Friday, 29 June 2007

What is Cloverfield?

Attached to prints of Transformers will be a teaser trailer for a movie called Cloverfield, a top secret project produced by JJ Abrams. Now, I know nothing about this movie and in our era of internet leaks, test screening reviews and omnipresent hype that's an achievement in itself. Consider myself intrigued.

Thursday, 28 June 2007

Happy Hundredth!

A David Cronenberg film is still an event in my book and the trailer for his latest, Eastern Promises, starring Viggo Mortensen and Naomi Watts is a fitting way to mark the first hundred postings on reel world matters. Check it out at

My favourite Cronenbergs, in case you were wondering: Videodrome, The Dead Zone, History Of Violence and The Fly.

Wednesday, 27 June 2007

"Does your microphone smell like bacon? Cos mine does."

Last Friday I, or rather my avatar Maxwell Lisle, hosted a Transformers press conference in Second Life. The event was split into two with Michael Bay and Lorenzo Di Bonaventura stepping up first, followed by Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, Josh Duhamel and Tyrese Gibson.

These are always fun to do. Nervy at first — will the technical side go ok? will there be enough questions sent in? will they be any good? — but then, once you go live, everything clicks into place and they're a hoot, an entertaining way to spend an afternoon. This time there was the added pressure of it being streamed live on 15 websites around the world, plus the conference was being shot for in life TV (and it was that feed that was available to view for those not actually there).

A full transcript of the press conference, plus audio and videopodcasts are available at but my favourite moment came when Megan Fox sniffed her mike and opined the above quote. Not much you can say to that, really.

Tuesday, 26 June 2007


Watched Carpenter's The Thing last night for the umpteenth time. Still stands up. Even Rob Bottin's makeup effects which hark back from a time when rubber ruled and CGI was still a dream. And I don't mind the matte work. Or the stop motion. One minor quibble, though. The interior sets look like sets. Apart from that, it remains a terrific piece of filmmaking.

Monday, 25 June 2007

It was 25 years ago today...

The guys over at aint it cool news have been running a series of articles about the films of 1982, to many a boone year in terms of moviemaking and cinema going. Certainly, all horror/fantasy/science fiction fans were spolit that year: there was Conan and ET, plus the three films that Merrick discusses in the latest article: Blade Runner, released a quarter of a century ago this very day, Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan and John Carpenter's The Thing, seminal movies one and all.

Merrick confesses that he didn't get Blade Runner the first time he watched it. Nor did a lot of people, I suspect, but the film lives on, with the long-promised DVD box set featuring The Final Cut out later this year. I, too, didn't quite know what to make of it the time; I loved the look, but also found it cold and and alienating. Like Merrick, it's a film I've grown to worship over the years, both the original cut and the not really Director's Cut released back in the early 90s, and understand it's genius. And my error.

The Thing, however, I did get. A huge Carpenter fan at the time (I've since been disappointed way too many times to call myself one now), I can still remember the sight of Norris' head coming off the table, sprouting legs and scuttling away, my jaw both literally and metaphorically hitting the floor in amazement. Back in '82, remember, there was no internet, few movie magazines and little to spoil the surprise of seeing a movie for the first time. The only shot I saw of The Thing prior to seeing it was in Starburst magazine, a black and white picture of a frost-bitten Kurt Russell his beard. And, not having then read the short story the film's based on, my young mind actually comtemplated the fact that he might well be the thing. How wrong I was.

Will have to dig out the DVD tonight and give it a watch. Again...

At long last...

I love Billy Wilder. Plain and simple. The man was a genius. It's a term ascribed far too often these days but Wilder was one, without question. His 1951 film Ace In The Hole has long been unavailable for home viewing, but on July 17 it's finally coming to DVD. Which would be celebration in itself. But Criterion is putting it out. Boy, am I one happy movielover.

