Friday, 30 April 2010

Out this week (30/04/2010)

Summer is here. The temperature has been beginning to lift, the mornings are lighter and the first of the big summer tentpoles is opening this week. Like everyone else out there I am excited about the big box office returns and the 3 month whirl of red carpet premieres and relentless marketing campaigns. Away from the big lights though there are some nice foreign language choices, but the film of the week remains Iron Man 2.



A Boy Called Dad

As the lurid headlines of our tabloid culture focus more and more on the exceptional cases of underage parents we tend to forget the personal impact of having children. This film aims to reverse that trend taking a good look at the way a 14 year old life is turned upside down, and how he learns to cope.

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



The Disappearance of Alice Creed

Gemma Arterton begins her make or break career year with a standard kidnap drama - will her captors renege on their promise to deliver her back safely? Will she seduce them to ensure her rescue? Watch the trailer to find out.

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

Gentleman Broncos

Jared Hess's latest may not have the cult appeal of his 2004 hit Napoleon Dynamite but it's concept of blatant plagurism in the sci-fi fantasy subculture and it's class supporting turn from Jermaine Clement should get some fans.

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

Housefull

Bollywood superstar Akshay Kumar takes the lead in this comedy about guy with three girls on the go whose life is just about to get really complicated.

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

Iron Man 2

2008's surprise comic book hit (did you really think it would take off in the way it did for essentially a minor Marvel creation) gets it's inevitable remake. Robert Downey Jr. and Gwynneth Paltrow are back, Don Cheadle gets a choice replacement role, Mickey Rourke gets villian roles and Samuel L. Jackson may get a slightly bigger cameo. Expect this to be the biggest money spinner this year.

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

The Last Song

Another Nicolas Sparks novel gets a big screen adaptation, following Dear John just a couple of weeks ago, with Miley Cyrus trying to break out as a real actress and Greg Kinnear adding a little class as her dad.

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

The Milk of Sorrow

Peruvian drama - we don't get many of those - about a girl coming to terms with her childhood and her fears following the death of her mother.

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

Revanche

Oscar nominated Austrian film about fate and revenge. I hear it's long two hours, but worth it for those with the persistence.

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

Sura

Feel good entertainer, with a poster that looks like a mob drama, and an audi in the background. What can you say.

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

24 City

Chinese drama following all sectors of society as a Chengdu factory is closed to make apartments, and the way this effects our characters, their family and the wider impact on society.

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

Valhalla Rising

An art film about a viking pyschopath? You'd better believe in the latest feature from Nicolas Winding Refn with the mute one-eyed hero finding the secrets behind his origins and the origin of his almost supernatural strength.

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

And missed from last week, as you know there would be some...

The Calling

What starts as a comedy, with a vivacious student abandoning her planned career to join a nunnery meeting a bunch of comedy staples (including Susannah York's overbearing Mother Superior and the militant Brenda Blethyn), slowly develops into a fair reflection of the imporatnce of faith and community. Looks like a very good bet if you get the chance.

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

Esrefpasalilar - Eshref Pasha

Turkish comedy drama - naturally. I have no idea what it's about so feel free to tell me if you know.

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

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Burt Young


Happy Birthday to

Burt Young

70 today


Burt Young is one of those I-know-him actors, who contantly is doing great work in thankless roles. For instance he simmered in films like Chinatown, Once upon a Time in America and Last Exit to Brooklyn, as well as showing a touching side in Rocky (I confess he's been thanked a little for "Paulie", having returned for many of the lucrative sequels - including the most recent one - and garnering an Oscar Nod). He's also still showing up in great looking films, I'm still hoping to see New York, I Love You (maybe in September???) and he's also backing up Thomas McCarthy's follow up to The Visitor: Win Win.

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Thursday, 29 April 2010

Personal - 2010 Election

I've just voted.

In one week from today here in the UK we will be having the most exciting, close and important election in possibly over 20 years.

I'm a postal voter (as an actor I never know where I'm going to be so my parents forward my voting form to me), this means I get the form earlier and must send it off earlier.

I suddenly feel like a giddy teenager. It's fair to say that having an opportunity to vote, to influence in some small way the future of my Government, is something that I relish.

On Monday I will be writing a brief guide to the parties - mainly for you non-Brit readers and I will attempt to be impartial - and on Thursday night I will live blog the election in full, from the polls closing at 10 until we have a result - whatever that result will be.

I hope to see you all over the next few days.

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Michelle Pfeiffer


Happy Bithday to

Michelle Pfeiffer

52 today


I'm not as much of a Pfan as many people her in the web, but I'm crtainly pleased to be sending my best wishes to the notoriously private Michelle. In her own words she has said "It's my profound fear of embarrassment that's kept me going. That's the key to my success." which would be great if it were true, but there's nothing coming up in her diary right now. Given her latest performance (in 2009's Cheri) was exquisite I don't know why she isn't capitalising on that.

Anyway, here's a reminder of her singing in a red dress.

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Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Shutter Island

2010. Dir: Martin Scorsese. Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingley, Max von Sydow and Michelle Williams. ●●●●○



I'm not much of a reader. Sure, like anyone I can devour an airport paperback in a couple of sittings, but these are few and far between. I spend much more time between books, with dogeared classics drifting around my desk waiting for the first chapter to be tried agian. Occasionally though I make a bit of effort. It could be because I love the author's style (Michael Chabon, J.G Ballard) or because I've heard great things (The Time Traveler's Wife, Curious incident of the dog in the night-time) OR because I hear there's going to be a movie made form it. Which how I came to read Dennis Lehane's Shutter Island.

I hated it.



But that negative experience meant that I could, when the film came out, watch it with a understanding of where the plot was going and pre-warned about the style. Lehane, who specialises in adult crime thrillers (Mystic River and Gone, Baby, Gone have both been sucessfully adapted to the big screen), set out to write a genre piece, a gothic mystery with a dramatic twist. As a novel I felt it didn't work as the ending was too neat, too cliched to be true. Of course it's a film cliche, anyway, so naturally it works better in that medium.

As the film starts we see a ferry coming out of the mist on it's way to the titular island and its maximum security institute for the criminally insane. Before we've had a chance to fully register the characters Marshalls Teddy Daniels (DiCaprio) and Chuck Aule (geddit???!!! - Mark Ruffalo) are being thundered away from the dock in an open top jeep to a soundtrack of intense classics.

The plots own macguffin is escaped prisoner Rachel Solando who's miraculously squeezed through her bars and disappered into the inhospital island, and the Marshalls have been called to help track her down. Not that that's the only thing on DiCaprio's mind. Whilst he's there he must find out the truth about the secret mind drugs that sinister phychiatrist's Ben Kingsley and Max von Sydow are dishing out and avenge the murder of his fragile wife Dolores Chanal (Michelle Williams) by the arsonist Andrew Laeddis who may also be, unregistered, in the island. Meanwhile he's suffering from violent headaches, dreaming about his wife's murder, suffering from flashbacks to World War 2. And, to top it all off, there's a big storm coming.

If all of this combined makes it seem like there's an awful lot going on, you're right. But remember most of these events are red herrings. The film is packing in incident and characters to confuse you, to obscure the truth from your vision. Like the fog in the opening, we aren't meant to understand the full implications of the search until that thrid act reveal. Although you could read those last two paragraphs and in effect solve the entire mystery.

Marty knows what he's doing with the story, in what must be his most satisfying film since Goodfellas. The sensibility of the novel and the genre is a ball that Scorsese is more than happy to pick up and run with. Every underlined clue, every musical cue, every jumpy edit seems to be perfectly judged to reinforce the storys central conceit. It is both a pastiche and a modern response to the melodrams of the 40's and 50's where the heroine (usually) begins to doubt her own security and sanity The Spiral Staircase, Gaslight and Sorry, Wrong Number all come to mind.

