Sunday, 31 July 2011

Running (31/07/11)

Fairly average week until today, the normal six mile runs, some hill training and yesterday's parkrun in Heaton Park (I really cannot say how great it is joining in there - any Manc's who read this you must come and say hi!). Today I ran 18 miles as one of the big training runs, I managed a fairly stable running pace, which if I keep that going for the final 8 and a bit miles then I should do a marathon in 3 hours 40, which is good. Just six weeks to go until the Nottingham Marathon....

5 runs
38.9 miles
5 hours 18 minutes

So that's an average speed of 7.33 mph

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Saturday, 30 July 2011

Flying through the headlines (Film News - 30/08/11)

We're getting back to normal in the news front, with three stories actually making me raise my eyebrows this week, as well as a couple of casting breakthroughs that make a lot of sense when put into context. We also heard about the deaths of two directors who, whilst minor players in Hollywood, both made iconic movies starring Alan Bates, scroll down to the end of the post to see clips of those collaborations.

Mr. Vertigo

Oh, this sounds good, an adaptation of Paul Auster's novel about levitation being worked on by Terry Gilliam. Just from that brief sentence I'm hooked to the delicious concept. The bad news is Gilliam has declared "And I’m actually working on a script of it at the moment. Doesn’t mean it will be a film; but I’m working on a script." which means that whilst we could be excited there's still a long long way to go and it may never end up being filmed, that said I'm still poised on the edge of my seat trying to find out more.

Auster's novel (cover, pictured below) is written as a first person, by our eponymous hero, [an] account of middle America in the 1920's taking in the upheavals in technology and class structure, the slow death of the carnival circuit and a few momentous historical events. It sounds like a mix of Little Big Man and this years Water for Elephants only with more levitating and with discussions of the complex relationship between art and entertainment.



But I must remember it may never get made. Gilliam's an interesting fish who struggles to get projects off the ground and finally into the can so it could be a long time before he even picks his next film let alone makes it. Patience, my friend, good things always come to those who wait.

Read on for the latest casting titbits, a full update on UK releases and a brief obituary to two well loved film directors.



Here there be Monsters

We haven't heard anything about this Brian Helgeland scripted action adventure for a while but it does appear to be moving closer to being made. Clearly influenced by the continued success of the Pirates movies and the Battleship synopsis the film sees disgraced Royal Naval officer John Paul Jones and his hunt and strategic long running battle against a giant sea serpent. Sounds delicious. Hang on, I'm British and have experience of sailing square riggers, must find out who's casting this.

Storming Las Vegas

Here's another project that literally does what it says on the tin. A Cuban born Soviet trained Commando criminal goes on a 16 month crime spree in Las Vegas in which he steals millions of dollars and is chased by LA veteran cop Lt John Alamshaw who made it his business to stop this man from tarnishing the building reputation of Las Vegas as a family friendly tourist trap. If that sounds far fetched stand by because the whole story is true, based on the book by Miami Herald columnist John Huddy the potential film will also explore the Casino's reluctance to let the crime spree get reported during the 90's boom. Currently Antoine Fuqua is attached to direct - although he's a very busy man so expect at least one of his potential films to get dropped.


Fuqua considers which of the 7 projects he's currently attached to that he's shooting.

Casting News

Nick Nolte is set to increase the wrinkle factor on Robert Redford's journalistic integrity project The Company you Keep, the role hasn't been fully announced but I wouldn't be surprised if he isn't Shia LaBeouf's bullish editor. Meanwhile the Bourne universe is solidifying with the news that Joan Allen and Albert Finney will be reprising their roles from the previous trilogy firmly establishing a connection with the rest of the franchise.



Joan, as Pamela Landy, squares off against Damon's Bourne.

Release Schedules

It's been the most frantic month for changing release schedules in a long time, with 8 new dates set from October this year right through until next December. Among them several films that made it to my top 20 for 2011 so I'm very excited to be announcing that:

Midnight in Paris - The buzz on Woody Allen's latest movie, which is currently storming along in the US box office raking in his best ever take, has been so good we're actually going to get it in the UK on the same year as American audiences. Find out why Paris is the city of romance on 07 October 2011.

Straw Dogs - Depending on your view of Sam Pakinpah's original the release date for this remake will either excite you or appal you, that said it's definitely on it's way to cinemas now. Defend your wife's honour on 04 November 2011.

Machine Gun Preacher - I'm not sure what the moving forward of two months means to this reformed biker biopic starring Gerard Butler, but with it's appearances at Toronto it could well be positioning itself as a major awards player. Fight for child soldiers on 18 November 2011.

Moneyball - Baseball movies are always a tough sell, especially outside of the States, so it's no surprise to see this mix of geeky calculus and man's rounders shifting to a weekend without any high brow competition. Hit a home run on 25 November 2011.

Haywire - Based on the conflicting Soderbergh trailers released this week you would assume Contagion is the serious movie whereas this genre exercise is just a bit of fun, but you never know with Steven's exercises. Don't be a target on 20 January 2012.

Young Adult - So far we know that the second collaboration between director Jason Reitman and writer Diablo Cody, after Juno in 2007, is missing the festival circuit and we've heard it may be tough viewing full of unlikeable characters, oddly that makes me want to see it more. Seduce you're old school friends on 10 February 2012.

Playing the Field - It's Gerard Butler again, this time playing a soccer Lothario sleeping his way through the Moms supporting the team he coaches, the tone could go either way on this. Get right into the penalty zone on 09 March 2012.

Dark Shadows - With two movies coming out in 2012, this and the stop motion animation of Frankenweenie it's hard to know which of Tim Burton's releases seems more interesting, you know though that the combination of Johnny Depp and high camp will propel this to the top of the box office. Go vampire hunting on 11 May 2012.

Anna Karenina - The first prestige costume drama of 2012 out of the gate will be Joe Wright's adaptation of Tolstoy's doorstop novel. Whilst the story speaks to everyone it's muddled and very Russian narrative has resisted classic film status in the past but hopefully this will be the adaptation that bucks the trend. Fall for someone totally inappropriate on 10 August 2012.

Savages - Oliver Stone's hippy revenge movie seems like a curious mix of his influences, potentially a stoner action movie that rips all the cliches apart I know I'll be there. Have a smoke on 28 September 2012.

Life of Pi - Ang Lee's existential kids movie - I know that sounds bizarre - is making the inevitable change to ensure it isn't competing against, and almost certainly getting lost in the mix by The Hobbit. Talk to the animals on 21 December 2012.

Django Unchained - Quentin Tarantino has obviously got the movie making bug back, after having completed Inglorious Basterds in less than a year he's giving himself only a little big longer to make his Southern. Free your wife from bondage on 28 December 2012.


Michael Cacoyannis/Silvio Narizzano

We were saddened this week to learn of the passing of two directors whose impact on cinematic history will probably be forgotten in time but who still managed to craft great moments that remain indelibly on our minds.