Sunday, 24 June 2007

King At The Movies

This weekend's surprise box office success was 1408 which pulled in more than $20m, making it the largest opening of a Stephen King book/story. I've yet to see it (this week, hopefully) but it got me thinking which, out of the multitude of King related material that's reached the big and small screen, is best. Here's my King top ten:

Apt Pupil
The Shining (Kubrick version)
Stand By Me
The Shawshank Redemption
The Dead Zone
Salem's Lot

Friday, 22 June 2007

Transformers in Second Life

Remember the first time you saw the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park? Remember the joy and wonder you felt seeing the T-Rex move, walk, run? These weren't the stop-motion monsters of Willis O'Brien and Ray Harryhausen. These were real, living, breathing things. Well, that's how good the robots are in Michael Bay's Transformers, an awe-inspiring, jaw-droppingly amazing actionfest. Watching Optimus Prime or Bumblebee transform, I never once thought of them as special effects, rather characters. ILM's CGI work here is the best I've ever seen.

Today, my avatar will be hosting a Transformers Second Life press conference featuring Michael Bay, producer Lorenzo Di Bonaventura, Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, Josh Duhamel and Tyrese Gibson. Although it's an invited audience of journalists, bloggers and fans, anyone can watch it live at 5pm GMT on

Thursday, 21 June 2007

It's still summer, you know

With people already talking up Fall releases and Oscar contenders, it's easy to forget that the summer's far from over and there are a number of high profile films still to open, one of which I saw today and because of a no reviews till opening policy feel wrong to chim in with an opinion. It's good, though, very good. Am also seeing another big release this evening in advance of an event I (or rather my avatar) will be hosting tomorrow. More about that next time.

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Que bella

Sofia Loren, Claudia Cardinale, Gina Lollobrigida, Monica Bellucci and, ahem, Asia Argento — Italian cinema has produced its fair share of special ladies down the years, 19 of which will be the subject of a tribute at this year's Locarno Festival — the 60th, congratulations! — in a program entitled Signore & Signore. My personal favourite is the luminous and very lovely Monica Vitti who captured my heart in Michelangelo Antonioni's existentialist masterpiece L'Avventura, although she'll be seen in Locarno in Ettore Scola's Dramma della Gelosia. The star of Modesty Blaise, Antonioni's L'Eclisse, La Notte and Il Deserto Rosso, Vitti hasn't worked since a 1991 Italian miniseries but her presence is still lingers in the memory.

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

The name's Forster, Marc Forster

Now this is something I never expected to see: Marc Forster directing a Bond movie. I know Marc. He's super nice and super talented, and I know he's always wanted to direct an action movie. But, wow, I didn't see that coming. Who next? Michael Winterbottom?

Penal Code

The Da Vinci Code (the film, not the book) is to be investigated for allegedly breaking Italian obscenity laws. According to newspaper reports today, the state prosecutor's office in Civitavecchia, a little town 40 miles north of Rome, said it was opening a criminal investigation into the adaptation of Dan Brown's bestseller following a complaint from a group of Catholic clergy. The complaint claims the Da Vinci Code "breaks article 528 of Italy's penal code, which centres on obscenity on religious grounds, and names ten people, including Brown and director Ron Howard". I'm confused. Surely the only crime Howard and co. are guilty of is having produced an inordinately dull movie from such a trashily entertaining book.

UPDATE: The obscenity case has been dropped a day after being launched. So that's that, then. But that still doesn't excuse the movie being so bad.

Monday, 18 June 2007

Say hello to the Batpod

Christopher Nolan has scarcely put a foot wrong from his no budget Following to last year's The Prestige. And if Batman Begins ran out of gas towards the end, Nolan had done enough by then to salvage the franchise and earn himself a shot at the sequel. They've been slowly dripfeeding images and info on The Dark Knight and this is the latest to emerge: the Batpod. My only question: Where can I get one?

