Wednesday, 29 June 2011

127 Hours

2010. Dir: Danny Boyle. Starring: James Franco, Kate Mara, Amber Tamblyn, Clémence Poésy and Treat Williams. ●●●●○



As I was saying a couple of weeks ago there were a couple of movies released in January that I didn't get a chance to catch in cinemas. The second of those was Danny Boyle's 127 Hours, and to be perfectly honest with you I'm glad I watched it in the comfort of my home - where I could pause the film and nearly pass out without feeling horribly embarrassed in front of strangers (I count my readers as friends hence I'm able to tell you here). Frankly my side - where I curled into the fetal position and slowly recovered is still in agony the following day. In short the movie caused an unprecedented reaction for me. I'm not a gore hound but I have seen some of the torture porn genre but nothing prepared me for the money shots in this picture.



For those of you who don't know the plot - and I doubt there are many - the film follows James Franco as Aron Ralston the self-professed adventurer and live for today outdoorsy type who on a weekend of canyoneering in Utah dislodged a massive rock which pinned his arm against the rack face. We then watch Franco deteriorate from a cocky angry young man into a hallucinating wreck accepting his death before he finally faces the enormity of the decision he will have to face.

That's about it. We get a short introduction when he meets up with two backpackers in the opening minutes of the film, and there is the odd flashback as Franco searches for meaning in his life, but 75% of the film is Franco trapped under a rock. Given that this is a true story (and I - like many others - knew how it would end going in) the film carefully walks that type-rope between maintaining suspense and cheating the audience - the frequent hallucinations blur the line of reality, confusing fact from fiction to the viewer and making the ultimate ending seem so far away.

Franco excels in the role, every moment of his screen time is fascinating as multiple attempts to escape fail and he traverses through the Kübler-Ross model of grief.

Of course all that would be in vain if the work around Franco wasn't high class as well. Simon Beaufoy's script, based in part on the recordings that Ralston made in the canyon, does that rare combo of ratcheting up the tension whilst also developing the themes of needing humanity and family to really survive. The make-up department also need to be praised for their work on Franco, each scene sees the deterioration in his physicality and his colour as his energy seeps away during the 127 hours he was trapped.

Danny Boyle, editor Jon Harris and cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle stuff the film with split screens, repeated actions and graphic tracking shots that emphasise the isolation of this MTV matinee idol like character.

Would I recommend this movie. Oddly no, I don't think I could, in spite of how excellent it is that one scene is so much I can't advise other people watch it. Would I watch it again. Probably not. Did this film move me with it's themes and execution in a way that few movies have ever done. Certainly.

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Gary Busey


Happy Birthday to

Gary Busey

67 today


Is Mr. Busey the craziest man in Hollywood? There's no point in denying the rumours, there's been the odd behaviour on "Celebrity Apprentice" and his recent firing from the set of Mansion of Blood, allegedly for erratic behaviour and inappropriate comments to women on set. It'll be interesting to see how quickly he's devoured in Piranha 3DD.

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Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Bruce Davison


Happy Birthday to

Bruce Davison

65 today


Here's something I expect you didn't know, Pennsylvania native Davison was the first actor cast in the X-Men series thanks to his previous work with director Bryan Singer on Apt Pupil - I'd have thought that Ian McKellen (who was also in both films) would be a little pee'd off at that. By the way there's nothing on Bruce's upcoming slate that seems worth catching.

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Sunday, 26 June 2011

Running (26/06/11)

I'm not sure, but I think my weightloss may have plateaued, not that it's a big issue as I'm well within the BMI "normal" range but I've only lost 2 pounds in the last 3 weeks. Hey ho, at least I've managed to surpass my best weeks in terms of the pace when out on the road (although it's worth noting the average distance of a run is significantly shorter than last week). Only 11 weeks left until the Marathon now...

6 runs
30.1 miles
4 hours 03 minutes

So that's an average speed of 7.44 mph

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Eleanor Parker


Happy Birthday to

Eleanor Parker

89 today


I do have a system for choosing the birthdays to celebrate, but it does mean that some performers get repeated more than others, which in turn means I have little to say about some performers that I haven't already said. For instance Ms Parker has had her birthday commemorated 3 times here. Hopefully Alex and Andrew have both caught up on some of her more obscure movies over that time (no pressure chaps). I recently rewatched The Man with the Golden Arm and her ridiculously over the top performance as Frank Sinatra's crippled wife Zosch is delightfully manic.

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Saturday, 25 June 2011

The drip drip drip of a slow news week (News - 25/06/11)

To be perfectly honest it's not been a great week for news, only a handful of stories none of which guarantee my support when the film is finally made - in fact none of them are even close to making it into pre-production let alone a movie getting into cinemas. I guess only time will tell.

Untitled Howard Hughes biopic

Over several days this week we heard a slow feed of stories about Warren Beatty's next project - on Monday we learnt he was due to star and helm a movie, on Tuesday it became a comedy and so on. It seems the Dick Tracy 2 comments he made a couple of weeks ago were a cover for a biopic of the barking billionaire whose well-documented germ-phobia kept him isolated and paranoid for most of his later years.

This film will oddly take on that part of his life, especially an unlikely romantic relationship with a younger woman, and certainly won't be a thematic sequel to Martin Scorsese's The Aviator.


Howard Hughes in saner times.

Talks have already begun with a broad collection of Beatty's Hollywood mates including Annette Bening, Rooney Mara, Alec Baldwin, Jack Nicholson and Andrew Garfield which certainly sounds like a cracking cast. Although you can assume there haven't been talks with Christopher Nolan who publicly expressed a desire to make another Hughes movie last year.

Read on for Israeli spies, Formula 1 heroes, competing agents and big "C" conservatism, as well as the latest casting calls and an update on forthcoming UK releases.



Gabriel Allon

If Bond and Bourne have too much inconvenient imperialist baggage then maybe this latest spy franchise will have the ambiguity you need to keep an interest. Allom is the brainchild of Daniel Silva and has so far appeared in 10 books so the possibilities for sequels are pretty extensive. He's in his 40's, therefore older than you'd expect from the genre, and splits his time between fine art restoration and catching terrorists. The stories, including the first book The Kill Artist (right), are commended for their balanced view of the Isreal-Palestine situation as well as kick-ass action scenarios.

Rush

I've made no secret of my Formula 1 fandom so it's always a pleasure to see a motor racing themed movie in the works, even if the results really succeed in encapsulating the excitement of the real thing. This Peter Morgan scripted effort will chart the 1976 championship battle between Niki Lauda and James Hunt, a titanic battle which saw the lead seesaw between the two of them as well as some shocking crashes that led to Lauda losing an ear! Literally on the edge of my seat about this.

Spy vs. Spy




I'm guessing the spy vs. spy comic strip (above) is much more popular in the States than it is over here - I personally had never heard about it - but the tit for tat competition between the two central agents as they try to prove who's the premier in their field could well make a fun children's comedy in the vein of Johnny English. What do you think?

Untitled Todd Haynes project

After the brief sojourn in television with the Kate Winslet starring "Mildred Peirce" Tadd Haynes is looking to return to mainstream cinema (or as mainstream as he ever gets) working from a script by Meek's Cutoff script writer Jon Raymond. The details available are extremely sketchy at the moment, all we know - from an interview with Time Out - is that it will look at the contemporary conservative politics in America, whether that means an expose on the Tea party remains to be seen.

