Saturday, 30 April 2011

Truth and fiction (Film News - 30/04/11)

It started off quite slow this week, with very few stories capturing my imagination and when one did come along I wasn't too sure whether it was true in the first place. Oddly though that element of whether the story was real or fiction actually struck me more than the story itself. This links to an interesting discussion on the Slash Film podcast a couple of weeks ago about the development of internet news. Essentially the crux of the argument was that the range and breadth of film news sites, and the growth of 24 hour news culture means that there's a desperate need to be the first with the stories and commentary has a habit of being treated as fact without the due journalistic veracity. The team cited several internet rumours that ended up being treated as true before any fact-checking had taken place. The full discussion can be heard here. By the way if you're not a regular listener then I suggest you do start getting it, I don't always agree with the guys and their preference for blockbusters and exploitation cinema (at least in the films they discuss) can be a little wearing but it's usually worth a listen for their insightful commentary.

As a nod towards that idea of most stories coming to nothing, whilst being perfectly aware that only between 30-40% of the movie projects I mention actually get made, and as a tribute to 50 years of the UK betting shop I'm going to give my own odds for each of the news stories that caught my eye of ever making it to a cinema near you. Starting with the story that began it all:

Secret Door

Last weekend a tweet, reportedly from American Zoetrope (the production company set up by Francis Ford Coppola), announced Sofia Coppola and Kirsten Dunst would be teaming up for their 3rd collaboration. 10 pages from the script, which indicated it was set in 1940's Paris and concerned three depressed and existential characters, were also released. Within hours the story was viral, appearing on many reputable news sites including empireonline and The Playlist.

By the end of the week this turned out to be complete rubbish - there's no word on who created this story or why (seriously who is aching for Dunst to play a suicidal French woman enough to pen a script and fake a twitter account?) - but all of the major players have said it's not true.



Both of Sofia Coppola and Kirsten Dunst's previous collaborations, The Virgin Suicides and Marie Antoinette (above) have been fascinated movies so I will confess I was hoping this story had some truth in it.

Odds of getting made: 200-1. It's possible the hoax is a hoax, the whole project is real, and Sofia just wants a little privacy in putting it together. More likely the entire internet was over-excited about nothing.

Read on for paranoid elves, inadequate serial killers, strippers, scams and a chance to go back and make thongs right. As well as the latest in UK release date news.



Amnesty

Ron Howard and regular producing partner Brian Grazer have optioned the Max Landis script which is described as a mix between Lord of the Rings and The Bourne trilogy. Landis is, of course, the son of John and is clearly building a reputation as a script writer of genre fare (horror pic Chronicle is currently in pre-production) although is has to be said this particular high concept seems to big to really work.

Odds of getting made: 50-1. Ron Howard's a bit of a sink-hole for new projects, buying up scripts then burying them in development woes. The subject matter also seems far too far fetched to actually work.

The Hive

Camp master Joel Schumacher, of Batman sequel fame, is putting together a quickie thriller pitting an emergency services operator against a killer from her past to save a young girl's life. Clearly the killer hasn't been that successful in the past either. Generally Schumacher does better with these low-key thrillers than with bigger films - see Phone Booth for example - so this might have the sort of dark effective aesthetic to keep us on the edge of our seats. That said it's being written by Rich D'Ovidio whose past credits include Thirteen Ghosts and Exit Wounds so I might be being over optimistic. Also I'm not sure how the plot relates to a hive, but for the sake of keeping the post colourful I have included a picture of the inside of a beehive to the left.

Odds of getting made: 2-3. Tragically this is the most likely of this weeks stories to be made. Easy to make, script finished, director willing to make any old crap.

Magic Mike

Great news this week for teenage girls and creepy older guys in dirty macs, Channing Tatum will return to his stripper past (see below for the evidence) for a movie that is partly based on his experiences. The story will revolve around an older stripper (Tatum) passing on his accumulated wisdom and patented baby oil secrets to a new kid on the block, with the idea that the movie will expose the sleazy and gritty elements of the Chippendale industry. Tatum's Haywire director Steven Soderbergh will be directing the project, and therefore holding off his impending retirement for just a little while longer.

Odds of getting made: 5-1. Soderbergh usually makes the films he says he's going to make, although it can often take a while. The idea of a movie involving Channing Tatum stripping should also get the punters in so everyone's happy.




Ponzi's Scheme

Ponzi Schemes are a little bit difficult to explain, but ultimately they work by using the money from new investors to pay back old investors but without any real organisational activity, you then borrow from one investor to pay another. Providing you are getting new investors then the older investors (and the creator) will profit but once the investors dry up the whole process collapses in on itself. Invented by Italian immigrant to America Charles Ponzi at the turn of the 20th century these schemes have been operating pretty consistently over the last 100 years. So it's no surprise that a film of his life is being planned.

At this point Milos Forman, the oscar winning director of Amadeus and The People vs. Larry Flynt, is attached to work from a script by Mitchell Zuckoff. This sort of flawed hero is exactly the kind of guy Forman gravitates to however his rate of working has never been quick, barely hitting 3 films a decade, and he's an old man now, so don't expect this one any time soon.

Odds of getting made: 66-1. Whilst interesting this isn't really a story that is absolutely begging to be told, and Forman probably isn't in a rush at 80 to make another movie.

Replay

The time travel comedy, about a 40 something who gets the chance to give his younger self some great advice thereby improving his own life, was first mentioned here in connection to Ben Affleck's post Town directorial options however he's chosen Argo so it's moved on to Robert Zemeckis, who has form in time travel movies. Whether the story ends up being as fun as Back to the Future (below) or, as I previously suggested, feels like a knock off of 17 Again remains to be seen.

Odds of getting made: 3-1. It's the sort of story that does reasonably well at the box office, but don't be surprised if there's another director change before it gets made.




Release Schedules

Even the release schedules, which should give us plenty to think about over a five week month, have remained depressingly static, with just a couple of new movies hitting the forthcoming schedules.

The Skin I live In - I've heard slightly conflicting accounts of the plot in Pedro Almodovar's long awaited team-up with Antonio Banderas. Will this be a revenge fantasy, or a study of a man obsessed, or maybe both. We'll soon know from Cannes, but still a couple of months before most of us mortals will catch it. Develop new medical technologies on 26 August 2011.

Melancholia - Another movie, set to debut at the Cannes festival in a couple of weeks, is Lars von Trier end of the world movie as seen through the point of view of two sisters, now coming in the early autumn. Let planets collide on 30 September 2011.

The Descendants - It's not the first film to stake out a release date in the middle of the Oscar season, but I think it's fair to say Alexander Payne's Sideways follow-up is probably a strong contender in next years field. Re-connect with your children on 20 January 2012.

Frankenweenie - The March release date always seemed a little bit optimistic for Tim Burton's latest foray into stop motion animation, so it's not surprise to see this shift where it's currently the furthest ahead (over 520 days) I'm looking at any films release. Resurrect your pet on 05 October 2012.