To that end we also completely forget it's a Scorsese picture, wih it's use of a classical soundtrack and heavy handed symbolism it's about as far away from his past masterpieces as you can imagine. Only the concentration camp shoot out with it's relentless tracking shot is a clue to who you're working with.

In the lead role DiCaprio continues to grow as an actor, able to convey much with a look or a throwaway line. Even the more outre choices - like the completely gonzo scribbling - seem to fit with the characters arc. The way he plays the final scene by the doors of the asylum is incredible, a massive awareness of his situation combined with a confidence about the path he must follow.

I expect in 10 years time we'll look back at this period in DiCaprio's career (with this Inception and Clint Eastwood J. Edgar Hoover biopic) when he truly matured into the greatest actor of his generation

Ben Kingsley also givs a rare performance as the doctor in charge, slipping from playfulness through exasperation to dismissive sometimes within a single speech.

As you would expect in a Scorsese picture the design is solid, with Dante Ferretti's (Casino, Interview with the Vampire) production design inside Robert Richardson's (Inglorious Basterds, Powder Keg) lens meaning every frame is a piece of art.

Overall this is a wonderful throwback to the films of yore, only let down by it's lack of ambition, with no commentary about the world outside of the film.

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Penélope Cruz


Happy Birthday to

Penélope Cruz

36 today


As an actress Cruz has her limits (basically anything where she isn't Spanish) however when she's godd she's fantastic. And whether scene stealing with wild abandon in Vicky Cristina Barcelona or owning the screen in her collaborations with Pedro Almodovar or even when struggling to convince in high concept American fare like Vanilla Sky she's always immensely watchable. Next up (apart from a minor role in Sex and the City 2) is as Blackbeard's (Ian McShane) daughter in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. It'll probably be rubbish but I can't wait to see it.

Of course I couldn't let hr birthday go by without celebrating her most recent Oscar nod. Here she is making a Call from the Vatican.

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Monday, 26 April 2010

Marianne Jean-Baptiste


Happy Birthday to

Marianne Jean-Baptiste

43 today


Marianne started in the Mike Leigh ensemble, first on stage then setting the screen alight as the optometrist searching for her birth mother and finding Brenda Blethyn in Secrets and Lies. Since then whilst she's continued to perform in both mediums (as well as releasing a Blues album) her Television career has been the most succesful, garnering acclaim for her work in the CBS series "Without a Trace". And no Takers is not something I'm looking forward to.

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Sunday, 25 April 2010

Renée Zellweger


Happy Birthday to

Renée Zellweger

41 today


It's one of those big questions that sorts generations, like

Where were you when Diana died?

Did you ever think Obama would be president?

And, do you remember when Renee Zellweger was good?

She was you know, but it was a very long time ago. She's got My Own Love Song coming up, but that's had such an awful response at Tribeca that you've got to feel for her.

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Saturday, 24 April 2010

Film News (24/04/2010)

This week the news came in a fortuitous drip drip with each day bringing in a different story that caught my eye. There's a fair selection of children's films, comedies and biopics, with inspired on true events being up there too. Nothing that you could reasonably call a new drama mind, which is a shame, but you can't have everything.

Oz: The Great and Powerful

With the news that Bond 23 has been postpones indefinitely by MGM comes the unexpected gap in Sam Mendes schedule. Depending on which rumours you listen to he might end up returning to the theatre, or he might be be directing this origins story for Disney about the beginnings of The Wizard of Oz and his perilous journey from Omaha to Oz. Robert Downey Jr. is in line to play the lead. Apparently this will not interfere with the highly anticipated movie version of Wicked, which is certainly a relief.



The Wizards entrance in the 1939 film.

Read on for catchy pop music, Gothic fairy tales, British explorers, American Cops and Woody Allen surprising everyone. As well as the latest changes in the UK release schedules.



Brooklyn Loves Michael Jackson

Spike Lee's joints haven't been doing so good lately. The Miracle at St. Anna failed to secure a UK release and since then he's been focusing on New Orleans documentaries and hanging out with Kobe Bryant. For those of you who have missed him the good news is that he will be returning to mainstream movies with Brooklyn Loves, a project that will look at both the response to the death of the king of pop and the changes in Brooklyn society over the last 20 years. The cast looks to include regular Samuel L. Jackson as well as Anthony Mackie, Julianne Moore and Rosie Perez.

The Girl with the Red Riding Hood

Pre-production on Catherine Hardwicke's moody teen upgrade of the classic Grimm fairytale is moving on with a tentative cast being announced. Amanda Seyfried (Dear John, Mamma Mia - left) will be taking the lead with Shiloh Fernandez (Cadillac Records) as the hunky Woodcutter she has a thing for. So far so blah, but the intriguing news is that Julie Christie and Gary Oldman are circling major supporting roles and as we all know every film improves when you add quality British thesps.

Mallory

The English explorer and mountaineer George Mallory (right), who famously disappeared whilst attempting to climb Everest in 1924, is due to have his life story transformed into film. It's certainly a tale that should be told, with Mallory's instinctive passion for rock climbing (he's behind the extraordinary "Because it's there" quote) and chronicling the upper middle class family he's left behind will make a nice counterpoint. Julia Roberts and Kevin Townsend are producing.

Midnight in Paris

Woody Allen's next film has a name. Now there's a shocker that deserves thinking about for a while. A long time before he needs to, and a long time before it is his habit too Allen has started to announce some of the details: including the title and the plot which revolves around a family trip to Paris where a young couple yearn for a more interesting life. Sounds like Rebecca Hall's part in Vicky Cristina Barcelona to me.

Rampart

Oren Moverman will be reteaming with his Messenger stars Woody Harrelson and Ben Foster for the big screen adaptation about the successes and failures of the Rampart division of the LAPD and the CRASH project (insignia of which is on the left), including references to it's infamous late 90's scandals. The script is by crime writer James Ellroy so expect some clever plotting and lots of characters.

Release Date News

Brooklyn's Finest - If it's dirty cops you want to see, he says nicely segueing from the last news story, then you could certainly do worse than this Antoine Fuqua movie with Richard Gere, Don Cheadle and Ethan Hawke all on the wrong side of the right side of the law. It's time to hand in your badge on 11 June 2010.

Tetro - We were first promised Francis Ford Coppola's Argentina based familial drama last summer, but at least we have a chance to watch it this summer. Reminisce about your distant parents on 25 June 2010.

Tamara Drewe - Fresh from the news of it's Cannes premier comes a UK release for Stehen Frears' modern update of Far from the Maddening Crowd. Choose between the town and country on 10 Spetember 2010.

Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps - Moving again is Oliver Stones 25 fives years later sequel with Michael Douglas and Shia LaBeouf - this time it's forwarda few weeks so you can't read anything too negative in that. Make a fortune on the markets on 01 October 2010.

Another Year - It's our third Cannes premier in a row as we get a release date for Mike Ligh's latest slice of British miserableism. Find your inner hurt on 05 November 2010.

Love and Other Drugs - Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway reteam for this viagra based comedy from director Ed Zwick. Pick yourself up with a pill on 31 December 2010.

Morning Glory - Unfortunate run of titles but the Harrison Ford/Diane Keaton newsanchors getting a dose of humility comedy has moved to early 2011 following from it's shift in US release dates. Read the news with no trousers on 07 January 2011.

