Coming Soon (definitely)

I've been taking a look at Box Office Mojo, now that's a seriously addictive site, and there's been a couple of schedule changes that I thought I'd share.

Death Defying Acts

After a bit of a wait, since it's premiere at last years Toronto festival, this Guy Pearce as Houdini film is set to come out over here on 08 August. I've been a fan of Guy waay back since Neighbours and it'll be good to see him on the big screen agian, especially in a tuxedo. The plot revolves around an affair between Houdini and a fake medium (Catherine Zeta-Jones). The trailer can be found here.

Body of Lies

The new Ridley Scott movie has settled on 10 October. I'm not sure about this, while I accept that Russell Crowe and Leonardo DiCaprio are both fantastic actors, I'm not sold on the consistency of Ridley's work. Also I'm still not sure whether the public are ready for Iraq movies, especially one based on a source novel that blasts the US decision to go into Iraq like this one does. I guess we'll have to wait and see.


Tuesday, 1 July 2008


This afternoon, just before leaving work I was feeling seriously unmoviated about heading to the gym.

Go on, give me a quick word of encouragement - I'll be extremely grateful.


A little fun

Now this leads to a whole lot of fun. Just under 2 minutes. 100 films. How many can you name?

With big thanks to Low Resolution for putting there first...


Training Phase 1, Day 10

You'll all be pleased to know that during today's gym session I felt much more confident and had no bouts of paranoia about people laughing at me.

My run was OK. 25 minutes on the treadmill, went 4.55 km. So an average pace of 5.31min per KM or just shy of 11.3 kmph. I am proving I can go these slightly longer distances though.


Olivia de Havilland

Happy Birthday to

Olivia de Havilland

92 today

Olivia was never a conventional beauty, but the studios used that to good effect - as the solid dependable Melanie in Gone with the Wind and the permanently slighted Catherine Sloper in the Heiress that look was perfect.
Damn fine performances, too.
For a more interesting breakdown of her performance as Melanie I urge to take a look a this blog on Stinkylulu.