Monday, 31 May 2010

Tom Berenger


Happy Birthday to

Tom Berenger

61 today


In spite of the sterling work that Tom has done both prior to and since Platoon it's very hard to imagine him in any other role than his tyranical Sgt. Barnes, battling with Willem Dafoe over Charlie Sheen's soul. Saying that next up is Christopher Nolan's Inception which certainly looks like it'll be worth the wait.

Read More...

Sunday, 30 May 2010

Personal News (30/05/10)

I missed the whole personal post last week because I was - wait fot it - working!

I know, utter shock.

Basically following the rather unsuccessful visit to the 24/7 festival Big Gathering (no men needed it seems) I collected an awful lot of flyers and put my name against just about everything on offer. One of those was the Queer Up North's 18th Birthday Bash, where comedian Chris Green (who is most famous for the Tina C character) was unvailing his latest comic persona: stage hypnotist Derek Diamond.

They needed some volunteers to improvise around the themes of characters and to interact with the audience as they arrived. For the night I was Quentin Bullington, Radio 4 presenter. It was a lot of fun, even if I didn't quite manage to have the confidence to manipulate the audience in the way Chris described prior to the event (sorry about that, Chris). What I will say is that all of the main events were absolutely excellent, with Jess Love's skipping performance being particularily hilarious.

I also met some great people and this is always a great opportunity to build up contacts.

One of the people I met who might just be a good contact for work in the longer term (who I won't name as this is hardly the right forum for that) I bumped into the following day as I attended Scriptworks at the Contact theatre. Scriptworks is a forum for new writers to try out their pieces with actors reading their works sight unseen. There's then a chance of feedback from all the other attendees. If you are a North West based new writer then I really suggest coming along as there's a great opportunity for feedback on your work.

I confess that I know about as much about writing as I know about the internal combustion engine (I understand the priciples but wouldn't know where to start when presented with the real thing), but it is great to go along and help. So far, after two weeks of attending, I've heard some excellent pieces. I'm still a newbie there so I'm getting a bit too much attention due to my slightly posh voice. But I think in a couple of weeks I'll be known enough to just turn up, sit at the back and chime in when I agree or disagree with a particular point.

On Thursday I attended an audition for Theatre&, the Learning & Development company. I think it mus have gone reasonably well, if not stellar, as I have received an e-mail saying they've added me to the database for any upcoming jobs. That's obviously a good thing, but on the other hand it means they've not signed me up for a full-time contract.

For those of you waiting patiently for the results of the Normal Heart second audition, the bad news is that it still hasn't happened. We came tantalisingly close on Friday, but then the actor(s) the director wanted me to audition with couldn't make it so an alternative date needs to be announced. I've decided to start to grow an 80's moustache to help. (After all I've no other work getting in the way right now, may as well go all out.)

Read More...

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Musical Blog-a-thon

When Encore's World of Film & TV (have you read the blog? Well worth the visit) first mooted the idea of a Musical blog-a-thon I was initially sceptical. They may be a few corners of the web that will clear out throats and belt out a supportive tune for our own personal favourites but we are preaching to the converted. The rest of the world will shrug and carry on with their general disregard for this much maligned genre.

Therein lies the problem. Musicals are not, in themselves a genre, it's a style of storytelling and due to the theatricality of the style it can be off-putting. We do not, in life, suddenly burst into song so accepting characters to do the same requires a suspension of disbelief that is over and above most movie going experiences. It is not surprising therefore that 2 of the most critically acclaimed and commercially successful musicals from the last ten years have wavered from the traditional formula - Chicago played the musical numbers within the subconscious of the stars, and Moulin Rouge created a world where every act was theatrical and the singing was a natural extension of that world.

If the rise of naturalistic story telling has hampered the musical form what then is the future. There are currently few big budget musical productions being prepped, in the last 18 months of reading the news only 4 come to mind (forgive me if there are more); Steven Soderbergh's Cleo which appears to be going the over-theatrical route, 1990 Tony Award winner City of Angels which takes place in the mind of the main character, Nightclub based The Song is You where the music accompanies the story rather than propels it and the Carey Mulligan starring My Fair Lady update.

It's this last picture that I aim to focus on for the rest of the post. Partly because it's a story that can only be told in a naturalistic way, partly because the remake has a huge amount of responsibility and partly because I love the original so much. So read on for five reasons why My Fair Lady could rescue the Hollywood Musical, and one reason why it means so much to me.





1. The story is timeless

Alan Jay Lerner may have based his musical on George Bernard Shaw's 1913 hit play (albeit removing the tricky prologue and epilogue's and changing the ending) but that's story is simply a modern retelling of the Greek Myth popularised by Ovid. Pygmalion himself was a (fictional) sculptor who's love for his work is so great that the sculpture comes alive. This concept of a work of art coming to life through overwhelming desire is seen in variations as different as Frankenstein, Pinnochio and Laura. In Shaw's version Eliza Doolittle is no longer an inanimate object but the idea that working on her to make her more desirable will corrupt dialect expert Henry Higgins into falling in love is clearly reflective of the original story.

Here is Rex Harrison as Henry Higgins realising he loves his creation:



2. The songs are catchy

With musical theatre the score must either be so good that the listener appreciates the quality of the writing (see just about anything by Sondheim), or you need to leave the auditorium toe tapping away (try anything by Andrew Lloyd Webber). I won't pretend the music in My Fair is particularly well written, but by God it does make you want to join in.

Stanley Holloway's getting married in the morning - I expect you know this one.



3. The love story is complex and real

What exactly are the dynamics of the central romances in My Fair Lady? Well Freddy Enysford-Hill falls for Eliza on first meeting her. Eliza, who's father abandons her, has a thing for older man Higgins. Higgins devoutly states he will never let a woman in his life at the beginning, questions why women can't be more like men and when presented with Eliza on a plate (sorry about the spoiler) doesn't rush to hold her but leans back and asks for slippers (am I the only one wondering what the exact relationship between Higgins and Pickering - "What a fine pair of babies playing with their life size doll" - could be). In short everyone falls for the wrong person, and no-one knows how to truly express their feelings.

This is best expressed in Audrey Hepburn's (Marni Nixon's voice) dismissal of words:



4. It's so awfully British

Being set in Edwardian England has some great advantages for musicals. Primarily because we can understand every line of dialogue and singing (even the accents are very well enunciated), and partly because it will actually be easier to believe the characters breaking into song. Trust me it will work...

Rex Harrison explaining why English is so important.



5. Behind the scenes the craft is incredible

The original is beautiful, every scene is packed with gorgeous detail and period flourishes. Whilst the update will struggle to better it if it comes anywhere close to the creativity exhibited then it will be gorgeous to watch.

Here's the Ascot Gavotte which very nicely showcases the gorgeous costuming, frivolous design and impeccable choreography.



6. When I was a boy I knew every word

The very personal reason I want this to succeed is based on my own childhood. I am truly a child of the VCR, invented and mass produced when I was living in Hong Kong my family were one of the few people to have them when we returned to the UK. There were limited recordings available - naturally I wore out Star Wars and the few Disney titles that were around as well as an unhealthy fixation with Carry On films. My Grandparents were musical fans though and felt that the overt sexuality in Rodgers and Hammerstein pictures like South Pacific and Carousel was too much for me but that My Fair Lady, for all the reasons above, was more suitable. So every couple of weeks as a fresh faced 6 year old I would go to visit them and spend nearly three hours starring at Cecil Beaton's delightful costumes. I did, as I stated above, know every word. So it's very important to me personally that they get this new version right and not sully the original.

