Friday, 31 December 2010

Take Jake, three times a day (Out this week - 31/12/10)

It's the last day of the year, and consequently the last weekend with just three releases battling for screens this week. Naturally the biggest hit will be the one I don't want to see, but what can you do, there's no accounting for taste. Film of the week has to be the one with lots of naked Jake Love and Other Drugs, but I've seen both of the non Jack Black starring releases and the other one is a better film so make of that what you will (or just realise that my exciteability scoring may not be completely related to quality - for proof look at what picture I'm using again).



Before I run down the releases I thought I'd just spill a bit of background on what has been a fascinating year for cinematic releases. Overall 486 films have seen the inside of British cinemas - not including documentaries and re-releases - that's 14.6% up on 2009. I saw just 41, less than 10%, down both as a proportion and in real terms against 2009. Naturally the largest producer of films has been the US with something like 40% of the total output. The rest of the top five were UK, India, France and Germany. The remaining 15% of films represented 45 other countries. Liam Neeson was in the multiplexes more than any other actor with Chloe, Clash of the Titans and The A-Team being backed by up voice work in Ponyo, The Dawn Treader and the reconstructive doc The Wildest Dream. Julianne Moore was the most prominent female, and I think it's safe to say her work was generally better received.

Perhaps as curious as the films that are released is the group that aren't. As we reach the end of the year there are inevitably some high profile movies that we must assume will never see the inside of a British cinema. There's Joel Schumacher's Town Creek with it's Nazi occult themes and starring the other one from "Prison Break", the short collection New York, I Love You might not have been as successful as Paris, Je t'aime but it's failure to be released - even to be withdrawn one week before a release date - is surprising. Finally I am shocked to see Oren Moverman's Oscar nominated drama The Messenger starring Ben Foster, Woody Harrelson and Samantha Morton hasn't had a whisper of a UK release, maybe the subject matter is still too raw for us.

Gulliver's Travels

I actually heard some very positive buzz from an exhibitor earlier this year about Jack Black's latest travesty which probably proves the lengths they'll go to sell tickets. It's a laughably unfunny trailer and even the orange advert they made on the way seems poorly written.

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



Love and Other Drugs

Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway are naked a lot. I'd like to pretend there are other reasons for watching this but I'm not sure I'd be being completely honest. Ed Zwick's a competent director - does that help?

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

The Way Back

Peter Weir's latest film follows the controversial story of escaped Gulag convicts trekking from Siberia to India to avoid their Soviet captors. Regardless of the provenance the film was funded by National Geogrephic so you know the vistas will be stunning.

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

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Ben Kingsley


Happy Birthday to

Ben Kingsley

67 today


If we have learnt just one thing in 2010 it's that you shouldn't completely trust Ben Kingsley. He's either lying barefaced (as in Prince of Persia) or just evading the truth (like Shutter Island) and I doubt he bucked the trend in the Bollywood con movie Teen Patti. Next year though he's set to play Geogre Meliere in Scorsese's Hugo Cabret and I con imagine he's a heroic and honest figure in that so maybe he's on the turn.

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Thursday, 30 December 2010

Somewhere

2010. Dir: Sofia Coppola. Starring: Stephen Dorff, Elle Fanning, Chris Pontius, Nunzio Alfredo 'Pupi' D'Angieri and Michelle Monaghan. ●●○○○



The Random House Dictionary defines metaphor as "something used, or regarded as being used, to represent smething else." As such it becomes a vital weapon in the armoury of the modern film maker, however like all tools it must be used sparingly lest the audience get wise to your tricks. Unfortunately no one told Somewhere director Sofia Coppola this so her latest film is so packed with metaphor it's virtually unwatchable.



In what little plot we have the camera listlessly follows Stephen Dorff's movie star - Johnny Marco - as he drifts from room to room in the Chateau Marmont following alternately his rampant libido or his pubescent daughter Cleo, played by Elle Fanning. During the 97 minute running time the odd couple manage to connect over computer games, breakfast and a quick visit to Italy in order for Marco to receive an award in an utterly bewildering way. When she isn't with him - I don't wish to completely slate his parenting abilities - Johnny also shags his neighbour and orders in hysterically inept pole-dancing twins.

Coppola seems to be trying to emulate her success with Lost in Translation, another film about lost souls wandering hotels, but where Bill Murray and Scarlet Johannson were at crossroads in their life there is nothng as tangible for Dorff and Fanning. In Tokyo both of our leads were experiencing cultures alien to them, here whilst the cult of celebrity Marco has to deal with is outside of our experiences it's a comfortable fit for him so thecamera is definitely an outsider to his life.

Dorff is fine, he is able to carry off the role of the bored movie star with aplomb, but like the rest of the movie he is unble to bring us in. Fanning also does good work but it's only a stepping stone for her. The rest of the cast barely register, even that sneaky lift based cameo.

The cinematography by Harris Savidas has a woozy charm and Sofia's script is not without it's incisive or comic touches and it has to be said the soundtrack selection is ace.

We end though with the metaphors, the films started with Johnny Marco drving around in circles and ended with him getting out the car and walking away. We get your point, Sofia, but this just isn't interesting enough.

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Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Jude Law


Happy Birthday to

Jude Law

38 today


2011 is going to be a very exciting year for Jude Law fans, of course he'll be reprising his Dr. Watson for the blockbuster sequel, but he'll also be starring to two 3D movies by respected directors. Martin Scorsese's Hugo Cabret and Steven Soderbergh's Contagion will both feature Jude gorgeous features being thrust out of the screen at us.

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Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Tuesday Trailers - The Dilemma

And so the trailers for super January weekend continue - there was an alternate couple of (linked) trailers that I planned to show today but one of those hasn't been released yet - I very much doubt the film will be either, but that's another story. In the meantime please don't judge me when I show you the trailer for Ron Howard's latest "comedy". To be frank I am dreading this movie more and more with each trailer they release, as much as I like the concept and the female cast members. And that's ignoring the debacle that met this films first trailer with it's poorly judged lame joke.



The Dilemma opens on 21 January 2010.

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Denzel Washington


Happy Birthday to

Denzel Washington

56 today


There are few actors working today more reliable and technically proficient than Denzel. It's just a shame he tends to waste that talent in showstopping garbage such as Book of Eli and Unstoppable. He must have a heck of fan club, mind, even with dross in his back catalogue the average US gross of his last 10 films has been over $73m.

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Monday, 27 December 2010

Pink Elephants on Parade (Film News - 25/12/10)

So, that title could be in relation to the Christmas period and the inevitable slide into alcoholic stupour that often accompanies it. I know I may have had one or two too many over the last few days, and I very much hope all of you did also. Alternatively it could be related to this weeks top story. By the way news is pretty thin on the ground at the moment, oddly enough Hollywood gets a few days off the party too, so there isn't much to write about. There are some schedule changes mind, and I done a look at production news so the week isn't completely wasted.

Our Wild Life

The only new project I've heard about in the last 7 days is this conservation related piece that may be enticing Philip Noyce away from the Salt sequel. It's a biopic about Dame Daphne Sheldrick who campaigned her entire life for the protection and conservation of African elephants, including perfecting the formula and husbandry for raising milk dependent baby elephants and rhinos, indeed it's difficult to understate her impact on these endagered species.



