Saturday, 29 August 2009

Film News (29/08/2009)

I'm pretty ambivalent about most of the stories this week, we either already knew about it, or it's just another cast member in what is already shaping to be a fantastic film or I suspect the film will be ropey anyway. But here goes with the news.

The Town

Do you think Ben Affleck looks anything like Chris Cooper? Be honest...

No, I can't see it either.

That isn't stopping Ben from chasing Chris for his bank robbers in Boston movie, with a view Him playing the actor-directors Dad. It doesn't really matter because whenever you put Cooper in a film it automatically improves by 15%.

Pirate Latitudes

It was obviously terrible personal news to Michale Crichton's family and friends when he lost his fight to cancer last year. However let's not over state his achievements in film. Most of the work he did was pretty risable. It's therefore with mixed feelings that we hear his last published novel - Pirate Latitudes - about a daring raid on a Spanish Galleon is due to be adapted by Dreamworks. Saying that at least it's not full of dodgy technobabble so perhaps it may just work.


Bryce Dallas Howard may have a somewhat spotty acting career - not her fault she's usually very good only in dreadful films - but if she ever decided to become an agent for writers she'd probably make a fortune. Earlier this year we heard she showed her dad the Originals, written by a friend, and now Ron going to produce. She's only gone and down it again - this time Restless has been passed to good friend Gus van Sant to direct. I wonder if i should send her my great unfilmed script?

There be Dragons

It's not strictly speaking news - the camera's have been whirling for Roland Joffe's Sapnish Civil war picture for over a month - but the papers got hold of some background this week and there have been questions aout the objectivity of the piece. You see it's about Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer, founder of the powerful Catholic sect Opus Dei, and it's funded by Opus Dei. Will the film therefore be prepared to divulge the more controversial elements of the group, or Josemaria's pro-Franco statements? Or will it be a whitewashed recruitment video. Odds on if Opus Dei spend too much time meddling with historical fact it will go the way of other religion funded films like Inchon and Battlefield Earth, so I guess it won't matter either way.

Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps

Susan Sarandon has been drafted in to play Shia LaBeouf's mum. I wonder what her character's stance on corporate greed will be? Perhaps it will be as surprising, and require as much "acting" as Michael Sheen had to do in the original.

Box Office News

Release Date News

Creek - Delaying my horrible dilemma with the trailers, look back at Tuesday's post for an explanation, Joel Schumacher's Nazi-Occult experiment film has fallen back by nearly a month. Still looks dreadful. Search for your brother's abducters on 09 October 2009.

The Girlfriend Experience - The low key look at high class protitution has been put back back one week, I guess so there aren't 2 Soderbergh films opening on the same day. Personally I'd still be interested in these as a double bill. Blow your rent on 27 November 2009.

The Boys are Back - It's a very fine line between quality drama and smaltz, especially where cancer and becoming a single parent fire the plot. Still the trailer doesn't lay it on too much so maybe this is one to watch. Let Clive Owen be your daddy on 15 January 2010.

Up in the Air - The internet buzz for George Clooney's satirical turn in this black comedy about corporate practices has been pretty loud, with may pundits suggesting the quality here may be the main factor in shunting Shutter Island back into 2010. Notch up some frequet flyer miles on 15 January 2010.

Brothers - US remake of Susanne Bier's melodrama about Men returning from war may have some powerhouse performances from Natalie Portman, Jake Gyllenhaal and, especially, Tobey Maguire. If Maguire has to deal with half the trauma that Ulrich Thomsen faced in the original then he'd batter start clearing space for that Oscar. Romance your in lwas on 22 January 2010.

Shutter Island - Following the announcement of a 5 month delay in the States last week it was only a matter of time before Shutter Island was also pushed back internationally. Paramount's excuse is to reduce costs by opening it in the new year (where at least all it's revenue will come in the right fiscal period). Why is accountancy still boring when related to films? Go mad for Leo on 19 February 2010.

Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps - Forget the clunky title, Stone's follow up to the classic tale of 80's greed has amassed an impressive cast (see above) and in the dark days of the current recession may show a much needed warning of how society is developing. Find out whether greed is good on 23 April 2010.

Wichita - That's might not be the name it finishes up with, I just hate using untitled ... Cameron Diaz and Tom Cruise go on a date, so far so standard rom-com, but when part of his day job as a secret service agent interrupts them she's coming along for the ride. I hope Cruise plays it deadly seriously and Diaz is allowed to be funny. Get airlifted into the multiplex on 02 July 2010.

Straw Dogs - It's not all good news this month. The remake (which is actually going to be closer to the source material) has lost it's UK release. It's not huge surprise considering it's not opening in the States until 2011, but for now no-one has any idea how long we're going to wait for it.

Box Office Report

July was the second month in a row with the top film being a no-brainer. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is currently at the top of the chart this year, the same position as the Goblet of Fire and Order of the Pheonix. It still has a way to go to hit the grosses of the previous chapters though which may mean bad news for the two-parter final chapter. Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs is also having a fantastic run, outpacing Transformers and Slumdog. Gay fashionistas, CIA Guinea Pigs and American Gangsters round our July's top 5. The last one of which I actually saw in the cinema - I'm suddenly almost with the zeitgeist.

1. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
2. Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs
3. Bruno
4. G-Force
5. Public Enemies

Michael Gambon wonders what he's going to do now...


Elliott Gould

Happy Birthday to

Elliott Gould

71 today

Elliott's best known for his work in the 60's and 70's especially with Robert Altman and the fringes of counter culture. Although he made a good impression in the Ocean's trilogy.


Running: Week 12, Day 6, Run 5

Today was my last big run before the Marathon. There's a couple more ten milers planned but over than this is it. I wanted to maintain a good pace, but not over do it.

34.9 km in 3 hours 21 minutes, or 10.4 kmph.

If I stay at that pace overall I'll complete the marathon in 4 hours 2 and a bit minutes, whihc is well abopve my basic target. Just a little quicker and I can pass the 4 hour mark. If I do that I will drink a whole bottle of champagne that night!