Read More...

Film News (29/05/10)

Did everyone enjoy the Cannes results last weekend, as much as I respect the judges opinions I think we can safely say the results this year, as will many of the films presented, will be relevant only to Cannes history and are unlikely to affect the movie going public. If Palme d'Or winner Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives even gets a UK release I will be pleasantly shocked. Moving on to the rest of th news there's been nothing earth shattering but these small stories have got my attention.

One Day

Did you know An Education helmer Lone Scherfig was making a rip off of Same Time Next Year? If so why didn't you tell me, I am quite curious. The premise of two romantic partners who meet one day every year (in this version it's on St Swithuns Day, 15 July) for twenty years is certainly stolen from the 1978 Robert Mulligan film, but I'm interested to see how Lone can update the rather cliched story (the character arcs are so obvious) and what she can do to make it less stagey. The casting certainly looks good with Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess in the leading roles.


St. Swithun, Bishop of Winchester from 852-862, is primarily known for the proverb:

St Swithun's day if thou dost rain
For forty days it will remain
St Swithun's day if thou be fair
For forty days 'twill rain no more

I'm not sure how that will be worked into the plot.

Read on for a Bruce Willis double, a really unlikely Sinatra and more titbits from Paul Thomas Anderson. As well as the latest shifts in UK box office releases.



Kane & Lynch/The Tomb

Bruce Willis (left) is not generally an actor that I wil queue up to see, in fact the last time I saw him in a leading role was 2006's 16 Blocks (I know, I know). But these two films both look like they could be fun and may just bring me back to reappraise his work. Kane & Lynch has been hanging around for some time, adapted from a computer game it sees two death row inmates escape and search for a stolen fortune. Kane (Willis) is a badass mercenary, Lynch (to be played by Jamie Foxx) is a schizophrenic. Doesn't that just sound barmy enough to work?

The Tomb is weirder still with master architect (Willis again) finding himself incarcerated in the inescapable prison he designed. He must find a way out and bring the people responsible for putting him there behind bars. Maybe it's a little too high concept or similar to "Prison Break" for it's own good, but it should be another chance for wisecracking Willis to perform.

Sinatra

Martin Scorsese is thinking of casting Al Pacino as Sinatra and Robert De Niro as Dean Martin in his forthcoming biopic - according to his comments on the Indian press circuit with Shutter Island. My message to Marty. Please don't do that, it's a big big mistake, don't go for names, find someone who can do the role without a load of baggage. Thank you.

Untitled Paul Thomas Anderson project

PT Anderson's new religion movie, which almost certainly isn't about Scientology (in spite of any superficial similarites) has gained a leading lady with Reese Witherspoon eyeing the project. She's a good actress, but she needs direction so her performance my well depend on the type of project this is. If it's an ensemble piece then she do well, if it's going o focus on Philip Seymour Hoffman's fanatic then expect Reese to irritate from the sidelines. We'll see.



I'm short of picture concepts today - so that's Reese in a dress on a red carpet.

Release Date News

Knight & Day - I do believe that Tom Cruise himself is afraid of clashing with World Cup football, how else do you explain the shift in release date of his latest caper until after the competition. Become a rogue agent on 06 August 2010.

The Town - Ben Affleck's last directorial gig was a surprise critical hit, unfortunately he's replaced his incredibly talented brother with his wooden self in this Bank Robber follow-up. Develop a Stockholm complex on 08 October 2010.

The Debt - The English language remake of the anti-Mossad Isreali picture couldn't be better timed, what with the Dubai assassination still big news. We'll just have to see if the marketing team use that. Find someone you thought was dead on 15 October 2010.

Social Network - David Fincher's facebook chronology may have shifted it's release date to clash with the film above, but I doubt there will be many crossover fans. Update your status on 15 October 2010.

Green Hornet - There have been rumours of bad test screenings, studio interference and 3D reshoots, but we'll never know the real truth abouth the delay of this winter blockbuster. Get a martial arts expert as a sidekick on 14 January 2011.

Cheaters - The Vince Vaughn/Ron Howard collaboration may have only just started filming, but they're obviously expecting a quick edit looking at the release date. Catch your best mates girl playing away on 21 January 2011.

Somewhere - Stephen Dorff is set to be wandering dreamily round his hotel reconnecting with his daughter really soon now, why not try to imagine how closely this will resemble Lost in Translation now. Let the world float by on 04 March 2011.

Straw Dogs - I don't really believe this release date, after all Rod Lurie's revenge drama has already had three of them. We'll see how long it takes before this is whisked away. Try to get on with the locals on 28 October 2011.

The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn - It's a new record, a release date in 545 days time. Of course Spielberg's involved so everything we know about film marketing is likely to be wrong. Whoah whoah on 25 November 2011.

Read More...

Annette Bening


Happy Birthday to

Annette Bening

52 today


Not only is Annette one of the best Actresses in Hollywood but she also managed to tame Warren Beatty, surely a gargantuan task. She's already being tipped for her fourth Oscar nomination (should've won for American Beauty) in the Lesbian family drama The Kids are Alright which would be a great way to end this atypically busy year for her (2 films). Currently in pre-production she's also set to star with Richard Gere in the modern remake of Tracy and Hepburn vehicle State of the Union.

Read More...

Friday, 28 May 2010

Out this week (28/05/10)

Oh, dear. It's another really awkward week with nothing I actually want to recommend opening. Not that there aren't big films simply begging for me to go, and with musical icons turning up in the two highest profile releases it's a wonder I'm not absolutely gagging for it. I suppose ultimately it's important that I stand by quality as much as possible here, which is why the film of the week is Spanish horror sequel [Rec] 2.



Fish Story

Charmingly bizarre looking Japanese feature about the effects of a punk song over a 40 year period. Witness the band splitting up, a victim standing up for himself, a boat hijack and the end of the world - all scored to the eponymous track.

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



The Happiest Girl in the World

Romanian drama about a teenage girl that wins a car, but rather than let her keep it her parents decide to sell it to start a small business. I'm sure it's better than that synopsis sounds.

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

Losers

Why why why would you call a film The Losers? I mean, what were they thinking of in the marketing team. The joke reviews just write themselves. What's worse is that this looks like the low-rent version of The A-Team.

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


[Rec] 2

Picking up just 15 minutes after the end of the first film this Spanish sequel sees a bunch of grunting army types going into the high-rise to stop the zombiefied hordes. It's unlikely to end well for them.

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

Sex and the City 2

I am pleased to say that in the 32 years I have been on this Earth I have only ever sat through one episode of "Sex and the City". It was alright, I guess. Therefore in spite of the movie sequel promising cameos from Penelope Cruz and (gasp) Liza Minnelli I won't be going as I don't have any knowledge of the characters. The reviews are pretty poisonous too.

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

Singam

Tamil star Surya Sivakumar headlines this stodgy looking effort, the trailer is really confusing and tonally all over the place. Need to do better than that to appeal to me Surya.