Here is Daphne, more can be found on her work at http://www.sheldrickwildlifetrust.org/index.asp

The film itself has had a somewhat rocky road to here (and it's surprising I didn't know about it), first Nick Cassavetes was attached to direct, but following his script revision he was promptly fired by New Line who then approached Walter Salles. Since then Salles (who had interested Julia Roberts in the role) has bailed leaving Noyce to potentially pick up the pieces. No news yet on casting but apparently Kate Winslet is ineterested. More on this as soon as I know.

Read on for wandering cowboys, unsung pop stars and another wild creature.



The Dark Tower

The enigmatic lead of Stephen King's most complex piece, Deschain, is currently being cast for the upcoming Ron Howard/Akiva Goldsmith film and TV adaptation. It's a part that will require an extreme amount of charisma through very little wordplay or even action, as the man is more of a cypher than an actual fully realised being. Potential names being bandied about include Viggo Mortensen (the fan favourite but probably too old for the role), Jon Hamm (more likely), Daniel Craig and Hugh Jackman. Whoever they choose I wish the actor who takes on the task all the luck in the world with this potential poisoned chalice.



Release Schedules

A few changes for the next couple of months:

It's a Kind of Funny Story - I'd already let the cat out of the bag for the shift of this nuthouse set comedy - a teen Cuckoo's Nest, if you will - when the trailer was slipped in a couple of Tuesday's ago. Check yourself in for a bounce against the walls on 07 January 2011.

True Grit - It's had an exception first weekend in the States and looks set to become the highest grossing Western since Unforgiven yet it's dropped back a month to get away from other calibre competition over here. Persue your father's killer on 11 February 2011.

Melancholia - I needed a summer picture, there's very little on the blockbuster front really doing it for me next year, thank heaven for Lars von Trier and his little end of the world movie without a happy ending. Don't expect "them" to save you on 01 July 2011.

One Day - Lone Shefig's follow up to An Education, based on the novel by David Nicholls, is another ill advised romance this time with two university students who sort of fall in love over a period of twenty years. Find your soul mate on 30 September 2011.

Moneyball - The troubled baseball picture (check back over it's last minute collapse and rehabilitation) is set to bring the game back to the forefront of cinematic sports, shame it's about the manager using a PC. Use a computer to pick the best seats on 04 November 2011.

It's not all good news, though. Gus van Sant's Restless has been postponed but without a new release date (or at least without one this side of the Atlantic) and Joel Schumacher's Twelve has gone directly to DVD, which could actually turn out to be a blessed relief to cinemagoers.

Production News

Remember I do this so you don't have to is the motto for this section of the News, once a month (although it's usually rarer than that) I trawl through imdb looking at the stories that piqued my interest to see if they've gone into production and if so update here. Occasionally I come across something else you might like this way, but first the updates:

Clint Eastwood's FBI supremo biopic is back on with Leonardo DiCaprio set to star as the eponymous J. Edgar, talking of resurrected projects the release of MGM from bankrupt status means Bond 23 is back on the cards. Kathryn Bigelow's Triple Frontier about the drugs trade is underway although I expect the 2011 date may be rather optimistic. Tim Burton is prepping for a Dark Shadows shoot in the new year, Steven Soderbergh is showing confidence that Michael Douglas will beat the cancer as the Liberace movie is a close as it's ever been, Andrew Dominik's Cogan's Trade has bumped up his schedule - expect to see his Marilyn Monroe movie to vanish altogether. Revenge dramas The Jesuit, Savages, Creed of Violence and Forgiveness of Blood all look to be coming over the next couple of years, all of which you can look up more details using the post labels below, except for Forgiveness which is Joshua Marston's Albanian picture. Finally expect a Trap for Cinderella, the young adult picture from Iain Softley, in 2012.

Two new film titles also managed to grab my attention:

Zebras

Not a continuation of the earlier conservation in the serengeti theme we touched upon with Our Wild Life this is inspired by The World Cup and concerns a South African football team taht come out of nowhere to become big league players. Bizarrely Ryan Kwanten of "True Blood" fame is rumoured to take the lead.

Blondie: The Florence Ballard Story

If ever I discussed afilm that was likely to end up as a TV movie it was this, even the title screams Tuesday afternoon. It will focus on Florence Ballard (no s**t) and her brief career with soul sensations The Supremes before her ill-timed exit from the group. Can anyone tell me if Florence (below) is the inspiration for Effie White?



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Gerard Depardieu


Happy Birthday to

Gerard Depardieu

62 today


How does the poem go? Sometimes I think I will never view, a French film without Gerard Depardieu. Whilst silly there is an elemnt of truth in the ditty. Gerard has made 150 films since 1970 - a staggering 3.75 per year (not including television work). Coming up soon will be a role in Ang Lee's version of Life of Pi whcih I am very excited about.

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Friday, 24 December 2010

Booking my ticket to my own circle of hell (Out this week - 24/12/10)

Do you want the good news or the bad news? Well, the good news is that's it's Christmas weekend. We all have the opportunity to spend time in the loving arms of our families, feasting on festive treats and spreading the joy of the season. The bad news: cinemas are virtually no go areas. This is officially the worst week I can remember, certainly the worst since I've been writing up the releases. The even more horrifying news is that I have to choose a film of the week - I can't just advise to stay at home or go sledging - so under duress I have to pick the plain awful looking Little Fockers. I'm so very sorry.

I also missed a few films over the past few weeks so there is a mini catch-up as well.




Arthur and the Great Adventure

Belated sequel of the French produced digi-animation. Now with more R'n'B stars in the cast, including Will-I-Am and Snoop Dogg - you have to wonder what their agents were thinking - and the revenge of the villainous Maltazard.

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



Chatroom

I'm not sure why but Hideo Nakata, director of Ringu, has filmed his latest horror flick in London and has almost certainly lost all of his faculties. A Breakfast Club like selection of teens join an online social network site only to find it's run by a homicidal maniac.

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

Little Fockers

I feel so very bad having this as number one, although I suspect it will top the box office charts so at least I won't be actually paying for it. The uncomedy Father/son-in-law duo Robert De Niro and Ben Stiller reunite for another "wacky" set of adventures probably involving child excrement's. Amazingly the supporting cast includes Dustin Hoffman and Barbra Streisand (both returning) as well as newbies Harvey Keitel and Laura Dern.

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

Tees Mar Khan

The first of Two Bollywood entries for this week (and I honestly think if these films were shown to critics there would have been an even chance of one of them being film of the week) is a Akshay Kumar starring action comedy. They were playing the songs on a loop at the Spice of India last week and I was getting into it.

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

Toonpur Ka Superhero

This one truly does look dreadful. A family find themselves into a subterranean world entirely populated by badly drawn cartoons in this family adventure. Looks like a less interesting and less funny Roger Rabbit.

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

And on to the missing films (please note I have been checking back to the beginning of the year in order to ensure my records are correct).

From 17 December 2010

Manmadhan Ambu

Very little information around about this Tamil film, comments on the youtube trailer page oddly concentrate on the atheistic sentiments expressed by one of it's stars, Kamal Hassan, during a recent interview.