Casting News

The forthcoming cinematic outing for The Lone Ranger has picked up a villain in the guise of Railroad baron Tom Wilkinson. There's also been some movement on Silver Lining's Playbook, with Robert De Niro proving he's still interested in working with director David O. Russell, the same cannot be said for Anjelina Jolie who appears to disappeared from the project with a long-list of stars queuing up to play Mark Wahlberg unforgiving ex, including Jennifer Lawrence - although I suspect that's for completely different role.

Release Schedules

I've changed the website I get my release schedules from, finally getting tired of the patchy work at Pearl and Dean and have moved onto www.filmdates.co.uk, it's slightly less user friendly but it's exhaustive in terms of content. As a result there are loads of new release dates to announce, although surprisingly no dates have changed over the last month.

Restless - Gus van Sant's latest comes across as a return to the elegiac masterpieces that pepper his career although reviews from Cannes suggest it's nowhere near the quality of his best hits. Fall for a suicidal teen on 21 October 2011.

Ides of March - We heard this week that George Clooney's political potboiler will be opening the Venice festival, just in time to make it's UK debut. Secure support at the primaries on 28 October 2011.

Happy Feet 2 - It's perfectly possible that I'll be seeing two animated releases this year, given how surprised I was at the quality of Rango and being a supporter of the original penguin cartoon this could be my second. Tap dance across the Antarctic on 02 December 2011.

Dangerous Method - The first trailer for David Cronenberg's psychoanalysis biopic promises plenty of inappropriate desire if little historical accuracy. Succumb to your desires on 20 February 2012.

Jack the Giant Killer - Next summer is beginning to fill up with some very interesting projects, including this fairytale adventure from the director of X-Men. Although the final tone of the project will be very tricky to balance. Find a goose with golden eggs on 15 June 2012.

Bond 23 - Some of the forthcoming movies on filmdates are still in pre-production (or even earlier in the process) which does make the release date seem less likely to be achieved. This is notable for Daniel Craig's next outing as James Bond which has already seen plenty of delays due to financing issues within MGM. Take your martini shaken, not stirred, on 26 October 2012.

Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part II - the final installment in the massively popular teenage vampire series is set to come out late next year, don't expect any studio to be brave enough to open anything big against it. Find your true love on 16 November 2012.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - Photos of Martin Freeman and Ian McKellen as Bilbo and Gandalf has found themselves onto the web this week and we can probably look forward to seeing a steady drip drip of publicity for the Lord of the Rings prequel for the next 18 months. Go there, but not yet back again, on 14 December 2012.

The Life of Pi - Competing against Jackson's epic will the altogether smaller option of a small boy in a boat with a tiger, a hyena, an orang-utan and a zebra, balancing survivalist and existential themes Yann Martel's novel has received exceptional praise which will hopefully translate to the movie. Find yourself lost at sea on 14 December 2012.

Oz: The Great and Powerful - A prequel (not that we can really invoke the comparison) to the magical Judy Garland starer which aims to be the biggest of the latest round of L. Frank Baum releases in which we'll see James Franco's Wizard and his arrival in Oz. Take charge in an alternate universe on 08 March 2013.

The Dark Tower - We've heard a lot this week about whether Ron Howard's adaptation of Stephen King's magnum opus will ever get made, he's positive it will but budget reductions are meaning massive script revisions. Even so I remain skeptical that this release date (690 days away) will be achieved. Discover the beam on 17 May 2013.




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Friday, 24 June 2011

Digging up the Past (Out this Week - 24/06/11)

It's an odd week, with a variety of fascinating Foreign language offerings competing with only one major US release. Whilst Judd Apatow's first foray into feminine ideas of comedy may be getting some plaudits the trailer slightly put me off so the film of the week is Incendies.



Incendies

Set in an undisclosed Middle Eastern country, and filmed by a French/Canadian film the Oscar nominee explores the regional tensions and how we never really understand our heritage until it's too late to appreciate the magnitude of the truth.

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



Bridesmaids

I'm told the film itself is a lot more subtle and funny than the publicity seems to suggest with a knockout cast of commedienne's visting Las Vegas for Maya Rudolph's Bridal shower (is that American for Hen Party). Jill Clayburgh makes her final film performance.

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


Viva Riva!

The first of this weeks films with an African connection is the Kinshasa based thriller about the eponymous heroes escapades in a corrupt and petroleum starved city. Very exciting trailer that reinforces the theme of a clever modern thriller.

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


Checkpoint

Odd horror about four American's being stopped on the Canadian border after a weekend away only to find it ain't Customs that's stopped them. Cue 80 minutes of torture porn.

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


Double Dhamaal

Bollywood movie resurrecting the comedic quartet from Dhamaal with probably a similar plot dragging the imbeciles through predicatably complex brushes with mafia and big business.

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


First Grader

The true story of a 84 year old former Mau Mau resistance fighter who answers the Kenyan Governments pledge of "Free Education for All" by returning to school to learn to read. Looks heartwarming and fun, with just the right amount of political tension.

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

Ghosted

Another British prison movie with naive cons getting involved with the big boys. Aims to be an English Prophete, probably comes across as Porridge on steroids.

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

No Ordinary Trifle

If you think that sounds rubbish there's always this comedy about a small town chef and the barmaid he falls for in a West Country pub hoping for some Michelin stars. When Gordon Ramsey is a name above the title for a cameo you know you're in trouble.

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

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Wednesday, 22 June 2011

The Messenger

2009. Dir: Oren Moverman. Starring: Ben Foster, Woody Harrelson, Samantha Morton, Jena Malone and Steve Buscemi. ●●●●○



I had given up on the possibility of a UK release of The Messenger, in spite of it's double Oscar nominations (Best Supporting Actor for Woody Harrelson and Best Screenplay) there hadn't been a sign of release until 2 years after it's US bow. Fortunately it has managed to squeeze out a very limited UK showing - just 5 cinemas - and whilst I wasn't able to make it to one of those I have already bought a copy on DVD and am delighted to be able to review the film here. Like In the Valley of Elah and the supermarket scene of The Hurt Locker this movie takes a look at the Iraq conflict in the context of the aftermath and the casulaties of war, but Oren Moverman's fly on the wall take on a Casulaty Notification Team outdoes both of those movies and could even be seen as the definitive Iraq movie.



The plot is simple, even bare, Staff Sergeant Will Montgomery (Ben Foster), recovering from multiple injuries sustained in battle, is assigned to a Casualty notification unit under the command of Captain Tony Stone (Harrelson) visiting the next of kin of soldiers killed in action and informing the worst. Essentially we follow the two protagonists as they bond during R&R as well as watching them repeat this horrific but necessary job on several iterations, meeting angry fathers (Buscemi) and stunned widows (Morton) and experiencing the wide variety of responses.

Our central protanonists are both superb. Foster is a tightly wound ball of rage unable to appreciate the emotional hurt of his own situation who slowly develops a level of catharsis through noticing the details of others coping with their loss. Whilst a burgeoning romance with Morton's (now) single mother gives him the momentum to reassess his priorities.

Harrelson brings a sarcastic and brittle edge to his former alcoholic with more experience than he would like in his present role, but desperately hiding the insecurities and feelings of survivors guilt.