Friday, 28 August 2009

Out this week (28/08/09)

It's a really tough week for choosing a top film, with 2 battling it out for the honours, and 2 more films with respectable scores lagging just behind. In the final analysis I have decided that film of the week should go to the one with the better reviews, and frankly the reviews have been fantastic on both sides of the pond. Katherine Bigelow's Bomb disposal drama has been on everyone's mind since Toronto last year and continues to find new supporters every time it's seen. The Hurt locker is the standard all war films will be compared to from now on.

Apni Boli Apna Des

The trailer is 12 minutes long. Really, I couldn't sit through it all. Appears to concerns a wealthy playboy who loses his money in the recession and learns that some things in life are more imprtant - like holding on to the woman you love.

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

Broken Embraces

Every film Pedro Almodovar makes is a sumptious classic. This is a noir-ish piece about film making and the permanance of love, with Penelope Cruz modelling some fantastic wigs.

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

Funny People

Judd Apatow comes of age in this comedy drama with clear influences from James L. Brooks. It's an ambitious tale of cancer and celebrity starring some of the greatest stand-up to film crossovers of the 20 years (Adam Sandler, Seth Rogen, Eric Bana).

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

The Hurt locker

Heavily acclaimed Iraq War drama from Katherine Bigelow (Strange Days, Point Break). It's pretty much a men at war flick of the kind that we've seen hundreds of times, but done expertly and with no sense of judging the characters.

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


A woman washes up on the beach (not far from London ha ha) with no memory and a stranger seemingly attacked her for no reason. Independant British film with reasonable festival pedigree.

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


Second release date for Hindi drama about 2 brothers finding their own ways in life. No website or trailers, so not completely sure it'll open this week either.

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

Mesrine: Public Enemy No. 1

Second part of Jean-François Richet's Mesrine biopic. If you've seen the first part this will be a must-see taking up the story with Mesrine at the height of his powers and tracking to his death at the hands of the French armed police, via some audacious prison escapes and thrilling bank robberies.

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

The Final Destination

This is The Final Destination, as opposed to Final Destination. They could have called it Final Destination 4, but they wanted to highlight the 3D element and that might have confused. So if you don't think this horror franchise peaked about halfway through the first film then by all means go and watch the production team find more ingenious ways of knocking off the attractive cast. IN 3D!

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


Running: Week 12, Day 5, Run 4

Short and sweet, and just a little damp.

6.2 km in 30 minutes, or 12.3 kmph (I have said I round the minutes before, haven't I?)


Thursday, 27 August 2009

Tuesday Weld

Happy Birthday to

Tuesday Weld

66 today

Tuesday is another one of those actresses I like to wish a birthday to who everyone thought was going to be huge then completely disappeared. She started off in Television, broke out in films in the 70's until the highpoint in her career of Once Upon a Time in America in 1984. Then virtually nothing except for a supporting role in Falling Down and some less successful ventures until 2001. All quiet for the last 8 years. Whereever you are Tuesday I hope you're having a good time.


Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Inglorious Basterds

2009. Dir: Quentin Tarantino. Starring: Brad Pitt, Mélanie Laurent, Christoph Waltz, Eli Roth and Michael Fassbender. ●●●○○

I have an extraordinary dilemma in reviewing Tarantino's latest feature, in that over the last few days since I saw the film I have had three distinct reactions to it.

Whilst watching it, and indeed whilst whistling the closing credits on the way home, I was like a small boy. Imagining I could take on the entire Nazi party, wondering what levels of destruction I could do single handedly, gleefully chuckling as my (imaginery) machine gun torn off the face of passers-by who looked at me funny. Later my film theorist intellectual side reminded me of the various nods to classic cinema, nods to Ford, Aldrich and Godard among others. The intellectual revelled in the period detail and tha audacity of the project, praising the way that tension was built up in each scene.

With the Id and Ego satisfied I could have easily written a five blob review of Basterds on Saturday night, however it was then that the Super-Ego kicked in and I began to have very serious doubts about the film.

To understand this I ought to briefly describe the plot, or at least precis it as much as is possible. There are in essence 2 storylines involving revenge and vengeance. The first involves Shosanna Dreyfus (Laurent) surving the massacre of her family at the hands of Col. Hans "The Jew Hunter" Landa (Waltz) and then following a handy set of coincidences having the opportunity to take a few Nazi's out. The second revolves around LT. Aldo Raine's (Pitt) squad of Basterds, an elite group of Jewish scalp hunters who intend to demoralise German troops in France and their final mission involving the British and German undercover spies. Both storylines come to a head in the cinema owned by Shosanna and a bloody climax ensues.

Tarantino breaks this up into 5 chapters, each of which jumps to the opposing storyline and essentially allows the tension to build from scratch to a different shocking or exciting denoument. Each of the chapters specifically invokes ideas of different genres, and I don't deny I will almost certainly pore over a DVD copy when I can to look for the changes in the camera angles and lighting that reflect each chapter's core style. The tension is in a large part due to Tarantino's hyper-real dialogue with it's playful use of language. Conversations that dance and skirt around major plot points occur in every chapter, whether it's Landa interrogating a French peasant or gentle probing of adversaries to look for weakness as in the LaLouisiane scene.

The actors given these scenes manage to excel Waltz and Laurent do an especially good job, but the performances from Fassbender as British film critic turned spy Lt. Archie Hicox and Diane Kruger as German film star Bridget von Hammersmark are very impressive. Pitt, Roth and the rest of the Basterds are so grossly underwritten that their sections could easily have been cut out completely but for the connections with the other plot strands.

In keeping with the references to other cinematic landmarks Tarantino does his best to constant remind you that you're watching a film. There are a couple of bizarre narrative sections from Samuel L. Jackson, character names are scrawled on the screen, history is revised to such an extent that it makes Braveheart seem accurate and there's even a burst of David Bowie in the soundtrack. With all of these elements together the film can safely be excused as a fantasy, a nerdy film geek getting his own back on history and executing his own private revenge on Hitler.