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

From 10 December 2010

A Serbian Film

Repulsive looking gorno masquerading as allegory about the history of Serbia. A retired porn star gets tricked into working for a sadistic director hellbent on making a snuff film to end all snuff films. Extreme sequences of sexual violence, and not for the faint-hearted.

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

From 03 December 2010

Chikku Bikku

I had the strangest feeling that I'd seen the trailer for this part UK set Bollywood movie before. I still didn't like it.

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

Mar Jawan Gur Khake

I think it's a romantic comedy - seriously if anyone reads this blog and has any sway with Boolywood films tell them to - at the very least - submit a synopsis to Pearl and Dean. Thank you.

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

Simran

Not even a trailer this time. but I don know that ones of the songs is Ve Kude Patole Bargi, that it's filmed in Punjabi and that Gunghu Gill, Simran Randhawa and Sheetal Bedi star.

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

From 03 December 2010

Leap Year

Not to be confused with the dreadful Amy Adams comedy earlier in the year this is a meditative study of a Mexican woman longing for connection to a man and her masochistic carnal desires that result.

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

Sleeping Princess

It's a Turkish film, so don't expect subtlety but there is some interesting looking stuff in the trailer for this modern day fairy tale based around an eternal optimist looking for a better life.

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

From 18 June 2010

Journey to Mecca

Really no excuses for missing this, to be honest I thought it was a documentary (and there are some filmed passages during the Hajj, the fifth pillar of Islam) but for the most part this is a biopic of the student and explorer Ibn Battuta who travelled, in 1325, from Morocco to the Arabian peninsula to carry out this sacred act.

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

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Thursday, 23 December 2010

Frederic Forrest


Happy Birthday to

Frederic Forrest

74 today


Now retired Forrest came close to breaking through as one of his generations leading men several times in the 1970's but alas it was never to be. His most recent big screen outing was the disappointing All the King's Men remake in 2006.

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Wednesday, 22 December 2010

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

2010. Dir: Michael Apted. Starring: Geogie Henley, Skandar Keynes, Ben Barnes, Will Poulter and Gary Sweet. ●●●○○



As a child I positively devoured C.S. Lewis' Narnia novels, expectantly turning each page in a desperate need to find out what happens. I was high on the drama and excitement of the stories, and none more so than The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader which as well as having a proper boy's own adventure plot also tapped into my pre-adolescent desire to sail away into the great unknown. Coming back to the story in some way allows me to relive those heady days of youth, however we cannot go back. To use a biblical quote that no doubt Clive Staples would approve of: "When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things." 1 Corinthians 13:11.



That is not to say there isn't plenty to enjoy in The Dawn Treader, but before we go on we must remember this is a children's film, adapted from a children's book, with themes and allegorical content that work for children but seem heavily laboured for a 33 year old with no children.

As with the last two films (The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe and Prince Caspian) the story revolves around the Pevensie children who are magically transported to the land of Narnia (a mythical world that borrows heavily from Greek texts and Judeao-Christian theology) via an everyday object - this time it's a picture frame. With the two elder siblings safely packed away to Wartime America Lucy and Edmund (Henley and Keynes) are joined by their obnoxious cousin Eustace, played with elan by Will Poulter. Luckily they appear directly in front of the Dawn Treader, a ship carrying King Caspian on a quest to find the seven missing Lords loyal to his father; or at least loyal until they all ran away and some became obsessed with gold, it's a long story.

The quest to find the seven lords, soon becomes the quest to find their swords and use the swords to defeat an evil mist, and then hopefully be close enough to Aslan's kingdom to take a quick peek.

Each of the chapters in the story, various islands fights and other assorted perils nip by, each with their own style and level of menace. Apted does well to keep the pace about right for the youger audiences with the sense of danger appearing acute but never really life-threatening. Some of the islands have more psychological dangers and it's nice to see they aren't shied away from, trusting the audience to get the beast within feel, whilst the sea serpent at the end is very credibly realised and is a surprisingly complex beastie in terms of it's anatomy.

Will Poulter gives the stand out performance as an unlikeable but sympathetic character, especially in his scenes with Reepicheep the 12 inch computer generated rat voiced by Simon Pegg (replacing Eddie Izzard). Poulter, who also excelled in 2007's Son of Rambow, continues to prove himself a fine actor and one to watch out for overs the years to come.

There are the usual cameos for The Lion (voiced by Liam Neeson) and the Witch (Tilda Swinton) although the later is, unfortunately, only an apparition within the mist, and both of them mainly draw attention to how much the first book is more satisfying and more nuanced a story.

The final scene, almost an epilogue, is a perfect example of the dichotemy at the heart of the film. One the one hand we get some beautiful art direction and overall design features including a wall of water and a sea of flowers as well as the functional yet interesting costume design (interestingly in a 1950's design throwback way where regardless of the conditions on board the Dawn Treader and the extraordinary battles they face all of the sailors retain well tailored clean uniforms). One the other there is some appalling handled dialogue about what it means to go to Aslan's land and how he is known by "another name" in our world.

I guess if I were 9 again I probably would have enjoyed this film very much and would certainly recommend it to children of that age, as it is I can only appreciate it from a distance.

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Ralph Fiennes


Happy Birthday to

Ralph Fiennes

48 today


It's been a wizard year for Ralph, he's not quite top of the UK cinema with 5 starring roles but his Voldemort is far more memorable than any other villian in 2010. Coming next year is his directorial debut, an adaptation of minor Shakespearean tragedy Coriolanus.

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Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Tuesday Trailers - Morning Glory

Back to our super Friday in January here's a little something that will appeal to a vastly different audience to Black Swan. I've heard Roger Michell's latest comedy compared unfavourably to both The Devil wears Prada and Broadcast News, two films it clearly owes a debt to, however this still seems to have enough zip to please it's target audience. Curiously the Daybreak news programme Harrison Ford and Diane Keaton front is the same name as the current beleagured ITV breakfast show here in the UK - can't wait to see how the BBC film reviewers stick the knife in with that.



Morning Glory will be released on 21 January 2011.

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Samuel L. Jackson


Happy Birthday to

Samuel L. Jackson

62 today


He's cooler than cool and has a massive output of movies, there isn't really a lot I can say to introduce Sameul L. I worry that he's happy to ride on his reputation these days and I very much hope that his best work isn't all behind him.

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Sunday, 19 December 2010

Yeeee-har (Film News - 18/12/10)

True Grit must be quite good. I say that not because of it's two SAG nominations (for Jeff Bridges and Hailee Steinfeld) this week, or even because of its positive critical receptioon so far. Far more important in Hollywood circles is it's immediate impact on the cinematic landscape for the next few years. It appears to be fully resurrecting the Western genre, completing the process started by The Assassination of Jesse James, 3.10 to Yuma and TV's superb "Deadwood" over last last decade. This week alone there have been three new Western themed movies announced proving the once moribund genre is back for good.