Perhaps more interesting than these changes has been the DVD releases over the last few weeks, essentially the month of the long, straight to DVD, knives. Unsurprisingly, given the even smaller name recognition on this side of the pond, wrestling flop The Chaperone starring Triple H hasn't made it to cinemas. Nor has Wes Craven's other return to the slasher flick My Soul to Take which was due to be released in January then just disappeared. Most surprisingly of all is the straight to video release of Love Ranch the brothel drama that saw Helen Mirren collaborating with hubby Taylor Hackford, and was in my most anticipated movies list in 2009 and 2010. It's a real shame.

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Cloris Leachman


Happy Birthday to

Cloris Leachman

85 today


Even in her mid eighties Cloris' career is still going strong, thanks at least in part to a lucrative stint on "Dancing with the Stars" and her recent chucklesome performance in New York, I Love you. Of course none of the films she has coming up in any way appeal to me, but it's good to see there's plenty of work out there for this clever character actress.

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Friday, 29 April 2011

By Odin's Beard (Out this week - 29/04/11)

Summer's Here!!! We know this not because certain birds are singing, or flowers budding, or even the increasing temperature, but becuase the cinema schedules tell us so. The first of the tentpole movies has been unleased onto the unsuspecting movie public today (although actually it's been on at UK cinemas since Monday) and what with the positive reviews, and the fact that it's the one comic book adaptation this year that interests me, I'm going to say the movie of the week is Thor.



Thor

Marvel have cornered this end of the blockbuster season, with the Norse God taking over the spot from Iron Man last year, even the marketing here in the UK has emphasised this is from the same studio. Chris Hemsworth is the headline but quality supporting turns from Natalie Portman and Anthony Hopkins should be expected.

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



Cedar Rapids

Indie comedy starring Ed Helms ("The Office", Hangover) as a naive insurance salesman sent to the annual insurance convention. Unfortunately he meets up with other, less strait-laced colleagues - including John C. Reilly - who slowly begin to push him towards an inevitable breakdown. Sigourney Weaver also stars.

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

Farewell

True life spy story about the eponymously codenamed Russian who slipped secrets to his CIA counterparts in 1981. Serbian filmmaker Emir Kusturica plays our anti-hero with Guillame Canet, Willem Dafoe and Fred Ward among those using his info to good use. Solid looking movie that highlights a lesser-known element of the closing of the cold war.

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

I Saw the Devil

Kim Jee-woon flips genre's agian with this Korean revenge movie to end all Korean revenge movies. The plot essentially involves a cop who repeated captures and tortures a killer before letting him go and starting the process again. Expect lots of gore.

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

Insidious

Original Saw director James Wan has teamed up with Paranormal Activity producer for a derivative horror that's still managed to make back something like 30 times it's budget in US cinemas alone. Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne have a haunted son, Barbara Hershey comes along for the ride.

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

Chalo Dilli

A Bollywood version of Planes, Trains and Automobiles with a cool headed female protagonist finding herself travelling with the ladies man from hell. Akshay Kumar has a supporting role which should guarantee a crowd.

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

Shadow

Italian horror movie, that's taken a couple of years to secure a UK release. Concerns a young soldier on a biking expedition running into some unsavoury locals who like nothing more than chopping up strangers. You have to wonder if there really are weidos like that in every rural space?

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

Tracker

Ray Winston is a Boer (who does this casting?) paid to find Maori murder suspect Temeura Morrison in this UK/New Zealand co-production. That's a great combo of actors and the film hints at British war atrocities during the empire's heyday however there's a definite sense of familiarity over the whole project.

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

The Veteran

Messy looking british movie about an Afganistan vet (Toby Kebbell) finding it difficult to adjust to life in the council estates following his repatriation. It all ends in mass gunfights with marauding hoodies and Brian Cox. Unlikely to be a subtle investigation into the struggles our troops face.

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

Naturally I missed a couple out from last week:

Island

Janet McTeer, Colin Morgan and Natalie Press are the torn apart family rediscovering each other and working through their differences in this drama set on a lonely Scottish island.

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

Ko

Tamil movie that opens with a bank heist and from then on proverbial really hits the fan. Frankly Tamil releases are even harder to find a synopsis for than other Bollywood entries and the trailers bonkers crazy so that's all I can give you.

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

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Celeste Holm


Happy Birthday to

Celeste Holm

94 today


To anyone who suggests that the glamour of old Hollywood is gone I would like to remind you that Celeste, star of Gentleman's Agreement and All About Eve is not just still alive but still working in her nineties. And any headshot with pearls on just screams glamour to me.

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Thursday, 28 April 2011

Mary McDonnell


Happy Birthday to

Mary McDonnell

59 today


One of the biggest disappointments about Scream 4 was the criminal underuse of the talented and reliable Mary McDonnell as Sidney's aunt and mother to the new generation's protagonist Emma Roberts. Don't get me wrong she did a great job wih only half a dozen lines, but I can't help feeling some character development ended on the cutting room floor. Poor choice from the editor there.

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Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Red Riding Hood

2011. Dir: Catherine Hardwicke. Starring: Amanda Seyfried, Shiloh Fernandez, Max Irons, Gary Oldman and Julie Christie. ●○○○○



Well let's just get this clear straight off the back. I am not the intended audience for Red Riding Hood, however I went to see it on a Thursday afternoon during Easter holidays and the (sparse) audience around me was in the majority were ealry teenage girls, and like me they were shifting uncomfortably in the seats whilst this shockingly inept piece of filmmaking rolled (and not just when the projector turned itself off in disgust).

Perhaps I should be more generous, as there are elements of the film I liked - lovely costumes for instance however poor scriptwriting, acting and direction combine to destroy any positivity I have about the piece.



So using the traditional fairy tale as it's core, Catherine Hardwicke's Twilight inspired picture focuses on the love triangle faced by the eponymous cloak clad heroine (Amanda Seyfried pouting to hide her gritted teeth) as she decides between hunky poor woodcutter (Shiloh Fernandez), rich but faintly dull blacksmith (Max Irons) or being ripped to shreds by the local werewolf.

Meanwhile her faintly ludicris family - a sacrificial sister who's the first victim of the wolf, heart-broken Virginia Madsen, alcoholic Billy Burke and kooky Grandma Julie Christie - as well as the crowds of other largely unnamed villagers have to deal with the sudden arrival of master werewolf hunter Father Solomon (Gary Oldman turned up to eleven). Each of the major characters gets the finger of suspicion pointed towards them at various points, including Seyfried's best friend, the village simpleton and the local priest through lingering pov shots and incidental music.

In a BBC interview Hardwicke claimed she was trying to raise post 9/11 parallels, where we begin to suspect all our neighbours and friends and trust braks down. Gary Oldman even gets a speech to this effect, but that good intention fails because we really don't care about the characters. Frankly they could all have been werewolves tortured and murdered by Oldman and I really wouldn't have cared.

If I were Seyfried I'd have ignored both of her potential suitors. Irons is at least worthy, but his delivery is immensely dull, but Fernandez is off handed and stroppy throughout and has a look of Tim McInnery around him which really took me out of the picture. Trust me, slap a 'tache on Shiloh and you'll want to call him Darling.

