Monday 31 March 2008

New Dark Knight trailer?

Apparently a new Dark Knight trailer will appear tomorrow at It could be an elaborate April Fool. Or it could be another inspired piece of viral marketing. At least there's not long to wait. And the placeholder's pretty cool.

Directed by Joe Dante

Joe Dante is one of the great unsung talents. The director of The Howling, Gremlins, Innerspace, the best segment of The Twilight Zone movie, The Burbs and many more wonderfully entertaining, subversive and anarchic movies, Dante hasn't directed a feature since 2003's Looney Tunes: Back In Action which I remember seeing one New Year's Day in New York and howling with laughter, although His Masters Of Horror episode, Homecoming, about zombie GIs returning home from Iraq in order to vote was terrific; certainly the best of a very patchy series. I interviewed Dante in the early 90s and found him to be exactly as I'd imagined he'd be from his movies and press interviews. Engaging, funny and steeped in geekiness. I know he's been trying to get a Roger Corman/The Trip biopic off the ground for some time, but it's great to read on that he's likely to direct the remake of the 1979 Australian vampire movie Thirst remake, taking over from Mick Garris who's moving on to direct an adaptation of Stephen King's Bag of Bones. Any Dante is fine by me.

Son Of Rambow

I've managed to miss every single advance screening of Son Of Rambow, but I will happily buy a ticket when it opens in the UK this Friday. In the meantime, the SOR publicity machine has gone into overdrive with interviews with the film's writer/director Garth Jennings and producer Nick Goldsmith, aka Hammer & Tongs, popping up all over the shop. Click the headline for The Guardian Guide's cover story.

Clooney's Leatherheads

I was a big fan of George Clooney's first two directorial efforts, Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind and Good Night, And Good Luck, both of which revealed him to be a smart and talented filmmaker with visual acumen and something to say, rather than an actor trying to make himself look good on camera. I haven't yet seen Leatherheads, which hasn't, as far as I'm aware, screened here in the UK despite coming out in a couple of weeks' time. In fact, the US reviews are only just trickling out, with Variety's Todd McCarthy's feelings mixed. "In his third spin behind the camera, George Clooney attempts one of the hardest things there is to do — re-create the fizz of old Hollywood screwball comedies — and creates just a mild buzz. Leatherheads, a larky romp about the early days of professional football, aims only to please and proves perfectly amiable, but ultimate effect is one of much energy expended to minimal payoff. Arch and funny in equal measure, this looks like a theatrical non-starter that Clooney fans and football devotees might be tempted to check out down the line on DVD or on the tube."

Monday musing

A glance at the week ahead reveals screenings of John Maybury's The Edge Of Love starring Keira Knightley, Sienna Miller and written by Keira's mum, plus a date with killer plant flick The Ruins. I've also got a couple of deadlines to hit, so I need to get cracking. I also know I've not been posting here much of late, something I'll endeavour to put right from now on.

Sunday 30 March 2008

More Indy

Here's a better trailer than the previously released one for Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull. Click the headline to view.

Friday 28 March 2008

Calling the shots

The genius that is Roger Deakins talks The Guardian through several of his favourite shots. Click the headline to check them out.


Have internet sorted at home and I can't tell you how glad I am to report that. More soon.

Thursday 27 March 2008

The Other Boleyn Girl

Finally caught up with The Other Boleyn Girl yesterday afternoon and all I can say is Yikes. I was a big fan of the 2003 BBC TV version which was shot on miniDV with a tiny budget, minimal sets and Jared Harris as Henry VIII. This big budget studio version was clearly designed to be an "Oscar movie". Not a chance, mate. The great Peter Morgan's script is superficial and historically dubious, clearly written for an American audience in mind. And so here Henry (Eric Bana) was, like, totally manipulated by the scheming Anne, breaking free from Rome and the Catholic Church not because he wanted a male heir, but because he wanted to get laid. Really, really badly. (In fact, religion isn't even an issue in this movie.) All of which might work if there was actually any passion of display. But the sex scenes are so coy it beggars belief. A few soft-focused shots of lurvemaking followed by a shot of the sun coming up. Pur-leaze! Scarlett Johansson as Mary and Natalie Portman as Anne do okay with the English accents but you don't believe a word they're saying. The performances for the most part are flat, the pacing pedestrian, and only David Morrissey's Duke Of Norfolk seems to understand what film he should be in. First-time director Justin Chadwick, a graduate of British telly, strives for epic but serves up compositions that are annoying or just plain baffling. Not good.

