Monday, 30 June 2008

QOS teaser

Here's the teaser.

Monday musing

So, where to begin?

Wall-E, a work of genius IMHO, rakes in $62.5m making it seven top spot openings for the Pixar gang in the US, while Wanted, less a work of genius and more an empty headed, ridiculously silly actioneer, pulled in $51.1m domestic and $33m international. I was surprised at how little engagement I had with it after the initial chase sequence and can't understand the love this has been getting from critics. (It's not that I didn't enjoy most of it; it's just that there's really nothing new here.) The movie was all set up (and shameless pilfering from other movies) and no pay off. They didn't even bother with trying to flesh out the "villain" beyond his name. That said, Jolie looked seriously hot.

I've been away for a few days and it seems in my absence The Dark Knight and Hellboy 2 have been screened to great advance word.

Variety loves Hellboy 2 calling it the "hipster hit of the summer" and so does Fangoria, while it seems everybody loves TDK. See here, here, and here. There's also a great Wired piece on Nolan's insistence on practical over digital stunts and effects.

The trailer for Quantum Of Solace hits later today. For now, this

Thursday, 26 June 2008

RocknRolla trailer

I was a big fan of Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels. Even had a quote on the early advertising. Thought Snatch was pretty damn entertaining too. Got to go on set and wrote the Premiere cover story too. Then somewhere around Swept Away all that goodwill Ritchie had earned seemed to, well, be swept away. Saw about 20 minutes of Revolver then had to turn it off. But, having said that, I'd rather Ritchie were making films than many others I could mention, and I'm very much looking forward to RocknRolla. Empire have a world exclusive on the trailer.

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

I'm still lovin' it

I've been absent from this site for a few days courtesy of a throat infection that's currently doing the rounds. Feeling a little better than I did but apparently this bug can last for weeks. Wonderful.

Anyways, here are a few things that have caught my eye.

And not long now till The Dark Knight is upon us...

Friday, 20 June 2008

Something for the weekend

If any UK readers are planning a trip to the cinema this weekend, may I suggest either Teeth (twisted and enjoyably gruesome) or The Edge Of Love (it loses it in the third act but the four leads are great).

Or you could do what I'm doing, which is watching the football and the grand prix. It ain't all movies in my home, you know. Well, not always...


Todd McCarthy likes Wanted. Really likes it.

Star struck

Got to shake the hand of genius on Wednesday night when I briefly met David Chase at the BFI after party and got to ask him a question I'd long wanted to ask about The Wire pertaining to an episode in season three. I'm met many famous people in my job but there are rare occasions when I come over all starstruck. Meeting Simon was one of them. Shaking Stephen King's hand was another. The pilot to season five was terrific stuff, with the role of media this season's additional layer to an already complex, dense show, but it left you wanting to see episodes two, three and more immediately. Such is the legacy of DVD box sets...

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Some random things

The movie whose name I probably shouldn't mention (although if you've been reading recent comments, you'll know which one I mean) is fabulous and a delight from beginning to end. So now you know. And then leaving the screening last night, I bumped into the one and only Guillermo Del Toro in the street and we had a quick chat. Which was nice.

Off to a David Chase Q&A at the BFI Southbank tonight, preceded by a screening of the first episode of season five of The Wire...

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

The Happening

M Night Shyamalan's The Happening is a disaster movie. I mean that literally folks. The Happening is a disaster of a movie, poorly written, haphazardly directed with zero tension or suspense beyond what you've seen in the trailer, and career-worst performances from Mark Wahlberg and Zooey Deschanel. The eco-revenge plot that leads to mass suicides wouldn't be so bad if Shyamalan had any idea what to do with it. And as you carry on watching — despite your inner voice telling you to go, to leave the cinema, immediately, because it's not going to get any better — you realise he doesn't. Instead we have an icky familial finale in another isolated farmhouse borrowed from Signs that really doesn't make any sense and the nagging feeling that maybe he's a filmmaker who only knows one trick. Shyamalan has talked about himself in terms of Spielberg and Hitchcock. On this evidence one would have to say Ed Wood.