I'm going to end with the music video for Michael Jackson's They don't really care about us. Purely because it's the last time that Spike Lee worked with Jacko:




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Barbra Streisand


Happy Birthday to

Barbra Streisand

68 today


Babs clearly takes a lot of things in life too seriously, having not directed a film (or starred in many) since 1996's poorly received The Mirror Has two Faces. Still there's always a Meet the Fockers sequel coming soon. Shudder. In the meantime please enjoy no-one raining on her parade from the film that made her a star:

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Friday, 23 April 2010

Out this Week (23/04/10)

With the summer silly season nearly upon us (Iron-Man 2 opening in 7 days) it's the last chance for the studios to give us some interesting arty fare before th multiplexes are block booked, so whilst this week is far from being classic there are some minor gems to be had. Film of the week goes to Agora, although Dogtooth runs it a very close second.



Agora

Fresh from the news she's playing Jackie Kennedy, Rachel Weisz also opens another biopic about a tragic heroine. In Agora she plays the titular Roman philosopher who is eventually assassinated for her secularism. Director Alejandro Amenábar is constantly on the verge of brilliance so this should be one to watch.

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



Centurion

More Swords and Sandals as Michael Fassbender's Centurion (natch) has to run the length of Britain escaping a marauding group of Picts. From Neil Marshall so it will be bloody and repetitive, I should imagine.

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

Cherrybomb

Little Ron Weasley from the Harry Potter films has all grown up, and to prove it he'll take his top off and get a bit rebellious in the Northern Ireland based teenager drama.

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

Dance with Me

The coveted one star excitometer is given to this British set Revolutionary Road rip off, with a couple of unknowns giving it all screaming at each other as their relationship blows apart.

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

Date Night

I really liked the trailer, for this comedy abut a middle aged couple (TV supremos Tina Fey and Steve Carell) trying to respark their relationship with it all going wrong, but apparently it's less than the sum of it's parts. Although the parts include Taraji P. Henson and lots of shirtless Mark Wahlberg so maybe it's worth seeing after all.

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

Dogtooth

Very highly praised Greek film about a repressive family who have kept their children fully isolated from the outside world up until early adulthood. Explores the nature of freedom and social understanding of others.

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

Extract

There was a time when people were really talking up expectations for this essence factory set black comedy with the talented Jason Bateman in the lead, but a middling US release at the end of last year has pretty much scupperd it's chances. Maybe it'll grow on DVD.

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

It's a Wonderful Afterlife

Gurinder Chadha hasn't yet managed to top her achievements with the break-out multicultural hit Bend it like Beckham and it doesn't look like this is the film to do it either. A Hindu mother obsessed with marrying off her frumpy daughter starts poisoning people who get in her way of that perfect wedding.

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

The Joneses

Commercial satire about a fake family who are paid to do product placements in the community. Trailer lacks some bite as the make believe world crosses over into the lives of the protagonists, but it's a nice idea that deserves some investigation.

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

Life During Wartime

Todd Solondz returns to the themes and characters of his 1998 arthouse hit Happiness only with a completely different cast filling out the roles of the sisters the film revolves around. Not as uncomfortable as the original, Solondz doesnt aim the mirror right back at us this time. Bizarre cast includes Charlotte Rampling, Michael Lerner and Paul Reubens.

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

Sky Crawlers

Japanese animation, from the people behind Ghost in the Shell, about a group of permanent adolescents living life to the full as they are pitted in wars as a form of entertainment. Sounds complex enough. Rinko Kituchi is one of the key voice performers.

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

And missing from last weeks rundown was

In Ghost House Inn

Ashokan reprises his signature role of Thomas Kutty and buys a bungalow in Ooty; the property is believed to be haunted by the ghost of a woman who was killed 70 years before. This is a Malayaman film from India. I'd never even heard of the Malayaman language.

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

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Thursday, 22 April 2010

Hachi: A Dog's Story

2009. Dir: Lasse Hallström. Starring: Richard Gere, Sarah Roemer, Joan Allen, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa and Jason Alexander. ●●●●○



It's no secret that I like the simple things in life. I have lost count of the number of times I have said in reviews that a simple story well told can reach the highest level of film-making. So it was with great delight that I watched Hachi: A Dog's Story, a simple dog's story.

Based on a true story, only transplanted to a more sellable US setting, the film explores the fundamental relationship between one man and his dog as Music Professor Richard Gere adopts an Akita puppy he finds at the local train station. Through each other they learn what a true friend is. Spoilers follow after the jump.



We are treated to watching the two of them bond for an hour, Gere trying to teach Hachi (Japanese word for 8) how to fetch, Hachi's insistence on following his master to the town station; this is especially important as Hachi develops a routine whereby he follows his master every morning, then returns at 5 to pick him up. They share moments of elation, comfort and misery. As a previous dog owner myself I fully appreciate falling asleep on the couch with dogs on your lap and being told they we must all stay there because something has been chewed.

Then, suddenly, Hachi won't follow his pack leader and in a bizarre twist of behaviour takes Gere his ball. Everything that sets Hachi apart from other dogs is turned on it's head. There's even a burst of aggresive barking. We are lead to believe that Hachi is exhibiting his dissatisfaction at being treated lower on th social strata within the pack - Gere's daughter had annouced her pregnancy and he had also spent more time with his testy wife (Joan Allen giving a flawlessly underplayed performance - nicely tipping the audience off to the history of the family and their relationships).

The behavioural differences turn out to be more complex when out of the blue Gere collapses in his lecture hall, breathing his last and letting the ball Hachi had passed to him roll out of shot. The dog then mounts a vigil, returning to the train station each night to wait for his former master who will never return.

The story is mawkish, sentimental and signposts all the plot developments early on. Nevertheless it can be forgiven these flaws for the simple reason that it works. That sense of loneliness and loyalty the film evokes in it's third act is so profound that there literally wasn't a dry eye in the house (I personally wept like a baby).

I will critisize the bookending (why do they do it?) as Gere's grandson - who you will remember never met his grandfather - relates the story to his class. This is certainly a step too close to bathos and the grotesque image of pre-pubescent schoolchildren pretending to cry nearly killed off the emotions felt in the rest of the film.

The performances were serviceable throughout with the notable stand-out of the dog's playing Hachi. The pup wo played him in the early scenes particurlarly displayed a shocking range, along with serious come-to-bed eyes.

The dog vision segments were inventive using a bleached black and white footage and muffled soundtrack, but needed more of them to fully appreciate how they worked to establish the relationships, especially as the film focussed well on the co-dependence of the relationship. Well done to d.p. Ron Fortunato (Before the Devil Knows You're Dead, Catch a Fire).

Lasse Hallström did a fine anonymous job in the directors chair, it's may not be up there with his Swedish output but he crafted a better movie than he's made for a long time.

Overall Hachi was a fine example of what every dog-based film should be. An uplifting portrayal of that very special relationship between a man and his best friend.

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Jack Nicholson


Happy Birthday to

Jack Nicholson

73 today


There are some actors who need no introduction. Three time Academy Award winner Jack Nicholson is one of them. If I had just said happy birthday Jack on it's own in todays post everyone would'v known who I was taliking about. Next up seeshis long awaited reunion with James L. Brooks in How do you Know, they have a really successful history so maybe it's time for Oscar 4.

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Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Alice in Wonderland

2010. Dir: Tim Burton. Starring: Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Anne Hathaway and Crispin Glover. ●●●○○



Back on the 5th March the 2010 year of film really started, sure I had seen 8 films in cinemas already, but Alice in Wonderland was the first of my top 20 films for 2010, it was among the elite that had sparked my attention before the year had even vaguely begun. I am sad to say that it was also the first minor disappointment from that list.