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

Space Chimps 2: Zartog Strikes Back

The first Space Chimps bombed in the states, yet it was surprisingly popular over this side of the Atlantic (11% of it's income was in UK markets), so we been treated to a sequel. With none of the original cast. And nothing approacing a joke in the trailer.

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

The Time That Remains

Elia Suleiman's tragicomedy about the State of Isreal as seen through the eyes of Palestinian family over 50 years attracted a lot of attention at the 2009 Cannes festival, and comes a very close second for the film of the week this week.

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

Tooth Fairy

The Rock (Dwayne Johnson) continues to steal Arnie film career by starring in kid friendly crap. Shame he doesn't have the big hits behind him. Julie Andrews proves she's still alive by joining in as the fairy boss.

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

The re-edited version of Kites is also out this week, it's a little shorter han last weeks release and may appeal to a broader audience so following the Box Office success last week (the first Bollywood movie to ever hit the US top ten) I'm upgrading the RLAG Excitometer to ●●●○○○○○○○

Finally, missing from last weeks reviews was:

Trafficked

Dublin set sex trafficking drama that's taken an incredible 6 years to make it to the big screen. Looks gritty and worthy.

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


Read More...

Sondra Locke


Happy Birthday to

Sondra Locke

66 today


Sondra's acting career will always be overshawdowed by her personal life, especially the tumultous and doomed relationship with Clint Eastwood. They starred together in many films including the box office smashes of Every Which Way but Loose and the Dirty Harry sequel Sudden Impact, and their split was also on screens with every lurid detail played in full in the press. Sadly Sondra hasn't ventured near a movie screen in over 10 years.

Read More...

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

2010. Dir: Mike Newell. Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Gemma Arterton, Ben Kingsley, Alfred Molina and Steve Toussaint. ●●●●○



Last week I went to see a film that I was really looking forward to and ended up being really disappointed, largely because in spite of it's historical pagentry it ended up throwing away all the fun in the concept. This week my low expectations of Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time were unjustified as it went the other way (not a care in the world about historical context and) filling the film with layer after layer of fun. I really liked it for that.

It's also a film where describing the plot seems a litle superfluous, not only because it's just a load of macguffin in order to push the action along, but also because Gemma Arterton's Tamina spends the best part of the movie explaining it to us. Essentially Jake Gyllenhaal and his brothers are busy sacking cities in the Middle East searching for smuggled weapons (can't think what that reminds me of) when Jake stumbles across a magical dagger with sand in it's hilt.



Jake's (adoptive) dad is promptly killed, suspicion falls on him, he runs off with Arterton and many twisty turny adventures happen as our leads identify the real killer and try to prevent the bad guys taking the throne.

It really is that simple, and in spite of the plot's collection of minor double crosses we can pretty much guess who's on which side and who's going to be toast before the end credits. Although the last five minutes were a bit of a surprise to me, especially as they seemed to contradict with large tracts of Gemma's expositionary dialogue.

Jake does a grand job in the lead role, wearing a British accent like a glove to avoid seeming odd when compared to the rest of the English cast. He also looks incredibly hot with the new found muscles (a few more gratuitous shirtless scenes would have been appreciated) and there were a couple of sly Brokeback references I picked up - our first sight of Jake involves some man on man wrestling and his first kiss with Gemma almost takes place in a tent... Gemma does her best in a thankless role and Ben Kingsley goes on autopilot as the devoted uncle of Gyllenhaals Prince Dastan - I'll let you guess how devoted he is.

Alfred Molina is probably the stand out cast member though, leering his way through the film as Sheik Amar, part Hugh Griffith in Ben Hur, part John Rhys-Davies in Raiders of the Lost Ark, part Oliver Reed in Gladiator and all Ostrich fancier.

The production design and costume elements are fantastically detailed, and whils I doubt they are even remotely accurate to the period they create a visually interesting movie with a very clear homage to the films computer game heritage. As are the action sequences which make appropriate use of running, jumping and going up and down levels. It sounds silly, but as the genesis of the film is a platform game it's good to see that exhibited in the finished product.

One of the minor points that let the film down was the CGI, with all the money that must have been spent on the movie it was disappointing that when the sands of time things actually happens a Scorpion King quality picture of Jake's face is attached to a bunch of lit blobs until the effects over - was that really the best they could do?

Overall though I would say this is about as good as summer tentpoles get with fun characters, palpable chemistry and a sense of real excitement.

Read More...

Helena Bonham Carter


Happy Birthday to

Helena Bonham Carter

44 today


I was reminded typing this of ho good a job Helena does in this years Alice in Wonderland. Although I was hardly enamoured of the film as a whole her performance was easily the most fun part of it; by going the full-crazy we not only laughed at the outre remarks but also remembered the character during the closing credits. Next up is The King's Speech which I'm still wavering on whether I want to see it, any thoughts?

Read More...

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Tuesday Trailers - Tetro

I love it when I get a chance to alliterate the post title in full. My final film for June is, like last weeks Whatever Works, from one of the most respected auteurs from the 20th Century who's output of late has been sparse or less interesting than the bulk of their work. Whilst this is probably no Godfather Francis Ford Coppola has had some very high profile praise for his latest movie, and it certainly looks like a major work worth investigating.



Tetro is released on 25 June 2010.

Read More...

Justin Henry


Happy Birthday to

Justin Henry

39 today


I had thought of just putting Justin picture up and asking you to guess who he is, but that's a little unfair for the former child star, now active character actor. Luckily the over-cherubic element of his face and posture, as witnessed in 1979's Kramer vs. Kramer, have largely disappearred so Henry is able to take a role in "Brothers and Sisters" without too much attention.

Read More...

Monday, 24 May 2010

John C. Reilly


Happy Birthday to

John C. Reilly

45 today


I preferred Reilly when he used to be a top end charactor actor, when he used to be slightly comical in his delivery but it wasn't overpowering. Unfortunately some point in the last five years he's become a star, headlining Walk Hard and co-lead of Step Brothers. I rather hope that he an bring himself back to earth in the future. Maybe the Duplass Brothers' Cyrus might be a more serous brand of comedy or there's We need to Talk about Kevin, so maybe there's some hope out there.

Read More...

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Film News (22/05/10)

I'm a day late with the usual news post.

Sorry.

I'd love to pretend I had a reasonable excuse, that I've been busy with other things, but that would've been a lie. I did nothing at all useful yesterday. In my defence it is very hot here in Manchester and I just couldn't find any energy, but that's not really good enough so please just accept my apologies and with no further ado let's start looking at what's struck me this week.

The Song of Names

I don't know the 2002 Whitbread prize winning novel that's being adapted to the big screen, but I do know that casting Anthony Hopkins and Dustin Hoffman in the older versions of the leads (the story takes place over 2 time periods, in the early post-war years and forty years later) will generate a lot of buzz as the veteran stars work together for the first time. The Amazon description describes the plot with: Dovidl Rappoport is a violin prodigy and a Polish refugee whose family perished in the Holocaust. He now lives with a wealthy Jewish family in London and befriends their socially awkward son, Martin Simmonds. Martin’s father, a musical impresario, trains Dovidl for the biggest debut on the London stage, and Martin is commandeered to act as caretaker. The two become close friends, forming a sybaritic relationship. Dovidl, however, slowly begins to slink into London’s seamier nightlife and eventually disappears on the day of his much-anticipated debut, wreaking havoc on the family and its business. Forty years later, Martin discovers a trace of the vanished prodigy and eventually ekes out a plan to avenge the betrayal all those years ago.