Stan Winston RIP

Stan Winston was one of the greats, a titan in the field of special make up effects and a winner of four Oscars. I had the good fortune to meet him several times and my visits to his creature shop with its gallery of icon characters (several Aliens, Predator, Pumpkinhead, Edward Scissorhands, various Terminators, the creatures from Monster Squad, et al) were a geeks delight. I first met him in January 1993 when I went to his shop to interview him. I arrived and was told to go round the back way. I did and walked straight into a full sized T Rex and a couple of raptors that were being worked on at the time. This was six, seven months before Jurassic Park was due to be released and in those days advance pictures from films were rare and so the sight of these dinosaurs, up close and personal, blew my mind. I spent the afternoon interviewing Stan, and came back again a couple months later for a few days to look through his photographic archives. He was gracious and fun and I still remember waiting for him to arrive and then the sound of his sports car screeching to a halt in the shop. "That's Stan," someone said, and indeed it was. He was a showman, larger than life (he actually started out wanting to be an actor) and his work (including most recently on Iron Man) will live on. He was only 62 and had been battling multiple myeloma for seven years. He will be missed.

Monday, 16 June 2008

More Spiritedness

I'm loving this more and more with every image I see.

Monday musing

So The Incredible Hulk smashed its way to $55million but was beaten by The Happening internationally. And that figure is, I believe, a little bit behind the opening weekend take of Ang Lee's movie. Will it have legs? Who knows. But there's some ferocious competition coming up in the next week or two...

I've yet to see The Happening (hopefully this afternoon) but tomorrow I'm going to a screening of Wall-E and I can't begin to tell you how excited I am. I fear that all reviews/comments are going to be embargoed until much closer to release, so if there's no immediate outpouring here you know why.

Sunday, 15 June 2008

The Incredible Hulk

I've said this many times here but I'll say it again. I liked Ang Lee's Hulk. Really liked. Ok, so the ending was a bit "out there" but I thought it was smart, great looking and remarkably faithful to its comic book origins. I also know that I'm in a minority and that most fans hated it and box officewise it wasn't considered a success. And so we have Hulk 2.0 or The Incredible Hulk which is anything but. More like The Okay Hulk. Or The Good For About Half Its Running Time Hulk.

Norton I liked. Ditto the Brazilian opening, the Bourne-like chase through the favela and the first appearance of the big green guy which director Louis Letterier kept brief and under wraps. I liked it right up until Bruce turns up on Liv Tyler's college campus and he and the now super serum-charged Tim Roth go at it for a second time. But then something happened, the filmmakers seemed to give up the ghost on trying to have the script make sense and the plot just treads water until the time comes when, as is the way with these films, the hero and villain must duke it out, and so we have Hulk and Abomination going at it on a street that clearly wasn't New York.

The effects were an improvement on Lee's movie (given the advances in technology since they bloody well should be), I liked the Bixby and Lou F cameos, and I smiled at Tony Stark's walk on.

But is it any better than Lee's movie? Hell no. Don't believe me? Go watch it again. I dare you...

Saturday, 14 June 2008

Death Race trailer

I know there are many folks out there who have it in for Paul W.S. Anderson. I'm not one of them. Maybe this will help his cause among the nonbelievers. Looks like ridiculous fun to me...

Thursday, 12 June 2008

More Button

Laser blazer

The first time I saw Alien was on laser disc. A friend from school's dad had been given a player and a bunch of discs to test. My mate invited me over for the weekend and, well, I can't tell you the effect that film had on my young mind...

I mention this now because this article got me all nostalgic about laser discs, those album sized shiny objects of lust that were the essential item for movie fans in the distant days before DVD. I had a fair few discs — mainly because I was given them for free — although I did buy some myself, including the majestic Seven, Close Encounters and Nightmare Before Christmas box sets, the latter of which I had a friend lug back from NYC for me (boy was it heavy). I have them on DVD now but they're not quite the same.

I used to love hooking up my LD player to my hi-fi and playing Jurassic Park through it. Very loudly. BOOM. BOOM. BOOM went the T-Rex, much to the annoyance, no doubt, of my then neighbours. It was just a shame you had to get up and turn the discs over every 40 minutes or so...

Wednesday, 11 June 2008


May I direct you to the new issue of Total Film which comes complete with a Sex & Spandex supplement featuring a piece on Frank Miller's "women" by yours truly. The issue's pretty good too. And what about that cover...

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Now I want one

I'd been holding out on buying an iPhone until the day they brought out a 3G version. Well, they've finally announced it. It ships July 11. Now all I have to do is extricate myself from my current phone contract...