It's always been a minor surprise that the Western was temporarily faltering, the true American film genre is as much an influence on the national Psyche as a reflection of it. You could argue that Revisionism was it's undoing, the recognition that the 19th century wasn't as black and white (hatted) as the John Ford (director of The Searchers above) and Anthony Mann output would have us believe. With the modern murkiness underpining the moralty of the push into the West was have to accept the European settlers were as complicit in the violence as the Native Americans, and certainly more responsible in it's creation, and with the humanisation of that faceless enemy the cattle baron's and hired killers became the primary bad guys until the delineation between one side and the other became impossible.

True Grit, as with it's 1969 version, has a very clear antagonist (Josh Brolin's scarred Tom Chaney - we should also expect the Coen themes of retribution to return; it's a world where every negative action has a clear reaction on the perpetrator. And that in itself must be the path the post-revisionist Westerns will need to tread.

Untitled Spike Jonze/Charlie Kaufman Collaboration

In spite of all this talk of Western tropes I'm actually opening with a far more exciting cinematic prospect. Spike Jonze and Charlie Kaufman, the mind bending Director and Writer behind Being John Malkovich and Adaptation. have apparently made up their differences and are currently schlepping between the studios with an original idea (although as yet no script).

I suspect it's going to be a tough sell in today's financial environment, and it could be that the process may end up a lot more interesting if they go outside the studio system, however I would love to see their next movie together. Definitely one to look out for.

Read on for our three Westerns and a Pulitzer prize winning adaptation.



Colour of Lightning

The first Western set to see it's big screen adapatation by Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana (and, yes there are two of them) will be a revenge story about a freed slave who's family are kidnapped by Native Americans. Similar in plot to The Searchers then, only with a post-colonial twist. Ridley Scott is set to direct this - which would therefore make this the McMurtry Western he mentioned during interviews back in June. Where this will fit on his already overcrowded schedule is yet to be finalised.

Empire of the Summer Moon

On the other side of the coin is this Braveheart style look at the Comanche tribe and the almost mythical dual heritage leader who fought against the White settlers. Robert Duvall has been mentioned (slightly) against the role so maybe it will involve a bookend structure and Scott (Crazy Heart) Cooper may end up directing.

The Gunslinger

Our final Western, or more appropriately a contemporary Western, will be from James Mangold who has previous form in the genre with 3.10 to Yuma. It's also a revenge flick but instead of Lightning and a kidnapped family it's a murdered brother that kicks off the plot. Lensing for this is planned to commence in the spring.

Anna in the Tropics

Another week, another Lee Daniels project announced. Sometimes I'm being facetious when I say that but in Daniels case it's absolutely true - we have had three distinct rumours baout films projects in the last month. This time it's Nilo Cruz's Pulitzer award winning play about the 19th century cigar industry and the Cuban migrants who made the cigars. I don't know the play but I can only imagine the dialogue is more exciting than the concept.


Casting News

Not much in the way of casting from this week, we should be completely unsurprised to see Colin Firth is interested in the crime caper remake Gambit. The only other story is the rather low-key concept of re-uniting Robert DeNiro with Martin Scorsese in The Irishman, formerly known as I heard you Paint Houses, with a supporting cast to include Joe Pesci, Harvey Keitel and Al Pacino. Which surely isn't a casting coup that's in any way excitable. (OMG, shriek, shriek, etc.)

Blake Edwards 1922-2010

This week we were saddened to hear of the passing of cinematic legend Blake Edwards. He had a genius for shooting slapstick as we will no doubt remember from the Pink Panther movies, as well as making ramance perfect as in his 1961 magnum opus Breakfast at Tiffanys. Tom in Chicago has written a very nice in memorium piece here, but for me I'll just have a listen to Moon River.



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Jake Gyllenhaal

Happy Birthday to

Jake Gyllenhaal

30 today


Yes, I have put today's birthday picture a bit lower in the post in order to let it be bigger, and I fully believe looking at it tha I'm fully justified in doing so. The good news is tat Jake is only 10% younger than me, so I'm feeling less of a perv for drooling as I have in the past. Coming up (obviously) is Love and Other Drugs and his also rumoured to b in Garry Marshall's New Years Eve.

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Saturday, 18 December 2010

Ooh la la - (Out this week - 17/12/10)

It's a quiet week with only seven major releases - a couple of which you can very easily discount as being utter trash (seriously this is the first time I've had to dish out 2 one blob marks in the same week). Although it's trash that wins the day in the end, narrowly pipping Facebook romance documntary Catfish and proving my sexuality once and for all, the film of the week is Burlesque.



Animals United

Slightly preachy looking European animation, with the voices recast for a British audience (James Corden and Stephen Fry become the headliners, Vanessa Redgrave and Jim Broadbent add some class). It's all about wild beasts grouping together to protest against man's destruction of their habitats - and for kids.

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



Burlesque

It may not live up to the glorious heights of it's obvious predecessor Showgirls, and it probably insults anyone who actually works in the industry with it coyness, but it does have Christina Aguilera belting out the tunes, Stanley Tucci doling out advice and Cher as a trump card.

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

Catfish

In a year of divisive and questionable documentaries this almost fly-on-the-wall experience from Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman has led the discussions. Whatever your thoughts on that question the high praises remain - certainly one to watch.

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

Cuckoo

Very poorly reviewed British thriller/horror about a student hearing voices in her head at night and getting very anxious about it. Richard E. Grant should know better than star in this sort of crud.

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

Fred: The Movie

You wait for two months for a one-blob movie then 2 come at once. Lucas Crikshank extends his youtube success in a feature length high pitch rant spent chasing Pixie Lott. In America you are lucky enough for this to have bypassed cinemas before going to TV. Here this is filling up the multiplex screens!

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

Loose Cannons

Italian comedy about a young gay man trying to come out to his homophobic comedy. I hear the film exposes Catholic hypocrisy about sexual proclivities whilst at the same time enjoying the camp best friends of our hero. Trailer looks like a lot of fun.

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

Tron Legacy

It's not the Christmas turkey you've probably been led to believe it is, but then neither does it look to be greats shakes in the scripting and acting department (Jeff Bridges aside, obviously). Definitely worth buying the Daft Punk soundtrack.

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

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Rachel Griffiths


Happy Birthday to

Rachel Griffiths

42 today


I don't wish to undermine the talent of this fine Aussie actress, in both film and through a very strong TV record ("Six Feet Under" and "Brothers and Sisters" have both seen great work) but her family, according to imdb at least, appear to be even more eclectic in terms of their work (her mother is an Art Consultant, her uncle a Priest and her brother a Ski Instructor).

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Thursday, 16 December 2010

Liv Ullmann


Happy Birthday to

Liv Ullmann

72 today


I wanted a picture of Liv that reflects the often fragile characters that she performed for Ingmar Bergmar over her 10 collaborations between 1966 (Persona) and 2003 (Saraband). It's a selection of films that fully marks her place in film history.

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Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Miral

2010. Dir: Julian Schnabel. Starring: Hiam Abbass, Freida Pinto, Omar Metwally, Alexander Siddig and Ruba Blal. ●●●○○



Over the years cinema has been littered with personal filmaking, statements from writers, directors or actors with which they intend to pass on their wisdom and change the way we, as an audience, view the world. On rare occasions these efforts are memorable, often they are risible, but mostly they are worthy but oh so very dull. Unfortunately Miral, the fourth biopic directed by former New York artist Julian Schnabel, falls distinctly into that third category.