Tuesday 25 March 2008

The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency

It's sad to report that The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, the film that turned out to be Anthony Minghella's final directorial effort, wasn't one of his best. Not that his adaptation of Alexander McCall Smith's best-seller wasn't without some charm, but overall this tale of a divorced Botswanan woman (Precious Ramatswe played by Jill Scott) who starts her own detective agency was, to quote The Guardian's Sam Wollaston, "twee, quaint, shallow and possibly patronising". I liked it marginally more than Wollaston (who admits he had the same problems with the book) but his description of it as "Heartbeat, basically, relocated to Botswana, a beautiful African country where smiley happy people, cardboard cut-out characters, go about their business with good hunour, hard work, morality and diligence" wasn't far off the mark. "Everyone will love it, of course, especially the Americans," he continued. "But it has no passion, no depth, no edge, no nothing." Disappointing indeed.

Monday 24 March 2008

Can. Not. Wait.

What a way to start Year Two: a shot of Depp as Dillinger. These things are poping up online like wildfire. The combination of star and director really has me excited. But I hope Mann's not shooting this one on HiDef. It feels like this is one movie that should be film.

Thursday 20 March 2008

Happy 1st Blogday

This blog will be one year old on Saturday. I'm mentioning this now just in case I forget to post over the coming Easter weekend which is a distinct possibility given everything I've got planned this weekend. When I started the site last March, it didn't really occur to me that people might actually read it, so I'd like to take this opportunity to thank all of you who drop by on such a regular basis (along with those who just pop in from time to time) for making this site what it is.

Preview night

Last night's Total Film's inaugrual Red Carpet Preview event was pretty impressive if a tad long. It was three hours of trailers, exclusive footage, onstage interviews and guest appearances, the highlights of which were Guillermo Del Toro, who dragged himself off his sick bed for a hilarious Q&A (and yes, he said he still wants to make The Hobbit, but negotiations are still ongoing; two exclusive scenes from Wall-E which looks AMAZING (I'm so there!); a talk from Narnia makeup artist Howard Berger, who flew in from LA especially and made many people happy by dolling out crew t-shirts, and Prince Caspian star Warwick Davis; a lovely wry introducton from Son Of Rambow writer-director Garth Jennings; the trailer for the animated Star Wars: The Clone Wars actually had me excited again, and given my disappointent over Episodes 1-3 is something; and a nice chat with director Paul Andrew Williams at the afterparty. And although I'd already seen many of the trailers — Hulk, Iron Man, Indy IV, Dark Knight, Speed Racer et al — that were unspooled, the experience of watching them on a massive screen, after seeing them online, was a revelation. All in all it was a great night. Congratulations to everyone involved.

Holy Smoke

Benicio Del Toro as the Wolf Man in Rick Baker makeup. I can't tell you how excited I am.

Click the headline for another photo of the hirsute Del Toro, plus's exclusive chat with Baker.

Wednesday 19 March 2008

Total Film Preview

Off to Total Film's first ever Preview Night this evening in London's Leicester Square which promises to be great fun with three hours of previews, trailers and onstage Q&As with special guests. Neil Marshall's popping along with Doomsday, Guillermo Del Toro for Hellboy 2, and Garth Jennings will be there to introduce Son Of Rambow along with many others. Should be a good night. There are, I believe, a few seats still remaining. Check the Total Film website for details.

Arthur C. Clarke

What a day yesterday turned out to be. First we lost Anthony Minghella, then later the news came that Arthur C Clarke had died. But at least Clarke, at 90, had led a long life. Most famous as the author of 2001: A Space Odyssey, Clarke's influence on the world of science fiction extends far beyond that one landmark work and his subsequent collaboration with Stanley Kubrick on the movie version. Growing up, I remember watching him host a TV show called Arthur C. Clarke's Mysterious World from his adoptive homeland of Sri Lanka. I even met him once, in London, the day of the premiere of 2010. It was a Monday morning, and I'd been to see a press screening of Peter Hyams' sequel with a friend whose father, a journalist, had gotten us tickets. As we left the cinema, I noticed Clarke in the lobby and approached him for an autograph (and if you know me, you know I don't normally engage in that kind of thing). He chatted for a bit for a bit and signed my production notes. I have still have them, of course.

