Friday 30 March 2007

Big robots. Big explosions.

Saw the Transformers footage that was at ShoWest this morning. Oh. My. God. Four sequences in total that confirm, if any conformation was necessary, that Michael Bay sure does know how to blow shit up. And make it look cool.

The human stuff was great too. Funny, with just the right amount of we-know-this-is-ridiculous-too winking at the audience.

Thursday 29 March 2007

Sunshine in Time Out

This week's Time Out has a Danny Boyle/Sunshine piece of mine. It'll be online soon and I'll post the link as and when it is.

Tuesday 27 March 2007

Fangoria 262

Is out now with my 28 Weeks Later set report and a piece on Hot Fuzz in which Edgar Wright talks about his Grindhouse trailer. “I cannot reveal the title yet, as it also serves as the punchline,” he teases. “My trailer is going to be a riff of American trailers for Euro horror films, where the US distributor would use a cool sounding title that has no real bearing on the plot of the film. Can’t wait to do it. Will be fun. There will be some fun blink-and-you-miss them cameos and a whole lot of foxy English actresses; something British cinema has been sorely deprived of since the glory gory days of Hammer.”

Grindhouse news

There'd been talk that Grindhouse would be released as two separate films in Europe. Well, maybe in mainland Europe, because Momentum has just announced a June 1 release date in the UK for the Tarantino/Rodriguez double feature experience. Cool.

Zodiac. In brief

Saw Zodiac last night. Not entirely a masterpiece but a brilliantly crafted, superbly assured, mediative piece of filmmaking nonetheless. Fincher clearly knows his 70s cinema and the performances are all strong, although the film loses a certain something when Robert Downey Jr's not onscreen. Those expecting another Se7en may well be disappointed, but anyone who likes their moviemaking smart, crisp and thoughtful will be delighted. At 156 minutes, it's not short but there's never a dull moment and Fincher's use of the Viper HD camera is another nail in the coffin of those who insist on shooting on film. Masterful.

Sunday 25 March 2007


The last ever issue of PREMIERE magazine is now on sale. With Will Ferrell on the cover.

Its demise has been upsetting and disappointing, not least because lots of people I knew lost their jobs but because Premiere was always the bible of film journalism to my generation. In the days before the internet, before Empire, before Total Film, before every newspaper, magazine, and TV programme decided to cover film, Premiere was the must-read for anyone who wanted to be in the know about movies. Back then, its access was unparalleled — it wasn't unusual for a Premiere reporter to spend a week on a film set — with writers such as Nancy Griffin, John H Richardson, Fred Schruers, et al producing in-depth, lengthy production stories — the likes of which don't really have a home nowadays.

I'd been writing for Premiere since 1997 — for the last six years or so as its London Correspondent — although I'd been a loyal reader ever since the first test issue back in 1987 that had Dragnet's Tom Hanks and Dan Aykroyd on the cover. In my time with the magazine, I got to visit film sets all over the world and cover both Cannes and Venice on several occasions. I wrote about Tony Scott's baseball cap cameos, watched Neo battle Agent Smith at the climax of The Matrix trilogy a full 18 months before the film came out, and last year interviewed everyone connected with Trainspotting for an oral history to coincide with the film's tenth anniversary. Among the many movies I covered were Sleepy Hollow, The Matrix Reloaded, Planet Of The Apes, The Beach, Snatch, Tomb Raider, From Hell, A Knight's Tale, Amelie, the Harry Potter series, and XXX.

In an email to a staffer the day after the magazine had been axed, I wrote that it felt as if a family member or close friend had died. It still feels like that.

Premiere — you will be missed.

Saturday 24 March 2007

The Ruins

By Scott Smith. Soon, as they say, to be a major motion picture. For now, a terrifically entertaining, impressively gory novel from the author of the excellent A Simple Plan. Smith's written the script for The Ruins too. That won't be out until 2008. Do yourself a favour, and read the book. You won't regret it. Unless you're squeamish. And don't like plants that eat you...