Sounds a bit oscar baity, but it may just be worth a look anyway. We'll see.

Read on for psychics, two different endings for the world, French love stories, a classic children's adaptation and Marvin Gaye.



Mai, the Psychic Girl

With the steady trend of storylines led by strong adolescent teenagers it's no surprise that the Manga adaptation originally mooted back in the 1980's is once again in contention for a US big screen version. Concerning a 14 year old girl (left) with psychic powers and a secret organisation attempts to use her to gain power it'll no doubt be edge of the seat entertainment.

Melancholia

Lars von Trier's latest doomfest - this time about the end of the world so I guess he has a point - has already picked up an eclectic and talented cast and has now added to that with old hand John Hurt returning to the depressed Dane for the first time since 2005 Manderley, which he narrated.

Midnight in Paris

Also in casting news Adrien Brody has joined Woody Allen's Paris set next project. There's no news on the role, but frankly we know more about this Allen movie than we've known about he last ten at this stage of pre-production so I'm not going to push it.

Paani

Cannes jury member Shekhar Kapur has been using the opportunity to talk up his next film. Set in a waterless future the sci-fi parable will explore the likelihood of wars and civil unrest over a shortage of H2O. I doubt it will have a happy ending. To the right a scene not featured in this movie.

20,000 Leagues under the sea

Bizarrely there are two competing versions of Jules Verne's 1970 submarine story in the works, and given that both versions have surprising directors inked on board (David Fincher and Timu Bekmambetov) I doubt either will be close to the classic Kirk Douglas/James Mason version. Altogether now "It's a whale of a tale and it's all true, I swear by my tattoo."

Untitled Marvin Gaye Biopic

Newly remarried Terrence Howard refuses to get sore about losing the Iron Man 2 gig to Don Cheadle (like hell!) but at least he's able to use the time to select some more personal projects that should get some critical attention. Like playing Marvin Gaye in the long gestating biopic from Cameron Crowe. Marvin's lifestory is immensely cinematic starting as a session drummer and slowly gaining a reputation as a singer, chalking up two failed marriages, a huge musical legacy in just about every style of pop and soul he touched (including his seminal album What's Going On, below) and his sudden murder in the hands of his father. It's therefore a surprise that no film has been made yet, although with three scripts in development in various studios Howard will really have to push this to get it done first. I guess he has the free time to do that.

Read More...

Barbara Barrie


Happy Birthday to

Barbara Barrie

79 today


There aren't many actors who've had their birthdays celebrated 2 years in a row here on runs_like_a_gay, yet for some reason (purely chance) Barbara joins them. There's not a lot else I ca say about her, no forthcoming projcts of interest. I suppose I could ask if you knew she had a brand of chutny on release, or that she has written 2 children's books? All part of life's tapestry.

Read More...

Friday, 21 May 2010

Out this week (21/05/2010)

Summer defiantly continues (actually it's been pretty hot here in the real world as well as in the multiplexes) with one of those tentpoles that's had a shift forward of it's UK release in order to avoid clashing with the World Cup. Aptly, given the seasonal weather it also involves Jake Gyllenhaal bearing a lot of flesh for the Arabian suns. Not that it's the top film... Oh no, for a real quality night my pick of the week is Warner Herzog's massively gonzo Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans.



Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans

If you could imagine the most eccentric pairing of director and star working today you probably wouldn't be far off Herzog and Nicolas Cage. It's fair to say this corrupt cop drama is delightfully bizarre as a result, with copious drug taking and iguanas throughout. The excellent supporting cast includes Eva Mendes, Val Kilmer, Irma P. Hall, Brad Dourif, Michael Shannon, Fairuza Balk, Xzibit....

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



Cop Out

If I say anything too pro of anti Kevin Smith I am absolutely suire he'll tarack me down and take offence, as he did on his twitter account following the US release of his latest big budget comedy. But I won't go and see it either.

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

Heartless

Jim Sturgess wears a heart-shaped birthmark over his face in this latest British horror. Essentially a adult version of TV's recent Demon's about devilish minions in London.

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

Kites

It's a Bollywood movie, yet on the poster it says "Brett Ratner presents Kites". That's right the B-movie director with A-movie budgets is in someway involved with this Mexican set Hindi movie. Interesting, yes, but not really exciting.

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

Pimp

Since the last Danny Dyer picture he's been sacked from his "Nuts" agony column for appearing to condone spousal abuse, so I might not be posting the obligatory semi-naked pic this time. The films about a Soho pimp (natch) who's life spirals out of control. True fact - I applied for a role in this movie.

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

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

Whilst Bad Lieutenant looks like the best film coming out this week I'm still going to be first in the queue to watch Jake Gyllenhaal prancing shirtless in the desert, all buff like. Can you blame me, really?

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

Streetdance 3D

This will be an awful movie, of that I have no doubt, but the trailer is fantastically fun and truly this is the sort of film that deserves the 3D treatment as various well known UK dance troupes (mainly from Britain's Got Talent) jump out of the screen at you.

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

Oh, who am I kidding - here's Danny:



And Jake, mmm:



Read More...

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Cher


Happy Birthday to

Cher

64 today


Is Cher on the verge of a major comeback? That might be an odd thing to say when most of us think she never left, but it's worth noting that she's currently in post production for 2 films (that's the same as she had previously made in 13 years...). Not that I am particularly expectant about either of her upcoming projects (Burlesque and The Zookeeper) but these could easily be the first steps back towards the glittering acting career (and costumes) she had in the 1980s.

Read More...

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Robin Hood

2010. Dir: Ridley Scott. Starring: Russell Crowe, Cate Blanchett, Max von Sydow, William Hurt and Mark Strong. ●●●○○



Russell Crowe famously exclaimed "Are you entertained?" at the end of his first Gladitorial contest, and whilst I could answer a very definite yes when watching his first collaboration with director Ridley Scott here in Robin Hood I could only say that whilst I was entertained a little it was only sporadically during the film and probably not as much as I should be when watching the 'origin' tale of the bandit of Sherwood forest.

The film starts well with a frantic siege on a French castle, as the virtual bankrupt English King Richard pays for his return to Britain. We are introduced to a bunch of expendable knights and our heroes Robin Longstride (Crowe) and some Merry Men. Not only is this the best action scene in the movie, you can't fail with boiling tar and castle storming, but it also thankfully puts the Robin Hood legend into some historical context. Medieval fiefdoms essentially controlled large parts of the country with the King as only a figurehead that they report to is an important concept to put forward, as well as the appalling levels of violence and political unrest.



We also cut to London where Eleanor of Acquitaine (Eileen Atkins channelling Katherine Hepburn) is attempting to control her wayward son Prince John (the unfeasibly good looking Oscar Isaac) as he cheats on his wife and goads the French king into war. The French King who is in cahoots with John's childhood friend Sir Godfrey (Mark Strong) to attack England at it's weakest.