These two individually put in career best work, but together their scenes are magnificently played and staged. From the cases where the camera follows close behind, hovering over their shoulders, dragging the viewer into the scene, increasing our culpability, their stony faces barely disguising the compassion and understanding behind their eyes. To the final confrontations at Foster's flat, both of them confessing their innermost insecurities admitting to their shared faults. Even the drunken shoot out, boys pretending to die takes on a more oppressive and deeper meaning in context.

The rest of the cast, in small but powerful roles, are equally commendable, with a deep reverance for all the families even when the circumstances could have descending into soap operatics the performances are too subtle to allow that.

Moverman with co-writer Alessandro Camon have crafted a script which fully understands the issues of war and the comaradarie of those who have fought and the consequences of conflict. And Moverman's direction is unique in drawing us into the grounded world they have created.

Ultimately I would be prepared to say this is almost certainly the definitive Iraq war movie, one that fully contextualises the unnecessary loss of life and the effects on the families left behind. I recommend this movie for anyone interested in current affairs and 21st century history.

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Meryl Streep


Happy Birthday to

Meryl Streep

62 today


I am really worried about Meryl's role as Margaret Thatcher in the upcoming Iron Lady, reuniting her with Mamma Mia director Phyllidia Lloyd. I am concerned about the tone the movie may follow, given that it's concentrating on one of the most controversial periods (Falklands) of the Prime Minister's turbulent career, and it could veer from flag-waving populism to selective conservatism. Of course the campaign for Streep's 3rd Oscar (from 17 nods) has already started. To be honest I'm more interested in her struggling marriage to Tommy Lee Jones, set to be dissected in Great Hope Springs next year.

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Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Juliette Lewis


Happy Birthday to

Juliette Lewis

38 today


Juliette was supposed to have a great year in 2010, with a number of interesting projects including box office currying comedies and award-baity real-life dramas however whilst her performances were cited as good nothing really came of it. As a result whilst she has four more films in the pipeline I doubt I'll go to see any of them.

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Monday, 20 June 2011

Personal (Or Ben Rigby head shot)

Nothing new to add really, certainly no events, however I thought you might like to see my new Headshot.



Feel free to make any comments you like about my broken nose and cheeky smirk.

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Danny Aiello


Happy Birthday to

Danny Aiello

78 today


Veteran Italian-American character actor - he has a blink and you'll miss it role in The Godfather Part II - had a long but missable career as a heavy or cliched Mafia role until his searing portrayal of a Pizzeria owner who unwittingly starts a riot in Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing sealed his place in history. He's recently returned to work after a four year absence, although nothing he's working on looks like it's worth tuning in for.

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Sunday, 19 June 2011

Running (19/06/11)

A little bit further than last week but the timing took a bit of a dive (just a tiny one), although part of that is down to some hill training which really took it out of me on Wednesday morning! Only 12 weeks left until the Marathon now...

5 runs
33.7 miles
4 hours 48 minutes

So that's an average speed of 7.03 mph

Read on for some details of what I eat.



Last week Tom asked me to keep a diary of my eating habits, I suppose to understand what nutrients and proportion of food groups I'm taking in on the road to the marathon. I can't say that I've been overly strict at recording my efforts but here goes (feel free to let me know if I've missed any details or if I'm not doing what you need, Tom).

Monday

Breakfast: Bowl of Fruit & Fibre cereals with semi-skimmed milk
Lunch: Cheese and salad sandwich on wholewheat bread, apple
Dinner: Pasta with a Mushroom Carbonara sauce (no ham). Yoghurt.

Tuesday

Breakfast: Two slices of wholewheat toast with jam, yogurt bar.
Lunch: Cheese and salad sandwich on wholewheat bread, apple
Dinner: Thick tomato soup.

Wednesday

Breakfast: Bowl of Weetabix cereals with semi-skimmed milk, banana.
Lunch: Cheese and salad sandwich on wholewheat bread, apple
Dinner: Salad made with boiled egg, spinach, romaine lettuce, tomatoes, cottage cheese, carrot, sweetcorn, olives and sliced onion.

Thursday

Breakfast: Two slices of wholewheat toast with jam, yogurt bar.
Lunch: Cheese and salad coleslaw on wholewheat bread, apple
Dinner: Vegetarian ratatouille with brown rice.

Friday

Breakfast: Bowl of Weetabix cereals with semi-skimmed milk, banana.
Lunch: Cheese and salad sandwich on wholewheat bread, apple
Dinner: Low fat Cannelloni.

Saturday

Breakfast: Bowl of Fruit & Fibre cereals with semi-skimmed milk
Lunch: Sardines on toast, banana
Dinner: Chicken Breast, chips and peas

Sunday

Breakfast: Two slices of toast with peanut butter.
Lunch: McDonalds hamburger, hot chocolate, yoghurt bar.
Dinner: Bacon and sundried tomato risotto with side salad.

I also consumed copious amounts of tea during the week.

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Marisa Pavan


Happy Birthday to

Marisa Pavan

79 today


By extension it would also be the 79th birthday of her twin sister Pier Angeli. Both sisters burst onto our screens in the early 1950's with Marisa earning an Oscar nod for her understated performance in The Rose Tattoo whilst Pier had the headlines with her affairs with James Dean and frequently co-starring with Paul Newman. That's probably the way it should have been, however I would have loved to see more work from both the sisters as the 60's came along. Marisa retired from acting 20 years ago.

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Saturday, 18 June 2011

Toy Stories (Film News - 18/06/11)

It's been a bumper week for film news, with an extraordinary selection of stories catching my eye, even if some of them appear to be less likely than me winning the lottery this evening. Actually mainly what we've seen this week are stories concerning directors who just can't seem to make their minds up about the next excuse to get behind the camera. In fact for the various big name helmers I'm going to mention this week there are at least 20 projects they've been "attached" to so far this year and given they can't possibly make all of them it seems unlikely that any will be made. Once again we're facing the fact that the Internet will eat itself in it's desperate attempt to create and sustain news feeds. Like a sucker though I just carry on reading and digesting everything for just the slightest indication of what's coming up. So to mix it up this week I'm going to be labeling the projects I've read about against their potential auteurs (although given the range of some of the titles I think we can safely say the director is not the author of the film when it is a studio picture) rather than the titles.

Robert Zemeckis

Having seen his Yellow Submarine remake sank Zemeckis appeared to be going into live action movie making again with Flight with Denzel Washington just having gone into pre-production. However he's now been attached to Major Matt Mason, a 3D extravaganza based on the 1960's Mattel action figure with Tom Hanks in the lead role. Side note, given Hanks's long time association with a different kind of toy do you think he's doing this as a way of competing with Buzz Lightyear?

The action figure's (see below for his lifelike limbs) story was surprisingly complex, given it was a standalone product, with several different coloured suits for his assistants in space and a giant foe who proved to be more help than hindrance against more hostile aliens.



Of course the toys must have had a large, albeit unsung, cultural influence. They were released around the same time as the original "Star Trek" series and with them popularised the idea of colonization of space by a future collective of humans able to put former nationalistic ideas of Earth to one side. Although these days it will probably feel too much like a throwback, the plot could be a retread of Star Trek only for a much younger audience with elements of John Carter of Mars thrown in for good measure, so it might struggle to build up it's own identity in a crowded genre field. I also suspect the trend for 3D presentations will be well and truly dead by the time the film is made.