However there is something rotten at the core of Inglorious Basterds. There were three key moments in the movie where Tarantino clearly shows his hand and possible shows his contempt for humanity. SPOILERS follow from here, so please do not read on unless you are prepared.

1. The Basterds have beaten a German squad during an engagement and now have three prisoners. They interrogate the Sergeant in order to identify the location and armaments of the next nearest unit. Unsurpringly he refuses to tell them so "The Bear Jew" (Roth) is called to execute him, using a baseball bat naturally. The German soldier is prepared to die, Roth asks him whether he received his Iron Cross for killing Jews, he replies "for bravery" then wham! Roth beats him to death. It is bloody and deliberate and close to being funny. The implication is that the bravery doesn't matter, that in some way that Sergeant was complicit with the greatest crimes of the Nazi's, purely due to him putting the uniform on. I disagree with this sentiment whilst discrimination and segregation of ethnic groups was commonly practised most Germans were unaware of the genocide being committed by the Nazi party at the time. It is also sad that we are not given an understanding of the extraordinary peril this soldier would have faced to be given his Iron Cross.

2. Bravery by soldiers leads us nicely to another point. The only German creditted with any extraordinary ability is Fredrick Zoller (Daniel Brühl) who as a sniper killed over 200 allied troops from his bell tower vantage point. For most of the film he seems couteous and, whilst not shy about his talents, at least humourous and diffident in front of Shosanna with whom he has become infatuated. During the final cinema scene, watching the Nazi propaganda piece Nation's Pride based on his accomplishements and starring Zoller he visible shuffles in his seat, and eventually excuses himself. For a moment I imagined that he had doubts about what he had done, feelings of guilt or compassion. He goes to Shosanna in the projection room and then turns into an agressive bully - suddenly seeming like he's more likely to rape her than woo her. The possiblity of a noble German or a character identifying the sanctity of human life is again dashed.

3. Finally the film ends with a massacre. Many people are killed. Lots are Nazi generals and politico's, others are simply film makers. The issue of killing civilians, or whether it is right to replace one brutal regime with another is not raised. The victims are shot and then fall down dead, there are no injuries or pain just turning from one state of living to a state of death. The treatment of war is not just cartoonish but frightening.


All these elements add up to make me feel that in spite of the brilliance at work, in spite of how enjoyable the film was, I simply cannot endorse a film which treats people which such contempt. Thare's a lot of gloss here, but no humanity.


Running: Week 12, Day 3, Run 3

For one reason or another I've not been able to post this mornings run until this afternoon. It's not because I'm a little upset that I was significantly slower this morning than yesterday, although subconciously it may have been a factor. It was moe of a case that I spent half of last night selecting favourite actors (see previous post) and was therefore running late.

9.8 km in 54 minutes. 11 kmph.


Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Some Great Actors - See more at The Film Experience

Nat Rogers, of the excellent Film Experience Blog, has laid down a somewhat tough gauntlet. He has named his favourite actors. It's a well thought out and considered list, even if he says that to him it's more of a personal thing. He then asks the readers to submit their own top twenty. That's tough. Who do you include, who do you exclude.

I've written 5 or 6 lists; agonised over Cary Grant vs. Jimmy Stewart and Clark Gable vs. John Wayne and Matt Damon vs. Jake Gyllenhaal. I didn't want to leave any one out. I could have easily gone on for 200 names. In the end I decided to list 20 actors who Nat hasn't included, all of whom are no longer with us. Some of them I'm sure came close to his list, others are no doubt more obscure. I hope that anyone who sees this list takes the time out to check their work out - all fine filmographies - and maybe a couple will find their way onto revised lists.

They are:

Olivier; Tracy; Muni; Cooper
March; Kennedy; Boyer; Guinness
Rains; Huston; Brennan; Colman
Quinn; Scott; Bogart; Robards
Douglas; Laughton; Ferrer; Mason


Tuesday Trailers - The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

I am struggling right now with the Tuesday trailers. It's not that I don't want to show trailers - I love trailers - it's just that all the trailers I want to show seem to be problematic. My first choice would be Creek the Joel Schumacher Nazi occultist movie - strangely the second Nazi themed film with Michael Fassbinder this month - but alas there is no trailer yet. I admit it will probably be rubbish but I am curious. My second choice was Shutter Island, due to open on October 9th, but with the US release date moving back to February I find it hard to believe that it won't be delayed here too (even if it hasn't been annouced). But surely, I hear you splutter, it's too early for October trailers anyway. The thing is there are so many good films coming out in November I have to start showing those trailers in 3 weeks time, so there really isn't enough time to dally. And so here is The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. It looks like a great movie, and the fantasy elements look like classic Gilliam so expect a fun ride.

Catch Doctor Parnassus on 16 October 2009.


Running: Week 12, Day 2, Run 2

The cute blond jogger was out again today - actually he's a cute blond runner, much faster than I am. Anyway if you're reading this and you're a cute blond jogger wearing a orange sweatshirt in Melksham I feel I should warn you that you're very sexy and I might feign an injury next time I see you so you stop and chat.

Back to the running - a not unimpressive 9.8 km in 52 minutes or 11.3 kmph.


Monday, 24 August 2009

Anne Archer

Happy Birthday to

Anne Archer

62 today

It's hard to remember what Anne is famous for (hint: it involves lifting a saucepan lid to find a rabbit), especially when in my head she will always be the mother of one of the few people to make a BBC reporter lose his temper:


Running: Week 12, Day 1, Run 1

Yesterday I was supposed to do my last big run before the marathon in three weeks time. Unfortunately I overslept and was therefore unable to do it. So I've moved the weekday runs forward thsi week, I'll do the short Saturday run on Friday and the biggie on Saturday morning. Then maybe squeeze in an extra on bank holiday Monday.

Of course today I was rubbish. 6.6 km in 36 minutes. Or 11.0 kmph (well down on Saturday's performance).


Saturday, 22 August 2009

Film News (22/08/09)

Remakes with complex rights issues and fairy tales dominate this weeks news with a couple of stories that just seem to be really bad timing for all involved, or me at least.