So far we've spent most of the film with the royal bit characters with Crowe only used as a blatant example of the british heart of oak, naturally historical accuracy helps to balance this out with Richard's untimely death and a number of convoluted twists leading Crowe back to England with the Crown (which he safely delivers to the new king) and the name and Sword of Nottingham's most influential knight.

On returning to the East Midlands he's persuaded by the cantakerous blind father of said deceased knight (Max von Sydow) and the widow Marion (Cate Blanchett) to take his place in order to prevent the state taking their castle - is this a thinly veiled support of Conservative plans to increase the Inheritance tax threshold - and to generally restore order to all of Britain.

On the plus side the script is more coherent than Kingdom of Heaven, Scott's last foray into the Middle Ages, but it does suffer from the same saggyness and lack of humour. At times we appear to be going in circles with superfluous battles and unnecessary plotting - why, for instance, does Robin's lineage have to be both significant to the plot and unknown to Crowe - and on the other hand supporting characters are given no chance to develop themselves. Why does Sir Godfrey want to help the French? Does John really believe the points he's making? Why does William Hurt consumate politician not think before he ever opens his mouth?

I said earlier that the first action scene is the best, I think it's even more fair to say the last is the worst. The invading French army land at some very big cliffs perfect to be rained on by British archers and proceed to just stand their whilst the repelling English army rides across the country to trap them on the beachfront. Of course every speaking character who's still alive joins them. Would it be silly to have Marion and Friar Tuck (a woman and an obese priest) turn up on the South coast to fight the French, of course it would, but there they are...

On the acting side Crowe tries too hard with a wavering accent so comes across the least impressive from the major performances, Blanchett gives a suitable sarcastic performance and Max von Sydow shines in his thankless role. Both Mark Strong and Matthew MacFayden (virtually cameoing as the Sheriff of Nottingham) desperately try to out Rickman each other with both of them coming short.

I suppose that comparison may even be the major issue with the film. Whilst it is a solid piece of film-making (Scott continues to make me believe he's just a hack for hire who lucked out in his early career) it has none of the sexual chemistry, derring-do or fun of either Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves or The Adventures of Robin Hood. The film may be making interesing points about Hood's place in history but it fails to entertain whilst doing it, and that, for such a wonderful folktale, is unforgiveable.

Read More...

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Tuesday Trailers - Whatever Works

As June progresses we move from what has been second tier multiplex fillers that I have a vague interes in to a coupl eof returns from old masters. The first is Woody Allen's latest Whatever Works - not that it really is his latest, that's currently doing the rounds at Cannes, but this is the latest we in the UK have a chance to see. To be honest it looks like a minor Allen, inconsequential and only of any interest as the first of his films to have gay characters. I'll still go and make the effort though, I still like to believe he can shock me...



Whatever Works opens on 25 June 2010.

Read More...

Monday, 17 May 2010

Running Precis (17/05/10)

If yesterdays personal news wasn't enough to totally get me down then looking at my meagre achievements on the jogging front certainly does.

Between 10 May - 16 May 2010 I went out just 4 times (down one on th last couple of weeks). Ran a total of 29.6 km (or 18.5 miles, down 48%) over 2 hours 46 minutes, therefore running an average 10.7 km ph (or 6.7 mph, wich is at least a similar average speed). If I were doing that in one lump (and a bit further, obviously) that's a marathon in 3 hours 56 minutes and 46 seconds (an improvement of 1 minute and 11 seconds on last week).

Read More...

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Personal News (16/05/2010)

Not a terribly successful week, when all is said and done.

The Normal Heart second round of auditions have been postponed for another week, so I'm still in play but clearly they're not desperate to cast me.

The Crucible audition on Friday was a blow out, they asked me (as well as two other people auditioning at the same time) to read two portions of the script, the first I don't think I did badly in, but it wasn't really about me, but the second was a disaster. Started fine but couldn't get through some lines - stuttering and unable to read them whilst acting - then I was losing my concentration with the whole acting thing and did something a bit silly to bring myself back (it's a silly thing I do that comes across really funny in rehearsals but apparently not in auditions!). Received an [automated] e-mail this afternoon which seems to indicate a no thank you but that could be a red herring as there is still one more day of auditions. We'll see, but I'm not confident.

The Big Gathering for the 24/7 Festival was very interesting and I made some good contacts but there was nothing for me in the festival. Saying that I am looking forward to going to see them and I've signed up for a couple of things as a result. First up is a writing group who have actors come in to sight read work - I'm doing that for the first time tomorrow afternoon - and the other involves helping with the Queer Up North arts event starting next weekend (including some unpaid corporate style work). Hopefully this sort of thing will at least raise my profile.

I also had a couple of commercial auditions this week - the first of which involved sitting at a computer which someone threw balls at me!!! Neither are looking like I've got a job, but that's commercials for you.

I'm not feeling as hopelessly pesimistic as this post first appears, but it's not been a great week. Feel free to cheer me up in the comments.

Read More...

Mare Winningham


Happy Birthday to

Mare Winningham

51 today


To date Mare is the only member of the Brat Pack to pick up an Oscar nomination - as a litte confession I bought a copy of Georgia back in January but I still haven't got around to watching it - her last performance of note was in the excellent Brothers. Nothing much on the horizon.

Read More...

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Film News (15/05/10)

Cannes is on. The glamour, the glitz, the stars, the sex, the back-stabbing trades and so on. It must be an absolute whirl out there with paparazzi staking out the croisette whilst some has been B-movie actor waxes lyrically about their latest passion project. Saying that the Palme D'or candidates are the most muted they've been for years. Not that this has meant the rumour mill has been quiet - in fact I've picked up on 11 different films that have led news stories in the past week. So without any further delay lets wade into it:

The Tiger

Sounding a little like The Ghost and the Darkness 2, this non-fiction tale concerns a conservationist who is forced to confront a tiger that's got a taste for human flesh in a Siberian settlement. The man versus nature theme is as old as time, but given the main (human) character is having to go against his life's work as well adds a little more potency to the mix. Darren Aronofsky is attached to direct with Brad Pitt tempted by the role (marking the third time they've both been interested in a project a the same time - and hopefully the first time it actually happens) and Guillermo Arriaga (21 Grams) developing the script.


That is a tiger in Siberia, people being eaten not including in pic.

Read on for Norma Jean, peirced Channing Tatum, limosines, Mexican, Brazilian and Sudanese gangsters, computer programming, a far Eastern city of love, collectable minatures and misplaced fish.




Blonde

There are two Marilyn Monroe (left) projects currently working their way through pre-production, and of these the more interesting to me is Andrew Dominik's adaptation of her biography written by Joyce Carol Oates. Dominik (The Assassination of Jesse James) is planning to seperate Marilyn from the myths that surround her, to fully concentrate on the individual caught in the maelstrom of Old Hollywood. Expect it to be a slow burner with beautiful cinematography and some obvious symbology.

Cheaters

Ron Howard's Vince Vaughn collaboration continues to add cast members, with Queen Latifah signing on for an unnamed role and Channing Tatum as the tattooed and peirced man Winona Ryder cheats on her husband with. Can't say I blame her - he may not be much of an actor, but he does have abs of solid rock.