Fist up was Michael Cacoyannis who died on Monday aged 89. Following a brief stint as a Law student Cacoyannis instead found himself in love with the stage, his first film was the critical success Stella in 1955 and he ended his career in 1999 with the Chekhov adaptation The Cherry Orchard starring Charlotte Rampling, Alan Bates and Gerard Butler. The highlight of his career was 1964's Zorba the Greek, watch Bates (again) learn to dance in this clip that highlights the exuberance in the face of diversity that the film exhibits.



Silvio Narizano (died on Tuesday, aged 84) career is much harder to define, a TV director who only made a few films directly for cinemas, and oddly he's most fondly remembered for a BBC adaptation of Miss Marple's Body in the Library starring Joan Hickson. Still going with a theme here's a clip from Georgy Girl with the Oscar nominated Lynn Redgrave being told she's loved by Alan Bates in 1966.



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Laurence Fishburne


Happy Birthday to

Laurence Fishburne

50 today


Laurence has been slumming it the last few years with a lucrative but questionable role in CSI, however with the contract running to an end we're going to be lucky enough to see him back on the big screen. Next up is Steven Soderbergh's killer virus thriller Contagion, pictured.

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Friday, 29 July 2011

It's a Big World out There (Out this week - 29/07/11)

I won't be going to the cinema this weekend, frankly I'm exhausted it's been a heck of a week what with rehearsing, classes and the 24/7 fringe festival. Not to mention having to do "real work" during the day. However if I were to go the decision might be a tough one, there's a couple of interesting looking foreign language releases and a new Superhero is coming to town, but in the end I'd have to choose, as the RLAG film of the week, Arrietty.



Arrietty

Studio Ghibli take the unusual step of adapting an existing, European story (Mary Norton's "The Borrowers") then still imbue the film with a unique Japanese feel and the traditional acceptance of the absurd. Saoirse Ronan and Mark Strong lead the voice cast as daughter and father in a family of miniature people living behind the skirting board.

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



Captain America: The First Avenger

I have heard some great things about Joe Johnston's contribution to the pre-Avengers story, with many US critics calling it the best superhero movie of the summer. Chris Evans certainly looks hot in the trailers, and backed with a serious and exciting cast that includes Tommy Lee Jones, Stanley Tucci and Samuel L. Jackson what's not to like.

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

Light Thief

A rare example of Krggyzstani cinema that examines the stature of ordinary technicians who restore electricity in the turmoil since the break-up of the Soviet Union. It helps that the main character seems a bit of a happy go lucky type.

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

Poetry

Low-key existential Japanese movie about an old woman contemplating the meaning of life as she comes wearily to the end of hers. Heartbreaking and ultra-real this may still test the patience of most casual cinema-goers.

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

Better Life

Slightly buzzed about immigration drama following an illegal gardener, Damien Bichir, in East L.A. trying to do right by his son whilst avoiding the criminal gangs and the authorities. Looks promising, but not exceptional.

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

Zookeeper

Given it's poor pedigree and mediocre box office performance in the US it's hard to see why this Kevin James vehicle deserves 4 blobs. To be frank it probably doesn't however it does boast Nick Nolte as a gorilla as well as Sylvester Stallone and Cher as a pair of Lions. Sounds like prime crap at least.

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

Horrid Henry: The Movie

There's clearly a market for this big screen translation of the very British kids stories, and no doubt it will clear up during the school holidays, but I don't think it's for me. What persuaded Anjelica Huston to play the stern headmistress I'll never know.

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

Our Day will Come

Bonkers looking French pic starring Vincent Cassell as a ginger therapist who runs away with one of his patients (mmm ethical issues there) to find freedom in Ireland - the land of the red heads.

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

Jihne Mera Dil Luteya

Bollywood love triangle with two best friends falling for the same girl at Patiala University. Cue comedy hijinks and much singing and dancing.

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

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Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Beginners

2010. Dir: Mike Mills. Starring: Ewan McGregor, Christopher Plummer, Melanie Laurent, Goran Visnjic and Mary Page Keller. ●●●○○



I expect that my soul is dead inside, with nothing approaching a warm fuzzy core, otherwise wouldn't the whiny and emotionally cloying spectacle of Mike Mills sophomore directorial effort, Beginners, have had me aching for the pain of the characters instead of checking the time throughout the screening and finding my mind wonder what the point of individual scenes was whilst watching them. Especially annoying as certain elements dragged down the positive and balanced view of sexual orientation and a beautifully judged father son relationship.



Opening with Ewan McGregor's Oliver clearing the apartment of his recently deceased father Hal(Christopher Plummer) the film flits between timeframes, falling back to the last five years of Hal's life, a period when he is finally able to come out to his adult son and yet a period where he must battle and - ultimately lose - the fight against cancer, and pushing forward to Oliver dealing with the grief and forming a blossoming romance with Melanie Laurent. A relationship that fully underlines the cultural shift in social conventions; emphasising that Oliver and Anna may experiment sexually and emotionally with other without redress whilst Hal had to deny his sexuality - acknowledged but suppressed - in order to conform.

It was only with the passing of Hal's wife and Oliver's Mother (played in obscure flashbacks as a 40 something liberal housewife by Mary Page Keller) that Hal is able to be true to his feelings and live the gay lifestyle he had been denied. He guts his wardrobe, thrusts himself into promoting LGBT equality and enters a relationship with the fey, sensitive Andy (an unrecognisable Goran Visnjic), a gay stereotype always on the hunt for homophobia and battling with abandonment issues since being rejected by his family.

The relationship between Plummer and McGregor is easily the best thing in this movie, as Hal painfully recounts the tough choices he had to make to keep the family happy Oliver moves through indifference to respect to a new level of devotion to his father. Both of the actors reach levels of performance quality that simply can't be sustained elsewhere.

Not that necessarily a fault of the other actors, but mainly of the twee and self-consciously kooky screenplay. The romance between Oliver and Anna is particularly vexing, as they meet as a fancy dress party, he's recovering from his fathers death by dressing as Freud and bringing his father's Jack Russell. She's hiding her laryngitis by dressing as Charlie Chaplin. They literally "sleep" together before eventually developing a better understanding of the history of melancholy (and trust me they leave little out of that) whilst roller skating in the lobby of a top hotel.

This indie spirit, with is cutesy repetitive narration (complete with on-the-nose graphical depictions), alluring sub-titled performance from the Jack Russell and all the best of intentions eventually became as fussy and cluttered as the over-dressed sets. The worst thing is most of the moments relating to the romance seemed either forced or horribly derivative. Even the glimpses we get of Oliver as a child, being dragged round galleries by his free spirited, extroverted mother doesn't work as the third wheel of Hal barely gets a shadow.

I would have preferred a movie which skipped Plummer's reminiscences (as perfect as he is in the role) and skipped straight to the truth of the past, showing how marriage worked for the unlikely couple. I understand the film was a form of therapy for writer/director Mills, like his central protagonist he experienced his father's outing late in life with just a few years before his passing.

Ultimately I would have to say the film fails for me, especially in the romantic plotline, but it's not without it's charms and may be worth watching if the issues presented are in anyway applicable to your life.