Effectively this is a sequel to Lewis Carroll's well-loved children's nonsense novels in which Tim Burton - notably backed by Disney - returned Alice (Mia Wasikowska - Defiance) to a Underland torn apart with civil strife. With Alice recast as a saviour to the populace, forever destined to slay the Jabberwocky.


It all begins with an utterly pointless and ill-conceived bookend involving a snotty suitor proposing to Alice in front of a crowd of unpleasant toffs. Naturally these segments are there to show how our heroine fails to fit into the real world, and how she grows in confidence to be able to confront these caricatures by the end of the film. It's a dreadful idea but at least it's mercilly quick.

Running away from the problem leads Alice to fall back down the rabbit hole, having forgotten her previous visit she falls into the same mistakes (drinking, eating, leaving keys on tables etc.) as the last time, only without the buckets of tears. Of course she meets all the characters we know and love from the books, including the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp), The Red and White Queens (Helena Bonham Carter and Anne Hathaway) and The Cheshire Cat (Stephen Fry), as well as a host of British establishment actors in the other roles (Matt Lucas, Michael Sheen, Alan Rickman, Timothy Spall, Imelda Staunton).

This being a 3D kids film there then follows a few chase scenes, some silly jokes and pointy things being pointed at the camera to prove the 3D works. There are some moments of mild peril - crossing the moat or the final confrontation - but on the whole these are pretty tame due to the target audience.

It's hard to know whether it hit the right balance, in excess of $300m in the U.S. receipts seems to indicate it got it right, even when adjusted for 3D premiums. Personally I would have liked to have seen a much scarier version - I think kids can take a lot more fears than we give them credit for - maybe even to the level of Pan's Labyrinth or Tideland both of which clearly owe a debt to Carroll's work. Perhaps a little less action would have been preferable as well. I've found that following too many chase sequences together can be really boring.

On the plus side the design, as you would expect from a Burton film, is fantastic with Art director Stefan Dechant (Avatar) proving once again that he can master an imaginery world. Colleen Atwood's (Silence of the Lambs, Big Fish) costumes were also first class, although frankly I would have been surprised if she hadn't pulled it off here.

I would also like to congratulate two of the performers who really stood out for me, and I don't include Johnny Depp whose performance was utterly baffling. The first was a triumph of casting in Barbara Windsor as the Dormouse, capturing the fierceness of the animated character (even if it wasn't in keeping with the origins). The second was Helena Bonham Carter, who clearly relished in every moment of her screentime, some of her line readings were absolutely delicious ("I do like a fat pig to keep my feet warm", anyone?) and i would glady watch the film again just to see her.

Overall I would say this was a missed opportunity, but enough moments work for it to be worth a visit.

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Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Tuesday Trailers: Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

Nice use of double colons in the title there - I'm feeling quite proud of that. I must confess that my little crush on Jake Gyllenhaal (I pretty much confessed to that on Saturday's news post) means that I won't be able to miss the cinemas when this big dumb action flick comes out. Sure it'll be typical Bruckheimer rubbish, but Jake has his abs out so I'm there.



Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is released on 21 May 2010.

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Ryan O'Neal


Happy Birthday to

Ryan O'Neal

69 today


It was only when looking for Ryan's pic that I realised how much he's been through in recent years - what with the assault charges, losing Farrah Fawcett and the relentless press attention. It makes you wish we could just go back to his early promise in the 70's and start all over again.

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Monday, 19 April 2010

Kate Hudson


Happy Birthday to

Kate Hudson

31 today


I don't have much to say for Kate's birthday. Only that I personally was generally positive about her performance in Nine, even if most people weren't. Thank you.

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Sunday, 18 April 2010

Eric Roberts


Happy Birthday to

Eric Roberts

54 today


Can you believe Julia's big brother is as old as 54, they seem to grow up so fast. I remember when people were saying he might have an really interesting career ahead of him, and whilst it's true Eric hardly seems to have stopped workig (12 projects on the go according to imdb) they mostly look like straight to DVD dreck. It's a real shame.

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Saturday, 17 April 2010

Film News (17/04/2010)

Of course the biggest news this week is the release of the Cannes line-up. Never ones to mix-up the formula this years competition is dominated by films from known and respected male auteurs. Of them there are a few that I would definitely like to be in the crowd to guage the response as it happens. Curiously I was invited as a plus one, but as my friend is a yellow badge and has her own film to plug I don't think it would be much fun.

Of most interest to me are the two entries that made my top 20 [anticipated films] for 2010: Alejandro Gonzales Innaritu's Biutiful and Mike Leigh's Another Year. In the competition I'd also be intrigued to see La Princesse du Montpensier and Utomlyonnye Solntsem 2 from Bertrand Tavernier and Nikita Mikhalkov respectively.

Outside of the competition my tastes are more mainstream. Robin Hood, You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, Wall Street 2 - Money Never Sleeps you all know about, bu I'll also be interested to hear the word from Stephen Frears' Tamara Drewe which I wasn't expecting for another year at least.

Anyway let's march on to the usual mix of film and casting news.

Jackie

I think it goes without saying that Darren Aronofsky loves his wife deeply (I imagine if I was married to the lovely Rachel Weisz I would be pretty enamoured too) in teir last collaboration - the divine but confused The Fountain - she essentially played his muse through 10 centuries, the love between Hugh Jackman's stand-in and Weisz being the universes only true constant. So it is hardly surprising that Aronofsky has cast her in his latest biopic of the iconic first lady Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy.

The film will document the days between JFK's assassination and the funeral as Jackie must cope publicly and privately with the grief, pain and expectations of the nation.


This picture is stolen from awardsdaily.com, but you get a chance to see the subject and the performer together. (Thank you, by the way)

It's the sort of role that any actress would kill for, and I would imagine that Darren knows what he's doing. I just hope he is able to objectif the performance more, in The Fountain he was so busy adoring Rachel with the camera that she came across as one-dimensional and this role deserves more than that.

Read on for rebellious dancing, art house pastiches, drunken footballers and an unusual case of fraud (sounds like a great saturday night).



Footloose

The endless delays on the Footloose remake have led to another star and director moving through the revolving door of it's production office. So to recap Chace Crawford is out (following Zac Efron) as is Kenny Ortega. And whilst there is no news on the lead (although Zac's diary is looking free again) Craig Brewer has taken the reins. Yes, that's the same Craig Brewer who made Christine Ricci all sweaty in Black Snake Moan. Suddenly I'm very intrigued.

I heard You Paint Houses - and offshoot

Bobby DeNiro has been babbling on about his next collaboration with Martin Scorsese as if it's planned to start soon (whereas we all know Marty has Hugo Cabret and Silence on his slate first). I suppose if I was De Niro I'd want people excited about this too, so you can't blame him. So far it's all be a retread of the previous rumours, that they're working together on the biopic of alleged mob assassin Frank Sheeran who may or may not have killed Jimmy Hoffa, expect that he's also announced a side project to be filmed at the same time. In his own words:

"We have a more ambitious idea, hopefully, to make it a two-part type of film or two films. It’s an idea that came about from Eric Roth to combine these movies using the footage from ‘Paint Houses’ to do another kind of a [film that is] reminiscent of a kind of 8 1/2, La Dolce Vita, [a] certain kind of biographical, semi-biographical type of Hollywood movie — a director and the actor — based on things Marty and I have experienced and kind of overlapping them."

Now if that doesn't get you all excited then I don't know what will.