Cosmopolis

David Cronenburg may be prepping for The Dangerous Method, but he's already set his sights on the project to follow, the adaptation of Don DeLillo's limo set drama (right). Colin Farrell has signed on to play the millionaire losing everything in a 24 period, with Marion Cotillard as his cheated wife.

The Jesuit

This is a new title, about a man wrongfully inprisoned who finds his wife and son are kidnapped by a mexican drug cartel and he must fight to get them back. So far so Man on Fire. But the cast list is looking interesting with Willem Dafoe, Paz Vega, Michelle Rodriguez and Oscar Isaac all signing on - not sure if any of those will be the lead though so perhaps there's another big name due to be added any day now.

Machine Gun Preacher

The Sam Childers (Hell's Angel turned freedom fighter) biopic moves forward with the confirmation that Gerard Butler has been cast in the lead role and that Michelle Monaghan and Michael Shannon will be supporting. Odd that there's been no mention of a Sudanese cast member yet, and you'd have thought that would be the core of the film.

Moneyball

Are you still holding out for the computer modelling/baseball picture first conceived by Steven Soderbergh then dropped by the studio on the day filming was due to commence? The good news is that Bennett Miller is confident the script issues have been sorted and that filming will commence later this year. The even better news is he may be casting his Capote alumni Philip Seymour Hoffman in a supporting role. On the left, by the eay, is a baseball - just in case you've forgotten what they look like.

Monsterpocalpyse

Definitely to be taken with a pinch of salt but it's alleged on the croisette that Palm D'Or president Tim Burton will be heading to Dreamworks for his next assignment, to adapt the collectible minitures game (with monsters fighting in a major metropolis). Sound like complee garbage - possibly, but with Burton around it may just be entertaining garbage.

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

Bill Condon's abandoned project, from the Simon Beaufoy script (it's a humorous look at the fictional decision to create a Salmon farm in the Middle East), has not just been left to disappear. Instead Lasse Hallstrom has stepped in to direct the Kristen Scott Thomas picture, even bolstering the cast with Emily Blunt and Ewan MacGregor. Hallstrom has proved in the last couple of months that he is an extremely hit and miss director, so we'll just have to wait to see which side of the fence this one ends up on.

Shanghai, I Love You

The next in the cities of love short film collections (following the very successful Paris and the still awaiting a UK release date New York) is set to begin principle photography later this year in the beautiful and historic Chinese city of Shanghai (below). Included in the directors attached so far are Jim Sheridan and Gabriele Muccino, which looks more interesting on paper than Shekhar Kapur and Joshua Marston who were involved in the last episode. The next 2 cities planned to locate in are Rio and Jerusalem. They will need to start showing it mind (harumph).


Triple Frontier

Kathryn Bigelow is causing a diplomatic outrage - and I'm talking about Sigourney Weaver's bizarre comments about the Oscar win. Her next project, due to be the second collaboration with The Hurt Locker scribe Mark Boal, has been villified by the tourist boards of Argentine and Paraguay who, together with Brazil, form the border of the title. The story revolves around drug smuggling and funding of terrorism so I guess they may have a reason to take offence. Brazil, in a wise move, have yet to condemn the film, which may just mean thats where Bigelow will spend most of her budget!

Read More...

Chazz Palminteri


Happy Birthday to

Chazz Palminteri

58 today


In spite of all Palminteri's accomplishments and his varied film roles isn't it amazing that we all immediately think of him dropping a coffee cup made by Kobayashi.

Read More...

Friday, 14 May 2010

Out this week (14/05/2010)

Some of you will be pleased to know that I am very excited about this weeks releases, probably the best selection we've had since early March. Not there there are many films to watch, it's just what there is looks very good. Whilst four foreign language films are battling in the arthouse circuit (2 from Isreal, 1 from Italy and one from South Africa that's partly in Afrikaans) the clear winner for the film of the week is the film I picked as the most looked forward to for 2010 back in January: Robin Hood



Eyes Wide Open

Our first Isreali film raises a lot of religious and political issues as two respected and learned male members of the orthodox Jewish community fall in love, ultimately showing how faith and homosexuality are not incompatable, but that society can make them so.

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



Lebanon

Equally as charged is the second, which follows four-man Isreali tank crew during the first Lebanon War in 1982. As the violence escalates out of control we remember it's grounded in the reality of the experiences of director Samuel Moaz

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

Robin Hood

The reviews may be less positive than hoped for but it's true to say the latest adaptation of theEnglish legend of men in green tights - this time an origin story - has been high on my radar for a very long time. It's an absolute must see.

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

Tromf

South African film concentrating on a trailer trash Afrikaaner family on the eve of the first democratic election following the end of Apartheid. Based on the novel by Marlene van Niekerk.

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

Vincere

Italian film which Premiered at the 2009 Cannes film festival to great acclaim, especially for leading actress Giovanna Mezzogiorno playing Mussolini's secret wife, lover and mother of his son.

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

Once again I managed to miss a couple of films from last weeks releases. First up (Psych 9) was originally due to come out in February and got 2 blobs then - something I doubt I'd change and the second was:

Sus

Not exactly going for subtlety was this timely release of the film version of Barrie Keefe controversial play about Conservatism. Set on the eve of Margaret Thatcher's electoral victory it shows two corrupt and rascist police officers drunk with the thoughts of a Tory victory beat a confession out of a black suspect.

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

Read More...

Tim Roth


Happy Birthday to

Tim Roth

49 today


Another of these fine, oscar nommed, performers who are currently concentrating on his TV work, and I don't think that Roth cares what we think of him for that, look at his shrug. He's also famous for his disdain of the method, stating "I've always been able to learne what I need to learn from the script." In that he's a bit of a hero to me.

Read More...

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Harvey Keitel


Happy Birthday to

Harvey Keitel

71 today


Harvey has an amazing capacity to appear in both fantastic films and incredible guff, although it's worth noting the better projects are drying up again (and no I'm not counting his voice cameo in Inglorious Basterds); in fact you need to go back to the mid 90's before he was last on form. I just hope his work as Gene Hunt in the American version of Life on Mars is winning some new fans.

Read More...

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Dear John

2010. Dir: Lasse Hallström. Starring: Channing Tatum, Amanda Seyfried, Richard Jenkins, Henry Thomas and D.J. Cotrona. ●○○○○



If Dear John had opened in 2009 it would have had the dubious homour of being the worst film I had seen that year. As it is it hasn't quite achieved that level of notoriety. Please note this is not an endorsement of the film, just a reminder of how bad my choices have been this year.

With it being a Nicolas Sparks (The Notebook, Nights in Rodanthe) adaptation you could write the plot on the back of a matchbox. Soldier (Channing Tatum - wooden) meets student (Amanda Seyfried - not bothering to act at all) during one summer. They fall in love. He gets called away. They write each other letters. Until something happens that makes them stop - I won't say what it is for fear of spoiling the film but if you've heard the generic term of "Dear John" letters then you probably know how the film will end.



I would like to point out that the movie does have a very realistic portrait of the growth of a relationship and the strains it then couses when they are seperated. Even if the very idea of a "special forces" soldier not trying to coerce or cajole his girlfriend into sex until the night before he's shipped to Iraq seems unlikely it does help to accentuate the deep mytical bond between the characters - enough to make you imagine they're meant to be together. The endless montage scenes with the letters between the protagonists as voiceovers also help in this regard. I'd also recommend the work of the location scout, finding a suitable southern ranch for Seyfried's wealthy family, a gorgeous beachfront and the combat settings were equally realistic.