The story is essentially about the eponymous Miral (played with monotonous solidity by Freida Pinto of Slumdog fame) and the complexity of her political and emotional journey through the Palestinian Intifida of 1987 onwards. It also concenrs the three women who most shape her life: Her Teacher, the real-life Hind Husseni (Hiam Abbas, fine) whose work and death bookend the movie; her mother (Yasmine Elmasri, the best of the women) an abused Palestinian giurl who sinks into prostitution and alcoholism and her aunt (an underused Ruba Blal) who was radicalised, dynamited an Isreali cinema (during Polanski's Repulison no less) and was subsequently incarcerated following the 7 day war in 1967. Each of these women present different choices that Miral has to make - in the face of the Isreali occupation should she show caring stoicism, desperation or merciless revenge.

The film breaks into chapters for each of the women, ending with Miral, and this episodic structure becomes the movies biggest failing. Each of the first sections seems rushed and incomplete - of course they can only be complete if Miral chooses to follow their example - and the film as a whole seems to lck the focus necessary for Schnabel to make his grand statement.

I suspect, as with Miral, Schnabel and Rula Jebreal the novelist and scriptwriter wish to present Hind Husseni as the ideal. A woman who dedicated her life to educations orphans of the occupation, positive that education is the only way out of poverty and out of repression. Miral Iman father, a superb Alexander Siddig, also believes in the path of passive resistance, sure that there is a way forward through dialogue rather than through the instruments of terrorism.

Perhaps the closest character to the minds of the production team is Omar Metwally as Hani the Hamas activist Miral falls for. Whilst a charismatic on-screen presence Metwally is saddled with some of the most expositional dialogue as to render his performance unnecessary. Two scenes in particulary - a day time picnic and a midnight assignation as meant to be signs of their buidding romance but his earnest monlogues about the future of a two state solution seem horrendously out of place.

There is plenty on the sidelines to enjoy though. You could start with the celebrity cameos; lefties Vanessa Redgrave and Willem Dafoe turn up to secure funding and to bring in a US/Brit audience and not much else...

Seriously, my favourite section was where Miral stayed with her aunt and cousin recouperating from an injury. Her cousin has struck a relationship with a young Jewish girl and the humourous and conflicting reactions from eacdh family is a delight. Especially Miral aunt who turns the Palestinian mother up to 11 (talking fast is Arabic, wearing traditional attire she usually shuns) when her potentially daughter in law comes over for the first time. These comic vignettes could form the basis of a delicious film about inter-religious acceptance and abstract prejudice - but alas we were up for a much more plodding sermon about politics in the Middle East.

Cinematography comes courtesy of Eric Gautier (Motorcycle Diaries, Into the Wild) and you can recognise his lensing style, with many of the more experimental florishes of Schnabel's previous films put aside.

Overall I would say I wanted this film to be so much more than it was. The Palestinian/Isreali conflict deserves a film that truly illuminates the conflict in totality. This filmed failed to do so without it turning into a lecture. That is a very great shame.

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Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Tuesday Trailers - It's a Kind of Funny Story

We interrupt the flow of trailers for 21 January (with it only having just started) with the news of a schedule change that has moved another film ahead. Anna Boden's and Ryan Fleck's follow up to their baseball drama Sugar surprised everyone by being a left of field comedy with "it" star Zach Galifianakis and whilst reviews haven't been glowing I'm very curious to see how they cope with this sort of story.



It's a Kind of Funny Story is released on 07 January 2011.

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Monday, 13 December 2010

Changing the landscape (Film News - 11/12/10)

So we're back with film news as well. A few small stories this week, none of the list looks likely to turn into box office gold but they all should be worth a look if they ever get made.

Mike Leigh's JMW Turner biopic

Mike Leigh might be taking a break from modern slices of life and will instead focus on a 19th century artist JMW Turner, whose romatic evocations of steamtrains and oil landscapes was a major precurser to the Impressionistic movement (see below in the 1844 work Rain, Steam and Speed).



Luckily for Leigh there's plenty in Turner's personal life for him to get his teeth into. Turner's mother was committed when he was still an adolescent and later in life he suffered from bouts of depression and was known for being eccentric. With this in mind it could be thematically close to most of Leigh's other work whilst skirting close to the lightness of tone in his other biopic Topsy Turvy.

Indeed the relationship between sanity and art may end up forming the backbone of this film, and it's certainly a subject that would go down well with audiences, critics and (lets face it) the Academy as well.

Read on for clues about the financial meltdown, a schedule filler and an unlikely remake.



Enron

George Clooney has picked up the rights to a film adaptation of Lucy Prebble's West End hit Enron. Showing the end of the financial giant, or as an interesting precurser to the 2008 slump, the play ultimately looks at the decisions made by the key players and the effects of these. It's highly likely that the praised British cast will be excised though which is rather unfortunate.

Nights of Calabria

Another week, another Lee Daniels project. He's changed agency (to CAA no less) which has led to a flurry of publicity for the Precious director. The press release indicates he's on the way to remaking the 1957 Fellini movie Nights of Calabiria about a prostitute looking for love. Might be right up Daniels street, but I doubt it could be as good as the original.

Untitled Kathryn Bigelow Film

Very curious rumour, which seems to defy general film making logic. Kathryn Bigelow (left) has been prepping for Triple Frontier for some time, but now she's cast Tom Hanks she's having to put the film on ice whilst waiting for a gap in Tom's schedule. Oddly she may use that time to rush out a quick movie - very Soderbergh like. Kathryn and her Hurt Locker scribe Mark Boal look set to write, cas and film an entire movie in the next 6 months or so. I hope they have an idea already because I'd hate for them to get bogged down in the planning stage or rush into something.

Casting News

Some interesting little casting titbits with confirmation that Cate Blancett will return as Galadriel in The Hobbit, Charlize Theron is looking at a role in Clint Eastwood's Hoover biopic - now called J. Edgar - alongside Armie Hammer and Gerard Depardieu and Irfan Khan will star in The Life of Pi.

Read More...

Jamie Foxx


Happy Birthday to

Jamie Foxx

43 today


Foxx has always struck as an actor who believes the hype about himself. Don't get me wron - he is very good and resists the easy route in performances - bu sometimes a touch of humility may be nice.

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Sunday, 12 December 2010

You Can Check out any time you like (Out this week - 10/12/10)

But you can never leave, but more on that later. Late this weekend - and my excuses for this week are even more pathetic than usual. On Friday night it was our Christmas party and I must confess that yesterday I was horribly unwell, my head throbbing I couldn't focus on the screen for long. Today I'm feeling a little better so catching up.

Did anyone guess the link to this week's film in the title? Well it's from the classic Eagles track Hotel California and probably perfectly encapsulates this week's RLAG film of the Week: Somewhere.



Band Baaja Baaraat

There are a couple of Bollywood entries this week, the first of which looks like it's going to give it's target audience exactly what they suspected - it's a romatic comedy set at Delhi University she's organised and has her life planned and he's a slob (ish). Sit back and enjoy.