Namath

Now that Jake Gyleenhaal is officially buff he's obviously looking around for a greater variety of roles that will show this off (something for which we are all grateful), one of these is the biopic of American Footballer Joe Namath. I confess I know nothing about who this fella is - feel free to enlighten me in the comments - but I'm sure that any American Football movie will have plenty of time for the camera to linger over Jake as he hits the team bath.


Mmmm.


Untitled Bill Anthony Jakob biopic

Our fourth, and last, biopic of the week is almost certainly the least known of the subjects. Above we've had President's wives, mob enforcers and athletes, but somehow I think Jakob's story could be just as much fun. In 2008 Jakob descended on a sleepy Missouri town claiming to be a Federal agent and wiping the crime from the streets. He was extraordinarily successful. Only he wasn't a fed, just an ardinary guy trying to make a difference. Like a real life superhero. Of course the real FBI arrested him for fraud. It'll be interesting to see which way screenwriter Clark Gregg goes with this bizarre tale.

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Friday, 16 April 2010

Out this week (16/04/2010)

It's not a classic week of releases, but it's safe to say that a number of the films coming out are generally looking good. There's also a "twin" theme which I'm very pleased to see. I'm personally going to be checking out the thinly veiled Blair film (only 3 weeks until the election) and Channing Tatum's abs, but I think the top film of the week, and this is based purely on the very high standard of reviews, will be Cemetery Junction.



Beeswax

Our first twin film, from the mumblecore movement, has identical sisters Jeannie and Lauren face major decisions in the way they go forward in their lives. It's low-key approach and lack of plot direction may turn off some viewers.

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


Boogie Woogie

A satire of the London Art circle, that neither appears to be funny nor terribly satirical. Probably best to go back to the Banksy doc from a few weeks ago.

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

Cemetery Junction

Slice of life comedrama from Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, follows three friends in Reading as they face the transition into the patterns that may will set the rest of their life. Christian Cooke is the lead character (getting a job selling insurance) but it's Ralph Fiennes as his boss and Emily Watson that are the draws for me.

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

City of Life and Death

The siege of Nanjing is in vogue these days, with John Rabe coming out a couple of weeks ago. This Chinese film is certainly getting the better notices and would certainly be a great choice for anyone interested in that period of the 20th century.

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

Crying with Laughter

It's the dark side of Facebook as stand-up Stephen McCole falls in with a sinister ex-classmate in Edinburgh. This is a drama, not a comedy mind, as the plot revolves heavily around sexual abuse.

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

Dear John

Amanda Seyfried falls in love with Channing Tatum's abs in this weepie from Nicolas Sparks (The Notebook). Did well in the States, should do well here, but won't be box office champ.

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

The Ghost

Pierce Brosnan plays ex-Prime Minister Adam Lang (not Tony Blair) and Ewan MacGregor his unnamed ghost writer in this thriller adapted from the Richard Harris novel and directed by Roman Polanski. Should be right up his street.

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

Give me your Hand

Our second film about twins, this time boys, has a very different tone as the 18 year olds hitchhike to their mothers funeral and have romantic and sexual encounters on the way (note gay interest here...)

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

The Heavy

Good timing for this British thriller about a Prime Ministerial candidate whose brother has shady links with the underworld. Oddball cast include Vinnie Jones, Stephen Rea and Christopher Lee.

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

Paathshala

This weeks obiligatory Bollywood entry. The not-so-promising tagline: "Teaching is a noble profession".

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

Repo Men

Forest Whitaker and Jude Law play repossion men in the future, only they're not here to take your TV, they're here to take your kidney. I don't like the future.

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

Veda AtatUrk Farewell

Turkish biopic of the soldier and master politician who unified the Ottoman Empire. Probably no a hatchet job.

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

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Thursday, 15 April 2010

Ondine

2010. Dir: Neil Jordan. Starring: Colin Farrell, Alicja Bachleda, Dervla Kirwan, Stephen Rea and Alison Barry. ●●●●○



For those of you who read all of my reviews you will know that coming out of Leap Year I was considering giving up on cinema altogether. Luckily the next film I went to see was the dreamy and delightful Ondine.

In the film Colin Farrell's recovering Alcoholic fisherman, Syracuse, discovers the titular semi-naked lady (Alicja Bachleda) in his net. Her accent is indistinguishly foreign, she is nervous about meeting new people and she has no memory from before she was in the water. Naturally his daughter, played precociously but pitched perfectly by Alison Barry, starts to believe Ondine is a type of Mermaid.



From this deceptively simple premise builds a complex story where you, as the viewer, must choose whether you believe that Ondine really is a mermaid or whether there is something darker behind her mysterious appearance. As it's a fairy story at heart the various sidelines in the plot, which include Barry's kidney disease, chronic alcohol abuse and strangers in the village all fold into that main question.

Colin Farrell gives a superb performance here, as he always does when in loveable rogue territory, clearly portraying the pressures and conflicts he faces as a result of his latent addiction and the tough decisions that need to be made by a parent. As a result you completely believe everyone of his relationships with his family and community. Whilst Bachleda has less to work with, essentially playing a cypher, she retains the mystery throughout her performance, and her physicality is such that you just don't know the answer to that central enigma.

The rest of the supporting cast is fine, rather than good, although Stephen Rea's priest is a sardonic delight.

Neil Jordan is an assured hand directing this sort of adult fairytale and he fully takes us to a semi-fantastic alternative worldview. There were times I was so caught up with the action that I wanted to shout at the screen - always a good sign - especially when Farrell slips off the wagon.

I would also like to heartily recommend the cinematography, not that Christopher Doyle (Rabbit-Proof Fence, Paranoid Park) needs my praise, but it's truly invaluable to maintaining the mood. As was Kjartan Sveinsson's original music.

Overall this was a beautiful mood piece, only let down by the slightness of the tale and perhaps a inconsistency of tone (it's for young adults, not children).

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Emma Thompson


Happy Birthday to

Emma Thompson

51 today


You know they say you should never meet your heroes? Well I think meeting Emma Thompson would probably be quite safe, there are few actresses that come across as normal and fun loving as she does in interviews. She's just come off a fanastically busy year culminating in te acting/writing gig of Nanny McPhee so it's no wonder she's taking a bit of a break from the screen right now.

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Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Leap Year

2010. Dir: Anand Tucker. Starring: Amy Adams, Matthew Goode, Adam Scott, John Lithgow and Neal O'Donovan. ●○○○○



I am, at last, returning to the shocking load of outstanding reviews. You could say I was perfectly entitled to procrastinate as job number one is the unenviable task of reviewing Anand Tucker's Leap Year. I suppose I could sum up my poinions of it by saying I want my money (and possibly the two hours of my life) back, but there were some - very minor - positives so here goes.

For those of you far more savvy to the dangers of rom-com hell than I am here is the back of a fag packet version of the plot: 20 something decorator (Amy Adams, looking more and more like an excited rodent - honestly she should join up with Renee Zellweger's squinty guinea pig and they could do a live action Wind in the Willows) in a long-term relationship (with dull Adam Scott, acting dull-ly) and desperate to marry follows her beau to Picture postcard Ireland to propose to him on February 29th. Only to land on the wrong end of the country. She gets a lift with hunky local barman (Matthew - actually quite - Goode) and craaazzeeee stuff happens.



Oh, where to begin. I will ignore the dodgy geography, the crude stereotyping and even the twee moralising as all of these are Hollywood Ireland tropes that have become as much a part of the legend of the Emerald Isle as the reality (and you only have to look at a film like The Quiet Man to know those factors aren't really an issue at all). In fact as an advert for Ireland it works very well - I know I want to go back to take another look now I've seen the rolling countryside and beautiful scenery.