Straw Dogs

The James Marsden/Kate Bosworth starring remake has gained an interesting supporting character this week in James Woods. As I've attested here before Woods is at his best when upping the sleaze factor - his ex-husband role in Casino being the highlight - so how he will fit into the revenge drama is yet to be seen. Tragically we will have longer to wait to see it than previously thought, the US release date of February 2011 has been annouced, and as we're likely to get it later this side of the Atlantic we could have a very long wait.

The Conspirator

On Tuesday I sent a warm congratulations to Robert Redford on his 72nd birthday, and I said that whilst he has nothing on his plate I'm sure there's another great film in him. Either my message was a rallying cry, or he deliberatly wanted to embarass me, but the next project was announced on the same day. The film will focus on Mary Surratt, who was the landlady of John Wilkes Boothe, and her arrest following Boothe's assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Sounds like a doozy to me, a 19th century courtroom drama with a politcal murder as the backdrop.

Deep Water

The writings of Patricia Highsmith has been movie gold for over 50 years (when Hitchcock used Strangers on a Train) and include 5 films based on her Tom Ripley character. There are more stories to mine though, including Deep Water about a couple in a loveless (or at least sexless marriage) where he consents to her lovers. Then the lovers start dying mysteriously. I'm not sure about the ages of the protagonists, but these sound like a couple of great parts.


It seems odd to me that Warner Brothers have been fighting over the rights to remake Excalibur, John Boorman's down and dirty King Arthur picture. Whilst it may have been the most succesful version critically it's not as if the legend it self is copywrited. However the legal fight to obtain the remake rights has been completed, so expect a carbon copy (and probably inferior) remake to move into production sometime soon.

The Girl in the Red Riding Hood

Whilst the news that Leonardo DiCaprio's production company was preparing a full scale version of Red Riding Hood was released a few weeks ago I thought I'd mention the appointment of Catherine Hardwicke as director purely because it makes an interesting counterpoint to...

Jack the Giant Killer

The other fairly tale that's currently moving into production. In theory both of these will be kids films - aim squarely at the under 12s - but with major studios and high profile directors being bandied about (this one's alledgedly attached to Bryan Singer) then we could expect anything from modern interpretations to Grimm faithful gore fests.

Yellow Submarine

Is a remake of Yellow Submarine necessary? Probably not, but as usual I'll defend the remake process by saying that no story is so good it can only be told once, and if a film is a true classic then the remake will not tarnish the original's reputation. Let's also admit that the original is more of a trippy curiousity than a major work of cinematic art. Just using the Beatles music again will make it very watchable and just imagine how amazing it's going to look in all of Robert Zemeckis' mo-cap glory.


Running: Week 11, Day 6, Run 4

Aiming for a fast one today, albeit slightly longer than last Saturday morning.

6.2 km in 31 minutes. Or 12.2 kmph. Happy with that.


Friday, 21 August 2009

Out this week (21/08/09)

After a few weeks where European films have easily won the film of the week races it's good to see Hollywood pulling out the big guns. Of course in order to get the top spot it takes a film almost exclusively set in France; an international cast speaking in French, German, Italian and English; and a director revered as an auteur by the Cannes selection committee. Of course any Tarantino film might have won this week, but it's Inglorious Basterds that's making me itch to get to the cinema.


Interesting looking American indie from first time director Antonio Campos sees a web obsessed teenage boy accidently capture the death of two of his fellow students on film. The film hits it's technical marks, but a little less navel gazing may be needed for Campos' career to blossum.

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


German film focussing on the lives of Turkish immigrants as they balance the duties of family and the Mosque, against the lure of drug crime. Grimy and realistic.

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

Dance Flick

You. Yes, you. You went to see Scary Movie 26, and Noir Movie and you only encourage to make this sort of rubbish. I should make you sit in the cinema and watch it on rotation until you're driven insane.

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

I Love you, Beth Cooper

Wish-fulfillment fantasy where the uber-geek admits his love for the cheerleader, only for her to feel the same way - or at least enough to show him the time of his life one night. The natural progression of the rise of the nerd. Starring Hayden Panettiere who's clearly unafraid of typecasting.

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

Inglourious Basterds

It's finally here, Tarantino's long awaited foray into WW2 complete with Jew-hunting Nazi's, Nazi scalping rednecks, countless double bluffing agents and re-writing history. The definition of unmissable cinema.

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


Pulled back from last week. I'm still none the wiser about the trailer, so it still gets a 2. Robin Hood meets 21st century gangsters in a comedy. The trailer blends a potent mix of wire-fu, flourescent cock fighting, sex in the back of a limo and makes no sense whatsoever. Watch it here.

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


And finally Robert Rodriguez makes another film for kids. I know of no other director who so easily jumps from his adult to under 12 audiences. Maybe's it's because his adult films are really kids films with bullets? Anyway this looks fairly harmless. With the interesting techniques of non-linear storytelling, working almost as a collection of... "Shorts".

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


Patricia McCormack

Happy Birthday to

Patricia McCormack

64 today

You'd have thought when a former child star makes a return to mainstream movies with a role as interesting as Pat Nixon then there would be some decent shots from the film available on the net. No, but then she was also curiously absent in Frost/Nixon, it was almost as if any attempt to humanise Tricky Dicky was to be eradicated.


Thursday, 20 August 2009

Running: Week 11, Day 4, Run 3

A touch further and a touch faster than yesterday, which bodes well. But then I did meet another (cuteish) jogger going the other way and I wanted to impress him. The trick I've found to achieving a good time is to et behind a better runner than you who has a great bum.

13 km in 1 hour 9 minutes. That's an average of 11.3 kmph.


Joan Allen

Happy Birthday to

Joan Allen

53 today

Joan's been robbed more times than anyone should be (you know what I'm talking about) which may explain why she's doing dreck like Death Race these days. You can't be disappointed if you know the critics will hate it. Hachi, the faithful dog film she wrapped last year, was one of my top 20 most anticipated releases for 2009 however after a poorly received opening at the seattle festival I doubt it'll ever see cinematic release. Not sure what my next Joan fix will be now.


Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Running: Week 11, Day 3, Run 2

Slightly longer than yesterday, marginally slower. No excuses.

9.7 km in 53 minutes. 11 kmph.

Nothing else to say.


Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Tuesday Trailers - District 9

Because the thrid trailer I was talking about (over the last couple of weeks) has still yet to materalise, and because I have not time to spare (more on that in the next couple of weeks) I'm going to do mmy prediction for the highest September grosser today. Actually, whilst predicting box office isn't an easy game, September is generally quiet so picking the champion is interesting. There are a lot of b-movies that should do reasonable business - Pandorum, Gamer, Surrogates; and Julie and Julia will be flying the flag for the female skewed audiences - however from this weekends results in the States we cann all see the benefits of a classy promotional campaign. No non-humans on this blog.

District 9 opens on 04 September 2009.


Running: Week 11, Day 2, Run 1

Not a terrific showing tyhis morning, but I have a unique and bizarre excuse. For this mornings run I went round the block twice - I say block it's a load of fields and a smll housing estate, but you get the idea - and about a quarter of the way on the second time round I noticed I'd dropped my house key, so I thne spent the rest of the run scanning the gorund for it.

8.3 km in 45 minutes. 11 kmph (which is slower that doing a half marathon on Sunday!)

P.S. I eventually found the key, it had slipped from my inside pocket in my shorts into the lining and was just laying there under my... Lovely, eh?


Robert Redford

Happy Birthday to

Robert Redford

72 today

I have to use one of Robert's photo's from some time ago, because as he gets older he's becoming a carbon copy of my next door neighbour. Really it's disconcerting. Nothing coming up in the near future for Robert, but don't count him out. I think he's got another great film as a director at least.


Monday, 17 August 2009

Blog List

The more astute among you - he says like anybody ever looks at this blog more than once - will notice that the blog list has suddently extended. This is because more people have commented on this site.

It's really that simple... Give me a comment, get your blog on the right.

I'm so very cheap.

The other reason is because one of the later commenters - not the very cute Alex in Movieland who's always commenting and you must check up his stuff here or here - also pointed me to the blog of Quinn Cummings. Yes the actual blog of someone I've name checked in a birthday.

How brilliant is that. Feel free to check out her stuff, and her new book, by going to The QC Report.


Sean Penn

Happy Birthday to

Sean Penn

49 today

The current holder of the Best Actor Oscar reaches another year older today; and probably spending the day with the family. I recently watched Milk again, and his performance is really something, the final lines still ringing in my ears. "You gotta give 'em hope."


Sunday, 16 August 2009

Running: Week 10, Day 7, Run 5

Only 4 weeks away from the marathon now, that's only 28 days or 19 more practise runs. Oh my. I thought I'd try for a half today, check the time overall and hopefully that will put me in good stead for the main event.

21.3 km in 1 hour 55 minutes. That's 11.1 kmph.

At that pace I'll finish the marathon in 3 hours 50 minutes, well below my target time.

I am a happy bunny right now.


Timothy Hutton

Happy Birthday to

Timothy Hutton

49 today

Amazingly it's been 30 years since Tim stole our hearts and made us all want to give him a big hug in Ordinary People. Whilst his career hasn't been as sparkling as that early start there have always been interesting projects on the go. Up next is an unspecified role in Roman Polanski's The Ghost, which is well timed as the official website, with a tiny teaser, opened this week. Take a look here.


Saturday, 15 August 2009

Film News (15/08/09)

Four new rumours piquing my interesting this week, and a couple of castings that I felt it prudent to mention. I'd even go as far to say that the news has been more interesting this week than the actual films released.

Battlestar Galactica

The Battlestar Galactica TV series has recently ended, worshiped by many for it's clever and insightful reworking of the original and the quality thesping from the international cast. What pleased many is that over the five series there was a clear definable storyline which (lasting an impressive 70 hours altogether) tied everything up in the end. So, with the cans still warm, Universal have decided to use their film rights to the property to reimagine the series once more.

It all seems a little soon and a little dangerous. The sci-fi fans, who lets face it are the audience for this, will not want to see such a successful programme trampled into the mud so soon. Also lets not forget that Battlestar was popular with the critics who normally sneer at sci-fi as well as the public. These are big shoes to fill.

Bryan Singer is working on the project as producer and possibly director, which makes sense as he first planned to make a film based on the concept back in 2001, and if he brings the X-Men skills he has to the table it may be worth seeing. But I still have my doubts.

What will the next cast photo look like?

The Descendants

Alexander Payne has realised that his plan to minaturise Paul Giamatti in Downsizing may take more pre productions than he's used to, as well as more financing, so whilst he's planning that The Decendants has moved up the priority list. Based on the novel by Kaui Hart Hemmings it concerns a Hawaiian father who tries to find his wife's lover after she falls into a coma. Sounds like a perfect fit for the man behind Sideways and About Schmidt.

The Green Hornet

You can breathe agian, the comic book adaptation with revolving casting couches has turned up another Cato - this time in the form of Taiwanese actor-singer Jay Chou. There have also been some internet gossipings that Edward james Olmos (Adama in the Battlestar series - I do like it when coincidence strikes) is joining the cast - but no official confirmations yet. Filmings due to start soon, so hopefully there won't be many more changes to the line-up.


Paprika is a 2006 anime about a machine that can manipulate dreams which falls into the wrong hands leading to bizarre episodes where the line between reality and imagination are blurred. Only a girl called Paprika can stop it. Sounds like barmy fun to me.

Secret River/A Walk on the Beach

The IFP this week annouced it's line-up at the Independent Film Week exhibition in New York. The event is essentially a chance for part funded projects to tap investors. Previous alumni include Cheri, Frozen River, Half Nelson and Maria Full of Grace - not an insignificant set of independent films, I'm sure you'll agree. The biggest profile film this year is Jodie Foster's Cockeyed, but for me it's the two I've plonked in the title that I'll be following. Directed respectively by Fred Schepisi and Luis Mandoki, lets wait to see if either go any further .

Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps

Frank Langella and the ever-so-hot-right-now Carey Mulligan (below) have both signed up to Oliver Stone's Wall Street follow-up as a old school mentor for Shia Labeouf and Michael Douglas' estranged daughter (respectively). Stone's due to pick up the camera any day now in preparation for a spring release.


Running: Week 10, Day 6, Run 4

A short sharp burst of energy this morning, and I feel great.

4.3 km in 20 minutes, or 12.6 kmph. Coincidently beating my best time for the mile in the middle of it.



Friday, 14 August 2009

Out this Week (14/08/09)

Interesting week in terms of variety of output, less so interms of the quality. 11 films altogether, three competing for the children/family market and an unprecedented (at least this year) four Bollywood entries. Film of the week goes to the Italian Mid-August Lunch, just be grateful there aren't any French films this week.

Aliens in the Attic

Again you can tell what's going to happen from the title. A disparate group of kids have to stop the marauding aliens from escaping from the loft, no doubt keeping their existence a secret from the 'adults'. This is one of 2 releases this week starring Thomas Haden Church.

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


Does your school have a talent show? Are you getting miffed because most of the acts seems to comprise of teeny bopper dancers and recorder recitals? Would you like to rock out? Bandslam could be the film for you... Just don't complain to me if it's completely rubbish. The second film this week with a High School Musical alumni.

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

Imagine That

Curious Eddie Murphy oddity about a stockbroker who receives investment advice from his daughter's imaginery friend. Looks better than Murphy's recent work because a) there are no fat suits and b) no special effects are used. The imaginery friends remain just that and are explained purely through father daughter chats. Shame it did so poorly on it's US release.

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


Identical twins (with widely diverging attitudes to life) attempt to escape the slums of Mumbai through hard work and gambling resectively. Of course it's only through working together they can avoid the bad guys and both find true love.

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

Life Partner

Alas it's not a gay Hindi film, but a comedy about three men with different views on straight marriage - will arranged marriages, big events or sleeping around be the answer for any them, or do you think they'll all find true love at the end?

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

Mid-August Lunch

August is an extremely quiet month for cinema releases, otherwise I'm sure a slow burning Itlian film about a doting son who cooks for his elderly mother and her even more elderly friends would make film of the week. Nevertheless this interestingly comic set-up has had great reviews, and shows some real truths.

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

A Perfect Getaway

Fact: I once had a boyfriend who looked a dead ringer for Steve Zahn. That's not really a recommendation to watch Steve and Milla Jovovich run away from a bloodthirsty Timothy Olyphant, although there is plenty of male flesh on display in the trailer so maybe there's some reason to go.

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

Sin Nombre

Hailed as the Mexican answer to City of God Cary Joji Fukunaga's feature debut skilfully weaves storylines about induction into street gangs and a teenage girl illegally emigrating to the States.

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

The Time Traveler's Wife

The Time Traveler's Wife is one of the most heart wrenching books I've ever read. Back when I finished it I had to wake up the boyfriend at the time so I wasn't crying on my own. And when this was first announced I immediatley thought Rachel McAdams may just have her ticket to the Kodak next year. However t looks like they've seriously dropped the ball in adapting it to the screen. Virtually no publicity, reviews are hard to find, so-so trailers and posters. Do they no want anyone to see it?

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


Running: Week 10, Day 5, Run 3

I took a rest yesterday in order to let my aching muscles recuperate. Looks like that was defiitely the right thing as this mornign I was back on track.

9.8 km in 53 minutes. Or 11.1 kmph.


Halle Berry

Happy Birthday to

Halle Berry

43 today

Whatever else you can say about Halle, she certainly knows how to show off her assets. Shame that doesn't include the acting recently. The 2 year Berry famine will end later this year with a multiple personality drama (Frankie and Alice). What do we think: crying out ofr Oscar, or TV movie of the week?


Thursday, 13 August 2009

Quinn Cummings

Happy Birthday to

Quinn Cummings

42 today

If it seems a bit tough to celebrate the birthday of a 42 year old using a picture from when she was 7 then you can only blame Quinn from dropping out of acting over 15 years ago.


Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Running: Week 10, Day 3, Run 2

Apparently I'm injured. My support crew (that is to say my parents who were out for a walk) could see I had a heasvier step on my left. Yesterday I was aching behind my left knee, but I hadn't really noticed it this morning. This is bad news, with just over 4 weeks to go I can't really take time off. I've put some deep heat on it, and will rest today as much as possible. Hopefully it will have improved by the morning.

All this goes someway to explain why this morning I ran the slowest I have done since mid June. That's right, slower than nay of my 10-20 mile runs!

8.4 km in 51 minutes or 9.9 kmph.


Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Tuesday Trailers - The Soloist

My third mystery September film has still yet to release a trailer - just 5 weeks to go and no trailer that's worrying.

Anyway, here's another opening in September. I've mentioned the Soloist a few times, and even displayed the trailer on more than one occasion. It was due to come out in the 2008 Oscar season, then was shunted into 2009. It still made my 20 for 2009 countdown, but has since had a mediocre time at the US box office. Even if it does end up being mawkish, I am sure I'll enjoy the cello recitals.

The Soloist opens on 25 September 2009.


Viola Davis

Happy Birthday to

Viola Davis

44 today

So far it's been a good year for Viola, oscar nommed for Doubt and then invited into the Academy later in the year with a solid supporting role in State of Play sandwiched in between. You'd have thought that casting directors would be bashing at her door wanting to get her signed up for excited and varied new projects... No, it's just more of the same character parts. Wake up Hollywood, don't let Viola waste her talent.


Running: Week 10, Day 2, Run 1

As I may have mentioned the wedding hangover was a bit too much on Sunday to get out for a run, so instead of the usual Tuesday morning 6 miler I decided to strecth out a bit and do what I had planned on Sunday.