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Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Helen Mirren


Happy Birthday to

Helen Mirren

66 today


There was a time, not that long ago, when I was on the edge of my seat in anticipation for a whole string of forthcoming movies with Helen Mirren, unfortunately most of them have passed by without really making an impact on box office - including the direct to DVD ignominy of Love Ranch. Next up is spy thriller The Debt (pictured - with apologies to any one affected by recent news stories that the image may bare passing resemblance) and domestic drama The Door which should give Mirren the chance to shine as a monosyllabic and awkward yet fiercely loyal housekeeper.

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Monday, 25 July 2011

Blowing Whistles update (Personal News - 25/07/11)

Just a quickie to let you all know that rehearsals for Laced Banana's production of Blowing Whistles are coming along very well, as a cast we're really clicking into place and there are some very exciting touches coming from the director Amy Derber.

Tickets are now available from the website: http://www.lacedbanana.webs.com/ and I really do urge you pick them up before they sell out! (But of course I would say that!)



I also attended Surviving Actors convention on Saturday, which was a great way to Network and see some interesting and varied presentations from various arms of the business including casting directors and Spotlight professionals. If you're an actor and it's running in a city near you I can heartily recommend.

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Barbara Harris


Happy Birthday to

Barbara Harris

76 today


Ms Harris's body of work is far more fascinating than she is probably remembered for, even though she rarely stepped away from comedic roles even when performing in movies with very serious themes. Her highlights includes Nashville and Grosse Point Blank. She's now retired from film acting.

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Sunday, 24 July 2011

Running (24/07/11)

I'm halfway through my last training block (of 14 weeks) before the Nottingham Marathon, and I have to say I think it's going really quite well. This week certainly has seen an upswing on the poor performance from last week, in fact this week I've run the furthest for quite a while, and has the second lowest average speed of the last 7 weeks.

6 runs
42.5 miles
5 hours 45 minutes

So that's an average speed of 7.38 mph

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Chris Sarandon


Happy Birthday to

Chris Sarandon

69 today


Frequent "I know you" actor who, in spite of an oscar-nominated supporting role in Dog Day Afternoon as Al Pacino's demanding partner desperately seeking a sex change operation and providing the impetus of the plot, somehow never seemed to take off as the charismatic leading man he could have been. Instead he's been drawn into a long line of b movies and supporting roles to Jason Statham.

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Saturday, 23 July 2011

What price Faith (Film News - 23/07/11)

For the third week in a row we're struggling to fill the news post (in spite of comic con rumbling on), and it is almost unbearably disappointing. I suppose I should be grateful for the weeks overburdened with stories, however that feels so natural that these slower weeks really come as a shock, especially given this long semi-drought. At least the projects we're mentioning here have a good chance of getting made, and sound like they could be fascinating.

Under the Banner of Heaven

When Dustin Lance Black won his Oscar for writing Milk a couple of years ago there was much talk of a bright new talent and expectation was rife about what direction his work would take him, luckily he's been tapping away furiously at the typewriter with J. Edgar on it's way, and now the big screen adaptation of Jon Krakauer's non-fiction novel (Pictured below) about two brothers who murdered the wife and infant child of their younger brother claiming they were acting on the will of God. More synopsis can be found on the book cover...



This sounds like a fascinating project that may probe into issues of mental health diagnoses and how religious fundamentalism has the capacity to commit heinous crimes in the name of it's message.

On the other hand it could become a mishmash of whiny liberal prejudice (the brothers followed a splinter group of Mormonism and I worry about balanced views on religious beliefs in films - now I can't wait for the comments to come in) and shuffling horror tropes, furthermore this is probably coming after Christian fundamentalism has been a hot topic with Red State and Martha Marcy May Marlene both impressing at Sundance this year.

Of course I will be supporting Black either way as he seems like a personable and responsible fellow, and the script for Milk does make me think the boy can write. Keep an eye on this one.

Read on for journalistic integrity and... well that's about it really as well as some casting news.



The Company you Keep

Here in the UK the headlines have been dominated over the last three weeks by the implosion of News International, Rupert Murdoch's print conglomerate that publishes "The Sun" and "The Times". As more and more revelations of phone hacking, including those of the families of murder victims and dead soldiers, and the extent of cosying up done by the political classes and police with NI executives has been made public we've seen resignations from the highest seats in NI as well as senior Police officer, frankly it's unlikely to be long before a minister or high-profile civil servant also falls as a result of the story. With that in mind it's good to see Robert Redford's next movie will star Shia LaBeouf as an unscrupulous investigative reporter anxious to get the scoop on a former Weather Underground member (for those of you not in the know the Weathermen were a clandestine revolutionary party advocating terrorism as a means to violently overthrow the US Government).

Of course whether you'll buy LaBeouf as a journalist facing the choice between getting a great story or letting an old man live his final days in peace is yet to be decided.

Casting News

Quentin Tarantino is as known as much for his knack of reinvigorating careers as for the plots and techniques of his movies, and so when a fading star picks up a role in his films it always raises eyebrows. So three cheers to Kevin Costner who's taken the role of the sadistic slave trainer in Django Unchained with that and the Superman remake he's certainly on the way back to the A list. This week we've also seen a whole slew of names added to The Lone Ranger including Helena Bonham Carter and Dwight Yoakam making it altogether more interesting. You can also take the latest rumour about casting Les Miserables with a huge chunk of salt, but apparently Russell Crowe is lobbying for the role of Javert the obsessed policeman after Hugh Jackman's Jean Valjean.



Crowe has experience of singing, fronting the bands 30 Odd foot of Grunts and The Ordinary Fear of God but I somehow doubt that puts him up there with Jackman's Tony award winning experiences.

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Woody Harrelson


Happy Birthday to

Woody Harrelson

50 today


Making his start in TV comedy (as Woody Boyd in "Cheers") Woody took a long time to build up enough of a critical reputation to be considered seriously. His oscar-nominated performance as Larry Flynt was the starting point, and now he's just as comfortable in comedy as drama. Next up is Rampart reuniting him with Oren Moverman, the director of The Messenger, and if it's even half as good as that slow-burning masterpiece it'll be a fantastic.

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Friday, 22 July 2011

Starting Over Again (Out this week - 22/07/11)

Considering the date there's a surprisingly few releases this week. What's the date I hear you ask? It's the first weekend of the school summer holidays - the traffic forecasters are predicting hell on Earth on the motorways that roughly head toward the beach so what better way to spend the evening than going to the cinema. For the kiddies there's Potter week 2 or a sub-standard Pixar, but if I had to choose - and of course I do - I'd pick, as film of the week, gay dad romance Beginners.



Beginners

I'm probably not as keen on this quirky relationship drama as I'm making out, but I hear Christopher Plummers performance as an Octogenarian coming out for the first time is exquisite and MacGregor and Laurent make a lovely couple so I'll give it a try.

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



Big Picture

If you fancy a thriller this week your only option is this French effort starring Romain Duris as a lawyer who kills his wife's lover in a fit of rage (I thought that was fine in France) then runs away to start a new life. Catherine Deneuve also stars.

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

Cars 2

After last years critical and commercial super success with Toy Story 3 it can probably be said that Pixar are coasting with the return to the merchandise friendly automobile franchise. Oddly this is also an example of stunt casting with Owen Wilson and Larry the Cable Guy joined by Michael Caine, Vanessa Redgrave (as the Queen) and Lewis Hamilton. Or you could watch the German Grand Prix on Sunday!