Amy Adams is a very pretty and very talented actress, but I'm not sure if these work as a combination. If you look at her last two performances - in this and Julie and Julia she tries so hard to be likeable as well that she comes across as smug and grating. Perhaps the doe-eyed innocent really is the limit of her capabilities.

Matthew Goode fares slightly better, in a rogueish sort of way, but that's possible due to the set-up where you're comparing his devil-may-care live-life-to-the-full attitude to the practical Scott. Even so it's less of a performance than a caricature - and it pares horribly in comparison to A Single Man.

I'd also like to point out that John Lithgow was in this movie, as Amy's drunk Irish father. Of course you know he's in the movie because he's in the trailer - not that you'd know from watching the movie where his screen time is less than it is in the trailer. Really. It's a worrying trend of putting scenes in the trailer that don't make it to the film but I'll rant about that some other time.

The writing is fairly by the book, with every twist and turn coming a mile off and no cliche left unturned. Anand Tucker's direction is also terribly pedestrian, he appears to be regressing in his ability and all the majesty he created in Hilary and Jackie now seems like a very distant memory.

There were some nice moments - the kitchen scene was special and for the one moment in the film you felt there was some chemistry between the two leads - but on the whole these were too few and far between to make the slightest difference. It remains my second one star film for 2010. I hope to God [or at least I did at this point bearing in mind I've been to the cinema 4 more times since then] I start seeing better movies soon.

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Adrien Brody


Happy Birthday to

Adrien Brody

37 today


Career-wise I'm not sure of what to make of the Academy Awards youngest ever best Actor winner. On the one hand he has done plenty of high-profile pictures in the last 5 years (The Village, King Kong, Cadillac Records) but on the other hand he still appears to be a niche actor who is barely noticeable in those films. Next up is Predators (which I confess I have no interest in seeing) but it could be his last chance to prove he can holdthe centre of a big effects movie.

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Monday, 12 April 2010

Saoirse Ronan


Happy Birthday to

Saoirse Ronan

16 today


Saoirse (which I always think I'm spelling incorrectly) has had a fantastic start to her career. Working with high quality directors as diverse as Gillian Armstrong, Joe Wright and Peter Jackson and picking up her first Oscar nod for the complex and undertstaed performance as young Briony Tallis in Atonement. Later this year she'll be in the hotly anticipated The Way Back and she's currently filming the assassin thriller Hanna. Which means there are at least two good reasons to keep an eye on her career.

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Sunday, 11 April 2010

Personal News (11/04/10)

I've been trailering this post for the last week and a bit, so I'm very hopeful that I'll get a few hits on it. In essence it's a breakdown of the recent changes in my life, but maybe it's a lot lot more.

I have now moved to Manchester. It's a vibrant and exciting city with - I hope - a few more chances for me to make my mark. The tour of "Of Mice and Men" is over - I am currently being offered another tour, but I'm still umming and ahhing about that (well it's a workshop based tour rather than show based which might just be tour much like teachig - any thoughts please let me know). I am, of course, unemployed right now. Except for a bar job I'm managed to get for Saturday nights at the Rembrandt on Canal Street, which was a lot of fun last night. And tomorrow I'm spending a couple of hours on stand-by for Office Angels. And today I filmed a student film; Doug. But apart from that it's been very quiet with no longer term prospects coming up.

All this is window dressing, mind, as we move to the reveal of Dead Weight, the short film I made back in January. I have to day I thik it's brilliant. Managing to really accentuate the comedy in the script and the situation. Of course the credit for that lies with the director John Bale and his very talented production company - Project Darklife.

The film has now been accepted for the 3RD BABELGUM ONLINE FILM FESTIVAL - you can watch the film, and vote for it here.

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Joel Grey


Happy Birthday to

Joel Grey

78 today


I know we celebrated Joel's 77th last April, but I feel that he fully deserves a mention this year as well.

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Saturday, 10 April 2010

Film News (10/04/2010)

Bear with me here.

I say that because I know you're looking at the first film I'm mentioning and wondering why I'm leading with it. It's not that I've not gone all doolally over R.Pattz and K.Stew - the truth is the Twilight franchise is a massive juggernaut, last year's New Moon took nearly $300m in the States - more than A Christmas Carol and Angels & Demons (these just happen to be big releases that I watched at the cinema) combined. Aside from that we've had a good mix of casting news and some totally new projects to look out for.

Breaking Dawn

It's no surprise that the studios want to get Stephenie Meyer's last Twilight novel into production quickly - there's only so much of a shelf life for the phenomenon, as well as the actors involved. What is interesting is the lengths they'll go to try and ensure it's good quality product. Over the past few weeks there have been rumours of a number of high profile, good quality directors who have been approached to take the reins for the final film including Gus van Sant, Sofia Coppola and Stephen Daldry. However in the end they've plumped for Dreamgirls helmer Bill Condon.

It's an interesting choice as Condon isn't afraid to tackle sex straight on (just watch Gods and Monsters), something which the Twilight series is infamous for avoiding. I'm certainly beginning to sit up and take notice.



Cheaters

The Ron Howard/Vince Vaughn collaboration (the one with Vince spotting his best friends wife kissing another man) has found it's cheating heart in Winona Ryder. And of course it's great that she's back in major films. However most of the internet is focussing not on Winona great news but the misery of a certain other oscar-nominated actress who was desperate for the role but was turned down. I'm not going to name names but apparantly the poor reception of Motherhood has really soured this girls career.


Here's a picture of Winona and - oops, I don't know how that got here.









Dark Life

Sometimes I admit that I find myself drawn to kids films, like this young-adult underwater adventure story. Essentially it's about a boy growing up in seabed farm, who must fight to protect his way of life. I'm guessing that the seabed farms are within a protected bubble and that he's not a fish. Of course if he is a fish then I'm doubly in there.

The Heights

I guess if no-one else is adapting a film version of your novel then you have to do it yourself. Of course it helps if you're Oscar nominated screenwriter Peter Hedges (for About a Boy). He has decided his most recent novel about a normal suburban couple dragged into a complex and dark world by their mysterious new neighbour is too good to remain on the bookshelf so he's going to be putting it onto the big screen. I'm not sure if that couns as nepotism, although you an imagine his various agents and lawyers getting together to iron out the fee issues on this.

Mob Girl

Fighting prepubescent girls are all the rage now, what with Kick-Ass dominating the box offices (featuring the scene stealing Chloe Moretz as Hit Girl) and Hanna with Saoirse Ronan currently filming, so it was only a matter of time before a film with a title so brilliant as Mob Girl would be in production. Just say it out loud: MOB GIRL. Doesn't that just make you want to go?

Production News

Since the last time I outlined all the new films moving into production (according to imdb) a few months have passed, meaning that there's quite a few more for this month than I had anticipated. Of course the vast majority of these (or the following list) have been mentioned in the news columns of the past.

In no particular order these are:

Woody Allen's next picture with Marion Cotillard; Steven Soderbergh's flu virus drama Contagion; Paul Giamattis starring comedy Win Win; Freud love triangle The Talking Cure; Civil Rights epic Selma; WW2 in miniture movie A Little War of our Own; the biopics of notorious criminal Billy "Whitey" Bulger, Comic Richard Pryor and surfer Jay Moriaty (Black Mass, Is it something I said and Mavericks respectively); Internet Fraud comedy Help me Spread Goodness; and Lars von Trier end of the world picture Melancholia.

That's certainly an impressive list, full of films that most cinephiles will want to see. But the following new films moving into production have not been talked about at all:

State of the Union: Richard Gere reunites with his Pretty Woman director Garry Marshall for the remake of Frank Capra's 1948 classic about a presidential nominee whose wife teaches him that it's more important to be honest than to settle with the status quo.