I have also been told that the themes of how the sense of duty felt by both the characters is what attracts them, pulls them apart and gives them a way forward. However this is not something that occurred to me during or after the film so it's fair to say we can discount the intellectual critique.

On the other hand the performances across the board are pretty terrible. Even the reliable Richard Jenkins, underplaying autistic tendencies, is not giving anything close to his best work. Talking of autism the film grossly exploits two peripheral characters on the spectrum in order to make cheap points about the type of people our lovers are and how they relate to the world. It also uses strokes and cancer to make sly little points. Outside of the lovers characters come and go with no sense of narrative structure and their philosophies and emotional outlook will vary according to the needs of the plot.

One example of this is Seyfried college buddy Randy (played by Scott Porter - who frankly is far more attractive than Tatum). Early on, whilst he's being a jerk just to provoke Tatum, she tells Tatum that he only thinks he likes her, but in fact she's not his type at all. My gaydar instantly went ping at that but there you go. This was followed by another scene later where he apologises to Tatum and lets him into the social set, then finally he's staring at Seyfried's back during a lecture. He's then never seen again. Doesn't add anything else to the plot, you see.

Lasse Hallstrom, who managed to be delicate with Hachi, pours on the bathos until you can stand no more turning this into an even more sickly sweet confection than it had any right to be.

In conclusion I have to say this is the sort of film that idiots like me watch, so you don't have to. Awful awful awful.

Read More...

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Tuesday Trailers - Wild Target

I may have already mentioned that June is looking quite interesting for films, with a couple of mid level non-blockbusters that will fight over the scraps at the multiplexes. One of these is the hit (man) comedy Wild Target with Bill Nighy, Emily Blunt and Rupert Grint. There's is no point in pretending that this will be art, but director Jonathan Lynn started quite well with Clue and Nuns on the Run, as well as writing "Yes, Minister" for British Television. If this can come close to the hijinks of those earlier works then it will certainly be a good evenings entertainment. Judge for yourself with the trailer below.



Wild Target is released on 18 June 2010.

Read More...

Shohreh Aghdashloo


Happy Birthday to

Shohreh Aghdashloo

58 today


The Iranian born actress (and political activist) managed a first for her country on receiving an Oscar nomination for the largly forgotten House of Sand and Fog in 2003. Since then whilst she has been on the peripery of stardom there still hasn't been a major breakthrough, although her performance in last years The Stoning of Sister M received some very good notices.

Read More...

Monday, 10 May 2010

Running

It's another running post - I swear I only publish these because I want to remmeber why I originally conceived of this blog. I'm thinking of doing the Isle of Man Marathon in August. Anyone ever done it?

Between 03 May - 09 May 2010 I went out 5 times (again). Ran a total of 56.5 km (or 35.3 miles, up 36%) over 5 hours 18 minutes, therefore running an average 10.7 km ph (or 6.6 mph, about the same as last week). If I were doing that in one lump that's a marathon in 3 hours 57 minutes and 57 seconds (1 minute 55 seconds faster)!

Read More...

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Election 2010 - The results

The Election is now over (with the minor exception of Thirsk & Malton which has been delayed by 3 weeks although if that isn't won by the Conservatives I'll gladly eat my shoe) and the results are in. The final tallies for the major parties are as follows:

The Big Three

Conservatives are now the biggest party, with 306 seats and an increase of 3.7% of the elctorate. It is worth noting that The Conservatives do not have enough seats to have an absolute majority, there are currently talks underway between them and the Liberal Democrats to form a coalition Government.

Labour lost 6.2% of the electorate and now have a total of 258 seats. Whilst this is clearly a lost result (over 960,000 voters deserted Labour) Gordon Brown is still the Prime Minister and will stay on until a majority Government is formed. Interesting times.

Liberal Democrats oddly gained 1.0% of the votes but lost five seats and are now have 57 MPs. The Clegg mania boost never happened, proving we must take the polls with a pinch of salt although the exit polls were amazingly close. If this result doesn't show the problem with first past the post I don't know what does (for every additional seat the Conservatives won they had an extra 19,801 votes, going by the same figure the Lib Dems should have won an additional 43 seats!)

National Parties (Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland)

Scottish National Party had a slight increase in votes (up 0.14%), but ended with the same 6 seats as before. In Scotland the overall seats is exactly the same as in 2005, with Labour actually increasing their vote share, proving Scottish politics is a long way from politics in the rest of England and Wales.

Plaid Cymru lost nearly 9,000 votes in total, but managed to gain a seat and now have 3 MPs.

Democratic Unionist Party saw a small fall in votes throughout Northern Ireland, but the only one that mattered was leader Peter Robinson losing his seat to the Alliance Party. Was this a triumph for the anti-sectarian party or was it simply the prudish voters showing their dissatisfaction with the sex-scandal that rocked the party (involving Robinsons wife and her younger lover). This is the only seat lost that can be clearly linked to sleaze - the expenses scandal turned out to be a red herring.

Sinn Fein lost a few votes, but still have 5 seats (which they won't take up) in Parliament.

SDLP keep their 3 seats.


Ulster Unionist Party the support fell away completely with the only seat won in 2005 lost to the same MP, Dame Sylvia Hermon, who left the party following it's closer ties to the Conservatives.

Alliance finally entered mainstream politics, winning a seat in Belfast East.

Other Parties

Respect lost over half their votes from the 2005 election and their one seat. Don't expect Respect to come back from this electoral failure.

Green leader Caroline Lucas did win in Brighton Pavillion meaning there is a presence in Westminster for the environmental lobby. The overall proportion of votes actually fell nationwide, possibly in response to greater mention of green issues in the main three parties manifestos.

UK Independence Party increase of overal voting share by 0.8%, but no seats for the party.

British National Party also saw an increase wih nearly 2% of voters thinking their far right policies are relevant in modern Britain. I'm disgusted.

Socialist Labour Party vote collapsed.

Liberal vote collapsed.

Independents

There was an overall increase in votes for the independents and smaller parties, with 1.4% of votes not going to anyone mentioned above. Saying that these votes were extremely spread with only Sylvia Hermon getting enough to win a seat. Both Richard Taylor in Wyre Forest and Dai Davis in Bleanau Gwent lost their seats.

Read More...

Personal News (09/05/10)

Things move with fits and bursts in this industry. Not that much has happened really but I am feeling overwhelmingly confident these days.

I have been recalled for a second audition for Larry Kramer's "The Normal Heart", amazingly in the lead role of Ned Weeks. The feedback I have had so far was that my performance was good but they want to test the chemistry of the optional Ned's against the cast Felis (his lover in the play). Chemistry's always a difficult thing to define on stage, and one very hard to produce in an audition, but I will do my best (as I'm sure all the others going for it will to).

Oddly this leads to a minor dilemma. Do I come out to the Producer/Director?