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

Horrible Bosses

So so looking comedy that will probably play well to fans of the central conceit - it's OK to slaughter your boss if they're despicable human beings. Kevin Spacey, Jennifer Aniston and Colin Farrell gleefully ham it up as the worst practitioners of management skills with Jamie Foxx as hit man Motherf**ker Jones - probably the best joke in the movie.

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

Singham

Our lone Bollywood release this week is hard to get a handle on the plot, other than it's a Hindi action drama and appears to have been in post production for years (I'm sure I've seen that title before). Good early buzz on IMDb.

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

Break my Fall

Very low budget British LGBT interest indie, following a young Lesbian couple as they negotiate their hedonistic lifestyle (they appear to be in a band) ans decide what it is they really want out of their relationship. Heavily influenced by the mumblecore movement.

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

Violent Kind

Tired looking yokels gone crazy US horror with the usual cut-out characters being scared witless and panicking in uninventive ways. Don't worry this is getting the tiniest of releases.

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

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Louise Fletcher


Happy Birthday to

Louise Fletcher

77 today


One of only three actresses (along with Jodie Foster and Claudette Colbert) to get caught up in that rare feat of a film winning Oscars for film, director, screenplay and both leads. However unlike the others Louise has struggled to escape the role of Nurse Ratched, having made only tiny ripples with her other performances.

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Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Princesse de Montpensier

2010. Dir: Bertrand Tavernier. Starring: Mélanie Thierry, Lambert Wilson, Grégoire Leprince-Ringuet, Gaspard Ulliel and Raphaël Personnaz. ●●●●○



About 17 years ago I did my GCSE exams, the first level of secondary exams that basically decide whether you have the academic potential to move on to Advanced and later undergraduate level studies. In those exams I did well at Maths and Drama but received a poor result for History and utterly failed in French. It could therefore be considered surprising that I went to see the Gallic historical drama Princesse de Montpensier, however I am pleased to report that even someone as ill-prepared for the experience as I am can enjoy the bodice ripping, intense action and fully formed subtext.



Taking place in 16th Century France against the backdrop of the civil wars between the Catholics and Huguenots (culminating in the St. Batholomew's Day massacre) the plot revolves around the eponymous Princess (Mélanie Thierry) and the four men who fall for her, principally the rivalry between her husband the Prince (Grégoire Leprince-Ringuet) and her childhood sweetheart Henri de Guise (Gaspard Ulliel). I'm getting ahead of myself though, as much as the Princess is the central figure the film takes a while to introduce her, reflecting the role of women in society - even among the upper echelons of society - where they are frequently defined by their relationships with men.

Instead we start on the battlefield, observing the Comte de Chabannes (Lambert Wilson) commit war crimes and then, overcome with guilt and remorse, vow to never again raise a sword to defend a faith system, especially given the civil war can be boiled down to a literal understanding of transubstantiation. Like all tragic figures his epiphany and the reasons behind it takes him down the path that will ultimately lead to his downfall, but not before he enters the service of the Prince de Montpensier as a tutor to his bride-to-be, instructing her in the customs and politics of the court.

Which is when we meet the respective fathers of the Prince and Princess, hammering out the terms of the nuptials, like a trade agreement they discuss the political ramifications for each of the Princesses suitors, with the Duc persuasive and brusque taking control over the situation and shafting de Guise.

Finally the decision having been made it is time for all parties to be informed including the Princess. Initially she rails against the decision in a petulant and unseemly manner before her mother, older and wiser, reminds her that duty must come before love and that a successful union can be made with the inconvenient L word being necessary. It's worth noting that de Guise doesn't take it well either, nearly entering into a duel with the Prince.

Later we meet a the final piece in this love quintet, the Duc d'Anjou (Raphaël Personnaz - unfeasibly attractive to play the smallpox infested royal Prince from history books but there you go), commander of the monarchist armies during the Wars of Religion and architect of the Edict of Beaulieu establishing peace (for a bit), who is misdirected through the castle of Montpensier by de Guise and promptly decides to attempt to woo the Princess as a mistress, inviting her through his mother, Catherine d'Medici, the de facto head of state in France.

All this and we're still only halfway through the film. All this may appear to add up to a complex and unyielding plot, however whilst it moves on at a pace with the characters shifting their loyalties on a regular basis, all of the individuals are so well defined, with their weaknesses and motivations so clear these machinations become organic and often understandable. Each of the men using the full reach of their power or influence to try to persuade the Princess of their innermost desires.

Thierry gives a fine central performance, at once headstrong and passionate and yet her attitude changes throughout the piece, revealing the sheer force of society in taming her. Among the men Wilson and Personnaz do fine work but it's the cuckold Leprince-Ringuet who steals the plaudits in my eyes, he is a proud and haunted figure unable to grasp his wife's lack of loyalty, given to melancholy and a depth of emotion that pushes through the language barrier.

Of course when you watch a film like this it's hard not to focus on the fine technical work from the costume design department and the fine location work (much of the film was shot on external locations). Phillippe Sarde's score was also suitable resounding, although not as memorable as his work for Tess. There is also a telling amount of period detail, confirming the painstaking research from the writing team, everything from contemporary recipes for eels in garlic, to the rituals of the marital bed even the importance of astrology drift through the action and helping to contextualise the positions of the central characters. On a more artistic note the writing, even the subtitling, occasional veers towards the poetic, Chabannes in particular is prone to use beautiful prose and metaphor in his tutoring of the Princess, one speech in particular - ostensibly about the physics of celestial bodies yet also pertaining to the vagaries of the court - is a delicious soufflé of ideas in the mouth of Lambert.

Director Bertrand Tavernier, 70, may not be the angry young auteur he once was, however this bodice ripper with a brain proves he still got it where it counts. I'd heartily recommend this movie, however much the combination of French and History scares you.

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Monday, 18 July 2011

Elizabeth McGovern


Happy Birthday to

Elizabeth McGovern

50 today


Quietly Ms McGovern slipped into two major box office releases last year (Clash of the Titans and Kick Ass) albeit in minor supporting roles. Saying that it doesn't look like she's going to hit those highs with anything coming out in the next couple of years.

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Sunday, 17 July 2011

Running (17/07/11)

Very disappointing week and I don't really know why. Well, to be honest I do, in the week I was trying to run through woodland (on the final week of touring with Theatre&) and that had a detrimental affect on my times, and then with a continued bad diet from last week todays big run was slower that last weeks (even though it was only half the distance!). Any way... Only 8 weeks left until the Marathon now...

4 runs
28.0 miles
4 hours 01 minutes

So that's an average speed of 6.98 mph

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Saturday, 16 July 2011

The scribblings of a genius (Film News - 16/07/11)

It's been another weak week for film news with only a couple of projects catching my eye, the first of which won't be see for at least another couple of years. I'm not completely sure why this is - are all the execs on Holiday right now? No need to dally though lets get right into:

In the Hand of Dante

We heard this week that Johnny Depp has found a director for the big screen adaptation of Nick Tosches' head scratching novel in the form of Julian Schnabel. Intertwining fictional and autobiographical accounts of the lives of Tosche, Dante and a mobster named Louis the novel focuses on a manuscript of The Divine Comedy that may or may not be the original version.