Read on for more debunking of the auteur theory, the latest casting gossip and my reaction to the latest group of actors inducted into AMPAS.



Ben Affleck

Currently in pre-production for his CIA mission movie Argo, including chucklesome plans to lock the actors up for a couple of weeks together to give them an idea of what's it's like being in captivity, Affleck has also been named as the go to guy for the American remake of French thriller Tell No One (see poster, left). Going back to Harlen Coben's source novel, itself American, the story focuses on a doctor who begins to suspect his wife is still alive several years after her murder at the hands of a known serial killer. The French version, written and directed by Guillaume Canet, was a huge success in both Europe and the States so any remake will have to work very hard to survive the inevitable comparisons.

Ethan and Joel Coen

At the opening of the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center earlier this week the Coen brothers and Noah Baumbach were discussing film openings in front of an invited audience when a small clue about the Coen's next project was revealed, in that it involves music but little playback (the comments were in response to a question about their dislike of the cumbersome process of playback recording). Of course without anything else we're completely in the dark, although it's worth noting earlier this year they said one of their potential projects was a mockumentary - or rather a fake documentary in that it won't be openly comedic. Could that be focused on a musician?

Catherine Hardwicke

I hope she's liking her wounds following my scathing review of Red Riding Hood (unlikely I know, and in the picture on the right she's still smiling so I guess Catherine hadn't heard my views then) and hopefully she's taking my advice about returning to pubescent girls for the subject of her next movie. Regardless of whether she is it's still what she's going to do with the announcement of a Scandinavian set crazy, raw and gritty true story of which more will be announced over the next few weeks (hang on why didn't I wait for that...)

Sean Penn

The only name here is isn't pimping himself out to the highest bidder is actor and sometime director Sean Penn, who doesn't go behind the camera often but when he does it's a fascinating thing. This week we've been asking whether he's going to take on the Art Linson script The Comedian which has already grabbed the attention of Robert De Niro. The project was originally intended for Martin Scorsese but it looks like he's passed leaving Sean Penn free to pick it up, if so this seems like a unlikely but hopefully fruitful combination of talent involved.


David O. Russell

I wish this guy would just make up his mind over what he wants to do. So far this year he's been linked to Cocaine Cowboys, Fighter 2, Joe, Politics and Pasta, Silver linings Playbook (currently in pre-production), Uncharted: Drake's Progress (which he's ruled himself out of) and a Russ Meyer Biopic. Not to mention his Nailed which is languishing in post-production vaults waiting for the money to finish the cut. So imagine my surprise to see two more projects land on his desk including Disney's Cinderella spin-off Maleficent (surely not what someone like Russell should be concentrating on) and The Mission which may be about the rescue of 15 FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia, left) hostages in Columbia in 2007 by cross-national agencies working together and certainly will be produced by Lorenzo di Bonaventura.


Steven Spielberg

I've been keeping the two I least suspect of making it to multiplexes under the directors I've attached them to until last - it's not just because it's his name last alphabetically - which stems from the difficulties in separating Spielberg the producer from Spielberg the director. Anyway over the last few days there have been stories in connection to Jurassic Park 4 and Transformers 4 both of which could have the beard in control, and both of which would be interesting to see, but I suspect a less-assured name will be found soon to take over both projects.

Casting News

Plenty of exciting stuff going on in the casting couches of Hollywood including Darren Aronofsky courting Christian Bale as the lead in his Noah's Ark picture and the curious news that Annette Bening has signed onto to He Loves Me, the writers block movie from Valarie Faris and Jonathan Dayton, the directing duo behind Little Miss Sunshine, which explains why she's dropped from Rob Reiner's similarly themed movie. Elesewhere Ed Harris has signed on to World War Z, Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin are circling Jason Reitman's Labor Day and John Hurt and Kevin Bacon will be passing through Jayne Mansfield's Car. Finally there's been the surprise sighting of Liam Neeson on the set of Dark Knight Rises in the costume of Ra's Al Ghul, the character he played right up until he drove a train off it's tracks in Batman Begins, so of course the fans on the net have been trying to figure out how that will affect the plot (and how he got out of the predicament). Personally I suspect the truth is less exciting, we already know Josh Pence is playing Ra's in flashbacks, surely it's not to difficult to make the leap to more recent flashbacks with Neeson in the role?



How they know Neeson was in costume confuses me as he wore a variety of clothes in the first film, maybe he's dressed for a fight like in this picture.

AMPAS

Another year and another cohort of inductees find themselves offered membership into the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. As ever it's a fascinating list that says as much about the Academy as it does about those invited. In terms of the actors (I'll be honest it's the group I'm most interested in) there's been 27 performers who've received invitations, up 7 on last year, with a large number of younger members whose tastes are hopefully more hip and in touch with public tastes than the older conservative members. None of those invited this year have riled me as much as Ryan Reynolds and Seth Rogen did over the last couple of years, although you do have to question the wisdom of letting Russell Brand and John Corbett identify quality movies. Anyway here is the full list of actors and the films that probably formed part of the reason for their invitation, in order that I think they deserve that honour.

John Hawkes - Winter's Bone; American Gangster; Miracle at St. Anna; Miami Vice; Identity; Perfect Storm; Flesh and Bone

Jesse Eisenberg - Social Network; Cursed; Village; Emperor's Club

Ellen Page - Juno; Inception

Jacki Weaver - Animal Kingdom; Picnic at Hanging Rock

Jennifer Lawrence - Winter's Bone;

Vincent Cassel - Black Swan; Eastern Promises; Elizabeth; Ocean's Thirteen; Ocean's Twelve; Jefferson in Paris

Anthony Mackie - Hurt Locker; Half Nelson; Million Dollar Baby; She Hate Me; Manchurian Candidate; 8 Mile

Lesley Manville - Vera Drake; Secrets and Lies; Another Year; Christmas Carol; All or Nothing; Topsy-Turvy; High Hopes; Sammy and Rosie Get Laid; Dance with a Stranger

Jennifer Garner - Juno; Catch Me if You Can; Valentine's Day; Deconstructing Harry

Rosemarie DeWitt - Rachel Getting Married; Cinderella Man;

Robbie Coltrane - Mona Lisa; Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire; Ocean's Twelve; World is not Enough; Message in a Bottle; Nuns on the Run; Henry V; Revolution; Loose Connections; Krull; Britannia Hospital; Death Watch

David Duchovny - Chaplin; Full Frontal; Zoolander; Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead; Bad Influence; Working Girl

Gerard Butler - Mrs Brown; Game of Their Lives; Phantom of the Opera; Timeline; Cherry Orchard

Connie Nielsen - Gladiator; Return to Sender; Hunted; Mission to Mars; Devil's Advocate

Wes Studi - Dances with Wolves; Avatar; Heat; Last of the Mohicans; Doors

Dominic Monaghan - Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring; The Two Towers; The Return of the King

Mia Wasikowska - Kids are All Right; Alice in Wonderland; Defiance

Beyonce Knowles - Dreamgirls; Fighting Temptations

Mila Kunis - Black Swan;

Rooney Mara - Social Network;

Natassja Kinski - Inland Empire; One Night Stand; Crystal or Ash, Fire or Wind, As long as it's Love; Revolution; Maria's Lovers; Hotel Blue Hampshire; Unfaithfully Yours; Cat People; One from the Heart; Tess

Tea Leoni - Spanglish; Hollywood Ending; Flirting with Disaster; Wyatt Earp; League of Their Own; Switch

Thomas Jane - Killshot; Mist; Dreamcatcher; Magnolia; Boogie Nights

Peter Dinklage - Death at a Funeral; Find Me Guilty; Station Agent; Human Nature

Bradley Cooper - Valentine's Day; New York I Love You

Russell Brand - Tempest

John Corbett - Raising Helen

The other Academy news story this week was the twist in the number of films the Academy will nominate for best picture this year, it will now be a variable figure between 5 and 10 based on the number of films getting over 5% of the vote for the best films. It's an odd way of doing things, but it sure will make the announcement of the nominations more exciting.