Finally... Miguel Sapochnik

Miguel Sapochnik, a former runner (Trainspotting) and storyboard artist (A Life Less Ordinary), been on the cusp for so long after his much-praised short The Dreamer put him on Hollywood's radar. But after too many near misses, congrats are finally in order since it seems Sapochnik's getting a chance to parlay his promise into a movie for Universal. Jude Law and Forest Whitaker are set to star in The Repossession Mambo which, according to today's Variety, is a morality tale is set in the near future when artificial organs can be bought on credit, with the understanding that defaulting on payment will result in a fatal repossession. Eric Garcia and Garret Lerner wrote the script based on Garcia's novel. Shooting begins this summer.

Saturday, 16 June 2007

I am so looking forward to this... part two

I neglected to mention the Bourne movies in yesterday's "repetitive vision" post, both of which I find impossible to turn off when I come across either of them channel surfing. Stylistically very different, Bournes Identity and Supremacy certainly had an influence on the most recent Bond movie, although, if you ask me, they're infinitely superior to the vastly overrated Casino Royale. And of all the summer sequels, The Bourne Ultimatum is probably the one I've been looking forward to the most. I interviewed its director, Paul Greengrass, early on during the filming for Premiere. “Bourne’s on a quest,” he said. “He’s got find out who he is. [And] in order to really understand who he is, where he’s come from and why, he’s got to get back to how he came to join this thing in the first place.” This thing being Treadstone, the black ops CIA project that Bourne was once assigned to kill for. It’s a journey that begins “in the classic Cold War canvas of Moscow” and takes Matt Damon's ex-CIA hitman via London — where he meets Paddy Considine’s investigative journalist — to Paris and Tangiers, before heading back to New York “where he gets to the heart of the secret. And, in doing that, [he] provokes the bad guys to wanna kill him.” Can. Not. Wait.

I am so looking forward to this...

It's Pixar. Better yet, it's Brad Bird's follow up to The Incredibles, one of my Best Films Of The 00s. Hooray. The reviews are coming in and they're pretty darn good. "Ratatouille is delicious," writes Variety's Justin Chang. "In this souffle-light tale of a plucky French rodent with a passion for cooking, the master chefs at Pixar have blended all the right ingredients — abundant verbal and visual wit, genius slapstick timing, a soupcon of Gallic sophistication — to produce a warm and irresistible concoction." I, for one, am looking forward to tucking in...

Friday, 15 June 2007

Venice opener

I never saw the Colin Firth TV version of Pride & Prejudice, although I adored Joe Wright's film of the Jane Austen classic with its realistic feel, roving camera and sensational performance from Keira Knightley who deservedly scooped an Oscar nomination but was shockingly denied one by (the majority of) BAFTA voters. She had mine. I mention this only because I'm pleased to see that Wright's adaptation of Ian McEwan's novel Atonement, again starring Knightley and the very talented James McAvoy, will open the 64th Venice Film Festival. I love Venice and with Tim Burton picking up a lifetime award and Paul Thomas Anderson's latest apparently set to premiere there, it's looking like this year has all the makings of a vintage one.

Repetitive vision

Re-reading the list(s) I posted yesterday I was taken by how many times I've seen most of the films on them, over and over and over again. Although not necessarily from the beginning. I'm talking here about coming across movies while channel surfing and suddenly encountering an old favourite, like Some Like It Hot or The Apartment or A Matter Of Life And Death, or, in the case of Sideways or Swingers, a relatively new one. These are movies that have become those kind of friends that it doesn't matter how long it is since you've last seen them, there's no awkward conversation when you meet again, just a seamless chat, picked up from the last time you saw them, even if that was a year or two before. These are movies that when you encounter, be it at the beginning, midway through, or somewhere in the latter stages, you're hooked. That's it. Whatever it was you were doing, is now forgotten. You know the film well enough that it doesn't matter where you pick it up, you just enjoy its mood or its characters or its humour. They're like warm, delicious, tasty treats. Sideways is a movie I'll watch, and watch, and watch, whenever it's on. And I never get tired of it. Ditto A Matter Of Life And Death which, if I had to pick a desert island movie would probably be it. I had this recently with Erin Brockovich which, to my mind, falls under the category of effortless storytelling. I've actually lost count of the number of times I've seen it. I have it on DVD. I have Thomas Newman's score on CD. And yet, there it was on television the other night, and although I wanted my bed, it drew me in and that was it...