It sounds to me like a more literary version of Adaptation so I can't wait to see how the characters intersect and what direction the plot unfolds in. The pyjama wearing auteur has said the book is about everything which may not be strictly accurate but at least gives an idea of how ambitious the project will be.

Unfortunately this is a long way off being made, in a statement Schnabel said nothings been signed and Johnny just wants him to look at it and develop it over the next couple of years. I don't know but it sounds like Depp wants to have something interesting to dig out of his schedules at some point in the far off future (and not now when he's hopelessly busy with box office stinkers). Not that Schnabel has anything to worry about, after their brief but memorable collaboration on Before Night Falls (Depp plays a transvestite smuggler - below - in the 2000 Reinaldo Arenas biopic) I suspect they're both itching to get together again.




Read on for a sequel 20 years out of date and a round up of this weeks casting news.



Red Hook Summer

Appearing seemingly out of nowhere and only really a tweet and some investigative journalism is the news that Spike Lee is making a semi-sequel to his seminal 1989 movie Do the Right Thing (see poster below). It's a sequel in that he will return as the character of Mookie but not continuing the plot, although like the original movie the action will take place over a long hot summer. Obviously Lee decided to make a quick joint before seriously starting pre-production on his Old Boy remake, and I for one am far more interested in what he has to say with this.



Casting News

We may not have seen much excitement in the new films section of this weeks news, but at least the casting section sees plenty to write home about. The most interesting story was hearing Joaquin Pheonix is attached to the forthcoming Spike Jonze and Andy Kaufman collaboration. This is great news as it means Pheonix's career has somehow survived his I'm Still Here stunt and we also picked up the movie will be a political satire concerning world leaders planning future crises - sounds intriguing. Edward Norton is being considered for bad guy duties in The Bourne Legacy, the eclectic cast of He Loves Me is getting more interesting with Elliott Gould, Antonio Banderas and Steve Coogan signing on in support and further to last week Josh Brolin is being consider for the Old Boy remake.

Read More...

Friday, 15 July 2011

Bring me Harry Potter (Out this week - 15/07/11)

Let's not pretend anything here. There is only one movie that's even vaguely hitting the headlines this week and as much as I'd like to support the Spanish prison dramas or independent grindhouse spin-offs there's no denying the pull of J K Rowling's literary behemoth. So it is with no shock the runs like a gay film of the week is the final battle between good and evil, it's Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallow Part II.



Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallow Part II

As the British film industry grinds to a halt following the closure of the Potter franchise (although you have to wonder if the Potterverse project will lead to some future spin-offs) lets look forward to seeing the lengthy awards calibre supporting cast list (in this film there are 19 acting nominations, 4 wins, from 7 performers - see the labels below - and how many casts can claim that?) doing more serious work over the next couple of years.

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



Cell 211

Popular Spanish thriller following a rookie prison screw on his first day who gets caught a riot and becomes chummy with the criminal leading the revolt, and finds his loyalties deeply questioned. The US remake is already being written.

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


Bal (Honey)

The third in a loose trilogy of films focussing on the lives of working class Turks from Semih Kaplanoglu. Naturalistic and unsentimental the movie reflects a way of life slowly coming to an end.

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


Hobo with a Shotgun

The second fake trailer from Tarantino and Rodriguez's Grindhouse experiment to be made into a full scale movie looks more promising than Machete in that it keeps it's lo-fi premise and ultra-violent concept and save Rutger Hauer as our shotgun wielding hero doesn't overfill the cast with unnecessary cameos. That said it may not be to everyone's taste.

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


Treacle Jr.

Independent British movie starring the ubiquitous Aiden Gillen (honestly he seems to be everywhere over here at the moment) and Tom Fisher as two middle aged men unable to conform within modern society, it might be an interesting dissection of modern attitudes to mental health but the trailer isn't making that too clear.

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


Zindagi Na Milenge Dobara

Possible the only Bollywood release this week - I say possible as the twice delayed Deiva Thirumagal is also supposedly hitting cinemas this weekend - is a drama about three friends turning their fantasy vacation into reality following one of them getting engaged. No, I don't understand how that serves as a plot synopsis either.

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


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Forest Whitaker


Happy Birthday to

Forest Whitaker

50 today


Do you reckon Forest is raising his eyes skyward because he is disappointed or relieved that My Own Love Song - the Renee Zellweger vehicle he performed in last year - hasn't made it to the UK yet? Frankly it's looking less and less likely that it will. The sad thing is in the 5 years sine winning an oscar nonearly all of his films has been disappointing (excluding Where the Wild Things are, obviously) and there's nothing coming up either.

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Thursday, 14 July 2011

Nancy Olson


Happy Birthday to

Nancy Olson

83 today


It's bizarre isn't it? I think of Sunset Boulevard as a timeless masterpiece, however here we are celebrating the eighty third birthday of the young ingenue that steals William Holden's heart. For 61 year old movie that and for her perfect light comedy roles supporting Fred MacMurray in The Absent minded professor it's always worth remembering this date.

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Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Tree of Life

2011. Dir: Terrence Malick. Starring: Brad Pitt, Jessica Chastain, Sean Penn, Hunter McCracken and Laramie Eppler. ●●●●○ or ●●○○○ (possibly ●●●●● or ●●●○○, but definitely not ●○○○○)



I begin to write this review some 48 hours after having seen Terrence Malick's much anticipated The Tree of Life and as you can see from my blob rating time has done nothing but confuse my judgement. I constantly veer from profound admiration for magical leaps in cinematic art Malick presents to the measurable discomfort relating to his disregard of narrative and leaps of pretension. It is both absurd and beautiful, heartfelt and arrogant, divisive and all-encompassing, I love it and loathe it. In short it is like nothing else in cinemas and deserves to be given full attention, but I can't say I'll be rushing to watch it again.



It's film within a film within a history of the universe centres around the experiences of a typical suburban family in a middle America town in the 1950's, more especially the movie dissects how we are shaped and moulded by our parents, how are personalities are fought over by the twin influences of a nurturing mother and a volatile protective father, the characteristics of grace and nature, personified by Jassica Chastain and Brad Pitt. Not that the stereotypical design of the parents in anyway diminishes the essence of the performances or the point of the family set-up, but nevertheless the simplicity of the family unit and the broad roles assigned within must be acknowledged to appreciate the intent.

Choosing their way are the three pre-pubescent sons of our central couple, Hunter McCracken as the eldest Jack (played as an adult by Sean Penn), middle son R.L (Eppler) whose unexplained death in his early 20's is largely a catalyst for the torrent of memories and Tye Sheridan as the youngest Steve. Taking into account the childs eye view and the unreliability of memory the bulk of the movie, observing the film is stunning and instantly recognisable. As an audience we flit from seemingly disconnected scenes - Chastain chases a butterfly, Pitt practices on the church organ, the boys play chaotic and rough games, the family tersely sit down for dinner. However each of these moments is ideally crafted to reveal how the unit works and where the cracks that will ultimately define the boys adulthood begin.