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



Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

The third Narnia movie, picking up from the financial disaster Prince Caspian is certainly picking up better reviews and at the moment looks highly likely to claim the box office crown. It's all ships and dragons in this installment and I suspect it wil go down well with the kids.

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

For Colored Girls

Tyler Perry takes a break from dragging up for his films and translates the seminal 1970's performance poem by Ntozake Shange. Taking the monologues and threading the storylines together has led to some shock from critics but this looks like an interesting mix. Whoopi Goldberg is among the cast.

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

In Our Name

This British Iraq drama may just break the mould on PTSD movies, unlike the majority of American looks at the issue it concentrates on the effect of war on a female soldier, played to perfection by Joanne Froggatt.

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

No Problem

It's Bollywood film number 2. Poster has gorillas. No really there are gorillas. I no longer care about the plot the poster has gorillas.

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

On Tour

The Burlesque film revival begins here and will carry on with Cher and Christina next week. For now it's a little lower key (although certainly more realistic) as Matthieu Almaric directs and stars as a tour manager moving his girls in the day and watching them perform in the night. Don't take a balloon to the screening.

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

Outcast

British/Irish movie that looks part drama part horror and mother and son on the run find themselves in a sleepy village which is then attacked by a beast.

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

Somewhere

Sofia Coppola returns to dreamy hotel landscapes, but this time moves from Tokyo in Lost in Translation to the Chateau Marmont. With Stephen Dorff as a famous enough Hollywood actor wondering what to do next in his career.

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

The Tourist

This might be OK, but I suspect it's going to be a miss with Johnny Depp and Anjelina Jolie looking incredibly sexy in Venice and trying to capture the breezy chemistry of the 50's spy caper templates that this most resembles.

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

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Jennifer Connelly


Happy Birthday to

Jennifer Connelly

40 today


As we rush to celebrate the great performances of 2011 let us try to remember that the female stars under the watchful gaze of Darren Aronofsky have always been under pressure. Connelly, who faced all sorts of humiliation in 2000's Requiem for a Dream is an ideal case in point. Most comfortable in straight laced dramas Jennifer will be making an effort to be funny in the upcomiing Ron Howard comedy The Dilemma.

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Saturday, 11 December 2010

Teri Garr

Happy Birthday to

Teri Garr

63 today


It's a sad fact of life that the most promising and talented comedic performers often have the most tragic personal lives, such is the case with Oscar nominee Garr who was diagnosed with Multiple Scerosis in 1983 and suffered a Brain aneurysm in 2006. Not that she's allowed it to slow her down, Teri has been performing as recently as 2007 in the indie breakout Kabluey.

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Friday, 10 December 2010

Michael Clarke Duncan

Happy Birthday to

Michael Clarke Duncan

53 today


Whilst he has had a thoroughly sucessful career you have to wonder if the 6 foot five and impossibly built actor would have been better rewarded with more diverse roles if he wasn't that size.

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Thursday, 9 December 2010

Kirk Douglas

Happy Birthday to

Kirk Douglas

94 today


A true titan of film Kirk's influence as an actor and producer has left a mark as recogniseable and deep as his dimpled chin. Famously said his sond didn't have his advantage of being born into abject poverty.

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Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Kim Basinger

Happy Birthday to

Kim Basinger

57 today


A much better actress than she's generally given credit for, largely because her choices over the years have been spotty at best. My favourite Basinger performance is in L.A. Confidential, but she also recently wowed in The Burning Plain. What's your top choice?

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Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Tuesday Trailers - Black Swan

There's usually one day in January/February where it simply becomes impossible to watch all the interesting movies that are being released, usually because they all happen to be bona fide Oscar contenders. In 2011 this will be different, as the 21 January sees the release of five films which I am looking forward to, but only this ballet horror (well, virtual horror) has a ghost of a chance in the awards season. The other four films will be trailered in coming weeks, but for now sit back and watch the preview of the most I am most excited about seeing:



Black Swan will be released on 21 January 2011.

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Ellen Burstyn

Happy Birthday to

Ellen Burstyn

78 today


Irrevocably connected (due to permanent spinal injury as well as her indelible performance) to a certain infamous horror movie from the early 1970's - I doubt I need to namecheck it out here - the Detroit born Burstyn has been wowing viewers with her complex and multifaceted screen persona for decades.

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Sunday, 5 December 2010

A trip to the 60's - (Film News - 04/12/10)

Still surrounded by snow miles from home, but at least I'm back on a computer that works - ish. With that in mind I'm going back to the on the fly version of rounding up the big news on the cinematic front. To be honest I quite like the energy and pressure involved in this - it keeps me focussed on the task in hand and I'm able to condense the stories into one hour of writing! On the other hand I can't get a cup of tea half way through and I'm sure my spelling gets worse. But, what can you do?

Inherent Vice

With The Master's funding having dried up (no connection to the apparent anti-scientology message of the script) Paul Thomas Anderson has found himself looking for a new project. Until this week when he's started to be linked with Thomas Pynchon's private eye yarn Inherent Vice. Taking the tropes of Chandler and Hammett, Pynchon looks at the tail end of the summer of love and a plot to kidnap a multi-billionaire. Robert Downey Jnr is rumoured for the marijuana addicted dectective Doc Sportello.

I love detective stories and the chance to see Anderson take on this sort of convoluted plot is delicious, so this is definitely one to look forward to.

Read on for African war stories, labyrinths and two (yes, two) musical adapatations.



Ben Affleck's East Congo Concept

Less an actual film than a vague desire, but Ben Affleck has been bringing up the issue of the Eastern Congo Initiative in order to bring the long standing conflict into the public eye. It's nice to see that Affleck is genuinely concerned about what has been referred to as the African World War and which involves over 9 countries in a long history of guerilla warfare. Tragicaly his perception that the studios just won't support such a project is almost certainly true.

The Maze Runner

It's another young adult series that may just lead to a replacement Potter franchise. This one is about a boy who wakes up in the centre of a maze, which is constantly shifting. Sounds a little like Labyrinth to me, and I'm not completely sure how that could sustain more than one movie successfully.

The Scottsboro Boys/Next to Normal

You wait for ages for a big screen musical then two turn up at once. Lee Daniels has stated an interest in bringing the former, a musical based on the true story of nine African American men falsely accused of rape and trying to find justice in a corrupt and racist system. The second is about a surburban mother with bipolar disorder and has recently been showered with a bucketful of Tonys and a Pulitzer Prize.

I have to say neither feel like the subject matter that normally fits with musical theatre, which may just be why I'm a little excited about seeing the final results.

Robocop

Finally

Casting News

I've not done this for a couple of weeks, so excuse me for being a little jumpy. Sir Ian McKellan has confirmed on his own website that's he's set to return as Gandalf in The Hobbit (quell surprise!). Paul Giamatti is up for David Cronenburg's limo set thrill ride Cosmopolis. Tom Hanks has confirmed he will star in Triple Frontier, although I'm sure I've read that before.

