Friday 31 October 2008

Slumdog Millionaire trailer

Saw this yesterday and it is indeed a blast. Typical Boyle. Energetic, joyful, propulsive, brilliantly shot by Anthony Dod Mantle with a rush of colour and terrific performances from a mostly non-professional cast of kids, and offering an eye-opening view of life in India for both poor and wealthy alike. I don't think Boyle's ever made a bad film, but this is one of his best. Can't wait to see it again.

Happy Halloween!

I've decided to start Halloween earlier than I'd originally planned having managed to finish today's workload ahead of schedule. I'm currently watching E4's terrific Charlie Brooker-penned zombie show Dead Set which I've been recording all week and have a pumpkin to carve a little later and the new DVD of A Nightmare Before Christmas to check out. Not sure which film I'll watch tonight but I figure it might have to be Carpenter's Halloween. Predictable I know, but on today of all days I think that's allowed.

Wednesday 29 October 2008

Halloween countdown: The Evil Dead

Hard to believe this was once banned in the UK as a "video nasty", Sam Raimi defended it in courts across the land, and when it was finally released for home viewing they cut the tree rape scene. How times change.

And the Oscar goes to...

Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler.

His is a monumental turn. Moving, powerful, subtle, nuanced, personal, fearless, funny, physical, magnificent. Clearly channeling issues from his own life, Rourke, under Darren Aronofsky's simple but brilliantly effective direction, gives his greatest ever performance.

The comeback is complete. Give this man more roles like this one. Give this man the Oscar. I told Rourke last night he deserved it. Let's hope others feel the same way...

Tuesday 28 October 2008


Off to see The Wrestler tonight, followed by a Q&A with Darren Aronofsky and Mickey Rourke. Should be entertaining.

The power of Bond

There are many reasons why the person who does the promotions for the Bond films gets an upfront credit. Here's one:

Halloween countdown: The Fog

I don't care what you say, it creeped me out when I first saw it.

Monday 27 October 2008

LFF: The Brothers Bloom

I was a huge fan of Rian Johnson's Brick and had been very much looking forward to his sophmore effort The Brothers Bloom which I finally saw this morning. It certainly didn't disappoint. A delightful, clever, engaging, intricate, and very knowing screwball comedy revolving around the titular siblings (Adrien Brody and Mark Ruffalo), a couple of con artists out for one last score, it confirms the promise Johnson showed with his dazzling high school noir debut and reveals he's no one trick pony. With globe-trotting locations, a pleasingly eccentric plot and enormously appealing turns from Brody and Ruffalo as well as Rachel Weisz and a near silent Rinko Kikuchi who utters just three words throughout, it rambles a trifle towards the end but has such charm, ambition and a surfeit of ideas, it's impossible to dislike. Romantic and funny, it's one of my favourite films of 2008.

Halloween countdown: I Walked With A Zombie

Thursday 23 October 2008

Watching The Watchmen

Went to the launch of Dave Gibbons' glorious new tome Watching The Watchmen (Titan Books) last night. A lavishly illustrated examination of the creative process behind his and Alan Moore's seminal comic, it's filled with preparatory sketches, thumbnails and much, much more, beautifully designed by Chip Kidd and Mike Essl, making it the perfect Xmas gift for any Watchmen fan and helping the wait for Zack Synder's movie that little more tolerable. Given that one of my biggest fanboy moments was standing in Gibbons' front room, holding Moore's original script for Watchmen issue one, you can probably tell I'm quite excited by this.

Wednesday 22 October 2008

Transporter 3 trailer

I make no secret of my enormous fondness for The Transporter movies and so I'm very much looking forward to part three. Here's the trailer.

Tuesday 21 October 2008


... but I'm under a crunching deadline at the moment, meaning my time here will be limited for the next day or so. Sorry.

Monday 20 October 2008

Widescreen horror

In a recent interview with aint it cool news (a link to which I can't find at this moment), Blade screenwriter David S. Goyer was extolling the virtues of widescreen imagery in horror movies — saying something along the lines that all horror films should be shot in widescreen — with particular emphasis to Dean Cundey's amazing work on John Carpenter's Halloween.

In light of the fact that Halloween is almost upon us, here are a few examples of Cundey's creepy framing. Click each one for a bigger view.

* Screen grabs from dvdbeaver, a site well worth visiting.

Friday 17 October 2008

The film's Solace, Quantum Of Solace

A few immediate thoughts. It's a Bond movie unlike any other. Brutal and bleak. Fast and frenzied. Leaner and meaner. With unrelenting action sequences that are more Bourne than 007. Particularly the hand-to-knife fight. It's darker. More serious. With a bruised and brooding Bond out for revenge. Whatever the cost. To him. Or his career. It's more emotional. Less "fun" than what we've come to expect from a Bond. More talky too. With a tangled plot that defies easy summarising. That said, there's a cool opening car chase, and a brilliant sequence in an Austrian opera house during a performance of Tosca that's pure cinema. There are big explosions and fewer gadgets. And gorgeous women who can't act. And a running time of under two hours. I liked it much more than Casino Royale.