Tuesday 18 March 2008

A new Dune

Maybe I'm alone in my liking of David Lynch's epic film based on Frank Herbert's bestseller. I know I was relatively young when I saw it in cinemas — I saw it twice in fact — but I remember it having scope and scale, a fabulously eclectic cast, great design, as well as a delicious Lynchian twist. I haven't watched it since then, although I do have it on DVD, so I can't say how well it stands up today. (I remember, too, Ed Naha's terrific making of book.) I haven't seen any of the recent TV sequels either, but I imagine Paramount who it was announced today are (re)making it with director Peter Berg are thinking franchise. But I suspect that Lynch's producer Dino De Laurentiis was thinking the same thing too.

Anthony Minghella

I've just heard on the radio the shocking news that Anthony Minghella, director of The English Patient, has died suddenly aged 54. I only interviewed him once, for The English Patient, but he was a fixture on the British filmmaking scene, most recently as head of the BFI, and had a reputation for being a wonderful bloke to work with. I didn't always like his films, in fact I seemed to prefer the ones other didn't — namely The Talented Mr Ripley and Mr Wondeful — rather than his multi Oscar-winning The English Patient, but one felt he would be making films for years and years to come. He most recently directed the pilot for the TV series No 1 Ladies Detective Agency, based on Alexander McCall Smith’s novel, which is due to premiere on British television on March 23. His death is further proof, if any is needed, of quite how fragile and unpredictable life is.

Monday 17 March 2008


Neil Marshall's Doomsday opened this weekend in the US without the benefit of press screenings and did a disappointing $4.7 million. I saw it a few weeks ago but was asked not to write anything about it since it's not released in the UK until May 9. So I won't. But if I was to express my opinion, which I'm not, obviously, then I wouldn't be surprised if it was something similar to this Fangoria review which begins: "The biggest disappointment about Doomsday is not so much that it’s a pastiche, a stitched-together collection of scenes from great sci-fi/action/horror films of the late ’70s and ’80s. The real shame is that it comes from writer/director Neil Marshall, who brought a fierce originality and vision to his two previous movies, Dog Soldiers and The Descent. In that duo, he applied a distinctive intelligence to the werewolf and subterranean-terror subgenres, along with a talent for sharp characterizations. One could understand something like Doomsday coming from a feature first-timer who has yet to develop his own voice and feels most comfortable homaging favorites from the past, but it’s a shame Marshall has sublimated his considerable gifts in what amounts to his major-studio big break. All the derivations become wearying before the halfway point, and the occasional self-reflexive in-reference (like naming two of the characters “Carpenter” and “Miller”) can’t take the curse off. Homage is one thing, but the longer Doomsday goes on, the clearer it becomes that the film has nothing new to add to the mix. And not only have any number of cinematic influences appear to have been run through a blender here, but some of the action setpieces have as well: A key swordfight and the climactic car chase have been editorially Cuisinarted into virtual incomprehensibility." But that's one man's opinion. Not mine. Just so we're clear.

Friday 14 March 2008

The Day

I spent yesterday on set of The Day, writer-director Tom Shankland's follow up to his serial killer thriller WAZ. My lips have been sealed for now, but what I can say is that it's been adapted from an original horror screenplay by London To Brighton's Paul Andrew Williams, stars Stephen Campbell Moore and Eva Birtwhistle, and looked very promising indeed. And downright creepy. More as and when.

How about that?

The other day, as I was flicking through a very old copy of Cinefantisque magazine, I came across an article on the original 1981 Heavy Metal movie, and a thought sparked in my brain along the lines of "Isn't it about time that someone had another crack at making one of these?" I then put the mag back on the shelf and carried on unpacking. And so it was with a wry smile that this morning I clicked on Variety and saw that David Fincher is spearheading a new Heavy Metal movie for Paramount. "The film will consist of eight or nine individual animated segments, each of which will be directed by a different helmer," quoth the piece. "Fincher will direct one of the segments; Kevin Eastman, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles co-creator who is now owner and publisher of Heavy Metal, will direct another. So will Tim Miller, whose Blur Studios will handle the animation for what is being conceived as an R-rated, adult-themed feature. Fincher, Eastman and Miller will produce the film. The studio will lock in the other directors shortly." I know that cool is a very overused reaction these days. But cool is the word for this.

Me. Like. This.

Wednesday 12 March 2008

TV musing

Didn't think much of the opening episode of Bionic Woman which aired here in Britain on ITV2 last night. I was never a fan of the original show. Actually, come o think of it, I don't remember whether it even aired in the UK. I remember liking Lindsay Wagner when she guest starred on The Six Million Dollar Man — and yes, I still have my Steve Austin doll, in its original box. I had been looking forward to the revamp for some reason — all the hype, probably — but was majorly disappointed. Nothing we haven't seen before and Kevin Smith did the bad bionic predecessor in his Six Million Dollar Man script. Don't think I'll be tuning in again next week. After three episodes of The Sarah Connor Chronicles, however, I'm hooked.