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Saturday, 4 December 2010

Conflict resolution - (Out this week - 03/12/10)

Somewhat complicated week - not least because of the range of quality films hitting cinemas. I am currently typing in a random hotel in Bournemouth, and am beginning to worry if I'm going to make it back to Manchester this weekend, let alone make it to the local multiplex. I love snow, but apparantly the UK road network is less keen on the concept. (And the computer I'm using is so crap I can't copy and paste so the blobs are just numbers!!!) Film of the week - should it be relevant - is Miral.

No picture either I'm afraid - damned if I can work this thing...

Bathory

The first out of the gate of the Elizabeth Bathory movies, this one stars Anna Friel as the alleged bloodthirsty Countess. This version aims to act as a counterbalance to the popular myth and attempts to show the accusations of mass murder were simply a reaction to a womans quest for power in a world of men.

Runs like a Gay Excitometer: 3



Be all and End All

British black comedy - I like to warn you up front - about a teenage boy with a fatal heart condition who just wants to lose his virginity before it's too late. I wish I could reach into the screen and tell him it's probably not worth the effort.

Runs like a Gay Excitometer: 3

Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen

Follow on from the 1995 TV series "Fist of Fury", itself a remake of the Bruce Lee classic film, Donnie Yen plays the returning legend who infiltrates the Mafia in an attempt to fight off the Japanese armies.

Runs like a Gay Excitometer: 3

Love Life

Also known as Stricken, this movie looks like a pure slice of European miserablism as Carice van Houten learns of her impending demise whilst having sex in clinical looking apartments.

Runs like a Gay Excitometer: 3

Megamind

Will Ferrell plays the titular super villian in this latest blcok busting animation with Brad Pitt as his superhero adversary. Will likely be the biggest money maker of this weeks releases, but I can't help thinking it's chances would have been better if it came out before Despicable Me.

Runs like a Gay Excitometer: 4

Miral

Julian Schnabel's look at the political and religious divides in Jerusalem follows four Palestinian women over forty years. Reviews suggest the ball has been dropped and it fails to hit the heights of Schnabel's previous works, but it's a subject rarely delved into and one that I confess an interest in hence it's high score. Vanessa Redgrave and Willem Dafoe cameo in the movie.

Runs like a Gay Excitometer: 6

Monsters

This is certainly the runaway favourite with the critics, a monster movie made on a shoestring budget by an up and coming British director Gareth Edwards and blurring the boundaries between romantic road movie and special effect alien invasion pic.

Runs like a Gay Excitometer: 5

Of Gods and Men

This years French entry for the Foreign language Oscar looks at the passion that drives people to serve God before their self as six monks in a true life story remain in an Algerian monastry in grave danger to themselves. Highly regarded at Cannes.

Runs like a Gay Excitometer: 4

Rare Exports

This is an unusual Finish take on the Santa Claus stories with a not quite human saint who knows who's naughty and nice but tends to concentrate on the punishments for the naughty. Clearly the most bonkers of this weeks releases, and all the more exciting because of it.

Runs like a Gay Excitometer: 4

Sectretariat

Horsey drama about the horse that won the triple crown - apparently a major flat racing feat in the US - starring Diane Lane, John Malkovich, James Cromwell and a horse. The clips from the races look fantastic, the rest less so.

Runs like a Gay Excitometer: 4

Warrior's Way

Massively delayed New Zealand Western with Dong-gun Jang as a warrior assassin forced to assimilate himself in the badlands with Danny Huston and Geoffrey Rush out to get him.

Runs like a Gay Excitometer: 3

Read More...

Marisa Tomei



Happy Birthday to

Marisa Tomei

46 today


Marisa keeps on getting better with age. And whilst this could be referring to her fantastic looks and pole dance ready body, I'm also talking about her performances which have really grown over the years. I'm currently really looking forward to seeing how she fits into George Clooney's political picture Ides of March.

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Friday, 3 December 2010

Julianne Moore


Happy Birthday to

Julianne Moore

50 today


It's very hard to believe this very sexy redhead has reached the half century? Julianne has done her fair share of popcorn movies however has always shown her true colours and enthusiasm in borderline arthouse work, such as her collaborations with Todd Haynes and Paul Thomas Anderson. The questions is whether she will secure her fifth Academy award nomination with The Kids are All Right.

Read More...

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Woody Allen


Happy Birthday to

Woody Allen

75 today


Writer, Director, Actor, Jazz Clarinetist, there isn't a lot that Woody can't do, and for most of his career everything he touched turned to gold. Unfortunately we have seen a declines over the last 15 years, possibly not helped by his churning of projects (he has directed at least one film per year since 1982). You will meet a Tall Dark Stranger has already has it's US release and is scheduled to come out here in March, the next onw after that will be Midnight in Paris.

Read More...

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Tuesday Trailers - The Green Hornet

The studios clearly aren't sure what to do with this Comic book adaptation maybe because of the difficult production history and slightly fun look to the trailer. Originally slated for a Autumn release it's been pushed back into the gravyard of January Stateside. Of course I'm going to go to reward the Seth Rogen weight loss plan which seems to have done wonders for the formerly chubby comedian.



The Green Hornet is released on 14 January 2011.

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Amy Ryan


Happy Birthday to

Amy Ryan

41 today


Like yesterday's birthday honouree Amy slogged away in the business for many years before breaking out in TV's "The Wire" and an oscar nomination for Gone, Baby, Gone - a performance so good Blake Lively was clearly channeling it in Ben Affleck's directorial follow-up this year. Next up for Amy in Win Win where she play the wife of part time wrestling coach Paul Giamatti.

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Monday, 29 November 2010

Don Cheadle


Happy Birthday to

Don Cheadle

46 today


Cheadle first came to my attention as the scene-stealing Mouse in 1995's The Devil in a Blue Dress but he had been working steadily on TV and in films for over 10 years before that knockout performance. Short of his Mockney in the Ocean's movies he is always putting in considered and solid performances.

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Sunday, 28 November 2010

Peronal News - 28/11/10

As promised last week here is a very small snippet of persoanl news - I have applied to go back to school.

That is to say I have applied to a couple of Drama Schools to do a one year masters course. I believe that training in technique is not only vital if I want to progress in the quality of my acting, but also in the future of any career.

I won't tell you which courses I have applied for, but I will tell you the first audition will be in December. Wish me luck!

Ben

Read More...

Brake, brake, brake! (Film news - 27/11/10)

It almost goes without saying but the last couple of weeks where I've been unable to access a computer for lond stretches of time there were news stories coming thick and fast, exciting new projects on the go every few minutes. Now that I'm back, gently typing away at my desk with all the time in the world, the presses seem to have stopped. It's been Thanksgiving week, of course, which had led to many news organisations running on lower staff and consequently fewer stories, but ultimately I'm left with just two items which got my attention. Luckily we have some release date changes otherwise I'd be considering if it was worth coming home this weekend at all.

Jayne Mansfield's Car

In a fit of pique at the current state of cinematic releases actor/director Billy Bob Thornton has decided to just write his own. He is quoted as saying: "I think because of the nature of movies they are making these days. They are really not my bag as much. I figured that instead of sitting around complaining that I really don’t want to be in a superhero movie or cartoon or a 3D vampire movie and all that kind of thing, I’ve written movies before, so why not write one."