Yes, this man, holding his hand out to the Academy in the dreadful Sex and the City 2 now has more of a say about what the best films of the year are than you do, reader.

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Friday, 17 June 2011

Modern Telegrams (Out this week - 17/06/11)

It's tough to predict what will happen to box office figures this week. With this years second green superhero squaring off against a very well publicised Cameron Diaz comedic video there's plenty of choice for the less discerning cinema goer (although of those I'd probably go for Diaz). Of course neither option comes close to my film of the week, which is the absorbing and poignant Messenger.




Messenger

Oren Moverman's superb evocation of the daily process of informing forces families of the death or injury of their loved one is a heartfelt and truly honest movie (I have already seen it) which comes as a great shock to see it's been nearly 2 years since it's US release.

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



Bad Teacher

Cameron Diaz, who memorable burst onto screens in The Mask, has spent much of the last ten years avoiding comedy, but it's a shame as she's a delightful comedic presence. Here she is using a flimsy plot to snare Justin Timberlake. Jason Segal and David Paymer also co-star.

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


Beaver

Controversy overload meets film as therapy with Mel Gibson playing a depressed executive who turns his life around with the aid of a Castoran hand-puppet with the voice of an East-end barrel boy. Jodie Foster directs her old pal, in an attempt to rehabilitate his tarnished image. Jennifer Lawrence also gets a co-starring role.

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


Potiche

Catherine Deneuve and Gerard Depardieu together in one film! From Francois Ozon! About the demise of union bragaining and the rise of feminism in 1970's France. Actually this comedy, literally translated as "Trophy Wife", looks like a gem and should be well worth looking out for.

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


Green Lantern

The proliferation of CGI, all the desperate seeming TV spots and fantastic cast (Ryan Reynolds, Peter Sarsgaard, Blake Lively, Angela Bassett, Tim Robbins, Mark Strong and Michael Clarke Duncan and Geoffrey Rush in voice roles) can't hide the faint whiff of Turkey coming from this Comic Book adaptation.

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


Stake Land

The trailer makes this low-budget horror flick seem like The Road with Zombies, but decent reviews and clever plotting could lead to this breaking out. Although I've heard it suffers from a lack of point to the story.

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


Always Khabi Khabi

The first of the three Bollywood releases seems to be the most obvious to categorise, it's High School Musical in Mumbai (possibly), with the usual collection of teenagers stressing about their love lives and studies whilst breaking into song.

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


Avan Ivan

Confusing Tamil release which describes itself as a comedy but the trailer is full of high-octane action beats. Let's face it I'll never "get" Bollywood.

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


Bheja Fry 2

Sequel to the 2007 comedy hit starring Vinay Pathak as a naive holiday-maker who brings chaos in his wake on a cruise holiday in the sun. I actually giggled at some of the slapstick on display in the trailer.

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


Round Up

European cinema has huge trouble moving away from the Holocaust. Of course it's a horrendous chapter in history but haven't enough interpretations been made? This time Jean Reno is a doctor questionning humanity as the Jews of Paris are arrested.

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


Got to Run

I should be behind this independent British movie which snuck out in limited release earlier in the week as the combination of local independent fare and a central character addicted to jogging. However the thought of watching a girl run around the coast of the UK in a ill-fitting pair of shorts to escape from her abusive relationship just pushes me away.

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


Putty Hill

Not quite mumblecore, but clearly influenced by the hand-held, off-the-cuff aesthetic, this low-key American release looks at the minutia of life in a small-town community recovering from the sudden death of a well-known young man.

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


Swinging with the Finkels

Tired looking British sex comedy about a couple (Martin Freeman - proving The Hobbit couldn't come at a better time - and Mandy Moore) who decide to spice up their dreary personal life by joining the swinging circuit. Probably not as many laughs as it should have.

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

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Greg Kinnear


Happy Birthday to

Greg Kinnear

48 today


A perpetual cinematic also-ran Kinnear never seems to have got to the levels of fame his talent deserves. It's odd because he regularly appears in key supporting roles and knocks it out of the park, yet his work is hardly ever recognised. Maybe it's because he's generally cast as guy next door type. Even his more outre parts (see his brilliant turn in Auto Focus) come across more as pathetic than outrageous. Nothing on the horizon that looks interesting either.

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Wednesday, 15 June 2011

The Kids Are All Right

2010. Dir: Lisa Cholodenko. Starring: Julianne Moore, Annette Bening, Mark Ruffalo, Mia Wasikowska and Josh Hutcherson. ●●●●○



I wasn't planning on reviewing Lisa Cholodenko's 2010 dramedy given that I missed it at cinemas and only got hold of copy this year (making it ineligible for my own best of consideration) however I have been shamed into doing it by Tom at Reinvention following some other posts. I'm still reluctant though, so instead of a normal considered review (not that I usually consider my reviews) I'm going to rewatch The Kids Are All Right and just type whatever comes into my head whilst watching. Should be interesting. For the record I really enjoyed the relationship building the first time around, all of the performances and the writing worked for me, so it thoroughly deserves the four blobs score above, even if I wasn't blown away. So follow the jump to read up on my utterly random scribblings.



Sunday 12 June, Noon. Just started the film.

I don't like the font from the opening credits.

Effective build up of the differing neurosis of Josh Hutcherson and Mia Wasikowska, and how they relate to their parents. The early dinner sequence was nicely handled and showed a great reflection of family life.

The gay porno segment seems like it's pushing for a cheap laugh.

Nice cut to Mark Ruffalo from the Pacific Cryo Bank file, he's seriously chilled from the moment we first see him.

The locations work really well, each of the properties reflecting the characters that live there. Ruffalo puts foot in mouth again, nicely low-key comic performance. The awkwardness of the first meeting is handled exceptionally well, with expectations affecting the bonding process appropriately.

All the nice conversations get twisted so easily reflecting life, snarky off-handed comments that get taken the wrong way. More gay porn - I can see why they are using it dramatically but it seems like a short cut.

Moore and Bening work very well as a couple. Love the way they work out about the contact with the sperm donor.

More uncomfortable scenes of people eating, with silent judging going on. The how we met story is cute and comic and delightfully likely. Over the course of the movie the relationship between Moore and Bening is developing well, even before anything actually happens, as an audience we're learning more in every scene.

Nature vs. Nurture debate, as relating to kids expressions, would be more interesting if it were looked at in more detail. Seems to have been dropped from the rest of the movie.