Tuesday 11 March 2008

And he's back too

Pleased to see that after much speculation Terry Gilliam has managed to resurrect The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus with the help of Messeurs Depp, Farrell and Law as had been widely rumoured.

I'm back. Sort of...

Greetings everyone and apologies for the radio silence. The move went remarkably smoothly thank you very much and life is gradually returning to normal. Alas, due to circumstances beyond my control, I won't actually be able to get online at home until much later in the month, meaning I have to visit either the local library or the nearest pub (I kid you not) to use their wi-fi facility. (I'm actually in the latter as I write this.) Normal service will be resumed as soon as is humanly possible. Thanks for your patience...

Friday 7 March 2008

Moving day

See you all on the other side...

Thursday 6 March 2008

Move minus one day

So the removal men are in, packing what's left to pack, leaving me time to pour over the Watchmen character photos just up on the official site. It's now a year until the release of Zack Synder's movie and as a countdown treat, they've posted photos of the Comedian, Nite Owl (pictured), Silk Spectre, Rorschach, and Ozymandias. They all look pretty cool to me. Only Ozymandias looks a tad iffy. Can't wait to see Dr Manhattan though. Click the headline to see the rest.

There's also a great New Yorker piece on Superman by Michael Chabon. Check it out at

Wednesday 5 March 2008

This One's From The Heart

This is my favourite song from a movie. What's yours?

Move minus two days

Still deep in moving mode which mainly seems to consist of throwing away piles and piles of magazines that I swore I'd never get rid of, boxes of videos (remember those) and sundry other film related stuff that I seem to have "collected". (This is in addition to all the stuff I have in storage which I've not looked at in the five years I've been in my current house). Today I'm attempting to prune the books shelves. Wish me luck.

Meanwhile, Platinum Dunes have announced yet another horror remake (Rosemary's Baby), Sam Raimi's found a replacement for Ellen Page with a Tim Burton connection (Lindsay Lohman) and Hillary's confounded all expectations by prolonging the fight. Ho-hum.

Monday 3 March 2008

Snakes. Why did it have to be snakes...

For years I've been holding out on buying the Indiana Jones trilogy on DVD because I knew that at some point they'd put them out in brand spanking new special editions making the current not very special box set redundant. Well, guess what, with the fourth film's release just around the corner, that's exactly what they've just announced. Set to be released on May 13 in the US (and hopefully not too long thereafter in the UK) are three bells and whistles special edition DVDs available both individually and in a new box set. This, for a Raiders nut such as myself — I can pretty much quote the entire film — is excellent news. Now, if only they'd revert to the original title for it and not the wordy and frankly ridiculous Indiana Jones And The Raiders Of The Lost Ark.

Monday musing

I'm sorry to say that postings are going to be rather few and far between this week for the simple reason that I'm moving home on Friday and I've got much to do between now and then, so much so that I even had to turn down a trip to New York this week to visit Marvel Comics — and you have no idea how much that pained me. Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible. (Or as fast as the new broadband connection is sorted out.)

Lost: The Constant

My. Head. Hurts. Just when you think you've got a handle on what's going on (or, at least, pretend to) those Lost writers get even more screwy on you. What the hell was this episode all about? I know last week I said the stage was being set for some time travel/time rip stuff but I didn't expect Desmond (or was it his consciousness since his body seemed to be in two places at once) to start zipping between 1996, and his time in the army, and late December 2004, where he didn't know where he was or that Sayid was his friend. It was Faraday — who clearly knows much but isn't telling, yet — who had the solution once again, telling Desmond (in 2004) to instruct his 1996 self to go visit the 1996 version of Faraday (you following me?) for help. This involved a dead mouse, lots of bad hair, several nosebleeds, a tearful Penny, a trip to the auction house where Penny's dad (whose role in all this has yet to be fully revealed) paid big bucks for the log of the Black Rock, the ship that Jack and co. found on the island in season two loaded with dynamite, as well as Fisher Stevens' radio operator George Minkowski (look that surname up and find the one relating to fourth dimension theories) strapped to a bed in sick bay having gone mad talking about funfairs and Penny. This series is starting to resemble one of Grant Morrison's trippier comics. Which is good.