If the film had only been this portion of the movie then I would have liked the whole a lot better, the universality of the themes and the high-calibre work from everyone involved is emotionally fulfilling and intellectually satisfying. Pitt does his best work I've ever seen and in McCracken we have the makings of a superb character actor, a boy who's glowering and intensity will serve him well.

Outside of this though the staggering levels of self-indulgence and waffle are extraordinary, Sean Penn mopes around his scenes inarticulate and sporting a look of confusion and pain that are reminiscent of constipation than a profound recognition of the wonders of life. In the final act we are treated to a glimpse of the afterlife (maybe, who knows) as Penn wanders around a beach collecting his family from the random extras from the rest of the film in an indeterminably overlong sequence or reconciliation. As for the creation of the Earth and the development of life, whilst it's all very pretty and Douglas Trumball's special effects work is fascinating, it comes across as largely self-serving. Does not the excellent cinematography by Emmanuel Lubezki exhibit the place of this family in nature without the point being hammered home? Doesn't Chastain crying out to God for taking her child mean enough without outlining how little we seem to figure into His plans? Isn't the excellent classical, Judeo-Christian soundtrack and repeated references to the story of Job enough to illustrate God's hand in our fate?

I am left with so many questions, so much in the film is about the feel or texture of the emotions, so much is designed to open doors to philosophical concepts and not box us into pat answers. What did I think overall, would I recommend the film? These questions are irrelevant. I experienced Tree of Life, I think people should experience Tree of Life, some sections were superb, others awful. I honestly don't know whether it's good or whether I enjoyed it. Maybe one day I'll be able to come to a conclusion, maybe not.

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Robert Forster


Happy Birthday to

Robert Forster

70 today


Former matinee idol turned Quentin Tarantino success story Forster has been working solidly since the late 60's seemingly trying just about every script that comes his way. Luckily the next film looks good, in a strong (just look at that right hook) supporting role to George Clooney in The Descendents.

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Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Tuesday Trailers - The Skin I Live In

One of the combinations of film-maker and genre that I probably wouldn't have automatically put together is Pedro Almodovar and horror, however that seems to be the case in this pastiche of style with Antonio Banderas camping it up as a mad plastic surgeon. Enjoyed but not feted at Cannes this should still be well worth catching.



The Skin I live In is released on 26 August 2011.

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Sunday, 10 July 2011

Running (10/07/11)

Odd week with a decrease in the number of runs offset by an increase in overall distance and an actual increase on the pace, so overall I should be happy with my performance. That said I've fallen off the diet wagon big time, munching my way through a packet of rich tea and a pizza this week. Bad bad Ben... Need to show more self-control obviously. Only 9 weeks left until the Marathon now...

4 runs
31.6 miles
4 hours 21 minutes

So that's an average speed of 7.28 mph

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Saturday, 9 July 2011

Nothing to see here (Film news - 09/07/11)

Why do I bother, eh? I've been checking the news all week and virtually nothing of any interest whatsoever has happened. No really, it's been hopeless. I've had to feed on the scraps of one recycled story and a casting that makes no commercial sense. You would've thought the studios would get together and decide what to release each week to keep film goers like myself tuning in for those exciting snippets of news. As it is I feel like just not bothering looking at the news next week. Harumph...

Old Boy

There has been occasional discussions about an English language remake of Chan-wook Park's 2003 Korean Revenge masterpiece for some time, but over the last few days it re-surfaced with Spike Lee the latest director attached to the project, allegedly working from a script by Mark "I am Legend" Protosevich. There's no news yet on whether Will Smith, who was originally attached to the remake back in 2008, will be returning to the project but with a basically free schedule (after MIB3 and before his M. Night Shyamalan vehicle) and given the chance to work with a firebrand like Lee I can only imagine he'll jump at the chance.

Squid auditions will no doubt be called soon.



Read on for naff all bar an unlikely casting call.



Casting News

And on to the one and only casting rumour, that Danny Boyle is considering Colin Firth and Scarlett Johannson for his latest crime flick Trance. My concern here is from memory the art-heist concept isn't a million miles away from the con-artists after old master plot of Gambit currently filming in London with Colin Firth. Isn't there an issue with the roles being too similar or am I remembering the plots incorrectly?

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Chris Cooper


Happy Birthday to

Chris Cooper

60 today


Always an impressive performer, always making the most of minor roles including his brief scene in last years The Town or his vocal performance in Where the Wild Things Are. He's a regular collaborator with John Sayles, including their latest film Amigo (which just opened in the US, so I'm hoping we'll get it later in the year).

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Friday, 8 July 2011

Illuminating the Almighty (Out this week - 08/07/11)

This week I'm all about joining the conversation. Everytime Terence Malick makes a movie it's front page news, the masterful arthouse agitator is able to present concepts that few understand let alone consider when going to the local multiplex. It's an odd week for films otherwise with the gap between Transformers and Harry Potter being curiously empty of big box office releases meaning anything could happen at the top of the chart. I confess I'm wary about the film, but I will go and film of the week must therefore be: The Tree of Life.




The Tree of Life

It's the most talked about movie of 2011, and a cinematic marvel that has enraged and astounded critics in equal measure. Eschewing conventional narrative Malick charts the history of the universe and our relationship to God through the experiences of one family in small town America. Brad Pitt and Jessica Chastain are the twin forces of Nature and Grace (or Father and Mother) that battle for the control of their son Hunter McCracken, later Sean Penn.

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




Holy Rollers

Pleasing looking comedy with Jesse Eisenberg as an Hasidic jew, bored with his early twenties closeted life, finding himself embroiled in a smuggling ring carrying pot over international borders.

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


Super

The film that Kick-Ass could've been. With Rainn Wilson's fragile mental state tipping over the edge after his girlfriend leaves him and electing the way of the masked vigilante dishing out extreme violence. Ellen Page co-stars as his sidekick "Boltie".

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


Film Socialisme

If you thought Terence Malick had the arthouse market cornered this week stand by for Jean-Luc Godard's symphony in three movements, where he explores his various passions with little linking structure to the snippets of conversations and moods he films. Godard (80) has threatened this will be his last movie so it could well be worth catching for that reason alone.

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


Princess de Montpensier

The film I really want to see next week looks like it may be the hardest to find, with a distinctly limited independent release pattern. Based on the true story of an affair that nearly ripped apart the French court, the film won dedicated admirers at Toronto last year.

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


Sawako Decides

Japanese comic drama about female empowerment, certainly the most leftfield film to come from Japan this year it opens with a intimate scene of colonic irrigation.

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


Trust

Former "Friend" David Schwimmer continues to confound all expectations with his directorial career, shifting from Simon Pegg comedy Run Fatboy Run to this paedophilia drama, exhibiting the worst case scenario from teenagers dating on the net. Clive Owen and Catherine Keener (as the parents) headline the cast that also includes Liana Liberato as the vulnerable daughter and Viola Davis.

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


Devil's Rock

New Zealander horror movie, set on the channel islands during the second world war with two Kiwi commandos uncovering a secret Nazi occult plot. Sounds like a well-worn cliche of a plot, but there must be an audience for this sort of thing.