The elder cast members are given short shrift too - Madsen has either endless exposition to remind the audience of the parallels between her and her daughter's choices and Christie doesn't even have the good fortune to get eaten by the wolf in real time we only find out in flashback during the reveal. Oldman is clearly having a lot of fun with his screentime but he's so wildly over the top it's pantomimic and off-putting, although the silver fingernails are a nice touch.

The below the line talent is scarely better served with the clean wooden huts and furry white rabbits bouncing around appearing to come out of a children's TV show combined with a horrid soundtrack and giddy swishy camera movements. Complete with a trite and cliche ridden script.

Easily the worst of the 20 odd films I've seen so far this year I can honestly recommend that you steer a wide berth from this monster of a movie.

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Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Tuesday Trailers - Win Win

The final trailer for May is one of my most anticipated movies for 2011, and from what I hear over in the U.S. that was a good call. Thomas McCarthy's The Visitor follow-up concerns a stressed small-town lawyer and wrestling coach (Paul Giamatti) who opens his house to the grandson of a client (Alex Shaffer). The reviews have been positive, and the box office staying power has been very impressive for a limited release. I doubt it will do quite as well over here where high-school wrestling doesn't exist, but I for one will be queuing up to see it.



Win Win opens on 20 May 2011.

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Marianne Jean-Baptiste


Happy Birthday to

Marianne Jean-Baptiste

44 today


A RADA alumni with an impressive stage career, Marianne occasionally gets the opportunity to shine in a supporting role in cinema. Nothing vaguely interesting on the horizon though, come on someone give her a prize job.

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Monday, 25 April 2011

Running (24/04/11)

I cut down on the distance side this week, and with a much better balance between individual runs, which have the effect of a large improvement on my average speed - I don't know whether that will translate to a longer run when I next do one - we'll see.

5 runs
26.7 miles
3 hours 51 minutes

So that's an average speed of 6.92 mph

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Talia Shire


Happy Birthday to

Talia Shire

65 today


When Talia was first cast as the abused sister in Francis Ford Coppola's seminal masterpiece The Godfather it was probably generally considered just another case of nepotism for the notorious family man, however using that as a platform she went on to Oscar nods for the sequel and for Rocky proving her critics wrong. Still acting most of her pictures these days seem awfully similar and awfully direct to DVD fare.

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Sunday, 24 April 2011

Will he or won't he (Film News - 23/04/11)

Not exactly an exciting week for cinema stories, I guess the proximity to Easter/Passover and other spring based breaks has meant progress in the studios has been slow. That said I did here about a couple of new projects they may just make fascinating films in the years to come, or might just be my chace to ogle at muscly men.

Parker

Like Jason Statham for instance. Who is set to star for Taylor Hackford (??!!) in this big screen spin-off of Donald E. Westlake's series of novels. I say spin-off as the film will only use the central character (the eponymous burglar) as a starting point and will create it's own plot.

Parker himself seems like the type of rugged hero Statham was born to play, he is described as never stealing from those who need it - although quite how this will be shown in the movie remains to be seen - and he never kills. Unless he has to. So expect a high body count, and maybe he'll give some chage to a charity collector.

The main question of course is whether he'll find an excuse to rip off his shirt Transporter style. I'm guessing there's at least one scene where he shows off his stunning body (cue body)



and tries to prove he isn't gay by sleeping with an underwritten female character.

Read on for industrialists, mid-air heroics and the usual update of casting stories.



Aristotle O

The recent "Kennedys" series may have underwhelmed critically and commercially but it has renewed interest somewhat in that particular political dynasty and it's various connections, which ma go somewhere to explaining why an Aristotle Onassis (left) biopic is being planned by Branlio Mantovani and Fernando Meirelles (the writer and director combination of City of God). The Greek shipping tycoon famously wooed Jackie Kennedy following the assasination of JFK. Robert Lindsay has played Aristotle to great acclaim on the London stage over the last year, however I suspect any big screen adaptation will go for bigger names in the main roles.

Flight

Licking his wounds after the disasterous box-office performance of the 3D motion capture Mars Needs Moms and the consequent cancellation of Yellow Submarine producer Robert Zemeckis is preparing to return to live-action with this dramedy about the aftermath of a plane crash. Denzel Washington (who is currently in negotiations) will play the pilot of a passenger jet forced to make an emergency landing in part due to him being incapacitated on drink and/or drugs. Hailed as a hero in the headlines the film will focus on whether he admits to what happened or goes along with that. Sounds like a slight spin on Accidental Hero but with Zemeckis there to make the opening scenes exciting and a potential powerful performance of guilt and remorse from Washington (baring in mind he's been coasting in action movies for at least 5 years) this could be one to watch.

Casting News

It's been all go on the casting front. Ian Holm has been confirmed as Old Bilbo in The Hobbit, therefore proving there will be a section where Bilbo is old... And to my surprise (and believe me I'm feeling a little contrite about what I said in the past) Jeremy Renner will definitely be the Bourne substitute in The Bourne Legacy. Oliver Stone's Savages has picked up a impresive array of supporting players with John Travolta, Uma Thurman and Emile Hirsch entering the fray. Ralph Fiennes may be the Magwich we'll looking for in Great Expectations and finally Sam Raimi and the "studios" are squaring off about casting a minor role in Oz, the Great and Powerful - he wants Hilary Swank, they want Michelle Williams - given the role is for an elder witch I would pass over both of them and use an actress in her fifties, after all there are loads of them.

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Djimon Hounsou


Happy Birthday to

Djimon Hounsou

47 today


The statuesque Beninian has two Oscar nominations to his name and has worked with a slew of big name directors yet still can't seem to get roles that aren't at least partially focussed on his African heritage. By the way, as a former model, there's plenty of pictures like this on the web.

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Friday, 22 April 2011

In the Depths of Winter (Out this week - 22/04/11)

It's a good job I'm still in the run of "Baby Jesus Freak" as the cinematic landscape is looking a bit bleak at present, with the final deep breath before the summer season of blockbuster action commences. That's not to say there isn't some interesting output, but it's purely on the independent foreign-language kind and therefore hard to get hold of in the majority of cinemas. Anyhoo - film of the week is How I ended this Summer.



How I ended this Summer

Set in a Russian weather station deep within the arctic circle the film follows the progression and breakdown of two vastly different men over one summer as they receive and attempt to process some bad news from home. The trailer indicates high emotions and a fair degree of tension.

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



Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc Sec

Luc Besson returns to live action adventure with this adaptation of the well-loved French comic book series, with a healthy dollop of feminism. The titular character is a proto-Lara Croft vanquishing mummies and hatched Pterodactyls in 1920's Paris.

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

Arthur

Russel Brand's film career appears to be ending right here, just as he gets his first major lead role. Frankly I dislike the original Arthur so I had very low expectations anyway, and combined with the horrible reviews and box office in America expect Brand to return to scene stealing supporting roles. Helen Mirren and Nick Nolte inexplicably co-star.