Untitled Ernest Hemingway Biopic: Set to focus on the relationship between the American literary giant and war correspondent Martha Gellhorn, the inspiration for For Whom the Bell Tolls. James Gandolfini is cast for Hemingway.

The Big Year: A Birdwatching comedy with Jack Black, Owen Wilson and Steve Martin. Is already looking like the dullest movie of 2011!

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Omar Sharif


Happy Birthday to

Omar Sharif

78 today


In the 60's Omar managed the perfect feat of embodying two iconic characters both of which will be ingrained in cinematic memories forever. When Sherif Ali first appears, mirage-like, in the desert in Lawrence of Arabia we know we are being introduced to a genius but it's when he rushes to the window to see Lara's exit in Doctor Zhivago that seals the deal.

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Friday, 9 April 2010

Out This Week (09/04/10)

It's quite a quiet weekend, although frankly that's a good thing - I've been so busy that I've hardly had a time to stop and think; let alone got a chance to go to the cinema this weekend. I'll be letting you know all about it on Sunday with the personal news post (and what a post it will be). Still if I was going to the cinema this weekend I'd definitely be up for Drew Barrymore's directorial debut with Whip It.



I Am Love

Tilda Swinton gets a rare chance to lead a major film, albeit clearly European arthouse in it's feel. She plays a Russian immigrant in Italy married into a loveless and wealthy family who has an affair. Doubt it ends well.

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



I Know You Know

I had spoken about this film back in November, when it was originally scheduled for release, but here's a chance to ignore it again. Robert Carlyle is a distant father who's son slowly works out he's a MI5 agent. Based on a true story.

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

The Infidel

Gifted alternative comic David Baddiel's first movie script focuses on an Muslim father who shockingly finds out not only that he was adopted but that he was born Jewish. The trailer is very funny, but I worry that the hook is enough to sustain an hour and a half.

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

Prince

At one point this Bollywood actioner was subtitled It's Showtime, but I very much doubt that helps explains the sci-fi tinged heist movie that the trailer indicates - nor does it explain why one of the girls on the poster doesn't just look like she's been photoshopped in, but that a cardboard cut-out of her has been photo-shopped in.

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

Shelter

Did anyone notice Julianne Moore and Jonathan Rhys-Meyers making this? All of Rhys-Meyers' multiple personalities are murder victims and Moore must find out why before the credits role. Like a knock-off of Identity, then.

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

Whip It

If you like Roller derbys then you'll love this seventies throwback, with Ellen Page rebelling her middle class by joining the local team under the moniker Babe Ruthless. The great supporting cast includes director Drew Barrymore, Marcia Gay Harden and Juliette Lewis.

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

And last week I missed:

Jawani Zindabaad

But I can't write anything about it at all as there are no reviews, trailers or plot descriptions that I can find...

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

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Wednesday, 7 April 2010

James Garner


Happy Birthday to

James Garner

82 today


A true star of the small and big screens James was wowing fans back in "Maverick" during the late 50's before he made the smooth transition to cinema. My perfect Garner moment is that sly old grin when he sees Julie Andrews naked in Victor/Victoria and knows he's been right all along. What yours?

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Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Tuesday Trailers - Robin Hood

Now we're in April I can start to get really excited about films coming out in May, not least of which is my most anticipated film for the year: Robin Hood. I have my reservations about the general quality of Ridley Scott's work (he can never rise above his material) but this is a rip-roaring story with a suitably action packed trailer so I am definitely going to be there on opening night.



Robin Hood opens on 14 May 2010.

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Monday, 5 April 2010

Film News (05/04/10)

You would've thought that coming back after a few weeks off would mean there were literally hundreds of news stories to catch up on, however there have been surprisingly few. Perhaps it's just the wrong time of the year (post Oscars, pre summer) or perhaps the studios just aren't funding decent sounding films anymore? I know that right now there are only two films I want to see in each of the summer months, and with the current release dates set I'm currently looking at 34 films by the end of the year (down 8 on 2009). Still the following stories all caught my eye:

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Stephen Daldry has a serious reputation to protect, after all he has three best director nominations from three films - a bit of a record. So when he choses a project you know it's going to be serious and hard hiting. And Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is certainly hard hitting, based on the 2005 novel by Jonathan Safran Foer the film centres around a nine year old who lost his father in the September 11 attacks and has become obsessed with finding the lock that fits a key his father left him.

This could go either way but with Daldry's steady hand and Eric Roth providing the screenplay I'm fairly confident that it will flirt with pathos but won't drift into smaltz.



Click on the jump for Swedish remakes, a Leonardo DiCaprio double bill, tragic surfers and a subtly named whodunnit... As well as all the release date changes from my six weeks on tour.



The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

The first of the Millenium trilogy, the postumous works of Stieg Larsson, has barely opened in cinemas but with a huge following from the books it's no surprise that Hollywood is already working on an American remake. Set to direct the first will be David Fincher. This could be a perfect fit - the gothic sensibilities of the original and the macabre details could mark a return to the rain drenched streets of Se7en. Definitely one to keep your eyes on.

Hoover/Travis McGee

For you Leonardo DiCaprio fans out there it's always pleasing to see him trying new things - I personally believe he's one of the finest actors of his generation. Slowly he's proving himself as a box office draw even in more complex pictures (like last months Shutter Island) and that sort of pulling power will be absolutely necessary for the couple of projects I heard bandied about over the last few months. First up will be a straight biopics of J. Edgar Hoover, the man who created and ran the FBI. Incredibly powerful Hoover's long rumoured prediliction for cross dressing may mean this is a story just crying out to be told.

If the thrills you seek are a little more traditional then Leo's other film, Travis McGee, may be more up your street. It's essentially a knock off of the Bourne films which could mean a built in audience and sequel potential, as well as plenty of excuses to see cool fights and expensive hardware.

Mavericks

Extreme sports don't lend themselves well to the medium of film. It's not like you have a team of different characters who can work together to beat all the obstacles in their way. Nevertheless a biopic of surfer Jay Moriaty is in the works. Moriaty was a world class surfer, breaking many reords and taking on any challenges, until his untimely death, aged just 23. I'm hoping this will buck the trend.

Murder Mystery

Can you imagine anyone having the balls to call a film Murder Mystery? It seems there are Disney producers who thinks that's a good idea. James Vanderbilt's script follows a Honeymooning American couple who stumble across a body and consequent intrigue in Europe. I'm going to be shouting my guesses right at the screen when that one comes out.

Release Date News

The Ghost - Shifting back a few weeks (presumably because I've already loaded up the trailer) is Roman Polanski's latest venture. Discover a conspiracy involving an ex Prime Minister on 16 April 2010.

Wild Target - It had been due to clash with Rupert Grint's other post-Potter film Cherrybomb about a teenager finding love so this hitman comedy did the decent thing and changed it's date. Learn to be a cold blooded killer on 18 June 2010.

Whatever Works - The last of my top 20 for 2009 (yes really) has finally got a UK release date, oddly Woody Allen's latest has taken nearly a year to cross the Atlantic. Get all angsty on on 25 June 2010.

Wall Street: Money Never SleepsThe Ghost - However advanced the publicity campaign for this 25 year later sequel it wasn't enough to stop it falling back 6 months to rumours of poor test screenings. Find out if greed is good on 24 September 2010.

Next Three Days - Russell Crowe's wife is banged up for a crime she did not commit, and rather than go through the courts he decides to break her out. It's not as simple as it first seems. Try a prison break on 07 January 2011.