Friday 23 March 2007

Day Watch trailer

The Day Watch trailer is up at and it looks spectacular. I was a big fan of Night Watch. Saw both the Russian and US versions several times. This is what co-writer/director Timur Bekmambetov told me about the sequel back in 2005: “The second movie is absolutely different. Different genre, different entertainment, the characters are the same but everything is different and I think everyone will be surprised. In the first movie there were no comic scenes or funny moments, but the second movie there are love stories and very funny things. Then, in the end, we’ll have a big battle.”

The US release date is June 1; October 5 in the UK.

Thursday 22 March 2007

Burton in Venice

Tim Burton will receive the Golden Lion for career achievement at this year's Venice Film Festival. And so September 5 has been designated Tim Burton Day. Hooray.

I've always loved Venice. Looks like I might be going again.

300 in Second Life

I've chaired a few press conferences in my time but nothing like the one for 300 that I, or rather my avatar, hosted last Friday which took place in Second Life with around 30-40 journalists/avatars — one of whom was dressed as a Spartan with a spear through his middle, while another came as a blue-haired, bikini-clad angel with huge wings — asking the questions.

I was in a room in London with director Zack Snyder and 300 stars Gerard Butler, Lena Headey and Rodrigo Santoro while Frank Miller was on the line from LA. It was 45 minutes of questions about 300, Watchman, Sin City 2, their favourite bands and what they thought of their avatars. Miller liked the hat his avatar was wearing while Headey felt her was “hot. Large boobs, I’m happy with that.” Later, Butler was asked if he had ever kicked someone in the chest and admitted that yes, he had. "I’m a Glasgow boy,” he said.

The event was pronounced a success. I'm glad. My avatar is hoping for more work in the future.

28 minutes of 28 Weeks Later

Last week I saw the first 28 minutes of 28 Weeks Later, the sequel to Danny Boyle and Alex Garland's 28 Days Later. And it looked terrific. I was on set last year, covering the movie for Fangoria (look for that coverage starting soon) and Total Film and got a good vibe about the production. Danny Boyle and Alex Garland are onboard as hands-on executive producers and they've hired a great talent in Spanish director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo to replace Boyle behind the camera. Fresnadillo's last film was the sublime Intacto.

The opening sequence takes place during the initial outbreak with a group of survivors (Robert Carlyle's Don and Catherine McCormack's Alice among them) holed up in a country cottage which soon comes under attack by a horde of infected — a sequence that's as frenzied, scary and gory as any in the original film. As a terrified Carlyle makes his escape, he runs out on his wife who's trapped by the infected in an upstairs bedroom, leaving her to her fate.

The time frame then flips forward six months to when London is under the rule of the US military who are helping rebuild the city, with District 1 on the Isle of Dogs, the first safe haven. And it's here we pick up again with Carlyle's Don, working in District 1 and haunted by what happened at the cottage, lying to his two children when they arrive back in the country from a trip to Spain about what happened to their mother.

With its stark, realistic, uncompromising approach, Boyle's gritty, shot-on-DV frightfest took horror into new territory and Fresnadillo's sequel looks to further expand upon the world he and Garland created. The new film feels bigger, with more action, more infected, and a vision of London — all rooftops and odd angles of Docklands — that you haven't seen before.

Hello. And Welcome...

To my blog. I've been writing about the movies for a quite while — most recently as London Correspondent for the now sadly defunct PREMIERE magazine, but also for TOTAL FILM, TIME OUT, FANGORIA, ARENA, THE GUARDIAN, THE OBSERVER, and EMPIRE among many others. I'll be updating this blog as regularly as possible, bringing you my own take on new releases, DVDs (both old and new), as well as reviews, interviews, and anything else that takes my fancy regarding the movies. I'll be updating as regularly as I can. But for now, thanks for reading. And see you soon.