Bening keeps pushing everyone away, possibly because she's afraid of losing everyone anyway, is she asking for the consequences. Suddenly aware my thoughts are related to foreknowledge of what's about to happen.

SPOILERS FROM HERE ON IN

Is the attraction between Moore and Ruffalo based on a latent physical need. What does it say about Moore's sexuality, and the nature of same-sex relationships (I'm not saying I have a problem with the possibility but it's hard to imagine Cholodenko wasn't aware of the consequences of the choice).

Isn't is a massive step from being a tool to wanting to piss on a dog? Not sure I buy that logic.

Ruffalo's making me laugh again.

Interesting juxtaposition between the girls talking about sex vibes at the organic cafe and the adults arguing about Paul as an influence in an up-market restaurant. Paul's driving a wedge between all the relationships.

The way Moore treats her Mexican lackey seems inconsistent, I suppose to prove the effect the affair is having on her judgment, but more so than you would expect.

Bening just outlined her plan to go to Ruffalo's for dinner. Expectation and pride in her eyes. Superb performance.

Break up between Ruffalo and Yaya DaCosta tough and measured. She knocks it out of the park in a minor role.

Bening can't sing, but it's a brave go that works in context to the action. Moore's reactions are priceless. Bening's working it out, not sure I like the camera and sound work, seems a little showy and doesn't fit with the naturalism of the rest of the movie. That said it gives her a chance to shine, playing the micro-expressions.

Teary argument cliched but appropriate. Why were the kids outside the door, none of the fight sounded loud or confrontational. The consequences and game playing the family members are doing to try and find their allies is hilarious.

Wasikowska doles out some home truths, dramatically useful but pushed, many shorter scenes seem odd like the snippet of conversation were just shoved in in order to add momentum to the plot.

I feel sorry for Ruffalo, his character is in effect the only one to lose out from the arch of the story. Moore gets the beats in her big speech perfectly.

Indeterminable final 10 minutes of the film as Wasikowska goes to college all to make the point that family is good and essential to your well being and you will miss them when you're not with them, even when it's hard work.

1.40 pm. It's over. The music is naff. I'm off for a run. Hopefully you've enjoyed my points, even if you don't always agree with them.

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Helen Hunt


Happy Birthday to

Helen Hunt

48 today


One of the most discussed oscar shocks came in 1997 when Helen Hunt got caught up in the As Good as it Gets bandwagon and surprisingly won best actress for her deftly comic performance. As always with Oscar there are plenty of detractors however I think it's safe to say she pulled all the stops out and did a grand job, believably falling for Jack Nicholson in full on OCD mode. That said she has hardly done herself any favours with one lacklustre performance after another since then and nothing looking remotely watchable in the future.

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Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Tuesday Trailers - Princess de Montpensier

I don't get excited about many foreign language films, even those that make it as film of the week are usually only included as nothing else is worthy of attention, however I am really interested in seeing this French corset drama about an affair with repercussions to spread through the Republic. Positive reviews from Toronto last year and a respectable US take have convinced me this is the sword fighting epic that means I won't have to watch The Three Musketeers!



Princess de Montpensier opens on 08 July 2011.

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Sunday, 12 June 2011

Running (12/06/11)

First week of the proper training regime, and whilst I took the distance right down compared to the last couple of weeks I've kept the pace up and tried a couple of different things - some Fartlek training (fast, slow intervals) on Wednesday and 9 miles in the pouring rain today! Only 13 weeks until the Marathon...

5 runs
26.5 miles
3 hours 44 minutes

So that's an average speed of 7.06 mph

Read More...

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Finding a new Franchise (Film News - 11/06/11)

Is the comic book adaptation dead? Poor returns for Thor and X-Men: First Class and with poor tracking for the innumerable other upcoming fixtures is a clear indication that the bubble has burst for graphic novels. Naturally the studios need to find a new cash cow to milk, and the news this week is strewn with unnecessary sequels and potential jumping off points for major franchises.

American Assassin

Primarily there's the news of the first of a major series of novels from a well worn genre that could see significant returns. Based on the books by Vince Flynn this is the second novel to be optioned following Consent to Kill two years ago, however given this is a prequel novel explaining the back story of the central character Mitch Rapp.

For those of you interested it's essentially a revenge mystery with the young Rapp losing his fiance in a terrorist attack and vowing vengeance. It doesn't take long for the CIA to identify the potential in the virtually unstable personality and unleash him onto the un-American hordes. It sounds like an odd mix between Die Hard and the Jack Ryan series which is probably why there's been no hesitation in getting the wheels in motion - the book was only published (cover below) in October last year.



Ed Zwick has been approached to direct and it'll be good for him to get back to the kind of action adventure that he used to do so well in the early 90's.

Read on for colourful criminals, retired actors, archaeologists and boxers, and the usual round-up of casting rumours.



Dick Tracy 2

Warren Beatty (right) has finally won his protracted 21 year battle with Tribune over the rights to Dick Tracy and he's been celebrating at the LA Times Hero Complex Film Festival by hinting to plans for a sequel. I love the original film, Madonna and all, but whether Beatty who's now 74 could convince either as the star or in the directors chair again remains to be seen.

The Humbling

I've said it before and I'll say it again. I believe Al Pacino has at least one more great performance left in him, and it could just be for this bizarre hybrid of sexual humiliation and character study. He's signed up to play the suicidal aging actor Simon Axler who following his divorce shacks up with the daughter of friends 20 years his junior, a relationship which leads to him to trying a variety of unexpected things in the bedroom and learning a great deal about the impact of his age, former success and the sexual credit partners hold over each other.

Indiana Jones 5

Shia LaBeouf has been making subversive comments during the press tours of Transformers: Dark side of the Moon whilst genuinely appearing positive about the quality he seems to be ruling himself out of any future sequels, not the really the sign of someone who really believes in the quality of the product. He's also been confident about the resurrection of another blockbuster serial, Indiana Jones, stating that George Lucas is confident but is currently seeking a MacGuffin to kick start the plot. Someone should mention to Shia that the public are probably not interested in seeing his 'Mutt' (right) return to that franchise, with or without gibbons at his side.

Southpaw

I've been torn about Eminem's next movie, the story, partly based on Mathers' own life but with rapping swapped for welterweight boxing, but I actually respect him as an actor (based on his solid performance in 8 Mile) and now it has a reasonable director (Training Day helmer Antoine Fuqua) on the case I'm beginning to warm to it. Will have to wait and see if it manages to find some of the audience of The Fighter.

Casting News

The casting front has been more rumour and innuendo rather than any hard facts this week with some very big names jumping around some very interesting projects. First up was the rather bizarre connection of Anjelina Jolie with David O. Russell's Silver Lining's Playbook, which you can just imagine the stand up rows on. Whilst Leonardo DiCaprio has been confirmed for Django Unchained there is a delay with Will Smith signing on the bottom line, so much so that an alternatives list has been drawn out which includes Chris Rock (wtf?) and Jamie Foxx. Finally, and on much more solid ground, Alan Arkin has joined CIA masquerading as filmmakers true story Argo.

Read More...