This may seem odd - for a guy's who's blog title specifically refers to his sexuality - but most people are unaware when they meet me, even in the gay bar I work at on Saturday nights most of the punters assume I'm straight. During the first auditions I did drop hints (my ex-partner etc.) but when the Producer told me that he had originally conceived of the project as being completely cast by gay men and lesbians I waffled on about why you wouldn't want to restrict the supply of actors instead of launching into a rendition of "I am What I am". I was even coy when asked if I would be comfortably portraying a same-sex relationship.

If thy are concerned about me being able to deal with this on stage then perhaps I ought to let them know, but on the other hand I don't believe it's relevant and I don't want to appear to be using my sexuality as a way of getting in. Tricky, non?

This of course is good timing for the issue to be relevant. On the Newsweek website this week Ramin Setoodeh launches into gay actors playing straight roles, plainly stating that it's impossible for the audience to suspend their disbelief to that level. Althoughly oddly he says that straight actors can be convincing playing gay. I find this arguement obscene, both as an actor and as a gay man. Part of acting in a romantic role is pretending the person you're playing opposite is attractive to you, regardless of gender age of looks (and I've had to pretend to be in love wih some serious munters on stage and trust me the looks ar harder to get over than the sex). Good actors can convince in whatever role they're playing regardless of what they do offstage, and that is the bottom line of the arguement.

Back to me - tomorrow the Manchester 24/7 festival is holding it's Big Gathering. This is a annual event where the writers and directors of the ten new plays chosen for the festival get to mingle with some actors and start the casting process. I'm never completely au fait with the social aspect of casting, however I will be there and will try desperately not to stick to the corners of the room looking hopelessly nervous. Wish me luck.

Read More...

Glenda Jackson


Happy Birthday to

Glenda Jackson

74 today


I honstly thought I was going to be commiserating Ms Jackson this morning, her birthday being irrelvant following the loss of her job. However it's turned into a double celebration. On Thursday Glenda had one of the smallest majority's in the Labour Party (a nominal 1.1% of the electorate), and everyone thought this would be her last Election, but she managed to hold on to the seat with an even tighter majority of 42 votes. All this and two Oscars - what an amazing woman.

Read More...

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Film News (08/05/2010)

I can't say that I spent much of this week looking at the news, what with the election on my mind I have been somewhat preoccupied. These four stories did jump out at me though.

Peace, Love and Misunderstanding

When Jane Fonda came out of retirement in 2005 we all drew collective breaths in awe of her talent, and looked forward to the fantastic projects she would have needed to bring her out. Unfortunately she made the funny enough Monster-in-Law followed by the very pedestrian Georgia Rule. Hopefully her next film will be an improvement, even if it is a Georgia in reverse as workaholic conservative Catherine Keener goes back to her mother tree-hugging Fonda to recover from a messy divorce. Admittedly this synopsis sound like utter garbage - it goes on to say they find love in extraordinary places - but that sort of combined talent can't be ignored.


Read on for twitching, ghost stories and an extraordinary horse.



The Big Year

When this birdwatching comedy first came to my attention (through production news in March) I clearly stated that it may have one of the least interesting casts of all time with Steve Martin, Jack Black and Owen Wilson as competitive twichers. However since then there have been some developments with a supporting cast now in place including Anjelica Huston, Dianne Wiest, Rosamund Pike and Tim Blake Nelson. All of which is beginning to turn me. Still one to look out for. Like the guys on the left are doing.

The Skin I live in

Pedro Almodovar has annouced his next project, and it reunited him with his Tie Me Up, Tie me Down star Antonio Banderas. Strangely though, it's said to be a kind of horror movie, with Banderas playing a plastic surgeon who enacts a terrible revenge on his daughter's rapists - a more continental version of the Last House on the Left, if you will. Can't wait to see what Almovar does with a torture scene!

War Horse

You are fully entitled to take this story with a big pinch of salt, but apparently Steven Spielberg has decided his next film to direct will be the big screen adaptation of War Horse. (Not Interstellar or Pirates Latitude or Indiana Jones 5 or 39 Clues or Harvey or Matt Helm or the biopics of Abraham Lincoln or George Gershwin or Martin Luther King.) Adapted from the original children's story by Michael Morpurgo and not the hit play version which has a puppet horse (see below) the tale revolves around a pit pony that's sent to the front during the First World War. Expect Spielberg to try to make you cry.

Read More...

Friday, 7 May 2010

Out this week (07/05/2010)

For one brief moment this afternoon I am returning back to the world of film. It's a place where I feel comfortable, where I can confidently predict the outcome, and where I know in a couple of hours I can stumble back into the light take a deep breath of fresh air and know it was just a movie. It's a slow week (the least enticing week of releases since January), with only a couple of films reaching even four our of ten on the excitometer. Out of them I'd have to recommend Chris Morris' Four Lions



The Back-Up Plan

J-Lo has decided, following her twins, to return to films safe in the knowledge that Sandra Bullock has paved the way for about 40 year old recapturing the rom-com market. Unfortunately this plan is no Proposal, and J-Lo never had the right fanbase to exploit that crowd.

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



Badmaash Company

Four friends in Mumbai (the nicer bits of Mumbai) decide to get together and form a "company". I don't know what the company does or how it makes it's money - both the synopsis and trailer are curiously evasive about his - but it turns out to be a big success. Hooray...

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

Bumm Bumm Bole

This Hindi children's film does at least have a nice concept, it's about a samll boy who loses his sisters shoes (why did he have her shoes?) then runs a marathon in order to win her a new pair. I'm not intrigued enough to see it mind.

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

Four Lions

This terrorist comedy, about a quartet of inept extremists, is bound to cause some anxious nailbiting amoung the press. But with Chris Morris, the unique and distinctive comic voice behind "Brass Eye", as the creative force it's bound to be both darkly humourous and issue busting.

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

Furry Vengeance

Do you have children with poor taste in movies, ADHD or hat you just don't like? Then go and see Brendan Fraser getting hounded by cute and furry critters. It's like a live action Over the Hedge, without the animals talking.

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

Hot Tub Time Machine

Am I being generous giving this a four. You're damn right I am, but reviews for John Cusacks comedy about going back to his youth and those halycon years we've lft behind have been quite kind, and the principle cast all look like they're enjoying themselves.

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

Just for the record

Good news. It's a Danny Dyer picture, which means we get a gratuitous picture of Danny all cockteasy at the end of the post. It's a comedy about the British film industry. Do not expect much.

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

Nightmare on Elm Street

Freddy's back. This time looking a lot like Jackie Earle Haley. This looks a lot better than your average revionist 80's slasher pic, but that really isn't sayiong much.

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

Room and a half

Director Andrey Khrzhanovskiy (70) has had a long aand succesful career in documentaries and animation, but bizarrely the semi-fictional account of the Russian poet and exile Joseph Brodsky, partly told through animation, poetry and with different film styles, is his first narrative feature. Looks very good if you can stand over 2 hours of experimatal Russian movies.

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

Virsa

Pakistani movie about ex-pats in Australia and their different choices with regards to naturalizing themselves into society. Probably very worthy.

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

And, amazingly I missed Ekam, Son of Soil from 23 April.

A Punjabi melodrama about a Australia based lad who returns to the village of his father. I have no idea if Soil is the name of his father, or a reference to working in the fields...

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


As promised:


Read More...