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

Dum Maaro Dum

Goa set thriller involving different storylines and characters all being manipulated by a shadowy drug king-pin. Unlikely to end well for the mafia boss, but probably everyone else will sort themselves out.

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


Fast & Furious 5: Rio Heist

Or whatever it's called these days. Paul Walker and Vin Diesel return (along with just about every surviving cast member from the franchise) to drive pumped up automobiles around the back streets of Rio de Janeiro facing off against Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. I wonder who's muscles will put in the most convincing performance?

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

Pina

Wim Wenders explores the contemporary dance choreography of the late Pina Bausch. Essentially this is a recreation of her stunning work, using her troupe of dancing in a fitting tribute filmed just after her unexpected passing. Probably one for the fans of dance only, but certainly a curiosity that could be very rewarding.

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

Beastly

Following hot of the heels of last weeks Little Red Riding Hood movie is this teen version of Beauty and the Beast in which we see personality free Alex Pettyfer get hideously transformed by a witch before being freed by true loves kiss. I can never remember the moral to this fairy-tale. Is about seeing the inner beauty?

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

Dharti

Bollywood director Navaniat Singh was responsible for high grossing previous films like Mel Karade Rabba so I'm not sure why this Indian Air Force familial drama hasn't managed a page on imdb.

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

Everywhere and Nowhere

Kidulthood spin-off (much like Anuvahood a couple of weeks ago) but this look much more interesting as a Britiah Asian teenager is forced to choose between his traditional family and his blossoming career as a nightclub DJ.

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

Zombie Undead

Low budget British horror jumping on the current craze for zombies. Unlikely to bother anyone other than genre fanatics, and with a trailer that doesn't hint to any deeper parallels with society, it looks as if the everyone involved had fun making it at least.

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

I'm rubbish at keeping up when I'm away, but here a four more films that missed my attention when they first came out:

08 April 2011

Snap

Small scale Irish mockumentary (?) about a mother of a child killer and tabloid hate figure being interviewed by a small documentary crew. Interesting concept, but I'm not sure the style is the best way to present the frustration of the woman. Could be worth catching up on, though.

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

Urumi

I originally thought that was the sense of taste associated with mushrooms, but apparently this is a Bollywood look at the life of the boy who planned to assassinate famed Portuguese explorer Vasco de Gama. I must admit I never knew he was associated with India, but apparently his career was based on successes there - indeed he died (of Malaria) in Goa.

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


15 April 2011

Mallillai

Details on this much-maligned Tamil movie are a little sketchy, but it seems to revolve around a mix-up at an arranged wedding, and a character getting falsely imprisoned. The commenters on imdb are united in their hatred for it though.

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

Sparrow

Minor Johnnie To (Cheun Jik San Sau, Running out of time) movie which played at the Berlinale in 2008, about a group of street kids in Hong Kong getting by through pick pocketing. Came and went in UK cinemas without much fuss.

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

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Jack Nicholson


Happy Birthday to

Jack Nicholson

74 today


Easily one of the most recognised actors on the planet, those eyebrows alone are infamous. Jack doesn't work terribly often these days, taking a couple of years between projects, but his fanbase still loyally attend even when the movie is rubbish (see How Do You Know).

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Thursday, 21 April 2011

Scream 4

2011. Dir: Wes Craven. Starring: Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox, David Arquette, Emma Roberts and Hayden Panettiere. ●●●○○



Do you like Scary movies? Or perhaps a better question: do you like comedies that make you jump or horror films that you laugh at? If you're a fan of the former than you will probably find Scream 4 or Scre4m right up your street, if you fall in the second camp prepare to be disappointed. At no point in the (curiously overlong) 111 minute screentime does this feel like a horror, the tension simply doesn't get ratcheted up enough, however there are plenty of giggles to be had anticipating the next bloody corpse and trying to second guess the killer.



As with the previous entries in the Woodsboro franchise the self reflection and naval gazing it what gives this picture it's unique charm. At each step of the game one of the more savvy characters will pronounce what circumstances need to be fulfilled before Ghostface strikes again, followed by cut to party scene/lone female in car park/hapless policemen.

The plot, for what it's worth, sees Sidney Prescott, our heroine from the first trilogy as played by Neve Campbell, return to her home town to launch her book dedicated to moving on from horrific episodes in her past. Whilst there she bumps into old cronies Dewey and Gale (Arquette and Cox) who are now married (irony, eh?) and enjoying their lives in the sleepy town, and stays with here hitherto unmentioned Aunt Kate (a criminally wasted Mary McDonnell) and cousin Jill (Emma Roberts). Jill naturally finds herself being stalked by another serial killer who this time seems intent on making Sidney suffer by tormenting those around her.

The rest of the teenage cast is made up of known stars like Hayden Panettiere (believably sassy and the cast stand out) and Rory Culkin (all dopey eyed) and mainly serve as either a collection of doomed caricatures or potential suspects to be crossed off one by one.

As for the reveal, it's a nice touch, I certainly didn't second guess who the killer was (my preferred suspect turned out to be hopelessly innocent) although the speech where the real ghostface revealed their motivation was hopelessly inept and didn't really work with what had gone before, and as ever the athleticism of Ghostface in full stalker mode seems to belie what we know about the eventual killer, however these are minor gripes that belong firmly within the genre.

Many of the one-liners work well, especially in the final hospital based scenes where our heroic survivors are effectively commentating on the killer's modus operandi as it happens ("They always come up behind you", indeed). By the script as a whole, along with the overall shape of the editing, shows clear signs of too many cooks. Characterisation is talked about rather than actually taking place, and retrospectively the clues leading to the identity of the killer are too circumspect and obtuse, indeed the whole theme of self generated fame doesn't come into the story until the final reel.

I don't suppose this film will resurrect the Scream franchise, the box office take has not be adequate to do that, but it may be enough to keep the careers of the protagonists going for a few more years. And director Wes Craven should definitely leave the stalker sub-genre alone and try to make an outright comedy - that I'd pay to see.

I suppose I'd recommend this as a Wednesday night, two for one on tickets, date movie. It's OK, but it's really just a means to and end.

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Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Jessica Lange


Happy Birthday to

Jessica Lange

62 today


Notoriously publicity shy Lange's breakout role was in the underrated 1976 King Kong remake swiftly followed by the Angel of Death in All that Jazz. Equally adept in comedic and dramatic roles it's a shame we don't see more of her these days.

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Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Tuesday Trailers - The Messenger

It's shocking that we've had to wait so long for this in the UK. Oren Moverman's subtle and realistic fable chronicling the work of soldiers reporting the loss of loved ones is a unique and harrowing movie, and yet it has taken over 18 months to get a British release. I've already seen it - and I'm very glad it's coming out as that will make it eligible for my best of lists this year.



The Messenger is released on 20 May 2011.