I personally feel the star of Eagle Eye and Faster may have more of a point if he had touch more integrity in his film choices, but that's by the by.

The title is probably going to be a bit of a red herring. Jayne Mansfield, as you probably know, was tragically killed in a car crash in 1966 with less than 25 films under her belt. This film won't be a biopic of Mansfield (below) or even her car (not pictured). Instead it will focus on the randomness of life and death and the impact of the Vietnam war on a community in Alabama.



Thornton has made a number of films in the late 90s, notably Sling Blade which garnered mass acclaim and an Oscar so it will be good to see him back in the directors chair.

Read on for a surprise return to Anarene and the latest changes to release dates.



Untitled Last Picture Show sequel

Jeff Bridges has been busy doing the publicity for both Tron and True Grit over the last couple of weeks, so inevitably he's going to let a few odd snippets of information about other films he's preparing for. Notably he told journalists that he's been spending time with Peter Bogdanovich with the idea of returning to their 1971 hit The Last Picture Show (below) and continuing the storylines of those characters. This would be the second sequel after the largely unsuccessful Texasville (1990), and something tells me Randy Quaid won't be joining them this time around.



Release Dates

The release schedules have been going crazy over the last few weeks - loads of new stuff as well as some minor changes - hopefully there'll be something for everyone in this list:

Black Swan - Natalie Portman's prima ballerina reaches for perfection whilst performing Swan Lake and may just smash her brain in Aronofsky's latest movie. Become obsessed about your art on 21 January 2011.

The Ward - We may not have a poster, a trailer or even the vaguest nod towards a fully fledged plot synopsis but John Carpenter's return to the big screen does have a release date. Panic to a synth score on 21 January 2011.

The Tempest - Three of this weeks films with new release dates originally had an earlier date but then drifted into limbo for a bit, Julie Taymor's bonkers looking bard adaptation is the first of these. Talk to spirits on 04 March 2011.

You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger - Woody Allen's latest, which looks at fortune telling among other things, has already opened in the US so naturally we have a long wait over here. Not as long as some of his though which might indicate this one's OK. Find your fortune on 18 March 2011.

Red Riding Hood - Stepping away from the back end of the awards season and closer to the onslaught of summer tentpoles seems like an interesting elease strategy for this Twilight-lite looking fairytale adaptation. Be afrad of the Big Bad wolf on 15 April 2011.

Warrior - There's still a 20 week gap in the middle of next year for me with no films I'm interested in coming out, luckily Tom Hardy will be largely naked and fighting for his life when this is released. Get back into blood sports on 07 October 2011.

Footloose - Of all the remakes of 80's standards that we've been seeing over the last few years the least surprising is this story of a young man fighting oppression through dance. Go with the music on 14 October 2011.

Hugo Cabret - It'll definitely be making it to my most anticapted films of 2011, proving I'm an unapologetic Scorsese fan even when he's making a kids film. Find the father of cinema on 09 December 2011.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - It looks like they just ca't make their mind up about the release date for this US remake, it's danced about at the end of December next year yet again. Frown and find a serial killer on 30 December 2011.

Bad News for The Debt and War Horse though; both of which have had their UK release dates pulled and with no sign of a new one at this point. I fully expect both of them to return to the schedules and will update when I know more.

Read More...

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Runaway movies (Out this week - 26/11/10)

Last week all the studios were afraid to compete with the might of Harry Potter, so now we're facing a tsunami of mid range fodder none of which are likely to break into the top slot in the box office. There are a few that could be worth a look though. Film of the week is a toughie but I think assassin George Clooney is beaten at the last fence by Denzel Washington's train driver in Unstoppable



Allah Ke Banday

Not only is it a busy week for US output it's also a bumper week of Bollywood offerings - not that any of them are really jumping out at me. This one concerns two slum kids getting involved in crime gangs.

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



The American

George Clooney stars virtually alone in Anton Corbijn's follow-up to his Joy Division biopic Control. He wanders aimlessly around a small Italian village, philosophises with a local Priest and has an affair with a prostitute whilst we figure out if he's a contract killer. Slow and deliberate - should be a good bet.

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

Break Ke Baad

Bollywood love story about two sweethearts made for each other who have to see if their relationship survives a number of unfortunate twists - largely based on her desire to bcome an actres. Have a guess!

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

Girl who kicked the Hornets Nest

The final part of the Millenium trilogy drifts around the titular heroine, splendidly played by Noomi Replace, as she spends half of the movie in a hospital and half in a prison cell. That said it ties up most of the loose ends and as a moody thriller probably efficiently moves along.

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

London Boulevard

Colin Farrell is an ex-con trying to go straight by bodyguarding Keira Knightley's model/actress. The reviews of William Monaghan's (The Departed) script and direction have not been kind, but I expect the two leads look lovely and it's partly influenced by Sunset Boulevard.

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

Machete

Robert Rodriguez turns his fake trailer from the Grindhouse movies into a fully stretched movie, probably losing all it's charm in the process. Danny Trejo is probably taking his only chnce to lead a film, curious supporting cast includes Robert De Niro, Jessica Alba, Lindsay Lohan and Steven Segal.

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

Nandalala

We've been here before - or at least this film has meant to have been released before. Small child and idiot adult go on a long journey to find their parents. This will be moved again, I suspect.

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

Ordinary Execution

French movie investigating the final days of Stalin through the eyes of his personal doctor. Skirting with ideas of paranoia and the principles of medical ethics.

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

Ratha Charithram

Trilingual Bollywood political biopic. Apparently it's a sequel but that shouldn't stop anyone that's not seen the first - this does seem to be the best of the Bollywood releases.

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

Scar Crow

British horror movie which seems to take the set up of Hocus Pocus and remove all the charm and laughs and heighten up to horror. Probably not worth the bother.

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

Tere Ishq Nachaya

Final Bollywood release for this week, about a girl torn between two men, one of whom is rich and reliable, the other a poor dancer. I'm guessing she goes for the latter.

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

Unstoppable

Tony Scott and Denzel Washington reunite for the fifth time, to better effect than their last collaboration, in spite of the train connection. Whilst we can probably second guess the ending the plot about a runaway train full of dangerous chemicals being stopped by Washington and Chris Pine looks like it's exactly what it should be.

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

These next couple of movies slipped out with out me seeing:

Vay Arkadas

Turkish movie with very little explanation out there n the net as to what it's about. If anyone's still reading or still cares please feel free to bring me up to speed.

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

Action Replayy

Another Bollywood film, that was released back on 05 November, with Ashwaiya Ray and Akshay Kumar. Big enough names so I don't need to do any explaining.

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


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Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Tuesday Trailers - True Grit

Here's the thing, I have recently rewatched the original John Wayne starring adaptation of Charles Portis' Western novel and I confess to enjoying it more than I emember, sure it's uninterestingly directed and a little uncertain of tone but I can't see why the Coen's have decided to return to the book for a new version - especially as watching the trailer it appears most of the dialogue is identical. I realise the clamour on the internet is that this will be the best thing since sliced bread but I have my doubts. Will definitely see it though.



True Grit is released on 14 January 2011.

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