16.2 km in 1 hour 31 minutes. An OK 10.6 kmph. Nothing special, but the right sort of speed to hit my target.


Sunday, 9 August 2009

Film News (08/08/09)

A day late with the news today, all because I went to a wedding yesterday and whilst I planned to write the news articles on my return I was later and drunker than my original plane. Not that it's been a terribly interesting week in film news anyway. Some trailers (It's Complicated, Cirque du Freak) and posters (Avatar) have been shown for the first time - to verying degrees of fanboy interest - and there have been plenty of rumours (an adaptation of Huxley's Brave New World) and innuendo (Jeremy Renner wants to be the next Mad Max), but nothing substantial.

Except for the incredibly news last weekend that Steven Spielberg has chosen a remake of Harvey for his next film. Due to start filming in the new year Spielberg aims to complete the film and release whilst tinkering on the long post production of the Tintin movie. With this announcement (released to the press on Sunday!) the invisible rabbit jumps ahead of Old Boy, Matt Helm, Lincoln, Interstellar, 39 Clues, Indiana Jones 5 and probably many others. I think we can all agree that's a huge selection of films with great variety being shunted back.

Of course what most of those titles have in common is they're big special effects laden movies with long gestation times, and they just wouldn't be able to fit them in before Tintin is completed so when novelist Jonathan Tropper's adaptation arrived on his doorstep it set the wheels in motion. I'm not going to gripe about the wisdom of filming a 65 year old pulitzer winning play (even if it's themes are "timely, uplifting and relateable."), nor am I going to say that classics such as these shouldn't ever be remade - mainly because I believe if it's a classic then it can be remade without diluting the quality of the original. What i will do though is respond to the press release's which states that the adaptation will be brought into the 21st century by telling Mssr's Spielberg and Tropper 5 things that need to be done to make the film work.

1. Don't set it in a Mental Hospital.

Back in the 1940's it was easy to believe that funny farms were delightful places where doctors and nurses fall in love and prize begonias grow on the front lawn. However films like the Snake Pit in 1948 slowly began to show how dishonest that image was. Violance and drug abuse were rife, there was little regulation in how the mentally ill were treated and abusive guards/nurses were not kept in check or worse the staff were indifferent to the patients. If you are updating the film why not try using a celebrity rehab centre. After all it's alcoholism that's the real problem - not the white rabbit.

2. Hide the bunny.

Everyone in the audience can make their own mind up about whether Harvey really exists. The punters will be adults - don't give us horrid CGI representations or let the story lie too heavily in one direction. In my mind the original went too far with the door opening at the end.

3. Lose the second romantic subplot.

This could be a problem with the casting in the original, or with the script itself, but whilst Charles Drake and Peggy Dow have a playful chemistry about them the romance between Victoria Home and Jessie White seems terribly forced. And while we're at it don't you dare give Elwood a love interest...

4. Social Climbing is passe.

Veta Lousie wants her daughter to marry someone of the right social standing in their small town (perversly Myrtle May jsut wnats a man). Whilst marrying well is still talked about - just look at The Ugly Truth (if you really feel that you have to) - it's not the be all and end all it once was. Generation X have a much more relaxed attitude about pairly off their children and love is the order of the day. Veta Louise may want to get her daughter married off, but it's more likely to be because she wants to stop worrying about her or wants her to be happy rather than the wedding being on the society pages of the local rag.

5. Don't cast the first people that come to mind.

The internet was abuzz with rumours of Tom Hanks or Will Smith taking the lead, and whilst I'm sure both would be fine you don't need them. Remember Jimmy Stewart lobbyed hard for the role in the original (taking basic pay and a cut of the profits in order to nad the role) and there was nobody else involved with a big name. You alone can open a picture you don't need BIG STARS. Look at some interesting characters actors. Why not try making Elwood and Veta younger (with Veta looking for her own husband) and see what that does? Just try something inspiring.


I only found this story whilst researching for that above and was so far through I didn't want to break my flow, but it seems Niki Caro has takne helming dutied from Sarah Polley in this father/adult daughter drama. The two hander focuses on the relationship between the two as they recover from the death of the mother. Caro is a profficient, if not exciting director, and I've liked her output so far, so I'll keep an eye on this.


Saturday, 8 August 2009

Running: Week 9, Day 6, Run 4

Short run, high speed. That was the plan for today. And it was a high speed (for me).

4.1 km in 20 minutes. Or 12.1 kmph.


Dustin Hoffman

Happy Birthday to

Dustin Hoffman

72 today

It's hard to think of some stars aging let alone their characters, but to imagine Benjamin Braddock or David Sumner or Dorothy Michaels at 72 is really weird. Go on, try it.


Friday, 7 August 2009

Out this week (07/08/09)

I wonder how long it's going to be until I get accused of rampart Francophilia. You see in spite of the onslaught of quality US offerings this week (don't scoff, there's a load of rubbish but Adam almost makes the grade), I'm going to recommend a French movie for the second week in a row. A French biopic at that. So this week, if you're visiting a cinema, the one to watch is Mesrine: Killer Instinct.


Coming a close second in todays race for FOTW is this American Indie. Essentially a girl meets boy romantic comedy, only with Hugh Dancy suffering from Asperger's Syndrome. Not half as crap as that sounds Dancy and love interest Rose Bryne are getting warm reviews for their sensitive performances.

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

G.I. Joe: Rise of the Cobra

Remember all those Action Film cliches that seemed to have been dropped following the success of Team America? They're back in style in the kids toy to film adaptation. Watch as a bunch of "I know you", attractive actors fight another bunch of "I know you", attractive actors using ridiculous weapons and god-awful dialogue.

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


French (I know it's another one with a high score) satire about modern families, set in a house right next to a motorway. Interesting design elements, and the delicious Isabelle Huppert make this one to watch.

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

Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus

Blame the internet bloggers for this one. But not me, naturally. After going straight to DVD (probably straight to the bargain bins where it belongs) a number of British bloggers saw the trailer and began to write to the UK film mags about it. The enthusiasm for this modern day ED Wood picture grew until the studio gave it a cinematic release. People power at it's finest. Shudder.