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James Franco


Happy Birthday to

James Franco

33 today


Is Franco biting off more than he can chew? What with Oscar nominated work on 127 Hours as well as high profile movies like Howl and this months Your Highness, a stint on "General Hospital", all his art and photography work it was highly likely that one of the balls would be dropped - shame it was hosting the Oscars. Loads of films on the slate but really I'm only interested to see his (con) wizarding skills in Oz, The Great and Powerful.

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Monday, 18 April 2011

Running (17/04/11)

I wandered down to the London Marathon course on yesterday morning, cheering on the runners. They all did such a great job, both in terms of their dedication to the race (plenty of grimacing faces) and in terms of raising huge amounts of money for charity. I'm sure they'll all feeling a delightful mixture of muscular pain and elation at their achievement this morning. Well done to all. I may even sign up for next year now, the atmosphere was amazing so I'm sure I'd enjoy the run. In the meantime:

5 runs
32.2 miles
5 hours 02 minutes

So that's an average speed of 6.40 mph

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Hayley Mills


Happy Birthday to

Hayley Mills

65 today


It's hard to imagine now but in the 60's not only was Hayley the most famous child star on the planet, but she also consistently championing the box office leagues - you just can't imagine any of todays prodigys having that much clout. She's still working, mainly on British TV, but she's obviously not as angelic as she once was.

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Sunday, 17 April 2011

All that glisten's is not... (Film News - 17/04/11)

I'm still in London, so just a little bit out on a limb, therefore it's difficult to keep up with the news, however I have endeavored to keep looking at the latest headlines on a daily basis so I can, at least, give a rough breakdown. Actually the biggest news stories have all been casting related but a few new rumours have surfaced. Such as:

Gold

Which sees the unlikely marriage of Michael Mann director with Paul Haggis on production duty for this modern tale of obsessions and greed with cues taken from John Huston's masterful The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. We don't know anything else at this point, but investigations into the seamier side of man's relationship with rare stuff from the ground is usually good for a watch - whether we're talking about Bogart in the 1949 film or Daniel Day-Lewis drinking our milkshake.



The script by Chicago Code/Friday Night Lights alumni Patrick Massett and John Zinman was originally passed to Haggis, who felt he could not direct due to other commitments so in turn offered it to Mann. I suspect this will be right up Micheal's street, the potential mix of dangerous men in dangerous situations will undoubtedly be irresistible to him.

Expect some great names to join the cast over the coming months.

Read on for more revenge, more money, and some casting news.




Low Dweller

I think revenge must be back in fashion. Everywhere you look these days there are violent fantasies where wronged men, and it almost always is men, seek brutal justice for the murder of their wife/child/partner, so it's no surprise to hear of another one. However this is different as it's the blacklisted script by Brad Inglesby which Scott Cooper has been commissioned to re-draft and direct. Which beg's the question why does it need Mr. Cooper to take another look at the script if it was so bleeding good in the first place. In Low Dweller the hero is released from prison wanting some sweet love with his reluctant girlfriend only to find his brother is dead so he seeks revenge - I'm sure there's something interesting about it.

$7Bn Dollar Men

Based on the Wall Street bailout, and more specifically about the Federal Bailout Chief, Neal Kashkari, who lasted in the job for just 6 months, spent unprecedented amounts of money helping the financial services industry, then retired to his Maryland hometown to build a shed. Frankly I'm not sure what this will aim to "say" as a final film but George Clooney and Grant Heslov, who have teamed up on The Men who Stare at Goats, another satirical look at the modern American State, are interested in adapting it so there must be an unusual take to be had.


Casting News


There have been plenty of meetings with casting directors this week, indeed it's largely these assigned parts which has got me going for most of the time. During the last seven days Alec Baldwin, Jesse Eisenberg and Ellen Page have all signed up for the next Woody Allen picture. Joaquim Pheonix has less his semi-exile to work on Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master. Sally Field has confirmed as Mary Todd Lincoln in the upcoming Lincoln movie. That's the real one - not Vampire Hunter. Helena Bonham Carter may end up as Miss Haversham and Ryan Gosling is interested in putting on a mask so as to play the Lone Ranger to Johnny Depp's Tonto.

Sidney Lumet

Of course this week we also heard to the tragic passing of celebrated film director Sidney Lumet. In a career that lasted over 50 years Lumet brought to the screen several groundbreaking and consistently high performing movies from 12 Angry Men to Before the Devil Knows you're Dead by way of Network and Dog Day Afternoon. Each one providing iconic moments in the history of modern cinema. His talent will be sorely missed.

Here is a little bit of Network to remind why Lumet was such a star.



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Friday, 15 April 2011

Something we all do (Out this week - 15/04/11)

Odd little week, without much exciting at the cinemas, but some independent US and overseas efforts keep the art-house crowd happy enough. With the latest block buster efforts from Catherine Hardwicke and Wes Craven fighting for the top spot I'll definitely be attending a multiplex at some point, but the film of the week is Little White Lies.



Little White Lies

Actor turned director Guillaume Canet amazed everyone with his 2007 thriller Tell No One and here gets the opportunity to follow-up with a multiple character mood piece as a group of bourgeois 30 somethings head to the coast to play fast and loose with the truth of their relationships. Marion Cotillard reminds everyone she's French.

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



Meeks Cutoff

Michelle Williams (with a lab called Lucy) broke hearts in Kelly Reichart's relationship drama and now they have reteamed for this female centric look at the journey west taken by the early settlers. It's a very early horse in the 2012 Oscar race - be interesting to see if it's remembered at the end of the year.

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

Red Riding Hood

With undertones of terrorism paranoia and the nature of sexual desire, Hardwicke's interviews about her new Twilight inspired Werewolf/fairy tale hybrid are more fascinating than most of the pre-release publicity. Still the costumes look fantastic.

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

Scream 4

This is probably the biggest release I've heard of which has failed to screen the movie to Broadsheet critics prior to the release date. Anthony Quinn, writing for The Independent, is particularly pissed off by this, but it's hard to resist this belated sequel.

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

Winnie the Pooh

Charming looking return to the seven acre wood we all grew up in, with Christopher Robin's adventures with his stuffed animals. The trailer exhibits how Disney aren't afraid to play with the traditional illustrations, including words from the prose getting entangled with the story. Definitely the best choice for kids this month.

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

Cold Weather

Not strictly speaking mumblecore, but clearly influenced by the movement, this non-detective story with a brother-sister reuniting in Portland, Oregon over Conan Doyle and mutual friends has been highly praised by critics and festival goers and may just be a surprise worth looking out for.

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

Your Highness

Poisonous notices have scuppered any chance this stoner-medieval quest movie has of making it's budget back. It's like The Princess Bride but with all the wit and carefully crafted characterisations taken out. God knows how Oscar baity actors like Natalie Portman and James Franco were persuaded to get involved. Avoid.

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

And missed from last week:

Cold Fish

Japanese Black Comedy, supposedly based on a true story, that charts the differing fortunes of two aquarium owners as business and personal relationships descend into madness and serial killing. Askew glances to societal traditions in the far East are bound to come into play.