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


Murder 2

Bollywood sequel to the 2004 film "Murder", which at least makes sense of the title.

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


Venghai

Tamil action thriller that translates to Leopard and involves Dhanush rising up against his aggressors like the invoked big cat.

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


Huge

Film about stand-up, starring a whole host of stars of the British comedy circuit, that somehow fails to be either funny or insightful about the cutthroat business. Probably best avoided.

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

There's something odd going on in the world of Bollywood releases, with a large number of smaller films getting a limited release at a couple of cinema over the next week or so. I've seperated them from the wide releases and included only the most basic plot descriptions (sorry about that), hopefully if you're interested you'll still want to find out more.

Rang Rasiya

Biopic of 19th century Indian painter Raja Ravi Varma. In Hindi, originally released in 2008.

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


Veettilekkulla Vazhi

Malayalam movie about a doctor reuniting the 5 year old child of a terrorist who dies in his care with their father.

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

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Wednesday, 6 July 2011

The Conspirator

2010. Dir: Robert Redford. Starring: James McAvoy, Robin Wright, Evan Rachel Wood, Danny Huston and Tom Wilkinson. ●●○○○



The trouble with watching films that posit a political statement that you support is that whislt the euphoria of a high quality finished article is heightened so to is abject disappointment of poorly made movie making. Sadly The Conspirator falls squarely in the later camp, for it's liberal pleading for social justice and the rule of law the inadequacies of the movie itself somewhat negate the impact of the message.



The film opens, utterly pointlessly, on the field of battle - or at least the aftermath due to budgetary constraints - with James McAvoy's serious Lt. Frederick Aitken trying to keep the horribly injured Justin Long alive by telling him an inappropriate joke. Fortunately we never hear the end as medics arrive first to cart off McAvoy but he persuades them to tend to his friend first. I suppose the point of the scene is to introduce McAvoy's self-sacrificing nature and to reinforce the bravery of the man, even to highlight his stubborness. It pretty much fails on all counts as personally I never felt McAvoy's life was in danger, as horrific as his injury may appear there's little sense of sacrifice in the scene.

This scene is important though as those qualities are repeated and reflected in McAvoy's journey through the rest of the film, and it feels equally false in context of the legal battle to save Robin Wright's Mary Surratt the mother of the Lincoln assassination support team that got away. Yes, McAvoy loses membership of his officers club, his haughty girlfriend (Alexis Bledel) and finds his sholastic legal reputation tarnished but none of that seems like a great loss and he friends seem to be prepared to stick by him at all costs. Part of this issue is McAvoy - he seems uncomforatble in the role and fails to convince as a patriotic and torn soldier forced to defend a woman he clearly imagines as guilty.

The vast majority of the running time is given over to McAvoy's defence of the case, from the early days as a paralegal to Tom Wilkinson's Southern born senator (who knows he cannot win the case due to the perception of his loyalties during the civil war and eventually manouvres McAvoy into taking the case alone) to the final summation of the case where McAvoy rails against the clearly biased military court procedure with no jury organised and orchestrated by prosecution counsellor Danny Huston - tiptoeing malevavently around the court like an oiled spider.

Robin Wright gives a great performance as the proud Southern matriach, unapologetic for her thoughts and beliefs and stubbornly refusing to save her victimisation (the film unequivocably indicates her likely innocence) by selling out her absentee son. Stoical, even in the shadows of the gallows, Wright is able to bring layers to the character that simply aren't there in the script a tilt of the head or a flicker of cheeks making up for the lack of anything for her to do. Equally under-represented with the screenplay is Evan Rachel Wood as her daughter Anna, although she too tries her best dodging the over obvious symbolism in the set decoration.

Whenever we leave those two ladies the pace of the film suffers though, McAvoy's priviledged circle pontificate self-righteously but come across as boorish or irrelevant. Robert Redford, directing James D. Solomon's script, seems unable to coax any sense of reality form the supporting cast of Army officers and Kevin Kline's bespectacled Edwin Stanton, gleefully pushing over the rule of law in order to give the public the sense of retribution they desire is given no sense of character depth.

Redford has yet to make an interesting movie, essentially the best of his films have been well staged insightful scripts, and that workmanlike style is shown up in all it's inadequate slendour given the meandering, preachy script.

And remember this review is from someone who wanted to like the film. I would argue for the fundamental rights of habeous corpus for all. The continued injustice of Guantanamo Bay (and you could argue the foreign policies of extraordinary rendition, military tribunal and indefinate incarceration without charge are the real subjects of this film) is a cancer in the US constition, it blights the best intentions of the early signatories and the principles of justice must be applied to even those accused of the most heinous crimes. So just imagine what the the backers and apologists of the war on terror will make of this film.

We on the left deserve so much better.

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Geoffrey Rush


Happy Birthday to

Geoffrey Rush

60 today


It's been a mixed year for the antipodean actor, picking up an Oscar nomination for his superb performance in The King's Speech, but then has had an appalling summer with performances in the two worst critically received blockbusters so far (Pirates and Green Lantern). Next up is the adaptation of Patrick White's novel Eye of the Storm, pictured.

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Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Tuesday Trailers - One Day

Tuesday trailers are back - something that always makes me a little happy as it means good movies (or at least ones I really want to see) are on their way. At the end of August we'll get the big-screen adaptation of David Nicholls' bestseller. Personally I wasn't much of a fan of the novel - both of the characters irritated me - but I can certainly see the cinematic potential of revisiting the same characters once a year to see how their lives change.



One Day opens on 26 August 2011.

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Shirley Knight


Happy Birthday to

Shirley Knight

75 today


Born in Kansas Shirley has an impressive track record in both films and on the stage, although she's almost certainly most remembered for her work in the first part of her career including co-starring with Paul Newman in Sweet Bird of Youth.

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Monday, 4 July 2011

Personal (04/07/11)

Happy Independence Day (I thought I'd get that out of the way for my US readers).

I've been very remiss of late, and not keeping you up to date with the Fringe castings I've attended (mainly because I keep getting rejected) however the good news is last weekend I was offered the role of "Nigel" in Matthew Todd's Blowing Whistles, produced by Laced Banana productions.

Described as a frenetic, funny and provocative play on love, life, and the internet, BW will be shown as part of the Manchester Pride Fringe festival on 22 and 23 August. Tickets can be obtained here.



The picture above is most of the cover art, which maybe gives you some indication of the tone of the piece. It also acts as a daily reminder that I must work out more...

I have also been a very busy boy this weekend sending out my CV and headshot to 35 UK casting agents. Frankly I'm exhausted - but if even one gets back to me with a potential job (especially given a couple are working on films I've mentioned right here on the blog) it'll be worth it.

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Sunday, 3 July 2011

Running (03/07/11)

Hopeless. I took the throttle off this week both in terms of distance and pace (although it was still far better than the avergae of the last 10 weeks), I hav a long run with a friend in this coming week planned so hopefully I'll be back on target by then. Only 10 weeks left until the Marathon now...