Friday, 6 June 2008


Spent a very enjoyable two hours last night in the company of Guillermo Del Toro who was taking part in an onstage interview for BAFTA: A Life In Pictures series. Interviewed by Jason Wood, the articulate and loquacious Mexican talked about everything from his childhood, his time at film school, right through each of his movies. He was, as usual, erudite, funny and wonderfully course. And talkative. In fact, the event ran so long that there was only time for two audience questions — one of which, inevitably, was about The Hobbit. The event was filmed and will, at a later date, be available to view via the bafta website.

Wednesday, 4 June 2008


Ridley Scott's planning to return to sci-fi for the first time since Blade Runner and Guy Ritchie's keen on Sherlock Holmes. The mind boggles. On both accounts.

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Tis the one

David Poland has a theory about Wanted being the new Matrix. Having watched this, I think he might be right.


Graphic Images: Comic Book Movies

A while back I think mentioned I was helping program a two-month long season of movies at the BFI Southbank in London but wasn't able to spill any more info. Well, now I can. Graphic Images: Comic Book Movies takes place during July and August and will run at the BFI Southbank and BFI Imax. Here's my intro from the BFI catalogue:

In an era of declining star appeal and uncertainty at the box office, the comic-book movie is one of the few sure bets left for anxious studio executives eager to greenlight the next summer blockbuster or potential movie franchise. It's easy to see why. And not just because these movies don't require huge (ie expensive) stars in order to sell. Batman, Superman and Spider-Man, to take three of the biggest and most popular comic-book characters of all time, are more than that. They're cultural icons, modern myths, recognisable around the world by people who have never, ever picked up a comic book.

For film-makers, too, comic books represent a fertile, near never-ending font of ideas and situations, with years of storylines to plunder and often emotionally complex characters to adapt. Comics, too, work visually as snapshots of movement, telling a story one frame at a time.

As a genre, the comic-book movie, or, more specifically, the superhero movie has benefited most from the advancement in special effects technology over the last fifteen years, the CGI revolution allowing Superman to zoom around the earth in a way that wasn't possible when Christopher Reeve took to the skies in 1978's Superman the Movie. Nowadays, comic-book movies are bound not by any earthly constraint, but solely by the limit of their makers' imagination. What could once only be achieved in panels, can now be exactly reproduced onscreen.

But comic-book movie doesn't always have to mean superheroes and spandex, mutants and mass destruction; it doesn't even have to mean dumb. While superhero books from the two biggest publishers, DC and Marvel, account for the highest-profile comic-book movies released today, smaller, more independent-minded writers and artists have also found their work adapted for the big screen. Ghost World, American Splendor, Road To Perdition, Sin City, A History of Violence and the Oscar-nominated Persepolis all began life as hand-drawn comics published outside the mainstream.

This two-month season will endeavour to show the breadth and depth of the genre, from psychedelic adaptations of European comic strips to the latest Batman, and to Superman whose 70th anniversary we're celebrating.

Monday, 2 June 2008

Monday musing

So Sex And The City made $55.7 million in the US this weekend — and another $40 million overseas — to become the highest opening ever for an R-rated comedy and beating Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull into second spot in its second week. People, you only have yourself to blame if they make another one.

More interesting (at least to me) was the fact that The Strangers made in excess of $20m in the US. Considering the film doesn't have any stars (no offense meant to Liv Tyler or Scott Speedman but neither of you are, like, Will Smith) and has been sitting around for a while now, the numbers are terrific. Who said horror's dead at the box office? And when's it out in the UK?

Meanwhile, fire ravaged the Universal Studios Tour in Los Angeles, destroying two of the most popular backlot shooting locations, namely the New York Street and the Back to the Future courthouse square. The blaze also laid waste to the King Kong amusement park attraction and countless videos of Universal films and TV shows that were stored in a cavernous vault. I have very fond memories of visiting Universal both as a child with my parents and later as an adult when I was there interviewing John Landis. Fortunately no one appears to have been hurt.

And talking of disaster movies (as I tangentially was), The Happening press machine is gearing up with the film's release less than a fortnight away. Although there's still no confirmation of UK press screenings, Mark Walhberg was promoting it on Jonathan Ross on Friday night and the NY Times has a somewhat interesting article on M Night Shyamalan.