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

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Emma Thompson


Happy Birthday to

Emma Thompson

52 today


Actress, writer, commedienne, national treasure. Emma defies convention with the wit and intelligence to seamlessly move between her many talents. She's going through a period of taking the money and running at the moment with nothing coming out that really begs to be seen.

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Thursday, 14 April 2011

Abigail Breslin


Happy Birthday to

Abigail Breslin

15 today


Five years on from her Oscar nominated performance as beauty pageant obsessed Olive in Little Miss Sunshine Abigail's doing nicely as she makes the transitiion into more mature roles. She was suitably dry in Rango and next up is a storyline in the multi-character comedy New Years Eve (it's got to be better than Valentine's Day, surely).

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Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Tuesday Trailers - Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

I'm fairly confident this will be the highest grossing movie I see in cinemas this year. Whether Captain Jack Sparrow will defeat Transformers, Captain America or Cars 2 remains to be seen - nevertheless the haul for this nautical juggernaut will be substantial. As you know it made my most anticipated movie list for the year, and I expect to see the usual hijinks and fun that we expect from the series - just hopefully more focussed than At World's End.



Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides is released on 20 May 2011.

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Andy Garcia


Happy Birthday to

Andy Garcia

55 today


Andy (birth name Andrés Arturo García Menéndez) didn't really register in New York I Love You even though I'd been looking forward to it for months. His role was in the first section and I felt the short was too tricksy to really work. It's a shame because I always want to like to watch him, but so few of his performances come my way.

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Sunday, 10 April 2011

Running (10/04/11)

I was in London all this week - doing Baby Jesus Freak, as if you didn't know - so the diet went to pot a bit, but at least I've kept the legs moving.

5 runs
26.6 miles
4 hours 05 minutes

So that's an average speed of 6.50 mph

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Haley Joel Osment


Happy Birthday to

Haley Joel Osment

23 today


Contrary to popular belief the stratopheric child star of the turn of the millenium hasn't disappeared off the face of the earth. On the contrary Haley has been consistently working wisely doing voice work during the difficult growing phases. Now in his early twenties the adult career is just about to start - let's hope he can throw off the "seeing dead people" preconceptions.

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Saturday, 9 April 2011

Sorting out the rubbish - (Movie News - 09/04/11)

I'm in London this week - it's Baby Jesus Freak don't ya know? - so I'm doing one of those tricks where I attempt to complete the news report in an internet cafe - writing up the stories as I hit them. It's so exciting as I want to keep the costs down and writing becomes much more intense!

Trash

The biggest title grabbing my attention is the children's adventure novel by Andy Mulligan which is about to get the multiplex treatment under the watchful eyes of Richard Curtis (writing) and Stephen Daldry (directing). That's a fascinating combo and frankly I'd probably see anything those two would plan to work on together, but this story seems especially intriguing.



Three boys (Raphael, Gardo, and Rat) in an unnamed third world country struggle to survive by recycling rubbish from the vast refuse mountains outside the major city where they live - I'm not trying to offend anyone but I imagine the Jardim Gramacho outside of Rio at this point. When the boys find something special, and then refuse a large bribe from a local policeman to hand it over it sparks a chain of events that will require all their cunning and courage to survive.

Sounds like it could meld a searing attack on modern poverty with the ind of adventure games children like exceptionally well. I'll be keeping an eye on this one.

Read on for controversial mayors, a weird virus, lies-a-plenty, Conrad's muse, a lost architect, a stupid murderer, the Godfather of Soul and our regular review of casting news.



Politics and Pasta

The autobiography of Buddy Cianci, the former mayor of Providence, Rhode Island is stirring up quite a controversy with it's claims of rebuilding the city and constant battle with mobsters as well as a stint inside for racketeering. Expect the big screen version to be along soon.

Prisoners of the Sun

We knew there'd be another one - although the when question is still there, but Spielberg and Peter Jackson will be swapping director/producer roles for the Tintin sequel. The Secret of the Unicorn is not too far off and will be followed by Prisoners of the Sun. The plot involves a mysterious illness affecting explorers and an Incan treasure that may be connected - sounds typical Herge and will likely be a great choice.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

I'm not sure I believe this myself, but the proposed remake of Danny Kaye's serial fantacist 1949 movie may just be back on track. Ben Stiller has seen the script and is very keen to get it made with him in the leading role. I'm ambivalent about Stiller's talents, but hopefully this will be a vehicle that can point him in an interesting direction.

Stanley

Joe Wright is making big plans for the next few years, with Hanna out in cinemas over the next few weeks he'll be turning his attention to Russian epic Anna Karenina. After that he's seriously considering a biopic of Sir Henry Morton Stanley, the explorer and journalist who "found" Dr. Livingston and who's journey into Africa inspired Conrad's "Hearts of Darkness".

The Tomb

Do you remember way back in early 2010 we mentioned a Bruce Willis project where he was a master architect locked in his own prison? Well, Bruce is out and former Governator Arnold Schwarzenegger is in, leading the 63-year-old's bid to return to the Hollywood elite. Apparently Antione Fuqua is still attached to helm, but given he has a Tupac biopic and a Chinese venture to complete first (see last week's news) expect a change of director soon.

True Crime

With Carnage having just wrapped Roman Polanski is already searching for his next challenge and seems to have stumbled on a Polish crime thriller. Based on a 2008 New Yorker article the film will follow the murder investigation after a body was found in the Oder river. The detectives eventually found clues in the published crime thrillers of the victims friend and colleague. Which just seems daft if he had done it..

Untitled James Brown Biopic

In completely regurgitated news is the largely unsubstantiated rumour that's Spike Lee's biopic of the great soul singer is still in the works (some five years since we last heard anything about it). Apparently Eddie Murphy and Usher are being considered to play Brown in various stages of his life.

Casting News

The names are starting to circulate for big screen Musical Les Miserables including Robert Downey Jnr, Anne Hathaway, Marion Cotillard and legendary British tenor Alfie Boe - expect plenty of rumours about this castlist right until the camera starts turning. Will Smith and little Jaden Smith have teamed up on M. Night Shyamalan's next sci-fi bustblocker One Thousnd A.E.. I realise Will wants his son to have all the advantages that he never had as a young actor, but surely he's seen M. Night's work and knows this will be a disaster. Catherine Zeta-Jones is the latest MILF to be wooed by Gerard Butler in Playing the Field. Penelope Cruz is planning to reunite with Woody Allen for his Rome set movie later this year, I can't work out whether that's a good thing for her.

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Friday, 8 April 2011

Bird in Paradise (Out this week - 08/04/11)

It certainly isn't a classic week, with the box office clash between 2 animated behemoths, neither of which are in any way aimed at me, and a selection of horror, low-rent sci-fi and Bollywood entries packing them in. Personally I doubt I'll be bothering with the cinema this weekend - far too busy - however because it's tradition the film of the week will be Rio.



Rio

It's unlikely to turn many heads or to be remembered as we draw to the years close, but this colourful CGI creation could provide adequate laughs for the small ones. Jesse Eisenberg is a nervy Maccaw unable to fly, Anne Hathaway the only female of the same sub-species - sounds like justification for arranged marriages. The supporting cast includes Jamie Foxx.