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

Mesrine: Killer Instinct

Vincent Cassel gives an award winning performance (Best Actor Cesar) in the first part of the Mesrine biopic. Mesrine was one of the most infamous criminals of the 20the century, active across the globe, with counts of robbery, kidnapping and murder he was known as the Man of a hundred faces and the French Public Enemy Number 1. But most of that happens in part 2, here we meet a young soldier who turns to crime following his discharge.

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


Beware young children with starey eyes. They are probably going to kill you even if you do adopt them. Don't try running or punishing them. You may as well just reward them for their bad behavious and just tell social services you can't cope.

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

The Ugly Truth

The posters and trailers would have you believe that women only ever love with their brains and men only ever love with their penises. This is offensive to men and women. Also I just don't like romantic comedies.

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

The Yes Men Fix the World

I've been in two minds whether to mention the Yes Men. Technically it's a documentary (I usually ignore them in the release breakdown) with Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno posing as industrialists in order to expose the hypocrisy behind big business on Hurrican Katrina, Bhopal and other extraordinary events. I choose to leave it in because whilst it is not as extreme as Bruno in the use of characterisation it does use the same technique.

By the way there was an excellent podcast on this week about "Docsploitation" and the blurring of drama and documentary. I urge you to take a listen here.

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


Michael Shannon

Happy Birthday to

Michael Shannon

35 today

The intense Shannon picked up an Oscar nod last year for his intense portrayal of an intense mathematician in the intense Revolutionary Road. This follows a string of intense performances in Before the Devil Knows You're Dead, Bug and World Trade Centre. None of his forthcoming films excite me much, but I'm sure he'll be intense in them.


Thursday, 6 August 2009

Running: Week 9, Day 4, Run 3

Slightly shorter today, but was aiming for a little faster.

8.3 km in 44 minutes, or 11.3 kmph. Indeed faster than the last couple of times out, but a long way off the last time I did that sort of distance back in July.


Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Running: Week 9, Day 3, Run 2

There are many words I can use to describe this mornigns run, although the most simple will probably suffice. Wet. Very very wet. When I got back I had to take my shirt off outside and wring it out sort of wet.

Anyway 11.3 km in 1 hour 2 minutes, fractionally short of 11 kmph.


Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Tuesday Trailers - Away We Go

Good news. We're in August, which of course means we can show the trailers for films coming out in September - this month is pretty flat to the extent I had to miss trailers out last Tuesday. Bad news. September isn't much better. There are 3 films I'm looking forward to (a bit). Two of which have opened quietly in the U.S. and the third hasn't even released a trailer yet. The first film is Sam Mendes' Away We Go, squeezed in between the filming and post of Revolutionary Road it's a road movie about a heavily pregnant couple (John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph) looking for the best place to bring up their children. Beware, there's an awful lot of quirk in this:

Away We Go comes out on 18 September 2009.


Running: Week 9, Day 2, Run 1

As I took off this morning I remembered that I ran 19 miles on Saturday. Or at least my incredibly sluggish legs remembered.

9.7 km in 55 minutes. 10.6 kmph, barely the minimum pace I want to achieve for 4 times as long. Dreadful.


Billy Bob Thornton

Happy Birthday to

Billy Bob Thornton

54 today

Oh, Billy. What happened? You used be such an interesting actor, you made a couple of interesting films as a director. But in the last 6 years you've continued to just make complete dross. Even your bizarrely personal life appears to have quietened down. C'mon, mix things up a bit.


Saturday, 1 August 2009

Film News (01/08/09)

Three pairs of films this week, and if you're not a major franchise, a criminal or a spy then you may as well just go home.

The Next Three Days

It's barely been a few weeks since the Pour Elle was in cinemas yet this hasn't stopped the Hollywood machine comiisioning a remake of the French Prison Escape drama, and casting Russell Crowe as the films protagonist. I'm a Crowe fan, so I can't wait to see what he does with this - although imagining that he doesn't already know how to break someone out of prison might be a stretch.

Alien Prequel

The idea of a prequel to Alien, possibly explaining how the Space Jockey crashed on the obscure planet or possibly just explaining why the Company were interested in the Alien has been around for a long time, but the brave step of hiring writer Jon Spaihts to complete a screenplay shows Fox are really pushing nthis one through. Frankly as long as it doesn't have any Predators showing up I'm there.

Matt Helm

Get Smart took $130m in the States last year, which goes to prove that comedy spies are as popular as ever. With that in mind Dreamworks have dusted down the rights for Matt Helm, previously a Dean Martin vehicle from the 60's, with just a few tweaks to up the action sequences, and just the right touch of tongue in cheekness it could be a perfect anti-Bond franchise.

Parsifal Mosaic

Talking of Anti-Bond, Robert (Bourne writer) Ludlum's back catalogue continues to be plunged with the daft sound Mosaic next in line. Involves dead lovers appearing in train stations and the secret services turning on their own to protect the nation. Sounds daft but with a reasonable cast and crew it might just be watchable.

Pirates of the Caribbean 4

Will we all go to see another 2 and a half hours of Johnny Depp in excessive make-up crowding around a couple of up and coming actors and generally steal every scene from under their noses? Of course we will! But when will Depp squeeze in a bit of Keith Richards impersonating is the more important question.

The Town

In easily the most bizarrely love triangle you'll have heard of the bank robber and cop closing in on him both fall for the same teller. All eyes will be on Rebecca Hall juggling the guys in Ben Affleck's next directorial venture.


Running: Week 8, Day 6, Run 4

Todays times and distances are a bit of a guess, as my i-Pod packed up during the run. I could have screamed. I think there's some water in it which is affecting the connection. At least I hope that's what it is. I'll go to an apple shop this afternoon.

Anyway, bearing in mind the possibility of slight inaccuracies, 30.6 km in 3 hours. That's 10.2 kmph. Close to what I need to be doing, but slower than my 15 miler a couple of weeks ago.