Friday, 10 June 2011

Kaboom of doom indeed (Out this week - 10/06/11)

Summer continues to drift on by with no films quite having the right stuff to persuade me to head to the cinema, and this week has nothing that can change that, although it's closer than last week's selection. There's an interesting second tier of foreign language pics, and a very disappointing name change which will save some parents confusion (more of that later). This weeks film of the week is Kung Fu Panda 2.




Kung Fu Panda 2

Dreamworks seem to be improving their animation output, as evidenced with the critical success of the Kung Fu Panda franchise. One that manages to not let the stunt casting (Jack Black, Anjelina Jolie, Dustin Hoffman, Jackie Lee et al) get in the way of creative writing and imaginative design. Surprisingly then to see it's US box office performance has been disappointing.

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




Point Blank

French thriller from the makers of Pour Elle following an Emergency Room doctor suddenly dragged into a world of organised crime hits in order to save his pregnant wife. Coming in at under 90 minutes it's quite short too.

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


Deiva Thirumagal

Just when you thought I am Sam was the nadir of mental health movies along comes the Bollywoodisation with a trailer that managed to be offensive even though I couldn't understand a word of it.

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


Jumping the Broom

The perennial trend of wedding comedies gets another cinematic outing and once again the bland leading couple will be upstaged by their domineering mothers played by Angela Bassett and Loretta Devine.

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


Kaboom

I was rather hoping that Kung Fu Panda 2 will have kept it's original subtitle of Kaboom of Doom which could have led to unsuspecting parents taking their seven year olds into this Gregg Araki sexually-confused, mystery headtrip.

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


Mother's Day

I'm not sure why this remake from Darren Lynn Bousman (Saw 2) has taken over a year to make it to British cinemas given it's positive reviews and chilling performance from Rebecca de Mornay.

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

Runway

Irish family comedy, only showing other there so don't get your hopes up, about a South American pilot who crashlands in County Cork and the local community band together to build him a runway.

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

Honey 2

I am very confused about this belated sequel to the 2003 hit. Dance movies are a niche market that continues to get reasonable return at the box office, however Jessica Alba who headlined the original movie is nowhere to be seen in this and the only link appears to be the same neighbourhood.

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

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Thursday, 9 June 2011

Natalie Portman


Happy Birthday to

Natalie Portman

30 today


It's been a fantastic year for Natalie. Winning an Oscar for her stunning portrayal of a ballet star on the edge in Black Swan, leading lady in a successful comic book adaptation and building a family with Benjamin Millepied. She currently taking a well-earned hiatus but whatever comes next I'm sure it will be highly anticipated.

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Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Tuesday Trailers - The Conspirator

Crikey it's been such a long time since we last showed a trailer here. Thankfully it's now June and we can think about the movies coming out in July - not that there are many great prospects. The first is this Lincoln assassination conspiracy movie from the Sundance Kid, Robert Redford. A holdover from the 2010 Toronto film festival (where it didn't get a raptuous reception) the film has a solid cast headed by James McAvoy as a idealist lawyer and Robin Wright as the woman he must defend.



The Conspirator is released on 01 July 2011.

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Liam Neeson


Happy Birthday to

Liam Neeson

59 today


An odd thing has happened to the Ulster born Liam Neeson. Up until the middle of the last decade he was a serious actor with a string of high profile award chasing roles. Then he played Henri Ducard in Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins which showed the world he could kick some serious ass and the post Taken Neeson was born. I really hope to see a return to more adult fare at some point in the future, as it is there's nothing on his slate that looks remotely watchable.

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Sunday, 5 June 2011

Running (05/06/11)

It was the last week of totally pushing myself before slipping back into a proper routine on Tuesday, we're just 14 weeks until the Nottingham Marathon now. I'm going to be running Nottingham with a friend - Matt - and we went out for a run together on Thursday morning which made a nice change but I think I'm probably a natural loner when it come to running. The good news is whilst my distance increased this week (I don't think I've ever run as far in 7 days) the pace stayed about the same which bodes well for the rest of the training.

7 runs
47.7 miles
6 hours 48 minutes

So that's an average speed of 7.02 mph

Over the last 4 weeks I've run a total of:

22 runs
120.6 miles
17 hours 28 minutes

So that's an average speed of 6.90 mph

Read More...

Mark Wahlberg


Happy Birthday to

Mark Wahlberg

40 today


Judging by the photo I don't think the former rapper and underwear model is totally happy with what I'm about to say here, but I confess that whilst The Fighter underwhelmed me I adored Mark's measured performance as boxer Micky Ward. Right now I'm most looking forward to the next collaboration planned with David O. Russell, The Silver Lining's Playbook.

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Saturday, 4 June 2011

Me Ben. You Reader. - (Film News - 04/06/11)

It's been a great week for film news, with some very unexpected stories catching my eye, and with sci-fi, romance, adventure and thrillers there's probably something for everyone in these stories. There have also been some exciting casting developments and the monthly look through imdb has revealed an unlikely trio of movies that weren't even on my radar. So please enjoy the read, and don't forget to let me know if any of these films appeal to you too.

Tarzan

It's been a while since Edgar Rice Burrough's 1914 novel has seen a new adaptation. 12 years since the Disney animation, 27 since the largely dismissed Hugh Hudson movie and of course 63 years since Johnny Weissmuller last donned the loincloth so it's hardly surprising that Warner Bros are dusting of the rights, believing we're due another look at the lost Earl of Greystoke.

Essentially a series of boy's own action adventure stories about an abandoned child with no adult contact with humans getting the full Victorian explorer craze full in the face. Partly a treatise for leaving the natural environment well alone it'll be an interesting to see what a post global warming look at the plot will highlight

Craig Brewer (Hustle & Flow, Footloose) is set to direct what has been described as a passion piece for him, with an eye to making a franchise trilogy should the first film do well. Either way I;m sure we'll get some jungle action soon. Everybody grab hold of a vine and do your best "Aaaa-aaa-aaargh".


Weissmuller was never happier than when just hanging out in a tree.

Read on for computer chips, iconic love stories, media frenzies, more pirates and secrets in our past as well as the weekly round-up of casting news and the monthly check on imdb pre-production lists.



Ecstasia

A few months ago Wayne Kramer was attached to the Sylvester Stallone assassin film Headshot (which is in no way connected to Stallone's Assassins) and things seemed to be going swimmingly until out of the blue Kramer left for 'creative differences' and Walter Hill was brought on board. At the time reports said that Kramer had something else in the works which would be easy to get funding for so na na nah-na naa. This week we heard his next project, which doesn't sound at all easy to get funding for, will be a sci-fi romance set in a alternative future where love can only be obtained through via a prohibitively expensive implanted chip (the title). The plot will follow a couple who go to desperate measures to obtain a chip. There are more questions than answers in that summary - for instance if they want a chip why do they need one? - but I am curious how Kramer, working from his own script, will build a world where that seems plausible.


Furious Love

Those of you with long memories will remember we first mentioned the relationship biopic of Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor in July last year, based in part on Sam Kashner and Nancy Schoenberger's book (left). Back then there were quite a few names in the frame for the cast but plans were still very sketchy. Now Liz is no longer with us the impetus to make the movie seems to have increased with the news that Martin Scorsese is interested in directing. That's a bizarre twist I doubt anyone would have predicted, but then who would of thought he'd be making a children's film in 3D and the Hollywood lore aspect of the story almost certainly appeals to Marty. That said I think I'd rather see his Silence first.