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



Silent House

Haunted house picture from Uruguay, supposedly based on a true story, and filmed in one continuous take. I would question from the trailer whether the title is accurate, as the house in question seems to be harbouring a vast amount of noise.

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

Mars needs Moms

The Robert Zemeckis produced mo-cap 3D comedy which may end up being most predominantly remember for crashing at the US box office bring down Zemeckis' plan to remake Yellow Submarine and providing the tipping point for the collapse of 3D predominance. Joan Cusack is the Mom the Martians want.

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

Rubber

Inventive horror which gives sentient life to an abandoned car tyre out for revenge. Oddly I saw a similar short several years ago which had a romance storyline and I do wonder if these are related? I also wonder if the surreal starting point can be maintained for over 20 minutes?

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

Thank You

Moralistic romantic Hindi comedy about a group of lads serial womanizing behind their wives backs ho suddenly get a dose of reality from the independent women. I expect the pathos and laughs will be evenly dolled out and that everyone will be happy when the credits roll.

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

Tomorrow, When the War Began

Aussie invasion movie, with a group of teens returning from a camping/wild drinking party to find their neighbourhood turned into a guerilla-type war zone and they form a resistance army to protect the home town. Probably not realistic in the slightest, apparently this is the first in an intended trilogy.

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

Vanaam

Tamil remake of Vedam - no I hadn't heard of it either - which follows five different narratives until they merge into one terrifying climax. The trailer implies plenty of action, and lots of characters crying.

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

Roommate

Or Single White Female for the college crowd, only not as inventive or interesting. This house share horror someone topped the US charts for a week earlier in the year, but do not expect similar returns in to UK, it's actually been screened to critics hear and they're making their opinions heard.

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

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Thursday, 7 April 2011

Baby Jesus Freak

It's started. The London run of Ian Winterton's Baby Jesus Freak opened last night to a select (Um... very select) preview audience. They enjoyed it and the sister production of Stage Kiss (which is very funny but obviously I must support the play I'm in).



The pair are on from now until Good Friday (22 April) and tickets are available on the door or online via The Space website. I look forward to seeing you there.

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Russell Crowe


Happy Birthday to

Russell Crowe

47 today


The Oscar winning, interestingly tempered Aussie is currently in the middle of an acting hiatus, enjoying beers and kicking back waiting for Ridley Scott's post Prometheus project. (I suspect Ridley's the only director left who'll work with him!!!)

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Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Tuesday Trailers - Hanna

Can you believe it's April already? And the good news here we are on the first tuesday in April and I'm showing the first trailer for May releases - back on schedule. This won't last - as I type this there's nothing I'm looking frward to in June so it's going to come to a crashing halt soon. In the meantime I'm psyched for Jow Wright's first foray into genre cinema with Saoirse Ronan as a mean killing machine out to knock off Cate Blanchett who shafter her father Eric Bana. I suspect there're more twists to be uncovered - and I don't mean Tom Hollander's ghastly wig.



Hanna is released on 06 May 2011.

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Monday, 4 April 2011

Running (03/04/11)

Had a chat with another jogger yesterday morning (whilst out in the water park). He was in training for the London Marathon in two weeks and he asked me for advice. I couldn't think of any at the time, to be fair it was just before we split off in different directions, but on the off chance you're reading this. Enjoy the run and make sure you get a sports massage on the legs after.

5 runs
27.2 miles
4 hours 12 minutes

So that's an average speed of 6.49 mph

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Robert Downey Jr.


Happy Birthday to

Robert Downey Jr.

46 today


Even now Robert's career surprises me, but with two franchises on the go and a second Oscar nod in 2008 for a comic supporting role you have to admit he's got it right at the moment. Not that his forthcoming appearances are doing anything to interest me right now.

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Sunday, 3 April 2011

Is the tide about to turn? (Film News - 02/04/11)

It's an odd week to be writing up, very little on the news front that could possibly excite anyone. That said I was interested in an unusual box office related piece which taken in conjunction with one film that I was planning to bury after the jump makes a fascinating leader.

Untitled Yang Guifei project

Or why Hollywood may stop being the Holiday destination for talent.

At CinemaCon's annual conference for U.S. theatre owners an interesting statistic was dominating the first day. Warner Bros. noted a 65% expansion in the Chinese Film Market in 2010, and with 3 new screens opening every day on average the total take in China is likely to outstrip the U.S. within the decade. Given the pummelling the U.S. box office is getting at the moment this could come sooner than they project. Overall studios will therefore need to be more mindful of the potential of overseas, especially Chinese, exports.

At present there's a strict quota on American films shown in China but whilst the Communist government is planning to relax that it will take more to persuade the audiences to switch to non-homegrown talent. Just look at France which still enjoys a thriving market for French produced films. As audiences and box office take increase the knock on effect will be an increase in budgets for Chinese films. With increasing budgets comes increasing salaries and before you know it everyone wants to work for the Chinese film industry.

Which brings me to the second story - it has already started. Antoine Fuqua, the very American director of Training Day and Shooter has been recruited to direct a tragic period epic about the relationship between the 8th Century Emperor Xuanzong and of the four most celebrated beauties of ancient China Yang Guifei. It's an immensely popular story in China, celebrated in poetry, art (like the example below) and opera over the years and it will certainly be a challenge to bring it to the silver screen.



With a budget of 200m Yuan (about $30m) it will add considerable international cachet to both the project and Fuqua which could substantially improve it's international box office potential. Whether Fuqua is the right (most subtle) person for the job is another question, as is the delayed Tupac Shakur biopic which he was due to film this summer.

Whatever happens though this is definitely something to watch out for.

Read on for Zombies taking over the world (if they can get the money) and politically challenging women (being fought over by men). Plus the latest casting news and round up of new projects kicking off production.



World War Z

Those of you who thought the big screen adaptation of Max Brooks' excellent Zombie Apocalypse novel was dead in the water (excuse the pun) fear not as funding discussions between Paramount and other studios in order to get together enough money to do it justice. The bad news is that they obviously think they need a lot of money to do it justice - given that the unique selling point of the book is that it's all done in interviews which shouldn't need much cash at all that makes me think it will be a lot more expansive and - potentially - rubbish.

Untitled Gertude Bell biopic



British minor aristocracy meddling in the Middle East seem to be the order of the day at the moment. A few weeks ago we looked at the potential biopic of Lady Hester Stanhope and today it's Gertrude Bell CBE (above), the archaeologist, writer and all-round good egg. Active on behalf of the British Government during the First World War she is credited, along with T.E. Lawrence of uniting the Arab tribes in order to fight the Ottoman Empire. After the way her work was instrumental in establishing what is now Iraq. Ridley Scott is saying he wants to direct a film of her life (cannily mixing the proto-feminism of Thelma and Louise with the geopolitical knowledge of Kingdom of Heaven) but he'll have to duke it out with Werner Herzog who's been planning a film of her life for many years. Now that's a celebrity death match I'd pay to see, my money's on Herzog getting out of the gate first after all Scott's already linked to about a dozen other projects.