Counting down...

Less than seven hours to go till Quantum Of Solace. Am I excited? Hell, yeah.

The great Peter Weir

I love Peter Weir. Let me rephrase that, I love his movies. I haven't actually met the man, but his body of work is nigh on impeccable. The Cars That Ate Paris. The Last Wave. Picnic At Hanging Rock. Witness. The Truman Show. Gallipoli. The man's a cinematic god in my book. But Weir's also meant to be picky with his projects, having last directed Master And Commander in 2003. Well, now he's back. With The Way Back and I couldn't be more delighted.

Wednesday 15 October 2008

Just saying...

Spent most of the afternoon working through the Hellboy II DVD (film and extras) and so I haven't managed to get my thoughts together sufficiently to write a full review of Frost/Nixon which I saw this morning. The few reviews that have appeared online thus far are mostly mixed although Variety's Todd McCarthy liked it more than most. For my part, I found it slick, entertaining and thoroughly engaging with a powerhouse performance from Frank Langella as the disgraced former US President and another excellent turn from Michael Sheen as the British chat show host.

Tuesday 14 October 2008

Achtung, baby

About that 28 Months Later rumour...

Last week there was much internet chatter coming out of Stiges that Paul Andrew Williams, writer-director of the excellent London To Brighton and the less stellar The Cottage, had been selected to direct a second sequel to Danny Boyle's 28 Days Later provisionally entitled 28 Months Later. The story, inevitably, spread like wildfire, even popping up in a national newspaper in the UK. I knew it was a load of baloney, but called Andrew Macdonald, producer of 28 Days Later, to get the official word.

Here's the link to my Fango story.

Monday 13 October 2008

Monday musing

The London Film Festival kicks off on Wednesday and it's a big week for screenings with Frost/Nixon, Synecdoche, New York and something called Quantum Of Solace among those scribbled in my Filofax (yes, I still use one of those).

It seems that Ridley Scott is intent on battling David Fincher for the title of director with the most cool sounding projects in development, having added Joe Haldeman’s 1974 science fiction novel The Forever War to a bulging slate that already includes Nottingham (his next, apparently), Brave New World, Child 44 and Gucci.

"I first pursued Forever War 25 years ago, and the book has only grown more timely and relevant since," Scott told Daily Variety. "It’s a science-fiction epic, a bit of The Odyssey by way of Blade Runner, built upon a brilliant, disorienting premise."

In terms of this weekend's US box office, however, Scott's Body Of Lies came a rather disappointing third behind new release Quarantine which benefitted from good reviews and a brilliant template, and last week's number one Beverly Hills Chihuahua which is clearly appealing to many, although heaven knows why.

Saturday 11 October 2008

Twilight trailer

This is going to be massive.

Friday 10 October 2008

LFF: Baader Meinhof Complex

Saw The Baader Meinhof Complex this afternoon, a thoroughly involving, powerful, and, yes, complex examination of the West German terrorist organisation, the Red Army Faction, from Downfall director Uli Edel. I want to let this one sit a while before commenting further, but if you get a chance to see this challenging movie when it screens at the London Film Festival, take it.

Thursday 9 October 2008

The Uninvited trailer

A Tale of Two Sisters was one of the best and creepiest of Korean horrors, and I have reason to believe the US remake, The Uninvited, might be better than the majority of its ilk because the hands steering the ship this time around are Tom and Charles Guard, aka The Guard Brothers, whose terrific short films earned them much acclaim in the UK and the inevitable "next big thing" tag. They've been a long time coming but, hopefully, they're here now...

Tuesday 7 October 2008


I don't claim to be an Oliver Stone fan. I've probably liked about half of his output (The Hand, Salvador, JFK, Platoon, NBK, Born On The Fourth Of July and U-Turn) but haven't actually been excited by anything he's done in years. Until now. And a film about a man I have no love for. But, goddamit, I can't wait to see W.

The US reviews have started to run and Variety and Hollywood Reporter are mixed although everyone seems to be raving about Josh Brolin's performance. The film's playing at the LFF so I'll have a chance to make my own mind up soon enough.

Let The Right One In trailer

I have heard nothing but great things about this Swedish vampire movie but have so far managed to miss every screening, be it at Edinburgh or Frightfest. It opens on limited release in the US on October 24 and in the UK not soon enough. Cloverfield's Matt Reeves is directing the American remake.