Panic Attack

OK, calm down. Just a week after the red band trailer for the US Girl with the Dragon Tattoo remake has been 'leaked' onto the net director David Fincher has kept himself in the headlines by optioning Jason Starr's 2009 crime novel. The story concerns a psychiatrist who kills an intruder and must face the media frenzy that results and the victim's partner in crime out for revenge. Ultimately we're looking at a Cape Fear type cat and mouse game and the sort of stuff Fincher could do in his sleep, although you have to ask whether it's far enough apart from the Dragon Tattoo's dark and macabre central conceit to really interest him as a director.

Pirates of the Caribbean 5


Now it's time to panic, as Disney are convinced there is a public appetite for a fifth Pirates movie (ignoring it's domestic gross will probably be around $100m less than the previous installment) and already the wheels are in motion to recruit Rob Marshall back into the directors chair - on the off chance that fails they've also got a long list of other directors they're willing to contact including Tim Burton, Sam Raimi and Alfonso Cuaron. Of course it's all down to Depp (right) if he stays on then I can't imagine the studios turning away the licence to print money so "please please please Johnny just give it up and walk away; this franchise is killing all of our brains".


Safe Haven

Fans of unadventurous middle America literature be warned Lasse Hallstrom is set to have another crack at a Nicolas Sparks novel (left) following the reasonable profits from two hanky movie Dear John. This time an audience surrogate with a dark secret moves into a North Carolina town and falls for a store-owning widower. Expect difficult choices and tearful reconciliations and absolutely no-one really caring about the characters.

Casting News

News on the casting front has been a little more interesting this week, starting with the delicious prospect of Leonardo DiCaprio joining Tarantino's Django Unchained as the evil plantation owner holding Will Smith's wife as a slave. Amy Adams and Laura Dern are both up for a bit of fundamentalism in Paul Thomas Anderson upcoming project about creating a religion.

Production News

It's that time in the month when we look through imdb to find which of the delicious stories mentioned here has swung into production, potentially threatening a real movie at the end of it. The top line good news is that there are now 20 films that would qualify for the 20 for 2012 countdown for next year - yes we're already thinking about it. Naturally many of those will fall by the wayside (5 will potentially move into this year including Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and Little Red Wagon, numbers 1 and 20 respectively) but it's a good sign that next year could see a load of really interesting stuff on the horizon. This month we've seen movement on Steven Spielberg's Lincoln biopic, motorcycling epic The Place Beyond the Pines, mother/daughter vampire picture Byzantium, Danny Boyle's quickie arts heist movie Trance, Florida murder mystery The Paperboy (Much discussed at Cannes) and Channing Tatum will get nekkid as Magic Mike. We'll see paperback pygmalian He Loves Me, Michel Gondry's kids flick The We and the I, Texas-set thriller Borderline and 3D erotica Io e Te.

Of course a month wouldn't go down properly if there weren't some titles that surprised me, coming out of nowhere. So here, in no particular order, are three brand new projects which I am curious about seeing.

Charlie Irish

The least likely of the films to actually make it into a final product is this Steven Feder script about a maths prodigy who uses his skills to create unbeatable algorithms to predict sports results and thus clear up. Allegedly based on a true story this seems like a one man retread of 21 without boring card game scenes. Currently Barry Levinson's attached to direct but with Gotti: three generations also on the horizon expect this to be dropped soon.

Saving Seymour

Allegedly based on a book, although I can't for the life of me find a novel with that title, the main reason I'm curious about this adaptation is Jerry Stiller, Mr. Pinky from the Hairspray musical will play the title role, and it's always great to see a character actor get the limelight later in life (he's 84 this week).

Whisperings and Lies

Biopic of Russian composer Sergei Rachmaninoff. Few can argue with the immense talent (and immense hands) of one of the most influential musicians of the 19th/20th century, his works including the brutal and complex piano symphonies speak for themselves. As a man he is fascinating, spent most of his life battling depression and arthritis, as well as spending most of his adult life in America, escaping from the Russian Revolution. There is no doubt that a look at his life and works will be an important addition to the canon of Classical music biopics, although quite what direction this film will take is unclear. The description hints to taking his story up from after his death (secrets he took to the grave) and the only cast member attached is Abbie Cornish, who whilst very talented could not make a credible Sergei.



Rachmaninoff's work has made it to cinemas before, most notably the Piano Concerto No. 3 which sends Noah Taylor (as a young David Helfgott) over the edge in Shine above.

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Angelina Jolie


Happy Birthday to

Angelina Jolie

36 today


Are there many more famous women on the planet right now, honestly Angelina - complete with Brad on her arm - can probably stop traffic anywhere in the world as fans sit and gawk at her. On the right she's holding the attention at Cannes, plugging Kung Fu Panda 2 but it's the planned Cleopatra movie that most excites me right now.

Read More...

Friday, 3 June 2011

One Hairy Biker (Out this week - 03/06/11)

So here we are entering the merry month of June and already we have an utterly lackluster week of releases - excluding the fantastic looking Senna but as we all know I try to avoid chatting about docs here. Of course there's a certain (x) movie that will clear up at the box office however in spite of all the lovely CGI and attractive cast there's something that just doesn't work for me in the merchandising. Here at RLAG I'm going to continue my gallic themed preferences and support our third French film of the week this year with Mammuth.



Mammuth

It's the second film of the week this year for directors Gustave de Kervern and Benoît Delépine after their delightful black comedy Louise-Michel took the prize in April and whilst this Gerard Depardieu pension comedy may not have the bite of their previous film there is a lot of fun to be had in the trailer. Also starring Yolande Moreau and Isabelle Adjani.

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



Last Night

Keira Knightley and Sam Worthington are two corners of a love rectangle as a pair of marrieds who are both visited by temptation on the same night. All the characters are ridiculously attractive and absurdly wealthy so you're unlikely to feel much sympathy for their situation but some interesting points about the meaning of fidelity may lurk under the surface.

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

X-Men: First Class

Or X-Men : Babies as one wag put it. The writing/directing team behind Kick-Ass reboot the flagging X-franchise by reviewing the origins of the split between Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Erik Lensherr (Michael Fassbender) against the backdrop of the civil rights movement and the Cuban missile crisis. Look our for Jennifer Lawrence in blue body paint.

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

How to get rid of Cellulite

Polish sex comedy (not that you'd guess from the trailer) about a trio of bff's who will go to any length to maintain the perfect figure. Not a sniff of cellulite in the main cast, mind. Gets an extra point for the great title.

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

Ready

Bollywood action-comedy that seems to be pinning the marketing on the cinematic return of Salman Khan. I'm sure he's a very good actor, but the year and a half since Veer was released does not seem like Terence Malick levels of waiting.

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

Prom

I'm clearly not the target audience for Disney's multicharacter look at the build-up to the high school prom, taking in the many variations on the school experience and the hopes and dreams associated with the event. In fact the direct to camera interviews in the trailer hint at something interesting - but ultimately the whole thing looks just a little flat.

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

Screwed

Nasty looking British prison drama with plenty of violence and implied threat based on the biography of Iraq veteran turned screw Ronnie Thompson. Noel Clarke has been pushing this as his first real adult role, but as much as he does good interview I'm not sure I care to see the movie.

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

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