Casting News

The biggest casting story this week is for Roger Michell's Hyde Park on Hudson, which we briefly discussed last week, not that we have a replacement Colin Firth and Helena Bonham Carter (as the British royals on a jolly to the States) but Bill Murray has signed on as Franklin D. Roosevelt. Superb casting there, both with the look and the mix of humour and gravitas that only Murray can bring to the screen. We're on cameo alert with the confirmation that Johnny Depp will paint a little in Martin Scorcese's Hugo Cabret and the latest potential obligatory Avengers trailer for Thor which might be Jeremy Renner in full Hawkeye mode, which at least makes more sense than Samuel L.'s Nick Fury who we've met before (I still doubt it's necessary). Talking of Renner some websites have been reporting he's close to being announced as Matt Damon's replacement for The Bourne Legacy. I doubt that's true - wouldn't the character be just a bit too close to his Mission: Impossible franchise-stealing Brandt.

Production News

I've been on IMDb again. So sue me. The following projects, all of which we've mentioned before, have kicked off the production process: TV to movie adaptation The Man from U.N.C.L.E, Ski dramedy Woodchucks, Monk Meditation Silence and the Anjelina Jolie version of Cleopatra (now with David Fincher rumoured as director). This is on top of Hype Park on Hudson and the Yang Guifei project mentioned above.

The following, though, I had never heard of until I checked this week.

Bumped

Well, it existed yesterday, but it's already been pulled into obscurity (in development) on IMDb. I know nothing but it's a comedy called "Bumped" from the director of Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure and Man of the House so could be great fun or utterly dreadful.

Castro's Daughter

A biopic of Alina Fernandez, the exiled daughter of Fidel Castro (natch), who fled Cuba in 1993 (disguised as a bewigged Spanish tourist). Since then she's written a tell-all autobiography (below) and now hosts a Miami based radio programme which looks at Cuban politics. It's unlikely to be completely balanced.


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Doris Day


Happy Birthday to

Doris Day

89 today


Or Doris Mary Ann Von Kappelhoff as she prefers to be called these days. Doris hasn't acted in nearly 40 years but that doesn't stop a perennial campaign to get her an honorary Oscar. Here she is never stopping loving you in 1955's Love me or Leave Me.

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Saturday, 2 April 2011

A recogniseable fantasy (Out this week - 01/04/11)

Given that I gave Bradley Cooper the benefit of the doubt last week I should really be as generous to Jake Gyllenhaal and select his film as movie of the week, especially as it's directed by genius Moon director, Duncan Jones. However I just couldn't resist a little French farce to celebrate April Fool's Day, so film of the week is Louise Michel.



Louise Michel

Delightful looking black comedy where a group of disgruntled employees, led by the indomitable eponymous heroine, take a hit out on their boss. Then it all starts to go wrong with surreal and unexpected results.

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



Passenger Side

Canadian Indie following two brothers, one a failed writer the other a recovering junkie, on a road trip around their adoptive Los Angeles. Slow and sedate it looks like a fine attempt at getting under the skin of the central fraternal relationship.

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

Source Code

By rights this superior time-travel thriller, like a mash-up of 12 Monkeys, Deja Vu and Groundhog Day, should be the film of the week. Starring Jake Gyllenhaal as Colter Stephens, a mixed up soldier trying to save the past, with Michelle Monaghan and Vera Farmiga supporting and directed by Duncan [Zowie B...] Jones this will probably do very well at the box office.

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

Essential Killing

A virtually wordless acting tour de force from Vincent Gallo drives this Eastern European set prison break drama with Gallo playing the Islamist convert escaping waterboarding.

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

Oranges and Sunshine

Based on the true cases of British children being lured away to Australia by an inefficient and corrupt social services in post-war England, many whilst their family were still alive. Emily Watson plays the social worker trying to uncover the conspiracy, David Wenham and Hugo Weaving among the cases she uncovers. Worthy and tear-jerking but probably not much more than that.

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

Blooded

Interesting independent British movie, which takes the central conceit of The Most Dangerous Game with an extreme Animal Liberation hunting down a group of bloodsports enthusiasts. Intercut with alternative actors explaining what happened.

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

Game

Our Bollywood release of the week revolves around a murder mystery with four very different suspects (drug-dealer, actor, journalist and politician) who may have killed a young woman and now face their lives falling apart until the real killer can be found.

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

Killing Bono

Unfortunately the story of making this slightly inaccurate Neil McCormick biopic is more interesting than the film itself given that Bono himself suggested the title. Ben Barnes plays the lead singer of Dublin's second best band, Martin McCann does a spot-on impersonation of 70's era Bono and Pete Postlethwaite will always have this as his lasting legacy.

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

Sucker Punch

Suddenly the same fans who were applauding Zack Snyder to direct the new Superman were disgusted at the thought after his latest creative nadir crashed and burned at the US box office. It's all to do with an innocent young woman fending off evil men by retreating into her subconscious - but feminism it ain't.

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

Hatchet 2

I suspect if I said I didn't even know there'd been a Hatchet 1 I guess I'd be missing the point of this grisly American horror. Expect small axes to fall on all the sympathetic characters - if indeed there are any.

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

Hop

We get the cinema we deserve really, or so you will if you watch this appalling looking kids comedy about the Easter Bunny (voiced by Russell Brand) and his attempts to avoid work whilst excreting jelly beans.

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

Young Hearts Run Free

First feature from Andy Mark Simpson looking at the relationship between a art student in Northumbria and a girl from London against the backdrop of the Miners strikes. Probably would've felt like an old-story in 1974 (when it's set).

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

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Linda Hunt


Happy Birthday to

Linda Hunt

66 today


The diminutive (4 foot 9) character actress has the unique record for winning an oscar playing someone of the opposite gender for her role as photographer Billy Kwan in The Year of Living Dangerously (1982). These days she has one of the most recognised voices in the world thanks to her narration of the incredible successful God of War computer games.

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Friday, 1 April 2011

24 Hour Ping Pong People

I rarely talk about what's going on in the real world, but here's a chance have a bit of fun and raise some money for a good cause.

A couple of friends from work are completing a 24 hour ping pong (or table tennis, if you will) challenge in order to raise money for comic relief.


Here are Ian and Matt before they started.

And here they are now:


You can also follow their progress on Facebook and "like it" thereby increasing it's likelihood of being spotted by your friends.

Or please just go on to

http://my.rednoseday.com/24hrpingpongpeopleian

and make a small donation.

Thanks very much

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Debbie Reynolds


Happy Birthday to

Debbie Reynolds

79 today


A consummate professional and natural sing-and-dance star, Reynolds starting film acting in the late 40's and gained stardom following 1952's Singin' in the Rain, although she's just as well known among geeks these days for her fraught relationship with daughter Carrie Fisher. With the disappearance of Katherine Heigl's One for the Money from the summer schedules it looks like we still won't be seeing Reynolds back where she belongs for some time.

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