Matchstick Men

Yesterday's post about Ridley Scott made me uncrack open the cellophane on my Matchstick Men DVD last night, a film I hadn't seen since it played at Venice in 2003 and which I remember enjoying enormously. In many ways, a forgotten Scott movie, it's by no means a classic, but Scott's supreme skill shines through, the script is cutely knowing, and the performance by one particular cast member is quite remarkable. If you haven't seen it, I won't spoil, but when I saw it in Venice this particular person wasn't familiar, which made the ending all the more surprising. I'm not convinced the film will have quite the same impact on newcomers but it remains a fine, engaging work from one of our most accomplished filmmakers.

A pair of Queens

I told you to expect more cast announcements regarding Alice. And so it is that the Hollywood Reporter reports that Anne Hathaway and Helena Bonham Carter are onboard as the White Queen and Red Queen respectively.

Monday 6 October 2008

Scott's New World

The great Ridley Scott, whose Body Of Lies opens in the US this week and in the UK in November, has talked more about his plans for adapting Aldous Huxley's Brave New World — although he doesn't yet have a script he's happy with. "We're still struggling with that one," says Scott. "I have 40 things on the go at once. But that's a very important one. And sometimes, some surface faster than the others. It's partly luck of the draw. Even with a good writer, he'll do it and screw up. So then you go back to the table and start all over again, it's hard. The hardest single thing is getting it on paper."

* hat tip to Steve Schmid

But what about Tintin?

The details of the DreamWorks/Paramount split have finally been made official but there's still no firm news on state of the Tintin trilogy. A couple of weeks ago, at a Taken screening at the BFI Southbank, Liam Neeson said that he and Spielberg were hoping they might finally get their long-mooted Abraham Lincoln project off the ground next year.

They speak!

I spent four days on the set of The Matrix Reloaded/Revolutions some years back covering the production for Premiere but never got to speak to the Wachowski brothers. I walked past them a few times, stood (relatively) close to them while they were directing, but no words were ever exchanged. Which was a real shame because I was a huge fan of both Bound and The Matrix. And, as it turned out, I was one of the minority who really liked Speed Racer. Roger Ebert bumped into the guys at a screening of The Godfather in Chicago. Here's his report.

Sunday 5 October 2008

Comic recommendations

I don't read as many comics as I'd like, and have totally given up buying single issues, preferring to wait until the titles I follow are available in trade paperback (or occasionally hardback) editions. Recently I've enjoyed Mike Carey and Jock's Faker and Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips' stellar Criminal: The Dead And The Dying both of which I'd recommend, although if I had to point you in the direction of one, it would be Criminal, all three volumes of which are worth picking up.

Saturday 4 October 2008


According to the LA Times: Harrison Ford said Friday that momentum is building for a fifth movie in the Indiana Jones franchise and that George Lucas is already cooking up a suitable plot for a heroic senior citizen with a penchant for whips and fedoras. "It's crazy but great," the 66-year-old Ford said. "George is in think mode right now."

Missing in action

Interesting column from Variety's Anne Thompson about the problems faced by many once hot directors now considered past their prime. Joe Dante's got a couple of films on the go, but I'd love to see Phil Kaufman get back behind the camera again.

Friday 3 October 2008


Saw Rachel Getting Married this morning and it's terrific with a sensational performance from Anne Hathaway that will get her a lot of awards attention when that time comes. Alas, that's all I wrote for now, cos I've got a five-disc Bruce Weber DVD box set to review...

Wednesday 1 October 2008

Random matters...

It's been a while since I've posted anything of length here and for that I apologise. It's not that I've been idle this last week or so, rather I've been watching films and DVDs and Blu-Rays, interviewing directors and doing things I can't talk about just yet. Press screenings for the London Film Festival have begun, Raindance is upon us and soon the BAFTA torrent will begin in earnest.

For the record, this is a snapshot of some of my recent, work-related viewing:

Quarantine — a good horror remake
Import/Export — grim but absorbing
Eagle Eye — headache inducing
Taken — mindless action
The Broken — pretentious

Army Of Darkness (BR)
Jerry Maguire (BR)
Reservoir Dogs: Special Edition (BR)
The Messengers (BR)
District 13 (BR)
Cinema 16: World Shorts (DVD)
Wanted (DVD)
Felon (BR)
Black Emanuelle (DVD)
Emanuelle In Bangkok (DVD)

And yes, I did have to watch a pair of Black Emanuelle films for work. It's tough, I know.

Elsewhere, the latest trailer for The Spirit gives more of a sense of what Frank Miller's got in store for us...

... while the new trailer for The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button looks just stunning.

I've noticed, too, that the Alice cast members are slowly being unveiled one by one, with Variety revealing Michael Sheen's presence today, and Matt Lucas confirming his participation on Friday's Jonathan Ross. Expect a few more...