Thursday, 14 June 2007

And some more...

Lost In Translation
Everything Put Together
Big Fish
In This World
Eternal Sunshine
Erin Brockovich
Devil's Backbone

A partial list

Following on from Tuesday's post about the Best of the 00s lists being compiled in David Poland's Hot Blog, here's my late and for now partial list. In no particular order and with more to come:

Wonder Boys
In The Mood For Love
The New World
Children Of Men
Requiem For A Dream
Almost Famous
Crouching Tiger
The Incredibles
Mullholland Drive
City Of God
28 Days Later

Big Fish on Blu-Ray

Big Fish remains, to my mind, one of Tim Burton's best and most under-appreciated films. I find it intensely moving, and it feels like a filmmaker laying bare his soul for all the world to see. [He talks about it at great length in Burton on Burton.] It was magical and emotional in equal measure. And sentimental too. But in a good way. I say this only because I see that the film's now available on Blu-Ray and while they don't appear to have carried over the majority of the extras from the DVD onto this release, I'm pleased to see that they have included the commentary track featuring Burton and myself. has a nice review that culminates with this: "Thanks to Salisbury's presence and prodding, this is actually one of the better Burton tracks, one that isn't woefully silent like others you may have experienced." Check out the full review at

Wednesday, 13 June 2007

Stand alone Surfer

Even before this week's release of Fantastic 4: Rise Of The Silver Surfer, Fox have hired comic book and TV scribe J Michael Straczynski to pen a stand alone Silver Surfer film. I know Se7en screenwriter Andrew Kevin Walker took a shot a while ago [and that's a take I'd like to have seen], but if Fox is serious about doing a Surfer movie, let's hope they can animate some personality into him next time around.

Just because...

One doesn't need a reason to run a photo of Catherine Deneuve.

Is horror dead?

Much had been written about Hostel Part II prior to its Stateside opening last week. Some of it, regarding the film's perceived exploitation of women and place in the "torture porn" market, was very negative. But if you believe the old adage about all publicity being good publicity, I'm sure there were some big grins at Chez Roth and his Lionsgate chums. Alas, all that bluster only amounted to just under $9million for its opening weekend. That was less than 28 Weeks Later last month which made nearer $10million. What does it mean? Is horror dead? Probably not. Like every great horror movie villain, and many of the terrible ones too, horror as a genre constantly resurrects itself. But clearly, for now, the market doesn't want horror. Of any variety. The LA Times has a good article about this at,0,6480504.

So, is horror dead? No. It's just resting...

More invasion...

I'm not sure the world needs another version of Invasion Of The Body Snatchers although I have loved all three films adapted from the Jack Finney source material thus far. (Yes, even the Ferrara version.) This new take, The Invasion, has had its share of well-documented production issues, with the Wachowski brothers and V For Vendetta director James Teague reportedly drafted in to beef up the cut turned in by director Oliver Hirschbiegel (Downfall). Still, this trailer — — looks sufficiently creepy with Nicole Kidman in the Kevin McCarthy/Donald Sutherland role and Daniel Craig looking like he dug the 70s clothing he wore for Munich.

Tuesday, 12 June 2007

Creepy clay...

Today's most interesting movie news concerns Born, a psychological thriller which will star real-life marrieds Jennifer Connelly and Paul Bettany. Directed by newcomer Daniel Simpson, produced by Guillermo del Toro, Lawrence Gordon and Lloyd Levin, with Clive Barker as executive producer and co-scripter, Born revolves around a couple who settle down in a seemingly idyllic English town to raise a family. Their perfect life is shaken, however, when the husband (Bettany) , a claymation artist, begins using red clay taken from a local quarry in his work. Soon he starts to have visions of a girl's murder while his animated figures act out a frightening scenario that threatens to come to life. The Chiodo Bros., creators of Killer Klowns, will produce the film's stop-motion sequences.