True Grit - The Coen brother remake of John Wayne's classic Western will be coming out during the height of the Oscar season - strange as Bridges has just won his statuette so they could spend a few more weeks in post if they wanted. Avenge your fathers murder on 14 January 2011.

I have had my share of disappointments these last few weeks with New York, I Love You losing it's UK release - it's still tentatively looking at an August date but I'm waiting for confirmation. Oh, when will I get to see this movie?


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Sunday, 4 April 2010

Christine Lahti


Happy Birthday to

Christine Lahti

60 today


Last seen in the excreable Obsessed Christine has had a long fall since her oscar nom for Swing Shift. Still at least she'll be getting royalties for all those Chicago Hope episodes she was in.

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Out These Weeks (19/03/10 - 02/04/10)

Yes, I have been away, which means I have missed out on previewing a good three weeks of films (whther that's three weeks of good films is perhaps more relevant). To tell you the truth I have been deliberately lazy with this. I could have popped into an internet cafe during both of the last couple of weekends, but I just couldn't face it. The overall quality of releases has been so poor I haven't wanted to make the effort to make it to a cinema. Nevertheless I feel I must catch up and tell you my picks for the film of the week, so in reverse order:

Released on 02 April 2010:

Kick-Ass



Released on 26 March 2010:

The Blind Side



Released on 19 March 2010:

I Love You, Philip Morris



Read on for the film synopsis' which I will try to kep within one sentence - now there's a challenge.



02 April 2010

Arjunan Kadhali

Hindi love film.

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

City of War

Or the story of John Rabe who ensured the survival of 250,000 Chinese peasants during the Japanese attack on Nanking in 1937-8.

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

Clash of the Titans

On of Antiquities more exciting tales adapted again for the big screen with Perseus slaying Medusa and the Kraken. Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes and Pete Postlethwaite turn up as Shiny Gods playing with us mortals.

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

Double Take

Rare documentary making it onto my list, as Alfred Hitchcock's obsession with doubles is deconstructions through clips and some fake reconstructions.

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

How to train your Dragon

Laugh out loud cartoon from Dreamworks with a nerdy viking making friends with an injured dragon which leads to a massive culture clash.

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

Kakera: A Piece of our Life

Lesbian dabblings at university in this Japanese drama.

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

Kick-Ass

The superhero genre gets deconstructed in this tale of a adolescent who puts on a cape to fight some bad guys, the 12 year old fould mouthed violent Hit Girl is bringing the publicity, Nicolas Cage has actually picked a decent project this time.

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

Paiyaa

The usual mix of action and love story in this import. I'm sorry I can't be bothered with anything I'm not already interested in.

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

Remember Me

For the Twilight fans R Pattz tries something different. I expect someone major in the plot dies horrifically hence the title. Chris Cooper and Lena Olin have supporting roles.

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

Sadiyaan

Based on actual events during the partition of India and Pakistan. Still involves singing and dancing.

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

Samson and Delilah

Lyrical account of a developing romance between two aboriginal teenagers. Critically lauded.

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

26 March 2010

Angardi Theru

Moved back again, look through previous posts to see if I had anything interesting to say last time...

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

The Blind Side

Sandra Bullock's Oscar winning performance as a uptight stinking rich white woman who adopts a homeless black teen - based on a true story. Kathy Bates co-stars.

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

Cok Filim Hereketler Bunlar

Turkish version of Valentine's Day - I think it's a big screen spin-off of a popular TV series in Turkey (not completely sure).

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

Hum, Tum Aur Ghost

Love story played between two people with opposing views on nearly every subject. Ho hum.

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

I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell

I think they call this a comedy, about a best man whose antics at the stag do are so notorious he's disinvited to the wedding.

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

Lad Gaya Pecha

Man falls in love wit a ghost - not your typical love story from the sub-continent.

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

Lion's Den

Brizilian Women's prison drama with no cliche left unturned as we are invited to watch children taken from their mother, guard brutality and incidental lesbianism.

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

Lourdes

Medidation on the ideas of faith and miracles that follows when a paralysed atheist is cured on a pilgrimage.

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

Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang

All star sequel (Emma Thompson, Ralph Fiennes, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Maggie Smith) to the hit anti-Mary Poppins children's film. The whole cast are clearly having a ball whilst keeping a stiff upper lip in the war years.

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

Nightwatching

Peter Greenaway direct Martin Freeman's cock in this dramatisation of Rembrandt's life around the time he was painting The Night Watch.

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

No One Knows about Persian Cats

The Persian Cats are an Iranian pop group trying to maintain their identity and the band where the idea of Western inspired music is considered sacriligious.

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

Not the Messiah (He's a very Naughty Boy)

Concert film of the oratoria based on Monty Python's Life of Brian as performed in the Royal Albert Hall in 2009. Probably not as good as the orginal film.

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

Perrier's Bounty

Cillian Murphy is on the run from loan shark gangster Brendan Gleason, accompanied by his coffee guzzling father Jim Broadbent and romantic interest Jodie Whittaker - better than your average gangster pic.

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

Romantik Komedi

If you couldn't guess from the title it's Turkish, and if I hadn't already described another film above as the Turkish Valentine's Day I'd be using that line here - so now I'm stumped.

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

Shank

No, not the gay happy slappers film which came out last year, but a completely unrelated movie about teenage gangs in a apocalptic vision of a future Britain.

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

Storm

An attempt to dramatise the legalistic procedures and diplomatic pressures when trying a mass murderer through the European Courts.

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

19 March 2010

Bounty Hunter

Gerard Butler and Jennifer Aniston both demonstrate how unfair the Hollywood system is that let's talentless shmucks like them headline. And they drag Cathy Moriaty down with them.

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

Ditching

More post-apocalyptic angst, this time set in Northern Ireland.

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

Dorothy

Irish suspense movie involving psychiatrists and ghosts and false allegations of child abuse.

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

Happy Ever Afters

Delayed comedy about mix-ups at two weddings taking place in the same venue.

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

House of the Devil

Now that irony is dead teenagers can once again babysit in scary houses and get picked on by malevolent spirits.

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

I Love You, Philip Morris

Jim Carrey goes gay and falls in love with his cell mate Ewan MacGregor in this ribald comedy from the writing team behind Bad Santa.

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

My Last Five Girlfriends

We are treated to a parade of the last five girlfriends of our protagonist as he tries to figure what he's doing wrong. The clue's in the title.

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

Old Dogs

John Travolta and Robin Williams together at last. Naturally the film is a pile of rotting flesh which no amount of cameos with Ann-Margret and Matt Dillon can save.

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

Salvage

British suspense actioner as a contained is washed up in a sleepy cul-de-sac making the hitherto quiet neighbours a violent and distustful mob.

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

Scouting Book for Boys

Thomas Turgoose continues to shine in this film about a teenager falling in love with his best friend as he hides her from here distructive family.

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

The Spy Next Door

Or Jackie Chan babysitting in this kids comedy. Given the righ audience I expect this will do well.

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

Staten Island

Ethan Hawke, Vincent D'Onofrio and Seymour Cassell play a septic tank cleaner, a deaf mute and a mob boss in the titular New York suburb. I don't know which is which.

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

Zonad

A rehab escapee manages to persuade a naive Irish Community that he's a visitor from outer space.

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


And two films missed from 12 March 2010

The Ape

Norwegian film about a man waking up to find his entire life has been erased.

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

Ay Lav Yu

Amazingly this is a Turkish film that manages to cast Steve Guttenburg and Mariel Hemingway as a visiting US coupl. I didn't even know Steve was still alive.

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

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