5 runs
26.2 miles
3 hours 38 minutes

So that's an average speed of 7.23 mph

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Tom Cruise


Happy Birthday to

Tom Cruise

49 today


As Cruise edges closer to his half century it seems the career is moving into another phase, over the last ten years he appeared to be trying to do less action flicks and more character work (even if some of these were more successful than others), but over the next couple of years the career seems to be splitting between ever more preposterous thrillers and even a comedy-musical. I hope that it's just a temporary thing, like most actors with a quality CV I hope Cruise will get his mojo back.

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Saturday, 2 July 2011

Taking all that pain away (Film News - 02/07/11)

Not exactly a classical week for film news, given half of the stories I'm running with are retreads with slight updates of projects I mentioned just two weeks ago (both of which turn out to be biopics of musicians), nevertheless if the other two movies we mention in the main news get made rest assured they will be culturally significant enough to have them queuing round the block. I've also had a catch up on IMDb, looking for the latest developments on a number of projects we've mentioned here before and quite a few have entered the early production stages, which is all good news for film fans. So without further ado:

The Giver

Jeff Bridges has been repeatedly behind attempts to film Lois Lowry's Newberry Award winning 1993 novel for at least 15 years. Originally envisioning his father in the role of a sage within a Utopian future who alone has the knowledge of the true pain and pleasures of life Bridges now feels he is old enough to take the role himself so he and producer Nikki Silver has obtained the screen rights and are trying to put together cobble together funding. I doubt that will be a struggle, whilst I don't know the book it is a young adult sci-fi novel (see the cover below) - the protagonist is a 12 year old boy being trained to take over from "The Giver" - and the first of a trilogy which in these uncertain times with Harry Potter and the Twilight franchises about to end and The Hunger Games still untested could well be what's needed to keep some of the studios cash flow going.





On the other hand the book contains some very adult themes such as the suppression of emotions and the physical and psychological effects of puberty and even state-sponsored euthanasia. As well as some tricky visual constructs such as only the Giver being able to see colour.

In spite of these problematic sections I expect the funding will eventually be found, and the significant task of casting the 12 year-old Jonas will begin.

Read on for American heroes and two very diverse singers, as well as the latest casting stories and an update on which of the stories we run here actually happen.



American Can

Whilst a number of movies have skirted around the effects of Hurricane Katrina so far Hollywood has yet to confront the issue head-on (ignoring of course Spike Lee's excellent documentary When the Levees Broke) so it's refreshing to hear that Will Smith's production company is still pushing on this project so much the script is currently with Denzel Washington with the hope of Denzel taking the role - originally considered for the busy Smith - of ex-marine John Keller who helped take of the residents of the titular New Orleans apartment complex, ensuring the seven feet of flooding wasn't followed by a wave of looters.

Untitled Dave Van Ronk biopic

It seems the Coen brothers next movie will be based on the life of coffeehouse folk singer and political activist Dave van Ronk, whose legacy both as an artist and as a spotter of talent (he paved the way for Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell among others) is certainly significant. This ties up with the rumours of the single instrument music based movie and will be a sidestep and unique addition to their canon. Take a listen to van Ronk here:



Untitled Anita Lindblom biopic

Meanwhile Catherine Hardwicke has revealed her European jaunt will look at the turbulent relationship between Swedish singer Anita Lindblom and boxer Bosse Hogberg with Noomi Rapace on board as Anita. Unfortunately I cannot find anything other than Lindblom's music on the net so I know nothing else about the topic - so it could be intriguing. Take a listen to Lindblom here:



Casting News

We've got three major stars picking up some intriguing projects this week. Firstly Leonardo DiCaprio may be the washed up actor taking Beyonce under his wing in Clint Eastwood's Star is Born remake and Brad Pitt might be going into the South American jungles for The Mission, for the ladies Nicole Kidman is leading the field, somehow getting entangled with crime drama The Paperboy. We also heard this week David Strathairn will be joining Steven Spielberg's Lincoln as William Seward (hopefully getting more time than the unfortunate extra who took the role in The Conspirator).

Production News

I've been catching up with the latest production shifts, and there's an exciting range of films that we've already mentioned here on RunsLikeAGay which have entered the pre-production stage so we can hopefully look forward to seeing them at some point in the future.

First up I'd just like to welcome back James Foley's nativity reinvention Mary Mother of Christ, a project he's been trying to get underway for some time and which left IMDb earlier this year, only now o return. Also Paani - the sci-fi based on the premise of extreme water shortages - and The Wolverine both of which seemed to become mired in production woes.

We've also seen movement on Al Pacino's black (sex) comedy The Humbling, portmanteau picture Jayne Mansfield's Car, children's western The Lone Ranger and the Denzel Washington as a drunk commercial pilot movie Flight. Charles Dickens adaptation The Great Expectations is moving forward with BBC films, although I understand it may become a TV mini-series. The biopic of British explorer George Mallory is moving ahead as is Jason Statham vehicle Parker, Recession themed European movie Le Capital and - almost finally - lacrosse movie Crooked Arrows.

Balladem Om Marie

I'm actually going to end with this completely new project of which I had heard nothing until spotting it on IMDb. The Danish movie, set to be directed by Bille August (Pelle the Conqueror) looks at the relationship with renowned painter P.S. Krøyer and his long-suffering wife Marie who sticks by him through bouts of manic depression and psychotic rage. It sounds like the sort of high-class suffering that could get awards attention so look out for this in the 2013 foreign language Oscar race.


A self portrait of Krøyer with Marie.

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Friday, 1 July 2011

Whispering in the Shadows - (Out this week - 01/07/11)

I feel I'm probably out of step this week, obviously not for my lack of support for the robot fest that's bound to own the weekend's box office, but for my championing of Robert Redford's latest movie, which has been derided in the press for it's po-faced sincerity. That said there really is little on this week so I'm going for The Conspirator as film of the week.



The Conspirator

Set in the immediate aftermath of Lincoln's assassination Redford's film appears to draw the parallels to the clamour for revenge with post 9/11 sensibilities and the impact of the rule of law. Hopefully he does those weighty themes justice.

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



Larry Crowne

Does the thought of the worlds most successful film star - Tom Hanks - getting it on with America's Sweetheart Julia Roberts make you want to see this recession era rom-com? Oddly it doesn't for me either. Taraji P. Henson also costars.

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

Separation

Highly acclaimed Iranian soap about a couple divorcing as the woman seeks independence and a better life in America. Taking in Muslim attitudes to feminism and childcare this could be worth the effort to catch.

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

Bbuddah… Hoga Tera Baap

Amitabh Bachchan stars as Vijay, a retired hit man returning to India for one last job - to be followed by just about every assassin cliche you can remember. Horribly rated on IMDb.

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

Delhi Belly

Hindi buddie movie that looks set to emulate the more scatological details of modern American comedies.

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

Transformers: Dark of the Moon

I had heard the third of Michael Bay's oversized toy commercials may be the best of the trilogy, however that's probably not enough to make me fork out my £10. I do wonder how he persuades quality thesps like Frances McDormand and John Malkovich to star though.

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

Fast Romance

I could be tempted to make some political statement about the significance of a Scottish movie that's only being released in Scottish cinemas even though the funding almost certainly came from the rest of the UK as well. The film depicts a wild night of speed dating.

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

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