Best of the 00s

David Poland's Hot Blog is running a very interesting forum for people to list their favourite films of this decade thus far. Find it at I'll post my own list here soon.

Monday, 11 June 2007

Fantastic 4: Rise Of The Silver Surfer

Saw the FF sequel this morning and it's an improvement on the original, but considering the first one was pretty bad that isn't saying much.

The series really deserves a better director than Tim Story, who's taking on another comic book adaptation next (Vertigo's The Losers), while the script is yet another collection of lame jokes peppering a join-the-dots plot.

The effects, at least, are an improvement although the Mr Fantastic stretchy stuff still looks lame and ILM did the metallic man thing just as good, if not superior, back in T2.

See for my review.

Saturday, 9 June 2007

30 Days Of Night teaser trailer

No sooner had the poster appeared than the teaser popped up online and boy does it look good. And creepy. Really creepy. See it at

Friday, 8 June 2007

30 Days Of Night poster

Hard Candy was, alongside Children Of Men, my favourite film of last year. Brilliantly written, superbly performed and skillfully directed by Britain's David Slade, it should, to my mind, have been recognised in the awards season. But was probably too hardcore for most voters. Still, I'm aching to see Slade's next picture, an adaptation of Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith's vampire graphic novel, 30 Days Of Night.

Long time coming...

This new version of I Am Legend, based on the novel by Richard Matheson and already twice filmed, has been in development a very long time, first with Arnie in the lead, then Will Smith, and various directors attached down the years, among them Ridley Scott and Michael Bay. But it's Constantine's Francis Lawrence who's made it in the end with Smith. I didn't hate Constantine. It was a visual riot and Keanu was okay, only it wasn't the Hellblazer movie I'd been thinking about for years. Should have been Paul Bettany. Really should have been... Oh well.

Anyways, I Am Legend arrives December and here's the teaser. Looks very much like 28 Days Later set in New York to me which is funny cos I figure Matheson's book was probably an influence on screenwriter Alex Garland, along with JG Ballard. Only not shot on DV and with a much bigger budget.

Check it out at:

Thursday, 7 June 2007

American Gangster trailer

I love the look of this. It's been a long time coming, and seen off several directors and screenwriters before Ridley Scott managed to get it before the cameras. The US release is set for November. Check out the trailer at

Wednesday, 6 June 2007

More Dressed To Kill

Watched Brian De Palma's The Black Dahlia the other night. Some lovely moments, great production design, a terrible score, Josh Hartnett's best performance since The Virgin Suicides, and an over the top one from Aaron Eckhart. Still, De Palma pulled it out the bag and proved he's still got it.

I mention this only because MGM are remaking one of my fave 80s' De Palmas, Dressed To Kill, which, I recall, was at the receiving end of much criticism re: sexual violence against women upon release. Considering the current online onslaught against Hostel Part II which opens in the States this weekend, it'll be interesting to see how they cope with that the murder in the life scene this time around. That and finding an actor of Michael Caine's stature who willing to dress up in drag.

Total Film Summer 2007

The latest TF's out tomorrow with a new look and one of the best freebies I've laid my hands on in a long while — a spiffy Die Hard 4.0 beer bottle vest. Now your bottle of Heiniekin can think it's John McClane.

Saturday, 2 June 2007

A sprinkle of Stardust

Got to see Matthew Vaughn's film of Neil Gaiman and Charles Veiss' book this week, but since I'm not allowed to say anything about it, I can't tell you that I thought it was enormously entertaining. So here's a picture of Charlie Cox and Claire Danes instead:

Neil Gaiman's at the Hay literary festival today for a Q&A and to show clips of the film. If you're going, enjoy. If not, then get yourself down there.